Category Archives: Strategy

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.


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

9 Characteristics Of Human, NOT Automated Social Media Marketing

Human characteristics of social media marketingThere are a few highly important things that separate big brand social media marketing from everyone else, and that is the human component. Big brands are able to focus their social media marketing on their brand, branding and advertising components that are centered around the company’s image and other major media advertising components. There is little human connection, conversation or relationship building coming out of the larger brands. The majority provide little to none selfless value and it is all about the creative and messaging, which by the way we enjoy seeing some of it.

The Big Brand Approach

As an example of how many larger brands approach social media marketing, I will share an example. I will not name the large beverage company, but I will say that I am a fan of their product and buy it regularly.

The story:

About two years ago, being a loyal consumer of a specific beverage, I decided to show my loyalty to them in social media. I mentioned them several times a week, shared pics of their packaging as I used it, etc. On a rare occasion I would receive a response or a thank you and I was good with that, but that soon completely ceased. In replace of the rare response, they began to engage ME on a weekly basis. Sounds good right? Not so fast…

The engagement I received from them, every single week hence forth was simply them tagging me about their latest news, product launch or promotion. You see, they realized I had influence within social media and decided to use me to further promote their brand. No relationship investment was every made on their part, no human connection or interest shown in me as a person or my company. Simply bold and direct promotional (spam).

They may get away with this with others, but not with me. I have completely disengaged with said brand on social and you know what? They never engaged with me again after I stopped mentioning or promoting their content. There is a difference between social media relationships and direct marketing. Most large brands do not care to understand this fact.

The Relationship Reality

At the end of the day, all non Fortune 5000 brands that are lacking the huge resources and established customer base, really need to look at and approach social media marketing very differently. Long term focus, care and gratitude with authenticity, combined with human connection is what gets results.

9 characteristics of social media marketing:

Here are just nine ways you can improve your human relationship perception in social media as well as identify other brands and connections that get it too.

1) Profile picture  – The account photo is of the real person behind the social account. This is mostly common for Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook personal accounts. However, as a brand matures on Twitter, building the brand beyond the main contacts personal image is important. Remaining human after that transition will determine how effective you are from there.

2) Profile Bio – Does their social media bio contain things about them as a person, not just a pitch for what they do? Relationships require personal connections, not just business needs. Today, business IS personal. Humanize your brand.

3) Responsive – When you mention or engage with them, do they actually respond? Do they respond in a timely manner, when you are still logged in?

4) Grateful – After sharing their content, is it met with gratitude in the form of a like, comment or reciprocation? This is something only humans do.

5) Interest – Humans show interest in others, not just themselves. Do they show interest in you and/or what you do?

6) Selfless Value – Their timeline is not just posts about them or what they do.

7) Conversations – Their timeline contains conversations with others.

8) Relevance – Their timeline contains relevant content you’re interested in, not solely their industry related things.

9) Real – A real person/personality is detectable behind the profile when you interact with them

The Perils Of Auto-pilot

The other opposite end of the spectrum from Big Brands are the newbie automation users. Those that send automated or manual sales messages as private messages on Twitter on LinkedIn, immediately or soon after connecting with them and without any relationship effort made on their part, they move right to pitching their wares. Another newbie auto-pilot tactic is using tools that tag others about your sales pitch in-stream based on something they posted previously, or any other contrived method. I could go on, but you get the idea.

The only place that in-feed or private message automation sees results is from newbies using it with/toward other newbies that do not yet know better. The brands and marketers that are using automation don’t understand social media and how relationships with long-term focus connect. Making matters worse is that new social network users who respond to these non-human automated tactics don’t either. The clicks garnered by the automation folks are short-lived and requires a constant stream of newbies in order to get traffic, clicks or results long-term.

This short sided tactic ultimately gets reported so much by more experienced users, and the reputation of automation marketers becomes clear to future new connections, so that it eventually slows and ceases to obtain even the smallest results.

Wrapping It Up

Spam is spam, whether it is done via email or within social media marketing. Failure to understand the personal, human level connection elements within this marketing medium means a lot of frustration, lack of real results and wasted time. If you are going to invest the time doing social media marketing, invest it in providing value, being human and present, while getting into conversations that build real relationships.


Filed under advertising, Audience, automation, Brand, Community, Content, Human, Marketing, Relationship, Social Media, social media automation, Social Media Marketing, 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?



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

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.


  • 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.


  • 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…


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

Part 3 – What Is Social Media Friction And How To Reduce It

Process and Workflow Social Media Friction in Social Media FrictionThis is our final post in our series about social media friction. So far, we have covered the broad definition of friction and also detailed one of the most common types, Promotional/Results Friction.

In our final blog on this topic, we are going to take a look at what is often the most challenging category of friction, Process/Workflow Friction.

What Is Process/Workflow Friction?

My definition of Process/Workflow Friction is anything within your daily social media management processes and that is inefficient and requires diverting your attention from effectiveness.

Consider process/workflow friction as the required elements of your daily workflow that is not smooth, requires more time than it should or involves tasks and tools that do not seamlessly work together. Conversely, frictionless process/workflow would be having everything across your social media management tasks highly efficient and effective, leaving your time and focus on engagement, conversations and relationship building.

Consequences Of Process Friction:

Whether you are consciously aware of it or not, when there is friction in your daily social media workflow, your effectiveness and results are impacted negatively. Though we know that doing social media properly requires an incredible amount of time and resources, where your time is being spent is the crucial factor, not how much time you are spending.

Workflow friction in social media marketing typically manifests for one of two reasons. Though the reason you are experiencing friction in your daily processes matters, identifying friction points and reducing them should ultimately be the priority.

Workflow Friction Reasons:

1) Undefined Processes: Probably the most prevalent reason marketers experience workflow friction with their social media marketing is undefined processes. This can include things like a nonexistent strategy, improper strategy or misunderstanding of how to utilize social media effectively.

Without the proper knowledge and experience to execute effectively, strategy and process can become completely disconnected.

2) Incorrect Tools: The definition on insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Unfortunately, many social media marketers do just that. They are using a myriad of disconnected inefficient tools that result in numerous friction points in their daily required tasks.

Many of these tools and workflow issues inadvertently create additional promotional/results friction that only tends to compound the lack of results. An example is tools that are suggesting curated content for you based on what’s popular and already being shared by your peers. If you want results with your social media marketing, be sure you have control of content selection in an efficient way. There’s nothing that will more negatively affect your content curation strategy than sharing popular content everyone has already read and shared or worse, content that is not targeted to the audience you are trying to reach.

Finally, any tools that are automatically posting to your timelines, tagging other people or duplicating what you see others automatically posting, is creating friction in your social media results. Avoid all such tools if you want to reduce friction with your workflow and results.

Identifying Workflow/Process Friction:

Efficiency without improved results, does not impact your overall effectiveness. Reducing and removing friction in your daily social media management should manifest in not only improved efficiency, but also effectiveness and net, real results. It is extremely important that you understand this difference if you are going to get the most out of your social media marketing efforts.

Ask yourself a few questions:

Is your current workflow scalable? – In other words, are you able to scale up volumes, clients and required tasks without an impact on your time and resources using your current processes. If the answer is no, you have friction in your workflow.

Am I spending more time on process than I am on results? – If you are spending more than 35% of your time managing social media posting, hashtagging, scheduling, determining marketing message posts, etc, you have friction in your workflow.

As social media becomes more mature and platforms continue to make changes that affect your ability to reach your audience, being consistent, efficient and effective will become even more important. Identifying the friction you have in your workflow, tools and processes will be something that you can no longer overlook. The pain points that your social media management friction are inflicting on you daily will begin to show up in diminishing returns if left to continue. Identify and reduce the friction that is keeping you from realizing the achievable results that social media can deliver when done properly.

Read Part 1

Read Part 2


Filed under Friction, Marketing, Results, Social Media, social media automation, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Strategy