Tag Archives: social media

Are you ready for social media? Here’s a 5-point checklist to guide you.

Some marketers are making a lot of noise saying you’re missing tremendous opportunities if you’re not on social media. And that’s true – the potential is huge, and for many industries it’s still largely untapped.

However.

Not every company or brand should be on social media. Success in the social world begins with a company’s internal structure, culture and environment. Certain types of cultures are going to work well with social, but for others it’s a minefield of potential crises and disasters. Here’s a handy checklist to help you figure out which type you are.

You might not be ready for social media if…

  1. You think social responsibility campaigns are only about faking it for good PR
  2. The true nature of your business is to make money at the expense of everything else
  3. You don’t really care all that much if your employees love their jobs as long as they do them
  4. The information in your new business pitches is more than 2% exaggeration (or, you know, not true)
  5. You’re afraid of what your customers might say about you.

If you saw yourself in that list, you’re not ready – but you’re still not off the hook.

Even if it’s not right for you right now, it’s still a good idea to understand what drives great social. That’s where your customers are beginning to look for you – so you might want to think about what you can do to help your company’s culture evolve away from dated models and toward what today’s customers are beginning to expect.

Social media isn’t about posting or tweeting or taking pictures of your lunch. Those are simply tactics (and your turkey club looks great, but think about whether it fits with your brand’s objectives). Social media is really about sharing with your community and providing value to your customers and prospects. So if you’re the kind of organization that puts selling at the top of the priorities list – and I’m not knocking it; it’s a viable business model – you’re not ready for social media.

But start giving it some thought, before your competitors swoop in and steal your market share simply by being more available and responsive to the community. Because that definitely is not a viable model for any business.

Steal this Tweet: How to create a fabulous social media career without doing any work

Tweet thief

It looks like this social media thing is going to catch on. With a bunch of smart people already saying they’re making money and getting famous on Twitter and Facebook, you’re probably thinking that this could be a great direction for your future career. Especially since taking video of yourself playing X-box and posting it to a YouTube channel with four subscribers hasn’t worked out all that well yet.

The thing is, to get this done the way some of the experts are recommending (build an audience, create value, engage, be transparent) seems like WAY too much work. And why bother anyway, when you can apparently leverage other people’s community? It sounds much easier just to do that!

Here’s a quick guide to building a successful career in social media in less than 20 minutes per day without ever having to leave the couch.  Once you’re famous, you can send me a royalty check. I’m good with 10%.

  1. Start following the big names in social. To find them, just Google some top 10 lists – you’ll get about 500 people, because everyone who started in social before 2010 is now an “influencer” – but you can winnow it down by eliminating everyone who’s not following Brian Fanzo.
  2. Set up Feedly to deliver you a whole bunch of social media blogs. Find some that only have a few followers – that way you’ll be a curator of value instead of just another wannabe who retweets everything Jay Baer posts.
  3. Tag as many people as possible in every tweet so they retweet you. It’s all about the numbers.
  4. Make quote graphics in Canva (but don’t use the paid images, that’s why they invented Google image, sorry Guy Kawasaki). Quote social media wizards like Gary Vaynerchuk and post the graphics incessantly to Instagram.
  5. Join a few dozen Twitter chats and greet everyone as they sign on, then drop off without saying anything. No one will notice.
  6. Open a Buffer account – don’t bother with the paid version; free works fine – and load it up with tons of scheduled posts for the next few weeks.
  7. Then head to the Caribbean for vacation.

I may have left out a few steps, but this should be enough to get you started. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a flight to book.

**Important Notice: Ignore everything I wrote above. I may have had too much Mountain Dew today.

Here come the social media carpetbaggers

Carpetbagger 2 LI

A client just sent us information on an “exclusive opportunity” for an event being put on by a “value transformation company” and targeted to their industry. As soon as I saw it I started shaking my head. It’s a perfect example of how companies who don’t yet grasp the workings of social media can easily be taken advantage of by others who say they do.

Next time something like this lands in your email box, pause before you sign up.

Instead, send it to me. I promise I will look at it and make a recommendation for you based on the actual value this event is likely to provide for your business.

I’m offering this up right now, for free to all comers, simply because I’m sick and tired of seeing this kind of thing proliferate. What happens next is this; the brands who sign up get no benefit and leave believing that social has no value.

At a cost of several thousand dollars, sponsors of this particular event get a grab-bag of nearly worthless goodies, most of which are carefully designed to push up the brand and social value of the company hosting the event. Here’s a partial list:

  • A badge for the sponsor to put on their own site – to drive visits to the event site
  • An opportunity to join their LinkedIn group – helping the host company to develop their own community
  • The “chance” (this one really kills me) to write a blog post which will appear – yes – on the host company’s blog
  • A link to that blog post on a newsletter sent out to all the conference attendees (remember the post is not on the sponsor’s site, it’s on the host company’s, so it drives visits there, not to the sponsor’s site)
  • An 8-foot table at the event exhibit (hey, it’s skirted!)

The host company is selling this dog’s breakfast by giving it a name that implies community, connection and conversation. They’ve wrapped a mediocre event in shiny social media wrapping paper, making it attractive to companies who have a comfort level with events and sponsorships and want to feel they’re doing something in social media.

Thinking about it, I do understand what the host company means by “value transformation”. Your budget, transformed into their profit. Your customers, transformed into their community. Your expertise, transformed into their SEO.

It’s easy to understand how companies can be drawn in by this kind of carpetbagging. But again, you don’t have to be. Send your offers to me and I’ll vet them for you. Getting involved in social business the right way has so many benefits. It’s worth taking a moment to be sure the work you’re doing, and the money you’re spending, is going to value creation and not just transformation.

Why I don’t like you on Facebook

NO

You’ve seen it a hundred times – the cheerful sign, prominently displayed. It might be in a restaurant, a clothing store or a gym, or on a website. There’s the familiar thumbs-up and the text “Like Us on Facebook!”

I ignore it every time.

Not one of those signs has ever sent me scrambling for my phone (or mouse) to find their Facebook page and like it. Not once.

In fact I don’t even think about it. I just cruise right past that sign, focused on whatever else I’m doing on the site or in the store. Because that’s not a moment when I’m thinking about Facebook or your brand – I’m thinking about the errand I’m on or the information I’m looking for. It’s not occurring to me, or anyone, to think in that moment – gee, I sure do like this company, enough to want to see their updates on my Facebook news feed.

So what does make people like brands on Facebook? You need to attract them to your page by showing them something wonderful, compelling or funny. Surprise and delight, as Starbucks says (they may or may not have coined the term – I can’t seem to get a straight answer on that).

 

Simply posting a sign asking for likes is not going to interest anyone in your brand. You have to give them a reason to care. You have to give them something so amazing that they want to interact with it – to share it, to comment on it, and – yes – to like it.

You know who’s great at this? Canva. They’re a brand whose updates I welcome on Facebook, because they always have something interesting and useful for me. Their Facebook presence perfectly fits their brand – friendly, humorous but always giving tons of value. That’s a page I like, because I want to see their updates on my news feed.

Another winner on Facebook is Burt’s Bees – a double thrill for me because Mel Culbertson, a smart woman I know in real life too, is running community management for them and doing an amazing job.

Want to get likes for your brand? Go check them out, and take a look at the timelines of brands you’ve already liked as well. See what they’re doing to surprise, delight, inform and engage their audiences. And that’s the best guide you could ever find.

Why commercial industrial brands need to get on social media right now

1.5 million dollar system on twitter

The other day at a meeting with one of our business-to-business brands, I raised the topic of social media. When I suggested that there could be some value in it for their company, the CEO disagreed.

“No one is going to buy a 1.6 million dollar software solution on Twitter!” he laughed.

His opinion runs parallel to that of most of the commercial-industrial brands I’ve spoken with. They’ve been to Facebook, they’ve looked at Twitter, and they can’t see how social media fits with the way they market and sell their high-technology, specialized-audience products.

That’s because it doesn’t.

Traditional marketing for commercial-industrial brands has included trade shows, advertising in trade publications and on trade websites, building a data-rich website and producing lots of printed collateral. Public relations, which has typically been a separate discipline, was all about “news” releases and editorial in those same trade pubs and sites – most of it focused on products or technologies being sold by the company, wrapped in an industry or thought leadership topic.

Going to market like this always been effective, and it still pretty much is – which is one reason a lot of brands feel they don’t need to think about social media.

The other, bigger reason – and the reason for this blog post – is that they don’t actually know how they could or should use social to meet their business objectives. Most B-to-B brands who are on social use it as a news-broadcasting platform, which is completely contrary to the way their customers and prospects are using it. Business people don’t go to Twitter and Facebook to hear news about providers. They go to join communities of individuals like themselves, for support and information that will help them build their own business.

This gives manufacturers a tremendous opportunity. Join the conversation, provide something of worth, give your time and your assistance first before expecting anything in return, and you will become a respected and valued presence. You will gain followers, see your information retweeted to larger communities, win word-of-mouth among your audience, and drive prospects back to your website where they will become bona fide leads.

In a lot of commercial-industrial industries, there is literally no one doing this yet. This leaves it wide open for the first manufacturer who gets out there and starts giving value to the community.

It’s not a quick process – you need to build your presence step-by-step, and there’s a method and a science to the art. But there is absolutely no denying that social media is the next frontier for marketing. Your customers are already there. Go find them and you will own the territory.

How many Twitter followers do you need?

twitter followers

I was pretty excited the day my Twitter account went over a hundred followers. I’d been building it for awhile, tweeting what I hoped was quality content, engaging with others, retweeting good stuff and participating in Twitterchats. It was always a thrill to see when a new person had followed me, and I usually went to look at their profile and send them a personal message that highlighted something I found interesting about them.

At some point as my following continued gradually to build, I noticed the pace was accelerating. Where I’d once gotten four or five new follows each week, now I was getting four or five a day. And while I had formerly usually recognized the names of followers, now I had no idea who these people were or why they were following me. Sure, I tried to tweet good stuff, but I was hardly a social media guru.

Like before, I hurried to go to their profiles and find something of interest to talk to them about – except that there was less to find, because they weren’t following me for any particular reason. So I stopped following every single person back. Instead, I followed those who I saw an immediate reason to engage with and left the rest.

That’s when something really interesting started happening. I call it the Twitter Churn. New followers would appear on my notifications tab by the dozens – but my total following would increase by one, or two. Or it would go down. In they came, and out they went.

There’s no big mystery here. It’s been blogged about enough times that one fabulous way to build your Twitter following is to follow a couple hundred new people every week. Most will follow you back. Voila, 10K followers. Except – it’s meaningless. They’re not listening to you. Most likely they’ve muted you or don’t even look at their news feed, only at their finely sorted lists. You could easily have 10K followers and not one pair of eyes on your tweets.

And with that, I’ve noticed a new phenomenon. A lot of the newer influencers, who have pretty exalted places in the social stratosphere, have very low numbers of followers. Small audiences of people who actually listen to what they have to say. Well, I’d rather have 200 people who care about my thoughts than thousands who just signed on to build their numbers.

Early adopters of Twitter and other social platforms had a real advantage over those who came along later. I’m not just talking about the fact that they got their actual names as Twitter handles (that means you, @dianawolff, wherever you are) – I mean that they built huge loyal followings at a time when follower counts meant something. Those people – and a handful of later-comers who are truly exceptional (hey there @isocialfanz) – have big numbers of people actually listening to them. The holy grail of social media.

I listen to them too. And one of the things I’ve learned is that sometimes less is more. So I’ve given up my @unfollowspy habit and stepped out of the Twitter Churn riptide. No more automatically following someone back just to be polite, and then watching my feed fill up with auto-scheduled tweets of other people’s content.

If you like what I tweet, retweet it once in awhile. Reply to something you find interesting and let’s have a conversation. Then if I see you’ve followed me I’ll know you’re someone I want to follow back. And give me a shout every once in awhile. It’ll be great to talk to you.

The anti-social media conference

DW back

I’m pretty excited to be getting ready to go to the 2015 Social Media Marketing World conference. I’ve been spending a ton of time learning the major social platforms and getting comfortable using them, and also learning how my agency can use social to increase our business – both by using it ourselves, and by selling the services to our clients. It’s been kind of like pushing a string up a hill at times, because the buy-in has not been there at the top level (meaning the agency owner, who is the only level above mine, ours being a very small agency). But I was able to get him to agree to send me to the conference.

The sessions look really good, with interesting topics and speakers. So I’m looking forward to that part.

Here’s the only thing – this is a conference about being social. So there is a lot of time set aside for networking. During the spaces between sessions, mornings and evenings there are networking events. Events where there’s sure to be a big room filled with people I don’t know, all wearing name badges and carrying cups of Starbucks or glasses of wine, depending on time of day. They’ll all be chattering and connecting and talking about their work and whatever people in that kind of situation talk about.

If that sounds like an energizing environment to you, I can tell you right now that you are not an introvert.

But I knew when I signed up that networking was the name of the game at this event. I knew that I’d need to push myself, and that it would be good for me.

Even so, now that it’s two weeks away I’m not too happy about that. I know I’ll be a bit overwhelmed by the crowds and the different environment and getting pushed out of my comfort zone. And I know that in the spaces between the sessions, and especially at night, I’m not going to want to mill around in groups of people that I don’t know. I’m going to want to go to my hotel room and get room service and read a book – or (ironically) go on social media. You see, it’s so much easier when I’m at my computer and not in front of an actual human.

So how will I find peace and make the most of this pretty great opportunity? Here’s my plan.

During the daytime networking events, I’m going to hold my cup of Starbucks (decaf) and push myself to have as many conversations as possible. The people at the conference are likely to be terrific, as most all of the marketing folk I’ve met online have been, so even for a quiet one like me this should be totally manageable.

In the evening, I’m going to sit at the bar in the conference hotel and have my dinner. It’s a compromise that falls partway between getting room service and finding a group of people to go out to a restaurant with.

I really am looking forward to this conference. It may be just the right kind of social environment for an anti-social media geek like me.