Twitter For Business


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Twitter For Business

  1. 1. OnlineForumsSocial Marketing with Proven Results
  2. 2. Your Most Influential AudienceHow to Reach Them with Messages That Engage and Inspire Action –With Exponentially Higher Click-Through RatesPicture a place where you encounter thriving conversations about your products,where motivated people are asking and answering each other’s questions aboutyour products, where there’s room for you – the company representative – toopenly provide useful information about your products – the very subject aroundwhich this community formed in the first place.Then imagine that those same people are highly influential word-of-mouthers –that elusive group of enthusiastic consumers every company would love to findand enlist.It can seem like Facebook and Twitter are the only names that come to mind whenanyone in advertising is discussing how to use social media to reach potentialcustomers. But while the jury is still out on how to measure success betweentweets and status updates, another social format is proving itself a measurable,effective way to reach consumers at a time when opinions are being formed andpurchase decisions are being made:Online Forums.Forums are the hidden gems of the social web. In a forum – unlike Facebookand Twitter – product conversations are not intrusive, they’re integral. Thoseconversations are often a consumer’s only reason for being in a forum in thefirst place.Instead of “I’m having PB&J for lunch” or “I’m in line at Starbucks,” consumerspost such pointed questions as “What to look for in a car stereo” and“Can someone recommend the best tire?”In other words, forums are a communicator’s dream – the ultimate way to targetyour online marketing. Page 1
  3. 3. ForumsThe Original Social NetworksForums are online gathering places for people whoshare a similar interest, communicating with eachother by posting messages. There are millions of Consumers Wanthighly targeted online forums. Examples include Engagement & Relevant,, and, Not Sales Pitchesamong many others. The Wall Street Journal says consumersPeople are there precisely to discuss products or today are “info shoppers.”services, even specific brands. They pose 3/4 More than 3/4 of consumers say adsquestions to the community, ask for guidance or no longer have the information thatsimply look to connect with people who share their they need.passions. The audience is primed and ready for – evenactively seeking – product-specific messages. A whopping 92 percent of respondents in a recent survey said they had moreIn fact, the discussion topics reveal that consumers 92% confidence in information they seek outare in the thick of the research process and are online than anything coming from a salesseeking more information to help them make clerk or other source.purchase decisions. Julie Mathis from Hill & Knowlton said it best These are discussion topics taken in a recent report: from actual recent posts: “The most effective way to reach consumers online is with highly-targeted campaigns tailored “Looking to buy a digital camera” to engage micro communities that form around “Any good deals on laptops right now?” common interests.” “2010 Ford Taurus vs 2009 Nissan Maxima” According to the 2008 Cone Business inThere are many features of forum posts Social Media Study:that make them appealing destinations foradvertisers and communicators: 85 percent of Americans who use social• The very nature of forum posts – embedded within 85% media believe a company should not only be present on social sites, but also should the forum itself, rather than placed peripherally interact with its consumers via social media. around the edges – makes them part of the conversation instead of competing with it. 56 percent of social media users feel• Forum posts are indexed by search engines and carry significant weight in optimizing search results. 56% both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social• Posts also are archived and remain for the life of media environment the forum, continuing to live a long time online even when the conversation isn’t active. Page 2
  4. 4. Forum UsersInfluential Consumers and Word-of-Mouth PowerhousesIf the Holy Grail of marketing is a band of self- The forum contributor’s influence is not confined tomotivated enthusiasts proactively recommending the world of online forums.your product, then the Grail’s secret location couldvery well be the world of online forums. Here’s an overview of the PostRelease/ Synovate survey resultsPeople who contribute to online forums areoverwhelmingly more engaged in “influential”activities – both online and offline – than people who 79.2% Help a friend or family member make a purchase decision - compared with 47.6 percent ofdon’t use forums, according to a nationwide survey non-contributors; 53.8 percent overall.conducted by PostRelease in November 2009.In conjunction with Chicago market researcherSynovate, PostRelease asked 1,000 Americans 65% Share advice (offline and in person) based onto choose from a list of activities that could be information that they’ve read online - compared with 35 percent of non-contributors;considered influential in helping others make a 40.8 percent overall.purchase decision, and select those in which theyparticipate. In every case, those who contribute toforums are more likely than others to engage in the 66% Post online ratings/reviews of products/services,activity. - compared with 16.8 percent of non-contributors; 26.4 percent overall.By far, the biggest disparities involved blogs andmeetups: those who contribute to online forums are 57.7% Proactively recommend that someone make a10 times more likely than non-contributors to also par ticular purchase - compared with 16.9 percent ofpublish a blog, and are 9 times more likely to take an non-contributors; 24.9 percent role in organizing an offline event or meetup fora group that originally met online. 43.6% Share links to articles about new products or with reviews of products - compared with 12 percent of Forum-users are: non-contributors; 18.2 percent overall. 3.5 times more likely to proactively recommend a particular purchase to 35.6% Attend an offline event or meet up where 3.5 x someone else people with similar interests or who share the same hobby connect - compared with 13.8 percent of non- contributors; 18 percent overall. 3.5 times more likely to share links 3.5 x about new products 20.6% Publish a blog - compared with 2.1 percent of 4 times more likely to post online ratings non-contributors; 5.7 percent overall. 4x and reviews 18.8% Take an active role in organizing an offline event Almost twice as likely to share advice– or meet up for a group that met originally online 2x offline and in person – based on - compared with 2.4 percent of non-contributors; information they’ve read online 5.6 percent overall. Page 3
  5. 5. Forum UsersForum Users vs. Non-Forum UsersPopularity of Forums: According to a survey by Forrester Research reports: PostRelease / Synovate: 28 percent of U.S. consumers read 1 One in five Americans contributes to online forums. 28% online forums – making it the second most popular online activity, second only to watching video.Who Contributes to Online Forums?The PostRelease/Synovate survey offers insights about who ismost likely to contribute to online forums: A college education makes Younger respondents were Respondents with children a difference: more likely to say they participate in forums more contribute to forums: than those without respondents with post-grad degrees 20% 1/3 1/4 of those of those 18-24 25-34 26% 16.3% respondents with compared with one in five overall. at least some college 21.8% With Children Without Children Broken out a different way – nearly 30 percent of those ages respondents with high 30% 18-34 contribute to forums school education or less 12.9% 22% 22 percent of those ages 25-54 contribute. Page 4
  6. 6. How Forums Work FORUM FORUM DISCUSSION TOPIC FORUM DISCUSSION DISCUSSION TOPIC Forum Member 1 CATEGORY Forum DISCUSSION TOPIC Member 2 CATEGORY CATEGORY CATEGORY Forum Member 2 DISCUSSION TOPIC DISCUSSION DISCUSSION DISCUSSION DISCUSSION DISCUSSION DISCUSSION DISCUSSION DISCUSSION DISCUSSION Forums are organized by subject area. The main forum page offers a list of discussion topics. When visitors click on a topicAll forums are organized by categories and they’ll find a list of discussion threads within that category. Anydiscussion topics, called threads, that allow member can start a discussion thread – they simply post apeople to find specific information. message to the forum, posing a question to the group or starting a conversation about a particular area of interest. Members can add to the discussion by posting replies, and conversations flow from there. FORUM DISCUSSION MODERATE CONVERSATIONS Forum SIGN UP FOR Member 1 AN ACCOUNT Forum Member 1 Forum Forum Member 2 Member 2 MODERATOR MONITORS FORUM ACTIVITY x Forum Member 2 Forum ADVERTISER POST Member 3 Post Reply REMOVES UNAUTHORIZED POSTSVisitors can read the posts and navigate around the forum at Each forum has multiple designated “moderators” – usuallywill. But once they want to start adding to the conversation, influential and highly active forum members who are assigned thethey typically need to register and create a username and responsibility to moderate conversations, monitor forum activitya profile, which can include as much information about and remove unauthorized commercial posts. Owners of thethemselves as they want to share. forums establish their own rules and guidelines for participation, and they can ban users as necessary, to keep their forums clean and productive. Example of a Forum Discussion Forum Page 5
  7. 7. Advertising in Online ForumsThe niche nature of forums makes them valuable, high-impact channels foradvertisers. But, until now, forums have been difficult to monetize effectively.They’re highly fragmented and often operated by part-time hobbyists running theirsites using low-cost or free software. The owners don’t have the time or specializedknowledge to efficiently monetize their sites.To date, the primary ad units within forums have beenbanners and sponsorships. Banners: Advertisers can purchase banner ads, but these run outside the forum conversation itself. That is, they’re typically BANNER AD displayed along the edges of the forum discussion page, or shoehorned within the par t of the page where the forum posts reside, but still separate from the actual discussion. Typically, these banners generate low click-thru rates. SPONSORSHIP Sponsorships: SPONSORSHIP Anyone who advertises SPONSORSHIP on a forum typically SPONSORSHIP becomes a sponsor and SPONSORSHIP gains permission to post SPONSORSHIP within that particular forum category. Posting is usually much more SPONSORSHIP effective than banners SPONSORSHIP in generating response, SPONSORSHIP because it puts the SPONSORSHIP message inside the discussion itself. Page 6
  8. 8. The Most Effective ApproachEngage With the Forum AudienceAdvertisers get the best response by posting relevantinformation as posts within the forums, rather than Giving individuals the authority to write andplacing advertising messages around the forums. post responses on the fly, on behalf of the company, carries a certain level of risk.For example, in automotive forums, dealers with •As part of the regular discussion thread, forum posts permission to post on the forum typically include are open for comment from community members. Many advertisers fear negative responses and don’tinformation about their special deals on vehicles or know how to respond in a manner that will ultimatelyparts that are relevant to the forum discussion topics. benefit the brand.By advertising on the forum, dealers can pay to belisted as a “preferred vendor” and gain automatic •Communications from a company should always consideration with the forum audience when people reflect the organization’s core messages. Lettingare searching for products. an employee loose within forums relinquishes some control over that content – especially if he or she is engaged in real-time back-and-forth conversation.Banner ads don’t allow for that level of engagement.Sponsorships do, but the manual process of •New guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission monitoring and contributing content can be unwieldy. raise the bar for transparency online. The rules requireHere’s why: those promoting products for a fee to say so upfront. If the forum-posting approach were automated, the advertiser could make sure that all messages clearly You can’t just jump in and start ! posting – there are rules. indicate the sponsorship status. •Advertisers first must reach out to each forum owner to get permission to post (which usually requires Another drawback for going it alone: becoming a sponsor). Most forums cannot usually provide any most •As mentioned earlier, each forum has its own forums cannot usually provide any measurement participation guidelines. Even after gaining tools or reporting mechanism to help advertisers permission to post, advertisers must research each track results. forum’s rules and follow them to the letter. Manually contributing content to forums is But forums contain what is arguably the most time consuming. concentrated audience of influential brand advocates and word-of-mouth powerhouses you •To take part in the forum discussion, advertisers can find. have to monitor each discussion thread and manually add posts in order to contribute. They generally only get permission to participate in one category – not the That’s why PostRelease created an entire forum. automated way to let advertisers participate in forum discussions and •Because the process is so involved when attempted manually, advertisers are limited in the number of engage with forum audiences. forums in which they can realistically participate, making it hard to achieve the kind of scale they might be looking for. Page 7
  9. 9. PostReleaseForum Advertising Made Easy and Highly EffectivePostRelease is a highly effective solution for online forum advertising and influencing word-of-mouthforum discussions. PostRelease enables companies to insert posts that contain relevant content intotargeted online forum discussions.PostRelease posts offer a hybrid approach – an ad unit that can serve as an editorial orcommunications vehicle – making forums useful to advertisers, marketers and public relationsspecialists.Forums join the PostRelease network to increase revenue and traffic to their sites, allowing marketersto use the PostRelease automated system to identify pertinent forum discussions and insert messagesas posts that contain useful content to be absorbed by the community.The powerful PostRelease search tool allows advertisers to use keywords to find categories relevantto a topic within the PostRelease network of online forums. Then they select the forum categories thatbest fit their audience and budget.Search1. Select Campaign Start Date2. Search for Forum Categories Page 8
  10. 10. PostReleaseForum Advertising Made Easy and Highly EffectivePosts can include text, images, hyperlinks andlinks to video. The posts are clearly marked as fromPostRelease, and they are closed to comments from Forum Templatethe community.PostRelease makes it easy to create a post using asimple template online. The approach is automatedbut audited – all posts are reviewed to ensure thecontent is relevant to the discussion topic. It is this quality control that sets PostRelease apart from banner and text ads: In its year-long beta, PostRelease click-through rates averaged 33 percent, with highs reaching nearly 90 percent.The PostRelease platform automatically insertsthe post into the top position of selected forumcategories. Advertisers pay for a one-weekcampaign, meaning the PostRelease posts remainin a “sticky” position – toward the top of the post listpage – for seven days. Once released from the topposition, the post moves down the discussion listalong with all other posts. Sticky Post The PostRelease platform automatically inserts the post into the top position of selected forum categories. Page 9
  11. 11. Residual TrafficThe Ads That Keep On GivingPostRelease posts remain part of the forum content “The most unexpected result was the speed andfor the life of the forum and, as this analysis shows, position of organic placement of our client’s contenttheir ability to drive response increases with time – on major search engines. We’re talking 1st and 2ndby an average of more than 100 percent one year pages within a week. This result had many of ourafter a paid campaign has ended – as consumers clients begin to pull dollars out of their SEO/SEMdiscover the content organically in search results. budgets, and throw it into PostRelease.” – BJ Birtwell, President, The Armory Marketing Group Easy-to-Read Charts Show Results The online PostRelease Manager handles all insertions, tracks reads and click-throughs – all through one simple, easy-to-use interface. Results are measured and delivered in easy- to-read charts, with reads and clicks broken down by day and by forum. Page 10
  12. 12. TransparencyAn Authentic Way to Be Part of the Forum ConversationOne challenge for forums is that some advertiserspose as users simply to insert “disguised” com-mercial messages. Forum owners spend consider-able time keeping such posts out. PostRelease,by contrast, creates a structured environment forinserting content that is useful and relevant, andintroduces transparency, clearly identifyingits messages.PostRelease’s current network consists ofover 170 participating forumsrepresenting automotive, motorcycle, boating,power sports, video games and more. The companyis expanding into additional verticals. “Our most recent campaign saw a 40 percent conversion rate from clicks to landing page. That’s an unheard-of metric in the forum world. But this is a ‘business as usual’ experience with PostRelease.” – BJ Birtwell, President, The Armory MarketingPostRelease began testing its platform in 2008 byaddressing a single category – automotive forums.The company has executed more than200 campaigns for companies such as eBayMotors, Pioneer Electronics, Toyota/Scion, NittoTire North America, American Tire Distributorsand more. Page 11
  13. 13. Proven ResultsCase StudiesPioneer ElectronicsPioneer Electronics ran a holiday promotion thatachieved a 60 percent click-thru rate using PostRe-lease to target automotive forum audiences. Thecompany offered rebates for its new flagship AVIC- 60%Z110BT and AVIC-X910BT navigation systems,crafting a sponsored forum post which included Click-Thru Rateproduct images, direct links to the product webpages and the rebate page on Pioneer’s website.The campaign ran as a sticky post – meaning thepost remained in the lead position in the forum dis-cussion category for one week in early November– in 55 automotive-themed forums.Pioneer ElectronicsPioneer Electronics used PostRelease to help 40000announce the launch of its AVIC-D3 in-dash 35000navigation system, embedding a link to a com-pany YouTube video within the PostRelease 35,000 Reads 30000post. The post generated 35,000 reads; anotherPioneer video that wasn’t promoted through 25000PostRelease only received 500 reads during thesame time period. 20000 15000 10000 5000 500 Reads Without PostRelease 0 Page 12
  14. 14. Proven ResultsCase StudiesAmerican Tire Distributors Read more than 44,000 timesAmerican Tire Distributors sought tobuild awareness for a new website, The company usedPostRelease on 20 different forums, tailoringthe images in each post to the specific forums(Audi images for Audi forums, Mustang imagesfor Mustang forums, etc.). The PostReleasepost was read more than 44,000 times in amatter of weeks, and generated a click-thoughrate of 69 percent. The Wheel Envizio websitehad its single largest traffic day on the daythe PostRelease campaign went live. Traffic 69%remained high throughout the campaign. Click-Thru RateNitto Tire CorporationNitto Tire Corporation promoted its new Invo Over 3,300 Readstire product exclusively via PostRelease, byoffering a free, Nitto-branded, downloadabledesktop wallpaper. The PostReleasegenerated a 33.8% click-thru rate and was 33.8%Read over 3,300 times by the core of thebrand’s target consumers. With PostRelease, Click-Thru RateNitto was able to target audiences by vehiclemake and model. Combined with the near-instant insertion of messages, PostReleaseallowed Nitto to promote the right product tothe right audience at the right time. A new sizerelease announcement could be made the daythe product was available for purchase andonly to the specific vehicle make and modelsfor which the sizes were applicable. Thisallowed Nitto to stimulate demand for new tireand new tire size launches very quickly makingit one of Nitto Tire’s best-performing products. Page 13
  15. 15. Created By a Swat Team ofDigital InventorsPostReleaseThe creators of PostRelease have been participating in online forums since theywere called “bulletin boards” back in the late ‘80s. Recognizing that the peoplein forums were enthusiastic consumers, and that forum owners desperatelyneeded an effective revenue channel, PostRelease founders set out to do thelegwork of building a system that would connect these wildly disparate entities ina way that works for all parties.PostRelease is a spin-off of Cie Studios, a Long Beach, Calif.-based “digital lab”that combines compelling user experiences with cutting-edge technology tobuild next-generation interactive entertainment and rich Internet applications.The company began in 1998 as an interactive services firm providing innovativedigital marketing campaigns for companies like Pioneer Electronics, Chryslerand Toyota/Scion.The PostRelease company has a patent pending for the PostRelease program. Page 14
  16. 16.