Growth Hacking for customer attraction, advocacy and attribution
digital, seo, social media, strategy

3 Focus Areas for Growth Marketing: Attraction, Advocate & Attribution

Philip Kotler, the “The Father of Modern Day Marketing,” coined the phrase Marketing 4.0 in his book Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital (co-authored with Hermawan Kartajaya and Iwan Setiawan). The premise purports that modern consumers are confronted by by alternatives at every turn and have increasingly less time and attention to devote to a brand. As such, the consumer of tomorrow is being shaped by an increasing sub-culture splintering, a shift in marketplace power dynamics, and the paradoxes wrought by connectivity.

Essentially, Kotler makes the argument that marketers need to “stand up, get their attention, and deliver the message [consumers] want to hear.”

If we break that down, we have certain fundamentals of Marketing 4.0:

  • The consumer as the center of everything
  • Data at the center of all strategy
  • Transparency in strategies is more critical than ever
  • Consumer communication being genuine, relevant and constant
  • To gain trust, marketers must focus on social, economic and environmental commitment
  • Marketers need to listen and have a proactive attitude

With Marketing 4.0, marketers must finesse the power of technology while presenting a “human” face to their brand or service.

Marketing 4.0 acknowledges that consumers will continue to have offline interactions with brands and companies, even as we move towards a more digitally-centric world. Therefore, marketers need to be positioned to engage prospects and established customers alike with multi or omni-channel initiatives across a variety of mediums—and they must do this while being genuine, relevant and human. This is the art of Attraction Marketing, which I will go into more detail below.

Another assumption within Marketing 4.0 is the understanding that a multi-channel marketing strategy means consumers will continue to have engagements with a brand after making a purchase. Marketers therefore need to not only perfect their upper funnel touchpoints, but should understand the impact that a negative interaction can have post-sale. In other words, customer loyalty is precarious in a world where transparency and relevancy can have a significant impact on a brand’s perception.

With Marketing 4.0, consumers want to have a say in a brand’s direction and success.

Marketing 4.0 also introduces the concept of the consumer (customer) community. Gone are the days when you saw an ad on television for laundry soap, then at the store you selected that brand without giving another thought to the purchase. Consumers, especially millennials and those of Generation Z, who are not only the most tech-saavy but skeptical group of shoppers in history, desire to be more involved with the brands with which they choose to engage. They seek to have a direct influence on a brand’s social, environmental and development direction while connecting and sharing their experiences with other consumers. To facilitate these interactions and holistically grow a brand in Marketing 4.0, marketers need to embrace models that support Advocate Marketing, which I will cover later in this post.

With Marketing 4.0, marketers need to understand the impact each dollar has for acquisition, activation and retention in order to profitably scale.

As marketers ramp up their commitments to include more multi and omni-channel initiatives in an attempt to broaden appeal to a very woke consumer, the ability to scale and grow is contingent upon a deep understanding of ROI (return on investment) for each strategic outlay. This is where Marketing Attribution comes into play—the art of evaluating each and every marketing touchpoint a consumer may have on their path to purchase. That is also covered in more detail below.

Attraction Marketing

Attraction marketing is all about getting consumers to purchase something without being told to do so. It’s showing consumers the desirability of the product through valuable information focused on features, usability and unique differentiation, so that the buyer makes the purchasing decision without any prompts to do so from the brand or company. Since attraction marketing sets your brand apart from competitors by focusing marketing efforts on what makes your product or service a more attractive option, it can be a powerful strategy to create awareness, activation and brand loyalty.

The key to success with attraction marketing is having a thorough understanding of your targeted audience, where they can be found and their pain points. Once those are defined, the draw to the brand or service comes in the form of educational content that creates credibility and authenticity while dispensing with the “salesy” messaging.

It’s also vital to put a human connection to your brand. People want to connect with people, not faceless brands. Think of ways that you can incorporate your product developers or other internal users into your messaging, or for an even stronger attraction strategy, utilize user-generated content such as reviews and stories to engage your audience.

Inbound marketing is the perfect vehicle for attraction marketing and is something that can keep traffic coming long after the initial investment in the content and delivery. That being said, I suggest that you focus your primary efforts on search engine optimization, making sure your content is laden with relevant keywords that will compete and perform well for contextual searches. Once you’re optimized, you can share the content in social, email and native ads.

Some of the common ways to employ attraction marketing are:

  • Blogs
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Ebooks
  • Videos/Livestreams
  • Newsletters
  • Surveys
  • Online classes
  • In-person classes

And, you don’t always have to start from scratch with content. One of the easiest strategies is to repurpose content that you have already created by either converting it to another format or updating it with new content, imagery or linking. Once you do so, you will want to make sure you have resubmitted the renewed content to Google and the other search engines for fresh indexing.

Pactimo, an online retailer of cycling clothing, created a page addressing why someone would choose bib shorts as opposed to those without the straps (Why Cycling Bib Shorts? Padded Bib Bike Shorts Explained). The page falls into into the number one position on Google for searches for “cycling bib shorts,” organically introducing the brand to hundreds of potential new customers per week. Because the page not only has relevant information to the topic, but engages with links to more information, premium products and a $250 prize drawing, it has become a source for new customers.

Use relevant blog content to attract new customers organically. This builds credibility and leads to a higher activation rate.
Answering a question like why wear bib shorts has proven to be a source for many new customers for Pactimo.


Advocate Marketing

We have all experienced word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing. Let’s say you’re at a party or get-together with friends and a recent purchase comes up. Someone might tell a story of a great buying experience or the incredible efficacy of the product, which leads you to imagine making a similar purchase. My wife and I bought a robotic vacuum cleaner. Every time someone came over to our house we raved how incredible it was—even going as far as using the app to launch it around the room so they could see it in action. Two of our friends have since bought the same brand.

Word-of-mouth recommendations are one of the key contributors to advocacy marketing.
Word-of-mouth recommendations prove to be one of the best sources for new customers.


Statistics show 92% of consumers trust WOM marketing recommendations over all other types of marketing, and future customers who were referred by other existing customers have a 37% higher retention rate.

Advocacy marketing is act of exciting and equipping your customers to generate buzz around your brand through social mentions, reviews, and word-of-mouth marketing. It’s the art of making the product or buying experience so good that customers feel compelled to share. When that occurs, a brand advocate has become one of your most high-value brand assets for growing awareness and loyalty. They will not only spend more than the average customer, but they’re also passionately-versed on your brand and products, making them a fantastic source and reference for new customer leads. On average, brands with a strong loyalty, rewards or ambassador program see a 650% ROI for every dollar invested in advocacy marketing.

Since advocacy marketing is extremely cost-effective with the potential for high-yields through customer acquisition, retention and reengagement, it is a growth hacking must.

Here are a few of the key components of successful advocate marketing:

  • Provide an excellent product or service
  • Deliver unforgettable brand experiences
  • Operate with a consumer-first mentality
  • Make it easy for consumers to advocate for your brand or service
  • Actively seek new advocates

Attribution Marketing

As discussed, multi and omni-channel marketing is a highly effective way to attract, engage and activate customers. But, it also means the funnel is anything but linear. A typical customer may encounter your brand or service across a multitude of touchpoints before actually making a purchase. For example, was it the blog post you shared on Facebook that brought the new customer to your ecommerce site? Or was it a cool photo of a customer using your product that you posted to Instagram? Maybe it was all the work you’ve done to SEO your product features infographic page. These are important questions you’ll need to answer if you want to determine ROI and scale or when determining CAC (customer acquisition cost).

With attribution, marketers can determine which channels and messages had the greatest impact on the decision to convert. It’s a reporting strategy that allows marketers and sales teams to see the impact that a specific marketing strategy had toward a goal, usually a purchase or sale. For example, if marketers want to see how a blog post or social media strategy impacted sales, they might use marketing attribution techniques.

Heap.io, one of the leaders in marketing attribution describes it like this:

Unlike legacy attribution (like Adobe or Google) which focus on just channels, Heap’s behavioral attribution ties in every user action, like opening emails, reading blog posts, or watching videos. As customers switch from web to phone to email, Heap ties together all that behavior into a single, accurate identity. Finally, marketers can accurately see how behavior influences conversion.

With something like Heap, marketers have access to multi-touch attribution reports allowing marketers to pinpoint the exact channel or initiative that led to a funnel goal or sale. This information can help to make better-informed decisions about future channel decisions, strategy initiatives or investments.

Conclusion

With the full advent of Marketing 4.0 and the move towards a more digitally-centric world, marketers need to be positioned to engage, acquire and retain customers through multi or omni-channel initiatives across a variety of mediums. Attraction Marketing is the perfect method to reach these new prospects in an authentic, credible manner, where sales come holistically as customers become drawn to the brand and product features. Advocacy Marketing is the strategy that activates these customers as brand loyalists who will spread the word about the products and services. Not only will the more intimate relationship drive up LTV (lifetime value) with the advocates, but it supercharges the referred customers buying power as well. Measuring results and knowing when to scale or abandon initiatives should be measured with a multi-touch Attribution Marketing tool. This allows for an accurate study of ROI and campaign analysis where anticipated CAC can be used for predictive scaling.

I hope you found this helpful, and wish you luck in your growth hacking!

Standard
Twitter profile on large monitor
social media, twitter

8 Tips to Grow Your Twitter Following

We’d all like to have a huge following on Twitter, and a large follower base can be remarkably helpful in creating awareness for your company or personal brand. But, growing that following is not always easy. It may even feel rather discouraging at times when you get little interaction with your posts or profile.

I’d be willing to speculate that it’s not a lack of effort that’s preventing you from getting momentum. It’s probably your focus and the image you are conveying. You could simply not be attracting the right people, or even putting forth an identity that turns potential followers away.

Here are a few simple tips that should help you get on the path to follower growth and creating a broader reach for your products, services and personal brand.

1. Attract the Right People

On social media it is especially important to attract the right people. After all, there’s no point in getting followers who are not generally interested in the same things that you are. These are merely false follows, who will unfollow in a week or two when they get bored with your posts. To be wholly successful, you need to attract people with similar interests who will engage with you, your posts, and others who are following the same topics. These people will stay with you over time.

Similarly, when you have an active following, you look more attractive to others who want to get in the conversation and engage.

Plus, an active following makes Twitter much more fun. You’ll even begin to think of many of them as Twitter friends, you’ll learn their personalities and look forward to their posts, comments and shares.

2. Your Profile Needs to be Engaging – Not Misleading

Everything about your profile needs to be carefully crafted to attract the right people. Make sure your bio, header image and tweets are focused on your target audience and do not convey ambiguity. There are a lot of bots, suspicious players and scammers on Twitter (as on any social platform), and making sure your profile is free from questionable references, confusing phrases or unrelated imagery will greatly help with attracting follows.

Make sure your bio, header image and tweets are focused on your target audience and do not convey ambiguity.

3. Your Bio Needs to Clearly State Your Purpose

When you engage or follow someone, or when a person visits your profile, they’ll take a few seconds to evaluate if you are legitimate and worthy of a follow. As mentioned above, ambiguity is the worst thing you can portray. Instead, I recommend taking a few minutes to examine your bio with fresh eyes.

  • Does it truly convey who you are and what you are bringing to Twitter?
  • Does it include a bit of personality or show something unique about who you are?
  • Have you included a few hashtags, which not only make it easier for people to find you, but stand out in the small clutter of words?
  • Have you added a call-to-action in the form of a link to your personal or business website, a published piece of writing, or portfolio?

4. Images Should be Authentic and Relevant

When selecting a profile photo, make sure it’s either your company logo or a photo of yourself that looks both professional and friendly. You’ll want good contrast from the background and to make sure you are smiling, as if you are someone who is both knowledgable and approachable. While the temptation is to be artsy and clever, I highly recommend that you keep it simple and clean.

Take a look at the following profiles and you’ll see the ideal style and framing for the profile photo.

Seth Godin's Twitter profile is a good example on how to use images and text to attract followers.
Profile and header images on Twitter should help convey your purpose and serve to attract followers.
Andrew Chen's friendly-appearing Twitter profile photo makes you want to follow him.

Notice how all those profile photos are primarily the person’s face. Framing that shows your entire body will only make it hard for people to see who your are, especially in a timeline of tweets where your profile photo will be markedly smaller. When people can’t see your face, they will be less likely to click, engage and follow.

Header images, which are the large photos that appear above your profile, should convey something about you that is relevant to your goals on Twitter. Ideally, you want it to answer questions about what you stand for or who you are intending to reach or help with your content or tweets.

Neil Patel uses a header image on his Twitter profile that helps explain who he is and what he can offer.
Erik Larson uses his header image on Twitter to announce a new book offering.

The header is also a great place to display a current marketing campaign, book launch or something else you may want to highlight. Don’t forget to include text that clearly identifies your offer and directs people to click a link in your bio.

Don’t worry if you’re not proficient at Photoshop or other photo editing software, you can still have a great looking header. Canva has a wide selection of templates to get you started.

5. Don’t Forget to Pin a Tweet to the Top of Your Feed

Pinning a tweet to the top of your feed is another great strategy for informing visitors either about your interests or offer. It’s truly some of the most valuable space on your profile, so don’t overlook pinning. If you don’t have a specific offering, use this space to highlight your most popular tweet, one that got a lot of retweets, likes or comments. This will show you have engagement and will entice others to share and follow.

I typically pin tweets that mention my book since it includes a link to Amazon and helps reinforce that I am a writer.

Pinning a tweet is a great great strategy for informing visitors either about your interests or offer.

Here’s a few other examples of pinned tweets. Notice the engagement numbers!

Pinned tweets help people understand your purpose on Twitter and what you may bring to a follower relationship.
Pinning popular tweets shows people that you have engagement and serves as a follow call-to-action.

6. Be Consistent When Posting

One of the biggest turn-offs when someone comes across your profile is seeing that you haven’t posted in days, weeks or even months. After all, why would they bother following you when you have nothing to say. Therefore, a key component to building a following is consistency of posts. It is generally believed the ideal number of daily posts is around fifteen. If you can, you’ll also want to make sure you are making those posts during optimal times for engagement when your target audience is most likely to be online. Buffer, one of the many apps that allow you to schedule tweets, has a great article showing the best time of day to get clicks, engagement and retweets.

Here’s a quick summation of Buffer’s findings on the best time of day to tweet:

  • Early mornings are the best time to tweet to get clicks.
  • Noon to 1:00 p.m. local time, on average for each time zone, is the most popular time to tweet.
  • Evenings and late at night are a good time for engagement.
  • Tweets sent at the 9:00 p.m. hour in the U.S. get the most retweets and favorites.
  • Tweets sent between 2-3:00 a.m. earn the most clicks on average.
  • Tweets sent between 2-3:00 a.m. earn the most total engagement on average.

Obviously, you’re not going to stay up all night tweeting. That’s where scheduling apps like Buffer come in handy. While I highly recommend using one of these apps to build engagement and followers, I also caution you to use them judiciously. The last thing you want to do is come across as spammy. Even if you are trying to promote sales or business offerings, you need to limit those types of posts to one or two a day at the most. Anything more than that and people will abandon you.

And, you never want to use an app that allows you to automate comments, follows or post likes. That would be in violation of Twitter’s terms of agreement and could get you banned.

Here are some of the apps I recommend for scheduling tweets:

7. Use Hashtags to Increase Your Chances of Being Found

Hashtags allow users on Twitter to search for trending news or topics of interest. People can even follow hashtags, so tweets of that topic appear in their feed. If you’re not sure which hashtag to use, experiment. But don’t forget, the more obscure the hashtag, the less likely it will lead to any engagement. So, while it might seem clever to use something like #StarvingWriterSeeksAgent, it is not going to help anyone find you. Thankfully, Twitter helps identify the hashtags that are popular and trending at the moment. Just start writing a few letters and it will pop up a list.

Makes sure to use hashtags when you post so your tweet gets in front of a relevant audience.

However, like everything in life, too much of a good thing can actually turn bad. Try to only use a maximum of three hashtags in one post. Anything more than that will turn your post into visual pollution, complicate your message or worse, appear desperate.

8. Build Relationships and Engage

Now that your tweeting content-rich tweets designed to attract your target audience, you need to take the next step in growing a following. Engagement with others.

Think of Twitter as a cocktail party with people standing around chit-chatting. We’ve all been to one of these and experienced the blowhard who talks incessantly about themself. Ten minutes goes by, then twenty and still they have not asked a single question about you or your life. You begin to think–how can I get away from this person. It’s the same on Twitter. If you only tweet about yourself, you’re the cocktail party blowhard.

Instead, you need to engage. Ask questions and participate in other people’s tweets by sharing a story, a tip or saying something that lets your personality come through. As you join in the conversations, reply to tweets and retweet other people’s trending topics (so long as those tweets will be palpable to your target audience) you’ll notice they will begin to treat you like a real person, which is a huge hurdle on social media. Soon, you’ll feel as if you have a new network of friends as people recognize and invite you into conversations.

In Summary

Twitter can not only be a great place to spread word about your business, service or personal brand, it can be fun, engaging and extremely informative. Taking the steps to focus on a target audience, build a clear persona and engage in a timely manner will make you attractive and desirable. This will keep them loyal and engaged, which in turn, attracts more followers.

Happy tweeting!


Social Media Strategy – Step 1: Assessment

Social Media Strategy – Step 2: Implementation

Social Media Strategy – Step 3: Monitor & Measure

You Scratch My Back Social Strategy

Standard
Laptop and phone with Instagram social media
social media

You Scratch My Back Social Strategy

I recently came across an article on Social Strategy by Mikołaj Jan Piskorski that appeared in the Harvard Business Review late last year, and felt his analysis was extremely insightful. Successful social strategy, Piskorski surmised, is primarily about helping your audience build relationships, something he calls the You Scratch My Back strategy.

Piskorski studied more than 60 companies across industries ranging from manufacturing to consumer packaged goods to financial services and determined companies that performed poorly in social media settings were employing digital tactics as their overall social strategy. Essentially, they had broadcast commercial messages or sought customer feedback on social platforms…things we all know (or should know as marketers) customers adamantly reject. After all, people join social platforms to connect with other people, not with companies, and especially not with advertising.

I like the example Piskorski provides:

Imagine sitting at a dinner table with friends when a stranger pulls up a chair and says, “Hey! Can I sell you something?” You’d probably say no, preferring your friends’ conversation over corporate advances.

Employing digital marketing tactics in a social (media) setting can not only be detrimental to the brand, it comes across as just plain rude.

What was interesting, was his supposition that companies who devised social strategies that help people create or enhance relationships experienced significant positive returns. Specifically, he details cases where the company introduced the customer other customers or companies. This strategy works, he says, because they’re consistent with users’ expectations and behavior on social platforms.

Returning to Piskorski’s dinner analogy:

A company with a social strategy sits at the table and asks, “May I introduce you to someone or help you develop better friendships?” 

It’s really not an earth-shattering revelation the companies that fared poorly were being stupid. But, the idea that a smart social strategy is primarily focused on helping people establish or strengthen relationships–relationships where the company may serve merely a facilitator or host–is pretty unique.

His theory is sound…in a B2B setting. This strategy would be extremely unique and definitely supports the notion of playing socially in a social environment. It allows the company to engage in the sharing of ideas and while simultaneously positioning itself as a helpful mentor.

However, in a B2C setting it could prove too risky. Playing host means a company may actually be introducing their customer to a competitor. Piskorski’s simplified theorem also ignores the value social interaction brings to a company. Customers want to feel close to their favorite brands, and social media sets a perfect stage for this to occur, giving the customer a voice and medium for expressing themselves. Of course all of that serves as useful intelligence and gives the company a platform to surreptitiously encourage buying decisions.

A properly deployed social strategy will truly impact a company’s organization, culture, processes, systems and bottom line. It shapes the perception a customer may have of a company and the way they will engage with that company in the future. While I find Piskorski’s ideas useful, I don’t think I would define my social strategy as narrowly as he, especially in a B2C marketing environment.

Standard
Analytics dashboard on laptop
social media

Social Media Strategy – Part 3: Monitor & Measure

In my previous post I covered the Implementation phase for your new social media marketing strategy.

Equally, if not even more important in many ways, is the final phase, when you review your efforts and analyze the results.­

Step #3: Monitoring and Measuring

It will take a good month or two before you will be able to have enough consistent data to truly evaluate your efforts. Hopefully, you have religiously stuck to your calendar, or you might as well start over and wait another two months.

I suggest scheduling your evaluation date into your calendar, even before you get started with your implementation. It’s like having a date in the future when your diet needs to pay off and you want to look good for that beach vacation. It’ll help you stick to the schedule. And, it turns the whole process into a challenging game.

The Metrics

Unlike other digital marketing components, like Adwords, measuring the results of your social media strategy can be a bit of an exercise in ambiguity. After all, the primary thing you’re evaluating is whether people trust and like you, not necessarily if they click to your site and buy/engage.

Because it is so ambiguous, I recommend starting with whatever metrics you have. It will stabilize the measurement process and give you a jump-off point from where you can apply the “it appears people are…” element.

Facebook has moderately decent tools to get you started. One of the biggest drawbacks to the information they make available is the ability to only pull data for a three month period. This is another reason why you’ll want to schedule your evaluation two months out from your date of implementation.

The Insights page has the information you’ll want. It shows a history of your “likes,” your “reach” and who is “talking about you.” Don’t get mislead by the “talking” label. What Facebook means is how viral your posts have been. It’s the measure of shares and comments people are making on things you have been posting to your page.

fb-likes

All of this data will help you get a feel for how successful your strategy has played out. You’ll be able to see what days you posted really good, viral content (the cat video) and the days when you caused people to unlike you for being too serious (or, yes, even too silly).

With Twitter, it’s a bit more difficult since they don’t have built in measurement tools. You’ll need to use something like Klout (www.klout.com).

With Klout, you not only get a breakdown of data similar to what is provided by Facebook, but you get an overall Klout score showing the effectiveness of your efforts. The score is compiled by average sub-scores for Reach, Engagement and Velocity (the measure of how likely your tweets are to be retweeted).

klout

One cool thing with Klout, other than it is free, is that you can link all of your other social networks such as Facebook and YouTube and get an overall measurement.

Time to SWAG

Once you have the metrics in hand, it’s time to use your brain and unbiased, best guess at how you’ve been doing. I say guess because you’ll need to go back through your networks and get a feel for how your audience has interacted and responded to you and your posts. For example, can you tell by their Facebook comments or @tweets that they get a sense of your voice?

Make notes on what looked to be successfully popular and what scared people away. Write down anything significant, such as a share by a much larger and potentially perfect partner company, or comment by someone influential in the industry. Add all of those to your documentation so you have something to guide you through the next two months.

Don’t Blow the Momentum

If it looks like you’re on the right track, then now’s the time to add fuel to the fire and build on the momentum!

Here are a couple ideas to take it to the next level:

  • Consider buying some Facebook ads. They aren’t all that expensive and they are a great way to build up your audience. You’ll be amazed at how granular you can get with the targeting.
  • Try a contest or giveaway integrating two or more of your social networks (i.e., Facebook, Twitter and YouTube). Make sure it is super compelling and has a great payoff and you’ll be thrilled with the viral results.
  • Try hosting a live Q&A session on one of your social networks. Promote it well in advance and make sure your resident experts are pulled in to participate.
  • Host a Twitter party. Invite people to storm Twitter and help you trend. Make sure they get a reward for their efforts.

That’s about it! You should have just about everything you need to build a strong and comprehensive social media strategy.

Good luck…and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter! 😉

Standard
Instagram account on large monitor
social media

Social Media Strategy – Step 2: Implementation

In my previous post I outlined Step #1 of creating a social media strategy: The Assessment. This time around I will go into the process for implementing the plan.

Step #2: Implementation

The implementation portion of your social media strategy is all about focusing on the nitty-gritty details and day-to-day tasks.

Create a Content Calendar

It is extremely easy to lose focus and, to put it bluntly, blow off your social media marketing. Even great plans and intentions can turn into sheer failure when one or two weeks of inactivity turns into months of neglect.

Social media marketing is like a houseplant. It needs sun, water and a little talking to…on a regular, scheduled basis. Otherwise, the day comes when you walk into the room and notice all the leaves are on the floor.

Having a calendar keeps you and your team on track. It makes you accountable and serves as a guide. Think of it as not only an actionable calendar, but an editorial one as well. The more information and detail you include, the better you can measure effectiveness.

Here are a few things I suggest you incorporate into yours:

  • The theme or purpose of your content.
  • Who will create the content (i.e., blog author or, perhaps from a third-party site/provider).
  • How the content will be delivered (i.e., blog, video, photo, etc.)
  • When and where will it be shared.

Have a Promotion and Growth Plan

There are a ton of ways to promote your content and all that you are doing on your social media platforms. But all of them are useless unless you have a plan built in for growth.

Not everything you post is going to be instantly viral. I would even venture to say the things you value the most, such as real brand-building, informative content, may even appear to fall flat. That’s okay!

The goal in social media is to resonate with and build an audience. It is from there that you can engage. In other words, it’s better to have 10 friends, even if only two of them seem to pay attention to you when you tell them about your day, than two friends who aren’t listening.

Your growth plan, therefore, must take into account content that is viral, fun, silly and in most cases, seemingly pointless. Intermingled in all that nonsense, which people love, is the relevant, focused and informative material that will truly build your brand and generate sales.  But, I caution, too much serious stuff is toxic. Think of the friend analogy again. No one wants a friend who is a Debbie Downer and is serious all the time.

Here are a couple tips for implementing a growth and promotion plan:

  • Integrate social media on your website with plugins, links, buttons and icons.
  • Include these buttons and links in your company’s email strategy (including employee signature blocks) on your letterhead and business cards.
  • Have contests and promotions or offer rewards that drive people to your social platforms.
  • Create virality by posting photos of mundane things (your lunch, someone’s shoes and other silly things) or fun videos. Bonus points if you can merge fun and informative.
  • Showcase your expertise and build a reputation by offering webinars and training programs, interviewing experts and guest blogging. Don’t be offended if those things aren’t as viral as the video of your cat chasing a shadow on the wall.
  • Always include humor and lightheartedness in your social voice.
  • Never stop promoting your social networks.
  • Never give up.

Identify Sales Opportunities

I realize I have made it sound nearly impossible to put social media to good (business) use, but there couldn’t be anything further from the truth.

While the primary goal is always about making and building relationship, and creating a loyal following, the opportunity to sell most definitely exists.

Once you’ve built those solid, genuine relationships online, you’ll have people who are ready to eat from your hand. But, like any wild animal, they will only eat from your hand occasionally and when the offered snack is truly enticing.

Therefore, your implementation strategy should definitely include an action plan that allows you to capture and nurture leads.

Just make sure what you are offering as bait doesn’t come across as bait (too pushy) or is too frequent. And, monitor your followers. If they start to un-friend you or disengage it’s time for another kitty cat video.

Next time around I will talk more about Monitoring and Measuring.

Standard
Facebook on phone
social media

Social Media Strategy – Step 1: Assessment

I recently implemented a social media strategy that saw the company’s Facebook “likes” swell but nearly 1000% and Twitter followers jump 3000% in just three months.

How did we do it?

We had a plan.

Achieving success with social media marketing isn’t difficult, but it will be an uphill and possibly futile battle without a pre-defined strategy.

Over the next few posts I will outline a basic three-step plan that can help you develop an effective, streamlined road map for social media success.

Step #1: Assessment

The first and most important place to begin is by truthfully accessing the situation. That means realistically taking into account where you are and where you want to be with social media. This isn’t the time to snow yourself or your management team. If you have been failing in the past, admit it. And keep the goals simple. Don’t shoot for the stars or you’ll become discouraged quickly.

You’ll also need to outline what you believe is your audience’s needs, wants and challenges. Re-examine your customer demographic data (hopefully you have that already). Run some surveys. Do some research.  You’ll want to know everything you can about your audience so you’ll be able to:

  1. Create content that resonates.
  2. Build trust through relevancy.
  3. Have a voice that your audience can relate to.
  4. Listen and respond to specific customers needs, feedback or complaints.
  5. Become a resource in your niche or industry.

You’ll also want to define the theme of your strategy. Are you looking to create awareness, generate sales or build brand loyalty?

It’s likely that you’ll want to do all three (or others), but it will only work if you set one goal and let the others nurture from the success of that singular theme. Consistency and simplicity are the name of the game here.

How will you measure your strategy’s success?

Another key component of the assessment is determining exactly how you will measure success. The simplest advice I can give here is: Listen.

Listen to what people are saying on Facebook, Twitter and on blogs all around the web. Use Google Alerts. It’s a perfect tool for people who are just starting out. It’s easy to set up and, best of all, it’s free.

Facebook also has some relatively helpful tools that allow you to see your “likes,” what is trending and your daily reach. I say they are ‘relatively’ helpful because the data can seem a bit arbitrary and speculative, and is only accessible for three month periods. Plus, I would not recommend getting too wrapped up in what the numbers say. Use the data to support the activity and comments you are seeing.

fb-likes

Put It All in Writing

Finally, you will want to finalize the plan by writing it down. This allows you to have policies and procedures in place as situations arise. For example, what if there is a negative comment posted to Twitter by a customer? The plan should tell you who deals with it and what the strategy is for diminishing the impact.

Other things you will want to include in your written strategy:

  • What is the goal?
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • Where is the content coming from?
  • Where are your focused goals for each platform (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?
  • When are you engaging (days and times)?

Once you have your strategy in writing you are ready to get started.

Next time around I will explain the Implementation process, where you apply your establish strategy and focus on the day-to-day tasks.

Standard
blogging, social media

Could I Be a Social Spammer?

A colleague of mine, whose insight I respect, told me the other day that he thought I was spamming my followers. At the very least, he said, I was treating them without dignity and as if they were idiots.

Here’s the backstory:

When I publish blogs postings, such as this one, I like to release them to the social channels I am participating. Namely, Twitter and Linkedin. Of course there’s also the RSS feed. Feeds are automatically created when an article or posting is published. That’s one of the many nice things about blogging on WordPress.

In theory, that means there’s five different ways someone could come across my ramblings. Seems like a good strategy, right? After all, I’ve done a lot of research on blogging and social media over the last several years, and just about every opinion (I’ve seen) adheres to the idea that it’s just plain smart to promote yourself in any way possible. And, because I’m in the business, as one might say, I know by staying on top of my audience that there’s little duplication of followers across the different social networks.

However, as my colleague pointed out, what if someone is following my blog though the RSS feed…and they follow me on Twitter? What if they’re also following on Google+?

If that’s the case, they would get my new posting notice three times, and as he asserts, they’re getting spammed. Not only that, he says they’re being treated disrespectfully, as if I think they’re so stupid they won’t realize I’m feeding them the same stuff over different mediums.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that.

A counter argument I posed with him went like this:

What if on my drive home I hear a BMW ad on the radio? Then, as I’m watching TV that evening I see a BMW ad with a similar message. Later, I’m on my iPad reading news on a site like CNN and encounter another BMW ad. Is BMW spamming me? Or, is that just the nature of modern day marketing?

Wouldn’t the process I go through to promote this blog be the same? Wouldn’t my followers simply ignore something they’ve seen already?

What do you think?

Should a blogger limit or restrict the avenues they use to distribute their blog so they don’t overfeed or spam their audience?

Standard
social media

Jennifer Golbeck: The Curly Fry Conundrum

Why social media “likes” say more than you might think

Jennifer Golbeck is the director of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland. Her lab predicts things like political preference, intelligence, age, just by using Facebook. One study was done just using people’s Facebook likes (looking at which pages they liked). A list of the top 5 likes indicative of high intelligence showed that one of those likes was actually for the “curly fries” page.  Why? Because the action of liking reflects back to the attributes of the other people who liked it. If someone intelligent created the page, than their friends who like the page are probably smart as well.

In the below TEDTalk presentation Golbeck explains how this science has evolved and how some applications of the technology are not so benign — and why she thinks we should return the control of information to its rightful owners.

Standard
social media

Why Invest in Social Media

It wasn’t but a little over a year ago when I had the CEO of an online retailer tell me that they wouldn’t be “wasting” any time whatsoever on social media.  Of course, considering they made the majority of their money online, I didn’t let that go without some sort of back and forth. But, the day ended with him firmly entrenched in the notion that time spent on Facebook and Twitter was a frivolous use of resources.

The truth of the matter is, social media marketing is hardly a waste of time.

According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 85% of marketers report that with just 6 hours a week invested in social media marketing they have had a positive increase in brand awareness, and 74% say they have experienced a significant increase in web traffic.

For those who have been using social media for more than 3 years, 58% say it has definitely helped to improve sales. And, nearly half of those who spent 11 hours per week or more on social media efforts saw an overall reduction in other marketing expenses.

When it comes to acquiring a loyal fan base, social media truly plays a big role. Of those who have been using social media for at least 1 year, 65% found it useful for building a loyal fan base. Time invested made a significant difference with results. Sixty percent of those who spent at least 6 hours a week found benefit, compared to 46% of those spending 5 hours or less.

Even with those who spent as little as 6 hours per week, 61% reported a positive uptick in lead generation.

In the long run, each company’s social media strategy will be different—with unique results. But, the statistics show even a little effort will prove worthy in building a brand, finding leads or establishing a following. I’d say with the relative low-cost of investment, and almost guaranteed return, it is hardly a frivolous use of resources.

As Michael Stelzner, the author of the Social Media Industry Report and Founder of the Social Media Examiner has said, “The old mantra of ‘be everywhere’ will quickly be replaced with ‘be where it matters to our business.’…It will be essential to focus on where you’ll see results.”

Standard
social media

There’s a New Social Network in Town…

There’s a new social network in town and it’s called Unthink. It’s the site that is branding itself, in a bit of an angry fit, as the “anti-Facebook” network.

The basic premise of Unthink is its claim to be the “emancipation platform,” a place for people who want to be social online but are frustrated by unfavorable privacy policies, excessive advertising and unexpected updates that keep them unsure if their information is actually protected or not.

Since their launch on Oct. 25th, Unthink has registered over 100,000 new members, and claims they are doubling new registrants each day. Those are actually pretty impressive numbers considering it took Facebook a year to reach a million users and it looks as if Unthink could be on its way to that mark in just a few weeks. That is, if the hype and curiosity doesn’t suddenly waver. After all, there are a whole lot of industry folks and rebels that just wait for things like Unthink to pop up.

Whether they find success or not, they are executing a very interesting marketing strategy with their blatant attack on Facebook. Unthink CEO and founder Natasha Dedis has openly called Facebook the “place that looks like a palace, but in which users are slaves.” Unthink, she points out, is instead “a promised land [where users] own and can build what they want to build.”

Hmmm….is that a little over the top?

Check out the promo video:

There’s a whole lot of revolutionary language in there, and it goes with Dedis’ vision to radically transform the way people interact and share online. “It’s not a business,” she has said, “it’s a cause.”

With revolution, freedom and personal causes as the central theme, Dedis has gone on to say that there will be no place for traditional advertising on Unthink. Instead, the site will let people pick who they want to market to them, with Unthink protecting members’ data from advertisers. It’s actually a promise that is explicitly made on the site: “No ads. Not now. Not ever.”

However, the reality is that Unthink encourages users to choose a brand “sponsor,” who will cover the costs of maintaining their profile. In exchange, the sponsor will be showcased or displayed on the user’s page (in the form of an advertisement). If you’re the sort who wants a page free of sponsors (or advertising — even though we’re supposed to be thinking the whole jist of this thing is to be free from all advertising), you can make that happen by paying $2 a year.

I suppose $2 a year is a small price to pay, and the site’s design does put privacy as a primary focus. Unlike Facebook, who automatically makes a great deal information on new profiles public, Unthink’s default settings are in favor of the user’s privacy.

But I do wonder about the anger and hype. Especially when it comes to the “sponsors” and their roles.

In the end, is it all that different from Facebook?

I suppose time will tell.

Standard