The Power of Storytelling is Authenticity

Stories are authentic human experiences. Stories can also build relationships, and bring people closer together.  Stories connect us to each other.  Whether we are aware of it or not, stories have a huge impact on who we are, the way we learn, and the way we teach. A good story can capture the attention of a huge audience, and really cement a point that you are trying to make. Stories leap frog the technology and bring us to the core of experience.

There are several psychological reasons why stories are so powerful.    

  • Humans are narrative creatures by nature.  And stories have always been a primal form of communication.  They connect us to a self larger than us and to universal truths. They bring us back to ancient traditions, legends, archetypes, myths, and symbols.  They also transcend generations.
  • Stories are about human connection and relatedness. They engage us through emotions of joys, laughter, sadness, hardships and passions. Stories allow us to understand ourselves better, to find our commonality with others and overcome differences, to share meaning and purpose in the different aspects of our lives.
  • Stories reveal our thought processes and how we make meanings of life.  Psychologists use different names such as mental schemas, scripts, cognitive mapping, mental models, metaphors, or narratives.  Nevertheless, they all lead to a common purpose — We use stories to explain how things work, how we make decisions, how we justify our decisions, how we persuade others, how we understand and define ourselves, and how we teach human values such as responsibility, commitment, compassion, and the like.
  • Stories can be therapeutic and provide order.  People seek certainty and this is a universal truth.  And narratives offer a structure that is familiar, predictable, and comforting. Within the context of the story, we can withstand intense emotions because we know that resolution follows the conflict. Narratives can provide solutions and a safety net.  In my private practice, I have used stories to help children gain mastery and overcome some of their intense experiences (e.g., separation anxiety, low self-esteem), fears and emotions that can be too overwhelming.
  • Stories can be gateways that tap into our right brain and trigger our imagination. Through imagination, we become participants in the narratives. We can step out of our own shoes, see things differently, and increase our empathy and compassion for others. Through imagination, we think outside the box and harness our creativity that is the foundation of innovation, self-discovery and change.

In the context of social media, organizations, causes, brands or individuals identify and develop a core story.  They create and display authentic meaning and purpose that others can believe in, participate with, and share. Stories are so important today because there is SO much information out there and stories can serve as an effective filtering agent. Good stories will get someone to pay attention without clicking on the next link, changing the channel, or flipping the page. So what makes up a “good and powerful”  story? Most good stories will have the following elements:

  • Must have a Clear message (be engaging with tension or drama to evoke a powerful emotional experience
  • Mush have a Powerful introduction
  • Be Authentic
  • Be Relevant
  • May or may not have a call to action

AA Customer Spotlight: Flight101 Sport Speed Development

Olympics fever is on! The past weekend's events brought us spectacles like the Chinese divers, so synchronized, they were like mirror images of each other; a few surprises (and tear jerkers) like World #1 Jordan Wieber not making it to the all-around finals later this week, as well as some shifts in power evidenced by Lochte (the new alpha male in men's swimming) and Phelps unable to carry their relay team to win the gold and beat the French in the 400m relay.

To add to the Olympics excitement, this week's AA Customer Spotlight features Jay Murdock, head coach and trainer of Flight101 Sport Speed Development, a well-known training ground for our future Olympians and World Champions. Coach Murdock has been busy as he just sent off 33 of his athletes to the AAU (US AMateur Athletic Union) Junior Olympics but he still makes sure to communicate and engage with his clients/community. Let's learn how it's done the Flight101 way.

What is Flight101 Sport Speed Development?

Established in 2005 and located in Canton OH – the heart of high school football country, Flight101 Sport Speed Development offers northeast Ohio’s best available sports-specific high performance athletic training. Regardless of the sport, the greatest concern among today’s athletes is how to improve playing speed. Not just another gym or the latest “fad workout” Flight101 Sport Speed Development is a complete approach to improving athletic playing speed, reaction, agility and quickness. No matter what the sport, improved playing speed is often what separates good athletes from great athletes and can make the difference between a “winning season and a championship season.”

Head coach and trainer Jay Murdock has over 25 years experience coaching athletes at every level in a variety of sports. He has worked with young athletes from youth baseball, soccer, football and basketball to track and field at the college ranks. A former educator, on-air radio personality and long-time community activist, during his over two decades of coaching young athletes he has had athletes in national and state championships every year but three. He has coached 1 world champion, 3 national champions, 5 state champions, dozens of state qualifiers, 2 high school district championship and 6 high school conference championship track and field teams. His “athlete first, coach driven, performance based” approach to training young athletes has produced winning teams and championship athletes in an assortment of sports.

What is your coaching philosophy? How do you keep the athletes excited to come to training and be Olympic hopefuls one day?

First, it is important that our athlete’s feel like they are a part of a special fraternity – the Flight101 family. Even though they might come from different backgrounds, schools and communities the thing that they have in common is that they train with Flight101 and that they want to be the best that they can be. Over the years we have had a number of our athletes go on to prominence on and off the playing field and we make sure that our younger kids feel connected to what these athletes have accomplished. Second, we use what I call the ACT (Attitude, Conditioning and Technique) Equation to get them to understand our Coach/Athlete relationship. Conditioning and technique are the things that we can coach but attitude is what they bring to the table and without the proper attitude the drills and exercises we coach are meaningless. One of the things that we try to do in order to make sure that our athletes understand why we might be doing a particular drill or exercise. The days of just running because coach said so won’t work with this generation of athletes. We often put the goals of our workouts in writing so that the athlete can see the specific outcome we are trying to accomplish with that particular training session. Finally and most importantly, we try to make sure our athletes are having fun and enjoying themselves and to help them understand that training is about personal growth and not necessarily about winning and losing. However, with hard work and commitment they can achieve incredible things – like maybe one day representing country on the US Olympic Team.

Why did you create a FB brand page? How has the AppAddictive YouTube app helped your business since you downloaded it?

We had been using our blog and monthly electronic newsletter to communicate with our clients and promote our business for a number of months when we decided to launch our Facebook brand page. Both the blog and newsletter were great but they both required a considerable amount of time and attention in order research and write the articles on a regular basis. The FB brand page allows us to communicate with our clients in real time. By subscribing to feeds and posts that might be helpful and of interest to our clients we can update our FB brand page 2-3 times daily. We can post status updates on our athletes who are doing well on the field and in the class room. We welcome new athletes to the Flight101 family by posting their profile on our page and parents can post their videos of our athletes in various sporting events.

The AppAddictive YouTube app has helped our business in a number of ways. Again, it has allowed us to promote our business by linking our FB Brand page to other brand pages that have similar interests or provide information, products and/or services that our clients can use. We have used the video capability to highlight our clients and promote their athletic achievements to college scouts and recruiters. We have also used the videos as a coaching tool to help our athletes improve their performance.

What advice can you give to other small businesses that want to succeed in their FB and inbound marketing efforts?

We have found our FB Brand page to be the most economical way to promote our business and communicate with our client base. If your business is looking for a “get the word out to more customers” I can’t think of a better way to do it.

Why Visuals Are Very Powerful Tools in Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is more than just setting up a Facebook account with contact information and a few press releases, then waiting for the masses to “like” you.  It is also more than just tweeting and getting people to sign up and follow you.

A recent survey by UK marketer Dave Chaffey asked managers to rank the current key challenges of social media marketing. The top results were:

  • Managing reputation
  • Delivering customer service
  • Acquiring new customers
  • Increasing sales from existing customers
  • Increasing engagement with brand
  • Acquiring insights (analytics, ROI, brand preferences)

Small business owners are constantly facing these challenges.  And one of the keys of developing a successful social media strategy is to Focus on Visuals.  Why?

Visuals Equal Value

Visuals are a critical part of any successful marketing program. In the past, the visual part of your identity was a mere static logo. A little color, a little swoosh, and you’re done.  But in today’s social media age where videos and interaction have become an important part of the online presence, visuals take on a whole new territory.

In Universal McCann’s renowned “Wave 5″ report, watching online videos is the top social media activity.  Videos are great because there is a huge demand from users to develop a more social and interactive relationship with brands.  In other words, we must move beyond the simple product or service demonstration.  Interactive visuals are very powerful tools to tell a BRAND STORY.

Take the video of Corning:  A Day Made of Glass.  This video was intended for a small group of the company’s investors. And it carries an incredibly compelling look at the near future based on Corning’s innovative products. And it’s gone very viral. Since it launched on February 7, 2011, it has 19,523,661 views to date.

The phenomenal rise of social media sites like Pinterest and applications like Instagram has demonstrated that people are far more receptive to visual content than they are to written text. Short, sweet and to-the-point copy/text along with an enticing graphic or video generates so much more interaction than a long, written-out paragraph or slew of tweets featuring “How To” articles. And today’s online technology tools make it so much easier for you to share photos and videos from essentially anywhere.

Many small business owners are still gun-shy about getting too personal on social media sites.  However, the truth of the matter is that the personal element is what is going to make your Facebook business page, Twitter account, Pinterest boards and blog STAND-OUT   —- simply because they engage and connect with your customers.

For the most part, the first interaction a person has with your brand is through a social media site. If you do not have a branded presence on these sites, you’re instantly making it harder for new people to do business with you! Why? Because you’re making them work to recognize, remember, or figure out who you are!

With a customized, branded social media design strategy using videos and photos, you create a consistent look and feel for your brand that matches your website, email marketing, and print marketing materials. Creating a consistent brand which includes the look-and-feel for your business through social media will reinforce your credibility, your dependability, and your expert status. It will also make your prospects take notice, and your brand stand out from the crowd.

Some Tips for Creating Successful Visual Content for Your Brand

People are curious of what their peers and online connections are up to.  The reality shows prove that. The same thing holds true for the success of social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, etc. This is an important mindset to keep when creating your social media presence.  Here are a few ideas on posting interesting, visual content that will still keep things professional without getting too personal:

•    Post Short Videos. Posting 1-2 minute informative videos once or twice a week is always a great way to get people stay interested, engaged and feel connected.  Videos are powerful ways of evoking human reactions and emotions.

•    “Share” photos/videos from other businesses you are connected with. Give recognition to businesses you connect with by sharing their photos and videos.  This shows you like their content.  And this breeds good karma.  Down the line, they’ll reciprocate the nice gesture and give YOUR profile some exposure or testimonial, as well.  Now, that’s free advertising.

•    Take snapshots of your everyday life and community.  On your way to work or doing an errand, snap a photo of a funny sign and upload it to Facebook.  Did you recently win an award or celebrate a happy occasion? Instead of just announcing it, take a photo of it and tweet it. People want to know what you’re up to each day in your business. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few photos each week and sharing them with your online community.  There’s nothing with sharing some warm, fuzzy feelings.

•    Infographics.  These are interesting images that people create that showcase facts about a particular topic in a visual, intriguing way. It is a great tool to use for highlighting valuable, up-to-date information to your network.  People like that.  It keeps them in the loop, so to speak.

AA Customer Spotlight: de Vere’s Irish Pub

What do you think of whenyou hear of quiz night, whiskeys and ales, goat pot pie and St. Patrick’s Day? That’s right… a boozy drunken night in an Irish pub!

In this week’s AA Customer Spotlight, we interviewed Henry de Vere White, co-owner of de Vere’s Irish Pub in Sacramento, California. Henry is a self-proclaimed social media geek and it shows evidenced by the community he has fostered and the thousands of ‘likes’ he has in the de Vere Irish Pub Facebook page!

What is your elevator pitch? (Please tell us what you do, where you are, how long you’ve been around)  

We are a family-owned-and-operated pub that has been providing an authentic Irish experience for our guests to enjoy for four years. We take pride in our design, food, spirits, ales, and most importantly, service.

What drinks/events/food/specials is de Vere’s known for? Why do peoplel keep coming back?  

Our service and homemade food are two reasons people keep coming back. As we like to say, “this is not your average pub food.” We have over 180 whiskeys (and growing), rotating craft beer handles, and a great selection of traditional ales. Weare also known for our St. Patrick’s Day parties, St. Baldrick’s Day fundraising events, and many more events. We are always trying something new and constantly taking part and/or organizing community events. We support the community as they support us, because we were raised to always give back.

Why did you create a Facebook brand page and why did you download the AA YouTube Gallery app? 

We are working on expanding our YouTube presence to help put a face to our business. Your app is easy to use and makes a great impression on people, because it is functional and clean. We are highly involved in all forms of social media, which helps us learn more about our guests and give them a way to get to know us better. Social media allows us to engage our guests in their lives, outside the walls of our business. People interact with people they know and like. Facebook and Twitter are tools that allow us to share with and engage fans, and we take it–and our reputation–very seriously.

How has the AppAddictive YouTube app (and any other AppAddictive’s apps you’ve downloaded) helped your business since you downloaded it? 

Your platforms are great, and your newsletters keep us up-to-date on the ever-changing world of apps and sharing platforms. You allow us to do things that we otherwise would not be able to do. I know very little code, and I can manage my way around your apps with the little I do know. This is why I will always come back. I have a tight budget and can’t always afford the expensive apps or pay a developer. That makes you cutting edge and small-business friendly. Our web presence is ever-growing, and you play a direct role in that.


What advice can you give to other small businesses, restaurants and retailers that want to succeed in their FB and inbound marketing efforts? 

Make your material unique and interactive. Social media is about relationships–you need to engage people and your community. Also, remember that not everyone can like you, and don’t take it personally. Just take it as feedback, find the truth in it, and grow from it. If someone has a bad experience or doesn’t like a post, it’s ok. At least they are telling you and providing you a chance to grow.

Social Loyalty App and Token Economy : The Psychology of Loyalty Revealed

What is Token Economy?

A token economy is a system of behavior modification based on the systematic positive reinforcement of target behavior. The reinforcers or rewards are symbols or tokens that can be exchanged for other reinforcers. Token economy is based on B.F. Skinner’s principles of operant conditioning (or stimulus-response conditioning) and can be situated within applied behavior analysis or behaviorism.

The Psychology of Rewards
In the token economy system, the basic premise is that reward drives behavior – the carrot and stick formula.  Thus, when applied to social loyalty program, we reward the consumers when they respond appropriately to a behavior we want (e.g., refer your store to 10 more friends) and not reward them when they don’t respond accordingly.  However, paradoxically, while a big reward reinforces desired behavior better than a small reward, when rewards are discontinued, those who have received big rewards are more likely to return to the old buying pattern than those who received small rewards.   So make sure NEVER let your best customers feel that you are withdrawing privileges from them.

The identifying token

There are several ways of tracking or monitoring customers' purchases in order to later provide them with a reward especially now that the Social Loyalty Program is available on Facebook.  Whether the reward is a simple discount, a more targeted discount, points which lead to a gift from a catalogue or later money-off offer, or even extra services, there has to be some means of recognizing each customer at the point of sale. This is usually an identifying token or badges that the customer presents when making a purchase. So when applied to the Social Loyalty Program, the rewards (stimulus), in theory, are not only aimed at eliciting the right behavior (response), but also should reinforce it so that it ultimately becomes part of the consumer’s shopping psyche.  However, eliciting the right response is not just the function of the rewards offered, but all also includes a lot of other factors including the overall buying experience such as frequency of rewards, ease of use, emotional value of the rewards, and the like.

The Necessity of a Social Loyalty Program

By being the member of a loyalty program, the consumer by default becomes part of a larger community. Like every group, this community is also guided by certain norms and rules-predominantly set by the business that owns the program. The points accrual and redemption system forms the basic rules while the repeated strategic promotions that have a different set of rules become the advanced rules to get the members of the community to keep coming back. In a successful loyalty program, while the community formation is the first step, the successful conversion of the members into a “psychological-crowd” remains the key.

Psychological crowds are by nature extremely prone to the power of suggestibility. This vulnerability towards suggestion can be achieved by constant and relevant communication.   Thus, social loyalty program available on social media networks such as Facebook becomes very powerful and effective because of the availability of the community management system while keeping operating costs very low.  In marketing terms, the tactical and strategic promotions that are used to constantly communicate to the members serve the function of active suggestion. The online physical and emotional proximity between the members can be achieved by creating activities such as a family day-out, movie premiere, tickets for a play etc. These activities re-assure each member that there are many of people out there who think, behave and feel like them thus, validating their membership to the group.

What applies to an individual applies to a group.  Hence, successful loyalty programs are those that leverage the emotions that guide human behavior and channel them towards limited behavior modification resulting in regular and incremental financial returns for the business. The human mind craves for routine and any incentive that allows one to profitably) continue dealing with the store or business through rewards and incentives is the winner.

Loyalty programs are dictated by market dynamics. It is no longer a luxury but a necessity and a vital tool for survival for any business across industries. This is easy to understand when we realize that the market resides nowhere but in the collective consciousness of consumers.

It follows that the reward is a crucial part of any loyalty program. It has to be desirable enough to change the behavior of customers. In fact, if the reward is really well chosen, it will be attractive to the target group of customers, and not attractive to customers who are not really valuable to the business. It also has to be affordable, and balancing the two sides of the desirability/affordability equation is tricky. Next week, we will examine the key functions of a loyalty reward, offering sound advice on what consumers might value, and what might disappoint them. It also walks you through the properties or attributes that are always found in successful loyalty rewards.

If you like to be contacted about how a cloud-based Social Loyalty platform can improve the customer experience and enhance the revenues of your organization or your clients, please fill out the form on the right.

A Viral Channel to Showcase your Restaurant

So you’re a restaurant owner and business is picking up. It’s pretty standard practice now for establishments to have their own “embassy” on Facebook, serving as a gateway for existing and potential customers to get more information about the menu, the chef behind it and even obvious things like hours and contact information.

This is certainly a big improvement from those days wherein you had to get someone to build a website for your restaurant because everybody else was doing it. We live in a social world today and it’s time to make our Facebook fan pages work for us.

The 15 Most ‘Liked’ Brands in the world, from Red Bull to Burberry, have one thing in common. Their brand pages are highly visual. Simply Measured, an analytics firm that measures brand performance on Facebook, found a 65% aggregate jump in engagement for photos and videos that brands posted on their pages, while photo-less updates fell over the same period.

Content presentation has becomevery powerful.

Red Bull, the most popular energy drink in the world by volume, mixes up athlete profiles, events and comedy that generate thousands of likes and comments, with video and image posts as the most popular while promotional posts receive significantly lower user interactions.

Similarly, Burberry, the world’s most successful luxury fashion brand on Facebook, engages its fans by sharing a lot of unique and exclusive content like posting behind-the-scenes shots from photo shoots and videos from their latest campaigns.

What does this all mean for a restaurant owner trying to lure new customers via its Facebook page?

The bottom line is, everybody loves interactive content over lengthy text. Status updates are great but it is best to mix these up with videos and photos to keep people engaged and excited about the brand. It also does not hurt that videos and photos highly influence Facebook’s EdgeRank ratings, an algorithm to determine the content that an individual user will see in the ‘Top News’ portion of the News Feed.

Once you are ready to add more interactive content into your restaurant’s page, you can install the new and improved AppAddictive YouTube Video Gallery app. In under a minute, your page will literally come to life. It’s as easy as:

Step 1:  Make sure that you have qualityvideo content on your YouTube channel.

Step 2: Go to this page to install the AppAddictive YouTube Video Gallery player.

Step 3: Configure your page and publish.

What can you post? The opportunities are endless…

1. Introductions and features: on you (the owner/s), the chefs and restaurant staff, your customers, new menu items, specials, events and teaser content that will build hype and excitement.

2. How to/tutorials: not only an interactive post but also a helpful customer relationship management tool.

3. Entertaining content that fans would never have had access to without the advent of social media: the design and development of the menu, behind the scenes details from the market to the kitchen to the table. Do you have time to come up with weekly series of life in the restaurant? Share it with the world

4. Related brands, products, services, movies, songs

… BUT don’t forget that it is important to limit the length of videos and set expectations within the text to tell your fans what the clip is about.

For further inspiration, check out the pages of the people who get it (they pass the AppAddictive test!)

Eataly NYC

  • Eataly makes fried pizza and calzones in Worth Sqaure!
  • A Day In the Life of Mario Batali

The Mermaid Inn

  • Summer Crab Boul – tips on “How to” Crack your own crabs
  • 101st oyster! A regular eating his 101st oyster in under an hour

Bouchon Bakery

  • Fastest Scissors in the West: Matt McDonald, Head Baker, preparing our Epi Baguettes

  • Family Meal Coming Soon For Our Guests – Now the count down begins for something hot to come out of Bouchon Bakery for our guests

AppAddictive’s YouTube Video Gallery app not only adds a new video page on your existing fanpage, it also provides you, the page owner and its users to publish the sa

me video on your respective timelines. As a bonus, we give page owners the ability to upload a custom banner on top. Now take this app for a spin!

Word of Mouth Marketing is More Powerful Online

Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM), is an unpaid form of promotion—oral or written—in which satisfied existing customers tell other people how much they like a business, product, service, or event. Word-of-mouth is not new at all.  It is in fact one of the oldest yet most credible forms of advertising because people who don't stand to gain personally by promoting something put their reputations on the line every time they make a recommendation.

George Silverman, a psychologist, pioneered word-of-mouth marketing when he created what he called “teleconferenced peer influence groups” in order to engage physicians in dialogue about new pharmaceutical products. Silverman noticed an interesting phenomenon while conducting focus groups with physicians in the early 1970s. “One or two physicians who were having good experiences with a drug would sway an entire group of skeptics. They would even sway a dissatisfied group of ex-prescribers who had negative experiences!”

Now that we are in the online space, Digital Word-of-mouth marketing can influence the consumers’ buying decision. All of us are influenced by the word-of-mouth in one way or the other. Just think back to the time you asked for advice or an opinion from your friends and peers before purchasing a relatively expensive commodity. Or think about the last time you did online research to finalize your service provider or to purchase a product.  In my case, by default, I would read online reviews from previous customers when buying things at Amazon or Ebay for instance.  All these are the outcomes of  the digital word-of-mouth marketing.

So, let’s go a step ahead and explore what modes of digital word of mouth marketing are available to us:

1. Share with a Friend

Social networking websites provide us a great platform to connect with our family and friends located anywhere across the globe. Facebook,LinkedIn, Twitter etc. have now become a part and parcel of our daily lives. Happy, sad or confused- our status can spread the word within our network.   For example: – on purchase of every product from your website, give an option to your customers to share that with their connections on the social networking websites.

2. Reviews & Testimonials

Whether going out to dine at a restaurant, or about to purchase a laptop, or intending to hire a web consultant, etc., we all tend to go through the testimonials, reviews and ratings prior to making our purchase.  This is the power of asking for a review or a testimonial from a customer .  The previous buyer would give a review, which can then be shared with others.  This would be a good referral mechanism to build trust on your company without incurring additional costs.  These testimonials serve as effective marketing collateral for your website that can potentially increase more traffic to your website or fanpage.

3. Fan Page

Creating a Facebook fan page is an excellent and cost-efficient way to connect with your clients, prospects and business partners. A number of activities can be done through Facebook apps that can aid you in doing your digital word-of-mouth marketing.  Things such as status updates on Facebook, adding photos and videos to catch the eye of the target group, creating events and inviting your fans to attend, interactive activities such as games, online contests, promotions, etc. to engage your fans and the like, are some of the ways to do viral marketing organically through Facebook.

These are just some of the online ways of opportunities to do digital word-of-mouth marketing. For businesses, customer evangelism using entrenched advocates is one of the most affordable marketing channels; yet it provides some of the highest return on investment. More and more companies expand their reach thanks to the help of existing customers.  And the existence of Social Media like Facebook only allows the WOMM to grow virally in an exponential way.  This is what Social Loyalty or Digital Word-of-Mouth Marketing is all about.

Facebook Launched App Center with 600 Apps

Earlier this week, Facebook officially launched the App Center, an online store similar to Apple App Store or Google Play. App Center launched approximately 600 applications, including software from Pinterest, Draw Something, Nike, and other games. The platform is now mobile and accessible through iOS and Android-equipped devices. [Read more…]

Facebook Ads Could be your Most Efficient Source of Leads

We have seen a large improvement in the performance of Facebook Ads around the world. According to a study by Marin Software – who services fortune 500 companies  – performance and buyers of Facebook Ads are on the rise – meaning Facebook Ads are becoming more efficient and more business are jumping on the band wagon.

Here’s a ‘Road Map’ to running Facebook Ad Campaigns: