What to Read This Month

As you know, I believe that the only way to be a good content creator is to be consuming a lot of content. I read at least a book a week and devour articles, podcasts and videos from across the web. It keeps me on my toes, making connections between great ideas, and challenging my ways of thinking.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about suburban living this month and the way it unnaturally isolates us; plus, I’ve been absorbing everything I can about the #sidehustle. You’ll see that reflected in the below.

  • The End of the Suburbs: This book is older (2014) but was a best-seller and should be a must read for anyone who struggles with suburban living, is wondering where to buy property or is confounded by life outside the urban oasis.
  • The Confidence Game: A compelling investigation into the minds, motives, and methods of con artists—and the people who fall for their cons over and over again. It’s a book that also helps you think about and navigate the world: what is manipulation? Who is doing it and who is falling for it? Are you thinking about the motivates of all the people in the room?
  • Ryan Holiday’s “Dear Dad, Please Don’t Vote for Trump” shows us what persuasive journalism is about and how to weave emotion into your writing.
  • Modern Love Podcast – Turns out my all time favorite column in the New York Times has a podcast where famous people read the best essays on love, relationships and break-ups. A huge thank you to the women of CEO Wattage who brought this to my attention.
  • Overcoming Your Ego – I must be on a Ryan Holiday kick because this episode of the Lewis Howes School of Greatness also stars him and concerns his new book on overcoming your ego. If your ego ever gets in the way of your success this is a must listen.
  • Startup Podcast – 2680 Madison Road: Ever wonder why some business locations seem doomed? This team did and went out to investigate how businesses fail. In this episode, they uncover the history of one “Doomed” location in Ohio.

And if you want to see what I’ve been writing, check out these two articles in Entrepreneur Magazine:

  • How to Launch your Business while Working Your 9-5
  • 3 Secrets to Making Your Videos a Success on Social Media

Now what are you reading this month? I’m always looking for ideas!

How to get Social Media Certified

I’d like to make a short case for the value of a standardized social media certification. Because this industry is new (still – ten or twelve years in!), we see very few people with any formal training in social media. Instead, a lot of people, myself included, have learned on the job. Now, a decade later, I feel confident in my knowledge and learning, my failures and successes.
However, we have also paved the way for the next class of social media managers and marketing directors through the learnings we gathered in taming the ever evolving landscape. It is this knowledge that’s informed the system created in my book, You Don’t Need Social Media Unless You Are Doing It Right. It is also my learnings on the topic that make me really believe that social media managers need to be trained and certified. Because a social media certification doesn’t exist, I am making one.

But why? What does a Social Media Certification Do?

A standardized social media certification helps to put rigor in the industry, to create a space for shared best practices and to ensure people are practicing in the field in a thoughtful and educated manner.

The reason a lot of social media channels don’t work, isn’t because a brand shouldn’t be on social media but more because the people running the system are not experts in their field.

A social media certification helps to:

  • Establish best practices.
  • Create a baseline for measurement and what metrics matter.
  • Enable HR teams to hire qualified candidates.
  • Solidifies a model of Social Media that works and a group of established candidates who understand and engage around it.

So now what? How do I get certified in social media?

I’ve created an online course to help people learn social media and to begin to create a group of people who will have qualified best practices, a proven implementation model and an established means of measuring social media success. Not only that, but I’m putting these people into a pipeline of social media jobs in an effort to reduce the burden on HR departments to determine who is an effective candidate in social media.

I want to get certified. Where do I go?

To find out more about my program, go here.

Three Secrets to Great Social Media Campaigns

Great social media campaigns can be defined in a hundred different ways – great engagement, great content, just stunningly beautiful — and those ones are often the ones that wind up at the top of the advertising awards lists. What we rarely get to see are the social media campaigns that actually win at driving business impact.

In my book, You Don’t Need Social Media Unless You Are Doing It Right, I spend a lot of time talking about business goals and social media goals. This is because I believe so firmly that social media a tool that must align to your business needs. Because, it must align to those needs, I think the only way we can judge a great social media campaign is by how well is delivers on your business goals.

As such, here are my three secrets for great social media campaigns:

  1. Understand Business Impact: Know your business goals and know how your social media campaign will help to deliver on those goals.
  2. Spend Less to Deliver More: Don’t waste a bunch of money on tools or storytelling tactics like video that don’t directly attribute to your goals. It’s easy to get caught in the fad. It’s less easy to stand back and do only those things that drive sales.
  3. Advertise: As I talk about in my e-course, the dirty little secret of social media is that advertising is a must. Include dollars for advertising and an advertising distribution plan in your campaign plan.

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Social Media Advertising for Small Businesses

Let’s get down to the dirty little secret – advertising! In social media, the prevailing ideology has been that it should be free – if your content is good enough then you will attract followers.  This is a topic, that I discuss in my new book and this idea is partially true; it is also partially false. If your content is good enough you will attract followers; unfortunately, it will be at a slow rate. There is always the edge case where viral content spells massive growth instantly (Dollar Shave Club or Laughing Chewbacca Mask Lady) but for most brands, it will be an uphill battle to get even a small amount of followers. All small businesses should have a paid distribution plan for ensuring their social media content reaches the largest number of customers.

In the battle for followers, the most effective weapon is advertising. Let’s break it down:

1.      Do you need advertising?

Determine this by looking at the work we’ve asked you to do in other posts using the Social Works One Page System. Look at those goals and then ask yourself the questions listed below. Determine if your response would be yes or no.

  • Do you hope to see (or need to see) rapid (i.e. 3x or more increase) in followers within the next six months?
  • Do you hope to see (or need to see) rapid (i.e. 3x or more increase) in followers within the next six months?
  • Do you hope to see (or need to see) rapid (i.e. 3x or more increase) in followers within the next six months?

If you checked yes one time or more times, then consider social advertising as a facet of your plan. It drives growth a lot faster than an unpaid, organic strategy which can take years.

2.      What would advertising look like if you were to do it?

Social media advertising can take a number of different forms (side bar ads, boosted posts, in channel posts) and it can serve a number of different purposes. Amongst the different purposes are:

  • Fan Acquisition/Engagement: Help to grow your followers through advertising that targets a specific demographic and asks them to follow or like.
  • Website Traffic/Conversion: Help to drive traffic to your website in the same way that any other type of online ad does.
  • Post Reach/Engagement: Help to boost a particular post by increasing the chances that more people will see it.

Within these three key categories there are a number of more discrete actions you can take. Overall social advertising will help you acquire fans, drive traffic and increase the number of eyeballs on a specific piece of content.

You can run all three types of advertising but if your budget it smaller you may want to only one or two types at a time. If that’s the case, then you need to figure out which one of these will have the biggest result. Choosing this is largely dependent on understanding how these results will affect your business.

How do you figure out what’s right for you? Let’s break the categories down further.

  Fan Acquisition Website Traffic Post Reach
Why Creating a bigger Facebook page can create the illusion (or the reality) that you have a big and successful customer base.
It is also an ongoing community of people who will be receptors of your content – i.e. a captive audience of consumers
Increasing better Google’s understanding of your relevance – which will increase your visibility in page ranks. More traffic means that search engines believe you have more authority and are more relevant. Boosting the reach of a specific post helps to get more eyeballs on your content. This is useful when you are trying to get more people engaged and naturally sharing and consuming your content.
 But why for business? More consumers on your channels means more opportunities to promote your brand, create product evangelists and drive sales. More web authority means higher ranking in search results which means the potential for more eyeballs and more sales. More engagement with your content means that there are more people who consumed what you shared. This means that they will have your brand and your message top of mind when it comes to purchasing.
In short? Best path to long term community growth and hopefully sales. Most immediate path to raising traffic and sales. Best path to product and message retention.
Next steps? Test Facebook ads. Test Google and Pinterest ads. Test Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter ads.

3.      How much advertising can you squeak by with?

You don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands or even thousands of dollars on advertising but, you likely have to spend something when you are starting out and looking to grow your community. The simple truth is that it’s hard to stand out online. New pages rarely get the visibility you’d hope for.

My friend, an author of a fiction novel who recently launched her Facebook channel, spends about $20/week on advertising. So far each new fan has cost her about a dollar. Because her book sells for $20, if she can convert each new fan to a purchaser, she will see a significantly higher ROI for the dollar spent. Even if just one out of twenty fans buys her book, she still has a net positive return immediately and the long term benefit of an active fan pool for future books. She is not paying for fans! She is advertising her channel to Facebook users so that they can find her page and choose whether or not to become her Facebook fan. You will likely want to employ a similar strategy. To do so, go into your Facebook page dashboard, click Ads Manager on the left. The system will then guide you through the process to get started.

Additionally, I’ve worked with a number of brands who use Pinterest as an advertising platform. This is an interesting way to boost your website traffic and engagement. Pinterest can be viewed as more of a search engine than a social network, as I discussed earlier. For many brands it is the number one e-commerce driver. If you have consumer products for sale, this is a must test. Great boosted posts on Pinterest (bright, long vertical images) can see massive increases in traffic and conversion. To do this, log into Pinterest. Then click Ads on the upper left hand task bar. Their system will walk you through what to do.

The beauty of social media advertising is that you can set up the advertising to align with your specific business goals. Therefore, you can target advertising for growth of your social media channels or traffic to your website. So, play around. You can A/B test your content by trying out different types of ads and seeing the results you get. For a full primer on A/B testing methodology refer to the blog post by KISS Metrics on A/B testing or check out A/B Testing The Most Powerful Way to Turn Clicks into Customers by Dan Siroker.

Fill in your advertising goals into the appropriate box in the Social Works One Page System.

4.      How do you create the right type of advertising?

Advertising creation is the whole reason advertising agencies are in business. It’s not easy. First, focus on headlines – a poorly crafted headline will immediately turn away over 90% of users. Not to mention, 5 out of 7 people will only read the headline before sharing a post or other advertising boosted content. Secondly, focus on simple images. These images should say something without text. Find a picture that is sharp, clear and evocative.

For more ideas on advertising, I’d suggest reading deeply about David Ogilvy, the father of modern advertising, or following some of the major social networking tools like Hoostuite for their downloadable PDFs and guides on the topic.

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How to Be A Great Content Creator: June Edition

Every month, I give tips on the best books I’ve read and things I’ve watched to help you become a great content creator. If you missed it, you can find last month’s books here. This month its a smorgasboard of things I have found with a great social media fact (re: headlines) and a good social media book thrown in.

Books

  1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: A probing look at the DNA that has been the source cells for solving the world’s biggest health issues and the black woman that was taken advantage of to get them.
  2. Reputations: A book (novel) by a Colombia author translated into English that discusses the role memory plays in the framing and shaping of our lives.
  3. American Girls: Social Media and The Secret Life of the American Teenage: This book has a strong point of view and makes it with a series of examples, interviews and observations that provide interesting insight into the future use of social media, what’s happening to our American children and how to better protect ourselves in an age of oversharing.

Other Things

  1. Modern Love Podcast: Basically the best column on the planet, now has a podcast.
  2. 6 out of 10 of you will read the headline of this article and share it without ever reading the body text. That’s depressing. This WashPo article looks at our social sharing patterns and makes some assumptions about the over-staturation of the internet.

Your Thoughts?

What are you reading or watching or listening to right now that you can’t put down? I can’t wait to hear all about it.