But what about businesses and brands that can’t afford to advertise on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like? Not everyone is willing, never mind able, to carve out the budget necessary to keep their content in front of a critical mass of relevant followers on a regular basis.
Those organizations can be particularly creative or incredibly persistent, but the most effective strategy they can embrace may be to get all hands on deck in the form of an employee advocacy program.
Of course, to go in this direction, every team member needs to be on board with their new tack, despite an abundance of reasons to be uncooperative, unknowingly or not. Employers need their employees working together toward the same goal if this social media strategy is to be effective. And in many cases, that’s just not going to happen anytime soon without proper training, guidance, incentive and rewards.
Here are 10 BIG mistakes many businesses, brands, teams and their leaders are making with social media…
1. Not providing enough education. Social media isn’t rocket science, but it requires a huge leap of faith for the uninformed and uninitiated. Not only can it be daunting, it can be downright difficult for a newbie to craft even a simple tweet, never mind write a blog post or record a video. A comprehensive, mandatory educational program is key to bringing employees up to speed.
2. Not providing enough incentive. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that job descriptions seem to include everything but the kitchen sink nowadays. So why not add learning social media to employees’ list of responsibilities? Seriously. Everyone’s a marketer. Everyone’s in sales. And everyone’s on social media. Which should mean repping your employer every once in a while.
3. Not connecting with others. There’s power in numbers, especially when it comes to propagating content. No reach, no engagement. Don’t be afraid to suggest that team members broaden their networks, even if their roles have nothing to do with sales and marketing. Employees shouldn’t be kept under wraps. After all, there’s a lot to be said for the multiplier effect.
4. Not sharing organizational content. All for one, one for all. That should be an internal team’s creed. Someone writes a white paper, everyone shares it. That’s a no-brainer if you ask me. Every employee – certainly those in marketing, advertising, PR and social media – should be sharing content created under the corporate roof. Their personal brands should include the professional brands for whom they work.
5. Not producing original content. There’s a rule in group communications called 90-9-1. This rule suggests that 90% of the members simply lurk while 9% add something to the conversation and a mere 1% contribute the most. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can’t be effective on social media if you’re being anti-social. Key employees and related stakeholders should be more than encouraged to create their own content, they should be rewarded for doing so on a regular basis.
6. Not keeping up with changes. Call them luddites, laggards, naysayers or just plain stubborn. Whatever you call them, call them late to the party, almost too late to gain entrance. Anyone serious about their career in this day and age who hasn’t at least started to use social media risks falling dangerously behind their colleagues, connections and competition on the job. And looked upon as being not that serious after all.
7. Not looking at the big picture. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people dismiss social media as a passing fad or an inconsequential trend despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. By 2018, 33% of the world’s population, or 2.44 billion people, is expected to be using social media. Social media is the biggest revolution in mass communications since the printing press. Anyone who can’t see that by now can’t see the forest for the trees.
8. Not brave enough to experiment. A tendency to take risks isn’t one of the hallmarks of a corporate executive, so any fear and trepidation among this set isn’t surprising to me. But this is not the time for analysis paralysis. Social media represents a transformative change in the way people, not just business people, communicate. Like it or not, it’s not going anywhere soon, so resistance is futile.
9. Not aware of their capabilities. Most employees don’t realize how easy it is share content on social media, contribute to the conversation at large and actually help move the algorithmic needle in favor of their respective organizations. Whether they’re intimidated, confused or just plain misinformed, they think social media is difficult, complex and ineffective, while it’s actually quite the contrary. They can do it if they try.
10. Not leading by example. People will rarely take it upon themselves to share work-related content on their personal accounts. They’re afraid it’s irrelevant and off-putting to their audience. But if leaders are doing it themselves as an example to their teams, that’s another story altogether. Employees will quickly see the benefits of supporting their employer’s brand if they see senior managers practicing what they preach and walking the talk on social media themselves.
Note: This post, “10 Mistakes Businesses and Brands Make on Social Media,” was originally published on ClickZ on December 5, 2016, here, on LinkedIn on January 7, 2017, here — and a version of it was published on the Overdrive Interactive blog on December 13, 2016, here.
It was just a few weeks ago, on a Tuesday night (October 4). Two men vying for the second highest office in the land, Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, were debating each other before an audience of millions and frankly, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
I was looking at a Facebook Live video being broadcast on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’s Facebook page that was showing the television broadcast of the event. However, in front of the screen was a large pen full of cute, little kittens divided by two separate carpets, one red and the other blue, with a box of kitty litter in the middle labelled, “Undecided.”
I was literally laughing out loud.
If you’re looking for attention from the masses, you can’t go wrong by hitching your social media wagon to anything to do with this year’s tumultuous election season, of course. All eyes have been on that runaway freight train of a news story. It’s been a perfect newsjacking opportunity if ever there was one.
But the time and circumstances have also been quite rare. At least let’s hope so.
What’s always in vogue are cats and dogs.
After all, pretty much anything to do with politics is a hot-button issue. Cats and dogs? Not so much. People love their pets, not necessarily their elected officials. And the savviest social media marketers will try to take advantage of this fact.
For instance, here are 10 ways businesses and brands – excluding any pet-related brands, per se – include cats and dogs in their social media to attract an even bigger audience…
1. TODAY Show on Instagram
What a cute picture! What a great idea! Add a puppy to the cast of regulars and you have a win-win all-around. Charlie follows in the paw prints of his predecessor, Wrangler, who left the Today Show to “work” as service dog for Guiding Eyes for the Blind https://www.guidingeyes.org/. Charlie is being trained to be one of America’s VetDogs http://www.vetdogs.org/. In the meantime, he’s taking advantage of more than his fair share of photo ops on the set.
2. Boston Red Sox on Twitter
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) June 27, 2016
Not that the Red Sox need any help in filling seats, but this sure is a great way to attract a few fans, including those of the four-feet variety, to the ballpark. If every dog has his or her day, what could be better than spending that day at Fenway Park (even if there isn’t a game being played)?
3. Best Western on Instagram
I love the fact that Best Western made the dog the star of this photo. How can you resist looking at it, never mind wanting to caption it? Man’s best friend is a marketer’s best friend, too.
4. Ralph Lauren on Twitter
— Ralph Lauren (@RalphLauren) August 26, 2016
Thanks to the emergence of social media and the ubiquity of pop culture, every day is a holiday. And the savviest brands among us make sure they’ve included themselves in that celebration, newsjacking the conversation about it on social media in some way, shape or form as Ralph Lauren so smoothly does here.
5. Katy Perry on Facebook
She’s a big rock star and a huge brand who, according to Trackalytics http://www.trackalytics.com/the-most-liked-facebook-fanpages/page/1/, has the 25th most-liked page on Facebook. She’s Katy Perry, her fans are KatyCats and this is a purr-fect example of how well felines play on social media.
6. Target on Twitter
— Target (@Target) October 12, 2016
Demonstrating a knack for newsjacking, the team behind Target’s Twitter account does a great job of taking advantage of a trending hashtag not only to be cute, but to drive traffic back to the store’s pet costumes for sale before Halloween.
7. 29 Sudbury on Facebook
Happy Hour may be illegal in the state of Massachusetts, but no one said anything about Yappy Hour. What a great idea! Not only is this a very clever way for 29 Sudbury to attract customers, it’s an excellent example of cause marketing, promoting your business while also raising funds for a good cause.
8. Volkswagen on Twitter
— Volkswagen (@Volkswagen) August 8, 2016
In this clever video, Volkswagen jumped on the International Cat Day bandwagon and used a handful of fluffy felines to demonstate how its Driver Alert System works, showing them springing to attention whenever the warning bell sounds.
9. American Express on Instagram
Blending in nicely with the Instagram environment, American Express includes a clever, colloquial caption along with this picture of a dog and his or her shipment of treats, toys and Tchochkies from BarkBox. This post has got it all going on – product placement, hashtags, URL, you name it – and nearly 1,000 likes to show for it.
10. Gemmyo on Twitter
— Gemmyo (@GemmyoParis) July 8, 2016
I don’t know what a pink cat has to do with precious stones, but apparently this French company’s advertising is as innovative as its phenomenally popular line of personalized, made-to-order jewelry.
Note: This post, “Cats, Dogs, Brands and Social Media,” was originally published on ClickZ on October 27, 2016, here, on LinkedIn on December 14, 2016, here — and a version of it was published on the Overdrive Interactive blog on November 3, 2016, here.
It’ll cost you both time and money, not to mention all the skills and experience you’ll need to help ensure a positive outcome.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no more gravy train when it comes to social media success. There is simply too much competition among businesses and brands for eyeballs and wallets for any of these channels to be able to afford to give you a free ride.
Organic reach has declined precipitously. Algorithms rule.
You’ve got to pay if you want to play – and win – on social media.
Seriously, have you looked at the statistics lately?
Unless you’re paying to promote them, you’re lucky nowadays if your messages are reaching in the vicinity of 5% of your audience on Facebook and much less than that on Twitter.
Unless you’re a celebrity or an iconic brand name, the chances of your voice being heard are few and far between.
All is not lost, however. Far from it. Social media is still in the throes of its emergence as the biggest revolution in communications since the printing press.
Being active on these newfangled online channels is not an option, it’s a necessity.
Think of social media like you would TV and radio. From building the audiences to providing the lion’s share of the content, the channels themselves have done a lot of the work already for their advertisers.
While you’re not interrupting anyone with a commercial announcement on social media, you are piggybacking on the popularity of a particular medium. Not only do you need a steady cadence of organic content scheduled to be disseminated at all hours of the day, you need to promote at least some of your posts in order to reach the right people at the right time with words and pictures they simply can’t ignore.
For those who are looking for you, make sure they can find you. Be conspicuous in your presence on social media with a variety of quality content that is optimized for search, sales, marketing, PR and branding.
But don’t take a strong presence alone for granted. It’s simply not enough anymore. Don’t overlook the importance of paying to play on these channels.
On Twitter, your first step should be to enable Twitter Cards, of course, which make it possible for you to provide a rich, robust media experience to your audience, whether you’re advertising or not.
Once that’s behind you, run campaigns to increase followers, engagement, clicks and traffic. There are many different campaign types you can deploy there, but one of the easiest might be Twitter’s Quick Promote tool, which will help you put your very best content in front of a much larger audience in a short period of time.
On Facebook, pay to promote your page and posts. Drive fans to your website. Attract an audience for a special event. Raise awareness of your products and services. Find local customers. Increase the number of app installs or white paper downloads. Move your constituents to take action in some way, shape or form that deepens their relationship with you and your brand.
LinkedIn. Instagram. YouTube. Pinterest. It’s pretty much the same no matter which social media channel you use. Choose your audience, determine your budget and go full speed ahead. In most cases, it’s like bidding at an auction. You’re deciding how much you’re willing to pay to have people who are predisposed to doing business with you see your ad and react to it. You’re in the driver’s seat.
How much should you be budgeting for these initiatives? In addition to all of the required time and resources, both human and technological, you’ve got to pony up, but there’s no magic number. Your mileage will vary.
According to this article, “social media marketing has accounted for about 11.7% of marketing budgets this year,” but how much of that exactly was allocated toward advertising remains unclear. We do know that worldwide spending on social media advertising is projected to eclipse $30 billion this year.
It doesn’t matter how much you yourself spend, though, as long as you are at least heading in that direction, beginning to carve out a modicum of dollars to be allocated toward advertising on social media. After all, if you’re not paying to play now, you’ll find yourself falling quickly behind your competition on these channels, if you’re not out of the picture already.
Note: This post, “Paying to Play on Social Media,” was originally published on ClickZ on September 28, 2016, here, on LinkedIn on November 7, 2016, here — and a version of it was posted on the Overdrive Interactive blog on October 6, 2016, here.
As someone who earned a livelihood for many years writing copy almost exclusively for direct mail and email, I totally understand why some dyed-in-the-wool direct marketers are still on the fence about using social media.
Tweeting, blogging and sharing selfies on Instagram just doesn’t have the same appeal to them as launching one of their own targeted, timely campaigns with a strong offer geared toward a qualified audience to which quantifiable metrics can be applied.
They’re concerned about ROI and reputation. They’re afraid of the risk.
I understand. I feel their pain. After all, I had the same questions and doubts myself when I began blogging in 2004. I wondered how social media was going to blend into the marketing mix effectively. I dealt with the same steep learning curve and challenges. I had to convince my colleagues and clients that time spent on what was then a newfangled means of digital communications didn’t mean forgoing traditional best practices.
It was an uphill battle to which there seemed no end.
That was then, this is now, yet I still find myself shouting from the rooftops sometimes that I have seen the future of direct marketing and it includes social media.
It’s not like I’m suggesting you use social media to the exclusion of other communication channels at your disposal. Not at all. I’m talking about putting together cohesive, seamlessly coordinated integrated direct marketing programs that just don’t give short shrift to the relatively new kid on the block.
I’m saying give social media a seat at the table, maybe even at the head of the table every once in while.
I’m asking for a bigger piece of the marketing spend pie.
Social media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, you name it – goes hand in hand with direct marketing. Believe me. It’s got it all going on when it comes to building enduring, mutually benefical relationships between like-minded parties.
Here are six reasons why direct marketers should be swooning over social media:
1. Creativity. Over the years, I have written literally thousands of tweets, each of which is akin to a headline, subject line or even a small ad. Anyone may be able to string together something coherent in 140 characters or less, but not everyone can make those characters move readers to action. That’s why creativity is so important on social media. Copy. Design. Visuals. You name it. Every element of not just a tweet, but all kinds of content – from videos to infographics, blog posts to status updates – needs to be massaged and noodled on to the point where the odds are in its favor of standing out among the clutter of competing messages.
2. Segmentation. While it may be difficult, if not impossible to message prospects by name and address on social media, you can target your efforts quite precisely via a host of paid advertising options. Demographics such as gender, age, geographical location, interests, industries, even company names are readily available. You can also upload the email addresses of your existing customers to most social media channels and find them that way, not to mention how many opportunities you have to join the conversation as a brand and connect with your constituents one-on-one.
3. Offers. One of the distinguishing characteristics of direct marketing versus other forms of advertising is the call to action (CTA) that prompts prospects to read, download, install, watch or even buy something. Which is exactly what direct marketers like me love so much about social media. Branding is incorporated into our activities as is PR, customer service and the like, but our main objective is invariably driving clicks and conversions. What we have to offer are products and services, news and information, knowledge and advice, music and entertainment, you name it, and what we want is for audience members to take some form of action in return.
4. Timing. This is where social media has a decided competitive advantage over traditional marketing channels. It’s not hard at all to determine when and where people are particularly active, never mind how much you can see for yourself by simply jumping on the networks. Using Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics and other third party tools such as Audiense, Mention, Tweriod, Buffer and Buzzsumo, you can strategically schedule content to be published when your audience is most likely to see it. You can also post on the fly, sharing content extemporaneously during special occasions, events, whenever and wherever the mood strikes or opportunity calls.
5. Engagement. Yet another attribute of direct marketing is the fact that it is supposed to be a two-way street, that is, for every outgoing pitch there should be some degree of reciprocity. In fact, a campaign isn’t considered successful without those on the receiving end responding favorably to you in some way, shape or form. Sounds a lot like social media, if you ask me, where the sole purpose of communications is to elicit engagement among a practically infinite sea of consumers and brands, friends and foes. You might say that engaging with others on social media is analogous to returning an order form or calling a toll-free phone number in the terrestrial world. Personal or professional, it’s the beginning of a relationship that hopefully will grow.
6. Measurement. Where the rubber meets the road in direct marketing is where more attention than you may realize is focused in social media. Content counts for something. But results are worth a lot more. Never mind simply leads and sales. From impressions to clicks, likes to comments, followers to subscribers, every possible metric is tracked, measured, analyzed and put into report form. What works well in the social sphere is recycled and repurposed, while what doesn’t is history.
Note: This post, “Six Reasons Why Direct Marketers Should Be Swooning Over Social Media,” was originally published on ClickZ on September 16, 2016, here, on LinkedIn on October 9, 2016, here — and a version of it was posted on the Overdrive Interactive blog on September 12, 2016, here.
Yup, Snapchat is about to go mainstream.
Founded four years ago by three Stanford University students, this mobile photo and video messaging app earned a rather edgy, even controversial, reputation along the way to mass acceptance, but those days are gone. Snapchat has grown up.
You heard me. Once associated almost exclusively with teenagers and risky behavior in front of the camera, Snapchat is now being used by businesses and brands as a cool, contemporary way to call attention to their existence in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace.
The numbers alone are staggering. Over 150 million people use Snapchat on a daily basis, a larger number than the 140 million who interact with Twitter every day. And while Snapchat is clearly a huge hit with the younger crowd, its awareness and adoption levels among older Americans is increasing at a surprisingly fast pace. Not to mention how pleased brands have been with the effectiveness of ads on the app.
From General Electric to National Geographic, Cisco to Domino’s, Target to Target Bell, a small army of brands have already jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon, more than happy to have the opportunity to toot their own horns in front of a new audience and position themselves as being more creative, inventive, authentic and hip.
Heck, even the White House has an account on Snapchat.
What’s the big deal? I’m not going to lie. If your job has anything to do with marketing, advertising, PR or publishing, you shouldn’t have to ask. Download the app instead and, well, snap to it. After all, we’re talking about one of the most popular social media apps right now. Chop, chop. Time is of the essence. You don’t want to be left behind.
Wait, why is Snapchat such a huge hit on social media? Ask Instagram. Why do you think they recently came out with Stories, a feature nearly identical to Snapchat’s that allows you to string together a series of photos and videos that will disappear after 24 hours? It’s called following the leader.
Fact is, there are a ton of reasons why Snapchat is all the rage right now. Let’s talk about just three that are quite obvious to me.
1. It facilitates creativity. Perhaps the most complicated channel on social media is also the most sophisticated from a user experience perspective. Never mind the fact that you practically need a glossary to keep up with the language of the network. On Snapchat, there are a seemingly endless variety of filters, lenses, stickers, captions and other special effects to leverage to make a relatively ordinary picture (er, Snap) extraordinary. You also have at your disposal such features as Stories (a compilation of your favorite photos and videos in chronological order that are saved for 24 hours), Memories (a collection of Snaps you’ve saved indefinitely instead of letting them disappear after they were viewed), Chat and more.
— Tiffany & Co. (@TiffanyAndCo) July 28, 2016
2. It encourages spontaneity. Real time is big time on social media, and with all due respect to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like, there may be no better way to capture and share a moment with your online audience instantaneously than Snapchat. There’s Periscope, Facebook Live and other live-streaming video services, but there’s nothing quite like snapping a picture or video, adding some fantastically fun stickers to it, a filter like Face Swap (if you’re so bold), emojis, a little text for context and who knows what else before sharing it with an exclusive group of friends who more often than not will actually look at it. Ask anyone who’s already on Snapchat. Users develop an addictive, almost inexplicable compulsion to share raw footage with this app.
— AM Joy w/Joy Reid (@amjoyshow) July 25, 2016
3. It fosters camaraderie. This is Snapchat’s biggest advantage over the competition. The communities formed by its users are close-knit and exceedingly loyal. As the famous Shakespeare line goes, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave….” Although in this case, no one is trying to deceive anyone. Impress, maybe. Entertain, definitely. Personal intentions aside, brands can use Snapchat to inform, educate, capture and convert. You can take advantage of the tight bonds that are established quite easily on this platform by earning the attention and trust of an engaged audience, one that has so much passion for your products and services that they’ll not only do business with you, they’ll evangelize on your behalf.
— UN Women (@UN_Women) August 2, 2016
While I’m not hear to tell you how to make money on Snapchat, I will say that it is a ridiculously popular place to hang right now, a place where many brands and businesses have already set up shop for advertising purposes. Like a great, big land grab back in the good, old days, if you want to establish a solid presence in this particular space, you want to move quickly. Who’s in?
Note: This post, “3 Reasons Why Snapchat is Such a Big Social Media Hit,” was originally published on ClickZ on August 4, 2016, here, on LinkedIn on September 12, 2016, here — and a version of it was posted on the Overdrive Interactive blog on August 11, 2016, here.