In episode 034 of the Social Currency marketing podcast, we jump on the rise of social shopping. With the introduction of Instagram Checkout and the growth of Pinterest Shoppable Pins, has the age of contextual commerce arrived?

The concept of social shopping has been around since early 2000s, but with the launch of new capabilities like Instagram Checkout and the ease of setting up Pinterest Shoppable Pins, it's easy to see the natural connection between social, influencers, and the consumers interested in what's new, cool, and next. Social shopping is interest-based: Native, natural, and now easy, because it's seamless and in context of the content you are already enjoying.

This is contextual commerce. Now that the platforms are enabling the power to access consumers in a new way, with clear attribution models and integrated e-commerce capabilities, why wouldn't you use social to sell...and shop?

Cheat Sheet: 2019 Social Media Video Ad Specs

Everything you need to know to build the right video for your video content marketing program.

Everything you need to know to build the right video for your video content marketing program.

2019 is a quick follow to 2018’s content marketing strategies with a high-focus on video.

Your brand needs to be doing video and have it as a major component to your media plan - organic and paid media both. Video consumption is still increasing at a significant rate: Between YouTube and all the social media video consumption, mobile is the primary consumption point.

You need to have a handy guide for all your social media video ads - and if you develop your video production specs with these video ad specs in mind, you don’t have to re-edit or re-version your videos to make them work for video since they can work for both standards - organic and paid.

This cheat sheet is a quick collection of all the major platform video ad specs: dimensions, sizes, durations and if you need more info, a link to the ad details on each respective platform’s website.

Download this Cheat Sheet now.

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Why Services and Subscriptions Businesses Need A Promotional Holiday Retail Strategy

Black Friday is here.

Everyone is shopping.

It’s the time when you look at a bunch of deals and go buy stuff for your family and friends (and you) because of the deals! And everyone does it: Some type of shopping for gifts. At home or out and about, the Friday after Thanksgiving (and even now earlier with Thanksgiving) is the kickoff to the rush to get Christmas shopping done. Traditionally and expectedly, everyone things about what physical products they can get, but I think there’s an incredible missed opportunity for service and subscription businesses that needs to be taken advantage of around the holiday shopping window.

Last year, I was doing my 3am shopping on Black Friday and started thinking, “Hey, I wonder if any of these things I subscribe to have any deals.” So started going around, first with Evernote and then with a few other apps and services I pay monthly for. Interestingly not a one had an offering or deal or promo for Black Friday. In fact, there was zero recognition on any of these service or subscription sites that there was any seasonal event happening. Evernote bummed me out because they had nothing — for new customers or existing. Nothing. Like it was just another Friday.

But Black Friday is the most significant purchase period for a household. You need to be out there in a big way because everyone IS shopping. Not just for others — but for themselves. It’s the new era of loving others and oneself: The Giving/Getting. It is the one time people ignore their budget if they find a good deal. And even further, people use this time as a stock piling period for annual purchases…if the price is right.

I buy everything on Black Friday and get all my Christmas shopping done in about 3 hours. And everytime, I pick up a few more items myself — for now or under the tree. How convenient.

If everyone is shopping for someone, don’t you want it to be what you have to offer?

If everyone is also shopping for themselves, you want a share of their wallet.

So how do you take advantage?

Acknowledge the seasonality. This is the biggest time for shopping — the next three weeks, all gloves are off for purchases in every category.

Promote yourself no matter what. Deal or no deal? Deals obviously work better, especially if you never deal. But even without a deal, making your service or subscription available and extremely visible so it’s in the line of site of an open wallet, and that could be enough. You want a share of that wallet.

Because while the focus is been in physical products, there’s a huge advantage to be made for subscription and service businesses.

As a service or subscription business, you have two goals during this period:

  1. Get prospects who have been hesitant and move them to purchase

  2. Get current customers to lock-in for as long as possible (and profitable)

First, let’s talk about new customers.

How do you get them over the hurdle? If you have the major pain points or hangups on why they hesitate, now is the time to break through. See if you need to shorten your term, lengthen your term for the same price, offer a free trial, offer a longer free trial, bundle and discount, unbundle and discount, etc. Lots of options. If you are confident in your product, offer a trial and then offer a follow-up discount to sign up as a loyalty continuation.

Of course you don’t want to discount beyond your margin and this needs to be smart, so have a few offers handy to test or go with a single one that you promote everywhere so you can’t miss it.

Next, let’s talk about existing customers, next (Don’t be AT&T and only offer the good stuff to prospects).

I think you have two solid approaches here.

The first one is a current customer referral program. Word of mouth from happy current customers can help prospects get over the hurdle (see above). Or it may be the first time they are hearing about you in a non-media way. Sharing referrals to give something (to prospect) and get something (for the current customer) continues the magical mix of giving/getting of the holidays. Make it easy with gift card plus-ups (think about places that offer a $10 gift card when you purchase one for $50 — that $10 gift card is for you!) or tagging extra time into their current plan.

The second one is offering extensions. This can be a version of the new customer offers mentioned earlier but intended to create customer lock-in for longer time. Get them to re-up while they have their wallet out for everything else. All the same offers for prospects can apply here and push a current customer past their average subscription window. And that’s what you really want.

This needs to be efficient but we know it’s cheaper to keep a current customer than to go get a new one.

If Evernote had a current customer extension offer, I would have grabbed it in two seconds, even if a free 3 months or add 12-months for the price of 10 months. Instead, since they had nothing, I’m no longer a paying customer. I found it irritating that they would ignore their current users without a loyalty offer benefit and moved to the Free version (where I’m drafting this blog post).

In closing, analysts will say it’s dying, but Black Friday is less an actual day and more a time period starting with Thanksgiving Week through Christmas that the majority of household spending moves into the marketplace. If you are a service, an app, a paid subscription, personal training, or some other type of recurring model, pay attention and focus on your offers for Black Friday and the entire period through Christmas where you could create a massive continuation lock-in through next Black Friday for your current customers. And find a ton of new customers courtesy of your loyal base through rewarding both groups with thoughtful offers.

Because everyone is shopping, not just for products. And they should be shopping for you.

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Add Your Best Profile Pic | Make Your LinkedIn Profile Awesome

Get your LinkedIn profile pic right!

One of LinkedIn’s three strategic business pillars is that they want to own your online, searchable professional identity.

LinkedIn wants to be the professional profile of everyone’s record online. If members are going to be maintaining a professional record online then LinkedIn want to be the primary place where people create, update and access those records.

Nearly every industry uses LinkedIn to find and vet job candidates, and over 94% of recruiters rely on the site, according to data from the Society of Human Resource Management. So your profile can’t just be a storage unit for career contacts, it’s not a Rolodex — it needs to be a living, breathing record of your professional life. It is your living, breathing resume.

A robust LinkedIn profile opens the door for new opportunities like partnerships, new business, mentorships, or speaking events. It represents you as a professional — and refining it is easier than you think.

I am still amazed by how many career-minded professionals don’t have a LinkedIn profile or haven’t updated it in months or even years. As the work world continues to embrace the virtual world, your LinkedIn profile is you to those who don’t know you; it’s worth spending some effort to get it into shape.

LinkedIn has three main focal points for your LinkedIn Profile. The Big 3 are: profile pic, current position, and summary. These are highly visible and instantly identify you as a unique and interesting person, helping you attract the right opportunities.

First up, let’s start with your profile pic.

Your profile picture is your calling card on LinkedIn — it’s how people are introduced to you and (visual beings that we are) it governs their impressions from the start.

Think about it this way: You are at a networking event, a party and you walk up to meet someone or someone says hi to you…the first thing you see is their face.

In the middle of the sea of LinkedIn blue and white fields filled with text, your photo is the first impression for every potential contact, the main personality of everything in your LinkedIn identity.

That’s why profiles with a photo get up to 9x more connection requests, 21x more views and up to 36x more messages, according to a LinkedIn.

Profiles with a photo get up to 9x more connection requests, 21x more views and up to 36x more messages.

Here’s the tips for an awesome LinkedIn profile pic:

  1. Use a professional photographer for a high-quality, well-lit headshot. Invest in a professional portrait that you can use again and again.

  2. Take a pic that is appropriately professional. No selfies…unless you are really good at selfies. Not sure what “appropriately professional” means? Take a look around at what the people in your target company, industry sector, or business level are wearing. Match that.

  3. Make sure it fits your personality, looks like you like to look, and you are wearing something that people would expect you to wear at work.

  4. Keep the background solid.

  5. Make sure you upload a photo use a that’s at least 200 x 200 pixels. Don’t use a photo with dimensions smaller than 200 x 200 because it will become pixelated and blurry. BTW, that’s a square. LinkedIn lets you arrange the photo a bit, but if you have it square-cropped, it makes it easier to center in the bubble circle they give you. As a note, I upload as large as possible.

  6. Make sure your face takes up around 60% of the frame (long-distance shots don’t stand out), wear what you would like to wear to work, and smile with your eyes! Pro tip: Make sure you post your face. No company logos or other images — save that for your Company page. Profile Pages are for people — everyone wants to see you!

  7. Make sure the picture is recent and looks like you. Pro tip: “If you can show yourself in action, do it,” says a blogger who experimented with multiple LinkedIn photos to see which garnered the most attention. “A photo can go a long way to convey passion, energy, charisma, empathy, and other soft skills that are hard to write about.”

  8. Lastly, update your photo every 6 months at least — put a reminder in your phone or set it on your calendar. Keeps your visual identity current and stays pace with your seasonal appearance.

Your LinkedIn photo shouldn’t be from 20 years ago. It shouldn’t look like it belongs on a dating site, stock photo site, or social network (e.g., Facebook or Instagram). And don’t feature your pet or significant other. Just. No.

LinkedIn is for professionals. Be one.

My newest profile pic is one I got for FREE at a conference. It follows the rules above and is accessible and a bit casual while maintaining my professional personality.

And for a bonus round, most of us know about the profile photo but many others don’t have a strong background photo for their profile. Add that a background photo. It’s an instant way to differentiate your profile and brand it the way you want with a large, high impact canvas.

Your background photo grabs people’s attention, sets the context and shows a little more about what matters to you. More than anything, the right background photo helps your page stand out, engage attention and stay memorable. Give your profile page a bit more personality, or branding, with a visually appealing background image.

LinkedIn advises users to use an image (PNG, JPG, or GIF but not animated) with a resolution of 1400x425.

Get your photo(s) right and get it current now.

Your profile photo is the most critical part of your LinkedIn profile, the core to your professional identity and the best way for you to stand out from the rest.


Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter at @tuckross