By Ali Pearce, PepperDigital

When it comes to magazines, I tend to be somewhat of a hoarder. The corners of my bedroom are filled with stacks of Shape and InStyle, with dog-eared articles and torn out pages. I always plan to get back to these articles at some point in the near future, but they usually end up in the black hole of magazines that I now consider part of my bedroom décor. Unfortunately, I never get around to rereading that article on 10 best workout songs or Easy 30 Minute Meals.

Thankfully, for those of you, like myself, who save issues of magazines in hopes of later making use of the articles, Maz has come out with an organized solution to our problem, and don’t worry it’s not a reality TV show.

Maz, a startup that works with magazine publishers to design magazine apps for the iPad, has created a new feature that allows readers to crop images from magazines and directly send the information to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or e-mail.

Tearing out articles from magazines to share with friends, or hanging them on the wall for inspiration, has always been a part of magazine culture, but it has not transcended to digital subscriptions until now.

Many brands are already using Pinterest to connect with their fans and posting content directly from a magazine page creates another opportunity for consumer engagement. For example, by taking advantage of the community board feature already on Pinterest, magazines can have users pin their favorite features from each issue. Not only would this increase brand exposure for the magazine, but it would also allow editors to directly communicate with their readers and learn what articles they liked the most. This 21st Century version of “letters to the editor” provides real-time feedback, allows editors to improve the quality of their magazine and also enhances the reader’s experience.

In order to stay competitive in today’s digital age, magazines and newspapers must adapt to new technology and social media integration. Thanks to Maz, they can establish greater brand loyalty with their readers by tapping into a behavior they already have – saving full magazine pages for themselves and friends. All that, and I can finally clean up my bedroom.

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By Brian Blank, PepperDigital

People follow brands on social media for a variety of reasons but a recent poll shows that half of all consumers find more value in a brand’s Facebook page over its website. The survey, conducted by marketing research firm Lab42, surveyed 1,000 social media users to figure out exactly how consumers interact with brands on Facebook. What they uncovered might help guide the way your team views Facebook and other social media platforms.

Presented in the ever popular infographic, the data Lab42 uncovered is pretty insightful. First off we know people love to “Like” and “Share” on Facebook and 87% of all people do “Like” brand pages with a majority finding it is a good place to interact with brands. One startling statistic was that only 35% feel brands listen to them more on Facebook or, a better way to frame it, 65% of all people feel brands DO NOT listen to them better on Facebook.

Since listening (going beyond reading a message and wishing your customer and their problems would just go away) is an essential component of using social media, not taking advantage of this invaluable feedback mechanism and going beyond being a “me, me, me” promotional platform is a waste. Despite this, 75% of users DO feel more connected with brands on Facebook.

In marketing, we all talk about one of the benefits of social media is to grow awareness by reaching the friends of your followers and the survey supports this by showing 69% of respondents followed a brand just because a friend did. But don’t think that these people will automatically turn into customers. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed admitted following a brand to help out a friend.

Customer and fan retention is a key part of the social experience for marketers and the majority of people surveyed have no qualms about unliking your brand. That’s right, 73% said they will unfollow you for posting too much, they stop liking your brand or from a negative experience.

So what lessons can you take away from this survey and infographic? First off, customers come here for a value they cannot find on your website – keep rewarding them with reasons to come back. These can be coupons, announcements of specials or price reductions or even just help tips.

Next, you have their attention and a direct line to their voice – use it wisely! Ask questions that will help create a better product or service and show that you are listening, not just trying to get them to shut up and go away. Talk less about you and talk more to your customers. We have a lot to learn about our followers and the value they are looking for. Keep interacting and adjusting to their needs, wants and desires.

What interesting tidbits have you learned about your followers?

[via Mashable]

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By Lewis Shields, PepperDigital

Go to any networking event for any industry and you’re guaranteed to find groups of professionals actively discussing the latest trends and gossip with their peers.  They have opinions, insight and personalities. However, move these discussions to an online forum and far too often the same professionals are bland and stick to corporate speak.

Many senior professionals, especially in the professional services sector, still struggle with the concept of social media being ‘social’.  A fear of being vulnerable to legal attack, or not being ‘on brand’, stifles the intrinsic nature of social media of being fun, informative and conversational.

Because of this fear, brand feeds for professional services firms also tend to remain static and introspective, as they are controlled by the rules set out by their senior executives.  This is true even for organisations which spend millions of dollars creating bespoke brand imagery and guidelines – they do not see the relevance of translating this to online conversations.

To investigate the use of social media in professional services Flagship Consulting looked in-depth at one specific sector – accountancy.  ‘Social Media in Accountancy’ is an evaluation of the top 60 (by fee income) firms in the UK and provides an in-depth analysis of those organisations with the strongest presence across social media channels. Although UK based, the results are true across many markets.

The study used our own algorithm to evaluate performance via a mixture of online tools such as Klout, Peer Index and Marketing Grader.  Human analysis was also used to provide an in-depth analysis of the social media activities of the top 10 organisations.

On the whole, professional services firms in UK, still struggle to run social media programmes that develop and maintain conversations within and amongst their target audiences.  There is a tendency for firms to simply broadcast brand activity, which is of very little interest or value to audiences on social channels.

A golden rule on social is to use an informal approach and respond to everyday issues.  Accountancy firms are communicating to people first and foremost and need to engage with them on a personal level.  Using consumer techniques and a personality driven approach makes organisations much more relevant to their online audiences and will generate a greater return.

However, few firms have the resources or are empowered to run such a dedicated social programme.  Many of the firms with whom we discussed the report knew their social media efforts lacked the personal approach – but felt helpless due to the constraints of senior managers who do not allow such a ‘risky’ approach to brand communications.

Executives working in professional services firms need to learn that there are valuable conversations taking place outside LinkedIn and find new ways to work that encourage a ‘people to people’ style of interaction between their brand and customers and prospects. This poses a challenge for those companies (particularly in industries such as finance, law and accountancy) that are faced with the prospect of changing their internal practices and fundamental ethos to use social channels to manage their brand and aid growth.

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