Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Social Media Campaigns with #HSEntChat

Everyone knows that Hootsuite is my favourite social media dashboard, essentially my home page on the internet. One of the reasons is that they host great chats on Twitter with experts in certain areas. Today the chat was about running "social media campaigns", the mostly description-less title given to countless numbers of things that happen on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and more.

The folks at Hootsuite asked Stefan Krepiakevich to spend some time chatting about what he's learned about running campaigns. Here's a brief outlines of what we learned.

1. What is a "social media campaign"?

Stefan began by helping us understand that a lot of things can be under the heading of campaign, including contests, video and photo sharing or creation, or using hashtags.

2. When should a company use a "campaign" instead of the regular management of online channels?

A campaign takes some thought, planning and work to execute so a business can't use all it's resources on them. Some ideas about when to use a campaign included when you are trying to increase your email list, when you are trying to gain more followers on a particular channel, or on all of your channels, or when you are trying to build more engagement from your followers on a particular channel.

3. What are some best practices for running a campaign?

This one was pretty unanimous across all the participants in the chat. Make sure it's easy for people to take part. If it's a contest, don't ask for too many things from your fans. If it's a hashtag don't try to make it too clever. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Some other key things to keep in mind is to have goals and to not do the same old thing everyone else is doing.

4. Should a business integrate other offline marketing in their campaign?

This was another pretty unanimous topic. Everyone agrees that email marketing delivers results. If you do no other integration you should at least be sure to tell your list that you are running a campaign and encouraging them to join. However, it does depend on your goals and on your existing social media communities. Sarah Little said it best I think. If you are trying to raise awareness of your business than use every marketing media you have, if you are trying to reward or engage your social media fans that make it exclusive to that social media.

5. Is there such a thing as running too many campaigns?

I think everyone was glad to see Stefan's answer to this question which was "Yes". He feels that each business has their own threshold where running more campaigns is not going to help reach any goals. And every business owner and social media manager breathed a sigh of relief because running a campaign is a lot of work.

6. Speaking of how much work it can be, the next question was about how to run a campaign with low resources.

The answer to that is to take time to research where your fans are and what they want. Then include them. Come up with a campaign where they do more of  the work - sharing photos or videos, caption contests. And be sure to reward them often by re-posting and thanking them.

7. What makes campaigns like Old Spice, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, BatKid etc. work?

Everyone chimed in here talking about how funny and entertaining some good campaigns are. Everyone agrees there is no way to force virality, but to try to create the most entertaining and interesting campaign you can.

8. Some examples of great campaigns in 2014 from Stefan and other chat participants include Heineken's Crack the Open, Doritos Crash the Superbowl, Madden 15's Giferator, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Dominoes Meltdown, Lufthanas Meltdow, SingItKitty.

9. Are there things to keep in mind for brands with global reach while running a campaign?

Really, having a global business doesn't change much while trying to come up with a campaign idea. Stefan thinks having a simple, uncomplicated campaign helps. Something that is fun, easy and relatable.

The last question of the hour was about 3 key take-aways from today's chat. I'm sure you can figure out what most people thought since they've been brought up a number of times. Set a goal, be creative, make it easy, take time to research your audience before implementing and if it meets the goal, use all of your marketing channels to spread the word.

You can read the entire chat here #HSEntChat

If you ever want to learn more about how to use social media to meet your business goals Hootsuite's chats are great for picking up ideas. Follow HootsuiteBusiness on Twitter and start learning!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Facebook Pages vs Facebook Profiles

Today I received a friend request on Facebook from an organization using a profile with their branded name. This is a big no no, and surprisingly still something I see happen from time to time.

This is how I politely (or so I hope) declined their Friend Request:

Hi! Not sure who I am talking to, but I want to let you know that I am denying your friend request and why I am doing it.
I do not accept any friend requests from businesses, brands, organizations etc. that are using Facebook profiles. I teach my clients to NEVER use a profile for their official page. I preach about regularly. I can not accept a request from someone who is doing the opposite of what I teach.
The reason I teach people this is two fold. One, using a profile to represent a brand or business etc. is against Facebook's Terms of Service. If you have even one person report you for it Facebook will shut you down immediately and you will loose everything you've worked for.
Two, Facebook Pages have an amazing amount of data provided about who is connected to your page and how they are interacting with your page. Anybody who is using Facebook to promote something is missing out on a gold mine of information that will help you reach your goals. Without that data you are basically spending time and energy on something you can never understand or measure. You will never know if what you are spending all that time on is making any difference.
I suggest you convert your profile to a page, or start a page and change this one to your personal name.
If you choose to convert you will keep all of your photos and all of the people you are connected to, but all of the posts will disappear.
If you choose to change this to your personal page (nobody says you can't talk about politics on your personal page, you can talk about whatever you want) and start a page, you will start from zero but you can send an invite to everyone you are connected with.
Feel free to get in touch if you need any help doing one or the other.

When Facebook became available to any and all users instead of simply students there was no way to represent your company. Personal profiles only. As more and more people started to use Facebook businesses started to notice and many of them started accounts so they could stay in touch with their customers. And Facebook noticed. And they reacted quickly. And they did something amazing. They introduced Pages.

Until Pages began a Facebook user was capped at 5000 friends. Many large brands and celebrities were starting to create second and third accounts so that they could connect with more people. Not only did Facebook make it easier to let brands connect with more people through Pages, they also started to collect and give to brands information about the types of people who were connecting with them.

Since before I started teaching brands online media I've been telling everyone I know to start a Facebook Page if they have a business. Facebook introduced Pages in late 2007! There is no reason in 2014 for someone to be creating a Profile for their business or organizations interests.

Please, if you are still using a Profile for you business, get in touch with me so we can set you up correctly. Make sure your time and effort is providing you with results.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

You are not Guy Kawasaki - stop trying to be!

Sharing links to other content is a strong part of any social media strategy. It's very valuable to be the person known in your industry for searching out all the important content and sharing it with your network. The average person does not want to read every industry trade, especially if it's from an industry they only use a few times, like mortgages, real estate, buying technology etc. So becoming the person in your industry who helps the average person get access to only the most important or informative bits of industry news is a worthy goal. Sometimes that goal is called "Becoming an expert in my industry"

I often teach my clients the five part posting system for Twitter:

1. Reply to other people
2. Retweet other people
3. Share a personable, easy to respond to, post about your day
4. Share links to other content about your industry
5. Share links to your own content

As you see, sharing links to news about your industry is an entire piece of the puzzle. It's something you definitely want to put some work into.

Sadly what I see a lot of on social media nowadays, both Twitter and Facebook, is that people are sharing links without adding any context whatsoever.

I teach my clients to ALWAYS add editorial comment on the link they are sharing.

This is important for two reasons.

1. As a reader, I want to know why you think this piece of news is important for me to read instead of something else. How does this news affect me as a consumer of your product, or how does this news affect you as a seller of this product? You need to give me a reason why I should click on this link and read it. Just giving me the headline of the article makes you no different than if I was following the industry trade paper. All I would read there would be the headlines also, then decide if I want to read it. If I'm following you because you are an excellent Curator of content it is because you have made the decision for me. I know when you post something that I want to read it because I know why it is important to ME.

2. When you are constantly sending links, with no thoughts of your own added to them, the reader begins to realize that maybe you haven't actually read the articles you are linking to. Slowly you start eroding your reputation as an expert in your industry and begin to build the reputation of being an expert at finding automation tools. I don't know about you, but I want a mortgage broker who does spend time every day staying on top of the most important news. I want a well read, well informed person working on my behalf for the best possible deal. I don't want to hire my mortgage broker to teach me which content curation automation tool they think is best... which is what that person actually knows about.

I only know one person in the wide internet famous world who got famous by doing nothing but sharing links, and that's Guy Kawasaki. But his secret is twofold.

First, Guy Kawasaki was already a successful and well known guy, having authored a number of books, worked for many years with Apple, launched a handful of start-ups and acting as Chief Evangelist for a few technology companies.

Second, Guy Kawasaki sent his first tweet in 2007, seven years ago, or in internet years, three generations ago at least! He was the first on the scene, helping people find great and interesting content on a World Wide Web which still had confusing search results, no easy to use news and RSS readers, no Pinterest!

So, don't throw out your plan to find the most interesting articles from around the internet to share with your followers. Just put a bit more thought and caring into it. At least as much thought and caring you would put into answering your customers questions.

ALWAYS add editorial comment with any link you share on social media.

Friday, January 31, 2014

What I'm Reading - Owner Magazine

Just yesterday I wrote about how important it is to maintain a balance between selling yourself or your business and talking with others on social media.

Today, I read this slightly cheeky, but frighteningly familiar blog post, by Chris Brogan "You Can't Talk About Yourself Enough, Apparently". In the post Chris shares the fact that a large number of his audience have no idea what he does. To be fair, he does a lot of things, he blogs, he teaches online workshops, he is a published author (Amazon affiliate link), he is a podcaster, he is the co-founder of the unconference, PodCamp Boston. But the thing he is doing now, which he is surprised so many people don't know about is, is that he is publishing an digital magazine called Owner Magazine.

I follow Owner Magazine in two ways, through the RSS feed which sends every new article to a website which collects them for me, and through an email newsletter which gets sent to me with new articles.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Holistic Web Marketing - Step Three, Drive Traffic

In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, this part is the Right Hook.

This is the part most difficult for businesses and organizations. When it comes to driving traffic to your website, building a list of leads, asking for sales businesses struggle to find a balance. They either do it constantly, or they never do it.

Driving traffic is about asking your network to take an action, usually called conversion. Business that do a great job of measuring the results of their marketing online keep track of many conversions, not only sales. A website visit, a request to join a mailing list, reading a blog post, watching a video, joining a webinar and more.

I'm not too proud to say I don't make mistakes :-0
Most of the time a business errs on the side of asking too much. A constant stream of tweets with links back to a business website or blog tells a potential follower that the business does not care about them or what they have to say.

Givers gain is a common mantra in the art of building a network. If all you are doing is asking something of your followers, but not giving them anything, you might as well be talking to yourself.

I know, I know, every blog post you write is full of knowledge you are giving away from free, but let's remember that the reason a person writes a blog is to make sure their website is visited often. That might be free knowledge you are giving away, but there is still a cost to the reader, you are still asking something of them. Stop looking so needy, "Come to my site, please!"

On the other side,there are businesses that can't quite understand how using a tool like Facebook or Twitter, or even writing a blog, will get them a sale. Sure you may know all of your followers favourite restaurants, their favourite tv shows and sports teams, you know who they are married to and how many kids they have, and they know the same things about you. But don't forget that you are here to get people to buy from you. Now that you've built trust with your followers, you need to ask them to do something once in awhile.

Just because your website is in your Twitter profile does not mean that your followers are going to click it. They might not have any idea what you do! Help them to understand.

There are  a number of different ratios I've heard around the water cooler of the internet. Some people love the Pareto principle and apply it to everything, so 80% of your posts should be about building your community and 20% about converting traffic or selling to them. I've heard of the lis-TEN ratio, 1 sales tweet to 10 replies. Gary Vaynerchuk argued to have his book called "Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook" since he feels it should be 5 jabs, or conversational posts, to one right hook.

I tell my clients they should follow these five steps, in order, on Twitter and Facebook
1. Reply or comment on someone else's post
2. Retweet or Share someone else's post
3. Be conversational - share something personable and easy to talk about
4. Share a piece of interesting or helpful content that is not owned by you
5. Talk about your business, share a link or ask for a sale.

Everyone has a different formula, but what you will notice is that the majority of what you do should not be asking for a sale, but you do need to ask for something. We are all busy people, help me out and make it easier for me to do business with you by letting me know what you can do.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In Service, The Series - Wellington Waterloo Webmakers Meetup

I keep thinking that I am at the end of this series, but then I remember one more neat thing I am a part of. Like the Wellington Waterloo Webmakers Meetup, which might actually be the Waterloo Wellington Webmakers Meetup, I'm not really sure which W come first.

Of course that name is new. Until a couple of weeks ago the group was called the Guelph Web Makers Meetup, or GWMM.

GWMM has been running for three years and is a monthly meetup bringing together any person involved in making a website or app. It's a really inclusive group that includes coders, designers, usability experts, SEO specialists, content creators and anybody that has ANY part in creating a website.

I started attending and found that even though I'm pretty much just on the soft side of website creation (in the content area) I was really interested in many of the other topics we covered. Some nights the demos went way over my head, but the results of what people were live coding was always really cool.

My involvement in GWMM got me back to coding and I started learning HTML and demo'd a website I created from scratch (no templates here). Sure it was only four pages and ugly as hell, but I built it.

I'm adding this group to my In Service series because I have donated my time to help market the group. Tonight I was at the Guelph Technology and Design Showcase, held at the University of Guelph in the Science Atrium. It is basically a career fair where local technology companies set up booths and meet with the computer sciences students.

This is the second year that I have attended and worked the GWMM booth, meeting with students and encouraging them to come to our group meetings. There are so many jobs available to computer science students, so many fields they can go into. But it is also a volatile industry, with start-ups launching and failing every day and long time established companies being pushed out of the industry when they stop innovating.

Like I said yesterday, everyone needs a network of people they can go to for support, and in the technology field the more people you know, the more opportunities there are for you. A meetup group is a great way to build that network.

Last year, as I mentioned, I build a webpage from scratch, with the help of GWMM and presented it to the group. It was not pretty, barely functional and had no bells and whistles, but the people watching (most of whom could have built that in seconds) were incredibly supportive and some even reminisced about their first time learning to code. It could have been a terribly embarrassing demo, but instead they shared my excitement about building something that worked.

Not long after that GWMM took part in an event which happens in Waterloo called Family Hack Jam. It's an event for kids to learn coding and engineering skills. There was a module for building a video game, one for HTML coding to build a website about a unique animal, a section for building 3D boxes with paper, and a section for using a 3D printer.

I was asked to represent GWMM and help run the module on HTML coding and building a website.

I feel strongly that there is absolutely no better way to learn a skill than to try to teach it to someone else. I got to spend that entire day teaching kids some very basic HTML coding, more basic even than the website I built. And I got to see in those kids what everyone else in GWMM saw in me when I was showing them my website, pride and amazement when you hit that button and the page loaded just the way you wanted it to.

Unfortunately, some of my other volunteering has gotten in the way of my regular involvement with the webmakers meetup. It's the one technology event in Guelph that I truly miss when I can't attend it, and it's been a long while since I've been to a meetup. So when the opportunity came to go represent the group tonight I jumped at.

I think the GWMM has been one of the most beneficial things I've been involved with and has both introduced me to a network of people I can go to for help, and taught me how to do things I used to think were beyond me. I was happy to put in 4 hours of my time tonight and tell the comp-sci students how much they can gain by attending a meetup.

And you can bet I will be at the next one, February 12th at Symposium Cafe at 7pm. See you there, maybe?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Holistic Web Marketing - Step Two, Network Building

We've already talked about one of the first benefits and goals of creating an online presence and that is controlling the message people receiving about your brand.

Today we will talk about the next benefit anybody can achieve using online tools and that is building a network. Depending on the client we call a network an internet army, brand advocates, referral partners, and even friends.

Offline people rely on a support network for many personal and business goals. Parents rely on trustworthy neighbourhood kids to babysit. Men and women rely on other club members to fill in their golf foursomes. Business people rely on BNI or Rotary or Chambers of Commerce to get referrals. Some people even rely on the people they meet at pubs to come over on weekends and help them build decks and fences.

Any person in your life that you ask for help from is a person in your "network". The word networking has a bit of a bad connotation, bringing to mind smarmy used car salesmen types with business cards they hand out everywhere from their kids choir recitals, to funerals. In reality it is every single person you know, some are smarmy, and some are genuine and lovely people.