Socialnomics with Suzanne Downing

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How Your Creativity Can Bring Positive ROI in Social Spaces: A Staples Case Study

Believe it or not, there are still non-believers and skeptics in most corporations when it comes to the validity of social media.

Yes, it’s true! In a recent seminar I attended in Chicago, “Levering Social Media to Increase Sales,” 80% of professional students requested “take away” tools to sell social media to upper management. They needed proof that social media can work. They needed real-life examples. They needed buy-in.

As you read the Staples case study below, put your own business on the forefront of your mind.Think outside the box. Think creatively.

Jot down your thoughts. Any thoughts. Make of list of what’s important to you and your organization. Create a napkin sketch of what comes to your mind. The more the better. Just write. You can always erase and edit later. Sometimes ideas that seem crazy or off the wall, may just work!

Case study: Staples Social Media Outreach Enhances Teen-Focused Cause Marketing Campaign


In 2008, Staples, the world’s largest office product retailer and expert on back-to-school retailing, worked with, a national not-for-profit organization that empowers teens to take action in their communities, to create “Do Something 101,” a national school supply drive.

The inaugural campaign raised more than $150,000 for local charities to purchase back-to-school supplies for students who need them and generated more than 211.8 million impressions. For 2009, Staples aimed to make the second Annual Do Something 101 National School Supply Drive bigger and better than the inaugural campaign. Staples and wanted to inspire more teens to “do something” by collecting new school supplies for underprivileged kids, connect with teens in a unique and meaningful way, and increase donations and impressions over the previous year.


The strategy was to conduct ongoing conversations about the need for school supplies for undeserved youth, and how the Do Something 101 campaign can help. In addition to the traditional marketing tactics of in-store signage, customer e-mails, public service announcements, and media relations, Staples launched a social media campaign to reach teens where they spend the most time: Facebook.

Staples recently launched its own corporate Facebook page geared toward its core audience of small business customers. Rather then trying to retrofit the Staples corporate page for teens, Staples developed a fan page focused entirely on the teen audience, as well as a new Facebook application, to raise awareness of the Do Something 101 school supply drive.


Staples worked with a social media agency, Mr. Youth, to develop the Facebook fan page for Do Something 101, and create the new “Adopt-a-Pack” application. With Adopt a Pack, teens could tag their friends to fill virtual backpacks with school supplies to raise awareness for the cause and effort. With every backpack filled, teens could enter a sweepstakes for various prizes, including a trip to New York City to participate in a bag-stuffing event with the campaign’s spokesperson, Grammy-winning Ciara.

Staples spread the word about the fan page and application to cause-related and teen-focused blogs. It also worked with Mr. youth’s RepNation network to create a task force of students to spread the word through their existing online networks.


To connect with teens where they already lived online, allow them to show support for a worthy cause in a fun, unique manner, and build a foundation of teen engagement for future campaigns.


The Second Annal Do Something 101 national school supply drive raised more than $630,000 in customer cash donations, compared to $125,000 in 2008. Staples customers also donated thousands of items such as notebooks, calculators, and other supplies for students in need. The program received editorial coverage in outlets ranging from the New York Times to, and resulted in 484.8 million media impressions, more than doubling 2008’s results of 211.8 million media impressions.

In addition, the Do Something 101 Facebook Fan page secured more than 6,000 fans (back when likes were fans) who still continued to engage with the page well past the end of the 2009 campaign, and served as a base for the 2010 school supply drive. In addition, through the Facebook Application (a.k.a. App), Staples achieved 211 million teen impressions (compared to 13 million teen impressions from a 2008 teen marketing program.)

Staples, Inc. PR team,

Love that case study, and it makes me want to get on board with Staples and gives me a sense of community.

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” -Goethe

Socialnomics: a perpetual wave.

Happy creative thinking!


How to make Google AdWords Make Sense for You

Yes, you’ve received the “try Google AdWords free” emails Google sends, and even explored some of what goes into creating an ad through Google with the $100 credit Google provides. But how does it makes sense for you and your business?

First, lets define Google AdWords in its simplist form.

Google AdWords: ( Google’s program that comes up with content-sensitive ads appearing above and to the right of search results on Google. Important note: Since Google is the most popular search engine around with millions of people searching on Google every day, the ads are viewed by many. (Makes sense, right?)

So how can you benefit by placing ads through Google AdWords?

  1. Understand Banner ads vs. Google AdWords. It’s important to know the difference between typical banner ads and Google AdWords. To break it down, Google is smarter. A banner ad is an image displayed on someone else’s web page. You are the advertiser and you pay them a fee for showing your ad. The fee varies and you may pay a CPM (cost per 1000 impressions). Or, you may pay only when someone acts on your ad like clicking to your website or making a purchase. The problem is you are limited and your banner ad is not always targeted. Really, you can’t control what web surfers are looking for when they come to the site with your banner ad.
  2. Know the Google AdWords advantage. You are in control.You can start or end your ad campaign at any time. Not only that, but you can determine how much you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. So you need to have a good bidding strategy to get you ranked above your competition.
  3. Write compelling content. Your success lies in your content after placement. You have an agonizingly small space to create your ad. Usually, you only get two lines of 30-35 characters each. Use attention grabbing words and a clear call to action.
  4. Target your AdWords effectively. Know what keywords you need for success. Do your research and target that specific keyword or phrase in your copy. For example, you have a new line of women’s golf gloves. You want to sell them quickly and use Google AdWords to drive sales. After you create the “visual” side of your ad, Google gives you a chance to choose keywords associated with your ad. Like, gloves, golf wear, golf accessories, women’s golf gloves, etc. Here is where the magic happens. When someone searches by those exact keywords or phrases, bam, your ad is there. (If you bid $ .10 for the phrase women’s golf gloves, then every time someone clicks on your ad you pay Google $ .10.)
  5. Determine how much you are willing to pay per click (PPC). This is where your strategy comes into play. You know your product or subject matter. What is it worth to gain a new customer?
  6. Know that Google AdWords is flexible. This is a feature you can take advantage of based on performance of your ad. So test, test, and test some more. You can adjust your ad copy and bid amounts at any time. So if a keyword is getting a lot of results, it may be worth a higher bidding amount. The same goes for a low performing keyword. You can adjust it to a lower bid amount or remove it altogether. The choice is yours.

Happy Google AdWording! I hope this helps you in your Google AdWord decision making.

Socialnomics: a perpetual wave.

How to craft the All-Important Subject Line for your next e-mail

So, you have a database of e-mails and you are ready to write your e-communication (e-blast). E-mail is similar in context to your website. On your website, the most important element is the first screen. In your e-mail, the subject line is your most important element.

Direct magazine reports that an American leatherware firm sent a marketing e-mail to a mailing list and accidentally left out the body copy. Their e-mail went to their entire list with nothing but the All-Important subject line. Surprise! That specific email generated the largest response rate they ever had. Use these tips to craft your All-Important subject line for your next e-mail. Then test, test, test.

  1. Use the word this in the subject line. Why? Because it is proven to get e-mail recipients to open their e-mail. Example: This is what I was talking about… or This is so powerful because… However, don’t use it in a spam way like This is the best moneymaker in the world. (That is a good way to go directly to a spam folder.)
  2. Use the ellipsis points a.k.a. the three-dot method to create a sense of urgency and incompleteness.
  3. Present an incomplete thought. Use a thought tailored to your audience about a topic of interest. There is a part in all of our brains that dislikes incomplete information and won’t rest until is finds the info it needs to close a topic. Use it wisely, so they reader is engaged, not just clicking in to get the info and then bouncing.

And finally, what not to do…

Although some words are rock for advertising, putting some attention-grabbing words that you would use on your website are some of the very words you should avoid in your email subject line.

Words to avoid in your subject line: Buy, Discount, Free, Maximize, Money Opportunity, New, Power, Powerful Investment, Profit, Sale, Special. These are too commercial. With email, you want to appear friendly and personal.

Yes, these are the magic words advertisers and direct marketers swear by and use in their copy, but not so effective with e-mail. Save those words for print where no spam filter will rip up your page.

So get some killer e-mail headlines written and increase your response rate!

Happy e-mail subject line writing.

Paraphrased from Writing for the Web by Mario Veloso (Excellent book for any writer!)

Socialnomics: a perpetual wave.

Do you know your website “grade”? Hubspot reveals opportunity for all things social.

So you use Google Analytics – good. You have a social media presence – good. You pay attention to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to get your Google rankings high – very good. You have a successful blog – even better.

So what does all that mean? 

How do you measure your website and social media platforms as a whole?

How do you measure up to competitors?

Well wonder no more.

A Hubspot Analysis tells you how you rank.

Simply enter a URL into the tool at and review the results. (You can even enter a competitor’s URL to compare.)

Hubspot measures your social media presence and your website using a unique algorythm. It looks at your blog, RSS feed, Facebook page, Twitter page, SEO metrics, internal web pages, mobile presence, marketing automation, analytic tools used, and much more!

Hubpspot even gives you your mozRank. “My what?” you ask…

mozRank – On a scale of 1 to 10 and is SEOmoz’s 10-point measure of link authority and popularity. It’s similar to the old Google Page Rank and is logarithmic, so bear that in mind, too. (That means it’s ten times as hard to move from a 3 to a 4 as it is to move from a 2 to a 3.)

Yes, knowing your website grade is key to continuing improvement.

Happy learning!

Socialnomics: a perpetual wave

How to turn words into money online in 5 easy steps

So you have a stellar product with a great price. Now you want it to sell online! You are the writer. The web is your canvas – not a print brochure or a newspaper. So where do you begin? Try these 5 tips to turn your words into money online:

Write scannable copy. Use bullet points to break up the text. No long sentences. People don’t read online, they scan. Interesting eye tracking study in 2006 by Neilson revealed the F pattern.

Focus on the benefit to your customer. Re-read the title I used for this blog post. I told you from the beginning the benefit you will get from reading this article. You can turn words into money. (Hey, you’re still reading this, right?) Brainstorm the features, advantages, and benefits of your product. Then, focus on the benefits. You will be surprised how many you come up with!

Write attention grabbing “editorial” style headlines. Don’t write, “New product release.” Boring. Instead, try “How to transform your kitchen floor in a weekend.” Better, right? Use How to techniques; Ask a question; State a common agreement; and Present a problem that concerns your reader. (i.e. “Your inefficient appliances are costing you money.”)

Write for Search Engines. Do your research. Find strong keywords. If you aren’t ranking in Google then your customers are not finding you. Get familiar with SEO. It will pay off.

Have a clear call to action. What is it you want your reader to do? Buy your product? Sign up for your enews? Make it clear. Use a call out button or a hyperlink that easily takes them to an order or sign up page. Make it simple.

Bonus advice: Practice practice practice. Start writing. You will revise your first draft. Then revise it again. Read your copy out loud. If it sounds awkward to you then it probably is. Change it.

Happy writing!

In love with Prezi: Creative outlet for the business professional

My first visit to was after a professor mentioned it in a recent Effective Executive Speaking management course. I was hooked! I read tutorials, viewed Prezi presentations on You Tube, read reviews, researched zoom technology, and began creating a Prezi from scratch on one of the techniques I learned in that course. How to effectively introduce a speaker.

You can use Prezi on your ipad, share through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more.

So what about Power Point? Well, they both have their place. For me, the creative outlet from Prezi is worth it in itself. The countless boring Power Point presentations I’ve done have left me non-excited to create another one.

Prezi makes preparing to present fun! Yes, you can have fun in the work place. Also, I found myself more engaged in the content using Prezi, and retaining more. And of course the novelty of something new makes Prezi my new love. Everyone I’ve shown wants me to teach them how to make one. Love it!

If you want a creative outlet as a business professional, then Prezi is for you.

Socialnomics: a perpetual wave.


Social Media and the Olympics: Then and Now. “The first social Games.”

Olympics and Socialnomics. Then and Now.

The 2012 Olympics in London are being touted by some as the world’s “first social Games.” While some question just how social they’ll actually be, there’s no doubt that networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will play an unprecedented role in how information is disseminated from London, and how the global sports conversation is driven during July and August.

Why the big shift? It’s simple: Four years is an eternity in Internet time and since the last Summer Olympics in 2008, social media has exploded.

Web use in general has grown rapidly, too. In 2008, there were about 1.5 billion Internet users globally, according to the International Telecommunications Union, making up about 23% of the world’s total population. By this summer’s games, that number will have swelled to about 2.3 billion users making up about a third of the world’s total population. 

Summer Olympics feature some of the most popular international sports — including soccer, basketball, swimming, and track and field — so that’s sure to fuel the global buzz as well. For more context on just how and why social media will reshape this year’s Olympics in relation to 2008, we thought it’d be interesting to take a quick look at a few of the world’s most popular networks and how they compare then and now.


2008: A tweet in August of 2008 from then-Facebook executive and eventual Path co-founder Dave Morin gleefully celebrated Facebook breaking the 100 million-user threshold. 2008 was also marked by reports around the web of Facebook — gasp! — passing MySpace in popularity. The social network debuted its now omnipresent chat feature that year as well.

Today: Facebook claims more than 900 million users, is fast becoming a portal to the web at large for many and is a publicly traded company. Its founder Mark Zuckerberg is a global celebrity.


2008: 2008 saw explosive growth for Twitter, and it still finished the year with about 6 million registered users who sent about 300,000 tweets per day. The social network and its users were still very much finding their way, as evidenced by this official blog post explaining @replies. In 2009, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love would tweet that the team’s coach had been let go, breaking the story and causing some in the sports world to speculate that maybe, just maybe, the service could change how news was delivered and consumed.  

Today: Twitter currently claims more than 500 million users who collectively send some 400 million tweets each and every day. Sports news regularly breaks on the network, it’s become a prime marketing channel for athletes and much of the London 2012 conversation among media and fans is sure to take place there.


2008: By fall of 2008, YouTube users were uploading 10 hours of video to the site per minute. The site had emerged as the go-to destination for web video and had been acquired by Google two years prior. It also launched its mobile site, pre-roll ads and 720p HD option in 2008. But that success was nothing compared to what the site would look like four years later.  

Today: Iconic Olympic moments are sure to go viral and become immortalized on YouTube seemingly as they happen this summer, and it’s easy to see why. The company says it receives over 800 million unique visits per month. Those visitors watch more than 3 billion hours of video per month and upload 72 hours of new video content per minute. Five hundred years’ worth of YouTube video are watched on Facebook every day and more than 700 YouTube videos get shared on Twitter each minute. 

What It All Means

Just looking at the the three most ubiquitous social networks reveals a sporting scene and world at large that have been transformed by social media since the last Summer Olympics. And that doesn’t take into account services like Pinterest, Foursquare and Google+ — none of which even existed in 2008. This summer, expect news to break, social sharing records to fall and moments to live on as never possible before thanks to social media. And to think — this will all pale in comparison to what 2016 has in store.

Thanks Sam Laird for your comments!

Socialnomics: A perpetual wave.

Social Media and the Press Release: 5 SEO Quick Wins

Yes, the letters S-E-O still cause press release writers to shudder when mentioned. Getting ranked on internet search engines for the purposes of online marketing is now a skill itself, requiring immense planning and knowledge of terms like ‘keyword density’.

There was a time when writers had to resort to producing two article versions; one that was written for the purposes of SEO and one constructed making it noticeably newsworthy.

Thankfully, search engines have begun to recognise the value of press releases that contain ‘quality’ content over articles that are mass-produced simply to score high rankings.

So how can you benefit from these changes?

#1 – Make your press release engaging – The majority of search engines now emphasise the importance of press release content that is posted constantly on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Therefore, it is imperative that press releases written for the purpose of SEO contain information that is valuable to readers. When considering what to feature in your next press release, try to avoid ‘telling’ potential customers about your company, product or service.

Instead, consider what prospective customers will ‘want’ to read. If they consider something worth reading, they will discuss it with friends and colleagues, expanding the reach of your release.

#2 – Use ‘natural’ language – Avoid industry jargon and construct copy that is used in ‘everyday’ discussion. The importance of creating natural flow will make an article much more captivating and compelling as opposed to trying to force your content to work around ‘unnatural’ SEO phrases.

#3 – Keep it short, keep it simple – Pick out the unique points that you want to cover in your SEO press release and form one clear and concise story over 1 or 2 pages based around these points. Don’t clutter your press release with too many themes and topics, search engines are unable to identify what the article is about. From a human perspective they will simply not engage if an article fails to ‘get to the point’ quickly.

#4 – Create an eye-catching headline – A strong, clear headline attracts readers and is more likely to inspire people to share on social media sites. Research suggests that headlines should use no more than 120 characters, which is just as well, as search engines only tend to index the first 65 characters of article headlines. Therefore, be sure that your priority keyword features within the recommended character range, especially for SEO purposes.

#5 – Don’t ‘link litter’ – Providing a link to a website within an article is not bad practice, but don’t go ‘over the top’. Search engines are immediately suspicious of articles that feature too many links. In some cases, SEO press releases with too many links in are often considered to be spam and will not be acknowledged by search engines. Furthermore, some websites convert content to plain text. This means that your article could end up containing long URLs, which are an ‘eyesore’ to human readers.

Happy press release writing! Remember, keep it real.
Thanks to PRWeb for this informative information.

Socialnomics: a perpetual wave.

How to Claim Your Business Online

Remember the phrase, “Let your fingers do the walking?” This used to refer to the Yellow Pages, but now this phrase applies to your computer keyboard.

Think about it. When was the last time you plopped a bulky yellow page book on your kitchen counter to  find a plumber? Realistically, you used your smartphone, PC, or iPad and Googled away. This is exactly what your potential customers do.

In today’s world of technology, more than 70% of inquiries about local businesses come through search engines and online business listings like Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local and If your business isn’t listed online, you are invisible to potential customers. And you don’t want to be invisible to potential customers.

Start by implementing a process called “Business Claiming.”

Business claiming allows you to gain control of online listings, maintain them on a consistent basis and match them with your current promotions. You can post hours, correct website links, coupons, category and brand listings, and more. All for free.

Top 8 places to start:

Google Local, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Yelp, Facebook Places, Gowalla, FourSquare, and City Search.

But wait…there’s more!

Since we live in a world where navigations systems are the norm, you need to publish your business information to GPS and Navigation systems like OnStar, Navteq, infoUSA, and multiple Portable Navigation Systems.

Why? So your customers can find you on whatever device they use to navigate the city streets.

It just makes sense. Don’t be invisible online.

Socialnomics: a perpetual wave.

SEO: What is an “organic” keyword? And why should I care?

Do you remember watching E.T. as a kid?

Well, think of the title of the movie E.T., or the long title E.T.: Extra-Terrestrial as non-organic keywords.

Why? Because you are searching for something specific. You want information on the movie E.T. (Or, “et” in today’s non-grammatically correct search terms). So you type in your Google Search bar, “et”. Therefore, Google knows where to send you. Google knows what content you want.

Actual statistic: According to Google AdWords Free Keyword Tool, the keyword “et” generates 101,000,000 global monthly searches, and the keywords “et the movie” generates 246,000 global monthly searches. (Okay, my boss would be doing cartwheels if our brand name generated that much traffic!)

Yes, you want people to find your website this way, but you also want new visitors/customers, right?

So that’s where “organic” keywords benefit you. That is why you should care. Organic keywords generate new visitors (potential customers).

And that’s where the “brain” work comes in.


Let’s make a list together.

Think of who may want information about the movie E.T., but they don’t know they need this information. Then, think about what they would type in Google to find it (this is an “organic” keyword). Perhaps someone born in 1990 doing a college research paper on 1980’s Science Fiction movies?

[Tip: You can look at your Google Analytics to see what people are already typing in Google to find you “organically.” Add those keywords to your list.]

How about…

“Steven Spielberg movies”, “alien movies”, “drew barrymore films”, “best 1980’s film”, “sci-fi classics”, “1982 sci-fi”, etc. (Is it clicking?)

The examples above are all “organic” keywords that will generate “organic” (a.k.a. natural) traffic to your website.

Of course there are many next steps to make in the SEO world after you identify the “organic” keywords you want to rank for. For example, you need to research the keywords on your brainstorming list using Google AdWords Free Keyword Tool to see how many people are typing in that exact phrase into Google’s search bar and eliminate the poor performing keywords. Then, you need to see who your competition is for those “organic” keywords. Finally, once you have a filtered list of “organic” keywords, you need to start optimizing for those “organic” keywords on your website.

Research is key!

Socialnomics: a perpetual wave.