How to Leverage Invite Friends

This post is cross-posted from the Janrain Blog.

Fundamentally, people are attracted to social technologies because they like sharing their lives and experiences with friends. In fact, the ability to share is one reason that Jeremiah Owyang has said that email was the first social network. Before Friendster or Tribes, people emailed cute cat videos to each other.

That desire to connect and share with others is the driving user need for Janrain’s Invite Friends functionality. Invite Friends is different than Social Sharing. Where a social share event is a broadcast message to all social connections, Invite Friends allows the user to send a targeted message to selected friends. It’s the difference between a “come one, come all” poster to the Friday night party, and a party invitation delivered through the mail. More targeted, more personal.

This functionality can be used for a number of purposes, like sharing a deal or offer, telling friends about an achievement, targeting a sensitive message to the best connections in the user’s network, or asking a friend to join the user in a new social experience.

Janrain offers Invite Friends functionality for Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, and Windows Live (Hotmail). The end result in social networks is a network message (e.g. a Facebook Message or Twitter Direct Message) from the user to their friend; for Google, Yahoo and Windows, the end result is an email from the user to their contact’s email.

The Invite Friends functionality is very easy to implement. It’s based on Janrain’s Contacts API. In order to implement this functionality, you must first ensure that you have asked for the correct permissions from the user. In Facebook, the user has to authorize your site to access their contacts. In email providers, the user authorizes access to their email address book.

The contact list that is returned from Janrain is normalized and available in XML or JSON. If the user has connected multiple identities, contacts from multiple networks can be displayed. Now, you can render those contacts in the way that makes the most sense for your users.

There are a two common options for rendering contact lists.

You can queue them up to be auto-populated from a keystroke trigger, like Gmail:

Invite Friends - Auto-Populated Email

Or you can import photos and allow users to check which contacts they want to communicate with:

Invite Friends - Import photos

Make sure to allow the user to select all or none of their contacts easily, in addition to toggling a selection for an individual contact easily. Also note that Janrain won’t return any information from a Facebook user’s friend that the friend has not authorized for the user to access.

 

Another way to leverage your user’s social graph is through a Refer a Friend experience. This is a highly targeted way to maintain the exclusivity of an experience, by limiting access to social referrals. You can enhance the velvet rope feeling by limiting the number of friends that can be referred.

Inviting friends with a targeted message is important functionality to consider for higher value, or more sensitive experiences that don’t make sense for users to broadcast to their entire network. Not surprisingly, they are also more effective marketing messages than anything you could send directly from the brand. Open rates on messages and emails from known contactsare 43% higher than from email marketers, and transaction rates are 2.5 times higher.

Janrain has detailed documentation on using the Contacts API to start this process, and please contact us if you have any questions on how to build your own Invite Friends experience.

How to Leverage Social Sharing

This is cross-posted form the Janrain Blog.

One of the most common use cases for Janrain Engage is to promote your website content on external social networks through the use of our social sharing functionality. Sharing has come a long way from constrained widgets. Janrain offers unmatched flexibility and tracking for social sharing – from simultaneous network broadcasts to sharing from a mobile device.

Go Try It On implementation of Janrain Engage social sharing in iOs

Fortunately, the process of implementing Janrain’s social sharing on your website is very straightforward. There are three main components that you have to define: the activity that triggers a sharing event, the content within the publish activity, and the links back to your existing analytics package for return visitor tracking. Let’s look at them individually.

The Activity Event

The process of a social share starts with a user activity. Most of the time, the activity will be a click event, on a sharing icon, button, or favicon. But, a triggered share can be prompted from any event. Some possible sharing events include:

 

  • Reaching the end of an article: when a user has read an entire article, they are more likely to share it than a user who read just the first paragraph. You can implement a sharing trigger once the user scrolls to the bottom of a page. Here, Kodak allows users to share their projects.Kodak implementation of social sharing with Janrain Engage
  • Commenting on a piece of content: when a user comments on a piece of content, the publication of that comment can trigger a recommended share event. In this case, the user is not done with the comment flow until they decide whether they want to share the comment or not. Here, the Bakersfield Californian allows users to share their comments on articles.Bakersfield Californian implementation of social sharing on a comment with Janrain Engage
  • Completing a sequence of events: a user may want to share when they have accomplished something on your site. Whether its getting to the end of a checkout process, viewing a video series, or interacting with advertiser elements on your site, every unique experience is potentially a shareable experience. Here, AMC allows users to choose which suspect is the killer on the TV show “The Killing.”AMC implementation of social sharing on TV show The Killing, using Janrain Engage

 

The Publish Event

Publishing a social share is the act of submitting that shared content to the social networks where the user has connected. Janrain’s sharing allows the user to post to multiple networks simultaneously, which increases overall sharing, as users link to multiple networks with one publish event. In addition, Janrain allows you to retain some control over brand perception by allowing users to publish immediately, or to put social shares into a moderation queue, and publish them later.

In order to finalize a publish event, you have to determine a few things about what defaults the user should share. You’ll need to determine what the title and description of the event that the user shares should say. Most commonly, those will be driven by the page-level information you are already using, and pulled directly from the HTML on page. Of course, custom messaging is also possible. So, your content strategist should be involved in how social content is messaged for maximum clickthrough and SEO benefits.

We also recommend that you prompt your users with a message to share to their network. Of course, the user will have the ability to customize the message they send out to their network, but this is a case where smart default copy can influence the tone and color of how your content is received by the user’s social graph. Default copy can be static or dynamic based on the page content or template, and could be the page or article title, and can also include an action from the user, like “I love…” or “I just read…” This prompts the user to think about the context they want to provide for their friends and contacts.

The Analytics Setup

Of course, the goal of users sharing your content is to drive more traffic back to your site. You will want to ensure that you are accurately tracking the return traffic from a sharing event.

Janrain’s social sharing works with any analytics package. First, you must establish the proper campaign tracking identifier to append to the shared URL. In general, you will want to track several components, such as Campaign Name, Referrer, and Source, R. Most websites define the Campaign Name as “SocialMedia,” Referrer as “SocialShare,” and Source as the share location (e.g. “Checkout” or “ArticleEnd”).

The campaign tracking append is embedded within the share trigger, as part of the URL that is shared. Simply place it at the end of the URL reference as a hard coded element in the share activity. That way, regardless of what specific page the user is on, the campaign tracking information will be automatically added.

We also recommend that you shorten the URL after campaign tracking identifiers are appended. Janrain provides easy URL shortening through our rpx.me service. Now, you’re all set to allow users to share content in a way that adds more user profiles and more social media analytics onto your site.

Janrain’s customers see an average of 13 return visitors for every link shared. With a well thought-out social sharing strategy, you can dramatically increase your site traffic from social media, and drive a more qualified referral visitor at the same time. Janrain’s strategic servicescan help you articulate the most valuable sharing experience for your users.

My Next Adventure: Janrain’s Huge Social Media Vision

Over the past several years, I have seen a variety of organizations wrestle with the enormous implications of social media. Nothing less than the very DNA of the company must shift in order to take advantage of the power of your own customers.

The most advanced organizations are working through Jeremiah Owyang’s 8 steps of integrating social media into a corporate website. Step 7 of 8 is using social sign on, which allows users to log in with existing identity providers, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Yahoo and others.

Social sign on is, in fact, the core functionality that opens the corporate website to true social media experiences.

That’s why I’m excited to join the team at Janrain, as their digital marketing and social media strategist. Janrain has been the pioneer in social identity management for years. They understand better than anyone how crucial social identity management is because they have been focused on creating huge value for their clients by bridging the fluid, quicksand of social media fashions (since before My_____ was called MySpace) and real marketing challenges.

So far, most brands have just toyed with the idea of bringing social functionality into their websites, and those early experiments have not gone very far. But Janrain’s partners are different – they have a deep, institutional understanding of how social media is reshaping customer relationships, and therefore, marketing strategy. Janrain stands at the front door of creating social experiences, with critical technology for nearly every website.

Janrain Engage, their social sign on solution, makes it easy for digital marketing teams to integrate existing identity providers into their website. That means more sign ups, more sign ins, and more conversions. It means more opportunities to personalize messaging. It means a more relevant and useful site experience for every visitor.

And that’s just the start.

Janrain’s other products aggregate social profile data to feed into existing CRM systems, and create single sign on for website networks.

This is infrastructure that must just work – marketing teams need to focus on creating experiences, not on the plumbing. And Janrain has built the tools to take the pain out of creating social experiences.

I am incredibly proud of the Emerging Media practice I built at White Horse. The social media methodologies and the mobile marketing resources I created there will continue to move forward with a strong group of marketers, creatives, and problem solvers. And White Horse’s clients will build even more successful marketing programs than ever.

Thank you to everyone I worked with at White Horse. Your passion, commitment, vision, and downright grit got me to dig deeper than I ever have before.

And, I expect to dig even deeper still at Janrain. The solutions are real, and substantial. The biggest challenge now is seizing the fullness of the opportunity. Janrain is ready to deliver outstanding solutions to all of the marketers who can benefit from our technology – which is every website in existence. A tall order, to be sure. But that’s just how I like it.

Onward!

Build Geolocation Strategy from Social Initiatives

This is  cross-posted from the White Horse blog.

If you’re trying to develop your geolocation marketing strategy, but don’t know where to begin, look no further than your social media strategy. These two components go hand in hand, and spending energy on geolocation without tight social integration will lead to a marketing program that’s dead on arrival.

White Horse recently conducted a survey of smartphone users to determine how geolocation apps like Foursquare and Gowalla were being used by consumers, and how marketers should integrate check-in functionality and location information to their marketing plan.

The results were clear: Facebook Places was, far and away, the most utilized geolocation check-in service. And that has big implications for every brand with a digital presence.

Facebook Places is deployed on far, far more phones than any other geolocation service. Foursquare has about 7.5 million mobile usersFacebook Places has well over 150 million mobile users (this number is from July, so it’s a bit outdated). You are 20 times more likely to find your prospects on Facebook Places than on Foursquare.

For marketers, then, the choice is clear. When looking to build out a location-based marketing strategy with a strong digital component, Facebook Places will yield the greatest success right now.

By leveraging your existing investment in social media, to promote your location-based touchpoints, you will also ensure that there is strong brand affinity and purchase intent with your geolocation initiatives.

When a marketing geolocation strategy starts with your existing Facebook Fans, it’s easy to build successful engagements with an incremental, test-and-learn approach. It also provides valuable insight into your social media community and drives additional value for your most connected and most important customers.

This is just one of the insights from our new webinar on mobile marketing strategies. We’ll review original, proprietary research on how consumers are using location-based applications, and how to show quick results in mobile marketing initiatives. Sign up for the March 30 5 Breakaway Mobile Marketing Insights webinar now.

 

Downy Blows A Huge Social Media Opportunity

This is cross-posted on the White Horse blog – go there for all types of digital marketing goodness.

Recently, Downy fabric softener and Macy’s bedding department sponsored an event where comedian Mike Birbiglia slept in a Macy’s store window display for a week. People all over the world could watch “Mike in the Window” on Downy’s Facebook page, and see videos of him trying to sleep.

If you’re asking “why?” right about now, you are not alone. Continue reading “Downy Blows A Huge Social Media Opportunity”

How Social Media Marketers Lie

There are a lot of things that get my goat – but people that claim that social media is solely responsible for getting social media results is probably the worst.

In fact, there’s an entire marketing campaign ecosystem that goes in to pushing consumers into social channels, and then, if it’s good, they will share it with their friends.

That’s the subject of my new webinar with Lisa Osborne, White Horse’s Director of Media Services. Lisa and I approach marketing campaigns with an integrated mindset from the start – and we don’t get bogged down in territoriality between what is paid and what is social.

We talk through the benefits of this approach, and how to structure your own marketing efforts this way in our new webinar – which you can join for free tomorrow!

Register for the big event, and I look forward to the conversation!

Beckett-Style Ad Agency Pitch

This really happened to a friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous.

It’s sad (or hilarious, actually), but true – this stuff happens every day. You have to love the creative process to keep going back for more punishment.

It’s Not My Fault You Are New to Quora

This is cross-posted from the Quora Review, a blog about Quora.

A lot of people – especially new users – think Quora is hard to use. And the sign up process is not as easy as it could be (as David Pogue recently pointed out). But Quora’s initial wonkiness actually helps it be a better site.

Because when something is great, you should have to work a little bit to get it. Continue reading “It’s Not My Fault You Are New to Quora”

Groupon Locusts and the Coming Small Business Apocalypse

Here’s my latest post on the White Horse Blog.

At the dawn of 2011, the hottest trend in social marketing is the “daily deal” Web site, of which Groupon is the poster child. I’m not restricting my ire to Groupon alone here, but since they are the best known, you can take every instance of “Groupon” in this post to mean “any daily-deal Web site.”

Groupon is terrible for small business. Continue reading “Groupon Locusts and the Coming Small Business Apocalypse”

Welcome, Social Media Examiner and TechCrunch Visitors!

If you’re visiting this blog for the first time, welcome!

I wrote a guest post on Social Media Examiner on curing social media management pains just before gorging my face with turkey and giving thanks for the internet (among other things).

And, then my post on social media content curators was referenced in Guillaume Decugis’s post on social media content curation on TechCrunch.

If you’re interested in connecting on social media strategy, I work for White Horse, and we do amazing work there. Tons of digital marketing resources in the White Horse resource center, too.

So, if you’re poking around here, you might enjoy:

-White Horse landscape review on social media management platforms

The challenge of increasing quality for marketers

-Why Quora is great for content marketing

-And, why marketing ninja Seth Godin is wrong about content curation

-Lots more digital marketing thinking on the White Horse blog

-And subscribe to the RSS feed for all the ongoing goodness.

See you around!