Category Archives: Results

The Top 5 #Hashtag Mistakes Marketers Make On Social Media

Hashtag MistakesHashtags have become synonymous with social media marketing and it’s no wonder why. A totally unique component of social media, hashtags have the ability to grow your following, expand the reach of your content and highlight important words within your status updates.

One less obvious thing that your hashtags tell your audience is whether you actually know what you are doing or not. If you are making novice mistakes while hashtagging your social media posts, it tells your readers a lot about you. If your target audience are newbie social networking users, this is less of a factor, however if the audience you are trying to reach have been on social for a while, you’re going to need to be sure you know what you’re doing.

Here are the Top Five Most Common Hashtag Mistakes:

1) Not Hashtagging – When you do not hashtag the words and phrases your target audience is following, it’s like fishing without using any bait. Make it easy for your audience to find you by not only sharing the content that is interesting and relevant to them, but by including the hashtags that they follow.

2) Too Many Hashtags – Though it is our belief that there are no steadfast rules in social media marketing, there are best practices that will achieve better results. We do not think there is or should be a defined rule for the number of hashtags you use in a post, but common sense goes a long way. If you use so many hashtags in a post that it becomes distracting instead of helpful, you are using too many.

On Instagram, we see this abused quite frequently. Only add relevant hashtags to your posts instead of baiting followers with completely irrelevant and numerous hashtags.

3) Inconsistency – One of the most overlooked and effective techniques in social media marketing is consistency. We are referring to two distinct types. 1) Topical and 2) Frequency

Topical Consistency: Stay on target with 5-8 topics that interest your audience and determine the hashtags that are most common and effective surrounding those topics. If you attempt to be known for more than a handful of key topics and/or are hashtagging so many different categories, you will be far less effective.

Frequency Consistency: If you are going to hashtag, do it consistently. Within social media marketing there is nothing more effective than being consistent with your posting, topics and hashtags.

4) It’s All Me! – This one really sets off the newbie radar. For the love of all things social media holy, stop hashtagging your name, your brand or your product name. You are not Starbucks, Pepsi or Oreo. Hashtags are active links allowing people to see all content about a relevant topic. You or your new/tiny company are not that, at least not yet. Don’t get the cart before the horse, or you never will be either.

5) Confusing Hashtags – Unless you are trying to be funny on occasion (which we love), don’t hashtag long phrases or words only you understand the meaning to. You are simply confusing your audience and not achieving anything meaningful for you or your social media success.

How you use hashtags, how many and what hashtags you use say a lot about you. Making adjustments to what you are doing with hashtags can make a significant difference toward improving your real results. Take some time to evaluate what you have been doing and how your audience is responding, then insert some higher level, conscious tactics that will be inline with your goals and your communities needs.

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Filed under Audience, Community, Content, Followers, Hashtag, Marketing, Results, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, tactics

Stay Between The Social Media Lines

The other day I was working in my office and my lil man (5-year-old) was in his play room coloring. Every 5 minutes or so he would come into my office carrying his dinosaur coloring book open to his latest masterpiece in order to show Papa what amazing creation he Stay between the lineshad completed this time. As this continued over at least an hour, I noticed that he was improving on his accuracy, and also getting substantially more creative with his colorful interpretations of what a dinosaur should look like.

As this went on, it reminded me of a 1992 Isuzu commercial from my (eh hem) childhood. The video featured a crusty old make teacher, patrolling his elementary school classroom full of students who were coloring. The teacher stoically navigates the classroom while repeating the phrase “Stay between the lines, the lines are our friends.

I am not sure, but I think I remember this commercial so well because I was a bit of a rebel as a teenager. I know this is likely a shock to those of you that know me or at least read my social media and blog posts. :-)

The point here is this…

There are no lines in social media marketing!

I mean, yes there are definitely best practices to achieve real results and be effective, but there is only one steadfast rule. DO NOT SPAM.

Many of us, including myself have become conditioned to point out when other people/brands are doing social media “Wrong”. We do this for many reasons. Some reasons are very selfless and out of a true desire to help, but if we were honest we would also recognize some of the other reasons aren’t so humble or helpful. Being human and therefore full of faults, failings and ego, I must also admit to correcting others at times without always from the proper motivation care. I continue to work on that.

Since there are no lines in social media, marketers are free to head off-road, be creative and execute differing strategies and tactics that suit them. Not every method is going to get results and many may even negatively affect your results in dramatic ways you are not realizing.

Understanding best practices and the concepts of social media from a core level is incredibly important. Having a solid understanding of what social media is and how it is best used provides a foundation for decision-making, strategy development and “off-roading your coloring” so to speak.

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Filed under Best Practices, BundlePost, Marketing, Results, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Social Selling, strategies, Strategy

Should We Be Lowering The Social Media Marketing Bar?

Should we Lower the Social Media BarYes, we should. Now let me explain…

In my recent post entitled Top 2015 Social Media Predictions – Disruptive Technologies I covered one of the important disruption areas to watch this year, that was General Social Media Marketing. In fact it was the number one item listed in my 2015 predictions. Specifically I was referring to making social media easier to implement, get results and be effective. The actual prediction was as follows:

“As social media marketing becomes more and more complex, new technology is required to make it easier, regardless of user experience, knowledge or skill. This is a requirement for the industry whose time has come.”

The Problem:

The social media marketing industry is incredibly complex. Marketers, brands and individuals are attending events and classes, reading articles and buying books at a massive pace, trying to understand what to do. At the same time a handful of social media speakers, authors and celebrities are raking in the speaking fees and book royalties.

I say good for them, and good for anyone that achieves success! However after almost a decade of social networking, the gap between the “experts” and the average brand or marketer is widening, therefore I believe the current path isn’t resolving the complexities faced by marketers and is only serving to perpetuate the massive learning curve. Furthermore, I think that the majority will continue to be left behind after giving up, running out of time and resources, or keep on trying without realizing the promised results.

What Does Lowering The Bar Mean?

What It Does NOT Mean – Sometimes to explain something, it is helpful to first clarify what it doesn’t mean. Lowering the social media marketing bar does NOT mean to lower standards, do it incorrectly or somehow promote less professional ethics and methods. It should also NOT be considered to in any way promote auto-pilot tools and tactics.

If the social media marketing industry is going to be sustainable, survive long-term and even thrive beyond the point it is today, something needs to be done differently. Technologies that facilitate social media management need to better understand the challenges, learning curves and complexities of individual marketers and adjust to them appropriately. Existing and new tool developers must produce from a deeper level of experience and understanding of social marketing to simplify functions that are needed, not just create features because it’s possible to do so.

Social media marketing IS challenging, but those with extensive experience in the field must raise the bar on the technology side of the business in order to lower the bar on the user experience side. Those with the experience are better able to break down the barriers that exist for less experienced marketers and define best practices, processes and strategies that can then be incorporated into simplified technologies that are effective, not just automated.

User Beware

One of the more destructive trends within the social media marketing space is and has always been the continual flood of new tools being developed and introduced. Don’t get us wrong, we love tools, but the problem is that the overwhelming majority of tools created for the social media space are developed by gear heads with limited or unsuccessful experienced executing social media marketing themselves. The fact is that MOST tools are created because they can be created and not because they actually understand the problem they think they are solving or because it really solves a problem to begin with.

The Future Is Bright

I believe the social media marketing bar needs to be lowered with a new era of sophisticated technology that drops the massive knowledge requirements for marketers to be successful. This can only be accomplished when the most experienced and successful marketers use their knowledge to raise the bar and expectations for the next generation of social media tools. I want to impact the real results of marketers in ways that don’t exist today. I want to change the culture of shiny new tools that distract marketers and brands from obtaining those results and instead replace the prevailing culture with innovation that significantly impacts the bottom line.

Data combined innovative technology can and should drive change and simplification for the masses. If better results are achieved by all social media marketers, it will represent even more receptive actions on the part of consumers and buyers. The more receptive consumers and buyers are to great social media marketing, the better the results are achievable for all. If only big brands and experienced marketers are dominating the results spectrum, the entire house of cards is in jeopardy.

What are your thoughts on this?

 

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Filed under automation, Brand, Data, Marketing, Results, Social Media, social media automation, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, social media tool, Strategy, Tools

Social Media Marketing – Data And Results Matter

One thing that has become obvious about the social media industry is change. Buzzwords, new trends and even big surveys that measure the next thing big business is focusing on in social are a never-ending stream of change. Content, influence marketing, analytics, engagement, branding, ROI and lead generation are just a few of the described “priorities” in at least one of the last several years in the industry. This moving target priority method is not expected to be going anywhere soon.

Social Media Data And Results MatterAlthough fast paced industries such as social media marketing, e-commerce and mobile are in a constant state of advancement and change, the goals that marketers focus on need to be more focused. If every time a new fad or buzzword appears, and the focus and goals get drastically changed, you can expect that results and management support will also.

Don’t get us wrong, we realize that social media is constantly changing and the executional requirements right along with it, but without focus on a clear objective of why you are in social, what you are trying to achieve and a steadfast plan to measure it, problems will arise.

For Example:

In a recent Harris Poll, 88% of professionals doing social media marketing consider it to be “important”. The data further showed that 82% of marketers strongly or somewhat strongly agree that analyzing social media engagement data can help improve their bottom line.

The Challenges:

At the same time and despite the plethora of monitoring and analytics solutions on the market today, social media marketing best practices, results and objectives seem allusive. Here’s the numbers to back that up.

  • 84% of marketers said it helped them to engage with influencers like the media
  • 84% said they thought social marketing could enhance relationships with existing customers
  • 67% of marketers say that assessing the effectiveness of social media activities was a challenge for them
  • 62% said designing and overall social media strategy was a challenge
  • 59% believe that educating staff about social media was difficult
  • 56% have a hard time making sense of the data gathered through social media
  • 55% are finding it challenging to align social media strategies across departments
  • 44% struggle with executive “buyin” on social media importance
  • 42% said they find it difficult to know when to take action on data from social media

It is no wonder that organizations small and large alike are struggling to get real results from social media when general knowledge and commitment to required resources are at such drastic odds. Like any other component of business, data should drive decisions in social media marketing and the execution of the resulting efforts require commitment, experience and appropriate tools. If marketers and brands invested much more heavily on the front-end decision and commitment level of social media marketing, the decisions related to data, execution, strategy as well as tactics would be far more clear.

When social media marketing is executed with sound strategy and the commitment of expertise and resources are made, real measurable, dollar and cents results will appear. When and if they do not, one of the cogs in the wheel is improperly aligned. It’s not the medium that is the problem, it’s the fabrication of and the subsequent operators steering the wheel that determine whether social media is successful or not from one marketer to another.

 

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Filed under Analytics, Brand, Content, Data, Engagement, influence, Marketing, Monitoring, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, social media tool, Strategy, survey, Tools

Relationships Are Built On A Foundation Of Trust

One of the things I think marketers forget about social media is that trust is a key factor in establishing, building and maintaining trust. It is the on AND offline foundation that all relationships are built from, yet so many do not consciously take this into account.

Social media relationships and trustWhat is Trust?

Trust is the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing.

In a word, trust is confidence.

Taking it a bit further, trust is the underlying ability to rely on someone or something. it is a foundational element in all relationships, but THE crucial component in business. Trust is underlying because it is conscious and unconscious. It comes from the thinking consideration, yet is always behind the scenes affecting our gut level processes.

Some Thoughts On Trust:

– It is my firm belief that trust is earned, not expected or demanded.

– Trust comes from doing, not saying what you will do, but showing who you are and what your brand is about through action.

– Doing is the catalyst that either builds or destroys trust with ones following, community and prospects.

Trust In Business and Social Media:

Business relationships can be described as a connection with a person or brand that includes emotional and personal affinity, appreciation and trust. In today’s business world, the lines between personal and business relationships are highly blurred. In social media marketing they no longer exist in the traditional sense, in that business IS personal on many levels. Relationships often drive the connections, communication and willingness to investigate or buy.

Three Stages Of Relationship Trust:

In social media marketing, there are three distinct stages of trust that brands and marketers need to be aware of.

Establishing – Whether a social connection will be established is often governed by first impressions. Similar to the offline world, a bad first impression will result in no further engagement with a brand, person or company representative.

In social media there are numerous components that make or break a first impression and determine whether you are going to be able to establish the beginnings of a relationship. Some of those are:

  • First contact: The first contact you have with a connection sets the stage. If that contact is spam, you have likely killed any possible relationship. What is spam in social media? Anything that tags or direct messages a connection while pitching what you do. There’s nothing worse to kill an opportunity of building a relationship.
  • Bio: Think of your social media profile/bio as your store front. If your windows are dirty, your message unclear or anything looks bad, your prospect won’t bother walking in the door.
  • Stream: Most people in social media check a new connection’s stream to see how they conduct themselves. They look to see if you are spamming or only posting about yourself or if you are engaging, sharing valuable content. What they see in your stream is what they believe they can expect in a relationship with your or your brand on social media. Remember – people are watching!

Building

  • Value: Building relationships is predicated on value. Do you provide selfless, relevant value to your audience? Do you share their content? Do you help them achieve their goals?
  • Grateful: Do you show you’re grateful when your relationships help you? When they share your content, do you thank them? Just as in real-life, showing thankfulness to relationships builds those relationships. Social media is no different.
  • Response: One of the most important ways to build relationships once they are established is to respond. All too often people ignore mentions, questions or conversations. Nothing does more to kill furthering of a relationship is to be “too good” to respond.

Maintaining – Maintaining trust you have earned is a continuation of repeated impressions and the three components of relationship building. It is active and ongoing, constantly being evaluated by others subconsciously. Your conscious choice to engage in relationship building advances the opportunity with the connections you have and dramatically increases them with the relationships you have in process.

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Filed under Audience, Brand, Community, connection, Content, Engagement, Followers, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Spam

Identifying And Growing Your Target Social Media Audience

One of the biggest mistakes made in social media marketing is building the wrong communities. What we mean by that is that many brands and marketers build followings of their peers, competitors or incorrect prospects, rather than their target audience. Subsequently, the time spent on social networks engaging, creating and posting content doesn’t achieve the level of desired results that they had hoped.

Why is the proper targeting and growing of your social community so important?

Our experience tells us that any marketing that is being executed, no matter how skillful, creative or unique is always limited by improper targeted of audience. For example, if your intended audience is nurses, yet you attract, connect with, follow and engage with mostly healthcare vendors like yourself, your results will be minimal. Furthermore, if your company is a restaurant in Chicago and you send direct mail advertisements to homes in Boston, do you think your marketing resources will achieve a return?

Social media marketing is very similar from the audience targeting metrics of other marketing mediums in that you need to know specifically who you are trying to reach. By specifically, we mean you need to be able to clearly outline all facets of your prospective social connects three ways:

Geographically – Specific location or locations, including city, state, region, county or country.

Demographically –  Things like gender, age, ethnicity, language, home ownership, employment status, etc.

Psychographically – Personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles

If you do not specifically know who you need to connect with and/or know but are connecting and engaging with others instead, your social media results will suffer greatly. Therefore it is important that the community you build is made up of the of people you need to reach for the product/service you are marketing.

It makes doesn’t it? Please tell me it does… If in fact it does make sense, why do so many do the exact opposite of these things in their social media efforts? The answer is, it is not easy and being humans we often take the path of least resistance, to our own detriment.

Identifying and Growing Your Social Community

Let’s attempt to change the difficulty factor of growing a targeted community through knowledge.

1) Identifying Your Target Audience – The first and most important step to growing a targeted community is to define it clearly. As we stated above, you really need to know who you are trying to reach, where they are located and what interests them. Since we know effective social media marketing is not about you, but rather your audience, then nailing the details of who you need to reach is imperative!

Be very specific about the location(s), demographics and interests of your intended audience. The more specific you are in defining who you want to reach, the more effective you can be. Though geographic and demographic can often be easily determined with experience, psychographic interests can sometimes stump even the most experienced marketer.

There are two tricks to help you identify the more vague psychographic targeting. They are;

  • Competition: One way to determine more about your prospective target audience is to watch your peers and competitors social accounts. Watch for the non-business related topics and interests that drive your prospects to engage, like and share. Taking this further, look at the personal profiles of your prospective customers and take note of the topics that thread through everything they engage with online. The list that results from investigating several prospective customers and competitors social accounts will result in identifying 4-8 key interests or topics that drive your audience.

and

  • Existing Customers: Speak with existing customers and known prospects about their interests on and offline. Discover that drives them in their life. Those are the topics you want to share content on and use to find your target audience.

2) Growing Your Target Audience – There are two distinct ways that marketers should be actively growing their target audience. Attracting new connections and proactively connecting. Having a community that is constantly growing with new connections, while engaged with conversations and relationship building is crucial for numerous reasons and should be a strategic part of any social media marketing program.

Let’s define these two community growth elements.

  • Attracting – If you desire to have organic growth within your social community, ensuring that you are attracting the right connections is imperative. To do this effectively, you will want to be sure you know who you are trying to reach and what topics drive their activity on social media (as we discussed above). Using this information and the other research we suggested, you will want to tailor your content curation, creation and hashtagging to these interests. Be sure that the content you are sharing and the hashtags you are using to attract your following is correctly focused on your prospects needs and interests, not that of your company, peers or competitors.

and

  • Proactive – Supplementing your attraction growth should be an extremely consistent and highly targeted execution of proactive connecting. If you know who you are trying to reach and have defined this very clearly, social media profile searches, viewing friends of your connections as well as connecting with your competition’s following is extremely effective.

At the end of the day, you must be providing value to your community, engaging in conversations and building relationships if your social media marketing efforts are going to see real results. If your strategy is on point, being executed properly and conversations are a daily part of your process, adding audience growth and targeting methods into the mix will add substantial results to your bottom line.

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Filed under Audience, Brand, Community, connection, Content, content creation, Curation, Hashtag, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Marketing, Strategy

The Two Sides Of Social Media Strategy Are Very Different Things

The Two Different Sides of Social Media StrategyWe often see a lot written and taught about social media strategy and the importance it plays in the success of integrated, digital marketing today. Unfortunately, there are substantial differences between the two elements of strategy that are frequently overlooked.

Many consider strategy as something that you only do prior to or while you are implementing social media marketing. In fact, there are two distinct sides of strategy and they have very different definitions. Let’s define the differences between these two sides and outline some of the components of each.

The Two Elements Of A Social Media Strategy:

1) The Plan

By definition, a strategy is a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time

It is extremely important to note that there are several critical key words contained within the definition of strategy. Let’s highlight the ones that stand out:

Careful – The term careful implies that time has been taken to thoughtfully research specific markets, competitors and audiences to ensure assumptions being made are accurate.

Plan – A plan contains specifics surrounding the information obtained during the research and are combined into a detailed plan that can be followed.

Goal – A goal is not a wish, hope or dream, but rather a detailed, specific desired result that combines measurable components that are tracked.

Long – As you should be aware, social media marketing is not direct marketing. It is marathon, not a sprint that focuses on the long-term effects of value and relationship building.

2) The Execution

In contrast to the first element of strategy, execution is the skill of making or carrying out plans to achieve a goal

It is one thing to have a plan, it is an entirely different thing to execute it. Think of your plan as a map that highlights the starting and end points of your social media marketing efforts. Think of the execution as the daily activities required to get from point A to point B as directly, efficiently and quickly as possible.

Caring the analogy further, if you knew you wanted to get to New York City and you were going to drive there from Portland, Oregon, having a map of the USA isn’t going to help you achieve that goal in any meaningful time frame. You need to know –

What – Are the streets, highways and routes you are going to take?

Mileage – How many miles per gallon does your vehicle get?

When – Are you going to stop to fuel up?

Where – Are you going to rest overnight on the journey?

What – Are you going to take with you to ensure you get there?

How – Much will the journey cost?

Stepping out of the analogy and back into social media, the second element of strategy requires knowledge, skill and resources. The proper tools must be deployed, using the tactics, quantities, targeting and engagement to achieve the plan that has been so painstakingly designed.

Be sure that you take every bit of the amount of time you spend on planning, on designing and implementing the execution side of your strategy. Execution is where the rubber meets the road and the difference between knowing where you want to go and being able to get there…

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Filed under Audience, Engagement, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, social media tool, Strategy, Tools