Facebook Fan Pages Free and Fun

Facebook Fan Page Graph

The continued rise of Facebook means that all marketers — even those who have traditionally ignored social media tactics — are trying to figure out how to tap into this techno-social phenomenon.

One of the easier (and more affordable) ways to test the social waters is to set up a Facebook Fan Page. Plus, it’s free to get started.

I recently set up a fan page for my books (I’ve published three) and my CD-ROMs (again, three published). My books and CDs are resources that provide anatomy reference for comic book artists. Yeah, it’s a unique niche, I admit.

Setting up the “Photo Reference for Comic Artists Fan Page” was free and easy. If you were able to sign up for Facebook and set up a profile, you can figure out how to set up a fan page. For content, I uploaded sample photos from each of the books. It’s basically the same stuff that I have posted over in Flickr galleries and on my personal website.

Photo Reference for Comic Artists

So once you do that, you need to let people know about your page. Right now, I am promoting on the cheap. Basically, I shared the link with everyone in my Facebook Friends list who would be remotely interested in the page.

To my surprise, I got a dozen people on the first day, and then it quickly picked up from there. In less than two weeks, I had hit 200 fans. Not bad for word of mouth (WOM) promotion.

At that point, I had an audience. So I started uploading extra photos, like behind the scene shots that nobody has ever seen. As I posted pictures, people started giving it that thumbs-up “like,” which is a virtual endorsement. That resulted in more people signing up to be fans of the page. In the social marketing space, it’s all about relationships, so virtual approval is hugely important.

As a marketing channel, Facebook Fan Page is an free and easy way to begin spreading your brand message. Facebook even offers some rudimentary statistics and demographic information. It’s not very useful at this point, since my trends are just creating an initial baseline of information. At 10,000 fans you get access to more detailed analytics, but it’s unlikely that such a deep vertical like my books has that much of a broad-based appeal. But you never know.

Next month, I’ll try Facebook’s built-in advertising network to drive more awareness of the fan page. But for now, I am content recruiting fans organically, as they discover my page through their actual social network.

The next few weeks will be focused on posting new information and photos to get people engaged with the fan page. I’ll try running contest, just to see if people will participate. It will be at least six months before I get information about book sales, so I won’t know if this actually helps my long-term goal of selling books.

Stay tuned. More to come. Oh, and don’t forget to become a fan!

LINKS – NOT NECESSARILY ENDORSEMENTS:

iPad – Content, Marketing & Comics

Steve Jobs presents the iPad

Steve Jobs presents the iPad

If you’re a Macintosh fan or a Steve Jobs zombie (Jobzie?) today was like Christmas. Maybe even better. Today, as if you didn’t know already, Apple finally announced the long-awaited tablet device “iPad.”

If you follow this blog, you know that I primarily talk about content, interactive media, and marketing. Oh yeah, and occasionally comic books. So let’s talk about what the iPad means for each of my favorite topics:

  • Content: Well, as I’ve said before, it all comes down to content. The best device in the world will only go so far on mediocre content. Touch screens are cool, but they need to be worth the extra cost.
    Positive: As usual, Apple fully delivers on the iPad. Right out of the gate, you’ll be able to tap into the iTunes store for eBooks, videos, games, and music. Plus there’s probably a lot more content on the way. You can buy the iPad knowing that Apple will provide plenty of content in full, brilliant multimedia and color.
    Negative: It’s hard not to compare the iPad to the Kindle when it comes to reading ebooks. At this point, it looks like Kindle’s e-ink has an advantage over the iPad’s screen. It’s just nicer to read books on a reflective surface, as opposed to an active matrix display. Sorry, color just isn’t that important for the enjoyment of text, particularly long-form prose.
  • Interactive media: We’re now in a society where we fully expect to be able to interact with a certain amount of media. And Apple doesn’t disappoint here. The iPad is packed with nifty new tech that will allow us to touch, drag, scale, and game. We are at the tip of the creative iceberg, and it’s exciting to just dream about the amazing applications that will take advantage of the iPad platform.
    Positive: What’s not to like? It’s going to revolutionize gaming and allow you to take your fun wherever you go. As a parent, I love portable movies and games. Apps are what made the iPhone special, and the same tech will work on the iPad. Nice.
    Negative: It looks like I may have to re-purchase movies that I have on DVD so they play on the iPad. Something tells me I will be buying a lot of stuff to feed my iPad.
  • Marketing: At the core, Apple is an electronics manufacturer, but somehow they have managed to position themselves miles above the rest of the industry. Their brand is huge. No other manufacturer can launch a product quite like Apple. Plus Steve Jobs knows how to give a presentation. If you’re a marketer, take a close look at your lame PowerPoint decks and ask yourself if you can somehow do better. (You can.) Apple’s marketing is a brilliant mix of art, science, and magic. This is what they should study in universities.
    Positive: Apple breaks many marketing rules, but somehow they make it work. We can all learn from them when it comes to branding and event marketing. Apple makes it look easy, even though they are probably working like mad in the days leading up to the event.
    Negative: What they do as marketers isn’t really taught in school. And try as they may, very few marketers can match their magic formula for generating excitement around product launches. But is this really a negative? Nah, it gives us marketers an achievement goal.
  • Comics: It’s hard to say how this will affect the comic book business. Comics are already being pirated and distributed through torrents. Up until now, people had to buy printed comics to get a decent experience. Sure, you could read a pirated comic on your computer monitor, but the mechanics were wrong. Monitors are horizontal, while comics are vertical. Marvel’s Digital Comics actually give a pretty good experience, but it still required you to be sitting in front of your computer. I work in front of a computer all day, so sitting at my desk to read is a bit unappealing. Printed comics are still my favorite way to read full-color comic books. But for how long?
    Positive: The iPad could make reading comics really exciting. I would love to read my monthly titles on a nice, clear tablet. I could store them on the device (as opposed to reading them in the cloud), that would free up a lot of space in my house. Set the right price, and I will pay for a digital subscription to my favorite comics. I’m ready, let’s go.
    Negative: The pirates are already killing comics the way they nearly killed music and movies. If piracy doesn’t stop, it won’t make economic sense to create comics. Easy file sharing and torrents could kill mainstream comics as we know them today. The iPad just gives the pirates a better platform for sharing files.

So that’s it. The ‘Net and the pundits are already buzzing about the iPad. I’m going to immerse myself in the excitement and optimism.

Merry Christmas, Apple fans.

10 Marketing Tech Predictions for 2010

2010-PredictionsI’m a total nut for tech predictions. Love ’em. Not only does it get me excited about the future of technology, it warms my marketer’s heart. Every new tech channel represents a new way for marketers to communicate with their target audience. And for people to discover brands and solutions that they actually want.

Since I primarily write about tech trends that affect marketers, here are my:

The Words + Pictures = Web
10 Marketing | Tech Predictions for 2010

1. Widgets and Apps Will Explode
Yes, we saw a pretty big year for Apps, thanks to the iTunes store servicing the iPhone and iTouch. But with Android and Kindle and even HP having stores, we’re going to see a big, fast expansion of useful apps. And people will want these apps to synchronize across devices and platforms.
What it means for marketers: A lot. Brands that create useful apps will see adoption rates soar. It doesn’t matter if it’s branded. If people need something, they will use it. If it happens to keep your brand top of mind, well, then good for you.

2. Web Analytics Will Improve
Every marketing initiative needs to have some sort of measurable ROI. Without a strong analytic package, you can’t tell what works and what doesn’t. The tools that we use are probably (hopefully) going to get better now that Adobe owns Omniture. Even free packages like Google Analytics are getting better, which pushes paid solutions like WebTrend and Omniture to innovate to remain competitive. Expect to see better tools for measuring Flash.
What it means for marketers: Good news for marketers who like numbers. Now, you will have even more numbers.

3. Microsoft Will Strike Back
Signs of life are bubbling up again from Redmond. Microsoft took a beating from Google, which has reinvigorated their competitive spirit. Bing is turning out to be a pretty decent search engine, which is encouraging for search marketers.
What it means for marketers: Microsoft is serious about making money in search, so they are actively courting search marketers. We’re already seeing them push Google to release new features, which is good for everyone. If you are using search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns, you can expect more options from Bing. And from Google, who will continue to maintain their lead.

4. Tech Will Move Off the Desktop
In recent years, everything has been focused on the desktop. But powerful mobile tools have changed the way we interact with websites. The traditional desktop will survive 2010, but it won’t be the only way people interact with the web.
What it means for marketers: It means that every new device — from the Kindle to the television — is now a new channel to communicate with customers. Smart marketers will be putting messages everywhere.

5. Newspapers Will Slip Further
Okay, this one is almost a little mean. Like teasing the short fat kid in school for being, well, short and fat. But newspapers are going to slip even more rapidly than they did in 2009. In the end, it’s likely that we’ll end up with a few national papers (like USA Today), a few regional papers (like New York Times), and maybe a few weekly local papers.
What it means for marketers: It’s a mixed bag. If you have a good PR team, you can get a story on the wires and have it syndicate to a lot of readers. That’s very encouraging. But with fewer reporters and papers, it’s going to get harder to get some ink. With less print out there, it will get a little more challenging to communicate with older demographics.

6. Mobile Marketing Will Get Sophisticated
We’ve been marketing to mobile devices for years now. Some agencies are quite good at it, but sadly, many more are not. Most mobile marketing is pretty lame. This year we’ll see the good agencies roll out marketing campaigns that make full use of mobile devices. Right now, mobile marketing is still rather simple. Look for more sophisticated and personalized applications.
What it means to marketers: It means that mobile content and incentives will need to be formatted for multiple screens. Don’t expect users to wait for your massive homepage to load.

7. Electronic Coupons Will Become Location Aware
Everybody loves a good discount. But if you forget your coupon at home, you may wait until the next trip to the store before you make a purchase. That’s a missed opportunity for brands. Many new devices have location-based software, so more marketers will figure out how to use this for offering coupons and incentives at just the right moment….like when they’re in close proximity to a store.
What it means for marketers: More sales and happier customers. Also, brick and mortar stores will star to win back customers from online shoppers.

8. Content Marketing Will Matter Again
Traditional media is slipping fast. That doesn’t mean people don’t need content. People want to know more about the product you sell, but also about how your product compares in the category. Content marketing will mean that your content must be fresh and vital for your target. Set it and forget it? Forget that. Write more content and make sure it’s formatted properly for the channel.
What it means for marketers: Make friends with a good copywriter. Try to tap them for ideas on how to update websites and other resources, so that your are providing proactive content for your audience.

9. Social Media Marketing Will Mature
Over the last few years, social media channels have become an effective way to connect people and products. But as the audience grows and diversifies, Facebook (and other social channels) will offer more mature and measurable ways to talk to targets. Banner ads? Sure, for certain awareness campaigns. But also look for more powerful fan-page types of services that give more flexibility and power to the brand.
What it means for marketers: Social media is probably going to get more expensive, but you’ll get more for your dollars.

10. New Hardware Will Change Brand Messaging
Kindles, iPhones, and the eagerly anticipated Apple tablet will give us new and interesting ways to tell people about our brands. But as the hardware becomes more powerful, it takes longer to figure out how to truly use it effectively. Initially, we just mash up existing technologies with new technologies (look it’s video…and now it’s on an iPhone!). New hardware will give us some immediate and measurable ways to deliver messages. But this year we’re going to peel back another layer to these devices, and discover new applications and opportunities.
What it means for marketers: Figure out how your message scales to new hardware before the competition figures it out first.

So there you go. Those are some of the tech trends that I believe will affect marketers in 2010. I’m sure I’ve missed a few things, but now you know what sort of stuff I’ll be working on this year.

Did I miss anything? Let me know your thoughts.

Google Search Stories – 53 Seconds to Message

As a marketer, I am always trying to provide the best possible message in the shortest possible time. People are busy, so you need to give them the information they need to decide if they want to learn more about your product. Give them the right message in the right place at the right time, and you’ve got their attention.

Loosely translated: You get to tell your story.

Check out the video below from Google Search Stories. In 53 seconds, Google and YouTube reinforce the motivational power of storytelling.

And just for fun, check out the Batman Search Story.

Auto-Tuning the News

Latest ‘Net rage: Auto-tuning.

It’s goofy stuff. But it shows how the age of mashups and sharing has enabled some small, random audio technique to explode into a pop culture sensation.

If you’re a marketer or advertiser, you should be asking yourself how you can leverage this temporary fad.

If you look at the embedded video, you’ll see that Progressive Insurance is placing a pre-roll ad (at least they were when I posted this).

I don’t know if the Progressive ad drives clicks and conversions to their website, but at least they were quick enough (and smart enough) to jump into this early. You don’t necessarily have to create the next Internet viral video (you would if you could), but sometimes you can just leverage the opportunity to tap into those eyeballs.

Free…Me

A true Brand-You story.

Back when I’d graduated college, the job market was pretty tight. Not as tight as now, but jobs were scarce for communications majors.

I was working as an editor and writer, but I really wanted to get a job in public relations. Unfortunately, I had nothing on resume that showed PR experience, so I wasn’t getting called for interviews.

A friend told about a PR event she ran for a hospital. It sounded good, so I asked if I could borrow the idea.

I visited my local town rec center and offered to plan a “Summer Cycle Safety” event for kids in town. Something to teach the kiddies the rules of the road and encourage them to wear helmets ‘n’ stuff. I wasn’t looking for any money; just a volunteer project for experience.

They liked the idea (and my fee), and agreed to let me organize the event. Got a local bike shop to donate a helmet. Found a local sports-medicine physician to talk about bike injuries. Involved the police department, who brought safety literature. Some refreshments, a few signs, and we had an event.

With the Summer Cycle Safety event, I wrote a press release, which ran in the town paper. And I braced myself for the hundreds of people who would come streaming to the event. (Actually 25 people showed up, but who’s counting?)

Fortunately one reporter/photographer showed up, took a few shots, and we got a small article and photo in the town paper. But that was all I needed. I finally had something for my resume!

The very next PR job I applied for included my freshly updated portfolio. They called me. And I got the job.

I gave a little of me — for free — and it paid off.

Marketing Google Voice on YouTube

Google’s plan to organize the world’s information just got one step closer to reality with the release of Google Voice. Basically, this is a service that translates voicemail messages into text.

Here’s the announcement. Watch the video, since it’s actually the reason I am posting this blog.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/here-comes-google-voice.html

Done? Good.

Google is smart on a lot of levels. They understand that people absorb information in different ways. By posting their announcement in text and in video, they make it easy for people to receive their message.

The Google Voice video is on YouTube (a Google property), which also means that people who use YouTube for news will receive their message as well. So they didn’t just tell me what was cool about Google Voice, they showed me. Seeing it in action makes me want to use it. It creates the “want.”

Marketers who have a message may want to consider offering their message on multiple platforms, including video. It seems to be working out okay for Google, y’know?

Brand-You Case Study: Bob Parsons of GoDaddy

Even if you’ve never heard of Bob Parsons, you’ve probably seen one of his ads. Or, at very least, surfed a website that he’s registered.

Y’see, Bob Parsons is the owner of GoDaddy.com, which is one of the places where people go to register their website names. They are known among web developers for having good prices and services.

Most of the world, however, if familiar with GoDaddy because of their racy, sometimes controversial, television commercials. GoDaddy spends a fortune advertising a very, very niche service to one of the largest annual television audiences in the country.

Why advertise a niche service to people who would never even be in the market to buy your services? It’s hard to say why Parsons would want to reach so many people who have never (and never will) buy a website URL.

One thing’s for sure….Parsons likes to promote himself and GoDaddy. And, as a marketer, he’s done a very good job. Not everyone likes Parsons’ outgoing, ex-Marine public persona. He’s an in-your-face businessman who wears his personality on his BobParsons.me website and the web properties that he owns.

On his site, Parsons tirelessly blogs and vlogs his opinions. No doubt his “Straight Talk” blog has raised the ire of some people. It would be an understatement to say that Parsons has an opinion about his competitors. It’s rare to see someone comment on competitors’ tactics so directly.

Love him or hate him, Parsons has made himself an Internet celebrity. And he’s not just a celebrity for being famous, he’s actually a successful entrepreneur. He’s been selling website registrations since around 1997.

Check out this video of Bob Parsons, as he makes direct comments about the competition, the advantages of using GoDaddy, and even mistakes he’s personally made over the year. Even if you don’t like him, you have to admit, he’s working hard to build the Bob Parson Brand.

Video: Bob Parson’s 1st Annual Ding Dong Awards (2008)

Also, check out the very funny GoDaddy video that was spread on the Internet when the SuperBowl supposedly (who knows if it’s really true) rejected the GoDaddy commercial. It shows an entertaining fictionalization of GoDaddy spokesmodel Nikki Capelli (actress Candice Michelle…link not for work) giving testimony at the Broadcast Censorship Hearings. It’s well written, shot, and acted and has been watched hundreds of thousands of times.

(It’s okay to watch this video at work.)

Podcasting Your Brand Message

Looking for a new way to spread the word about your business or service? Look no further than your iPod.

If you have an iPod (isn’t that a requirement for living in the USA?), you have iTunes.

There’s a button for “Podcasts,” which are audio programs. Like radio shows without the radio.

I download podcasts every time I plug in my iPod. It’s a free and legal service provided by Apple.

One of my favorites is the screenwriting podcast “On The Page,” hosted by Pilar Alessandra. As an educational and motivational resource, On The Page is nearly as good as having your personal writing cheerleader. (Note: If actual cheerleaders would like to cheer for me, please send photos.)

On the podcast, Pilar would talk about her Los Angeles screenwriting classes. These sounded great, but could be a long drive for me, since I live in New Jersey.

Then…she announced a New York class. And with the speed of Mercury and the riches of Midas, I sent her $125.

I sent my money because the podcast actually proved that Pilar knew how to teach screenwriting. Think about it. I sent a total stranger $125 over the Internet. Because I listened to her podcast every week, Pilar was not really a stranger. Her podcast proved that she was what she claimed: A professional who taught the craft and business of screenwriting.

For Pilar Alessandra’s screenwriting classes, podcasting turned out to be an effective marketing tool.

Is something you’re doing worth talking about? Consider speaking about your brand message through a podcast.

Pilar ALESSANDRA & Buddy Scalera in NY

Pilar ALESSANDRA & Buddy Scalera in NY

Batman Isn’t a Comic Anymore?

In “Why Comics Are Doomed,” I argued that for comics to survive, we need to stop marketing them as “children’s entertainment.” We need to position comics as entertainment for adults.

Here’s proof why. In the newspaper, there are “movie capsules” that encapsulate the movie. Here, dear friends, is the description for:

“The Dark Knight”
Batman isn’t a comic book anymore. Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” is a haunted film that leaps beyond its origins and becomes and engrossing tragedy. It creates characters we care about. That’s because of the performances, because of the direction, because of the writing, and because of the superlative technical quality of the entire production. The key performance in the movie is by the late Heath Ledger, as the Joker.

The first sentence reveals a preconceived notion shared by many people. They expect comics to be campy, mindless entertainment for kids.

The second sentence goes  further when it notes it is “a haunted film that leaps beyond its origins and becomes and engrossing tragedy.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t Batman always been an engrossing tragedy? Not every issue, sure, but some of them, right?

To this writer, “The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man” are simply grown up versions of comics. Storytelling flukes created by sophisticated master filmmakers. Nothing in traditional comic books can come close.

For all of you 40-year-old virgins, this is how many people think about comics.

How many people saw “The Dark Knight” and then went to the comic book store to buy Detective Comics? Probably not many, since the assumption is that the movie is for adults…and the comic books are for the kids.

If we keep marketing comics as children’s entertainment, the medium is doomed. Even Hollywood cant save us from ourselves.