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!

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.

 

5 Easy Ideas for Your Social Media Strategy (AND WEBINAR!)

Do you ever feel like you are sitting around creating social media post after social media post but your audience size isn’t growing and you aren’t seeing results? You are not alone. The majority of small business owners who participate on social media don’t see the results they want. The number one culprit for this occurrence is that your social media strategy and your business strategy are not aligned.

Tonight, starting in two minutes, I’ll be hosting a live webinar on Facebook to talk about why your social media strategy and your business strategy need to be aligned and the simple way to do it. Join to ask questions in real time!

If you can’t make it, here are the 5 Easy Ways to Connect Your Business Strategy with Your Social Media Strategy.  First off, get two pieces of paper. On one, write your business vision, business goals and business audience down. Repeat this on a second piece of paper.

  1.  Visualization: Take one of those two pieces of paper and put it in front of wherever you sit when you are creating your social media posts. This will help you to constantly check that what you are posting on social, aligns with your business goals.
  2. On the second piece of paper, look at your business goals and ask yourself which of this will be improved by social media? Often, not all your goals have a social media component. This is important direction to have as you are building your social media platforms.
  3. Then ask yourself: who is your audience? What social media platform would they be using? Re-position your social media time to invest in those platforms over others.
  4. Now, write down next to your business vision, goals and audience, your social media vision, your social media goals and your social media audience. This will help you to understand what you are trying to accomplish on social media and why.
  5. Finally, spend time understanding how your social media goals can benefit your business goals i.e. what would have to happen on social to see you have a successful business result. Make sure there is a way to track and measure this.

Social Media Strategy for Small Businesses

Confused about what it means to set a business goal or vision? The below taken from my upcoming book on social media titled “You Don’t Need Social Media, Unless You Are Doing It Right: A Small Business Guide to Social Media” coming out in July, explains:

You want to understand the goals and vision of your business because it should directly translate to the goals and vision of your social media plan i.e. your social media plan should help reinforce and be reflective of your company goals. This may sound like common sense to some but it is often surprising to realize that small businesses with two or more owners don’t have common understandings of the business’s vision and goals.

When I was teaching a class in Nairobi a few years back, I was asked to consult on the creation of a social media plan for a start-up incubator hub. The five partners sat with me in a room and explained why they needed a social media plan. When I asked them to step back and tell me what their business plan was, I received five very different and somewhat conflicting answers. I explained that until they knew and were aligned on what their business should do, I wouldn’t be able to craft a social media plan that achieved results. If I didn’t know what the business wanted to do, the social media would only reflect that and they would see the slow, listless growth that had been the impetuous for the original meeting.

Similarly, last year, I was working with a professional leadership development coach who shared that while her business was growing rapidly, she was struggling to see any growth in her social media channels and she couldn’t figure out why. She routinely spent an hour a day on social media and yet, she only saw one or two followers increase per week. When I asked her why she was on social media, she looked at me like I wasn’t listening.

“I have to be on social media,” she said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because everyone is,” she said.

“But, why are you on it?” I asked again.

Then she stopped talking and looked at me and really listened. Eventually, we determined that she wanted to use social media to build her brand personality so that she could get speaking gigs and eventually launch and publish a book. Now, she has a laser focused vision for how to engage on social media and a plan that is tuned to getting her in front of the TED community, interacting with leaders in her sphere and sharing her thoughts online, so that she has the material to write a book in the next few years. Her goals of speaking and book publishing align with her business goals to increase her passive income (i.e. ways to make money without requiring service) and to enhance her credibility with top tier corporate leaders.

A social media plan to be successful needs to have a central thematic topic and vision in order to allow customers to understand why the channel exists and how to relate to the channel. A business vision does this for your social plan.

To determine your business vision, look five to ten years in the future and ask yourself, if I was wildly successful, what would my business do? Examples of business vision statements include Microsoft’s previous vision “to put a PC in every home in the world;” Starbuck’s vision statement ss “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time;” and Tesla’s vision statement is “to create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”

If you are having trouble creating a vision statement, check out Five: Where Will You Be Five Years from Today by Dan Zadra. It’s a useful book for figuring out your personal or professional vision statement and simpler to use than a lot of the MBA books on the topic.

I believe that setting a big business vision is the single most important thing that you can do for your business. As Lafley and Martin say “A too modest aspiration is far more dangerous than a too-lofty one.”  The reason being that a modest vision mostly achieves modest results. Modest results are boring for your employees, for your investors and for your customers. You could be a run of the mill car manufacturer or you could be Tesla. Which do you think gets people more excited and interested in being associated with your brand? Tesla wins every time.

When I host classes, I challenge students to expand their business vision using a simple exercise that I have outlined below. I’d encourage you to try this as well before you read any further:

  • Take a few minutes to write down your vision statement.
  • Then ask: how could I expand what this statement accomplishes? Can I make it bigger?
  • Then ask yourself again: how do I make that more interesting to me?
  • Then ask: would I be happy doing this and if not, what would make me more satisfied?
  • Then ask yourself, one more time: how can I expand this?

Having a vision for your business is about having a vision for yourself, for each person who works for you and for every person that will come in contact with your brand. It’s also about understanding why you are doing what you are doing and creating alignment on the why is what directs your social media execution i.e. the story you tell across those platforms.

Noted speaker and author Michael Hyatt’s recent book discusses the concept of drift. Drift is what happens when you are living a life without intention and strategic goals. Drift happens when you’re just floating through your life taking what comes to you. Drift happens all the time in social media when we do not align with our business visions and instead waste time tweeting, liking, friending and following rather than strategically acting to ensure the biggest results. Fight the drift, by engaging in a big business vision.

…………….

A business goal is a one to two-year goal that you want to accomplish because it helps your business get that much closer to achieving your vision. These are measurable, and actionable goals. In general, these goals will be focused on the bottom line i.e. these goals should in some fashion help you to increase your ability to SELL your products and services or fundraise to be able to accomplish your mission.

There is a business acronym for setting goals called S.M.A.R.T. This stands for specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and timely and is a tool to make sure that the goals you are setting you can achieve. First created by G.T. Doran in the early nineteen eighties, this framework has been widely embraced by the business community. In his book, he writes “Ideally speaking, each corporate, department, and section objective should be:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Notice that these criteria don’t say that all objectives must be quantified on all levels of management… (it) is the combination of the objective and its action plan that is really important. Therefore, serious management should focus on these twins and not just the objective.”

Examples of business goals can include:

  1. Selling X number of products in 2016
  2. Raising X amount of dollars in 2017

As you think about your business goals, make sure they are achievable in the short term, easy to understand, and something that is measureable. You generally do not want to have more than three goals and one of those goals should be a definitively focused sales goal. Well this may seem like a lot of work to do just in order to make your social media plans more effective, I can tell you it is worthwhile.

If you, your social media team or any other member of your business does not know your goals then they will not be able to effectively implement them. If they don’t know how to implement against them, time and energy are being wasted caught in the drift of social media.

Will the Content Bubble Burst?

Will the content bubble burst? You know the content bubble i.e. the crazy machine that brands are force feeding with the drivel, boring bottom of the internet garbage that gets put out there all the time. It’s the culture that’s response for telling me what Kim Kardashian ate for breakfast, who walked down the aisle with Jennifer Lawrence at her best friends wedding, and the 800 ways I should feel bad about my wrinkles, body fat, hair color and the miracle products that will fix it. It’s the reason Vogue is boring and no one wants to read the New York Times. It’s the content bubble and its killing us.

It’s killing us because it is inundating us. It’s ineffective and it isn’t cost effective. Do you know the Daily Dot employs 15 people to run is Snapchat channel? Cosmo has more? Mashable is moving to video to feed the content beast. They are all struggling with the real pressure to increase numbers, drive engagements, and push out more content  because…. Because why? Because more subscribers mean more dollars from advertisers. Because, advertisers think more eyeballs means more potential customers. But, does the dumbing down of content results in fewer eyeballs overtime because people are constantly disappointed?

I had lunch with a friend the other day who was telling me about how she is constantly intrigued by the headlines of a certain Time Inc women’s outlet but constantly disappointed when she actually gets to the article. She’s been “click-baited” and the content has under-served her. I so often feel this way too, that I basically NEVER click on articles online. I only respond to those people I trust share or to those that arrive in my inbox collated by newsletters I believe in.

Recently, in a conversation with Casey Lewis, Co-Founder of the Clover Letter, she talked abut the response that girls have to their daily newsletter. “They want smart content is the response we get from 100% of readers because right now they don’t even know where to go. They go to top news websites and they dont even know what to find because there is so much traffic driver click-bait on the channel.”

I love to point to the upcoming generation as a way of understanding what is and isn’t working in our own social media channels. As such, I believe we need to take what The Clover Letter is finding into account and what we ourselves are also encountering. The world is basically just pumping out shitty content to drive traffic to people who are not going to continue to consume shitty content.

The power comes from the brands that understand this, the brands who lean out to create poignant content, just maybe not all the time. Wait but Why the long form  blog on complicated scientific and cultural issues is the perfect example of this. They do not post uniformly on specific days or issues but instead when they do post they are adding VALUE.

Value is something I write about a lot in my forthcoming book and something that I encourage people to think about in the Social Works System. If you provide real value, people will respond. If you create content with value people with respond. You don’t need to fill the internet with more shitty content. Instead, do us a favor and make valuable content that people will want to consume. Until more brands do this, we will see the content bubble grow and at some point in the future burst. Gen Z, at the very least, isn’t going to put up with it.

 

Do I Need ChatBots?

Chatbots are the future of the social web. They are also the temporary future of the social web until intelligent agents change the entire way we engage with brands, people and properties online. In the future of intelligent agents, humans will do a fraction of the work we currently do to book trips, make appointments, shop, or research. Instead, we will have our own intelligent agents who we will use natural human language to engage with us and who will work on our behalf with other intelligent agents to do things like book travel, buy Christmas presents, set up meetings, and find answers to our questions. Before we get to that, we will see a change in the way that people are consuming online content.

Right now when we consume online content, we have to search for it and then read the content. We go to websites with search toolbars and long pages of various differentiated content where a web designer and a company have decided what is or should be the most relevant information. When we go to social media platforms, we do much the same thing except the only information that is being surfaced to us is the most recent content or the one that a social platform algorithm has determined will be the most relevant.

What if the paradigm changed? What if brands had smart engaging chatbots that messaged me when they thought I’d want to know something or that joined a conversation with my friend group when we wanted to know where to eat dinner or watch a movie? What if I could just go to a brand’s website and ask it the questions I wanted to know and it would give me the answer without me having to search for it? What if I could go to a department store website, stand in front of my camera on my computer and ask a chatbot what would look best on me from the entire catalogue in the store and it could respond with the three things it recommends I buy?

This is what the future of a chatbot forward world could look like. It’s a world in which the user experience of consuming the web has changed and as result how we engage on social platforms will change. If a department store can make a smart quirky engaging chatbot that I humanize with a name, who learns me, and readily engages with my likes and interests, I wont need social media pages – I’ll have true personalized human connections. Like calling my mother, I will remember to “call” the chatbot when I need her.

For those of you who are building social media platforms and strategically planning for the next decade, the future of chatbots should be on your horizon. In the way that apps, were the thing of the late aughts and early teens, chatbots will dominate the next five years. Brian Roemmele, the payments expert, recently argued in a Medium article about Viv (the intelligence agent being created by the team behind Siri) that when:

“Viv Labs … (opens)… the system up to developers….I am predicting a land rush similar to when Apple opened up the App store for the iPhone.”

The future will be in determining how to best use these chatbots to do what your customer needs on your website or social channels. It will simply replace the app as a means to source content to the individual because it will be more streamlined, require fewer steps and be more personal and relevant to the customer. It wont just replace the app, though. It will replace how you do business, how your web properties exist and how we engage broadly.

So, do you need a chatbot? Yes.

Now, how do you create a chatbot? It is still very early days in the world of chatbot creation and as such, there are not a lot of tools and resources for determining how to make a chatbot and answering the question for businesses of how to create their own chatbot. So, start with determining your value add:

  • What is the unique experience that you think a chatbot could bring to your customer?
  • Will there be something that chatbot can do that your customer currently struggles with?

The next step would be to source out an agency or developers who can help you bring this to life. They will guide you through both the UX, UE, and back-end experience necessary to enact. It’s the wild west out there for chatbots, so dont expect this to be cheap or easy. What it will do is help to put you at the front of the market and as the category lead with your solution and that alone might be worth the effort.

Want to learn more? Check out this  Facebook chatbot group here, this very good article in the Guardian, and, you can check out another of our blog posts here.

 

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Is Social Media Dead? No, but you don’t need social media for your business.

Students often ask me: Do I need social media? Generally, they are already in my class and at this point it’s a bit late for them to turn away. Yet, they are often surprised by my response. No. No you don’t need social media. You can still run a surprisingly effective business without engaging in social media. And, if you don’t have a plan for how to do it effectively, then you are better off not doing it at all.

My dear friend Monica Villa said something really insightful to me about social media the other day. She said, that content is not king but rather context is king. She then went on to elaborate that what small businesses and companies need is to focus on what the context of their social media platform is, i.e. what is the conversation that they are trying to start on social media, who are they listening to and what are the conversations that they want to drive in return.

Brilliant, right?

It also made me think a little bit harder about the context that I want to set for this blog and for the work that The Social Works Co and our sister brand SoCu will engage in. The contextual conversation I want to set is the fact that when asked “Do I need social media?” the answer that pundits and everyone else should give is “No. Unless you are going to do it right.” Doing it wrong means hundreds of thousands of hours of wasted time.

Yesterday, I was on the phone with Michael Hyatt who told me that on average people spend 72 hours working per week. For the record that’s 8-8pm Monday through Friday and then half a day on the weekend. That’s essentially your whole life and it doesn’t have to be spent working.

Instead, small business owners, in particular, need to learn how to create and run social media strategies and campaigns that are efficient, effective and strategic. We need to automate the content and its distribution. We need to rely on partner and influencer networks to extend reach. We need to measure and tweak. We need to make social media engagement a part of our employee’s lives and a system.

That’s what I want to talk about and how I want to provide value for for you. In return, I want to know:

  • Is this working for you?
  • Are you simplifying your strategy?

And I want to start a broader conversation about social media strategy: simplifying the rules, creating a social media certification and a process that people can use to manage social media in the same way other industries have processes, established best practices and workflow content.

Do I need social media? No. Should my business have social media? No. Unless you are able to do it in a smart, strategic and timely manner than no. No one needs social media. However, when done effectively social media can improve your business. It just needs to be done right and we, as social media gurus, owe it to you to tell you how to do it in the easiest way possible.

Content is not King. Context is King – An Interview with Monica Villa

“Content is not king. Context is king.” – Monica Villa

In a recent conversation with social media expert Monica Villa, she shared this: Context is King. Context is the key to a strong social media conversation and the way that you can begin to frame for your audiences everything that you share whether created by yourself or created by others. In this case, context means the conversation you are creating online.

Your online conversation is the conversation that you want to create and the conversation that you want to illicit. In short, it is the story that you want told about you and around you. It defines the message that people will think of when they think of your brand. When we think of Coke, we think of happiness. When we think of Nike, we think of being able to “just do it.” Their story is their context.

For me the context of this blog is to teach small businesses that social media is manageable. That’s the conversation I want to have that dictates the direction of the content I create here. My personal story I want to have with the world is to “Think Bigger” to get outside the small picture thinking that inundates our lives and to think bigger about what our own possibilities are.

To determine your context, ask yourself the following:

  • What is the story I want to tell the world?
  • What is the conversation I want to have with the world?
  • What is the conversation that I want the world to have with me?
  • What is the conversation that I want to listen to?

Then, once you’ve got that figure out, turn to your how. How you want to engage in this conversation determines the channels you launch on and the content you create. Content is not king. Context is.

Did I just hear your mind explode? I thought so.

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What is the ROI on Influencer Marketing?

When I talk about social media, I mean more than just the platforms of Facebook, Instagram, etc. I mean the entirety of the social media space in which those platforms exist. To me influencer marketing, i.e. engaging with those people who have influence in social media, is a pivotal aspect of a good social media strategy. Yet, this term is confusing and the concept of influencer marketing is loaded. In fact, more often than not people get a blank look in their eyes when asked to explain it. When they finally do explain it, it sounds exhaustive and time consuming, and then my students often ask: what is the ROI of influencer marketing?

A study put out last year claims that on average an every dollar spent on influencer marketing returns $6.58. That’s not bad; although, not quite as good as email marketing.

So, what do you need to have a good influencer marketing strategy? It’s simple: time, dedication, research and value.

  • Time: Influencer marketing is a long haul game and the relationships that you make now may not prove fruitful for a year or more.
  • Dedication: Influencer marketing requires lots of testing, re-testing and re-engaging with different groups of people until it pays off.
  • Research: You must continue to constantly resource and determine new types of influencers. A great tip from the Intel head of Influencer Relations is to look at traditional media to determine where social media influencers are being quoted, photographed or writing. A great social media influencer will have multiple channels of influence.
  • Value: To be good at influencer marketing, you must provide value to your audience. Some marketing experts see the term value and think: money. However, I believe real value in influencer marketing comes from providing non-monetary value so that you build deep relationships. Think of it this way: an employee only has loyalty to you while you are paying them. A friend has proven loyalty to you even if you are paying them. Great influencer marketing involves making great friends.

So, work to get your money out of it but also work to get your network out of it. Those influencers who you can convert will drive long term sales benefits into your value funnel.

Sign up for our e-course here: http://blog.thesocialworksco.com/2016/05/17/social-media-class/?hvid=1XYPzV.

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Is Social Media More Effective Than Email Marketing?

One of the questions I often get in my classes by older students (normally those in their fifties and sixties who are just beginning to experiment with social media for their businesses) is: Is Social Media More Effective Than Email Marketing? The short answer? No.

Social media has been heralded as the great equalizer for brands and a way for any brand to go from zero to something. Pundits and enthusiasts call this the age of social media and have positioned it as the tool to best all marketing tools. Yet, email marketing still out performs social media from a cost and efficacy perspective.

According to a study from 2015, every dollar spent on email marketing has an average ROI of $38, with roughly 20% of companies reporting returns of 70:10. [1] This is substantially higher from the industry trend seen in social; although, good quantifiable data wasn’t found. What this does point to is the positive benefit of using social media to drive email signups as part of your marketing campaign objectives.

I teach an e-course on social media marketing using the Social Works One Page system. As part of that, I’ve taken a number of courses with top e-course instructors learning how they grow and monetize their businesses. The key aspect of their courses is in the email distribution list as a lead generator for the course. In fact, they recommend not even launching a course until you have over one thousand followers on your email list. This is also the de facto recommended number for many first time authors. A great email list means a great pool of customers who will convert.

While email marketing may have seemed to run its course in the late-aughts as our emails got spammed with every email list ever, and as open rates plummeted (more than 80% of emails go unopened), it hasn’t. Worthwhile emails with valuable content for the consumer creates a large and valuable pipeline for those looking to convert openers to purchasers.

As such, it is critical to think of how social can be a driver for your email listserv. One of the simplest ways to convert social media users into email subscribers is to ask them to join your list and to ask them to do so repeatedly. People often forget this very simple step. Other ideas include:

  • Including a reminder to join the list at the bottom of each blog post.
  • Including a newsletter signup link in the signature of your email.
  • Including a newsletter sign up button on your various social media pages
  • Making your newsletter sign up form visible “above the fold” (i.e. on the top part of your website) on your blog, website or other digital property.
  • Asking friends and family to share your newsletter with people who might be interested.
  • Sending newsletters religiously so as to generate consistency in expectations.

As you take these steps to further your email list, or are thinking of how to change and augment the concept of a newsletter base, you may want to look at those who are doing email successfully. The two most successful examples of late are newsletters TheSkimm and Clover Letter. Both newsletters focus on news of the day with Clover Letter being a form of TheSkimm for teen girls. What makes them both effective is the strong tone in the newsletter (fun, quirky, snarky) and the strong connection to community. Reading either you feel like you understand the author, like she showed up in your inboxes to have a coffee and a water cooler conversation, and you feel connected because she knows your friends, or the cool girls online, or the girls you want to know. Consider this in your own email newsletters: how are you showing up as the most complete realized and personal version of your brand and how are you creating and promoting your community?

So, when they ask me is social media more effective than email marketing, I say no but then I challenge them if it is better only because it has been around longer. And, if its is better because we understand it.

As you think towards the future of social, what does the email newsletter become? Do chatbots become our personal friend and connection? Do they show up in our email boxes and talk us through the news of the day, while connecting us to other cool people? Will social media platforms find a new way to be more effective in their ROI? If so how?

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