The crowd has spoken and once again the most popular social media posts were about leadership and resources. From a look at some “Free SEO” resources to a well written and timely review of what your agency should be doing for you with your social media efforts. Without any further delay; here are the five top social media stories that you might have missed last week.
It’s a popular topic with those in leadership roles and those aspiring to be effective leaders. This topic posted in the HBR Blog is getting a lot of attention recently. After all, who really wants to be the “pain in the A$$” boss that employees just don’t like. However, being too nice can have a major impact on your organization as well. I always appreciated seniors that would fall into the “hard but fair” category, how about you?
Creating really effective visual content has never been easier (if you take a little bit of time to play and watch some very useful videos), but finding the right tool to help you with the smaller graphic tasks can be confusing with so many tools available. That’s why this post Social Media Examiner, like struck a cord with readers.
Facebook, the platform that everyone loves to hate but can’t help but continue to pay attention to. With all of the changes and their impact on the newsfeed and your ability to connect with your communities, it can be hard and frustrating. Yet, finding useful resources can make the journey friendlier and more effective. This week I saw a very useful post on the MarketingProfs blog.
Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing and ever evolving requirement for any size business. It’s impossible to stay relevant with a “set it and forget it” mentality. I always encourage clients to do a SEO Audit at least annually, but the biggest concern is budget. If you feel you don’t have the cash, than it’s imperative that you exchange some time to gain more knowledge. These SEO resources that I came across on the Kissmetrics blog, may just be the ticket to resolve your concerns.
Let’s not confuse things, participating in an effective social media strategy can be hard work, time consuming and a little bit daunting. What to talk about, where to post and when are the stuff that can keep you awake at night. It might be easier to abdicate your responsibility to that agency/marketing consulting firm that said they’d just do it for you. The issue with that is simply that these are your current and future customers that you are trying to build and develop a lasting relationship with. The firm may curate and post on your behalf, but are they qualified to converse with your customers with the same level of understanding, empathy and commitment that you are. In my experience, the best results have always come from a collaborative approach to social and community management. That’s why it was so refreshing to see this post from the Arcompany.
In our attempts to be more “social”, there seems to be an ongoing discussion / battle around automation and engagement. Is it okay to automate some, all or none of your social media activities? I’m aware of folks that have totally abdicated the responsibility of their social media efforts to either automation or a consultant/agency. Conversely, I’m aware of other folks that struggle mightily on a daily basis to create “original” content and manually post to all of their social platforms, in many instances becoming so overwhelmed they abandon their efforts. In both of these cases, the individual/team are operating without any real strategy as to why they are posting, to who, on which channel and when.
First, let’s examine what is meant by automation.
The dictionary (Random House) defines automation as: the technique or system of operating a mechanical process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devises, reducing human intervention to a minimum.
And therein lies a portion of the issue, in our efforts to reduce human intervention of repetitive tasks, some have approached social as a mechanical process (think, I must post five times a day or my boss will be all over me). The difficulty is that most relationship building endeavors, are anything but mechanical or routine. Each of our audiences are unique. Sure, we can categorize them into similar groups or buyer personas based on interests, needs or geographic location, but those are meant to be guidelines to determine what we need to communicate at the right time and place to solve a particular issue, not a sum total of any one person.
In her excellent post “How to use Social Media Automation to Enhance (not hurt) your Social Media Strategy“, Kristi Hines covers the good and the bad of social media automation. Like Ms. Hines, I agree that a preferable tactic is to vet the posts that you are going to schedule for the day/week or beyond (I personally only post out about a week ). As she notes; “By automating (to an extent) the content that you share, you will keep your profiles up to date while opening up more time to do more personalized interactions (read engagement)”. You only have so much time to invest in your efforts (thus why it may make sense to outsource your community management, but that’s an entirely different conversation) and it’s important to be spending it where you’ll get the best return (measuring your success, yep, another post), that I’m sure you’ll agree will be in chatting to your future and current brand advocates. By using automation effectively, you should have more time to engage with those in your community (future clients, clients, influencers, vendors and as importantly employees).
Our goal in automating certain tasks should be to allocate more time to making those meaningful connections that can lead to both tangible and intangible returns (part of the measurement chat). I believe that by fully automating your social; “so it looks like your active” and not engaging with those that connect with you is a drain on the little financial and time resources you commit to it. In his book “Social Media Explained“, Mark Schaefer outlines three key elements behind every successful social media interaction that he studied or was informed of; “Targeted Connections + Meaningful Content + Authentic Helpfulness = Business Benefits”. As he clearly illustrates in the book, building relationships, nurturing those relationships and being helpful, leads to returns – tangible (a speaking engagement) or intangible (an introduction to a new connection that leads to other indirect opportunities).
As noted by Schaefer and fellow marketing authors and leaders Bryan Kramer and Ted Rubin, we’ve moved away from the traditional Business to Business (B2B), Business to Consumer (B2C) to a more personal relationship of one to one, or as Kramer notes Human to Human (H2H – title of his new book). By fully automating your social efforts; especially automated replies on Twitter (DM and tweet), you are demonstrating, or at the very least implying that you are not truly interested in engaging with those that engage with your content. Find the right balance for yourself and build meaningful relationships.
As Ted Rubin noted in a recent Instagram/Facebook post and quoting Maya Angelou:
From all indications, followers of our social channels were most interested about resources, leadership and motivation (specifically what motivates someone to make a buying decision). With the push to create and use more content in our marketing efforts, it is understandable that you where looking for quality information around tools and resources to help you connect more meaningfully with your audiences, while easing the workload through the effective use of tools.
This is the first in an ongoing weekly series that will summarize the stories that you felt had the most interest and/or are of the greatest use to you in your day to day activities. The series will focus on original content from Diverse (if warranted by reader selection) as well as curated content from our favorite and proven resources.
As a small business ourselves, we understand the challenges (specifically the time challenges) that you face. For our own efforts, we are constantly on the lookout for materials that make the work lighter and the information more meaningful for our audience. Our goal for this segment is to give you a spot to find useful information on a weekly basis that time may have not allowed you to find on your own. After all, we can all use a hand up!
Three of the top five posts can be categorized as resource oriented; posts that look to provide useful information. Two of the posts where information based; one about the top marketing acronyms that we should all be aware of and the second about common grammar errors noted on a lot of digital content. The third is about tools that can help you with your content marketing efforts.
1. 60 Marketing Acronyms Every Industry Pro Should Know @HubSpot
A comprehensive list of marketing terms from A – Z. Worth having at hand, especially if your agency folks like to roll them out in meetings and documents.
5. Manage a Difficult Conversation with Emotional Intelligence @HarvardBiz
We’ve all had to have them, difficult conversations. You’ve taken the time to craft your arguments based on logic. However, it may not go as well as you’d hope. This excellent post from Susan David, provides great tips to help you communicate clearly and with empathy.
In December, James Clear wrote a post for Entrepreneur magazine entitled “Forget Setting Goals, Focus on This Instead“. The “this” of the piece was creating systems. It was a thought provoking piece, especially given the number of posts exuding the benefits of goals setting and planning for the year to come. A lot of the post made great sense, but lead me to ask should you have goals or systems, and are they mutually exclusive.
I enjoyed a lot of the piece and fully believe in building effective systems to get work done, but it appeared that Clear was purporting that you should have one without the other. That you only needed to have systems and all else would fall nicely into place. To illustrate his point, he noted that he had written 115,000 words in the 11 months prior to posting this piece, enough for two books, though he had not set out to write a book. Clear, to distinguish between goals and systems, used the book instance a little further:
“If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is your writing schedule that you follow each week”.
And it’s true that you need good habits (or systems) to help you stay focused on task. In his post he asked that if you focused on the habit, would you achieve your ultimate goal. It of course presumes that you have an end or a sign post in mind at the outset.
The only area that didn’t sit quite as well with me was the assertion, that having a goal inhibited your ability to enjoy the process; or as Clear notes “goals reduce your current happiness”. Now it’s true that too many people penalize themselves by believing that they have to achieve a goal before they can be happy, or as Clear rightly echos “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be successful.” Fortunately, we are learning so much more from the social sciences on being mindful that we can lay that “puritan work ethic” to rest and allow ourselves to enjoy the journey. After all, we’re all likely familiar with quotes like Greg Anderson’s ” Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it”; or Jim Rohn’s “You can not change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction”.
It’s been my experience that building systems (habits) to help you reach a destination is a sure way to experience happiness and success. We all get great enjoyment from the hit of dopamine we receive for checking off a task from our to-do lists. Those destinations can be our ultimate task or the benchmarks along the way. For me our goals are not commandments, set in stone without the ability to rewrite them as situations or opportunities arise, but are merely signposts to help us know if we are on the right track to the destination we initially envisioned. When we do stray off track, it also provides us with the opportunity to know if the original destination was the right one in the first place, if not, then we can start to alter that destination. Without a destination in mind, how will we ever know if we’re heading in the right direction. Clear notes that having that big goal can add so much stress, but it’s been my experience that if you break the big goal into it’s component parts, you reduce the stress and get to enjoy the process more by setting up mini-wins along the way. My concern with the tenor of his piece goes to the fact that Stephen Covey so elegantly noted (paraphrased) “We can build a ladder, and climb the rungs, only to find that we’ve got it balanced against the wrong wall”. It’s so important to know where you are going.
We both agree that goal setting is an important element of success. Clear notes at the end of the piece “that goals are good for planning your progress, and systems are good for making progress”, and without a doubt a goal that doesn’t have a plan (process) attached to it is just a dream.
I see this so often with clients, the one or another dilemma, do you focus on goals or systems. All to frequently, they have an end goal in mind, but haven’t built effective processes or habits to implement the plan, or they focus to much on the “How” and don’t have any idea of “Why” they are doing what they are doing, thus missing out on the passion and ultimate destination. A great work to refer to from a social media plan and execution regard is Neal Schaffer’s “Maximize Your Social” [review coming] and “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling.
I’d encourage you to read the initial post and share your best practices to execute, monitor and reach your goals.
A great week for content last week, seems everyone is really getting back into the swing of things. Here are our 3 of the weeks best stories ending Sunday January 19, 2014.
This weeks contributions come from some very recognizable names in the content marketing world and indeed some topics that generated a lot of conversation. One of the biggest topics was and is around the conversation on “Content Shock”. The term dubbed by Mark Schaefer in his post sparked a lot of conversation. It will be the subject of the next best of the week installment, as there were and are more opinions coming in.
This week, we’ll be looking at the continuing discussion on “gaming” the social proof measurements; some excellent tools to help you to understand your social media analytics and activities; and a compelling podcast PNRs This Old Marketing. All told you’ll need about an hour to go through all three pieces. In my opinion time well spent and an opportunity to gain additional tools to help your social efforts.
The on-going discussion of “fake it until you make it”, has been rampant the last week, with serious discussions about the social gaming platform Empire Avenue. In this post Schaefer explores the allure of building an impressive array of followers and likes so that others coming to your profile believe you must know what you’re talking about. Like the cover of Elvis’ compilation album “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t be Wrong”, the thought is that if all those people are following or like what you’re doing, you should be worth following.
Of course, as the post clearly demonstrates, this is “folly”. Once someone starts to pay attention to what you’re doing, then you will need to really deliver the goods. This is hard enough to do in today’s world of instant news, distractions and tons of content when you do have some knowledge of your topic, never mind how impossible it is when you really don’t. In Elvis’ case, he had the chops to keep those followers and it is evident when someone doesn’t. Most of these folks are banking on two things, 1. you won’t bother to unfollow or unlike them because it takes time and effort. Also, 2. you’ll stick around long enough to keep the pipes open and keep their numbers up for the next person to see. Schaefer goes on to make the argument about why the numbers matter, to a certain extent. For a large portion of folks gravitating to and paying a little attention to the social space, those numbers are indicators (whether the followers or Klout score), whether we, that are a little further along and mature in the field, like it or not. We know this is a short term strategy, but it can work. The difficulty comes when the person gaming gets addicted to the easy way and doesn’t put in the hard work to effectively build their following, which unfortunately impacts us all negatively. One of my three words for the year is “courage” and it’s why this post resonated with me. Mark states that it takes courage to stick to the right path and I agree. I do believe it takes courage to do the hard work, stick to your principals and build lasting and valuable relationships with the new tools we all have at our disposal. In the long-run, we all benefit.
From all appearances, Ian Cleary is not only someone that provides exceptional value with the information he shares on his blog, but easily could be the top contender for someone you’d want to share a Guinness with. Ian knows his stuff and is very generous with his time and knowledge. The Razor Social blog is definitely worth bookmarking and paying attention to when you’re in the market to find tech to help make your social media activities better and easier to understand.
So if we’re encouraging you to do the hard work and grow meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships on your social channels, how do you know what you are doing right or where you might need to improve. Maybe, your information is solid, but your posting at the wrong times. All of these integral pieces to social success can be learned, discovered, analysed and acted upon. In the Social Media Dashboard, Cleary shows you four tools that you can use to get a clearer picture of what is happening with your activities. Three of the suggestions, I’ve not looked at or used, so really can’t honestly comment on them. However, the clear synopsis’ provided for all of the dashboards’ demonstrates them to be powerful tools. I do however have a custom dashboard on my Google Analytics and coupled with my Hootsuite analytics, I get great information to work with (also excited that Hootsuite has just purchased uberVU).
What is nice about this post is the detail and step by step guide to using the recommended tools, with an honest evaluation of any potential limitations. I’d encourage you to find the one that most appeals to you and start using it to get the most from your work.
This podcast is a great addition to the content marketing environment. Full of great information, a splash or two of humor and a look at great integrated marketing programs from the past (you’ll enjoy the G.I. Joe story), this podcast is worth paying attention to. In each episode Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose take the pulse of current events in the realm of content marketing, including a fun “Rant or Rave” segment. This episode was of interest for me because of the conversation around native advertising and what is called native, but is really “sponsored” content. Though as the authors/announcers clearly demonstrate, not a new field for advertisers; it’s just that we have much more powerful tools to take advantage of native advertising. If you’re not sure what native advertising is, a great description from an earlier post should help:
“According to digital advertising firm Solve Media, native advertising refers to a specific mode of monetization that aims to augment user experience through relevant content that is delivered in-stream” (link to this post in the podcast post).
In addition to the ongoing discussions on native advertising, the podcast also looks at evolving areas like “the internet of things” and is digital marketing too complex? I really enjoy listening to this podcast while taking a break and find I revisit the topics on a regular basis.
Hope you find the information on our top 3 best stories of the week of value for you.
One last thing (yes, I watched a Steve Jobs documentary this week); the discussion around native and sponsored advertising got me thinking about the work of Brett Heard and Fresh Baked Entertainment. If you’re a marketer or a producer of content and you’re not familiar with their work, you’ll definitely want to check them out, especially the new avenue that they are exploring to connect content producers and marketers together to mutually benefit their audiences. Full disclosure, Brett is a high school mate and I’ve really enjoyed watching the growth and excellent products, that he and the talented folks at Fresh Baked have created over the last few years, including web-based video series for notable brands. Their new venture though I believe holds great value for all. I’d encourage you to take a look at what they are doing – your clients will be glad you did – Fresh Baked Online Services [Video 1.42].