Many people in financial services see social media as a simple broadcast platform, where messages, blog posts and other featured communications stick to a billboard as though they were press releases or boilerplate content that’s better than nothing. Others see it as a “time suck” that takes away from the serious work of doing business the old-fashioned way. But a number of recent studies show that social media produces potent results beyond the misconceptions, as it helps financial professionals fill sales pipelines, construct new ones and recruit fresh prospects.
A 2016 study by the asset management firm Putnam Investments, which surveyed more than 1,000 financial advisors, reached this conclusion: “Advisors ARE social.” The Putnam Social Advisor Survey found that 85 percent of advisors use social media actively—up more than 10 percent from the 75 percent tallied in 2014. Read More»
BALTIMORE, MD - (Jan 18, 2017) - JMRConnect (www.jmrconnect.net), a multinational public relations (PR), corporate and influencer communications agency, today announced that The Holmes' Report has named it a 2017 North American In2 SABRE Awards finalist in four categories: Best Agency Disruption; Corporate/B2B; Employee Engagement; and Marketing Technology. The nominations reflect the effectiveness and utility of JMRConnect CEI (connect. engage. influence.), the agency's social engagement, employee advocacy and content marketing platform, as well as the results achieved by JMRConnect client, Yorktel.
Through CEI, companies can empower their biggest supporters to act as word-of-mouth brand ambassadors; content is sent directly to them through CEI and they share with the click of a button. CEI is customizable and user-friendly, and enables PR and marketing to engage employees, activate them as brand advocates, organically augment the credibility and visibility of content, and push approved corporate messaging to employees for multi-channel socialization to wider population. Read More »
Most companies that operate contact centers acknowledge the importance of enabling customers to contact them via multiple channels. Yet, a large number of these same companies use separate contact center and UC platforms and providers, which leads to communication silos among their channels. In a recent study conducted by Nemertes Research, for example, only 16% of those surveyed indicated they were currently integrating their communication channels. And, while 24% said they had plans to unify communications in the future, 60% had no plans. Not surprisingly, the minority of companies that already had a unified communications (UC) strategy in place enjoyed several benefits, including:
USPack Logistics (www.gouspack.com), a NewSpring Holdings portfolio company and leading same-day courier and transportation company, today announced that it has completed the strategic acquisitions of Best Courier and Delivery Services and JS Logistics. Best Courier and JS Logistics are the seventh and eighth acquisitions for USPack, the third and fourth under NewSpring Capital, after most recently acquiring Parsippany, NJ-based Flash Courier, and Alexandria, VA-based Washington Courier in March 2016 and September 2015, respectively. The St. Louis Post Dispatch covers the news...
New forms of marketing are seldom accepted with arms wide open. When online advertising first became a thing, marketers looked askance, wondering how this badly fractured media almost specifically geared toward basement-dwellers under 30 could ever possibly replace broadcast and print. Fast forward about 20 years, and we've seen how well it works. Now, we're having a similar moment about social media marketing, and new studies are showing how shaping influence can be a big gain for marketers. Travel brands, for example, routinely turn to shaping influence as a means to connect with users on social media, going after...
In Banking Strategies, published by the Bank Administration Institute, Breakthrough Technology Group CEO, Jeff Kaplan, details the business case for small and mid-size banks to move to managed private cloud environments. Managed private clouds offer dedicated and isolated environments for each customer, even as they provide complete visibility and remote control over the environment. They deliver the benefits of the public cloud with the security and flexibility of a private data center. For example: If a bank has a customized security requirement, such as a dedicated virtual firewall, a private cloud provider can accommodate this request. Compare that to a public cloud environment, where customized services and accommodations are limited because the provider must keep in mind the other tenants on its platform.
What’s more, banks face increased scrutiny and auditing requirements and must ensure they can be met in a cloud environment, too. With a private cloud, specific reports and visibility can be built in to satisfy compliance requirements—which may not be the case in a public cloud environment. In addition...
Figuring out just which media to use in an advertising mix can be a challenge. After all, with so many different types from print to television to online and social, that's a lot of different fronts to cover with no guarantee of success in any of them. A new report reveals that in some of the biggest markets on Earth, earned media—promotion that's gained through someone else's mention instead of something that's paid for—is still delivering a lot of value.
With 62 percent of Chinese respondents, 47 percent of U.S. respondents and 44 percent of UK respondents all coming out in favor of earned media, it's clear this approach should be front-of-mind for many marketers.
Moreover, what customers want in that marketing varies according to the need at the time. For instance, content that has an emotional impact like making someone laugh gives it a better chance to be shared. The UK shares funny content most readily at 31 percent, followed by the U.S. at 26 percent and China at 18 percent. Content that offers information is valuable as well, with 46 percent of U.S. respondents, 47 percent UK and 50 percent China all planning to share content with product information. (Read more)
Whether you’re working primarily in commercial, residential or security integration, it’s more important than ever to find new ways to generate steady streams of income as product margins continue to shrink.
Although that seems like common knowledge for many who read CI and sister publications CE Pro and Security Sales and Integration, a panel of experts at the Total Tech Summit in Atlanta said not everyone has realized the need for recurring revenue—and too few do it well.
Yorktel earned CI 2015 Integrator of the Year honors by developing a recurring revenue model few others in the industry could even envision. The company generates about half of its annual revenue from service contracts, often leading with service in its pitches to customers of all sizes. (continue reading)
In a professional setting, most people would agree that referrals from a trusted colleague or other reliable source are inherently more credible than ads or cold calls. That same logic applies online, and affirms the value of social media engagement.
When people in your professional network (think LinkedIn connections) share, like and comment on your news and other content, they are extending a personal referral. Except on social media, that recommendation is to a mass audience, not just one person. Of note, is that according to LinkedIn Sales Solutions’ report, 78% of ‘social sellers’ outperform peers who don’t use social media.
But herein lies the rub. The stereotype, too often accepted by those in the financial sphere, is that social media amounts to something of a frill: an afterthought or add-on to a conventional sales and marketing strategy. Yet if smart business leaders hope to reach a captive audience of consumers and prospective customers where they spend a majority of their time, it’s not possible to ignore the vast audiences social media sites attract. (read more)
Whether effective marketing has outright eluded your company or if you have an effective marketing strategy but you know it could be better, there is probably something very powerful you are missing — “Influencer Communications.” Also known as “Influencer Engagement,” this powerful marketing approach combines next-generation and traditional marketing methods and funnels them to and through purchasing influencers of various types. While you might not be leveraging influencers of any type right now, there is one that is walking your hallways, working at your desks, and sitting across from you in meetings. It’s your own employees.
Indeed, as traditional marketing chiefly relies on a sales and marketing team, Influencer Communications can harness the social power of the many other people and departments within your organization that have the ability to positively influence customers and help usher in new business. Due to their relationships and social media connections to potential customers, your executives, business development team, and anyone else in the company that helps drive day-to-day operations are directly or indirectly connected to your target audience. As such, the goal for Influencer Communications is to get everyone in your company involved in outreaching to your target audience. (read more)
According to 2016 research done by Pew Research Center, 62 percent of adults get their news on social media. Not only are social media sites Facebook, Twiiter, and Reddit being turned to for B2B news, the research also shows that users of sites like LinkedIn more actively seek out news as opposed to simply happening upon it; 51% of LinkedIn’s reported 450 million users actively seek out news on the platform. As news consumption is moving to social media, reported ClickZ, homepages become less important for readers, and that, “it’s OK to accept that the traffic is directed differently nowadays.” Coupled with findings from DMR showing the increase in LinkedIn member page views from 37 billion in Q4 2015 to 45 billion in Q1 2016, the writing is on the wall.
At the same time, there’s been a shift in how consumers feel about marketing messages from strangers versus those from trusted sources, or influencers. Collective Bias, a company specializing in influencing campaigns for brands and retailers, performed a recent study that underscored the value of influencer-based content. Results showed that consumers view content from influencers seven times longer than a digital display ad (two minutes, eight seconds versus 19.2 seconds). In short, consumers trust content from sources they trust. Thankfully, your organization is probably full of trusted influencers ready to be leveraged.
This might all feel overwhelming to a busy marketer, and yet all of these changes must be taken into consideration if you want your content to not just be consumed, but to also resonate. Luckily, this can be accomplished with the following 4 steps (continue reading)
When evaluating prospective service providers, ask: Whose cloud contact center software is that? Today Enghouse Interactive announced an enhancement to its Contact Center Service Provider (CCSP) solution, a provisioning portal. The portal can be used by service providers to ease the administrative tasks involved with provisioning cloud contact center tenants, and by end user customers to control day-to-day tasks like managing agent names, extensions, skill assignments, queues, routing rules, working hours, and holiday and operational calendars. One of the key differences between CCSP and other multi-tenant cloud contact center solutions on the market is that service providers purchase and deploy CCSP in their own data centers. The service provider, which could be a telco, cable company, VAR, or other type of technology reseller, purchases a fully supported product (in this case, CCSP) then creates a contact center as a service (CCaaS) offer.
This type of product is often called a "white label" solution as it allows the service provider to apply its own brand and identity to the CCaaS offer. The service provider often combines the CCaaS with other services, such as (continue reading)
For those not familiar with converged infrastructure, it’s important to understand that it is not a technology. Rather, it is an approach to data center management that seeks to minimize complexity and compatibility issues among servers, storage systems and network devices while reducing infrastructure costs and the overall foot print.
Recently, Business Solutions' editor, Mike Monocello, spoke with Travis Sales, president of Breakthrough Technology Group, LLC., a provider of secure private cloud, connectivity, and managed IT solutions. With more than 20 years’ experience and expertise in virtualization technologies, Sales was the perfect candidate to answer his converged infrastructure questions. Click here to read Travis' insight on why data center growth is driving demand for converged infrastructure, and how BTG helps clients and MSPs capitalize on its many benefits.
In a recent Shaping Influence article, Paula Bernier explains a bit about the importance of engagement. Why have the faces of anonymous models on the covers of magazines and in TV commercials been replaced with those of celebrities, musicians and supermodels? The answer is influence.
Style makers from the big (meaning movie) and small (now including computer and smartphone as well as TV) screens can, of course, be actresses and singers, as well as the kid down the block or a popular blogger. Indeed, the internet has democratized the world of communications and influence. But the fact remains that there are still some people who are able to draw a (physical and/or virtual) crowd and impact the decision making of those around them.
These individuals have come to be known as influencers. And these influencers are shaking up the worlds of advertising and marketing.
Influencer marketing is the fastest-growing online customer acquisition channel of those marketers polled by Tomoson, which estimates that businesses make $6.50 for every dollar they spend on influencer marketing. About 40 percent of those polled by analytics company Annalect and Twitter said they've purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine or YouTube. And Digital Visitor says influencer marketing has become an essential part of the strategies in the fashion, hospitality, retail and travel sectors.
Anthony Rawlins, managing director for Digital Visitor, in a recent report noted that a Google study from 2014 indicates the internet is the clear leader in inspiring leisure travel decisions, while TV follows as a distant second. Yet, he added, it can be difficult to track the impact of influencer marketing due to a lack of industry standards of measurement related to it. However, Rawlins said that organizations with an interest in engaging with influencers in an effort to promote their products might consider inviting these individuals to participate in themed experiences. For example, he suggested, a business could invite an influencer and his or her mother to be part of a Mother’s Day event or promotion. Twitter Chats are another means of connecting with influencers and their followers...continue reading
When thousands of patriotic motorcyclists arrive in the nation’s capital for the annual Rolling Thunder “Ride for Freedom” over Memorial Day weekend, another wheeled vehicle will be in the mix. A state-of-the-art mobile medical clinic will glide into town on 18 wheels, meant to draw attention to the medical care and health challenges of military veterans in rural or remote communities — particularly female vets.
The cause is shared by Rolling Thunder organizers, who have long called for improved benefits for veterans, and continued vigilance about the fate of prisoners of war and those still missing in action. The big “concept vehicle” — outfitted with the same medical and diagnostic tools of a stationary facility — will be situated on the National Mall, not far from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, on Sunday and open to curious visitors. The hospital-grade clinic is a joint project of DMS Health Technology, a health care equipment provider, and TrillaMed, a hospital supply company owned and managed by a trio of combat vets who served as U.S. Army Airborne Rangers. The two companies have a new mission. KEEP READING >>>
PC Magazine: As follow-up to its initial story, part 2 of PC Magazine's coverage addresses how Reg CF is only one side of the equity crowdfunding coin, which also includes something known as Regulation A+ (Reg A+). To start, equity crowdfunding means online investors actually get a stake in the start-up or SMB as opposed to traditional nonprofit crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which are easy ways to lose your money. Reg CF and Reg A+ are part of the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which has been reworked and updated over the past several years to address the crowdfunding economy and encourage new forms of protected, regulated start-up and SMB funding and investment. Reg CF is Title III and Reg A+, which went into effect in 2015, is Title IV.
Jeff Koeppel, Of Counsel with the Law Offices of Kirk Halpin & Associates, P.A, advises public and private companies on private equity and debt issuances, corporate governance, contracts, deal structuring, joint ventures, and other corporate and securities matters. He said as this space matures, Regulation Crowdfunding will be particularly helpful to mature small businesses with a financial track record and a solid local presence seeking to raise a small amount of capital. Maybe it's hiring new employees or expanding to new local retail locations, or maybe a manufacturer wants to expand the factory floor or buy new equipment.
"These are the folks whose bank line of credit was cancelled in the last financial downturn or who don't want to pay the rate being charged. It may be a local music store, dry cleaner, or even an auto repair shop that just needs a few hundred thousand dollars to open a store in another neighborhood," said Koeppel, who also spent three years at the SEC as a Senior Attorney-Advisor in the Division of Corporation Finance...KEEP READING
Mostafa Razzak, JMRConnect's Principal talks with Jennifer Schiff about business strategies for social media engagement.
“Keep your finger on the pulse of industry-specific conversations and engage with thoughtful questions and helpful answers,” says Mostafa Razzak, principal, JMRConnect, a public relations & influencer communications company. “Do not patronize or waste people’s time by stating the obvious or making comments that show you haven’t paid attention to what they’ve written or the message they’re trying to convey.” CLICK HERE to read the full article and insights from other industry experts.
Congress has passed an appropriations bill to fund increased medical care for military veterans–particularly women–a burgeoning contingent of the vet population. The fiscal year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, passed May 19 by the Senate, proposes to increase VA appropriations to $74.9 billion–an increase of $3.2 billion over last year.
The bill also contains language that presses the VA to improve health care for female veterans by considering the launch of a mobile health care pilot program. These provisions come a year after Congress commissioned a study on the barriers women veterans face in the VA health care system, which found that 72 percent of the female vets don’t use their nearest VA facility for primary care because it lacked women’s health services. KEEP READING >>>
Recently on Shaping Influence, Tracey Schelmetic notes how when social media was a few years old, and expanded beyond family vacation photos and cat videos, marketers started to become aware of something interesting: unlike any channel in the past, it could be used to spread subtle messages virally, particularly through the people who wielded a lot of influence in social media. Smart companies began creating messages that were mostly likely to be shared virally, particularly by people who had a lot of friends and followers. They began calling it “influence marketing."
Since the earliest days of social media, customers have begun to use these platforms for more than memes and selfies. They’ve begun following the companies they like, sharing worthwhile information, and even using the channels to communicate with companies for customer support or feedback.
“The degree of influence varies from person to person and platform to platform,” wrote Maggie Marton for BlogPaws recently. “But the core concept is the same: You are known to your readers. They like you. Most importantly, they trust you. So, when you suggest a product or ask for a click or a share, they’re more included to do it than if it came from, say, a big retailer.”
In the same way that people trust the opinions of friends and family more when it comes to recommendations on purchasing decisions...KEEP READING
This is Part One of a two-part explainer on the now government-regulated crowdfunding investment market. Part Two discusses how Regulation Crowdfunding differs from Regulation A+, and the future of equity crowdfunding. The crowdfunding revolution is upon us. Regulation Crowdfunding, also known as Regulation CF (Reg CF), is officially open for start-ups and small to midsize businesses (SMBs). Entrepreneurs with a rock-solid business plan can now raise between $100,000 and $1 million over a 12-month period—and not just from accredited investors. One MAJOR caveat...click here to keep reading
A recent post on Shaping Influence addresses how in the dizzyingly fickle and fast-paced world of influencer communications, engagement and social media, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for organizations to separate value and expertise from the fakers and the cheaters. Companies need a clear game plan to navigate this complicated and crowded world while retaining brand integrity and credibility. A recent Expertcity whitepaper offers some guidelines to organizations regarding the impact and effectiveness of social reach, expertise, credibility and trust.
For instance, according to Fast Company, 91 percent of brand mentions on social media originate from accounts with fewer than 500 followers. These mentions may be much more powerful and influential than an off-topic plug from an account with thousands or millions of followers. There is a very clear distinction between true influence, resulting in brand awareness and sales, and “vanity metrics” such as likes, shares and comments that never translate to any measurable value. Companies need to understand and build on the value of social media influencers who have actual first-hand experience with their products and brands, an interest in sharing this expertise with others and the capability to speak about products knowledgeably. Keep reading >>>
Shaping Influence: It's not enough to just have great content any more; much like it was with data, great content needs to be used effectively to get the most out of it. Technavio recently examined the market for content authoring tools worldwide, and revealed four big points that were set to shape this market for the next several years, up into 2020. There were some big changes to come, and with these changes, opportunity. A market that's set to clear $126 billion in 2020, e-learning content can come from a lot of places, and schools and universities are actively looking for e-learning content in a bid to augment current offerings. E-learning covers a host of formats...Click Here to read more >>>
Influencer Communications, also known as “Influencer Engagement,” is a powerful marketing approach that combines next-generation and traditional marketing methods and funnels them to and through purchasing influencers of various types. While you might not be leveraging influencers of any type right now, there is one that is walking your hallways, working at your desks, and sitting across from you in meetings. It’s your own employees. Due to their relationships and social media connections to current and potential customers, your executives, business development team, and anyone else in the company that helps drive day-to-day operations are directly or indirectly connected to your target audience. As such, the goal for Influencer Communications is to get everyone in your company involved in outreaching to your target audience.
A prerequisite of Influencer Communications is having content your influencers can leverage. Content can vary depending on your industry and target customer; however it is common to develop assets such as case studies, white papers, blogs, videos, and photos. In most cases, it’s considered best practice to develop assets that fall into all of these categories. As we will discuss, having many assets will improve your influencers’ abilities to succeed. Click here to continue reading
Redmond Channel Partner's Scott Bekker takes a look at the impact of cloud on the Microsoft Managed Service Provider Community. MSPAlliance CEO, Charles Weaver, commented that, "We're seeing a lot of MSPs get into things like identity and access management, a service line that would have been really rare 10 to 15 years ago. But today with cloud that's a very hot growth sector." Click here to read the full story.
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