Archive | September, 2015

Tips for Smart Social Media Marketing

26 Sep

We all know how it is, you get your hands on a social media position, or you start to run some serious social media for your business, and pretty soon it’s all going very wrong. You don’t know what you’re doing, and you’re making mistakes all over the place.

You need direction. You need some rules.

In this post, we look at the eleven unbreakable laws of social media. They are unbreakable because if you break them, well, some bad things happen. At the very least you may be looking at a wasteland on social media. At worst, you could be looking at a brand that is disliked.


Law One: Think before you post

Sounds like common sense? Well, it is. But you’d be surprised how many companies send out content on social media without considering the impact first of all. Whether it’s making an unfortunate comment about a competitor or losing your rag and going full on rage in a tweet, you need to always consider the impact of what you post.

Take a second just before you press ‘send’ or post’ every time. Read it through. Is it conveying the right message about your brand? Is it truthful? Is it going to hurt anyone?

Those are three pretty good test questions, we think.

Law Two: Always remember that real people are involved

This is a crucial one because it pretty much defines everything you do on social media. Remember that it is called social media and this all makes sense.

Every time you do anything on social media, remember that there are people involved somewhere. We talked about the impact in the first law. This law is about ensuring that you work hard to build and maintain relationships.

This means your branding has to be front of mind. If you are directly interacting with or at least broadcasting to customers and prospects, everything you do is part of the relationship building process. How are you acknowledging this in the way you write, post and share?

We’re not just talking about companies insulting their audience, that’s too easy. We’re also talking about how you build up a base of loyal people who actively look for your latest update. When you’ve achieved that, you’re starting to build relationships.

The upshot here? Make every post and update count towards the relationship you are trying to build.

Law Three: Listen and then listen some more

No company gets anywhere on social media unless it listens to what is being said online. Listen to what people are saying about you and act accordingly, obviously, but take that listening one step further and focus on what is being said about your industry.

The more you listen to industry news and opinion the more informed you will be.

It makes you a more professional outfit. When you’re selling, you can confidently say you know what is happening in your industry. It’s pretty safe to say not all of your competitors do this

Law Four: Be in the right place

This is important. Find out which channels your audience is on and don’t veer off the path.

Don’t be on Pinterest if you don’t sell to women. And don’t even go near Snapchat unless your demographic is under 18 (and pretty cool with it).

Be on the right channel so your efforts are not wasted. By not being on the right channel, you’re not just breaking one of our laws, you’re leaving yourself open to saturation and dilution.

.Law Five: Don’t follow people you shouldn’t

We’re not talking creepy stuff here. We’re just acknowledging that it is easy to connect with people who have absolutely nothing to do with your industry or niche because it means you simply get more followers, right?

But when you’re trying to market to the audience (and possibly spending money doing so) you’re potentially wasting time and resources. And when you get an embarrassing tweet in your stream from someone who has nothing to do with your true audience, it just looks bad.

Keep it relevant. Keep it targeted. You might get less followers but your followership will be of a higher quality and you will see the results in a higher engagement rate.

Law Six: Create great content

This is something that is incredibly hard to do unless you have a solid plan. Creating great content means ensuring that the post you put out there has some thought behind it and taps into what your audience wants to see.

Create exciting, visual content by all means, and share it too. But the moment you do anything mediocre, people will start to wonder why you are at the party.

If necessary, post less frequently. In our study on posting frequency we’ve seen that posting less frequently can give a boost to the organic reach of your posts.

Just ensure you have quality at the heart of everything you do.

Law Seven: Be active

The most successful companies in social media share a lot. They know that people want to see good content, but the also know that every time someone shares their content, it helps spread it even further. Getting the word out means that your marketing is working. The more you share the better.

Share the relevant and quality content that you find, because that is just good manners. But also, now and then, share a blog post you wrote or an infographic you have designed. It all works out for the better because people will share it much further than you could imagine.

Identify when your audience is online. Optimise your posting schedule and publish new content on times of the day when majority of your audience is online.

Law Eight: Take it easy. Please

Head on over to Twitter now and chances are that you’ll find at least one person who is spamming you and/or creating an undying steam of worthless content that just keeps flashing up in front of your eyes. These people are annoying and they don’t understand rule number eight.

Social media takes time. Take it easy and stop updating like a maniac. Build relationships, but only do so when it looks like the other person would like to talk to you. This will mark you out as someone special in the horde, and will allow you to build ethical relationships in future.

Take your time, observe everyone’s behaviour, and then introduce yourself.

Law Nine: Interact and respond

If someone reaches out to you, and they don’t appear to be anything like scary or weird, then respond. It’s important that there is that reciprocity.

Check them out, if they look like someone you need to know, start a real conversation with them. Businesses have been built using this law.

Most companies ignore the messages they get and that is a social media failure.

Law Ten: Listen to the influencers

ILook for people in your industry who are influencers, disruptive people who are changing the way people think about what you do. Then listen to what they’re saying on social media. Take note, and follow their conversations. They know what they are talking about.

When you finally really get to know their flow and style, and subject matter on social, reach out. You may be surprised at what happens when an influencer enjoys your product so much so he or she shares it with their large and loyal audience.

Law Eleven (bonus law): Be consistent

One of the biggest reasons why people stop following others or start ignoring them at least on social is the ‘burst’ effect. This is where a business comes up with hundreds of tweets and posts and spends a few days sending them out there. After that the company goes quiet and ignores their own social media profiles.

When a business loses sight of Law Eight (check back in this post if you have to) and disappears, it looks really, really bad. Remember the last time you found out that a business just didn’t do what it said it would? Not good, right? Are you still doing business with them? We didn’t think so.

So there are ten (plus one) unbreakable laws of social media. Integrate this new understanding into your working life and you’ll soon start to see a return on your social media investment

Above all, let common sense prevail. A lot of what is outlined above in this post is just good old intelligent thinking.

Social Media Marketing- Strategy Vs. Tactics

21 Sep

There are more than 200 social media networks, and more hit the Internet daily. No wonder authors are confused about how to approach this behemoth.

The social media information highway is crowded and noisy. There are more than 30 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook every month, and according to Twitter, there are 500 million tweets posted each day. What’s more, an average of 70 million images are shared on Instagram daily. Add websites and email to that list and you have a flood of information that is impossible to keep up with.

Many authors are scratching their heads trying to figure out which channels, if any, to use.

The truth is, success is not about finding the right channel; it’s about defining strategy first, and then plugging in the right channels to reach your goals. Facebook is not a strategy. It’s a tactic.

The Difference Between Strategy and Tactics

Sometimes we have a hard time distinguishing the difference between strategy and tactics. But think of strategy as the why behind the what (tactic). If you don’t start with the why, you won’t be able to choose the right what. In other words, I don’t want to be on Facebook or Pinterest just because everyone else is. That would indicate my goal is to be like everyone else (my why). You have to complete the sentence: I am going to maintain an active presence on Facebook because [why]. Start with the why.

Your why could be any number of reasons depending on your marketing goals:

  • I want to use my Facebook page to develop an advance reader team.
  • I want to take advantage of Facebook’s advertising platform to grow my newsletter subscriber list.
  • I want to build personal connections with my loyal readers.
  • I would like to partner with other authors in events like book launches and giveaways.

You Have to Start with Strategy

Strategy is a roadmap. Think of it like Google Maps. You are going on a road trip: when you type your destination into the directions function, you see a map with a line drawn from your location to your destination. That is your strategy—get from point A to point B. Now, if you scroll down under the map, you’ll see the step-by-step directions that will get you to your destination, including the miles between each step. Those individual directions are your tactics.

If my strategy is to build a newsletter email list of 10,000 subscribers, I have defined points A and B, and I can now make a list of tactics that will get me there. One of them may be to use a sign-up app on my Facebook page. Another may be to use Facebook ads. Another may be to put a newsletter sign-up in the front and back matter of my ebooks. I may also embed a sign-up widget on my website. One strategy, many tactics.

The Backwards Temptation

It’s easy to get this backwards. Too many people jump on a social media channel with no plan of attack because they honestly don’t know what they want to accomplish there. They haven’t answered the why. This is such a terrible waste of your time. Figure out what you want to accomplish first and then come up with a list of tactics that will get you to your goal. Social media may or may not play a part in it.

Just remember: social media is not a strategy. Social media is a tactic. Strategy before tactics. Stick to your plan, and you will spend a lot less time on social media and realize more success.

I’ve been helping clients put together strategic social media plans for five years, and they all have the same epiphany: when you start with goals and end with tactics, social media marketing becomes much less complicated and much more straightforward. You’re not creating a recipe; you’re creating a customized plan of attack and choosing the tools that will insure your success.

Relevance is the Key to Social Media Marketing

14 Sep

We often confuse relevance with creativity. Relevance is not about being cutting edge or participating in the latest fad. When it comes to social media, relevance is about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time through the right channel. Sometimes it’s actually easier to understand relevance by looking at what it’s not.

1. Relevance isn’t about tools. Tools come and go, and if you rely on Facebook or Snapchat (heaven forbid) to bring you success, then you are on the wrong train. Tools deliver the relevant information; they are the conduit. They help you target the audience you need with relevant content that triggers a sense of value and leads them to an emotional connection. If you don’t connect with them personally, your content is forgettable, no matter what channel it’s on.

2. Relevance isn’t about being hip or on the cutting edge. A first cousin to number one, the need to be cool doesn’t solve most buyers’ needs. Engagement isn’t always about being an early adopter. If your mantra is “sell, sell, sell,” it will sound just as hollow on Snapchat as it does on Facebook.

3. Relevance doesn’t always increase with reach. Traditional marketing reach is a measurement of how far your social media message goes. It’s about eyeballs—how many people see a post. You can try to game reach by purchasing one of those silly retweet packages for $15, but the truth is they are a complete waste of money. Their tweets don’t reach your target audience, so they don’t deliver a relevant message. Their audiences have not been qualified to buy your books. Relevant reach is about numbers and your targeted audience.

4. Relevance won’t increase by being on every social media channel. More isn’t better on social media. It’s all about matching audiences to the right content. Where are your readers and where are they in the habit of buying? Targeted is better. Know your audience.

Relevance Is About the Strength of Relationships

In information science, relevance is the way in which one topic is related to another. Google algorithms rely on relevance to show you exactly what you are searching for. If you Google the phrase “social media marketing,” for instance, an algorithm will search for such things as pages that others have referenced on the subject, keywords and other relevance measurements. The order of web page results you see is carefully selected based on your past searches, where you go online and where others have gone, as well. Each page is assigned a relevance score, if you will.

Facebook also uses a relevance score that determines which ads will be seen and how much they will cost. The better you are at matching your product and message to the targeted audience, the higher your score is, and the more likely it is that Facebook will show your ad to users. You may think that is unfair, but it is actually a consumer-driven algorithm. Facebook users complained for years that Facebook was full of spammy newsfeed ads, so Facebook made a promise to users to show them only ads they would be interested in, matching the products with their age, interests, location and user habits (other products and pages they had liked). And it’s actually a good deal for advertisers: the more you know my audience, the better you can target them.

What Is Relevance in Social Media?

These relevance calculations from both Google and Facebook give us an idea of just how important relevance is in social media marketing. There are five factors you need to consider to be relevant in social media:

1. Who is in your audience? And don’t say everyone. When we say audience, we’re not talking about outliers or small percentage groups like 55-year-old women who like science fiction erotica; we’re talking common demographics. For instance, if you write Young Adult (YA) books, you are targeting young people ages 10-18, generally speaking. This group also has preferred social media channels and interests. You can find much of that data through online searches.

Professional associations and publishers often report on specific genre-related data. You can also survey your readers’ interests through a Facebook or newsletter survey. Do you pay attention to your fans on Goodreads? What kinds of books are they reading and recommending?

2. What other authors write books like yours? In marketing, this is called opposition research. Knowing which authors write books like you do can help you in the hunt for an audience for your books. Do you like the Facebook pages of other authors in your genre? Follow them on Twitter or Pinterest? Read any of their books? It is especially helpful to keep an eye on how they market. What are they doing that is captivating?

I have one client who routinely asks her Facebook fans to share books by other authors they like. It’s foolish to think your Facebook fans are only reading your books. So how can you partner in initiatives with other authors to share audience promotion efforts? Build bridges—no author is an island. Your audience moves in many circles.

3. When are readers buying books? When are your book sales the highest? What about other authors you network with? This information allows you to develop a better mix of social media content that helps rather than content that hypes, as Jay Baer would say. You don’t just want to jump on social media when sales are expected to be the highest and start selling. Relevance is built on a 12-month cycle. Offering relevant content year-round builds the kind of loyalty that earns us the right to sell when the buying cycle kicks in.

It is also helpful to know when the best times of day and days of the week are to post on social media. There is abundant data online to answer these questions. I recommend using these recommendations as a starting point. Posting times can vary with demographics such as age, gender and time zone. For instance, YA readers frequent social media more during non-school hours. Remember your audience.

4. Where are your readers? Once you know who your readers are, it’s time to find out where they are. All social media platforms are not created equal. There is a wealth of information on who is on which platform and what they are doing there. Pew Internet Research is an excellent source of who is on which channels.

5. Why should your readers care? Why should they buy your book? Defining what makes your book valuable to readers is gold. A great example of this is the book descriptions on Amazon. Next to your cover, it’s the main motivator for buying your book, especially for new readers. It must move the reader to want to know more about your book. Otherwise, they may not bite. Good copywriting is an art and can be learned. Attention spans today are shorter, and readers are more critical than ever. They are bombarded with so many messages that they quickly move on if you don’t hook them. If your content is relevant enough to make an emotional connection, though, you will have succeeded. Always leave them wanting more.

Social Media Proves Boon To Email Marketers

7 Sep

From Twitter handles on TV to hashtags in print, the influence of social media spans far beyond its official boarders. New research shines a spotlight on social’s increasing sway over email marketing, and some opportunities that brands continue to miss.

From “like” buttons to sharing options, a whopping 76% of emails now include some sort of social element, according to social marketing and analytics firm Curalate and the email-marketing specialists at Movable Ink.

When email marketers work social into their equations, Facebook content is used 53% of the time, while Twitter content is used 14% of the time.

Where is social and email failing to align?

Well, when asked to identify top challenges in bringing social images into email, 52% citing different databases and systems; 51% cited issues with analytics and collection; and 49% cited stifling silos in cross-channel collaboration.

According to the researchers, email marketers leverage Instagram images less than 3% of the time, missing big engagement gains in the process.

In fact, the popular social network delivers 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement than Twitter, according to Curalate and Movable Ink.

If brands do use Instagram imagery in their emails, they should strongly consider Valencia, Rise and X-Pro II, and they appear to be the photo filters that deliver the highest revenue per impression when used in an ecommerce environment.

Similarly, contextual tags — taken from Instagram images — that are excel at driving revenue in an ecommerce environment include “eyes,” “smile, “makeup,” “female,” “water,” “hair” and “travel.”

This year, more than 200 billion emails will be sent and received every day of 2015 — 57% of which will come from brands — Curalate and Movable Ink expect.

The research was based on first- and third-party data from which Curalate pulled an aggregate source of 700 brands and their daily consumer engagements with images.