Social Media Strategy: Listening

Photo credit: Melvin Gaal (Mindsharing.eu) / Foter / CC BY-NC

Social Media Channels Have One Clear Call-to-Action: Post!

When we sign into an account — on a  social media platform or a social media posting tool– there is always the one highlighted window, clear as day, that we are to post and publish, post and send, post and feel good. Many of us have content calendars (editorial strategies) tacked up on the wall where teams of people congregate and participate to ensure that we are delivering effective content at the right time and hopefully, responding and engaging on each platform, but we often overlook what effective content means in light of one’s communication strategies, goals, and priorities.

One Half of the Strategy

Effective content is content that is dynamic, interesting, relevant, timely, engaging, and accurate, AND strategically delivered as a tactic to reach a specific goal. Continue reading

Advertisements

+1+1+1+1 = What?

I would never say that I’m entirely mathematically inclined, but I would like to think that I have the capacity to conquer addition and subtraction. +1+1+1+1 = Your Online Presence, Your Search Results, hopefully– The Answers you’re looking for.

Google+ has been a popular topic on various LinkedIn group discussions and on Twitter. However, one point that most discussions have overlooked is how Google + will change the way search engines perform and how it will impact your own website/company.

+1 is Better Than a Thumbs Up; It’s a High-Five

In fact, you can hear the clap echoing all over the internet

Similar to Facebook’s “like” button, which features the thumbs up icon, +1 is also a button you will see next to your search results. Google explains, “+1 is a public action. Anyone on the web can potentially see that you’ve +1’d content.” So, yes, when you click the +1, you should know that your name will recommend that link.

As a writer, I’m thrilled.  Google+ is helping to weed out the bad writing. This means that creating remarkable content is even more important than before. Accompanying any content is a decision that could impact the company’s online presence. If the reader likes your content, there is a direct way for that reader to attract his/her friends/colleagues. But this has nothing to do with schmoozing. It’s all about what shows up on the page. If the site/content is poorly done, it’s possible to become lost in the shuffle of other mediocre sites.  Put your effort into creating engaging content that Google+ users will share and +1. I suggest adding the +1 button. From a marketing angle, the more Google+ users can endorse your site, the better. Clearly, the +1 will influence your search results as it fuses social networking with the searching process. According to Google’s +1 FAQ:

“+1’s from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality. For +1′s, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.”

This said, the question of search quality will be linked to your friends’ interests. The question becomes what friends do you trust enough to follow their reading habits and recommendations.

+1 me!

What is “Remarkable” Content? How Do You Create It?

Last week a member of LinkedIn Group, Inbound Marketing, posted an interesting discussion question: What is the number one rule of content marketing? Like a student of Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah’s book, Inbound Marketing, I responded with “remarkable content!”  That is the goal, right? To get found. You are your content. Halligan and Shah write:

We borrowed the term from Seth Godin who uses it [the word “remarkable”] in place of the word “unique” and we took the liberty of italicizing “remark” in order to prompt you to ask yourself whether your product or service is worthy of other people’s “remarks.”

This is to ask if you genuinely and professionally believe the motive or mission behind your product or service is valuable. In today’s digital age, value does not only mean how wonderful your product/service is, but how well you can stand out and offer something that is both of substance and unique.

Remarkable content is two-fold: the content must work (substance, uniqueness) and the strategy must work (how you put it out in the world).

UNIQUE CONTENT OF SUBSTANCE

Content is language strung together into some kind of sense-making creature. You want the content to become alive, to carry its own weight.

Before we can understand what I mean by content as a “living creature,” we must first ask, what is good writing? It’s a difficult and broad question, but it’s a question that forces you to consider your own reading palate—what makes reading enjoyable for you? What elements of the writing do you appreciate?

I’ve taught many college writing courses, and regardless of writing level, I always ask my students this question because I think it humanizes the sometimes daunting task of writing. What IS good writing? I stand in front of the classroom as they stare at me with blank expressions, glossy eyes. I’m comfortable with silence, so I wait. They squirm in their seats and begin to turn on their brains. Some say good writing must possess humor; some believe writing must ask the reader to react; some think writing must be grammatically correct; it must have a purpose; it must have detail.

They are all correct—in a cumulative sense.

Good writing must possesses the following:

  • Purpose: What are you setting out to achieve?
  • Voice: Who is behind the writing— what is your character?
  • Tone: What is the emotional background or ambiance of your piece?
  • Organization: How will you structure your piece?
  • Sentence Structure: This is less of a question—Vary your sentence structure!
  • Rhetorical Mode: Use various techniques—narrative, description, persuasion, argumentation, how-to/process, etc.
  • Ask the reader to react: What do you want the reader to feel or do at any given moment in the piece?
  • Target audience: Who are you speaking to?
  • Use examples: Help your reader understand what you’re talking about.
  • Validate: You must validate your discussion (if it is a discussion) by using other sources, statistics, professional opinions on the topic. This gives you credibility and legitimizes your discussion.
  • Logic: Be logical and reasonable.

Once you consider these questions/elements, you can produce good writing.

CONTENT STRATEGY: BEFORE YOU PUT THE WRITING OUT IN THE WORLD

There are a few things you must do to.

  • Competitors: Who are your competitors? You want to take a close look at their content and examine what’s already said. Then, take it further. Consider it a challenge. What variables are they missing? Implications? *Note, if you are having trouble coming up with your target audience, this general search for competitors will help you scaffold an idea.
  • Marketplace: Generalize your marketplace and consider alternative competitors—those that don’t stand out as “your” competitor.
  • Narrow or Widen: Given what you find among your competitors, new and old, you may want to go smaller, provide a narrower specialty or focus. Or, you may want to open up a bit, provide more, a broader focus.
  • Put out a Google Alert: There are all different ways to receive live updates on your subject/topic/product/services, but Google Alert is a general way to stay in tune.

Thank you for reading! Please join the discussion with questions, comments, other ideas!

Social Media Puts on a Serious Face

I admit: I have not always thought of social media as a marketing tool. Years ago, social media simply meant playtime. You want to procrastinate, sure, log onto facebook. I still see  the college students in my classroom, clicking away as I attempted to lecture about why academic writing is so important. I couldn’t win against social media; it was my enemy. However, a few years ago, I worked as a Communications Assistant at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art. We were preparing for the reopening of the building – the first time the Museum would be open for the 35,000 U-M students and the Ann Arbor townies in years. Sure enough, one of my colleagues recommended we use Twitter and Facebook to update our fans and inform perspective art enthusiasts. The reopening was a huge success due, in part, to our social media strategies.

After working at two start-up companies as an Online Marketer, I can barely imagine what marketing would be like if social media were entirely excluded or ignored. Yesterday, I came across an interesting article (thank you to Twitter and its professional development abilities): Amy Jo Martin’s To Monetize Social Media, Humanize It. Martin discusses some of the overwhelmingly popular assumptions that frown on social media as if it’s a clown wearing a big red nose. As she says, “Put it this way: If I gained a follower every time a CEO rolled his eyes at me when I said ‘Twitter,’ I’d be Lady Gaga (11.2 million followers).” Arguably, the word “social media” is misleading; while some use this medium as a media for entertainment purposes, marketing specialists have used it as a rather remarkable tool, and, given its success, should be taken seriously.

Martin compares social media to a telephone, though I would dare compare it to a televised conference with countless cameramen: Anyone can talk the talk, walk the walk; anyone can join the discussion. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, offers the capacity for a high volume audience, and even better, a high volume response. However wonderful that may sound, a social media platform is not a game to see who is the loudest; (who yells at a televised conference, anyway?) Social media is about offering remarkable content, as authors, Dharmash Shah and David Scott say in their book, Inbound Marketing . It’s about value. As Martin would agree, it’s about humanizing your brand, exposing real, genuine people and promise. That’s what I love about social media as a marketing tool. Finally, companies, institutions, ideas—you name it—have a face, a personality, a meaning that is communicable. It’s stronger than any old logo. We’re no longer distanced from our work; we’re not just a body or a task checked off. We are the idea, transformed and exposed as the idea. I think it makes people better, companies—better. We are forever attached to our actions, our campaigns, our strategies. And thus, we must trust our actions, campaigns, strategies, and others will, too. We are our brand, and the brand is us.

Please, join in the discussion! Thank you for reading.