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Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Don’t be a copycat to boost social media shares

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Wondering why you aren’t getting more shares from your Facebook posts and blogs and re-tweets on Twitter? Maybe despite all your efforts to engage with customers, your content is missing the mark. After all, it’s not always easy to understand exactly what motivates followers when some of the most popular social media content involves cats and bacon, according to Marketo. The marketing automation firm estimates that there are 30,400,000 searches for cats each month on Google and 6, 120,000 for bacon – the sizzling kind not the actor.

However tempting it might be to populate your social media with lots of cute cats and bacon recipes, they aren’t going to do much to increase your sales over the long run, unless you’re Friskies or Hormel. You need to understand what motivates followers to share. A study conducted by the New York Times of 2500 medium/heavy online sharers indicated that:

  • 49 percent say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
  • 94 percent consider how the information they share will be useful to the recipient
  • 68 percent share to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
  • 73 percent share information because it helps them connect with others who share their interests
  • 78 percent share information online because it lets them stay connect3ed to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with
  • 69 percent share information because it makes them feel more involved in the world
  • 84 percent share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about

Plan ahead

Now that you know what motivates followers to share, put your content plan in place. Start by knowing exactly who your audience is and what they find of interest. Don’t make assumptions. Check out some of your competitor’s sites, if necessary, to see what they are posting and how well it’s being received.

Create an editorial calendar for content and stick with it.  You can supplement scheduled posts with other content as it becomes available – news or market reports for example. Also don’t spread yourself too thin. If you don’t have time to populate every social media channel with content, pick the ones that are most popular with your targets.

Take stock of interactions. Your followers will tell you what is meaningful to them by commenting and asking questions.

 

 

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Written by Barbara Kohn

March 19th, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Facebook social partnering is the cat’s meow for one rescue

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If you are looking to increase your Facebook following, you might want to talk to Ava Gardner. Not THE Ava Gardner who stole Ol’ Blue Eyes heart. This Ava Gardner is a cat whose enormous popularity supports the belief held by many that cats rule the Internet.  Ava Gardner the Cat’s Facebook page has managed to attract a following of 326,000 fans – and she’s not even Grumpy.

Ava’s popularity even confounds owner Susie Newton. Two years ago, she got the idea to put up a Facebook page for her Tuxedo cat that was found stray in 2011 in the San Francisco Bay Area and turned over to a cat welfare group.  Ten months later, Newton and her family adopted Ava.  What followed once Ava’s page went up is the stuff of Facebook legends. Her popularity just took off and today the 12-year old kitty basks in the adoration of her thousands of  fans.

Newton, who claims no social media marketing experience, soon saw the potential in her social media darling to save the lives of other cats in need. A volunteer with several Bay Area cat rescue groups, Newton began including posts about other homeless cats on Ava’s page. The posts, which she consistently updated three to four times a week, boosted Ava’s popularity and helped other rescued cats find homes.

Last July, Newton began volunteering with Maine Coon Adoptions (MCA), a highly regarded San Francisco area rescue group. Among her primary activities, Newton took over managing MCA’s Facebook page, which had already attracted about 4500 loyal fans. Newton began re-posting MCA Facebook posts on Ava’s page.  By the end of the year, the social partnership proved to be hugely successful. MCA’s following tripled to 15,000, and continues to climb, and Ava’s fame spread even further

Newton actively posts for the MCA page about four to five times a day and tracks what posts are the most popular. She varies the posts between adoptable cats featured on MCA’s website, upcoming events, and special fundraisers. But the posts that get the most likes and shares are the ones about adopted cats living the good life in their new homes. As Netwton puts it, ‘Everyone loves to see the cats living happily ever.”

Ava Gardner the Cat and Maine Coon Adoptions highlight the value of establishing a social partnership to help grow your follower base.  Ask an affiliate or partner to mention your company or organization in their blog, share your posts on their Facebook page or give you a re-tweet, and return the favor.

Ava was a rescued cat who now is sharing her limelight to help other cats in need. You can’t get much more social than that.

 

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Written by Barbara Kohn

February 17th, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Know Thy Customer – Targeting Your Audience for Meaningful Conversation

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Everybody is blogging and posting content to Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, but do you know your target customer? Do you have a clear idea of who your desired audience is and where they hang out online? Is your content attracting the right readers to promote your online brand?

Before embarking on a content marketing program, you should have a firm understanding of who you are trying to reach, what their interests are, and where to reach them.

  1. First, remember that you are not the customer. This may seem obvious, but too often marketing professionals inject too much of their own wants and desires into their perception of their customer. Put your own biases aside and think like your customer. Ask yourself what they want from your product or service. What are their points of pain? What does your customer want from your product or service? Once you answer those questions you will be in a better position to offer content that addresses customers’ desires and needs.
  2. Don’t try to sell to everyone. There is no way you can deliver content that everyone will love, or even like, so don’t try. Instead, find your market niche and stay focused. The more you focus on your target audience , the more successful you will be. It’s always better to use a laser-focused approach to hit your target than trying to cast a wider net. If you can pinpoint your target use a personalized approach, you will get greater returns from more loyal followers.
  3. Create a customer persona. The best way to make sure you are targeting the right customer is create an audience persona. This is a detailed profile of your audience/customer, including demographics (gender, age, income, etc.) and their behavioral patterns (expectations, concerns, what they expect from your brand, etc.). You want to create a clear portrait of who you want to reach, including shared pain points and concerns.

The more you understand about your audience, the easier it is to create content that speaks to them. If you can project yourself into your audience’s needs, wants, concerns, and desires, then you can promote a more meaningful online conversation.

If you are using content to generate sale leads (and who isn’t?), then see if you can project yourself into the customer’s journey through the buying process. What motivates their initial demand for your product or service? Where do they look for it? What criteria do they apply in making a buying decision? What makes your offering more or less attractive? Answers to these questions should give you some ideas of what to address through your online content, and where to post that content to get the right attention.

Now you can engage. Offer content that addresses concerns raised during the buyer’s journey. Talk about industry issues or approaches that make your company stand out over the competition. Offer case studies, using points that parallel customer concerns or challenges. If you strike the right chord, you will not only promote loyalty in your online following but you’ll enlist some brand evangelists who will comment, repost, and share the good word about you and your company.

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Written by Tom Woolf

January 23rd, 2014 at 4:44 pm

How Social Media Impacts Your Search Rankings

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Did you know that social signals increasingly are influencing search? In “Relationship Status: Social Signals and SEO are Officially an Item,” marketing strategist Janessa Magone writes “….there is now proof that social presence is essential when it comes to search engine optimization. Sites with a strong social presence and a high amount of social user engagement rank higher. The more likes, comments, and tweets you have on a site, the more powerful your SEO becomes.”

News outlet Bit Rebels also writes that “It’s not a secret that Google is implementing more and more influence into the number of plus ones, Facebook likes and shares, and Twitter retweets in their way of determining the influence and popularity of content.”. As more people like and share your content, the higher it will rank in search.

Create shareable content

As you develop your content strategy, consider the following content types that have proven to be ‘highly shareable.”

News: In addition posting news about your company, share news about your market or industry with your followers. Let’s face it, there’s so much being reported no one can keep up to date with all of the news. Help your followers by reporting on major announcements that impact them.

Case studies: Case studies are one of the best ways to show how others are using your products and services. They make your products “come alive.” Be sure to turn case studies into an interesting and entertaining story.

Videos: What better way to inform and entertain than video. To show how powerful video can be, consider these statistics from Social Times about the value of video:

  • Customers who watch videos of products or services are 85 percent more likely to make a purchase.
  • 68 percent of viewers share video links.
  • The average user’s visit to a text and image-based website lasts only 43 seconds; for a website with video, the average visit lasts 5 minutes and 50 seconds.

Images: Nothing capture our attention more than an image. Make sure you use visually compelling images that resonate with your followers and encourage them to share and add comments.

How-to-guides: We all turn to the Web for how-to information. Contribute to the cause with an easy to follow step-by-step guide. You’ll win lots of fans and shares.

Top 10 Lists: It’s not only David Letterman who attracts viewers to his top ten lists. Everybody loves ‘top 10s’ since they make things easy or easier to remember and can be quickly scanned.

Interviews: Boost your standing and credibility by interviewing an acknowledged expert in an area that is trending on social media channels and of importance to your followers.

Surveys or polls: Everyone has an opinion and loves to share it. Include surveys or polls in your content strategy to find out what your followers are thinking about your offerings or others.

Infographics: Transform a report into an engaging Infographic to make it easy for followers to digest your information.

SlideShare presentations: Turn any presentation into a SlideShare to add to your blog or other social media channels. A SlideShare presentation provides a good way to advance your thought leadership position and share your expertise; and it provides an easy way to get feedback.

Ensure content is likeable

If you want your content to pass the likeability test, make sure it’s:

  • Valuable to your audience and not just something you find interesting or that is overly promotional about your products and services;
  • Unique in offering a viewpoint or an opinion that challenges the status quo;
  • Engaging so that your audience asks a questions, makes a comment or adds more insight; and
  • Varied to maintain audience interest.

Remember, quality content will increase your search rankings in more ways than one.

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Written by Barbara Kohn

January 15th, 2014 at 10:47 pm

My Content Marketing Resolutions for 2014

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The New Year is always a good time for new beginnings, including an assessment of what you can do to improve your content marketing program. Here is a short list of New Year’s Resolutions for your content campaign:

  1. Create Regular Content – This is one that we plan to adopt here at Write On Content. You will note we have been sporadic in our blogging (like the shoemaker’s children, we seem to leave our own marketing needs to deal with later). Resolve to create a schedule and feed your content channels regularly. Consistency is the only way to build a following.
  2. Engage – Be sure your content is not only compelling, but engages your followers and encourages interaction. Resolve to promote a dialogue with your followers through whatever channels you use. Content should be the conversation starter, but the dialogue shouldn’t’ stop there.
  3. Mind Your Channels – Using the right outlets to reach your target audience is an ongoing effort. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn are probably on your radar. But are you using Quora, Reddit, or Pinterest? Are you just posting, or are you monitoring and commenting as well? Make a resolution to be more active where it counts in the year to come.
  4. Measure – Don’t rely on “gut feel” alone to determine how well your content marketing program is doing. Measure the results. Keep track of comments, Likes, and clickthroughs. Determine what topics have appeal for your audience and which channels get the most traction.
  5. Innovate – Successful content marketing campaigns are built around the concept of “rinse and repeat”; determine what works, refine it, and then keep using it. That doesn’t mean you should stop there. Continue to push the envelope and experiment with new content ideas, new engagement strategies, and new channels. Experiment so you can expand your content marketing palette and have more resources to draw from in the future.

Here’s wishing you a prosperous and successful 2014 filled with lots of followers and lots of leads.

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Written by Tom Woolf

January 9th, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Follow Me! Converting Social Media Leads

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I have been receiving a lot of spam messages lately from hucksters offering to sell me Facebook “Likes.” The most common come-on is $60 for 600 Likes:

Addition of 600 REAL Worldwide Facebook Fans’ “Likes” for $60

- All Likes/Fans Will Be a Mix Of Male And Female Real random Worldwide People.

- Likes/Fans come from real active people from our Facebook applications(~400) and websites(~200).

So is your online loyalty worth a dime? I think it’s worth more than just $0.10.

True online followers want to read what you have to say, and comment. They are engaged because you have given them something interesting and informative and entertaining that keeps them coming back for more. Your followers are putting a degree of trust in the online experience they will get from following you, which means you need to work to honor that trust by providing content worth reading.

Of course, lead generation and revenue generation have to be a priority for any social media campaign, but if you use hard-selling content, you won’t attract many followers, and you won’t keep the ones you have already acquired. You need to give followers a reason to follow you; you want to attract prospects and nurture them until they are ready to buy from you. Remember that no one is sold a product, but they will buy a solution that solves their problem.

Why is social media so valuable for lead generation for a number of reasons:

  • It’s basically free
  • Your prospects are self-selecting; you are attracting pre-interested parties.
  • It’s viral. Like attracts like, so your followers are likely to share with their followers so you social media base could start growing geometrically (if you entice them with interesting content).
  • It’s intimate. Social media gives you an opportunity to get closer to your prospects than direct mail, advertising, or any other vehicle. You can see what they respond to, talk to them directly through comments and Likes, and get a true understanding of where their interest lie.

How do you convert social media fans into paying customers?

Not all Facebook followers are created equal. Some are qualified prospects who ultimately will buy from you. Others may know qualified customers. Still others are just interested fans, but you never know who they know. So how do you convert followers into customers?

  1. Understand where social media falls in your sales process. If you are using content correctly, then you are using Facebook and other channels to herd followers into your sales process. To do that you need to understand how social media generates leads. Do you need to offer a gift of coupon for a trial? Do you need to get them to a webinar? What mechanisms do you need to apply to incite your followers to become active prospects?
  2. Remove any obstacles to lead conversion. Don’t make it hard to go from social media to a more direct interaction. Use easy to complete landing pages, e-book downloads, white papers, case studies, and other mechanisms that make it easy to ask for more information, and ultimately a sales call.
  3. Offer baby steps for soft conversion. Don’t use a full-court press to convert followers. Let them get to know you better at their own pace. Offer softer conversion mechanisms, such as giving up an email and no more. Maintain the trust you nurtured through social media throughout the sales process.
  4. Treat your fans with greater respect than traditional leads. Your followers are used to valuable content from you. Respect that and continue to provide value and insightful information that directs them to a buying decision. Be prepared to engage, answer questions, overcome objections, and convert the fan to a lead, without hitting them over the head with a sales message. They will tell you when they are ready to migrate into the traditional sales channel.
  5. Measure the results and refine the program. Determine what content and social media channels are working for you. Specific messages and social media outlets will yield better quality results and remove barriers to entry into the sales process faster. Identify them and measure them.

Starting with quality content to help prospects make a decision to become followers is the first step. Once they become followers you have the opportunity to talk to them, nurture them, and persuade them to become customers. And no matter who your followers are, they all have value because you never know why they are following you, or who they might know. And treat your social media followers like gold, because that’s what they’re really worth, not just a measly dime.

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Written by Tom Woolf

September 20th, 2013 at 11:19 pm

“Excuse Me; May I Buy Your Product?” – The Inbound Marketing Payoff

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Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to promote your company and customers just beat a patch to your door? You don’t need to invent a better mousetrap to get that kind of customer attention. You just need to find a better way to communicate with them to get them to want to do business with you. That requires better content to attract them and better channels to reach them.

Thanks to the web, customers have become self-selecting and proactive in their search for new goods and services. Rather than responding to outbound marketing – advertisements, billboards, TV spots, etc. – they are more inclined to respond to inbound marketing – a two-way dialogue often empowered by social media. If you think about it another way, you are earning the trust of your inbound marketing prospects instead of shouting at them to get their attention.

Inbound marketing is all the rage for some obvious reasons:

  • 44 percent of direct mail is never opened.
  • 86 percent of viewers skip through commercials.
  • 84 percent of younger buyers (25 to 34 years old) have clicked out of a website because of an intrusive popup ad or an irrelevant ad.
  • The cost per lead in inbound marketing is substantially less than traditional outbound programs.

What drives inbound marketing programs is content – blogs, social media posts, white papers, videos, podcasts. You have to use informative content that entertains and adds value to create a positive connection with the consumer. Once you engage with the consumer, he or she is more likely to take a closer look at your products, feel a connection to your brand, and ultimately make a purchasing decision.

While this is a better mousetrap, it requires patience and persistence. Conversion doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it often never happens. But permission-based inbound marketing campaigns, where you invite participation, are always less expensive and promote greater customer loyalty than outbound programs.

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Written by Tom Woolf

April 29th, 2013 at 2:16 am

Content Overload: How Much is Too Much?

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One of the most hotly debated topics in direct marketing is how often do you touch your customers and prospects? Do you send out a weekly direct mail piece? Monthly? How often do you blog? Daily? Weekly? How often do your prospects and customers want to hear from you? When does what you have to say stop being valid and start being spam?

There is no simple answer to this question. The flippant answer is, as long as your content is interesting and relevant, your audience will pay attention. But you don’t want to be the boor at the social media party and try to hog the floor. You can’t. There are too many competitors for your audience’s attention. So no matter how valuable the information you have to share, be judicious.

For many marketers, the number of touches dictates the amount of content they need to develop. That means how much budget do you need to commit, and how do you measure ROI. Assessing the ROI of an intangible such as engagement is tough, but it’s easy to overdo it.

Let’s look at an interesting statistic from Lab42, which conducted a survey on “Frequency of Posts, Unwanted Contact Discourage Brand Likes On Facebook”. What they found was that the more often a brand posts, the more of a turnoff it can be for Facebook followers. Of those surveyed:

  • 47% did not want to be contacted by brands on Facebook at all
  • 73% stated they had unliked or unfollowed brands for posting too frequently on Facebook
  • 1% of users who ‘Like’ a major brand actually engage with the Brand or purchase the product

Extrapolating from this survey, your online followers want to hear from you, but not too often. If you post updates too frequently or offer new information too frequently, it will actually turn people off. I know in my own experience, I get daily emails from certain brands and services and I have learned to ignore them; in fact I delete them without reading them. Those emails that get my attention are from brand I follow that send an email every week, or every few weeks; I can spare a minute to find out what’s new if I don’t have to do it every day.

So when developing a content marketing campaign, consider both quantity and quality. Do you have an awesome white paper with lots of great information? Why not break it up into bite-sized chunks you can offer over time, at intervals to promote interest. Or send out a monthly newsletter with information that provides a service for your audience and has value. If you can find that magic combination of delivering interesting information at the right intervals, you will be able to build a loyal following that really wants to hear what you have to share.

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Written by Tom Woolf

March 7th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Social Media Best Practice – To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

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Once you have created great content, the question becomes what do you do with it? In addition to direct marketing and web campaigns, you should be using content to help build your social media following. However, that doesn’t mean you use the same content in the same manner on every channel.

It amazes me that many companies consider social media an extension of their brand strategy, but they don’t take the time to consider how to use each channel. Just throwing a blog post up on Facebook or tweeting about your research report is just social media spam. The best approach is to use your content to engage rather than bombard your target audience. And that means using each social media channel differently to reach your target market.

There are too many social media channels to discuss in a single blog post, so let’s take a look at the big four:

  1. Facebook – Everybody engages on Facebook, mostly because of its size. According to CNET, Facebook had 1.06 billion (with a b) active users per month. PC World is a little more conservative, ranking Facebook first with 693 million active users, Google Plus second with 343 million active users, and Twitter with 288 million active users. However, Facebook has a certain way to engage with followers. You want to post information that promotes commentary and builds Likes to expand your brand reach. The best way to build a following is to excerpt you best content in a way that consistently engages followers. This doesn’t mean posting everything, but be judicious, be clever, and talk to your followers. Also remember that Facebook is largely a social medium for consumers, although it does have some value for B2B.
  2. Twitter – Many marketers don’t think much about Twitter. After all, how much information can you squeeze into 140 characters? The value of microblogging is not just in the number of followers (I know that I dip in and out of the Twitterverse at random), but in searchable content. Many people go to Twitter looking for information that is trending or for specific information. As I write this, the hashtag #THingsGirlsLike is the top trend. If you can logically map your content to a trend, or create a searchable presence using keywords, you can make Twitter work for you.
  3. LinkedIn – LinkedIn is one of the oldest social networks and has evolved well beyond the role of job search. LinkedIn has become a terrific tool to connect with other professionals, research new companies and potential customers, and exchange ideas through specialty forums. For B2B marketing, LinkedIn can be an incredibly powerful tool. Sharing compelling content with connections and forums can start conversations that can lead to new business.
  4. Google Plus – Google’s social network is the newest social network and has a different approach. To gain a real understanding of how Google+ works you might check out Guy Kawasaki’s book, What the Plus! Like Facebook, Google Plus lets you share content with your followers, but you have more control over who sees your content. You can set up circles of contacts that matter to you, such as current customers, friends, or prospects, which gives you more control over the kind of content you share. And Google Plus has added the concept of “hangouts” where you can invite followers to an interactive video/voices session, either one on one or as part of a group. I have already seen actors promote movies with hangout meetups, and even the President has used hangouts for an interactive town hall meeting. It’s a great way to use content to move to a one-on-one engagement with your audience.

The real value of any social media channel, of course, is reach. Your objective is to use content to get your brand message in front of more people. You want to tap friends of friends, get people to retweet, share LinkedIn content, or get others to share your posts with others in your circle or hangout. Building a brand following is a matter of delivering compelling, creative content to the right audience, in the right format, so they keep coming back for more.

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Written by Tom Woolf

February 27th, 2013 at 1:58 am