Category Archives: Community

The Social Media Connection Cycle Explained [Infographic]

After many years in the industry, first as a social media agency, and now as a social media marketing software application, we have observed many cycles. As with most industries, there are cycles and flows that appear over time and social media is no different. Though not all social media accounts, brands or industry niches will experience the identical cycles, we have determined that those that really understand social media and are executing it well, will quickly recognize the flow I am about to explain. This concept is something that we have observed, modeled and used for many years, and still do today.

The cycle of engagement with your social media connectionsWithin your community there are ebbs and flows or “cycles” that occur. Though most social media managers are not consciously aware of this cycle, it is occurring nonetheless. So it is very important to understand the cycle, the components included within it and how it should affect your overall focus and subsequent results.

The Social Media Connection Cycle is a natural process that occurs within most social media communities. By community, we are specifically referring to the friends, followers and likes that are connected to you and/or your brand within the various social networks. All of these combined connections can be referred to as your community.

What Is The Social Media Connection Cycle?

The social media connection cycle is the flow of community connections in and out of the relationship sweet spot. This natural cycle is very similar to a businesses prospect, current and past customer flow and can even be seen in one’s individual relationships. Made up of the 5 components of your community, the connection cycle concept will help you visualize the sweet spot within your social following where the magic happens and the activities you can do to continue and grow that sweet stop.

Your Community – As stated above, your social community is “the combined connections you or your brand have within the social graph.” It is the envelope that contains the additional components and other elements of the cycle. The main “bucket” if you will.

Inside of this bucket are the 4 segments of the connection cycle including Relationships, New and Older Connections as well as Highly Targeted Connections. We will define these separate components and discuss their specific role within the cycle, then we will wrap up with the big picture.

First, the above Infographic shows that a “typical” social community is made up of 50% of Older Connections, 30% from Newer Connections and 20% from Highly Targeted Connections. Though the percentages from each of these segments may not be exactly the same for every company, marketer or niche, we have observed this to be a fairly typical scenario that makes up your overall community.

Active Relationships – At the center of the connection cycle are your real, active relationships. These are the connections that you know and engage with regularly.

The active relationship group within the cycle is comprised of portions of your connections that come from Older Connections, Newer Connections and Targeted Connections. Typically the percentages of these groups that migrate into your relationship bucket are as follows:

New Connections – 20% of these flow into active engaging relationships

Older Connections – 20% of these flow into active engaging relationships

Highly Targeted – 60% of these flow into active engaging relationships

It is really important to understand that Active Relationships are often not a substantially growing number or percentage of your overall community. What typically happens is that connections flow into and out of the active relationship cycle from the various connection types, while the overall number or percentage remains fairly constant. This is especially true when your community size is fairly static and not growing at a daily conscious pace. In fact if your social community is static or decreasing, it will often have a direct impact on the quantity and percentage of your active relationships within your social media efforts.

Older Connections – The ebb and flows of your connection types within the connection cycle are often least impacted by older connections, however by no means does that make them any less important. Think of your older connections as fluid relationship connections that periodically move in and out of the active relationship bucket over time. I often think of them as those friends that you get together with a few times a year, and it seems like you start right where you left off last.

The interesting thing we have discovered about older connections is that though only around 20% are inside the active relationship bucket at any given time, they represent about 50% of our new upgraded users in Bundle Post. The important point here is the confirmation that social media is a marathon, not a sprint. Long-term connections, even if they are not inside the active relationship bucket TODAY, do pay off in social media.

New Connections – New connections are made up of new followers, likes and friends that have “recently” connected with you on social media. Often times you can’t immediately establish whether they are a highly targeted connection, nor can they be considered an older connection, however they do represent one of the most important connection types within a healthy social community.

When your social media marketing consciously executes an effective strategy to grow your community, it has a powerful impact on your active relationships. Though new connections typically only make up 20% of your active relationship segment it is one of the factors you actually have control over. When you’re actively and continually focused on growing your overall community with new connections your audience grows, the number of engagement opportunities increase and it directly impacts your active conversations and relationships.

Highly Targeted Connections – The final segment of the connection cycle is made up of Highly Targeted Connections. I say “IS”, but I think the word SHOULD is probably more appropriate. If you are not consciously focusing on the connections within your community that are your highly targeted customers, prospects and influencers, you are dramatically and negatively impacting your social connection cycle. More importantly, your are likely not achieving the kind of results your social media marketing should be realizing.

The Wrap Up

The concept of the social media connection cycle is intended to help you visualize the dynamic flows within your social community. They are active, not static cycles that flow in and out of the central relationship zone, which is the “sweet spot” and where you should be spending your time, focus and energy.

Everything we discussed within this post is predicated on a few things. We are assuming you have a proper social media strategy in place and that you are executing it well. We also assume that you understand the quantity AND quality concepts related to consistent content in your streams every day, all day. And finally, we expect that you have set communication, conversation and rapid response as priorities for your daily social activity. If these assumptions are accurate, then visualizing the social media connection cycle throughout your daily social media management will bring new focus, understanding and opportunities to achieve improved results. Of not, then you are likely experiencing another kind of cycle that has nothing to do with real results…

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Filed under Brand, Community, connection, Content, Engagement, Followers, Infographic, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, social media tool, Tools

4 “Not So Obvious” Reasons Good Content Curation Is Important

We all know, or at least you should, that having enough relevant, selfless, valuable content in your streams is highly important. Curating great content from sources outside of your own, in large enough quantities on a daily basis is the center of any effective Reasons Good Content Curation Is Importantsocial media marketing strategy. That selfless value provided to your audience is what tends to spark conversations, establish thought leadership on various topics and earns you the right to “pitch” your stuff.

Beyond the more clear reasons that curated content is effective and used by so many in social media, there are a few not so obvious reasons that you need to be aware of. Understanding these additional objectives when curating enough content in your streams will help you expand what you are doing and the results you can achieve.

But first, what do we mean by “good” content curation?

1) Enough volume in your streams every day, all day. For example, if you don’t have 20 posts a day on Twitter, you’re not being seen much. People aren’t logged in all day watching their newsfeeds, so you have to ensure no matter when they login on any network, one of your curated posts fly by. More about posting quantity

2) Relevant – The content you curate into your streams should be focused on the 3-5 topics that drive your audience when they’re on social media. What are THEY interested in? What drives them to click, comment and like? It’s not about you and what you do, it’s about them and their interests.

3) Unique – The curated content you post in your streams will get the best results if it’s “off the beaten path”. In other words, don’t share the same popular content and sources as everyone else. Be sure the content you curate in your streams is unique and not something your audience has likely already seen, read and shared themselves. You may also want to check competitors streams to ensure your topical curated content is unique from the sources, sites and authors that you are sharing.

So let’s get a little deeper and discuss other human responses that normally occur when your content curation is really good.

4 Not So Obvious Reasons Good Content Curation is Important

Timeline Checks – New connections that you friend or follow often first check your timeline before accepting your request or following back. When your social streams are consistently full of interesting, relevant content, no matter when a prospective connection happens to check your timeline, they will see value and accept/follow back at a MUCH higher percentage than if you don’t have good, consistent content curation in effect.

Attraction – A huge advantage to the proper execution of a great content strategy is attraction. Nailing your topical curation strategy and executing it every day, all day will result in more of your target audience finding YOU. As your consistency and strategy align, you will grow an extremely targeted community at a much faster pace.

Under The Hood – Really good content curation will spark conversations with your audience. If it doesn’t, your strategy or topics are off and you need to make adjustments to your topics, sources and volumes.

You want your audience to learn that no matter when they look, your streams will always have something valuable for them. When you’ve got it right, conversations will result. As your conversations increase, you build relationships and get your connections to want to know more about you. Most do so by clicking to view your bio on that specific social network.

Click – If you’re properly curating, attracting and engaging with the right audience AND your bio is well thought out, it can also drive your connections to click-through to your site from your bio.

Do you see the natural relationship flow that content curation done well can facilitate in your social media marketing?

Do you understand the nuances that proper social media management can achieve?

What changes do you need to make in your social media execution to leverage human behavior to improve your results?

These not so obvious advantages to exceptional, consistent and valuable content curation represent the culmination of what is called social selling. Understand the underlying human activity the typical social network user completes as a normal course of what we discuss in this post, then take the time and effort to ensure your targeting, strategy, quantity and consistency are inline to realize the additional benefits consciously.

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Filed under Community, Content, Curation, Engagement, Followers, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Social Selling, Strategy

Three Important Components Of Content Marketing

Important Components for Effective Content Marketing Content creation and content marketing has become a crucial element to any digital marketing effort. The transition from big brand only tactic to common place for all online marketers has and will continually expand. Using content for search engine placement and optimization, social network exposure and traffic is quickly becoming a must have component in any online marketing strategy.

While there are certainly many components to effective content marketing, here are three buckets that really require attention and preparation.

Content Creation -

In order to conduct content marketing effectively, you have to create content for your target audience that has relevant value.

  1. Who – Do you know who your target audience is? Be very clear about exactly who you are trying to reach with the content you create.
  2. What – Do you know the challenges your target audience is facing and/or the type of content that drives their interests online? Create compelling content that addresses their challenges and connects to their interests. Create content that speaks to them, not always about you.
  3. When – How consistently and frequently are you creating content?

“Create content that speaks to them, not always about you.”  Tweet:

Promotion/Distribution -

It’s one thing to create content, it’s wholly something different to promote it and get traffic to it.

  1. Channels – Know the online channels where your audience spends most of their time. Be highly active in those channels with consistent, relevant, selfless content that is not yours. By providing relevant, curated content consistently, you will earn the right to promote your created content.
  2. Community – The more consistently and frequently you create content, the larger and faster your community will grow. That includes your social following, subscribers to your blog and organic search reach.
  3. Tools – If you are active in all the right channels, providing selfless value to your audience and therefore built a large and loyal community, you need to ensure that you have an effective tool stack that helps you distribute your content to friends, followers and advocates.

Our tool stack incorporates Hootsuite, Bundle Post, Bundlet, Triberr and our email newsletter system. You want to be sure that the tool stack you are using is highly efficient and effective. Be sure that the tools allow you to promote your new content when it’s published, but can also manage that content for addition postings into social media easily and with strategy. You’ll definitely want the ability to seamlessly track when you shared the content last and schedule it repeatedly moving forward to ensure the optimum reach, traffic and exposure long-term. Social Content Management Is Important!!

Conversion -

Experienced content marketers know why they are creating the content they produce. They understand their objectives, processes and they track it to ensure the goals are being achieved. If they are not, they make changes to the process and do it again. Are you doing this?

  1. Objective – Do you know the goal and objective for your content? Have you planned, developed and tested what happens to the traffic your drive to your content?
  2. Process – Do you have a well thought out process and supporting mechanics to convert the traffic to your content into leads, customers, inquiries or subscribers?
  3. Tracking – Are you tracking the traffic to your content and measuring important metrics to determine what is working and what isn’t?

Although content marketing and content creation do not rise to the level of rocket science, they are both highly specialized components of today’s digital marketing requirements.

What are additional components that you utilize within your online marketing efforts?

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Filed under Community, Content, content creation, Curation, Hootsuite, Marketing, Social content management, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, social media tool, Tools

Social Media Conversations That Become Leads

Conversations within social media is what builds relationships. Those resulting relationships are what lay the foundations for real results like sales, revenue and customer acquisition. But the question I hear most often is “How do you get into conversations that become leads?”

Social media conversations that become leadsOne way to get into conversations is to simply start them with others. For brands this is an infinitely more difficult task given the resources required, the restrictions of certain social networks and simply time. This doesn’t scale well and therefore is often only a small part of a social strategy long-term. Starting conversations with your target audience is effective, but requires massive resources to pull it off with anything resembling return on investment (ROI).

Another and more frequently used approach to starting conversations is something I call luring.

I frequently use analogies to correlate social media marketing to things that most people already understand. I find that many comprehend some of the complexities of social media much better this way. So let’s look at social media engagement or social selling as fishing.

Lure, luring, fishing. Get it?

If you agree that “Content leads to conversations, conversations build relationships and relationships result in ROI“, then we can equate content to a fishing lure and getting a bite on the line as a conversation. The reason for a fishing lure is to attract and catch fish. Different sizes and types of lures are designed to attract different types and sizes of fish. Therefore the right content, created and curated (the lure) in your streams will attract a certain type of prospect and therefore increase the chances that they share, comment or like the content you post (the bite).

Furthering our analogy, if you don’t cast enough times on the day you are fishing, you greatly reduce your chances of getting any bites. Casting your lure into the lake only a few times will likely result in no fish being attracted to your lure. You have to keep casting, reeling in and casting again in order to increase the odds that a fish will even see your lure, let alone be attracted to it. This is why having enough consistent, relevant, valuable content in your streams is so important.

This gets even complex when there are numerous types of fish in the lake, but you’re only interested in catching a specific kind. Now you have to consider WHICH lures (content subject matter) are best to attract that specific type of fish and also how many times you need to be casting and reeling in your lure each and every day in order to get a bite. If you want to attract fish that have a higher propensity to engage with you from the content you post, focus on curating content that highlights the challenges that your product and service solves for your target audience.

5 Social Media Ways To Foster Conversations With The Right Audience -

  1. Enough Posts (Casting) – social network users are logging on and off, and switching from desktop to mobile all day long. If you do not have enough posts all day, every day, you’re likely to be seen less.
  2. Content Type (The Lure) – Whether you are curating or creating content, you need to ensure that what you are posting is relevant and interesting to your target audience. Know what THEY are interested in and post about those topics. This is what will get them to engage YOU.
  3. Crowded Waters – Just because an article is popular or comes from a popular site, doesn’t mean you should post it in your streams. In fact, I would say that in most cases the opposite it true. Sharing content that everyone has already seen, read and shared themselves is hardly an effective strategy. If your peers and competitors are fishing in the same cove of the lake, grab your fishing pole and fish somewhere else where this fish see less of the same lures.
  4. Create Lures – Along with posting curated content, you should also be creating content. Think of this as the experienced fly fisherman that ties their own flies. Know your intended audience (fish) and what they’re interested in and create content that connects their needs, challenges and interests with what you do, without overtly pitching your product or service.
  5. Leads – When you have a “fish on” (conversation started) don’t reel it in as fast as humanly possible. Take the time to expand the conversation around your contact without immediately moving to what you do. Building relationships over time is what gets results. Getting a bite and immediately attempting to land the fish is a great way to rip the hook out and lose the fish altogether.

At the end of the day, social media marketing lead generation is not dissimilar to the real world. Relationships take time and often require many conversations to build trust. Taking the time to earn that trust will open doors to discuss what you do with your connections and turn relationships into leads.

If you’re having the right conversations with the right connections, your conversations will become leads.

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Filed under Brand, Community, Content, content creation, Curation, Engagement, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Selling, Uncategorized

The How To’s of Customer Targeting, Acquisition And Retention In Social Media

In a report released earlier this month, “Over 85% of US marketing executives cited acquiring new customers and increasing retention as the top two 2014 marketing priorities.” After reading this, I asked myself when isn’t that the top two priorities of most executives? Isn’t that why a business is marketing to begin with? But I digress…

Customer Targeting Retention & Acquisition in Social MediaThe report further outlined that Executives said that “getting or holding target customers’ attention, as well as finding their target audience online, were the top two major challenges.

I find it interesting how larger brands and agencies find these things so challenging. They have the biggest budgets, the most resources and yet still navigate the online marketing world as if it is print or television. In today’s social networking world, finding your target audience couldn’t be more simple. Holding the attention of target customers is really just as easy, if in fact you are doing it properly.

What small, local and medium businesses lack in the form of resources and budgets, they more than make up for in common sense, nimbleness and the ability to effectively execute quickly. If and only if you understand one simple truth about digital marketing in today’s world…

It’s NOT about YOU!

The reason most of the big brands see the issues outlined in this report and challenging is because most have yet to recognize this fact. Big brands often solely self promote their wares and create a persona of “too good to engage” to their audience. A quick scan of most brands social media feeds and mentions will uncover huge communities that are attempting to engage with their favorite brands and those same brands ignoring the comments, mentions and engagement by the very target customers they say they are trying to find and hold attention with. Is it really this difficult to understand?

Acquire and Retain Customers:

If your priority is to acquire and retain customers, engage them. Make them feel wanted beyond their pocketbook. If you ignore your audience, they’ll not be your audience for very long.

Get Attention:

If you want to get the attention of your target customer, create and curate content that they are interested in. It might not have anything to do with your industry, product or brand. Meet them where their interests are and make your feeds be about them, not you.

Find Your Audience:

If you want to find your target customer, simply search for the people that are your target, connect with them and show interest in who they are. There’s no place this is done any easier than Twitter. I have said many times that Twitter is the hub of social media marketing.

The Wrap Up:

In an age where Facebook organic reach is declining to ultimate zero and the need for real results from social media marketing and other online channels are increasing, marketers need to adjust their “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. SMB’s need to better recognize the opportunities readily available and gain the knowledge and executional capabilities required to capitalize on them.

Twitter is your friend, learn it and execute it well to grow your targeted community. It is one of the only social networks that enables you to easily find and connect with your target audience easily.

Facebook now requires you to pay to reach the audience you already invested heavily to grow. Recognize this and either establish a budget to do that or maintain your presence there, but get better elsewhere.

Above all, look at your social media connections as more of an intimate one-on-one relationship, rather than an audience for your advertisements. If you stop ignoring your community and respond to their mentions, seek to converse with them about what they’re doing and curate recent relevance based on their interests, you will earn their respect and gain their interest in what you do.

 

 

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Filed under Brand, Community, Content, Curation, Engagement, Facebook, Marketing, Results, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Twitter

4 Ways To Reduce or Kill Social Media Engagement Over Time

In a post last week, we discussed an “Easy Way To Increase Social Media Engagement Right Away” where we covered the fact that social media marketing is real-time and the more you respond and engage with your audience in real-time, the more likely they are to do so more frequently. This post is going to take a look at the opposite approach and detail 4 ways that will reduce or kill your social media marketing and engagement efforts over time.

Don't reduce social media engagementIn order to scale social media engagement, you want to build upon the community interaction you have already established. If you are building relationships well, this will mean that the audience that is regularly engaging with you on social media increases and expands. The accounts that engaged with you yesterday and months and years prior should still be engaging with you now, and you should also be adding even more new relationships to those ranks consistently.

Too often social media marketers find themselves in a cycle of “new”. What I mean by that is that the portion of their following that engages them are often their newer followers and friends, yet the larger portion of their community that they have been connected with for a longer period of time engage at increasingly lesser levels. This is often an indication that there may be something wrong with the social media management or processes being employed.

Here are 4 ways to reduce your social media engagement:

- Responding Slowly: If you are managing your social media marketing in real-time as we discussed in our last post, you are going to scale your social media engagement. Conversely, if you are responding hours or even days after comments, shares and engagement, you are showing your community you are not truly engaged. They WILL stop engaging with you over time.

- Never Responding: When your audience comments on your posts or shares your content, a response is imperative. It tells them that they are important and you appreciate their efforts on your behalf. If you do the “post and leave” tactic and/or never respond to comments, they WILL stop engaging with you over time.

- Never Thanking: Social media marketing is really a parallel universe to the real world. Whatever you would do in real life, you should be doing with your social media management. Thanking others that mention you in conversation, share your content or tell others about you is something you would always do at a networking event. Ignoring those that share your content in social media is a sure-fire way for reducing and ultimately killing their engagement with you and your content over time.

- Notification Hell: As we all should understand, every social network is different and they all have their own unique capabilities, technologies and nuances. If you continually put people into notification hell when they share your posts, they WILL share them less frequently.

For example, if someone clicks the like button on one of your posts on Facebook and you always follow that by tagging them in the comment section of your post, you have now put them into notification hell. Every new comment and additional thank you that you make on that post is sending a notification to someone who just liked the post but didn’t comment.  Thank tagging for everything on Facebook will often create a negative feeling that will result in them engaging with you and your posts less often.

It is hard enough to build a community in social media, let alone get that community to see your posts, engage with you and achieve real measurable results. Don’t get caught up in the cycle of new by alienating your existing audience in ways that cause them to stop engaging. Relationships develop over time and giving your community reasons to continue to engage and do so more often, over reasons to stop engaging is crucial to your social media marketing success!

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Filed under Community, Content, Engagement, Facebook, Followers, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing

1 Easy Way To Increase Social Media Engagement Right Away

There are a few things we know about most human beings. Things that make us human and also extremely unique in the animal world. We are certainly creatures of habit we both consciously and unconsciously migrate toward the path of least resistance and embrace activities that make us feel good inside. We also avoid things, activities and people that hurt our feelings consciously or even unconsciously. These unique aspects about people also correlate with our online connections and relationships.

Increase EngagementThis came up Monday on one of my Facebook threads where I posted about sneezing and subsequently popping my neck and back out. Yes, I know I am old, let’s move on shall we? :-)

In this thread, my good friend Rick Cooper made a comment of – “Rick Cooper – Is there anytime you don’t have a computer or mobile device at your fingertips Robert? You’re the fastest responder in the West!” To which I replied, “Robert M. Caruso – When I’m asleep Rick Cooper. Social media is real time. When people comment it’s because they are there, right then. The best way to get fewer comments on your posts over time is to lengthen the time you respond. Guess the best way to get more engagement over time?”

Social Media RespondingHere’s the full thread.

Whether you are consciously aware or not, you are gravitating to people that spark a good feeling inside your being. People that are helpful, like-minded or provide you value and insight that you connect with. You are also often unconsciously avoiding people or situations that make you feel uncomfortable, unvalued or hurt. With the higher frequency of social media interactions as compared the number often experienced in real life, the life cycle for feelings, good or bad about a specific person or situation are often much shorter. In other words, we do way more online in terms of interactions than we are able to in real life.

Social media is real-time. What I mean by that is that just as in an offline interaction, it is happening right then and each comment/response cycle is not typically spread over days, but happen in the instance the first communication begins. In social media however, some tend to extend the interaction cycle over an extended period of time by not responding to comments on or shares of their posts.

The easiest way to increase social media engagement over the long term is to be in the present.

It is extremely important to understand the parallels between social media marketing and the real world and the subtle dynamics that make the difference. If in fact social media marketing is real time, responding and engaging in real time is extremely important. The fact that someone is commenting on or sharing one of your posts, right now, means that they are present and available, RIGHT THEN.

Unless you are a celebrity that millions are following and hang on every post you make, all the while knowing that you’re likely never going to acknowledge your fan comments, shares or presence whatsoever, you should be, just like in real life. You see, most people have a genuine expectation to be appreciated and recognized when complimenting, commenting or otherwise “helping” someone else. It’s human nature.

Think about it. If you spoke to someone at a party and they didn’t respond, or if you introduced them to someone interested in what they do for a living and they stepped in front of you and pretended you didn’t exist, would you engage that person or share their business card again? Most people that are willing to be honest about their feelings would have to say they wouldn’t.

So the best way to increase social media engagement is to respond in real time. By doing so, you put a few things into motion in your community that make a massive difference over the long term;

1) Feel good – Everyone feels good when they are acknowledged. Doing it in real time increases the chance that they will engage more at that moment, and more importantly, engage you again in the future.

2) Appreciated – When you feel appreciated by someone, you desire to be around them more and know more about them. You make your audience feel appreciated when you are there and responding when they engage with you or your content.

3) Repetitive – In keeping with what we know about human beings in the opening of this post, we know we can subconsciously create repetitive actions with people by making them feel good, appreciated and like you are always there when they are.

People repeat activity that makes them feel good. Responding in real time, when your audience is there and engaging makes this possible.

In our next post we discuss 4 Ways That Reduce or Kill Social Media Engagement Over Time.

 

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Filed under Community, Content, Engagement, Facebook, Marketing, Relationship, Social Media, Social Media Marketing