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Category Archive: Social Media Marketing

  1. Will Organic Social Media Reach Become a Thing of the Past?

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    articleimage1558 Will Organic Social Media Reach Become a Thing of the Past

    For years, social media brands like Facebook have taken to gradually decreasing the amount of reach any single post from a corporate brand could have. While Facebook doesn’t explicitly publicize the numbers, it has acknowledged the phenomenon that so many business owners have experienced firsthand: organic reach is steadily going down.

    Facebook has been tactful about explaining the causes for this. Though most marketers and business owners suspect that it’s a clever move to gradually get more businesses to pay for advertising space on the platform, Facebook insists that the decline is merely a way to maximize the relevance of the average user’s newsfeed. A smaller percentage of visible posts in a newsfeed means those that remain are more important, and pre-selected to be valuable to the user in question.

    Of course, Facebook isn’t alone in this move—Twitter and LinkedIn have implemented similar measures. So with no end for social media advertising in sight and an organic reach that seems to keep declining, will the organic reach of social media posts eventually disappear entirely?

    Factors for a Decline in Organic Reach

    articleimage1558 Factors for a Decline in Organic Reach

    There are a handful of reasons why organic reach on social media might continue to decline, at least for the next several years.

    Increasing advertising opportunities

    Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and even Snapchat are experimenting with bold new ways for paying advertisers to reach their audience. Facebook, for example, has introduced a kind of social shopping platform, and every year it introduces new features and functions for its core advertising platform. Pinterest, as another great example, is pushing for a new kind of social media/e-commerce hybrid app with its latest expanding feature, buyable pins. These increasing advertising opportunities are a sign that social media apps are getting serious about monetizing their platforms for businesses. That alone is enough incentive to keep organic reach as low as possible.

    Greater social media power

    Social media marketing once seemed like a superfluous and unpredictable investment, but as the years roll on, more brands are discovering that social media is a phenomenon that’s here to stay. Similarly, user numbers for every reasonably popular social media platform are constantly on the rise. The major players like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn gradually gain more power, and accordingly, they can afford to ask more of their corporate users. Consider it a “first taste free” effect—now that social media marketing is being taken seriously, social media apps have taken it upon themselves to ratchet up the stakes.

    Less wiggle room for profitability

    Historically, social media platforms have been overvalued. Because of their early popularity and impressive functionality, investors and stakeholders have enjoyed a mini economic bubble of interest. Now that social media platforms are commonplace (and tend to pop up in new iterations regularly), investors and stakeholders are more concerned with the practicality of these apps—even the established players. That means these applications have less wiggle room than they used to for profitability, and that means stepping up their ad revenue by any means necessary—including reducing organic reach.

    Factors for Neutrality or an Increase in Organic Reach

    articleimage1558 Factors for Neutrality or an Increase in Organic Reach

    On the other hand, there are also reasons why organic reach might maintain the same level, or even increase after a period of time.

    New forms of content

    Social media platforms are evolving in many distinct different directions, with most of them offering new ways of communicating with audiences. Facebook, for example, is introducing a new messenger function that will make it easy for brands to communicate with customers directly about issues, questions, and concerns. Platforms like Periscope and Meerkat offer direct, live streaming video views to users—a medium that would be difficult to capture as a form of advertising. These new, innovative ways of communicating with audiences mean that while traditional status updates and posts may get less reach, new forms of organic reach will arise in different areas.

    Social competition

    There’s no shortage of social media platforms out there, and that level of competition is a boon for corporations torn between managing a presence on all of them. If one platform completely does away with organic reach, it’s likely that a chunk of their corporate users would abandon the platform in favor of another with more organic potential—especially if they had a tight budget. This keeps every social media platform loosely in check with the others, guaranteeing some level of organic reach on each of them.

    Personal brand reach

    No matter what social media platforms do to corporate brands, they can never get rid of the organic potential of their personal users. These individual users are the reason why advertising is profitable for the platforms, so the organic reach of their posts will continue to exist uninterrupted, indefinitely. Corporate brands feeling the pain of an ever-restricted organic reach can simply rely more on personal brands to supplement their communicative potential.

    It seems unlikely that organic social media reach will ever disappear, though it may continue to decline, especially for less reputable or emergent brands. To counteract this, you’ll need to continue striving for higher and higher quality posts, rely more on personal brands to get your message across, enlist the help of multiple social platforms to hedge your bets, and consider incorporating a bit of paid social advertising into your campaign. As long as you continue to produce what your followers and customers want to see, no platform will ever cut off your organic reach completely.

  2. How to Respond to a Social Media Crisis in 5 Steps

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    No matter how careful you are, there’s always the chance that you’ll run into a major social media catastrophe. Maybe you posted something in jest that offended the wrong crowd. Maybe you accidentally sent a reply that was meant to be a direct message. Maybe something happened with your product or software, and your social feeds are blowing up with angry responses from other online users. In any case, your social reputation is in serious jeopardy and you have a limited amount of time to try and mitigate those losses.

    If you find yourself in the midst of a social media crisis, don’t panic. Instead, focus on completing these five steps:

    1. Stop the bleeding.

    articleimage1530 Stop the bleeding

    Your first course of action should be to stop the bleeding—that is to stay, prevent any further damage from being done. There’s nothing you can do to reverse what’s already happened, but you can take action to prevent anything else from stacking on top of it. For example, if you’ve posted something borderline offensive that seems to be riling people up, take the post down. If there’s an issue with your software causing people to angrily post on your timeline, connect with your developers and try to start fixing the issue.

    The goal here isn’t to pretend like the incident didn’t happen (see the next step), but rather to prevent any further spread that you have the power to prevent. Most of the time, this simply means taking down the material in question, but there’s a limit to how much you can do.

    2. Address the situation.

    articleimage1530 Address the situation

    One of the worst things you can do is try to cover the incident up. The social media world is public, observant, and fast, and if you try to stop information from spreading, that’s only going to make people want to spread it more. For example, if you posted something that wasn’t meant for public eyes and you try to delete posts that recognize this mistake, you’ll only encourage those users to post more aggressively.

    Instead, address the situation directly. If you’ve made a mistake or have in some way damaged your reputation in the eyes of your users, you can start out with a sincere apology. If there’s a situation still underway, such as a software outage, you can post all the details you currently have on the subject and assure your followers that you’re working hard to correct it. The more open and transparent you are, the less backlash you’re liable to face (and the less interest people will have in rubbing your nose in it).

    3. Respond to other followers.

    articleimage1530 Respond to other followers

    Every follower’s voice matters. Every response counts. It’s your job to get on social media and respond to as many individuals as possible. If you’re a major national brand and this incident has gone viral, there’s little hope for you to respond to every single individual. If that’s the case, just do your best. A little individual acknowledgement is usually enough to make even the most vocal dissenters quiet down (at least for the moment).

    In your responses, be sincere, and show that you’re actually listening. Don’t post a canned response over and over again or you’ll look like a robot and open yourself to more criticism. Instead, acknowledge your followers’ complaints and concerns specifically and offer your sincere thoughts on the matter (apologizing again, if necessary).

    4. Offer penance.

    articleimage1530 Offer penance

    Once the first wave of responders have been addressed and a calm begins to set in, you can take the next step—offering penance. Most crises arise from some kind of mistake or mishap by a brand that negatively affects its followers in some way. If this is the case, it’s your job to try and make it up to them.

    How you make it up to them is completely up to you. A little bribery is usually welcome here, such as offering free products or discounts to anyone who was personally affected by the incident. You could also simply explain the situation and acknowledge what you’re going to do to make sure it never happens again. It’s also a good idea to give people a piece of contact information they can use to contact your company directly if they have further concerns—it shows you want to go out of your way to make things right.

    5. Analyze the root of the problem and prevent it from happening again.

    articleimage1530 Analyze the root of the problem and prevent it from happening again

    This may be the most important step, since it’s going to help you prevent problems like this from arising in the future. Do a thorough review of all the steps that eventually led to this catastrophe, including who’s in charge of posting on social media, what steps were or were not followed, and any influencing factors that could have been addressed before the problem began to escalate. Determine if there’s any corrective action you can take to prevent a similar incident arising, and if there is, take it.

    These five steps should be enough to get you out of even the most threatening social media crises. There’s no way to prevent all the damage, especially for larger blowups, but you can at least decrease it to a minimum and set yourself up for a speedy, graceful recovery. Even the best-prepared, most careful brands can encounter unfortunate situations. All you can do is manage their effects and prevent them from happening as much as possible in the future.

  3. The 7 Fears Stopping Entrepreneurs From Marketing on Social Media

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    Social media marketing is one of the greatest, yet most widely understood developments in the marketing world of the past decade. While some companies have risen to prominence based almost solely on their social media prowess, others have found it to be a waste of time, and still others flat-out refuse to adopt the strategy in any capacity.

    The underlying motivation for abandoning or ignoring social media marketing in most business owners is fear, though that fear can manifest in a number of different ways. These seven fears are all commonplace in the business world, and they’ve unfortunately stopped thousands of business owners from ever giving social media marketing a chance:

    1. They don’t understand “how it works.”

    articleimage1485 they don’t understand how it works

    Some business owners have convinced themselves that social media platforms are foreign, alien things that you can only understand if you’re a teenager or a millennial. They haven’t taken a moment to learn how Facebook timelines work, or why Twitter is used for different types of interactions than LinkedIn. The problem here is a reluctance to learn a new system from the outset, as the learning process is typically pretty straightforward. A few hours on any platform are all it takes for even a novice user to grow accustomed to the basics—and in many cases, the basics are all you need to be effective.

    2. They’re overwhelmed by the options available.

    articleimage1485 They’re overwhelmed by the options available

    Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+, and Tumblr are just a handful of the most popular social media apps available. That number grows bigger every day, and to make things worse, there are multiple ways for businesses to use every platform. The sheer number of options is overwhelming to an uninitiated party. However, you don’t need to be involved on every platform, posting all the time. In fact, the more focused you are with your strategy, the better—the key is identifying which platform(s) will be the most relevant and most profitable to pursue.

    3. They don’t want to hire someone new.

    articleimage1485 They don’t want to hire someone new

    Social media marketing is often seen as a new wing of marketing, and in order to tackle it, an entrepreneur would need to hire someone new who specializes in it. That means a significant extra cost for a questionable long-term benefit. However, a full-time person is rarely necessary for a social media marketing strategy (except for some larger brands and corporations, who might even need multiple people). For most small- to mid-sized businesses, social media responsibilities can be absorbed by a writer, an SEO or other marketing contact, or even split up and divided amongst your core team.

    4. They don’t understand its purpose.

    articleimage1485 They don’t understand its purpose

    The purpose of social media marketing is debatable, but too many entrepreneurs are skeptical of its benefits simply due to how it’s been presented to them. The reality is, social media marketing isn’t some magical portal that will suddenly flood paying customers to your business. It has a number of subtle benefits, such as increasing your visibility on the web (and providing information to social-savvy customers), but most importantly, it can drive lots of people to your website. From there, it’s a separate responsibility to optimize your site for conversion.

    5. They don’t want to change from traditional advertising and networking.

    Some entrepreneurs are so familiar with traditional methods of networking and advertising (such as printed ads and in-person networking), they refuse to change to anything different. However, adopting social media marketing as a business doesn’t necessitate that you instantly drop all your other efforts. Your traditional and social media efforts can be held in balance with one another, giving you the best of both worlds (should you choose to continue with both).

    6. They don’t see the value.

    The objective value of social media is hard to calculate, and as a result, it scares many entrepreneurs away. If an entrepreneur spends a few hundred dollars a month (or even a few hours a week), they want to be convinced that the time and money is going to yield a positive ROI. Since most of social media’s effects are indirect or hard to measure, it can be difficult to calculate its precise added revenue potential. Still, the increase in traffic alone should be enough to justify your investment, even in the short term.

    7. They aren’t convinced it has lasting power.

    Some entrepreneurs see social media marketing as just a fad that’s going to pass in a few years when everyone gets sick of it. But like it or not, social media is here to stay. Older apps like Facebook and Twitter are pushing the boundaries of what social apps can do, and new generations are constantly hungry for new breakthroughs in the medium. As long as people continue using technology as a means of communication, there will continue to be a space for social media marketing.

    Social media marketing isn’t as volatile or as questionable as it seems to be. If properly understood and implemented, it can yield a positive ROI for almost any business. It’s true that it will take time, effort, and research for your business to use it effectively, but the same can be said of any marketing strategy.

    Ultimately, you don’t have much to lose. If you’ve thus far been reluctant to adopt any social media strategy, give it a shot! Signing up for most platforms is free, and even a minimal investment of time can lead to a worthwhile result.

  4. 7 Rules of Social Media Etiquette for Personal Brands

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    Etiquette is no longer limited to just the physical realm. Consider your personal brand on social media to be the digital representation of yourself. Obviously, you want to build up your authority as much as possible by connecting with specific people, sharing great content, and creating a reputation for yourself in the industry, but there are also unwritten, subtle, societal rules that you’ll have to follow if you want to maintain that reputation and authority.

    These rules might not seem like a big deal, but if you break one of them, you could critically damage your personal brand’s image:

    1. Never send blind invites.

    Never send blind invites

    Building a strong personal brand means making lots of new connections, as more connections leads to more leads, more readers, more sales, and a better image for those meeting you for the first time. As such, it’s tempting to send out as many invites as possible, even to people that you don’t know personally. Some people are perfectly fine with getting invites from people they don’t know, especially on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, but some people take it as an invasion of privacy and might think of you differently as a result. Don’t be afraid to send an invite to anyone you’ve made contact with—even if it’s just in the form of a simple comment in an online thread. The real problem is with completely blind, unwanted invites.

    2. Only ask for shares occasionally.

    There’s a principle on social media that’s been heavily abused; if you ask your followers to share something, they’ll be more likely to do it. However, this only works if done occasionally. I’ve seen dozens of different people telling their followers to share or retweet practically every post they come up with. Doing so makes you seem spammy and only interested in gaining more followers. If you want to use this strategy, preserve your reputation and use it the right way—only ask for shares with content that you feel particularly strong about.

    3. Respect others’ blogs and brands.

    Respect others’ blogs and brands

    Your personal brand isn’t the only one that’s around, and it isn’t the only one that carries influence. If you want to be successful, you’ll need to respect and help out the other blogs and personal brands in your industry. For example, if you notice a fellow industry professional sharing one of your articles, return in kind by sharing one of theirs. Pay attention to what they’re saying and writing, and participate in the conversations that they start. Inject yourself as a part of the community, rather than segregating yourself as being “above” the community. Ignoring others can damage your reputation.

    4. Share only what is valuable.

    Share only what is valuable

    Every post you make has potential to increase your brand’s visibility, and the more followers you have, the truer this becomes. Unfortunately, many personal brands have taken this as an indication that they should share as much as possible as often as possible, sharing every post they deem even remotely interesting. This cycle of constant updating will sap your time, but more importantly, will eventually register as white noise to your audience. It’s your job to sort out what’s truly worth sharing and what isn’t, and if you neglect this step, your audience will simply stop listening to you.

    5. Don’t directly advertise.

    directly advertise

    Advertising your products or services directly with your personal brand these days can be considered a breach of etiquette. For example, if you offer financial consulting services, you might gain value by posting articles, comments, and insights about best practices in personal finance. But the minute you post something like “contact me for a free quote today,” your followers will see you as an advertiser, rather than a trusted, authoritative resource, and your credibility will shrink. There’s nothing wrong with calling people to a site or a landing page that does the work for you, but directly advertising this way is a breach of trust and etiquette.

    6. Spell and construct your messages carefully.

    This has a bigger impact than you realize. Misspelling a word or sending out an update with a grammatical error so bad the message can barely be recognized will instantly alienate your followers. Take the extra time to proofread and double check your message’s appearance. One breach of this rule can be a harmful blow to your reputation as a thought leader.

    7. Always respond.

    It’s called “social” media for a reason. It isn’t a monologue. It isn’t designed as a speaking platform. It’s designed as a conversation platform, and if you want to earn a good reputation for your personal brand, you need to use it as a conversation platform. Whenever someone comments on your articles, asks you a question, or replies to one of your posts, it’s your job to respond. Thank people for sharing your articles. Answer their questions. Reply to their queries. The engagement factor is critical for personal brands especially, so don’t breach etiquette by ignoring someone’s response.

    These rules of social media etiquette are new and still somewhat malleable. Nobody’s going to physically punish you or chastise you for breaking one, but if you follow them consistently, you should see more followers, more engagement, and a better overall reputation. Think carefully before you take any action on social media, and take your personal brand seriously. The last thing you want is to come off as a spammer, a jerk, or even worse—someone completely ignorant of social media etiquette.

  5. 7 Ways to Get an Influencer’s Attention on Social Media

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    Influencers are gatekeepers to significant visibility and traffic in social media. With respect and authority in a wide circle or a specific niche, influencers generally command the attention of thousands of followers. One share of your content with that audience could instantly improve your credibility and get thousands of more eyes on your content.

    The problem is that influencers are busy, well-connected people. Getting one to take time out of their day to share a piece of content you wrote, presumably only to help you meet your end goals, isn’t always easy. Tons of people try to talk to them on a daily basis, and standing out in the crowd is difficult.

    Still, you can use these seven tactics to gain an influencer’s attention:

    1. Share a piece of their content.

    articleimage1426 Share a piece of their content

    Shares are almost a form of currency on social media. Sharing another user’s content instantly broadens its potential audience and visibility, which garners appreciation from the receiving party. Obviously, your goal is to get an influencer to share your content, but to do that, you first have to offer a favor of your own. Share the influencer’s content with your audience—even though an influencer might be accustomed to seeing their content shared, they’ll likely notice the gesture and might return it with a share of their own, especially if you share their content regularly. You’re basically doing them a favor in the hopes that they’ll soon return it.

    2. Get involved in a notable discussion.

    articleimage1426 Get involved in a notable discussion

    Influencers thrive on community discussions. They’ll track trending topics and look for other influencers to start a conversation, then jump in with their own opinions. Your job is to find these conversations, using search features and social listening tools, and jump in with your own set of opinions. Reply to influencers directly and show off your expertise—if you disagree with them and back up your points strongly, or if you offer evidence in favor of their opinions, they’ll instantly notice you. Do this two or three times, and they won’t be able to forget you. You’ll immediately be on their radar.

    3. Comment frequently on their posts.

    articleimage1426 Comment frequently on their posts

    Influencers don’t spawn out of the ether. They work hard to build up a social community, and it’s the power of their followers that puts (and keeps) them in a top position. As a result, they love and are very loyal to their most active followers. If you can become one of those top followers you’ll earn the notice, respect, and appreciation you need from almost any influencer. The best way to do this is to comment frequently on their posts, offering your sincere opinion and hopefully, something of value to build on the conversation. The more active you are and the more intelligent your insights are, the better.

    4. Give them something valuable.

    articleimage1426 Give them something valuable

    Some might consider this a form of bribery, but I disagree with the association. Giving an influencer something valuable can instantly win their attention, making them far more likely to do you a favor in exchange. For example, if you’re looking for more visibility for a new product you’re rolling out, you can send a free sample to your influencer of choice with a request that they write up a review of the product. More than a bribe, it’s a sign of respect and goodwill, which may or may not result in the development of a mutually beneficial relationship.

    5. Offer them an opportunity.

    articleimage1426 Offer them an opportunity

    Influencers see value in more than just objects—they love to see opportunities, which offer intangible benefits for their personal brand. For example, if you run a reasonably successful podcast on topics related to the influencer’s range of expertise, you can offer them a spot as guest host for a day, or even interview them live. Such an offer has clear benefits for the influencer, and can also lend a credibility boost to your brand. Even better, it opens the door for future interactions.

    6. Find something unique you have in common.

    There are tons of companies and individuals in your industry, and all of them have something in common with your influencer of choice. Look for something they don’t have in common with them—for example, were you born in the same city as your influencer? Are you fans of the same sports team? Starting a conversation with an item like this gives you a more personal introductory connection. From there, you can expand to topics about your industry, and eventually start exchanging favors and connections.

    7. Ask them for help.

    Finally, you can go out on a limb and ask an influencer directly for help. This won’t help you stand out from the crowd, and you’ll likely get ignored, but it doesn’t take a lot of time and your bluntness might be refreshing to an influencer who’s tired of sycophants. The best way to use this strategy is in a mass format, reaching out to multiple influencers the same way. Even if only one responds, you’ll still reap the benefits of the resulting share.

    Once you’ve gotten an influencer’s attention, you can start building a mutually beneficial relationship with them. Engage regularly in the form of comments, shares, and messages, and work together to achieve both of your goals. Remember, influencers are busy people with limited time—you have to make it worth their while to help you out.

  6. 7 Social Media Updates to Watch for Next-Gen Social Marketing

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    Social media changes all the time, and if you want to stay relevant and outpace your competition, you’ll need to keep up with those changes as they roll out. Jumping in months after a trend has already begun to settle will make you appear outdated, but if you can get onboard with a strategy just before it catches on, you’ll be able to ride the tide and succeed far better than your competition.

    For most marketers, the problem isn’t in the execution phase. It’s all about the timing. It’s difficult (and nearly impossible) to determine what the next phases of technology hold for businesses and consumers, so many entrepreneurs avoid making a change until it’s already too late.

    The next few years should be dynamic and exciting as user demand sparks even faster changes to social media platforms. If you want to stay ahead of your competition, keep watch for these potential new shifts in the social media market:

    1. Algorithmic Insights and Updates.

    articleimage1410 Algorithmic Insights and Updates

    Today, almost all updates are written and made by people—even the ones that sound robotic were probably written and scheduled in advance by human creators. In the near future, publishers and social landscapes in general will rely on more algorithmically generated content. Artificial intelligence algorithms with the ability to create natural-sounding written articles already exist, and will only grow more powerful as the years progress, and Twitter is experimenting with an update called Moments, which would aggregate live user content into small packages based on unfolding events. This means individual content will be emphasized less as the years progress.

    2. Greater Buying Power.

    articleimage1410 Greater Buying Power

    Facebook and Pinterest are just two examples of major social media companies introducing new “buy” functionality into their apps. With the click of a button, users can now buy products that they see in advertisements on their newsfeeds. In the next few years, this functionality will likely expand—both in terms of the number of products and contexts where users can buy and the number of platforms that support this functionality. Users may soon become reliant on social apps to make their purchases, and marketers will need to adapt to that new preference.

    3. Demand for In-the-Moment Updates.

    articleimage1410 Demand for In-the-Moment Updates

    Social platforms seem to be evolving in a direction that favors in-the-moment updates over retrospective end-of-the-day updates. For example, Snapchat and Periscope thrive on live, immediate updates, and users have grown accustomed to this level of relatability. Images and videos that are even a few hours old don’t seem to carry the same level of power as ones that have been taken just seconds ago. As users and platforms continue to support this shift, eventually pre-scheduled posts will become less and less effective.

    4. Blurrier Lines Between Digital and Real.

    articleimage1410 Blurrier Lines Between Digital and Real

    Mobile device use has been on the rise for years, and now wearable devices are starting to emerge on the scene. Users are getting used to having 24-7 access to the Internet and all their apps, and they’re starting to get used to the idea that the “digital” world is simply an extension of reality. Eventually, location-based marketing will offer even stronger, more immersive functionality, and local businesses will need to adopt it if they want to stay competitive.

    5. Integrated Apps.

    One of Facebook’s latest strategies has been to embed and integrate tons of new apps and functions within its core application to dissuade more users from ever leaving the app. For example, it now boasts a streamlined Messenger platform compatible with many other chat platforms, and an in-page search engine that helps users find information to include in their status updates. This trend will likely grow, giving marketers more opportunities than ever before to communicate and engage with a social audience.

    6. Slow Decline of Written Content.

    Visual content is all the rage today. Images and videos vastly and universally outperform their written counterparts, though their prohibitive cost of creation still keeps them from being the sole format of choice for content marketers. As platforms and users grow in the next few years, I imagine we’ll see a slow decline in the value and prevalence of written content. If you want to get ahead of the game, start getting used to creating your own visual content—and prepare for even stranger mediums to come.

    7. Fewer Independent Channels.

    Today, it seems like new social media platforms creep up daily. The big three—Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—still dominate the majority of social users’ time, but newer, smaller platforms are constantly vying for that attention. Already, bigger social platforms are trying to boost their own capabilities and limit the competition by gobbling up these smaller competitors. For example, Twitter recently acquired Periscope, a live video streaming service. In the next few years, expect to see the majority of big-time social media channels preventing these smaller companies from ever emerging. That means entrepreneurs will need to invest more time in the major players.

    Of course, it’s impossible to say with certainty exactly how and when these trends will manifest themselves. It’s on you to watch the news, keep up with the latest social media updates, and adjust your strategies accordingly. But if you can prepare for these shifts in the back of your mind, and start building in alternatives to your existing plans, you’ll be far ahead of the competition, and you’ll reap more followers and visitors as a result.

  7. 7 Personal Branding Mistakes to Avoid in Any Marketing Campaign

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    Personal branding is a strategy with tons of potential applications; you can use it as a kind of modern resume building to help you find a new job, use it as a platform for an independent business or consulting career, or even use it as an extension of a corporate brand. But no matter how you use it, there are certain strategies you’ll need to adopt, and best practices you’ll need to follow. Making a critical mistake can compromise the effectiveness of your entire campaign, so just one oversight can set you back weeks or months of work.

    As you work to develop your personal brand, be sure to avoid these disruptive mistakes:

    1. Not Having Targets.

    articleimage1409 Not Having Targets

    Too many new personal branders go in thinking they need to target everybody and everything. They don’t have a goal, per say, but know that the more connections they have, the better. This mentality is counterproductive because it spreads your efforts too thin over too wide a range. It’s far better to have a specific goal in mind—such as finding X number of new clients—and a specific audience to target—such as marketing professionals between the ages of 20 and 30. Only then will you be able to tailor your posts, networking targets, and time in a way that leads you to favorable results.

    2. Only Focusing on Social Media.

    articleimage1409 Only Focusing on Social Media

    Personal branding has enjoyed a great revolution thanks to the ubiquity and utility of social media. Sites like LinkedIn and Twitter have made it easy for almost anyone to get involved with a personal brand. However, relying only on social media can severely limit your potential audience. As a quick example, some people have sworn off social media entirely and only network at professional events. Others only use social media as a tool to engage with people who they’ve already met in real life. Going to live events and meeting people in real life is a good—and I would argue essential—compliment to your social strategy.

    3. Shelving Your Personality.

    articleimage1409 Shelving Your Personality

    Personal branding is a professional strategy meant to get you new clients or a new job. Accordingly, many networkers put on their “professional face” to engage with this audience. There’s nothing wrong with adding a layer of formality to your written posts and requests for engagement, but don’t take this to the extreme. If you start loading your social media networks with buzzwords and bureaucratic nonsense, you’ll come off looking like a robot. People want to see you for who you are, and see what makes you unique. Give it to them by showing off your true personality, whenever you can.

    4. Blacking Out.

    articleimage1409 Blacking Out

    By “blacking out,” I don’t mean literally blacking out. I’m referring to succumbing to a period of limited content and interaction. If you’re committed to your personal brand, you should be posting, engaging, and participating in your chosen community on a near-constant basis—at least once a day. Blacking out in this context refers to going several days without posting anything or checking your notifications. Doing so can cause a hiccup in your content stream, and might alienate the people who have grown used to seeing you regularly.

    5. Switching Sides.

    articleimage1409 Switching Sides

    It’s good to pick sides as a thought leader in a given industry, so don’t be afraid to make bold predictions, make strong claims, and align yourself with one side of an especially heated debate. Even though it might irritate or push away a handful of your followers, the vast majority will respect you for choosing a side. However, one of the worst things you can do in personal branding is switch sides once you’ve already chosen one or the other. If you pick a side, remain consistent with it unless significant information changes the game.

    6. Exclusively Focusing on Yourself.

    The “personal” part of personal branding implies that you are at the center of all your efforts. You’re the one making the posts, you’re the one doing the interacting, and you’re the one building the reputation. However, if you want to be successful, you need to remember that other people are involved. If you want a dedicated follower, you have to make them interested in you. If you want a strong new connection, you have to give them something valuable (even if it’s only advice). In this way, personal branding is as much about others as it is about you.

    7. Taking No Metrics.

    Building a personal brand is about more than just updating your Facebook page every once in a while. It’s a full-fledged marketing strategy, and if you want to find lasting success, you’ll have to treat it that way. That means you’ll have to take careful measurements throughout the entirety of your strategy, including inbound traffic, new connections, and engagements, and see how these measurements change as you implement new strategies and tactics. Only then will you be able to see if all your efforts are worth it.

    Fortunately, when it comes to personal branding, no mistake is truly fatal. You’ll always have a chance to readjust your strategy, overcome a temporary weakness, and forge a path to a better future. But making up for those mistakes takes time, and the less time you spend covering old ground, the better. Learn from these mistakes before you make them, and you’ll keep yourself more consistent, more productive, and more successful in the long run.

  8. Why Conciseness Is the Most Important Quality for Social Media Posts

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    articleimage1399 Why Conciseness Is the Most Important Quality for Social Media Posts

    Any social media user or marketer will tell you that not all posts are created equal. There’s a certain “magic” to posts that have the capacity to go viral and circulate among thousands of users that simply isn’t there in the vast majority of posts. Analyzing and discovering these “magic” qualities has been the main focus of social media marketers for the better part of a decade.

    There are many qualities which, independently or together, can help a post be more popular (and accordingly, increase the value of a brand to its followers). For example, funny posts tend to get more shares, informational posts tend to get more attention, and controversial posts tend to garner more comments—with rare posts that embody all these qualities getting the best of all worlds.

    But there’s one quality of social media posts that matters far more than all the others, and it must be applied to your strategy if you want any hope of building and retaining a loyal social audience: conciseness.

    Why is conciseness so important when there are so many other qualities to consider?

    Users have short attention spans

    articleimage1399 Users have short attention spans

    It’s no secret that the majority of online users have short attention spans. Most people read headlines without clicking through to full articles and skim through the articles they do click through to. On social media, people are generally interested in short, fast updates—they might be scrolling through their newsfeeds on the go or checking in at work. But in most cases, users are either limited in time or are interested in seeing lots of updates in a short time period. That means each post gets less attention, which means you need to stuff as much information and value as possible into a limited amount of space.

    The built-in “BS” detector

    The overabundance of content and social media posts from major brands has created a kind of disillusionment in much of the social media population. People are hyper-aware that most brands on social media, even personal brands, are interested in selling them products or services as a bottom line. Any post is therefore treated with caution and suspicion, as users attempt to analyze whether or not the post has an ulterior motive. Keeping your posts short and sweet makes them more authentic, more straightforward, and more believable. Conciseness, in a way, circumnavigates the built-in “BS” detector that so many social users have developed.

    Higher value per post

    articleimage1399 Higher value per post

    Think of conciseness this way: making a post concise is a matter of taking a post, stripping away the least valuable parts of it, and leaving the most valuable parts. This “value” can be information, entertainment, surprise, or anything else you deem appropriate. The most important result from this is that your post has a higher overall value by the end of the process. Applying a concise format to all your social posts increases the average value of each of your posts, which then increases the overall value of your brand.

    Conciseness applies to any type of post

    One of the best aspects of conciseness is that it can be applied to any type of post. While “funny” is generally a good quality for helping a post go viral, it isn’t appropriate for every post or every business. Similarly, “shocking” isn’t a quality that can be shoehorned into any post you make. “Concise,” however, can be applied to funny posts, shocking posts, informative posts, controversial posts, or anything else you can muster. You’ll never have to compromise your brand personality or post intentions for any reason—conciseness is just a matter of taking a post and making it more valuable by removing whatever isn’t absolutely necessary.

    Conciseness forces consideration

    When you focus on conciseness as a landmark quality for your social posts, you force yourself to consider the intentions of your posts. For example, rather than simply writing out and update, you have to stop and think: what am I trying to achieve here? What is the value of this post to my users? And subsequently, what pieces of this post can be removed while still retaining that value? These questions force you to reevaluate all your individual posts, leading to more critical choices and better final products.

    Social differentiation

    Finally, keep in mind that most brands (including your competitors) aren’t engaging in a strategy to improve the conciseness of their posts. They’re taking the easy route, writing posts as they pop into their heads and forgoing the editing process that’s so crucial for improving post quality. Making your posts concise instantly differentiates you from the competition, even if your audience members don’t overtly notice it at first. They’ll gradually see that your posts are somehow more efficient and more valuable, and will naturally gravitate toward you over time.

    If you take a post and create both a concise and a non-concise version of it, the concise version will outperform the alternative without fail. Blogs, whitepapers, and other types of content can benefit from a more drawn-out format, but even then, conciseness matters—length and conciseness are two separate qualities. For example, a 1,000-page novel can be concise if every word of every sentence adds significant value to the piece as a whole. On social media, you’re already limited in length due to character counts and formatting requirements, so it’s even more important to focus on conciseness there.

  9. The 5 Stages of Social Media Growth Every Marketer Needs to Know

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    Social media growth is always a good thing. More followers, more conversations, and more active posting means more visibility, more traffic, more engagements, and more revenue generated for your business. As such, countless marketers and business owners have clamored to do anything it takes to achieve the fast track to long-term growth.

    But what most people miss about social media growth is that it doesn’t happen all at once, nor does it happen in a straightforward, linear fashion. Instead, it manifests itself over the course of five separate stages, each with their own potential pitfalls, keys to successful growth, and future potential. Understanding these five stages, and addressing each of them as your accounts move their way through them, is critical to achieving lasting success.

    Stage One: Emergence

    articleimage1363 Emergence

    The first stage is the hardest to get out of because it gives you no chance for tangential momentum. As you’ll soon see, each stage of development gives you secondary options for future growth beyond the later stages. When you’re first emerging, you’ll be starting with nothing—that means no credibility, no visibility, and no followers.

    The first thing you need to do is build out your profiles as completely as possible and start posting whatever you can. If you have content, syndicate it. If you’re still working on it, you can at least get started by sharing others’ pieces of content. Once those fundamental pillars are in place, your options for growth are existent but rather limited. You’ll have to get started by attracting followers you already know—get started by asking your friends and family to follow your brand, and ask your employees to do the same. For your first few dozen followers and fans, this is all you’ll have.

    Stage Two: Friends of Friends

    articleimage1363 Friends of Friends

    Now, we’ll be able to get somewhere. During the second stage of growth, you’ll absolutely need a stream of fresh content running for syndication. The key to growth at this stage is the exposure to friends of friends (or followers of followers). Ask your friends, employees, and other personally known followers to start sharing pieces of content they think are most valuable on their own timelines and profiles. This will start exposing your brand to different branched networks, which should attract at least a few followers from each “original” follower.

    Growth at this stage is limited, however, as most of these add-on fans won’t exactly be raving supporters. With each branched connection, the strength of your new follower grows weaker, but at this point, quantity can help you as much as quality.

    Stage Three: Ongoing Networking

    articleimage1363  Ongoing Networking

    After establishing a reasonable base of operations (you can probably get at least 1-200 followers by this point), you’ll have to overcome a very simple but somehow very common obstacle. At this point, many marketers try to set their campaigns on “auto-pilot” hoping that the quality of their content is enough to naturally spark further growth. Unfortunately, even for the best content campaigns, this is rarely possible.

    Instead, you have to start knocking on doors. Include your social media information in all your promotional materials to attract new fans who have never heard of you. Whenever you meet someone new, ask them to follow you. And on the platforms themselves, go out of your way to find and follow strangers who might be interested in your brand—doing so will greatly increase your circle of followers, and will artificially skew your follower population to be more engaging and more active.

    Stage Four: Influencers and Collaborators

    articleimage1363 Influencers and Collaborators

    At stage four, you’ll finally be at an authority level that can lead you to explosive growth through the power of influencers and collaborators. When you have 1,000 followers or more who actively respond to your posts, people begin to take notice. Offsite publishers, blogs, and forums will be far more likely to accept your guest post material. Influencers on social platforms will be far more willing to work with you on cross-promotional efforts. You’ll even attract new followers just for having such a high number of followers (this is especially true for Twitter).

    This stage of growth is all about the management of strategically selected, individually powerful relationships. Instead of hunting and pecking for highly qualified new followers, you’ll be swapping content with major players in the industry, opening the door to hundreds of qualified followers in one go.

    Stage Five: Contests, Virality, and Plateaus

    articleimage1363  Contests, Virality, and Plateaus

    Stage five is what I call the “stasis” stage, because you’ll be managing the status quo more often than not. Rather than trying to gradually grow your audience, you’ll be managing the old strategies that have worked for you (particularly on the influencer and collaborator front), while occasionally making bold efforts to move forward. Eventually, you’ll hit one (or several) plateaus that prevent you from moving forward. When you get there, your only option is to start pursuing new spikes of attention. You can do this by issuing contests, getting a piece of content to go viral, or by breaking the rules with a controversial post—the key is to generate a lot of attention all at once in some novel or unique way. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck at that same plateau, all though at this stage of growth, that plateau may be high enough to satisfy your goals.

    Approach each of these stages with a strategy and a focus that is created just for it. Trying to use influencers and collaborators to grow your account when you’re just emerging, for instance, will not be a fruitful choice. Do your best to remain patient and remember that social media success rarely comes quickly; like any other marketing strategy, it becomes successful only after committed research, significant effort, and careful execution.

  10. How to Measure the ROI of Your Social Media Marketing Campaign

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    Social media campaigns can be tricky. It’s necessary these days to have some kind of social media presence—even if it’s just to help your customers find information on you. But if you’re going to invest in a bona fide social media marketing strategy, you need to do it right. Otherwise, you’re liable to lose more money than you generate from renewed interest in your brand.

    Fortunately, there’s a metric that you can use to determine whether your social media efforts are worthwhile: ROI, or return on investment. If your ROI is negative, it means you’re spending more money than you’re making, but if your ROI is positive, the reverse is true. Therefore, ROI should be your top priority in a social media marketing campaign.

    Note that this formula applies only to traffic organically generated from a social media campaign—if you use social advertising, you’ll need to address that separately.

    Step One: Calculate Your Total Costs

    articleimage1346  step one

    The first step is one of the most complicated, since you’ll be dealing with multiple variables and subjective figures. Start with the easy costs: the ones you can quickly and effectively measure. For example, do you use any social media tools to help you schedule posts or analyze traffic? If so, total their monthly costs. Do you use the help of any employees or freelancers to boost your campaigns? If so, estimate how much you spend on them every month and add those costs to the total.

    Finally, estimate how much time you spend planning and executing your social media strategies across all platforms. Take this number of hours (monthly) and multiply it by your hourly rate. Add this to the total. You should get a figure that represents the average amount of money your company spends every month to uphold your social media marketing campaign.

    Step Two: Measure Your Total Traffic Generated

    articleimage1346 step two

    This step is easy as long as you have Google Analytics installed on your site. Log into Analytics and head to the Acquisition section, where you’ll see a breakdown of all the traffic that’s come to your site over the past month. Take this total number and set it to the side. Then, you can ignore everything except Social traffic—take the total number of social visits your site has earned, and set this off to the side. Again, make sure you’re finding this from a monthly perspective.

    As a side note, you can do some more exploring in this section to learn which platforms generate the most traffic, and which segments of that traffic tend to stick around longest. You can also see what links generate the most traffic.

    Step Three: Measure Your Conversion Rate and Conversion Value

    articleimage1346 step three

    Next, you’ll want to find and measure your conversion rate side-wide. You might be able to do this on the backend of your site, depending on what kind of system you use. If not, you’ll have to set up a Goal in Google Analytics and start tracking one month’s worth of conversions. Eventually, you should come up with an “average” number of conversions your site generates over the course of a month.

    Now, you’ll need to estimate the value of a given conversion. For e-commerce sites, this is pretty simple—all you need to do is calculate the revenue generated by one sale. For B2B companies, it’s a little trickier. You’ll have to calculate the likelihood that a conversion turns into a real customer, and then estimate the lifetime revenue a new customer would generate. Still, you should eventually come up with a “conversion value” that you can use in step five.

    Step Four: Estimate Your Total Social Conversions

    articleimage1346 step four

    Now, we’ll start putting the pieces together. Figure out how many “social” conversions your campaign has generated by dividing your Social traffic by your Total traffic (both found in step two). You should get a percentage that represents how many total visitors on your site came from a social source. Then, multiply this number by your total number of monthly conversions.

    As an example, if you had 500 visitors, 250 social visitors, and 10 conversions, you would divide 250 by 500 to get 50 percent, and then multiply 50 percent by 10 conversions to get 5 conversions.

    Step Five: Calculate Your ROI

    Now, you have the total number of monthly conversions your social media campaign generates. Multiply this times the value of the average conversion and you’ll have the total amount of monthly revenue your social campaign generates. Compare this to your social cost figure (found in step one). If your cost figure is higher, you have a negative ROI, which means you’re losing money. If your cost figure is lower, you have a positive ROI, which means your campaign is profitable. Do bear in mind that most social campaigns start out with a negative ROI, as it takes time to gain momentum and efficiency.

    Hopefully, this measure of ROI can help you determine whether your social media campaign is successful. However, there are a few flaws with this approach. First, it only incorporates the total amount of traffic you generate with your social platforms, but that isn’t the only benefit social platforms can have. For example, your Facebook page might increase your brand’s reputation with a handful of followers who never visit your site, but do tell their friends about your business. Similarly, you might find yourself underestimating the number of hours you spend on your campaign, since you’ll be working on it here and there rather than in one lump session.

    Still, this is one of the most accurate readings you can get for your social campaign. Use this metric to improve your campaign further and figure out whether it’s truly a boon for your business.

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