Tag 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.

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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

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

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.

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Read Part 2

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

Part 2 – What Is Social Media Friction And How To Reduce It

Promotional/Results friction in social media marketing - Part 2In our first post of this series, we attempted to define and detail social media friction and the general consequences it can have on your overall social media management and results. We also listed two of the main friction groups that most marketers need to focus on, which were 1) Promotional/Results Friction and 2) Process/Workflow Friction.

In this second blog post of this series, we are going to focus on the friction that often accompanies Promotion and Results.

What Is Promotional/Results Friction?

My definition of Promotional/Results friction is anything that hampers your social media marketing results.

Think of this kind of social media friction as anything you are doing or not doing that creates friction between your community and what you do/are marketing. Conversely, frictionless promotional/results would be having everything across your social accounts easily understood, discoverable and found.

Examples Of Results Friction:

1) Poor BIO – You are creating friction with your promotional results if your bio is done in such a way that people leave having no real idea what you do. This is a common friction point across the social graph.

2) No Link – If you are using social media for marketing and have no link in your bio, on your page or profile, you are creating friction between your connections and results. Along the same lines is having multiple links in your profile. Keep it simple and frictionless for your connections.

3) Bad SMO – Bad social media optimization of your website, blog or other web properties is a common friction point in social media marketing. Remove the friction by ensuring you have links to your social accounts prominently displayed on the top right of every site/page your audience visits. Make it easy for them to connect with you and your brand wherever THEY want to. Friction is making this a difficult task for your community.

4) Bad Landing Pages – Do you know where you are sending your connections when they click the link(s) in your personal and brand social accounts. Is there unified messaging on the pages? Are you confusing your prospects on social media with messaging on your website or landing pages that are unclear?

All of these examples can create friction that is effecting your bottom line results. Strive to create a frictionless experience for your audience and make everything easy to understand.

Identifying Results Friction:

Many of these friction points can be easily identified by simply reviewing your social accounts with these things in mind. Less obvious friction points can be discovered by paying attention to your audience and their interactions with you.

Are people asking what you do? – If people have to ask what you do, you have created friction with your social media marketing. If you frequently get this question, you definitely need to examine your profiles, messaging and landing pages to determine the friction points that are causing the confusion.

Do people seem uninterested in what you do when you bring it up? – There are usually two scenarios that cause this:

1) You have a product or service they don’t want/need

2) They do not understand what you do and don’t want to appear dumb by asking.

Here’s something to help you conceptualize frictionless promotional/results – “Conversion = Providing value greater than cost with a process that easily facilitates the customers decision” @fondalo

Social media marketing and management is challenging in and of itself. Making it more difficult to achieve results by adding friction between your community and what you do is liken to shooting yourself in the foot. Identify and the promotional/results friction that exists in your marketing efforts and take immediate conscious steps to reduce and remove them.

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

Part 1 – What Is Social Media Friction And How To Reduce It

There are two absolutely required components for successful social media marketing, Strategy and Execution. When these important elements work together and are done properly, social media results are not only achievable, but they can be expected. Understanding and identifying the friction points that are inevitably present within these two components can be challenging. More importantly,  reducing the friction within your social media management is crucial to your social media success.

What Is Social Media Friction and How to reduce itUnfortunately, there is a significant difference between strategy and execution. There is often an even wider gap between strategy and the ABILITY to execute a social media strategy efficiently and effectively. Often this chasm between strategy and execution is due to unidentified frictions in workflow, processes and tools being used in the social media management process.

Consider workflow to be specific processes, functions and procedures that are required in order to fulfill your social media strategy. These elements are made up of all of the tasks you do (or need to do) on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Clearly defining these tasks in detail and creating processes and procedures to implement them in an efficient and scalable way is what workflow is all about. Anything that gets in the way of that workflow causes friction in your ability to execute the strategy, do it efficiently or even achieve your overall strategic objectives.

So What Is Social Media Friction?

Merriam-Webster’s defines the word friction three ways: the act of rubbing one thing against another; the force that causes a moving object to slow down when it is touching another object; and the disagreement or tension between people or groups of people. Though some of use could conceptually tie some of these definitions somewhat theoretically to social media, they don’t quite fit.

My definition of social media friction is any process, workflow, tool or hindrance to the smooth and efficient execution of a comprehensive social media strategy. Furthermore, friction can also be any obstacle or resistance encountered by members of your community to engage with you, discover what you do or to buy or inquire about your product or services.

In social media, friction can be any function that resists the fluid momentum and execution of progress toward the overall goal objective or objective of a defined strategy. Am I getting too technical here?

There are typically two kinds of social media marketing friction that negatively impact effective and efficient execution.

1) Promotional/Results Friction

2) Process/Workflow Friction

Often times social automation or sales automation technologies are deployed in an attempt to reduce these two friction points, but if the wrong automation is utilized, they can actually increase friction with your audience. (More on that in later posts in this series)

What’s The Cost Of Friction?

Friction cost is the direct or even indirect costs associated with the friction within your social media marketing. Friction can include actual hard costs and fees for things like inefficient or ineffective tools or even additional staffing. Some of the more difficult to measure are opportunity costs, resulting from missed sales opportunities and overall lack of results with social media marketing.

Can Friction Be Good?

There are some mechanics in life and business where friction can be a good thing. For example, without friction you would not be able to deploy brakes on your car and bring it to a stop. In business, some bureaucratic friction is required for decision-making and spending in order to make such things more measured and controlled.

However, within social media marketing identifying and reducing the friction forces that hinder smooth effective execution is a sticking point that many overlook. During this series we will attempt to dissect the discovery and reduction of social media friction that many marketers face and provide some solutions that will enable you to make adjustments.

What are the main friction points in your social media management?

Read Part 2 Here

Read Part 3 Here

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