In my talks with clients and future brand advocates, a central theme for the vast majority of them is their concern around their limited resources. Specifically, the time they will need to invest in creating content for their website, blog and social platforms. It is a somewhat valid concern, as content creation can be time consuming if you don’t plan ahead. However, once you’ve done your planning, you’ll have a clear idea of what you want to create (theme), where you want to share it (medium) and for who (which segment of your audience).
Lately, I’ve seen some exceptional examples of content creation that is full of useful information, easy to produce (no big elaborate budgets) and material that is easily consumed, then shared by the audience with their friends and followers. I’d like to highlight a few of my favorite resources and examples of content creation. A good example was demonstrated on this blog in our last post. Mark Schaefer’s re-purposing of a chapter from his latest book, into a powerful ebook that he shared on SlideShare and distributed through his various social channels. At the end, I’ll share more links of rich media (podcasts) from some of my favorite content creators.
Social Media Today, provides excellent materials to browse on a multitude of topics about Social Media. Recently, they’ve added some powerful short videos with leading knowledge specialists. A great example of the power of these quick chats in “SMTShorts” are the two recent additions with Ted Rubin. As a passionate social media/business advocate, Ted brings insight, hands on experience and authenticity to his appeals for us to all be more human. The nice aspect of these is that they are under 2 minutes, have a clear focus and answer questions that a great many are likely asking.
The first video discusses the best platform for the consumer. Be sure to heed the advice at the end.
The second video, how do you get an audience to engage with you on Twitter. Again, listen to the end.
Both videos provide great insights and may not have taken all that long to shoot and edit.
For another example, Jay Baer (Convince and Convert) recently launched his “Jay Today” segments on his YouTube channel (in addition to iTunes, Stitcher and his own website). Jay is a generous sharer of content, the author of “Youtility“, and has a lot of great content on his YouTube channel already, but these quick videos deal with one topic and he’s promised to keep them to around 3 minutes. In this episode, Jay shares the key to being a successful blogger (and a tip on how this video was created).
These are some quick examples of what you can do to be of service to your audience and become their favorite content creator. To plan for these very useful snippets of information, talk to your client facing staff and find out what questions they are getting from your clients and prospects, then shoot a quick video to provide them with the answess. Check out this resource from Wistia to set up your own “DIY Office Video Studio”. The keys to good video; a key message, good lighting, and good sound.
Now as promised, the links to some of my favorite content:
I generally listen to these over lunch, at the end of the evening before turning in for the night or when on the road. Most are under 1/2 hour and all have provided great information that I’ve used personally in my business or shared with my clients (listed alphabetically).
In my conversations with small business owners, I can guarantee that a portion of our conversation will center around how to measure their “Return on Investment (ROI)” on social media efforts. In most instances, it becomes clear relatively quickly that they don’t have a clear social media strategy or are trying to measure their social efforts against their business objectives. In many instances, they are spending money on creating content or community management, which relates to posting on preferred social platforms x number of times per day; with no themes or understanding of why or who they are serving (everyone is not your perspective clients). The issue is knowing what to measure and how to measure it. Fortunately, there are many great resources available to help you do just that; books, eBooks, whitepapers, online measurement tools and much more (my favorites you’ll find in the resources listed below). Do you know what to measure? How do you define “your success”? Your definition of success is likely as different and unique as you are from your competition and neighbor.
It is such a common issue with big and small companies alike, that Mark Schaefer felt compelled to write “Social Media Explained” released earlier in 2014. Thank goodness he did. I’ve given his book to clients as a precursor to starting their work, especially with small business owners concerned about issues like; is social just a fad and the “time suck” that social will have on their business. The book is not a how to do social media, but really more of “why” you should invest in the latest business practice that has made a significant impact on how we connect with our key stakeholders today.
In Chapter 2, Schaefer relates his experience with Home Depot and likely one that we can all relate to (mine was purchasing a new car). He describes how there were many opportunities for small interactions with him. Schaefer notes; that when done well these small interactions lead to customer loyalty, referrals and increased business: “creating these small, consistent interactions that delight, educate and inspire people to become customers and then reward their loyalty with personalized attention and meaningful content”. In his case, none of these small interactions, ever once alluded to getting a discount coupon. In fact he quotes research from Edison Research that indicates: “57% of American social media users follow a brand on Facebook for no other reason than they have an affinity for that brand”.
For purposes of this post, Chapter 6 is where I’ll direct you to. It is here where Schaefer demonstrates the 4 reasons “why you MUST measure the results of your social media efforts”. I’ll let you read the points yourself, and you really should (the book is readily available in many different online and retail outlets and takes about 1/2 hour to read). My concern is that you know what to measure. We were told early measurements with social was initially to accumulate a high like/follower count to show your value. Then with follower buying, the measurement of how many of those likes/followers that were interacting with your content (engagement), was the goal. However, just chasing followers without the interactions leading to a sale or influencing a sale, means your popular, but likely soon to go out of business. In the resources, you’ll find information to help guide you, but really, you have to decide what to measure as it relates to your business goals. Beyond the tangible benefits, Schaefer makes a case and highlights clear examples of intangible benefits, that are a little harder to track, but not impossible.
If you’ve not yet got the book, here is Schaefer’s great SlideShare post entitled “Engagement is not a Strategy” based on chapter 6:
But are dollars and cents the only measurable outcomes. Many pundits note that you can’t really measure social media efforts and I hope that the paragraph above and resources below, destroy that notion. But as noted, there are softer benefits that may seem harder to track. For example, is it possible to measure how happy your key stakeholders are (clients, prospects, employees, volunteers, vendors, etc.). Would you get a straight answer if you asked them? Fortunately research indicates that you likely would, if you were sincere in receiving the feedback. I find that most metrics we use to measure social media are equivalent to measuring the Gross Domestic Product where the indicators are focused on pure tangible economics. What can the country of Bhutan, teach us as business leaders?
Since 1972, this small Asian country has been using a Gross National Happiness index to determine the health of the country, it’s economy and it’s citizen’s. The work has been adopted by other jurisdictions around the world, but can it be applied to business? The answer appears to be yes, but we are being slow to adopt it in regular business sectors, likely because it seems “airy fairy”. Fortunately Chip Conley, founder of “Joie de Vivre”, a successful hotelier, author and speaker – made the connection in his 2010 TED Talk below. In his presentation, Conley urges us to return to our school days when we learned to count, but change what it is we count. Using the illustration of a highly valued employee (Van Quach) and her impact on guests, Conley began to look at the way his hotels and his business counted. After reading Maslow and reflecting on leadership, Conley noted: ” One of the simplest facts in businessis something that we often neglect,and that is that we’re all human.Each of us, no matter what our role is in business,has some hierarchy of needsin the workplace”.
Conley continued reading and doing research and noted that a high percentage of leaders believed that intangibles (he notes intellectual property, brand loyalty and corporate culture) had an impact on the success of their businesses, but also that they believed there was no way to effectively measure them and only 5% even tried. The presentation makes a good case for adding some additional measurements to your equation. How valuable is that customer that maybe only visits you once or twice per year but has directed many more friends and acquaintances to you? If you don’t track that, you’ll never know. The TED talk is 17 minutes, but I believe that as you reevaluate what you track and measure, it’ll be 17 minutes invested very well.
Ask yourself, does a business model designed for a highly industrial and manufacturing based world, really work well for a 21st century knowledge based economy (where a full 68% of our businesses are service based). As Conley asks, maybe it’s time to add some new tools to our toolbox. We understand that happy employees = happy customers and that results in improved profits, but are we focused on it?
The first step to measuring your success and social media efforts, is to know (remember) why you got into business in the first place. What is your why? I believe that we intuitively understand that engagement is a tactic, that money is an outcome and not an end goal. As many have said before, you could have the best product/service in the world, but if no one likes to conduct business with you they won’t. You could also have the best priced product/service in the world, but if it’s of substandard quality, eventually you’ll lose that customer and spend the rest of your career on the acquisition trail of new customers. Set your business goals and have your marketing, customer support, sales and social media strategies align and flow from those goals.