Trends on Trends on Twitter

As you’re thumbing down your Twitter stream do you find yourself asking, “what is this random hashtag that keeps popping up”? Or do you look down at the trending topics on Twitter and ask “Why on earth would that hashtag possibly be trending?”

We do too.

That’s why we’ve taken some of the trending hashtags and topics of last week and given context behind the hype to help you understand what’s trending and give insights to tactics that may be helpful in getting your own hashtag trending.

#OnTheRoadAgainTour

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One Direction Fan? Then you already know about this hashtag and it’s promise to give you a chance to win tickets to see them in concert. Official rules found here. With 21 Million followers and sponsorship from Live Nation, this young boys band has no problem in getting a hashtag to trend.

Why was it trending? With 21 million followers, it’s no surprise that with the announcement of their 2015 lineup, this London-based pop band gets a lot of traction, quickly.

#RetireReady

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Handle @WiseBread offers a weekly TweetChat covering various personal finance topics. To help entice participation, each week a handle is selected out of the group that RSVP’d for the chat and given an Amazon gift card.

This week’s topic that trended: retirement. Hence the hashtag name.

Why was it trending? When you get a large group of people together to talk about one topic with a specified hashtag, it tends to gain attention. To gain a large following, it helped to have giveaways to participants.

Gold Glove

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Baseball fan? Great, then you were probably tweeting about the Gold Glove nominations of 2014.

Not a fan? Well, it’s an annual award presented by Rawlings, a sports equipment manufacturing company. Each year Rawlings gives out an award to each position on the Baseball field for both the American and National league. Winners are chosen for their “defensive excellence.” Want to know the winners of 1957? Check it out here.

Why was it trending? A timely announcement in the heat of the World Series.

#DudeTime

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A socially acceptable time everyday for dudes to post selfies. No dude is judged during this time for being a little vain. Born from a joke about “girltime” it’s been trending for months.

Why was it trending? Simply because it’s hilarious. Comedy always helps in getting a message, video or image out.

SoMe Inaugural Insights Event Features Stephen Strong, VP of Marketing at ParkWhiz

SoMe kicked off its Insight event series on Friday, May 31, with a talk from Stephen Strong, VP of marketing at ParkWhiz. Aalap Shah & Madhavi Rao, co-founders of SoMe Connect originally conceived SoMe Insights as an opportunity for the team to learn best practices and other meaningful tactics from companies and organizations that were successful on social media. However, as planning began and speakers were selected, both co-founders realized that there was an opportunity to create meaningful dialogue around social for the greater Chicago community and opened up the series to the public. The focus for the event now is to showcase successful companies and actionable insights on a monthly basis and providing a forum for the greater business community to ask questions and talk with these thought leaders.

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Strong and colleague, James Sims, ParkWhiz communications manager, discussed consumer advocacy and the integral role it plays in marketing a company. ParkWhiz, a Chicago-based company that allows you to reserve parking spots online, has an impressive online following with over 7,000 vocal and active Facebook fans. But a good company knows, Facebook ‘Likes’ are just the beginning, which is why Strong and Sims stressed the importance of giving a voice to your users.

One way ParkWhiz equips their users, is by providing a forum for them to review parking garages where they’ve reserved spots. ParkWhiz uses these reviews to collect information on consumer preferences, which helps them better understand their users. In addition, ParkWhiz reports their findings to parking garage staff, who are historically disconnected from their users.

When reviewing or creating a new online marketing plan for your business, consider how easy or hard it is for your users to express themselves. If you’re not getting much in the way of consumer feedback, dig deeper. Strong and Sims say they make a point to shout out all the parking garages they work with, especially the smaller ones. While these garages don’t have the biggest following, they’re often more receptive and vocal than their larger competitors. The takeaway: Your audience may be scattered across smaller networks and forums, but they should not be discounted. ParkWhiz has found success in pulling fan content from smaller sites and sharing it where they have their biggest online presence, Facebook.

SoMe Insight events will take place each month at Enerspace Co-Working conveniently located right off the Morgan Pink/Green lines. Need more motivation? Chicago food truck staples, Bombay Wraps and Flirty Cupcakes food, were on hand to feed the events 60+ attendees. Mark your calendars for our upcoming speakers! You do not want to miss this all-star lineup. Info on sign-up and topics to come soon.

July 26, 2013: David Gardner, ColorJar

August 23, 2013: Tim Bruno, Corporate Execute Board

September 27, 2013: Maria Katris, Built In Chicago

October 25, 2013: Mike McGee, Starter League

November 20, 2013: Ankur Thakkar, Chicago Mayor’s Office

Digital Marketing (Some) Insights From Stephen Strong, VP of Marketing at ParkWhiz

SoMe Connect is excited to present our inaugural SoMe Insights event. We’re speaking to Stephen Strong, Vice President of Marketing at ParkWhiz. Stephen will discuss his digital marketing insights, including trends, tools, and tactics that are applicable to any business.

We’ll start at 11:30 with some informal networking at Enerspace Co-Working where you can reserve a free ticket and a free day-pass to work from after (or before) the event. Not in need of an office space for the day? Simply select the free ticket option and register. Our program will start promptly at 12:00 PM and conclude with Q&A by 1:00 PM.

We’re working on having a few food trucks stop by at our event, but, plan on bringing a brown bag lunch or stopping by at any of the nearby west loop eateries on you way!

Enerspace Co-Working is conveietly located right off the Morgan Pink/Green Line stops and ParkWhiz also has $8 parking spots available nearby on Halsted. Reserve your spot at ParkWhiz today!

Our speaker’s bio:

Stephen has 19 years of interactive marketing experience on both the advertising agency and product marketing sides. He started coding websites by hand in 1995 and survived the first Dotcom rise and crash (although his eToys stock did not). He spent 8 years as the Director of Interactive at DraftFCB, building a world-class digital organization for Chicago’s largest advertising agency. Prior to ParkWhiz, Stephen served as Global Director of Interactive at Alberto Culver and Unilever, developing interactive marketing programs for leading beauty CPG brands.

As VP of Marketing, Stephen uses his experiences (good and bad) from the original Dotcom Days – along with years of developing integrated marketing programs for big consumer brands – to continue driving ParkWhiz as the leading eParking provider.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Customer Acquisition Cost: Is Your Business Off Balance?

Picture this: You are a start-up and have an amazing idea that is going to disrupt the way the world currently works. Maybe you are a small business, or just looking to make a quick buck. Maybe you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, a businessman or woman who worked in an industry for a decade, a developer, or maybe you are just getting out of college and looking to tackle start-up life. You assemble a great team and find the best market to create a product/market balance and then you execute on your business model.

A few months pass and you have some traction but not an extravagant amount. Your funding is running out, and you are eating ramen noodles for every meal and working a few side jobs to make ends meet. You are probably wondering what happened or maybe discovering that something feels wrong. You might ask yourself if you’re on a sinking ship. You start looking for ways to increase you conversions through marketing. “Should I create a Facebook Page? Twitter? Maybe a Linkedin Profile? Should I start cold calling, sign up for conventions, or network a crazy amount to find referrals?”

No matter what path you take, you might already have a case of the Silent Killer: Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). David Skok explains CAC as the “second biggest cause of startup failure” preceded only by product/market fit. If you are a CMO, or an agency you should be tracking CAC for you and your clients if you want to stay afloat.

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Why?

If you are looking for what metrics to track in a campaign, don’t fool yourself into thinking that vanity metrics—such as number of likes, follows, retweets, and favorites—are the most important thing. The truth is they don’t have a great correlation with what everyone wants: a great ROI. When you focus on CAC as your main metric for marketing, it can mean a world of difference in measuring impact on your customer segments. Why? Because it gives you a holistic view of your marketing efforts in terms of cost, impact, and conversions. It dictates and forces you to think about things such as:

*Am I optimizing my sales/marketing models to meet the needs of my customer?
*Cost per lead
*Conversion rates at each stage of your sales process
*Lowest level of touch needed

CAC is the cost of your efforts in Sales and Marketing. As human touch increases, usually so will your CAC. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that if your CAC is larger than the LTV (Lifetime value of customer) you are probably sinking.

How?

The next step is to ask yourself “How do I figure out my CAC?” The way that HubSpot suggests to calculate CAC is quite simple:

Total Sales and Marketing Cost
Number of New Customers

These costs are, but not limited to, advertising, salary/commissions/bonuses, and overhead. You might be shocked at how high your current CAC is, but that is fine because you can begin to rebuild your process to lower it. Remember that “fear makes you focus.”

What?

After doing the calculation, analyze your results, don’t ignore that number despite the thoughts that you are having (ex: “This can’t be right”). CAC is meant to be more of a “ballpark“ figure, and may vary depending on your business model. If your CAC is not lower than your LTV, here are a few tips to getting back on track:

Revisit your sales/marketing model

The crux of the matter is that you are probably not optimizing your business in sales/marketing funnels well enough. Map out the processes that your customer segments go through to purchase (or not purchase) your services/products. This means going out there and conducting interviews. “GET OUT OF THE BUILDING”

Implement some Inbound Marketing

Some of your pain points probably exist because you aren’t taking advantage of tools to increase you online presence. Establish your brand through a blog, social channels, and optimize your website to gather leads. Yes, it takes time and money to do this, but the pain and effort you put in now will create better growth for the future.

Measure

Keep track of both how and how many leads you generate , and obviously track how your new strategy is impacting your CAC.

The most important takeaway: DON’T IGNORE YOUR CAC. Hopefully through reading this post, the process of analyzing your decisions in sales/marketing will become a habit which will lead you to research better marketing practices. Now go out and build, build, build!

Start-Up Spotlight – “The Paraders”

This week, we interviewed Rachael Hammon, of The Paraders, an online vintage e-commerce retailer about her start-up story and success. We had so much fun talking to Rachael about how she turned her hobby into a full-time, income generating business.

Rachael also recently launched and completed a successful Kickstarter project to fund her own vintage fashion line.

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Excerpts from our interview below:

How did you start your company?

Rachael has been working on The Paraders for over three years now. “[Vintage clothes] was just a hobby that I had and thought I’d test out buying and re-selling online.” In the beginning, Rachael used “just a corner of the living room out of the apartment” which rapidly expanded over the years. Growth came quickly as she started listing on Etsy and reinvesting her profits into new inventory. Clearly, testing your market and validating the idea is something that Rachael is quite good at. Rather than jumping full in with a website and office space, she took a “step-by-step approach” by investing in things that were important. First and foremost, she invested in high quality inventory, photos, and defining her customer experience. Once those items were in place, she later expanded her web presence, found an office, and hired some part-time employees to help manage the growing business. Rachael says of that first year, “It was really slow, but getting started is always the slowest” and it’s all about the “little adjustment and tweaks” you make to grow your business and build a brand.

What compelled you to create a business out of your hobby?

“I was always interested in vintage, not just to wear it, but also in the history.” Prior to creating a dedicated online e-commerce platform to sell her merchandise, Rachael would often buy and sell vintage clothing that did not fit on online exchanges or at local markets.

In addition to her interest, Rachael comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and she was “familiar with the [entrepreneur] lifestyle and mindset from a very early age.” She “always knew that she would own her own business” and her hobby was the perfect launchpad to create a business.

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What did you do while The Paraders was starting-up?

In order to launch her startup, Rachael took up nannying, which not only provided her with income, but also, an opportunity at “nap time to get out the computer and work on her business.” Those nap times, gave her a dedicated time every day to work on her business which she feels is extremely important in the early stages of a start-up to succeed.

Tips on avoiding start-up roadblocks:

• Be persistent – Dig deep inside of your passion to “keep up, when the times get tough.”
• Stop procrastinating – Do the things you don’t want to do first. Rachael experienced this first hand as she says “early on, I wasn’t sure what to name the business so I procrastinated for months in setting up my Etsy store.”
• Get out of your comfort zone – Every day, pick one thing that makes you uncomfortable and tackle it. As Rachael says, “power thru the [tough things] and make the hard decisions and make those cold calls” because no one else is going to care about your business the way you do.
• Pay attention to detail – Don’t underestimate the importance of all the small things that make up your business. “Small details make the big picture.”

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Has digital marketing helped your business? In what way?

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“The big key with social media is that it constantly puts us in front of our customer and target audience.” Whether they’re willing to buy or not today, “the element of being constant and consistent is key.” The Parders uses a variety of social media tools, including, Facebook, Twitter, blogging and email marketing to stay in touch with its customers. “Some of our biggest sales are from social media and email marketing” and a lot of people pay attention to our messaging

All businesses take time, love, and passion, and sometimes, a defining moment. At one point, Rachael reached a point where she had to make a decision. Either she put all of her eggs in the Paraders and went all in, or walked away. She chose the former, and invested in a new office, a clothing line, and staff and she immediately saw success. With her passion, talent, and eye for design, we know that the Rachael and the Paraders will be one of the leading e-commerce retailers and fashion companies in the near future.