Tag Archives: human

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

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.

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

Crossing The Lines Of Social Media And Real Life

Social Media TechSocial media gets real when relationships grow into real life connections. Whether it be customers walking into your store, phone calls to further conversations or video chats resulting in a deeper relationship, IRL (in real life) needs to be a part of your social media strategy.

We have become so digital that many no longer touch, feel and connect in real life. The power, reach and efficiency that social media marketing provides is undeniable, but what are we missing? Deep human connection can only go so far within the digital realm. For many, the IRL component is required in order to take a business relationship to the next level. The fact is, technology is extremely useful, but technology will never make us human. In fact, if we are not careful it will do the opposite.

A good friend of mine @jamesoliverjr pointed this video out to me the other day, and it struck such a cord that I had to share it.

Ask yourself these questions…

  • What is your IRL social media marketing strategy?
  • Is your brand getting real with your audience on a human level?
  • Is the overuse of technology effecting your personal relationships in ways you haven’t considered?
  • Are you consciously taking time and making effort to get to coffee with friends, prospects and customer relationships you have in the social graph?

Here is an easy to follow path to moving a relationship toward real-life opportunities:

1) Identify a person you wish to deepen your relationship with.

2) Increase the amount of comments on and sharing of their content. Do this slowly over an extended period of time. Doing it too rapidly comes across kind of creepy. Good relationships are built over time, not in a few days.

3) Spend more time getting to know them and what they do through more frequent interactions. When in conversations, use them as opportunities to ask more personal questions about them. Remember what you learn and ask them about specific events and activities they mentioned that were coming up in your next conversations.

4) Raise the IRL idea casually. Try using phrases like – We should grab coffee sometime. We should chat sometime. I’d love to ask you some questions on a phone call if you some time. These soft approaches to raising the idea allows you to judge their willingness without backing them into a wall. If they give a positive response, simply ask when would be good for them. If the response is negative or cold, continue with steps 2 and 3 for an extended period of time before raising the issue again.

I am very proud that our company, a social media software firm, does a tremendous amount of IRL interaction with our customers and prospects. The results from these furthered relationships are easily measured and valued by both our company and our users. Don’t underestimate the value and impact that taking social media relationships outside of the social graph has. A cup of coffee, phone call or video chats deepens your social media relationships and makes a real human connection that cannot be achieved with technology alone.

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Filed under Marketing, Relationship, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Strategy

2013 Is About Wearing Social Media Shoes

It is fair to say that we have passed social media market penetration and most user segments are now engaged in at least one social network on a regular basis. Many marketers and businesses have learned to post, schedule and engage with an audience, ensuring that they have some level of presence within the social graph. All of which are extremely important. But what now?

walk a mile SocialMediaI see 2013 marking a shift of focus and one that is long overdue. As social media marketing continues to mature, what consumers expect is also maturing. Major brands and social media agencies are going to have to shift from a brand centric focus to a consumer interest focus. Small and medium brands and marketers will have to make this shift as well.

When I say “Wearing Social Media Shoes”, I am referring to the phrase and idea of walking in your customers shoes. In other words, putting yourself in their shoes and truly understanding your audience, who they are, what they are into, in order to better understand them and be able to focus your content and message in new and effective ways. Brands need to do a much better job at knowing their audiences likes and interests, thereby delivering content that fills those interests.  More importantly, using this information to provide a better experience for fans and followers by removing “over self-promotion”.

Social network users are catching up. They are becoming more savvy about social media and will more frequently to tune out a lot of the promotional posts that are becoming common. Social media agencies and marketers need to shift their content aggregation, posting and creation tactics to better focus on the prospect and their interests. Not doing so will cause disconnects physically and emotionally with ones community.

The great thing about the shift I see coming is that it mirrors human nature offline. Meaning that most people become much more engaged with others that discuss topics THEY are interested in. Since I view social media as a parallel universe to the real world, doing what you would do to build a relationship and a connection with people in the real world, works as well and faster in social media.

Here are SOME key things to consider when evaluating your audience and developing a social media content strategy:

1) Age/Gender

2) Geographical considerations

3) What are they searching for online?

4) Who else do they follow/like in social media?

Major brands will continue to be slow to adopt this change. They are some of the worst at proper social media marketing management. They are so used to everything being about them in direct marketing and advertising, don’t expect them to hurry to start posting more content that isn’t about them. Although, they will HAVE to…

The above four considerations will often guide you to the 3-5 max key topics that drive your audiences interests when they take part in social media. The better you do at determining who your audience is and what topics they are into, the more effectively your content strategy will be at creating conversation and building relationships.

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Filed under Agency, Community, Followers, Marketing, Relationship, Social content management, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Strategy

It’s Nearly Impossible To Become A Social Media Professional Part 4

This series has really got a ton of traction. When I say that I am not meaning traffic and all that, I am referring to mind shift. The idea that these fake experts and social media celebrities have taken over this industry has really struck a chord with more people than I thought. I mean many of us agree on the idea I present in this series, but I did not expect the up-in-arms mentality and desire many are displaying.

The number of people sharing experiences, calling people out by name and banning together around this idea has been nothing short of inspiring. Many of us have expressed these feelings to each other individually or in small groups, but it appears that it is going beyond that now. I got permission to share a few examples of what I have been seeing.

I received this comment from my long time friend @jayvee4you on the Part 3 post:

To which I responded:

“I am determined that we take back our industry from these folks that have created speaking and book careers and don’t/haven’t really done it!!!! Or at least aren’t doing now. If we do not stand up and control the message with proper, results driven content, we will all be out of work and a laughing stock like when this whole thing started…”

Following that, my friend @ilovegarick messaged me on Facebook with a conversation in process with one of these types we are talking about here. This situation typifies the issue we are facing, doesn’t it?

He went on to write about it, calling it “What’s Your Biggest Challenge in Social Media.” He wraps up with “So what’s my biggest challenge in social media then? It’s apparently not my original answer of ROI.  It is simply this: working with people who proclaim themselves as “social media gurus” and then pitch how they can work wonders for other businesses. They give those who know what they’re doing a bad name.”

I think it’s clear we are all getting frustrated with the state of the industry and how these “name” people are controlling the message and what eventually happens to us and the industry as a whole. I for one am not going to stand for that any longer. Will you?

So in the final post of this series, there are two things I want to convey. One for the social media professional specifically and one for everyone:

1) To the social media professional – We must take back our industry. The media have latched on to these authors and speakers, giving them credibility that they should not have. A book is not an indication of a social media professional and the size of their following or number of likes isn’t either and we all know this. What they DO themselves and the actual results are the proper indication of whether someone is a social media professional or not.

What can we do to take back the industry? For starters, let’s stop sharing content these folks produce, even if it is relevant to our audience. Let’s stop giving them credibility by engaging with them, if that opportunity in fact ever occurs. Let’s lead by example and produce results that are real and well beyond followers, Klout and perceptions. Finally, we must call these people out wherever possible and appropriate and reclaim the message and control.

2) Suggestions for everyone

Be very weary of anyone that claims being a social media expert or that do not do social media as they tell you and others to do for your social media strategy. Be very careful of those who consult on social media, but their social media is greatly lacking. Beware of those with huge followings that do not respond and engage.

RUN from those who are celebrities that consult big brands on social media marketing. Nothing they have to say is relevant to the average business. My fourteen year old daughter could design and execute a successful strategy for a major brand. Social media marketing for the small and mid-sized business is a completely different game!

Finally, stop following and giving credibility to these celebrity social media experts. You are far better off finding a handful of small to medium social media agencies whose feeds reflect the things you know are right, than to waste time learning things that will suck your time and lead you to poverty for your business.

Now let’s take this industry back and together mold it into the most effective marketing platform ever seen.

Part 1 – 3 of this series:  Part 1     Part 2     Part 3

**Footnote – Remember the social media expert that automates questions and ignores when people answer, yet professes to be a social media rock star for brands? Here’s how Monday night ended up on Garick’s post. Utterly amazing… Time? I make the time to respond to every single comment and question. It’s social media! Can you get any more arrogant?

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Filed under Agency, Followers, Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Strategy

It’s Nearly Impossible To Become A Social Media Professional Part 3

The next important thing to outline in this series is how to know whether the person you are watching, learning from and replicating their activity is doing it right. How do you know that what that “expert” is writing on their blog actually works or will work for you? How do you know if the person writing the book or article is really an “expert”? How do you know that the things they are doing in their social media activity that you are replicating actually does produce revenue and ROI?

The direct answer to these questions is, there is no real way to know for sure. I know that is not very helpful to hear and I realize that some of you reading this are now more frustrated than when you started with social media because of this answer. But the fact is, these people aren’t going to give you their profit and loss statements, their analytics or their sales numbers. Now days, anyone can write and publish a book, write a blog or be seen as an expert by an ignorant media. So the bottom line is that it is incumbent upon us to make the determination of who in fact is an expert, or at least a professional.

*Side note – In my humble opinion, there is no such thing as a social media expert, guru or ninja. This industry changes so quickly and is far too new to have established any of those yet. There are a lot ofcelebrities, and many professionals, but no experts.

Here are some things I do to determine whether I should listen to or replicate activity of someone who is considered to be a  social media expert or professional:

1) Walk the talk – After reading an article they’ve written, check their newsfeed to see if they actual do what they are telling you to do.

2) Blazing Blog Posts – One or more blog posts per day? Really? That makes you a blogger and someone looking to drive traffic to your blog, more than a social media professional. If you are actually doing social media effectively, you don’t have time to write quite that much. What’s worse is you are probably not writing everything you post and therefore it will be evident in your newsfeed activity that it’s not you writing.

3) Be my guest – One thing I have found is the people who have a ton of “guest” bloggers should be carefully scrutinized. Not ALL but many are taking advantage of other unsuspecting writers to further their web traffic. Want my articles? Then pay me!

4) Me first – Look for limited Retweeting, sharing or posting of other people’s content. As an example, I am in tribes on Triberr with many of these kinds of “name” industry experts. I don’t think they ever login and share other people’s posts that are in their tribe. I have stop sharing many of their content.

5) You work? – Look into exactly what it is that the so-called expert really does for a living. This always amazes me. You’re a social media expert, yet you are always speaking somewhere and never responding to people. Or the infamous, “monetized blog” people. They are web marketers whose entire focus is blog traffic for advertising or affiliate revenue. Is what they are telling you, really being driven by income from selling that product or does it really work? Pay attention…

6) The Train Jumper – I have pretty much got this one down now and can identify these people very quickly. Once something in the news happens, they are the first to write about it. The new network, the big social scandal, the latest application. If you were a social media professional, you wouldn’t be chasing every new shiny object in order to be the first to write about it. You would wait, observe and investigate. Train Jumpers are traffic hounds for a living.

7) Too good for you – Engage with the “expert”. Ask them a question. Retweet or share something they posted and wait. Do they respond? Do they answer your question? Do they do it in a timely fashion? Do they even thank you? *Remember their article you read about social media being about relationships??* (RED FLAG)

8) Check – Is the software, tool, activity they are deploying or talking about fit with how one might do something in the real world? If the equivalent activity in the real world would not go over well with people at a networking event, be very hesitant.

9) The Reviewer – Watch for the experts whose content is always about tools. If you’re an expert and have not already figured out the couple of tools it takes to get results, or worse you are constantly leading others down a tools chase, there is definitely a problem.

10) Gamers – Watch for people whose activity wreaks of gaming followers, friends and Klout scores. Lot’s of activity can achieve gains in these areas. Oddly, they also tend to diminish real revenue, relationship and results that actually matter. There are a lot of folks out there that do this in order to “appear” as somebody.

The really sad part is that I have coached a few people who have fallen into this celebrity trap. I won’t name any names, but people I have watched go from near zero to now being a blog and Klout machine, rarely engaging and chasing after and replicating the poor strategies of the celebrity, becoming one themselves. The problem is, I know them and know where they are really at in life and business. I can assure you that this no more make them rich than it does make them an expert.

This series and specifically this post might seem a but harsh to some, but perceptions can be very deceiving and I am tired of seeing good people who want to learn being taken down dark alleys that can potentially be ruining to them in business!

Part 1 & 2 of this series:  Part 1     Part 2    Part 4

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Filed under Agency, Followers, Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Strategy

3 Ways A Social Media Brand Account Can Be More Human

Last month I had a twitter conversation with a newer brand account. The conversation was around the human factor of social media marketing and how they were struggling with accomplishing this. Stating ” it is hard to be less business like and more personal”, to which I responded “hard? It’s required in Social Media”

Boiled down to it’s most basic elements, social media is two things. Value and Human. I have written about this before in a post that gets into the details of this fact and the importance of making brand accounts human.

Understanding that people make up social media, not logos or brands is important. Realizing that you’re not Starbucks or Pepsi should be a wake up call that you can’t do what they do in the social graph. People have and build relationships with other people, not logos. The more you make your account human and approachable, the further you will get with relationships and the better your results! Don’t be a stuffy robot in your social media marketing activity. Be human and approachable!

Here are my suggestions for making your social media account more human:

1) Bio/About information: Get a name, a person into the bio of your account. Twitter is far less formal than facebook, so get a person into the name field of the profile. Humanize the bio information to have some of your personality, not just information about the business.

2) Twitter Photo: Include someone’s photo in the account on Twitter. Nobody knows your company yet, so don’t try to be Starbucks. Get a photo into the account. The same goes for Linkedin. Be sure you have your photo in your account!

3) Posts: Take the time to post things that make your brand human. Talk about the weather, lunch and even weekend stuff. The more human you make your posts, the more approachable your account will be and the more relationships you will create.

Spend some time making your account about someone rather than exclusive about something. Human’s easily connect and build relationships with other humans, not logos.

**Note ** A follow up to this original post is now live – Click Here

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Filed under Facebook, Fanpage, Relationship, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Twitter