To say that businesses and brands have come a long way in their usage of social media would be an understatement. After all, not only have more of them than not established a presence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like, many of them are finally looking at social media as a valuable, respected communications stream as opposed to a necessary evil.
Gone are the days when so many marketers were debating the pros and cons of investing even a small portion of their time and budgets in social media. Almost everyone agrees now that we’re talking about a permanent, revolutionary sea change in how consumers interact with companies, not merely a passing fad.
That’s the good news.
Unfortunately, despite how much progress we’ve made when it comes to social media technologies, tools and tactics, we still have a long way to go when it comes to people using all of the above effectively for business purposes.
Far too many otherwise accomplished professionals are misguided, even clueless, in thinking that they can take the same old sales and marketing practices that are working elsewhere and use them to their advantage in social media.
Far too many of them had better think again or else find themselves barking up the wrong tree and beaten at their own game.
Truth is, social media works wonders for those who understand its nuances and idiosyncrasies, but those who don’t will get nowhere fast on these relatively new online channels. They’ll only get frustrated in their failures and futility.
Social media works best for those who understand that it represents an unprecedented, seismic paradigm shift in not only how people interact with one another, but in how business is conducted today.
There are many different ways to achieve your goals on social media, paying to promote your posts ranking up near the top, but there are three key ingredients to success in this area that simply can’t be overlooked.
1. Authenticity. Your audience can get their news anywhere, but they can’t get your particular outlook on life anywhere else but from you. Be your own brand. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Those who are the most successful on social media are those who keep it incomparably real. They are as honest as they come, open, candid, revealing and opinionated. Put a face on your brand and a smile on your face. Pause before you post, but don’t think everything you have to share has to be scripted, sculpted, rehearsed and rehashed. Some of the best moments on social media are those that are up close and unguarded.
Example: Ben & Jerry’s on Twitter
— Ben & Jerry’s (@benandjerrys) May 23, 2016
2. Immediacy. It is one thing to schedule some of your content to be published automatically. A steady cadence is important. But you don’t want to simply set it and forget it. The more impromptu you are with your news and opinions, the better. Real time is big time when it comes to success on social media. Monitor what’s trending for opportunities to opine. Jump into conversations. Reach out and connect with someone you haven’t talked to in a long time. Live in the moment on social media as often as possible. Tweet, post, share and comment whenever the opportunity presents itself. The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, all the respect and credibility.
Example: Dell on Facebook
3. Frequency. I hate to break it to you, but the chances of you sharing something – anything – on social media at the exact same time your audience is there is slim and far between. Nobody’s hanging on your every word and picture. The good news is that there are a lot of steps you can take to put the odds in your favor that your content will be seen by those whose attention you covet. Including keywords and hashtags is important. Knowing when your followers, fans and friends are online will help you increase your reach and engagement rates. Promoting your posts every once in a while will also make a difference. But not being shy about sharing content here, there and everywhere, time and time again, is one of the easiest ways to ensure that your presence will be duly noted at one time or another.
Example: #DailyFoodFeed on Instagram
When in Chicago, @adamsoko let me know @portilloshotdogs was a MUST Check out my spread of fries, an Italian Beef Sandwich, a Beef-N-Cheddar Croissant, a Chicago Dog and a Chili Cheese Dog I got for a light lunch with @ximenalarkin today This place is poppin 🤗See what else I got from here and the rest of my Chicago foodventures NOW LIVE on Snapchat " class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;"/> : @dailyfoodfeed : @portilloshotdogs #⃣: #dailyfoodfeed " class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;"/>: Snapchat dailyfoodfeed " class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;"/> TAG YOUR FRIENDS " class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;"/>
Note: This post, “Three Key Ingredients to Success on Social Media,” was originally published on ClickZ on May 26, 2016, here, on LinkedIn Pulse on July 5, 2016, here — and a version of it was posted on the Overdrive Interactive blog on June 3, 2016, here.
It was only a matter of time. On the heels of Periscope’s wildly successful run as pretty much the only game in town over the course of the last year or so, Facebook has finally released its own live streaming app, Facebook Live.
While Twitter’s Periscope basked in the glory of having grown to over 10 million users after only four months in business, Facebook Live promises to be even more popular.
Never mind the fact that Live works almost the same as Periscope – seamlessly, easily, instantaneously – its potential user base and audience of over 1.5 billion casts more than a large shadow over any predecessors and competitors in the live streaming app space.
How do you use Facebook Live? It’s simple. Just go to Facebook on your phone, tap the “What’s on your mind?” field and hit the icon to the right that’ll ask you to describe your live video before clicking on the big honking “Go Live” button. Boom. You’re on the air.
That’s not to say it’s easy to use this new app effectively for business purposes, though. After all, how do you as a personal or professional brand stand out among all the clutter of competition in the News Feed? What do you say to command prospects’, customers’, client’s or even your friends’ attention? How do you keep your audience begging to see more of you no matter what you have to say?
Here are 10 ways brands can use Facebook Live and win over their audience at the same time.
1. Go behind the scenes. People are curious. They want to know what goes on inside the boardrooms and behind closed doors. Take them around your office. Give them a tour of your warehouse. Invite them to join you the next time you sit down with your colleagues to discuss business. Share the secrets of your success with those who are willing to watch.
2. Give pep talks and provide inspiration. There’s a reason the hashtag, #MotivationMonday, is so popular on social media. Everybody needs a lift. Facebook Live makes it possible for you to easily jump online and share a few quick words of positivity and power with your audience, encouraging them to seize the day seven days a week.
3. Share news and information. Talk about a no-brainer. Be like a reporter and talk about the day’s top stories. Schedule a time when you will appear regularly in the News Feed. Condition your audience to be looking for you on Facebook like they tune into their favorite shows on TV, enthusiastically and faithfully.
4. Offer opinion and commentary. Just the facts will only get you so far on social media. The more you show your true colors, the more you’ll be trusted and respected. Live streaming video enables you to tell it like it is in real time. Don’t be afraid to editorialize and opine. Think like a talk show host and act like a star. You are the expert witness to the top stories in your field.
5. Take questions from your audience. Access to you and your brand is a big reason why people follow you on social media. They want a pipeline to the source. Nothing makes them feel more empowered than having their questions answered promptly. Like a virtual town hall, take questions from audience members and answer as many as possible. Their loyalty and commitment to you will intensify and increase.
6. Share tips, tricks and tactics. What can you do for others? How can you help them? What do you know that will help them get more out of either their personal or professional lives? This is your forum. This is your chance. Streaming live video to an audience that has already indicated they are interested in what you have to offer puts you on a pedestal as a thought leader, role model, stander-bearer, influencer, ambassador and advocate. Take full advantage of the opportunity.
7. Deliver presentations, demonstrations, speeches and soliloquys. Anytime you or anyone in your organization has something notable to say, whether it’s a prepared gig in front of a large audience or an extemporaneous piece of advice for anyone who will listen, consider streaming it live on Facebook. Share a short snippet or the whole kit and caboodle. If for no other reasons than the immediacy and authenticity of the content, you will stand out among the clutter of crafted, pre-written regularly scheduled updates.
8. Be humorous and entertaining. As I wrote here on ClickZ , “if people are smiling, they’re usually less guarded and more agreeable.” That’s why you want to try to open a conversation with something positive and lighthearted, no matter how serious the subsequent topic. Tell a good joke or engage in lighthearted banter. Don’t be all about the hard sell. Be funny, witty and chill. Market your brand softly with humor and entertainment to the point where fans crack a smile and hang on your every word.
9. Profile employees. Anytime you use social media is a good time to put a human face on your brand. Authenticity is a key contributor to the effectiveness of your updates. Facebook Live makes it incredibly easy to put the spotlight on your people. Give them a starring role in a short Q&A and viewers will start looking at your organization with greater interest and trust, not skepticism and doubt.
10. Speak impromptu and off-the-cuff. Not everything you do on social media has to be scripted, choreographed, planned and scheduled. In fact, some of the most popular content you share is likely the most candid. Even if you don’t have anything important to say, go out on a limb and just say hello. No, it’s not that easy to win friends and influence people using Facebook Live, but you don’t want to overthink it, either. The more you hem and haw over how you’re going to use it, the more likely it is that you’ll never use it at all.
Note: This post, “10 Ways Brands Can Use Facebook Live,” was originally published on ClickZ on April 25, 2016, here, on LinkedIn Pulse on May 31, 2016, here — and a version of it was posted on the Overdrive Interactive blog on May 3, 2016, here.
No one can say that there aren’t many benefits of having a strong personal brand on social media. After all, your LinkedIn profile is where practically everyone goes to check you out if they’re considering doing business with you in any way, shape or form. If you have a few presentations uploaded to SlideShare, a few dozen posts published on a blog and a few hundred followers on Twitter, even better.
Using social media to showcase your background, skills, talent and expertise is a no-brainer.
But the benefits of personal branding on social media aren’t limited to the owner of that brand only. Everyone around those who are prevalent and popular online, the “corporate all-stars” of the business world, as Edelman’s Steve Rubel so astutely labelled them in 2009, enjoys the fruits of their labor, from direct reports to supervisors, colleagues to clients, partners to employers.
How? Here’s how. Here are 10 ways a personal brand on social media works to the advantage of the corporate brand behind it and is a win-win for everyone involved.
1. Reach. A small company may not have a big audience on social media, but it may have a handful of people among its ranks with their own extensive networks. Riding employees’ coattails makes sense if they can help get the word out to a broader, perhaps even better, audience. Like a good ripple effect, the more help brands can get from the people who work for them, the further and faster their messages will travel.
2. Thought Leadership. Social media makes it possible for almost anyone to establish themselves as a renowned expert. All you need is the time, talent and tenacity. Write a blog post. Record a video. Comment here, there and everywhere. Leaders within an organization should be leaders in their industry. From a selfish standpoint, that may be how to ascend the corporate ladder, but that’s also how to generously increase the visibility and credibility of the corporate brand behind you.
3. Education. Anyone who spends more than a modicum of time on social media knows what a treasure trove of educational resources can be found there. Never mind attending conferences and signing up for webinars. Log in to this channel or that one and boom, you’re privy to all the news and information that’s fit to share. Social media is a living, breathing education on demand, and more often than not it’s on the house.
4. Camaraderie. Imagine having access to a circle of like-minded professionals, connections you can count on to keep you up to date and in the know, wherever you are, whenever you want. That’s social media. People may not pick up the phone when you call or respond to your email, but if you mention them in a tweet or tag them on Facebook, suddenly you have their attention. That’s influence. That’s clout. That’s a big benefit to both personal and corporate brands.
5. Social Proof. People are more likely to trust and support other like-minded people, not distant, impersonal corporate logos and brands. When you earn likes, shares and comments as an employee, not only does it go a long way toward establishing a great reputation for your own personal brand, it benefits the corporate brand behind you. Your influence and authority on social media reflects positively on the products and services you represent and can be leveraged by those who employ you.
6. Inspiration. We all know the importance of keeping team members properly inspired. While often employers can’t afford to send their people to conferences and industry events, they can easily permit, if not encourage, employees to spend time on social media, listening, learning, reading and writing. Regular exposure to such resources goes a long way toward enabling and empowering people to go above and beyond in their work on behalf of the brands they represent.
7. Scalability. If practice makes perfect, social media is the place to go to hone your skills in the areas of writing, networking, research, thought leadership and branding. For the individual practitioner, work done with these tools and technologies can lead to something more valuable to the brand he or she represents. Status updates can result in potential new customers and clients. Blog posts can be turned into white papers. Time spent on Twitter can yield new findings, data, insights and connections that are ripe to be taken advantage of at an enterprise level.
8. Accountability. Those who are active on social media for business reasons are invariably those who are passionate about their jobs, careers and professions. They are bold, brave, outgoing and engaging, people who are blessed with the qualities associated with leaders, accountable to their respective roles and responsibilities. After all, like speakers, writers, artists, athletes, performers and entertainers, they’re putting their reputations on the line every time they share something with others. Their activities are both public and permanent, so they had better know what they’re doing or else they’re subject to criticism.
9. Networking. They don’t call it social media for nothing. The more active you are on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and the like, the more connections you’ll amass. Yes, those so-called “corporate all-stars” Steve Rubel referred to have legions of followers, people who can help not just themselves, but the brands they represent. Unless a corporate brand is a household name or a celebrity of some type, it takes a lot of time to build a large, engaged audience. Those with strong personal brands can help their employers get there more quickly by providing access to their own networks and triggering engagement among their constituencies.
10. Authenticity. Even if you are well-known for one reason or another, a corporate logo will only get you so far along the path to long-standing, mutually beneficial relationships with your audience members. The trust factor looms large on social media. That’s where a good personal brand enters the picture. Employers can draft behind their employee ambassadors in order to win over new followers and fans, people who will give them much more attention if only due to their confidence in their friends.
The bottom line is that it takes a village to come out ahead on social media. Both personal and corporate brands should take great pains to work together and to realize that we’re talking about a collaborative activity, not one that exists in a silo. It pays for employers to not just activate their employees on these channels, but to join them in the conversation.
Note: This post, “10 Ways a Personal Brand on Social Media Helps the Corporate Brand Behind It,” was originally published on ClickZ on March 24, 2016, here, on LinkedIn Pulse on May 15, 2016, here — and a version of it was posted on the Overdrive Interactive blog on May 10, 2016, here.
Back in the day, when I was a member of Toastmasters, a public speaking and leadership organization, I was fortunate enough to be asked to be president of a local club. I was honored, of course, but I had no idea what the role entailed. Besides being briefed on the many responsibilities that came along with being the head honcho, I needed some advice, some good, old-fashioned words of wisdom.
Just be yourself, I was told. There is no need to overthink it.
That’s what I learned at that time about being a leader and speaking in public. And that’s what I’ve learned ever since then about communicating on social media. Don’t put on an act. Just keep it real.
After all, the path to success, or at least a modicum of effectiveness, on social media can be excruciatingly long and winding, as there are just so many variables that can get in the way.
Never mind the fact that so many people and brands have no idea what to say and share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like. Even when they have figured out the content conundrum, the time, talent and tenacity it takes to harness what is still a newfangled way of communicating can overwhelm even the best of them.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
What if I told you that perhaps the most effective way to stand out on social media, whether you’re a big brand or small fry, is well within your means?
What if I told you that strategy can often be overrated in this space and that the size of your budget doesn’t have to equate to the influence you wield?
What if I told you that the easiest way to get from point A to point B on social media is to simply be yourself? No spin. No filter. No beating around the bush. Just showing up every day with energy, enthusiasm and enlightenment for anyone who’s paying attention.
Whether you’re streaming live on Periscope or sharing a candid moment with your Twitter followers, updating the crowds on Facebook or chiming in on LinkedIn, planning your every move will get you nowhere fast.
Yes, of course, you need a semblance of a strategy and a good idea of your objectives, but any obsessing over your tone of voice, brand and anything remotely resembling a corporate style guide is only going to muddy the waters.
Social media is different than anything you’ve ever done as a marketing, advertising, publishing or PR professional. Social media is the long lost art of conversation brought online. Social media works best when you are using it to engage with others in an honest, open dialogue.
That’s not to say you don’t need a steady cadence of content in your stream, because you do without question. Your presence on social media has to be felt on a continuous basis.
So on your own or with the support of a team, go ahead and schedule an indefinitely lasting series of status updates, messages and posts about who you are and what you do as a brand.
A steady drumbeat is important. But accentuate that beat with a strong personality and point of view that is indelibly you as the human behind the scenes. That’s where the rubber meets the road on social media.
Take a look at Beth Comstock, GE’s CMO, on Twitter. Not only does she talk about innovation and technology, she also doesn’t hesitate to share a picture of a beautiful sunrise in New York City with her more than 80,000 followers.
Magical Manhattan morning pic.twitter.com/clFsYyLBNo
— Beth Comstock (@bethcomstock) January 15, 2016
Then there’s billionaire businessman, Elon Musk, who’s not afraid to publicly reveal his sadness over the passing of David Bowie. Genuine. Heartfelt. Liked about 5,000 times, too.
Sad to hear that David Bowie died. He was amazing.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 11, 2016
There’s also T-Mobile’s CEO, John Legere, who’s as refreshingly candid as they come, especially for someone among the C-suite ranks.
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) February 11, 2016
Finally, check out what Bill Gates shares on Twitter. Go behind the scenes with the richest person in the world as he shares words and pictures on a multitude of subjects, from digital technology to the Zika outbreak to what music he’d listen to if he were stranded on a desert island.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) February 1, 2016
Wait, there’s one more. Whoever is the writer behind the Georgetown Cupcakes Twitter account has a fabulously fun personality. That’s just the right image to portray, even if you are representing a logo, not your own personal brand.
— Georgetown Cupcake (@GTownCupcake) February 15, 2016
There you have it, five examples of big name brands who understand the importance of transparency and authenticity on social media.
Surely there are others, but if you ask me, not nearly enough. Unlike those above, far too many users are stuck on playing office and mired in corporate speak, lost in the noise of a madding crowd.
If they were listening, of course, I would tell them to follow the lead of Beth, Elon, John, Bill and even Georgetown Cupcakes. I would tell them to just be themselves.
Asking questions. Running contests. Sharing pictures. Promoting products and services. There are many ways for brands to attract attention on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like. Included among this list of ways to get people to sit up and take notice on social media is to show the softer side of your brand and declare your support of a worthy charitable organization.
After all, almost everyone on these channels is trying to sell something, whether it’s a product, service or simply themselves. Almost everyone is like the carnival barker cajoling the passersby to step right up and come inside the tent.
But a small percentage of them are associating their brands with a noble cause, giving those in the audience a reason to feel good about making the decision to follow, like, share, reply or click.
The truth is, not everyone on social media is there as a consumer. If you appeal to those people’s philanthropic self-interests, meeting their need to help make a difference in the world, they may be more likely to engage with your account and ultimately respond to your pitch.
Call it cause marketing, fundraising or strategically placed altruism. Whatever you call it, it’s good for the nonprofit world, your audience and you. It’s good for everybody involved.
Here are 10 ways brands are doing well by doing good on social media:
1. Feeding the hungry: Anheuser-Busch on Twitter
You may associate Anheuser-Busch with drinking, but this is an example of the brand tying itself to eating, providing meals to those less fortunate during the holiday season. Crowdsourcing pictures of Thanksgiving celebrations, AB makes it easy for its customers and followers to participate in a kindhearted group initiative and have fun at the same time.
— Anheuser-Busch (@AnheuserBusch) November 19, 2015
2. Putting shoes on their feet: TOMS on Twitter TOMS puts their money where their feet are by making an impressive commitment to give a pair of shoes to someone in need for each pair sold. In fact, thanks to its generous One for One offer, since the company’s founding in 2006, TOMS has given more than 45 million pairs of shoes to children in over 70 different countries.
3. Standing up against bullying: Detroit Pistons on Facebook
Taking a stand and making a strong statement against an injustice can be more effective than simply making a charitable contribution, which is exactly what this NBA basketball team does here. Asking their fans to take the pledge and join them in going purple on #SpiritDay, they’re scoring big points in the cause marketing field, never mind on the basketball court.
4. Delivering presents for Christmas: Sports Authority on Twitter
There’s always an opportunity to give to the less fortunate among us, but the holiday season is an especially good time. Here the large chain of sporting goods retailers, Sports Authority, shows how they teamed up with the Universal Surveillance Systems Foundation to arrange for Santa to surprise 100 deserving kids with bikes and helmets.
— Sports Authority (@SportsAuthority) December 23, 2015
5. Caring for children: Kohl’s on Twitter There are a variety of reasons why people buy, most of which are wrapped up in emotion. Consumers may not necessarily need this or that, but in many cases their impulses get the best of them. Whether they’re being materialistic or benevolent, Kohl’s Cares gifts are a win-win proposition for those who have the urge to purchase a little something and make a big difference at the same time.
6. Protecting our oceans: Dell on Instagram
Taking full advantage of its technological prowess, specifically in the area of virtual reality, Dell is doing a whale of a job in helping to inspire people to care more about the health of our oceans and marine wildlife through its support of actor Adrian Grenier’s the Lonely Whale Foundation. While they’re talking about it on Instagram here, you can learn a lot more about it on YouTube.
We are proud to help support @adriangrenier and the @lonelywhale foundation. The Lonely Whale Foundation operates on the belief that in order to achieve a healthier ocean and environment for marine wildlife, we must work together to make positive change in the fragile and complex bodies of water that make up over 70% of the planet. #dellxlonelywhale #artbasel #globalgood #globalchange
7. Showing solidarity with Paris: Cisco on Facebook Part of the responsibility of using social media – especially as a brand, for whom the bar is set higher – is to be aware of what’s going on in the world. The last thing you want to do is be promotional and pushy in the midst of a tragedy or any other cataclysmic event. Don’t hesitate to pause your regular flow of content and join the broader conversation with a message of support like Cisco’s on Facebook.
8. Volunteering their time: Eli Lilly and Company on Instagram
Last fall, thousands of Lilly employees took part in this global pharmaceutical company’s eight annual Global Day of Service, proudly sharing their good deeds on social media with the tag, “WeAreLilly. Clearly there are countless beneficiaries of such a massive demonstration of volunteerism, including the brand itself whose initiative goes a long way toward building camaraderie and unity among its workforce. To see even more pictures from this campaign, visit here.
9. Responding to emergencies: Lowe’s on Twitter After the area was hit by a devastating wave of violent tornadoes, members of Lowe’s Heroes, a volunteer program involving store employees, joined first responders to provide emergency relief. Coming through for the local community in such a meaningful way not only makes your team members feel good about themselves, it sends a strong, positive message about your corporate culture to anyone who’s paying attention. To learn more about Lowe’s Heroes, go here.
10. Helping kids with cancer: Sevenly on Facebook
Founded less than five years ago, Sevenly is a hip, philanthropic online retailer that donates a portion of its revenue to a number of different causes, in this case The Young and Brave Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young people fight cancer. I’m not a customer (yet), nor am I a fashionista, but I love their unique business model. Given the idea that you can help others with your purchase makes their clothes even more appealing to me.
Note: This post, “10 Ways Brands are Using Social Media Marketing for Good,” was originally published on ClickZ on January 27, 2016, here and on the Overdrive Interactive blog on February 2, 2016, here.