Archive | April, 2014

10 Things You Don’t Know About Social Media Marketing!

28 Apr

Everyone seems to think social media marketing is easy — just throw up some posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc, put your Facebook button on everything, and wait for the money to come rolling in. The other misperception is that social media marketing is cheap. Well, compared to spending $2 million on a Super Bowl ad, social media marketing IS cheap, but that doesn’t mean it won’t cost some serious money.

Unfortunately, the perception that social media marketing is cheap and easy is actually costing you BIG BUCKS! We call these opportunity costs because you’re giving up the opportunity to make more money because you’re not doing it right.

You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.

Businesses hire staff or consultants who lack requisite knowledge because they’re inexpensive, which is REALLY dangerous for a small business because they’re often the entire marketing department. Businesses devote little or no money to their social media marketing program because they’ve bought into the idea that their free.

So, let’s take a look at the 10 things you don’t know about social media marketing (using the successful guide from Letterman’s top 10, here they are in reverse order of importance):

10. Gurus are spending BIG money

Yeah, you got it. All those gurus out there telling you how wonderful social media marketing is and how it’s the great equalizer for small businesses are telling you big, fat LIES.

I’m sure you’ve seen boasts about getting 1 million likes in a few weeks or driving massive traffic with a few easy steps.

Most of these are lies — or at least half-truths. These folks are getting the results they claim, but they’re not telling you they’re spending big bucks. Their results are not organic. Now, the advice might be sound, but don’t feel bad that you’re not getting the same results.

I fell into that trap early on. I was doing everything right, but not seeing the kind of massive returns I was reading about. For instance, one guru got 250,000 email subscribers. I did all the right things and only have a few thousand. What I didn’t know is this guru was PAYING folks like Guy Kawasaki and other big names some hefty fees to guest blog on his site and create ebooks. He was also paying serious money for PPC ads to promote email subscriptions.

9. Content is KING

OK, so maybe you DID know this one. But, did you know what KIND of content is KING? The kind that visitors find VALUABLE. I recently worked with a client whose previous agency was creating content — which consisted of a single blog post that was entirely promotional. Epic FAIL.

Content must be valuable to readers, over 300 words, contain related images, and authoritative links. Avoid keyword stuffing and be sure to share your content ubiquitously.

8. Quantity DOES matter

Don’t get me wrong. I’m clearly on the quality side of this debate, but you still have to produce content consistently. I strive for 3X per week, but there’s not much difference between 2-5 times per week in terms of conversion. Less than that and you won’t see the results you’re looking for!

Crappy content will still get you in lots of trouble with Google — and who wants that? Duplicate content will still get you in trouble, so avoid it.

What’s a marketer to do?

Create a content marketing calendar to ease the burden of creating high quality content on a consistent basis. Period. There are no shortcuts.

Creating good content is only 1/2 the battle. You need to curate content from other great folks. Not only is it a nice thing to do (and ensures you stay up-to-date with cutting-edge conversations around your niche), but curating content creates a tit-for-tat relationship that encourages others to share your content.

7. Social media marketing in 30 minutes a day

This is my favorite LIE about social media marketing. If you’ve read any of the earlier items on this list, you can see that social media marketing takes time. Lots of time. My guess is a small business needs about 10-15 hours a week and a midsized business problem about 80-100 hours a week of dedicated social media marketing.

And, don’t hire someone to manage your social media marketing without a clear understand of what you need and their abilities. Having a vibrant Facebook profile or a large Twitter following doesn’t mean the prospective employee knows what they’re doing.

And, that leads me to my next point.

6. Social media marketing takes cross-functional skills

Here are just a few of the many skills to look for in whoever manages your social media marketing:

  1. Strong BI (business intelligence) and A/B testing
  2. Strong writing
  3. Marketing background
  4. Technical — graphics and web design fundamentals, along with some coding and lots of online social media management
  5. Drupal, WordPress, etc.

I would look for someone who’s a generalist in these areas, with strong marketing and writing skills.

5. Social media marketing IS marketing!

There’s a reason we call it social media marketing — it’s marketing. Sure, you can hire that english major, but it won’t work as well. Face it. Marketing students spend 4 years learning marketing — consumer behavior, market research, market strategy, etc. WHY would you think you could hire and english major?

Your english major might be a good writer, but does he/she understand the tools of influence? Segmentation? How to construct a market survey?

“Nough said.

4. Subtle differences in implementation generate huge differences in results.

For instance, writing well is good, but using the tools of influence within your writing is critical for results. Influence allows you to create content that motivates the reader toward actions you need without being spammy or using the hard sell.

For instance, a client created a landing page to capture email addresses for an upcoming launch. He invited folks to sign up. Well, I’m gonna rush right out and do that!

I convinced him to change the language. The landing page now reads:

Shhhhhhhh. Can you keep a secret? We need a few good geeks to polish our gem!

This uses 2 tools of influence. 1 is the law of scarcity — people want what they can’t have and 1 is tit-for-tat by giving them something no one else has.

3. Only buyer personas matter

It really doesn’t matter how BIG your social network is, it’s how many in your network fit your buyer persona. That’s because only these folks will actually buy your brand and you’re in business to make money, right?

2. Engagement matters

Having lots of followers/ friends/ fans … doesn’t mean anything — even if they fit your buyer persona. Engagement is the fuel for message amplification and ultimately may result in viral messaging.

Engagement doesn’t happen if you’re not creating value, being a real person with a strong voice, encouraging folks to engage, etc. Engagement also requires analytics to understand how your network responds and capitalizing on what’s working.

1. Social media marketing is SOCIAL

Social media marketing isn’t just another channel for blasting out advertising messages. It isn’t traditional marketing. Spend time (and money) understanding them. Put yourself in the shoes of folks comprising your buyer personas and give them things you’d want.

How to Benefit from the LinkedIn Publishing Platform

21 Apr

Did you know you can publish your articles on the LinkedIn publishing platform?  Do you want to build more authority in your niche?  LinkedIn is opening up its publishing platform to all 277 million+ members!  In this article, I’ll show you how high-quality content creators and bloggers can use LinkedIn’s publishing platform to build their influence.

Why LinkedIn Publishing Platform?

I’ve always said you don’t have to be anointed as an influencer to build online influence. It’s up to you to contribute to your community, share valuable experience and create astute content that shows your thought leadership.

The LinkedIn publishing platform gives you the opportunity to expand your reach in a major way. Since all LinkedIn members have access to the platform, it’s critical for you to create high-quality content that differentiates you.

With the LinkedIn publishing platform, you can follow other publishers and build your own followers in the process. While your LinkedIn followers have the potential to see your LinkedIn posts, they aren’t official network connections. (It’s similar to LinkedIn’s current model for following LinkedIn-appointed influencers.)

Any posts you publish on LinkedIn are tied to your professional profile and show up near the top of your profile. This means your thought leadership insights are showcased when someone views your LinkedIn profile.  Here are some great tips to make the most of the new publishing platform:

#1: Create Valuable, Attractive Content

Before you start posting, have a plan in place. What content is most useful for your audience? Is your post too salesy? Although there’s no formal editorial process, LinkedIn makes it clear that sales-oriented content won’t be tolerated (after all, that’s what the advertising platform is for).

LinkedIn has some helpful guidelines in their Help Center about what to publish. This is a good reference for understanding how to frame your content so it resonates with and adds value to both your established audience and your potential audience (which will now be even greater than your existing LinkedIn network).

The general guidelines I’ve seen (including LinkedIn’s) recommend keeping posts between 400 and 600 words and publishing weekly. However, you could certainly experiment with these parameters and determine what works best for you.

Like other social networks, people want to consume information quickly. Make it easy for them by creating scannable, attractive content. A few best practices are using a compelling headline, placing an eye-catching image at the top of your posts, bolding important text and breaking up longer paragraphs.

Feel free to enhance your articles with YouTube videos or content from SlideShare to make them as interesting and useful as possible.

When you’re ready to write an article on the LinkedIn publishing platform, it’s pretty easy. Go to your LinkedIn home page and look for the pencil icon in the box at the top where you would typically share an update.

When you click the pencil icon, you’ll see the publishing editor. This is where you create your post.

LinkedIn’s publishing editor is very simple to use. It’s similar to the WordPress editor or Microsoft Word. You can type or paste your text into the editor and format it right there. Below is a snapshot of what my first post looks like within the editor:

Your LinkedIn post doesn’t have a bio section. You’ll need to create a bio at the end of each post. Your bio should include a sentence or two about who you are, what you do and who you help, a link to your website or blog or even a specific call to action.

It’s a good idea to make the most of all of your resources. In your bio area, you should link you name to your Google+ profile, and on your Google+ profile you should add LinkedIn to the list of sites you contribute to. This ensures that Google picks up your authorship profile for your LinkedIn posts.

Before you hit Publish, please be sure to review your post and check it for grammar and spelling (the Preview option is helpful here). But if you don’t catch everything, you can go back and edit your post any time.


#2: Share Your Post Everywhere

To maximize your reach and engagement inside and outside of LinkedIn, share your post on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. If you have a LinkedIn company page, share it there as well (assuming your post is relevant to your company page’s followers).

This kind of aggregate social networking adds credibility and encourages more shares and engagement across the social web. In turn, all of that engagement sends social signals to Google’s search algorithm and can help increase your visibility in online searches!


#3: Manage Your Post Comments

You’ve written a useful post, you’ve promoted it far and wide and people are reading it. After all that effort and exposure, don’t forget to check your comments!

In the Comments section of your post, you can respond to and interact with members who are leaving feedback or starting a discussion.

In most cases, those who commented on my posts were people I’m not currently connected to. That means the post is getting visibility beyond my first-degree network, and yours probably will too. Unfortunately I did see one or two spam comments when I posted, but you have the ability to hide and/or flag these.


#4: Evaluate Content Performance

LinkedIn immediately starts to show you the number of views, social media shares and comments your post generates. I admit that it’s exciting to see those metrics changing right before your eyes in real time!

Use your LinkedIn post metrics to determine how well your content is resonating with your audience. As you build your professional content library, compare your posts to see which ones outperformed others.

When you have a feel for what’s working for you, take some time to review the posts of your favorite official LinkedIn influencers and your competitors. Evaluate their posting schedule and which posts got the most views and engagement. Consider how you can use similar tactics for your own success.

Seeing what’s working gives you an idea of what people are responding to and you may want to consider using similar topics or how-to’s that appeal to your own audience.

Learning from the LinkedIn influencers who have gone before you can help you craft a more successful content strategy of your own!

It’s critical to remember that LinkedIn’s publishing platform shouldn’t serve as your content publishing hub. It’s a place to syndicate and further showcase your existing professional content from your blog.

I’m super-excited about this publishing opportunity on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn publishing platform is an important part of any marketer’s content strategy. I think it will be interesting to watch the network grow as an online content destination for professionals.

What do you think? Will the LinkedIn publishing platform be a game-changer? What kind of content are you publishing? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

Twitter Changes The Profile Page Design – Again

14 Apr

Another day, another Twitter page redesign. No sooner have we just got over the last incarnation than they have got restless and changed it again. As I often say to Facebook when they bring out their latest redesign, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

The new design has a lot of space (which will be good for claustrophobic tweeters), and a lot of white. The biggest selling point, as far as Twitter is concerned, is the fact that you can have a much bigger header image, stretching right across the page, a much bigger profile photo, and being able to highlight your best tweets.

For example, here is singer John Legend‘s profile :

johnlegend 640x382   Twitter Changes The Profile Page Design   Again

And here is actor Zac Efron‘s :

zacefron 640x310   Twitter Changes The Profile Page Design   Again

The designs are not bad. In fact, they are the exact opposite – they’re really good. Apart from the enlarged pictures, what else is new? Well for a start, popular tweets will appear on the page with a slightly larger font so people can see them better. You can also pin a tweet of your choosing to the top of the page, which is interesting. This is supposedly so you can define yourself to your followers.

The last change is a set of filters for when you are looking at other Twitter profiles. You can now choose from tweets, tweets with photos/videos, or tweets and replies.

Twitter is “pulling a Google” and releasing this new design in stages. So if you don’t see it yet on your profile, don’t wail and gnash your teeth in despair. You will get it soon. Enjoy it while it lasts – I’m sure the Twitter design team is hard at work on the next profile design.

LinkedIn Retiring Products and Services from Company Pages: Now What?

7 Apr

In case you haven’t heard the latest news, the LinkedIn Products and Services tabs on company pages will be removed on April 14th. And this change is causing confusion for companies. What should your company do? What is the alternative?

LinkedIn is an important social media tool for companies. But with the Products & Services tab going away, many companies are confused on how they will showcase their capabilities.

Why is LinkedIn removing the Products & Services tab?

We believe LinkedIn made this decision based on two recent changes to LinkedIn. First, LinkedIn acquired Pulse, a popular, go-to news source for web and mobile, in 2013. Pulse had a loyal following and was an everyday destination for readers. LinkedIn acquired Pulse in order to move toward being a go-to source for news and content. Pulse’s content would allow LinkedIn users to “choose” the content they want to browse in their feed.

Second, LinkedIn recently released their addition of Showcase Pages for company pages. This was another strategic move by LinkedIn to encourage companies to share their content. It provides an opportunity for companies to target specific audiences or industries and share relevant content. However, in order to “encourage” companies to create Showcase Pages, LinkedIn needed to remove the Products & Services tab.

The two alternatives

Once the Products & Services tab goes away on April 14th, companies will have two options to promote their products and services: Company Updates or Showcase Pages.

1. Company Updates

The easiest transition for companies will be to share content on their current company page to promote their products or services. If your company has a blog, then Company Updates is a great place to share that content. Updates appear in your followers’ feeds on every device and can easily be shared—helping your content spread further and building your company as a thought leader.

2. Showcase Pages

If you’re willing to invest a little more time into your company’s LinkedIn presence, then Showcase Pages are a great way to target particular audiences or highlight specific products or services. Showcase Pages are a great way to raise awareness about your brand’s expertise or capabilities and drive quality leads—since each Showcase Page has its own set of followers.

However, we only recommend going this route though if your company is creating content specific to those Showcase Pages that you would create. Otherwise, your Showcase Pages will have no content relevant to its audience and the page will be ultimately useless as no one will be following it.

Whichever route your company chooses to take once the Products and Services tab disappears, both options require companies to post content.