Content Calendar Part 4: Strategy

Creating AContent Calendar

Our Content Calendar series is finally drawing to an end, and we appreciate how you all have responded to the insights we have provided here…

In Part 1, we discussed the importance of creating a framework for your content.

In Part 2, we highlighted the significance of measuring your efforts on social platforms.

And last week in Part 3, we walked you through the development of your content calendar and what it should look like.

Today we’re going to discuss with you creating strategies for implementation that get results.

Let’s begin with a fresh take on things. Social Media Marketing is still immature in the world of business and many small business owners still just don’t get it or know how to effectively use social media for their business. Don’t be stubborn with your marketing and lack the flexibility that social media marketing calls for. Classic marketing attempts to segment “consumers” into demographics. We all are familiar with the concept and most likely do the exact same thing with our own customers. However, defining a customer or followers by a demographic is a little out dated. Demographics are generally used in polls of public opinion and marketing to group individuals based on a variety of socioeconomic points. Until recently, we could all easily be grouped into our appropriate demographic and marketers enjoyed creating messages tailored to appeal to these different demographics.

Thanks to industrialization and globalization it’s becoming harder and harder to define these demographics. The best example of this shift is in luxury brands that have seen their customer pools widen as consumers with lower incomes began to desire and buy luxury goods.

So what does this mean for you as a business owner looking to use social media to grow your bottom line? Well, for one it means your segmenting your customers based on the wrong factors. Grouping people together based on their zip code, annual income or level of education simply doesn’t work…. Why? Probably because people are INDIVIDUALS, who deserve and desire to be treated with a level of respect. Grouping individuals based on “social market” factors turns a person into a number. Today’s consumer is not a number, they’re individuals who make informed purchases that they believe align with who they are on a fundamental level. What you should be looking at instead is your audience’s online intended actions. What will someone do with the information, services and products you provide?

It never ceases to amaze us just how many businesses overlook the treasure trove of information they could simply obtain by surveying their customers. Stop trying to figure out what works and start asking your customers what they like, want and need. A simple survey can help you determine what new products and services to offer, identify trends and highlight customer intentions! There are tons of online survey tools out there such as SurveyMonkey, KwikSurveys and SoGoSurvey, etc. Take the time to learn about your customers and how they feel about your brand. You want to develop a mindset for your organization that is focused on the wants and needs of the customer, to avoid doing damage control as a result of customer dissatisfaction.  Another great tool that can help you determine the intentions of your online audience is the Intent Index. The truth of the matter is that much of the information you seek is actually available within your organization in sales and service reports as well as in client records and inquires. Your online analytics can help as well, telling you what key words people are using to find you and where they are coming from.

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Image via iStockphoto

The goal behind focusing on your audiences’ intention is about obtaining more insights with less advertising, it’s about stepping into the customer’s shoes and out of your business bubble. Create a culture in your organization that encourages your team to create content based on the insights and information they have available to them. When creating campaigns for our clients we like to work backwards, in the sense that we like to always have a clear understanding of what their end goal for that particle campaign will be. Ask yourself what actions do you want your customer and followers to take after seeing your campaign, is it clicking a link, opting in, sharing, commenting or maybe you want to inspire them to create their own content around your brand. Whatever it is, you have to have a clear understanding and create a campaign that drives your desired actions.

Your social media strategy is simply a road map or guide lines for your desired intention. Take the time to analyze the appropriate social platforms for your business, as previously mentioned don’t be afraid to grow one platform at a time as you navigate your social media marketing. Determine how you  want to engage and with whom, develop your social voice and create a culture in your organization that empowers your team to be your loudest advocates. Creating a strategy that works should not scare you, in fact this entire content calendar series was roots in helping you to develop a successful strategy.

Take the time to write out your social media strategy, begin by determining what your main objective for using social media will be. Maybe your looking to easily facilitate a conversation between you and your customers, or you wish to support your vendors who have a smaller online presence. You can choose to educate or learn from others, whatever your objective is clearly state it for all in your team to know. Next, define how you intend to utilize each platform and how each platform with support the other’s. You may choose to use each platform to support a different area of your business. We’re firm believes that content and messaging should be tweaked to be unique to any particular platform. Give your audience a reason to follow you on multiple outlets to get a complete story or only on a few to get the information they desire. Either way but measurements in place to assess your efforts and be prepared to make changes when necessary. Most of all have fun!

We appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read this article. Be sure to leave an comments or questions you have below!

Trading ca$h for followers

BEWARE OF TRADING CASH FOR FOLLOWERS (1)

As a business owner on social media, your followers are pretty much your bread and butter. It’s a given that without any followers on social media, you’re obviously not reaching your target market, but with all the wrong followers, it’s probably just as ineffective.  You’ve probably seen posts like the one below offering blank number of followers for blank amount of money and wondered: “should I do it?.” The short answer is no. From our research, there are several real services out there with which you can purchase thousands of followers for a set amount of money, so you can go from 0 followers to 5,000 followers in a short amount of time for the right price, to seem more legit, but why not?www.purelysocialmedia.com

  1. When you buy followers you don’t get to choose any demographics, so you’re just getting a bunch of random people following your page. You can be as diligent as you want to with your posts and provide the perfect information at the perfect time for your target market, but the problem is your pool of followers is a wreck. Even if all the followers you purchased are actual real, active accounts (which is highly unlikely), the chances that they are also your target audience is slim. As a result, you end up stuck with a bunch of followers that couldn’t care less what you’re posts are about, which brings us to the next point: interaction.
  1. Your social media influence scores are based on your interactions with others (Kred) and how you drive others to interact with you (Klout). If you’re active on your social media accounts and are constantly engaging with others, you’ll have a decent Kred score, but if nobody is interacting with you, your Klout score will suffer. If you had grown your following organically, you can be pretty confident that your followers are interested in what you have to say and motivated to engage with you. With purchased followers, you’re probably dealing with a lot of random accounts that are either mostly automated, fake, or dormant i.e, no one is engaging with you. This is not good; engagement is a key component of familiarizing yourself with your audience. When you engage with your followers, you can get a feel of who they are and can begin to develop your customer profile i.e, their likes and dislikes, feedback, preferences… all things that can help you to customize your product or service to better speak to your target audience.
  1. You could end up spamming your followers. Some of these services that allow you to buy followers automatically opt you in to send out multiple automatic direct messages to your followers. This not only includes the followers you bought, but ALL of your followers. This could damage relationships that you’ve previously established and cause you to appear incredible (not the good kind).

All in all, buying followers is more of an aesthetic solution. You will appear to have more followers and a high influence, but you will not be in line with your goals. Therefore, in our opinion, buying followers is pretty pointless. It’s much better to have followers that are truly interested in your business, or at the very least, your industry; otherwise, you’re wasting your time putting effort into your social media profile.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. Have you tried buying followers, or do you know anyone who has bought followers? What was the outcome?

Content Calendar Part 3: Drafting a Calendar

Finally, let’s discuss the process of drafting a content calendar!Creating AContent Calendar Part3

If you have not had an opportunity to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this Content Calendar Series, we strongly advice you do.

So, as we previously mentioned,  a Content Calendar is a great way to organize your thoughts and efforts. To successfully leverage social media for your business, your efforts MUST be calculated! And by calculated we mean that everything you do from a marketing standpoint has to be measurable. In part 1 we discussed creating  a framework of content topics as well as the importance of  developing Master Copy Lists to pull from when posting to your preferred social platforms.  We cannot stress to you enough that you DO NOT have to be on every platform all the time, you should get comfortable with one to two platforms at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Social Media is a 24/7 medium and it can be exhausting trying to be present on multiple platforms simultaneously.

Grab all of the information you’ve compiled and pull out a dry erase board, calendar, or notebook; however you best organize your thoughts, go with it! First you’ll want to jot down all of the dates of important events related to your business. These should include your Google+ Hangouts, Networking Events, Blog Releases, Sales, Holidays, Charity Events, and anything that you do of interest related to you business. Word of wise, if you have a less than glamorous product or service you sell, i.e. insurance, gardening tools, computers, rather than littering people’s feeds with sales ads, attempt to share with them your company culture. Show people what makes you and your product unique!

Pencil or type all of these events into a calendar that you can refer to as you build your content calendar. Aim to map out at least a month to a quarter in advance. We advise constructing your content calendar in an automated site such as HootSuite, SproutSocial, Buffer etc. Using the times suggested by your analytics (you should be updating this at least monthly), create posts centered around your events calendar. Make sure that your content is a nice mix of images, videos, quotes, and compelling copy… Sprinkle in some appropriate humor, be genuine and occasionally speak from the heart!

We want to automate the content that is imperative to the marketing of your business, because then that frees you up to truly be social, engaging with your followers and others. If you want to get noticed on social media start noticing and acknowledging others. If the time is taken and  the measures are in place, you will save energy as you begin to understand what’s working and what’s not. The largest hurdle you will have to over come is the limits of your creativity and willingness to create original content. The digital currency of your brand is it’s content. So be prepared to do it yourself or hire some help.

When you review the content in your calendar you should ask yourself a few questions… Is this visually appealing? Is this entertaining or informative in any way? Will this look good on a mobile device? It is projected that by 2020, 80% of all media will be digital with a global media consumption average of 90 hours a week. Don’t get swept away in the sea of content. Invest the time in great content or your just wasting your time!

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Image via The Brand Builder Blog

 

Your content calendar should be designed to be flexible. If after a month things aren’t working, then begin to tweak your content and try it again. You will have to be patient and play around with things before you figure out what works best for you. But once you do you will just fall into a rhythm. Social Media is not cookie cutter so what works for other businesses might not work for yours.  Be prepared to experiment and have fun!

Set goals to achieve, such as growing your followers, engaging with others, increasing blog views or hangout attendance. Creating a plan to get noticed, reduce your stress, and work smart!

We would love to hear your insights or questions… So please be sure to leave a comment below.

Effective Automation

(Yes, It’s possible and yes, you’re overthinking it)

So a few weeks ago, we had a great conversation about automation with a couple of our friends on Twitter, Phil Glutting and Charlene Kingston. Since we noticed that this is a popular topic among small business owners and new marketers, we decided to share with you.

Automation is a great way to multitask if you’re very busy and want to establish a social media presence without having to be actively posting. However, Auto DMs are plaguing Twitter and absent tweeters completely contradict the purpose of SOCIAL media. When we asked Phil and Charlene their thoughts on the matter, we were really enlightened by the response. Check out the whole conversation below and on storify for the full effect.

Here are a few quick tips on making your automation more effective that we were able to pull from the conversation:

  1. Just stop with the Auto DMs! @ replies are more personal and easier to start conversations with. You can even automate the @ replies with many of the Twitter tools available.
  2. Follow up your @ reply with a greeting, don’t use the message to sell yourself. Just be courteous and try to begin relationship building.
  3. If you must automate try this method: Schedule a few tweets to be posted during the day and add to the conversation throughout the day in real time .
  4. As you grow, modify your strategy. What worked with 1500 followers will not work with 11500.
  5. Always do what makes your community interaction better, not what’s easier for you.

What have your experiences been with automation? Are you pro or anti automation? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below or @ us on twitter!

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3 Ways to Optimize your Hootsuite Usage… besides Automation

If you’re a business owner in today’s world, chances are you never feel as though there are enough hours in the day. So the last thing you have time for is wandering down the rabbit hole of social media. You know that social media is important for connecting and engaging with your customers, but creating a solid presence on any platform takes time… time you do not have.

Like many business owners you may choose to automate your posts through apps such as hootsuite or buffer. Automating your social media can save you time and energy but, be careful automation removes the real-time engagement. See our post Is Automation Making You Antisocial, for best practices.

3 ways to optimize your Hootsuite useWe believe that one of the best uses for Hootsuite is when you’re promoting an event or product and you are directing people to your site with a link. For example, say you host a weekly meet-up or Google hangout. Consider scheduling 3-5 posts a day promoting this upcoming event. Your scheduled posts should just include links not attached images, as they will not appear in the newsfeed unless people click on them ( and we all know that very few will click). So don’t waste your time posting content that most likely will go unseen. In these instances I recommend drafting the posts from a mobile device on twitter or scheduling the post directing in Facebook. Consider taking 1 day to draft up the week’s posts and keep them in a word document that will allow you to easily copy and paste the post into Linkedin or Google+. Consider shortening links with bitly.com versus the link shortener in Hootsuite. At this point most people know that owly.idhafd…etc. is a Hootsuite post and therefore automated. I have found that automated tweets can be a real turnoff for some.

Today we would like the discuss the top 3 ways to use Hootsuite other than scheduling posts

1. To watch your feeds all from one place: You probably don’t have time to check each platform multiple times through out the day. With hootsuites free membership you can attach up to 5 accounts that you wish to track on either Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Google+. So from the home screen you can watch your feeds for all of these platforms in one place in somewhat real time.

2. To monitor hashtags. If there a particular hashtag that you troll or follow, you can use hootsuite to follow that hashtag in real time.

3. Run Reports: This is one of the best reasons to use an app like hootsuite! Generate reports that show the results or your efforts as well as compare your efforts across multiple platforms