Why Every Brand Needs to Practice Social Listening

A brand can only improve its marketing strategy once it's able to gauge its audience's reaction. This goes beyond measuring likes, shares, comments, retweets, likes, and hearts. Acquiring an honest and broad reaction means discovering what people are saying much further than your comments section.

 

Social listening is defined by Sprout Social as the "process of tracking conversations around specific phrases, words or brands, and then leveraging them to discover opportunities or create content for those audiences."

 

In other words, on a broad level you're gauging the overall feeling of your brand. On an individual level you're engaging with users to improve your customer service and their satisfaction in dealing with your business. From this information, you can develop a successful strategy "built around reaching the right people at the best time with the most insightful content."

 

Some agencies and community managers might say they already listen, but they're likely mistaking listening with monitoring:

 

"Monitoring collects every social mention and action, while listening requires analysis and reflection. With the latter, you can watch for patterns, track sentiment and draw conclusions based on where and when conversations happen."

 

There's a difference between waiting for the comments to come to you and going after the comments themselves. Addressing a comment left on your social media is fine, but you know what's better? Having a social listening platform where you implement keywords that alert you when mentioned. That's how you go above and beyond to scope out engagement.

 

Most users aren't going to directly call you out if they have a comment or concern. In fact, on Twitter, "30% of tweets mentioning your company don't include your Twitter handle" and "only 9% of tweets are actually directed at your brand."

 

Here are a few suggestions from HootSuite on what type of keywords you can follow:

 

  1. Brand name and handles
  2. Your product names
  3. Competitors' brand names, product names, and handles
  4. Industry buzzwords
  5. Your slogan and those of your competitors
  6. Names of key people in your company and your competitors'
  7. Campaign names or keywords
  8. Your branded hashtags and those of your competitors
  9. Unbranded hashtags related to your industry

 

So while you could be waiting for that notification bell to ring, there could be hundreds of mentions going unnoticed simply because the users didn't '@' you. The real tragedy in this realization is the untapped potential and opportunities missed because of these often overlooked social media variables.

 

Nearly every piece of engagement can be looked at as an opportunity to establish brand loyalty and superior customer service. Concerns could be addressed, compliments can be thanked, and influencers can be identified. Even for something mundane, a response could be made just to show you're there and listening.

 

Here's a perfect example:

 

 

Notice how the brand wasn't '@'ed or hashtagged. Virgin Mobile USA had to search for the complaint. They were likely using a social listening tool, such as Sprinklr or Hootsuite, implemented 'Virgin Mobile' as a keyword, and found Brad Ruddock's comment among the thousands of mentions they likely get on a daily basis.

 

Even if Brad's matter doesn't get resolved, he can still walk away with a far more positive experience than before. He can still say Virgin Mobile actually reached out to help. If there's one thing he can't complain about, it's their customer service's attentiveness.

 

Social media presents significant opportunities like these for customer service, yet it's often taken for granted by companies of all sizes. This, despite an Oracle study discovering that "43% of users interact with brands on social media for a direct response to a problem or question", with an "additional 31% interacting with brands to gain direct access to customer service representatives or product experts."

 

Let's utilize a fun little thing I like to call perspective. Put yourself in the shoes of a frustrated customer, which shouldn't be difficult because we have all been in that position. You have a problem and want it resolved, but what's the route you have to go? Most of the time, it's calling a customer service rep.

 

But it's never that simple is it? It's hitting buttons. It's navigating to the right department. It's talking to several (hopefully human) reps before finally reaching the right one. It's spending time on hold. It's just one thing after another and before you know it, you've used up an hour of your free time trying to resolve what you thought would be a simple issue.

 

In today's age, people are more than happy to choose the internet or texting over having to call someone to communicate what they need. It's just more convenient to log on to a website or social media account and talk to someone there, as opposed to calling someone and getting the runaround.

 

If Brad had an issue with Virgin Mobile and decided to call them, he likely would have been on the phone for an hour. Instead, all he had to do was mention their name and he got an almost immediate response.

 

Both Virgin Mobile and Brad are better because of it. Good for them. But especially for Virgin Mobile because "70% of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they're treated". While Brad may not be a return customer because of the product itself, he may return simply because their customer service was attentive and immediate.

 

Providing a high-quality experience, in fact, is far more effective than any advertisement. Did you know that "90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 33% trust ads?" It shouldn't be a surprise, but people are more likely to trust their friends than a brand they've never done business with.

 

Sometimes the disgruntled customers you can engage with aren't even mad at you. Instead, they're frustrated with a competitor. Now's your chance to be their rebound:

 

 

Would this opportunity ever have been noticed if Jakub was simply social listening? Most likely not. His brand, Brand24, is likely a competitor of Radian6, and he was able to identify this opportunity because he had 'Brand24' as a keyword. When he finally saw an opening, through a customer frustrated with their current service, he leapt at the opportunity.

 

As a result of social listening, they now have one more customer they never would have had without it.

 

Get creative in your social listening strategy. It's easy to find keywords focused on you, but it's not enough if you're really looking to engage and interact with every potential customer. Go further by engaging with people interested in your industry and, even further, those that are already associated with a competitor.

 

Social media has afforded brands the ability to interact with current and potential customers on a level they never had before. Letting it go to waste is performing a disservice to your brand by taking yourself out of the running for your next sale.

 

So next time you log on, just listen. You'd be surprised what you're audience has to say.


6 Digital Marketing Trends for 2017 and Beyond

1. Snapchat is only gaining in popularity among milennials (But Facebook is still king)

Among milennials, no social media platform is matching Snapchat in a short-term popularity contest:

"According to research by student loans company LendEDU, 58 percent of the 9,381 milennials it polled said they typically open up a Snapchat before Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn."

It's rise to social media supremacy has been unprecedented. Not only has it overtaken Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn as America's second-favorite social network (It was fifth last year), it "grew as much in one year as Twitter had in four years combined!"

Don't give them the crown just yet, however. Facebook still sits on the throne and doesn't appear to be giving up its title anytime soon. In the same survey where Snapchat had become the second-favorite social network of Americans, Facebook blew it out of the water; "8% of Americans cited Snapchat as the place they visit most. It's still far behind Facebook, a place that 61% of social media using Americans say is their favorite."

But that doesn't indicate a shift could be gradually approaching...

"Facebook (including Messenger) remains the most popular social platform among Americans 12-24 years old, with 21% saying they use Facebook most. Snapchat is second with 26%, far outpacing Instagram at 17%.

"[In the past year], 10% of the entire nation's population of social media using 12-24 year-olds moved from Facebook to Snapchat as their platform of choice."

Only time will tell if Snapchat's popularity is a constantly ascending staircase or a bubble just waiting to burst. Seeing as it only appeals to the younger generation, whereas Facebook is still appealing to all ages, I'd side with the latter (Don't bring this up to me in 2032 when Snapchat is running the world).

2. Yes, More Social Media Advertising Spending

As social media expands its capabilities as an advertising platform, advertisers are fully committing to either standing pat on their current marketing budgets, or investing even more:

"61% of advertisers plan to spend more on Facebook, said ClickZ Intelligence. And the web publisher found that investment in Twitter is expected to increase by more than 25%."

This has less to do with brands suddenly discovering Facebook and Twitter, and more to do with different avenues through which people can be reached and engaged with. We're beyond link and image posts. On Facebook, for example, you can create videos, versatile Canvas ads, 360 videos, and video slideshows. It's all indicative of a new availability of advertising to pounce on and use to distinguish your brand.

In another survey by PointVisible, they found that over the next 12 months 39% of B2C and B2B content marketers plan to increase their spending, while only 2% planned to decrease it. 42% said spending will likely remain the same.

In content creation overall, 70% of B2B marketers and 73% of B2C marketers said they will be spending more in 2017 compared to 2016. Content marketing will be a "$300 billion industry by 2019 -- this means it will double in under four years."

And speaking of content...

3. There's going to be a lot more of it

Since we're on the topic of more spending, we can distinguish where that spending is going towards.

There's a perception that users are just overexposed to traditional advertisements and inundated by how ubiquitous it is. Think about it. There's no escape, unless you completely disconnect from technology.

New approaches need to be taken to reach out to users without overwhelming and irritating them to the point of exhaustion, and studies have been conducted to find them.

One of the more revelations from PointVisible's study was that "70% of people would rather learn about a company through articles rather than an advertisement" and "4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it."

Content is getting more versatile as users have grown weary of seeing the same ads over and over again on a loop. Something new has to be offered to keep them interested. It's why we're expecting an increase in blogs as an advertising tool, and why "69% of companies report their video marketing budget is increasing."

4. But also, More Newsletters

Are you starting to pick up on this trend of more? There's going to be more of everything digital marketing-wise in 2017 and further on.

As mentioned before, there's a need for newness from our advertising efforts. It's become a life component that's unavoidable and needs readjusting, in order to provide users with a memorable experience once again. Just like with any technology, if there's a newer, more efficient, more convenient, and more stimulating competitor, users will gravitate to that.

So what if we try to find new ways to not only reach our audience, but to help it grow, as well. Aside from videos, "in 2017, more brands will launch targeted e-newsletters as the key method to grow audiences."

E-Newsletters are an excellent way of developing an audience without investing too much money and investing too many hours. But they have to be done right, because an E-Newsletter could be composed for nothing if its design isn't engaging enough or if its content isn't interesting enough.

It has to appeal to your audience, which you can find and add to your email list through lead generation ads and visits to your website asking for their email, with content that provides value. You want your newsletter to be informative, feature headlines that grab your attention, and be laden with designs and appealing images that keep the reader interested and their eyes darting from end-to-end of the email.

5. Mobile is still everything 

It goes without saying that if you're still not optimizing for mobile, you're selling your business short. As of early 2016, "mobile represented 65% of digital media time, while the desktop is becoming a 'secondary touch point' for an increasing number of digital users."

Basically, why go through the process of loading up your desktop or laptop when you have a computer within your pocket? It's all about convenience. Just give me the information and stimulation I need at the moment, without me having to get up and get it.

Life just keeps getting easier in terms of instant gratification. It's probably why "mobile will account for 72% of US digital ad spend by 2019" since that's where all the eyes are, as indicated by studies, mobile vs. desktop usage, and, you know, just looking around you at any given time while you're in public.

Go ahead and try it next time. When you're out in the city, and hopefully not peering into your phone, look around and notice how many people are buried in their phones. Then you'll realize just how important mobile optimization is. You're potentially missing out on the sales or awareness you could be generating when those users aren't home and need a distraction.

Think we're missing out on a trend? Drop us a message on our Facebook or call us!


YouTube Demonetization and Why It Should Worry You

Sometimes what's good on paper doesn't mean it's good in practice. Sometimes it veils something far more nefarious in its intentions.

 

Take YouTube and their recent controversy. In order to combat their definition of 'extremist content', the worldwide video-sharing platform responded to threat of a mass advertising boycott by "implementing 'broader demonetization policies' around 'content that is harassing or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories'".

 

Honestly, it's tough to blame them for this approach when "analysts are predicting that Google will lose roughly $750 million as a result of an international ad boycott that kicked off last month, when marketers discovered that their campaigns were running against extremist videos on YouTube."

 

"The latest companies to pull their ads from the video platform include Pepsi, Walmart, Starbucks, FX, General Motors, Dish, JP Morgan, Johnson & Johnson, and Lyft, Variety reports. They join AT&T, Verizon, GSK, and Enterprise Holdings, which pulled their ads earlier this week, citing the same concerns."

 

Sounds great, right? While YouTube is headquartered in America, the hub of equal and free speech, it still exists as a private company, meaning it can ultimately decide which content it wants on its platform. So if they find a video that promotes harassment and just blind hatred, they have the right to 'demonetize' those videos or flat-out remove them.

 

Demonetization is the process of decreasing the money a channel can make off a video once it reaches a certain view count threshold:

 

"While creators can get revenue from ads, individual views don't account for much money until they reach the hundreds of thousands. Making sure your videos can reliably have ads matched with them is essential for creators being able to have long-term revenue."

 

Here's a list of things that may result in demonetization, according to YouTube's new policy:

 

  1. Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor
  2. Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism
  3. Inappropriate language, including harassment, swearing and vulgar language
  4. Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use, and abuse of such items
  5. Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown.

 

How idealistic. Unfortunately, I, as you should as well, have two major issues with this. For one, most of it is completely subjective, and two, it's vague. The fifth point, in fact, is absurd in how broad it's defined:

 

"Guidelines that contain something as broad as 'subjects related to political conflicts' do not provide creators with useful information. It makes it sound as if YouTube is no longer going to monetize channels that cover current events, which of course is not the case."

 

And in the case of subjectivity, who is ultimately deciding what constitutes as hate speech, especially in this day and age where something as simple as challenging a different opinion can be defined as such. If I'm a conservative with millions of subscribers and I have thoughts on illegal immigration, what's to stop enough people with different beliefs and a large following to report me enough times to have my video demonetized.

 

Take for instance the YouTube Heroes program rolled out last September; perhaps one of the greatest attacks on free speech based on subjectivity you'll ever witness on a social media platform:

 

"YouTube heroes gives users the option to flag a video for being inappropriate, and as a result you can get your video demonetized by it becoming age restricted or removed completely, which will add a strike to your channel and possibly lead to it being deleted."

 

 

Oh, but it gets better. And by better, I mean much, much worse. Here's the five-step process:

 

  1. Become a hero
  2. Learn more in seminars
  3. Unlock super tools that allow you to mass flag videos
  4. Get behind the scenes access, contact YouTube staff directly, and try new products first
  5. Top hero perks, basically become a full-time unpaid Google employee.

 

Imagine my shock when I saw comments were disabled on the official video, which currently sits with a Like/Dislike ratio of 30,722:956,895.

 

This is where a huge problem lies. A video can get demonetized simply because it offended the wrong person or people. What offends some may not offend others. This isn't as simple as a hardcore racist saying "I believe Race X is better than Race Y and Race Z is worse than all of them!".  A vast majority of the time it comes down to innocuous beliefs that other people simply don't agree with.

 

But again it isn't as simple as that, either. What it appears to be is an outright attack on YouTube content creators with good intentions. Because this demonetization process isn't just attacking the likes of virulent racists like David Duke. It's going after creators like H3H3 Productions, Philip DeFranco and even Jenna Marbles, who "have all had hundreds of videos no longer qualify for advertising revenue, and other YouTubers are claiming they didn't have a chance to appeal to their demonetization."

 

 

 

"It isn't just large channels that are being affected by these changes -- YouTuber Tim TV, who has been a fulltime YouTuber for about six months, told Kotaku that he saw that his revenue was, 'tanking faster than ever before,' and that he found the changes 'terrifying'".

 

Here's a little background from H3H3's Ethan Klein on just how out of line and lacking in transparency YouTube can be when it rolls out these vague stipulations:

 

 

You heard that right. Even tagging things like 'Suicide', 'Rape', and 'Drugs' can get your video demonetized, not taking any of the context whatsoever into mind. That means someone who tagged 'Suicide' because they wanted to give advice on suicide prevention, or a rape survivor who wanted to tell their story and tagged 'Rape', or a doctor who wanted to give medical advice and tags 'Drugs' would have had their videos demonetized.

 

And the worst part of it all? YouTube didn't even warn the creators. Just read how lacking in foresight this approach was:

 

"In 2012, YouTube began demonetizing videos based on new advertising-friendly guidelines. This was not done by people, but by an algorithm that looked at metadata of videos and other factors to decide whether it was likely to be something as an advertiser wouldn't want to be associated with."

 

But don't worry, because everything is better now, right? Well..

 

"Google currently uses a mixture of automated screening and human moderation to police its video sharing platform and to ensure that ads are only placed against appropriate content."

 

Look, we get it. YouTube is a massive platform with billions of videos from all over the world. Sometimes automation is the only way to keep some things in check that a human can't reach. However, this is a significant issue when YouTubers like Matan Uziel is no longer getting ad revenue on their videos dealing with "women about hardship, including sex trafficking, abuse and racism."

 

Why did it get pulled? Isn't it obvious? One of those automated screeners saw "sexually suggestive content", maybe some "violence", and "controversial or sensitive subjects and events", and was programmed to demonetize the video of a creator with obvious good intentions.

 

But they're not alone:

 

"Dr. Aaron Carroll runs a channel dedicated to healthcare policy and research and discovered this week that 27 of his videos were demonetized and had been for months. It seems likely that the algorithm regularly flagged a program discussing prescription drug costs, the opioid epidemic, and treatments for diabetes because it thought those videos were celebrating illegal drug use."

 

How is that for a precedent set by YouTube? If you dare used your large following to discuss the evils of addictive drugs or tell the stories of abused victims, no ad revenue for you. Oh, and like Ethan explained in the video, they wouldn't tell you about it, either. You wouldn't get notified and your video wouldn't even become age restricted. Your video would just be demonetized.

 

Fortunately, this policy changed last fall. YouTube now:

 

  1. Lets you know when a video has been demonetized
  2. Shows a notice next to demonetized videos
  3. Allows you to request a manual review of demonetized videos
  4. Re-monetizes videos that the review finds to be not in violation of YouTube's ad-friendly policy.

 

It's a great gesture sure. But why did it take four years to correct, and why were channels not even notified in the first place?

 

It was a shoot first, ask questions second policy. By thinking they're doing the right thing and acquiescing to the demands of their advertisers (Not surprising considering YouTube operates at a loss), they negatively affect innocent YouTube content creators who treat the platform as a full-time job and livelihood.

 

As YouTuber Arin 'Egoraptor' Hanson' said, "he wanted YouTube to 'be more clear about what advertisers are opposed to having their ads displayed on. What can creators do specifically to make their content more advertiser friendly?'"

 

But to really get into the meat of YouTube and its advertisers' intentions with subjective censorship and constant threats of demonetization for ThoughtCrime, I don't think we can go anywhere until we explore what I have dubbed The PewDiePie Situation.

 

For those who don't know, PewDiePie is basically the face of YouTube. He has over 54 million subscribers, and his videos are basically him talking into a webcam talking about one thing or another. His audience is mostly made up of the younger generation, mainly middle and high school kids.

 

But about a month ago, PewDiePie was attacked, seemingly at random, by the Wall Street Journal who took some out-of-context jokes and videos and decided to go on a character assassination spree.

 

"According to the Journal's analysis, over the last six months the YouTuber posted nine videos that included either anti-semitic jokes or Nazi imagery, including one, posted on January 11th, that featured two men holding a banner that stated: 'Death to All Jews'. Another video, posted January 22nd, featured a man dressed as Jesus saying, "Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong."

 

The entire premise was based on Fiverr, a company that asks buyers to pay just $5 to do absurd things, like having two people dressed in traditional native garb to hold up a sign that says 'Death to All Jews', or having a man dress as Jesus and saying "Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong." PewDiePie was convinced they wouldn't do it because of how insane the statements were, but they actually did it.

 

Out-of-touch, narrative-driven journalists who worked for traditional outlets discovered the videos and went on a crusade to take down the evil PewDiePie empire. They went through his videos, chopped up more out of context clips in his videos, and said, "See! See! Look how evil he is! How can parents let their children watch this?"

 

PewDiePie was not contacted by the WSJ to defend himself for their first hit piece.

 

As a result of this attack, PewDiePie actually lost out on a partnership with Disney's Maker Studios. Also as a result of this attack, PewDiePie's 50 million+ subscribers realized traditional media outlets are using out of context video clips to defame the character of a YouTuber who had exhibited zero anti-semitic or racist tendencies in the past.

 

The Wall Street Journal, worth noting, has 2.1 million subscribers. It was also voted as one of the least cool brands by 18-24 year olds.

 

And isn't it just ironic that the author of the original hit piece of PewDiePie was written by Ben Fritz, who composed a tweet in 2009 stating: "Just attended my first chanukah party. Had no idea jews were so adept at frying." Here's another in 2015 talking about having a "hard on purely for the Nazis" and one more stating "well obviously I'm not counting jokes about black people. Those are just funny."

 

So what's the meaning of this? Why is the Wall Street Journal of all publications going after YouTube's most popular YouTuber? Well, I did some research into the WSJ and have a theory, but let me preface it with this response from PewDiePie on the whole ordeal:

 

"Old-school media does not like internet personalities because they are scared of us. We have so much influence and such a large voice, and I don't think they understand that. The story was an attack towards me by the media to try and discredit me, decrease my influence."

 

While I would like to personally cite and specifically quote the Wall Street Journal's findings and rebuttals, I can't because I need to pay for a subscription. It's exemplary of how a bitter, dying, and desperate publication from the old guard is lashing out and attacking the new; latching onto a statement or joke that could be misconstrued as racist or anti-semitic, which is basically a death sentence to someone working in the public eye, and selling that to uninformed users.

 

In perfect media collaboration, the Washington Post, Vox (who had the slimy audacity to, once again, use an out of context clip of PewDiePie raising his arm and equating it to a Nazi salute as their cover image for the article), Wired, and Salon were all quick to jump on the "Is PewDiePie a Nazi/Alt-Righter/Racist?" bandwagon.

 

YouTube content creators, people like PewDiePie, H3H3, and Philip DeFranco, are independent and don't answer to anyone other than what appeals to their subscribers. They don't answer to advertisers, high-profile donors, boards of directors, executives, or producers. These are people armed simply with a webcam, a microphone, and a platform reaching tens of millions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BBmu_kFHrs

 

To the traditional media, this isn't just terrifying, it's a threat to their information monopoly.

 

Independent media, courtesy of the unbridled internet and social media platforms like Twitter and YouTube, have been on the rise and have shaken traditional media to its core. Distrust in these institutions is sewn as more and more people realize they're not getting the full story, while independent media, free of influence, is providing a perspective that's never discussed.

 

How do you attack these independents when they don't have a higher power that they answer to? It's simple. You hit them where it really hurts: Their ad revenue, their character through out-of-context clips, enlisting critics with opposing beliefs, employing other mainstream outlets to join your crusade, broad and extremely vague definitions of 'extremism', and using the platform they post on to crackdown on them.

 

But this isn't just an attack on popular YouTubers. It's an attack on counter-narratives and content creators not shackled by the constraining chains of producers, boards of directors, and advertisers.

 

So it's only natural that these dying publications in their death throes, like a cornered animal, are lashing out at its threats. Like YouTubers with over 50 million subscribers, or simply any YouTuber who is developing a following strong enough to take eyes off traditional outlets that are pushing a narrative delivered from on high.

 

Remember: "Whoever controls the media, controls the mind." There is nothing more integral to controlling the whims of the masses than the control of information. There should be nothing surprising that in the age of "fake news" a popular YouTuber is getting randomly attacked, advertisers are threatening boycotts, and traditional media outlets are doing their best to defame independent sources of info.

 

The only question that remains now is, just how long do the traditional media outlets think they have left?


4 Surprising Social Media Insights We've Made over the Past Week

One social media week has come and gone, one social media week of insights has come and is now here for your viewing pleasure!

 

Rejoice!

 

miami-heat-champagne-celebration-chris-bosh

 

We've done some extra special research for you, dear reader, today as we delve into four trends we've noticed, complete with plenty of evidence, that are currently shaping the future of social media.

 

You may be surprised to learn that....

 

1. Video is taking over

 

In our recent posts about Facebook brands doing it right, we mentioned the great work Samsung Mobile is doing by crafting social media posts that are fun, interactive and engaging to the user.

 

With nearly 41 million likes, Samsung Mobile has the ninth-most Facebook page likes among brands, trailing only the likes of McDonalds, Disney and Red Bull, but ahead of other giant corporations such as Oreo, KFC, and Starbucks.

 

What Samsung is doing that has vaulted them to the peak of social media is their content, namely the short videos they somehow churn out almost every day. These videos last between 15 and 30 seconds, but are usually intense, thought-provoking, and highlight features of their phones, without making the video too sales-y.

 

Check out their Facebook page if you want to see these videos for yourself. They all receive at least 1,000 likes, around 100 shares, and hundreds of comments, as well.

 

Samsung isn't the only brand on social media to employ this content strategy. In fact, there are plenty of other brands doing the same thing, such as McDonalds and General Electric.

 

They're doing this because video on Facebook and its newfound popularity. How popular? This popular:

 

"In September 2014, Facebook announced that its platform was generating more a billion views per day. Just months prior in June, the social giant revealed that for the first time ever, it had served more views than YouTube."

 

That's right. Facebook is beating out YouTube, the website whose content is dependent solely on videos, in video views.

 

And brands have taken notice, even incorporating sponsorships and partnerships (Samsung with the Tour de France and McDonalds with Minions). They're able to pump out these well-produced, creative videos on a near daily basis because more attention is being invested by those company's marketing departments.

 

Which leads me to my next point...

 

2. Facebook has become a legitimate advertising platform

 

Organic reach is dead, and brands killed it.

 

Prior to this recent flurry that has featured brands flocking to social media and mingling with their online audience, it was possible to make a stable social media living off of organic reach alone. Without spending a dime, you could create content that would get out to your audience and possibly more, simply because there wasn't a lot of competition that existed at the time.

 

In fact, it's causing a shift:

 

"The drop in organic reach has been apocalyptic for many businesses. This will force some businesses to reconsider Facebook as a viable channel and enable a migration to less noisy venues."

 

Now that you have innovative, bigger companies with even bigger pockets, social media has become pay-to-play.

 

According to Shoutlet.com:

 

"There's going to be a big shift in social media in filtering content from users and brands. Brands organic reach has declined significantly, while content is estimated to grow by 600% by 2020. Social media is no longer free and to see any results you'll have to 'pay-to-play'. "

 

Further to the point, the marketing budget towards social media is rising every day:

 

"28% of marketers have reduced their advertising budget to fund more digital marketing."

 

and furthermore:

 

"Social network ad spending is expected to hit $23.68 billion worldwide in 2015--an increase of 33.5% from 2014. Another forecast from the Social Times points out that Facebook's CPC rose roughly 8% between 2013 and 2014. The right time to venture into social media is now because, over time, this channel is only going to get more competitive."

 

Here's some advice: Don't even bother venturing into social media, especially on Facebook, and promoting your brand unless you're willing to spend. Now that there are corporations willing to invest their marketing budget into social media, smaller brands and pages can't compete with minuscule budgets or none at all.

 

But not all hope is lost....

 

3. Pinterest is becoming a lot more masculine and, therefore, more popular

 

For those who don't know, Pinterest is another social media network, but it differs in that it allows users to create their own Pin-boards, which feature all of the products, places, or people a user enjoys looking at. People can create all sorts of different Pin-boards that divert into varying categories, from DIY to a Christmas list.

 

That ringing you just heard in your ears is the bell telling you, "Wake up! This is an untapped source of advertising!"

 

Sure enough, Pinterest has made a name for itself as a network that makes people want to shop. Check out this revealing find:

 

"Pinterest users were bouncing from Pinterest to company websites at a rate almost seven times higher than they were in 2001. In fact, the Shareaholic study reports that 5% of all traffic to the 300,000 websites came from Pinterest."

 

and this one:

 

"Pinterest is second only to Facebook in the amount on traffic it drives to websites."

 

Really? What else?

 

"Pinterest has recently become the fastest-growing channel, surpassing Instagram."

 

Go on.....

 

"eMarketer predicts steady growth for years to come, reaching a total audience of 60 million in 2019; Pinterest's 24% growth will outshine Facebook's 9.2%."

 

Can you be any more enticing?

 

"The number of Pinterest users more than doubled in the second half of 2014....in the last six months of 2014, active users increased by 111%, and members increased by 57%."

 

THERE'S GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS. GRAB YOUR PICKAXE, WHATEVER THEY NAMED PEOPLE IN THE 1870S, BECAUSE WE'RE GOING AFTER SWEET, SWEET PINTEREST ADVERTISING MONEY."

 

Of course, there is a catch, and it involves Pinterest's demographic. There's a reason why Pinterest is so successful at bouncing users from their page to a shopping website:

 

"Pinterest's audience, on the other hand, is dominated by women in their 30s with young families--a group that does the majority of the shopping. Pinterest draws this demographic because it conveniently delivers information on a range of products and services women need for their families."

 

And that's where the problem lies: Pinterest, at the moment, is too much of a niche community that serves only one demographic, which are young moms. This works out well for certain companies that pander to that demographic, but most advertisers would rather target an eclectic array of users and a much greater audience.

 

But not all is lost as far as advertising on Pinterest goes:

 

"In a November 2014 Business Insider interview, Pinterest head of engineering Michael Lopp claims the platform has doubled the number of men signing up in the past year, and that its male audience is experiencing faster growth than its female audience. Further, the gender split in emerging markets like China and India is closer to 50/50."

 

Get in while you can. Seriously.

 

And speaking of buying things off the internet...

 

4. The world is mobile

 

Are you somewhere in public? Look around you right now. What percentage of the people are looking down at their smartphones? Now look in a nearby window and use it as a mirror. What are you doing reading this in public? Jesus, dude, socialize!

 

OK, fine, you can keep listening since you, like so many people, are perfectly content not being sociable and contributing to the incredible lack of empathy that has stained society today.

 

BUT ANYWAY!

 

That little device that has consumed us and turned us into emotionless husks asking the closest person next to you, "HEY, DID YOU READ THAT ARTICLE ABOUT THE CAT THAT JUMPED OFF A 10-STORY BUILDING" is also becoming utilized as one of the most important tools in the social media battleground.

 

Mainly, it's being looked at as a tool you can use to buy with:

 

"Mobile payments are early today, but will soon skyrocket. In late 2013, just 6% of US adults said they had made a payment in a store by scanning or tapping their smartphone at a payment terminal. It will go up to 8% this year. Nearly 15% of Starbucks customers already pay with their phones. And, 60% of consumers use their smartphones to pay because of loyalty benefits."

 

Brands are getting innovative with mobile. Smartly, they're taking advantage of people already using their mobile as an extension of their arm. Without having to put their phone away to rifle through their wallet, brands, mainly Starbucks, allow their customers to never have to put their phone down!

 

Sad? Yes. Savvy? Oh yeah.

 

Dependence on mobile is especially huge on social media:

 

"31% of all traffic to the top 10 digital properties was mobile-only visitation....More than half of all social networks will occur on smartphones and tablets."

 

How do you make your content reflect better on mobile devices? When it comes to advertising, the shorter the copy, the better, especially on a website like LinkedIn. While you're allowed a maximum of 500 words in some cases for copy, mobile devices will only show the first 150 words before it cuts out.

 

Therefore, you're better off creating a 150-word piece of copy, rather than utilizing the full 500 words because of the great utilization of mobile devices to browse social networks.

 

With all of this information, remember to always stay updated with trends, otherwise you could be investing your time and money into a channel or practice thats popularity has already come and gone.


Connecting with Your Audience on an Emotional Level

When you write, you build a connection with your reader. Every sentence should be made with great care and preparation since you are investing the time and effort into bridging a gap between yourself and the reader to get the emotional response you're hoping for.

 

That response is what drives people to become conversions. If you're trying to convince someone to make an impulse buy, there's a need to evoke an emotion that yearns to help satisfy a need. They dominate our decisions and experiences. They're dangerously overwhelming.

 

Take being in love as an example.

 

When you're in love, you obsess over it and become irrational. Suddenly, logic is absent and you start to do, say or think things that are almost alien to you and your ideals. When emotion fades away and you come to your senses, you look back and ask yourself what you were thinking. You might even be embarrassed by your actions, yet you can't explain them.

 

Emotions can blind and lead you down paths you've never experienced, for better or worse. This is the level copywriters need to establish with their audience. Emotion in copy is a necessity because it's how you engage and build a relationship with your audience.

 

Your words have to tap into a recess of the mind that are going to convince the user to take action. Otherwise you're just writing for the sake of writing; affecting nobody, treating the task like a chore and letting everyone know about it because of how sober it is.

 

If readers aren't engaged in your writing, they're not going to keep reading. They'll get bored or distracted and move on to something else that they hope can captivate them. You can't blame this as a phenomena of our times. If your work is passionless and devoid of substance, the response will reflect it.

 

The importance of connecting on an emotional level cannot be overstated:

 

"Everything starts with emotion. Memories affect our thoughts and opinions; feelings affect our moods and behaviors. The human limbic system is the gatekeeper for all higher thought processing and evaluation."

 

Since you're not writing the great American novel with every post, email or piece of web copy, you are limited in your ability to fascinate. This ability to enable focus and generate undivided attention is a pillar of connecting with someone. Think back to grade school when you used to bring something from home for show and tell. You weighed every possibility in your possession to find something that would impress your peers.

 

Something that would fascinate them.

 

Now the question is, "How can I apply this to my writing?"

 

Fortunately, bestselling author and brand consultant Sally Hogshead commissioned The Kelton Fascination Study, where she discovered seven basic facets to fascination:

 

Alert

 

Write something that will get your reader's heart racing and make them see red. Evoke thoughts of danger, sirens, and hysteria to keep your audience fascinated and what action they should take next. Whatever the warning may be, it's fear that you should be generating.

 

Basically, watch CNN or FOX News for an hour and apply that to your content.

 

Mystique

 

Just think back to any unsolved mystery or conspiracy theory that fascinates (There's that word again) you.

 

This is CNN spending days on what could have possibly happened to a plane disappearing, BuzzFeed exclaiming that "YOU WON'T BELIEVE" this minor thing that happened, or unconfirmed reports of Polish explorers finding long-lost gold from World War II.

 

People are inherently curious and love a good mystery. A lot of people will take things at surface value, but there are many others out there that want to dig deeper.

 

"To create mystique, begin your introduction with a juicy question that begs for an intriguing answer. Jump in with a descriptive story, tapping into the senses, to trigger passion. Establish trust with supporting facts and figures, or maintain a consistent (yet engaging) style your readers can count on."

 

Innovation

 

I alluded to this in a previous blog about the prospect of something 'New' and just how powerful of an influencer it can be:

 

"People are constantly on the lookout for something new that’s going to add a breath of fresh air and an extra boost to a life that may be entrenched in the trudging pace of mediocrity and routine. With a promise of something new, it represents hope for a change for the better.

The prospect of ‘Something new on the horizon’ excites people. Your curiosity and wonder is heightened because ‘new’ represents mystery, possibility and discovery. A ‘new’ car means newer, better features. A ‘new’ home means updated, modern designs and the start of a new life. A ‘new’ job means new opportunity."

 

Prestige

 

A staple of advertising geared towards high society and those with deep pockets, prestige is all about one-upsmanship.

 

Your neighbor gets a nice car, now you need a nicer car. Your co-worker gets a brand new phone, now you need to pre-order the phone that hasn't come out yet. Your friend gets a nice house, now you need a bigger house.

 

Just look at this ad by BMW reeking of smugness and achievement:

 

bmw-prestige

 

If BMW telling Audi, "Good job, good effort" isn't the ultimate sign of elite one-upsmanship, I wouldn't like to know what is.

 

Trust

 

Before anything else, you need to build trust with your audience. This is also something I mentioned in a previous blog post:

 

"Trust is difficult to cultivate, especially with someone you just met, mainly because of their past experiences. Your buyer’s jaded and you need to lay it all out there that you’re different. The only way to break through someone’s tough exterior is to make yourself vulnerable first by genuinely letting buyers know who you are and what your product does."

 

Your audience needs to be secure in their decision-making when dealing with you. Build it through transparency and honesty displayed through your work with previous customers. Use testimonials to showcase how trustworthy you are.

 

Of course, you can only gain those testimonials by being honest and reliable in the first place.

 

Power

 

Offer your audience something that's going to make them feel powerful and in control. Something that will give them power over "people, circumstances and self." Even if the power is minimal, make your reader feel that the knowledge they wield will break down walls and reconstruct the norm.

 

We're addicted to it and it's evidenced by any recently promoted manager who suddenly gains control over the actions of five waiters at your local restaurant.

 

Passion

 

If you're not passionate about what you're writing about, then how could you ever expect your reader to be interested?

 

Passion is a beautiful, wondrous thing that leads to groundbreaking discovery and innovation. A man passionate about history can indulge readers in comprehensive events of a significant time. A woman who is passionate about music can enthrall listeners with new mixtures of sounds that can take your mind to new places. A child who is passionate about computers can keep innovating throughout his life before making scientific achievements never once thought possible beforehand.

 

Elon Musk wouldn't be trying to send people to Mars if he wasn't passionate about technology. Michael Jordan wouldn't be the greatest player in basketball history and usher in a new era of kids emulating him if he wasn't passionate about competition. Jonas Salk wouldn't have saved millions of lives through the creation of the Polio vaccine (and then refuse to patent it) if he wasn't passionate about humanity.

 

Be passionate in your writing and you can move the world to do things that were once thought impossible. Be emotional, expressive and animated enough so that your reader becomes as passionate about the subject you're writing about as you are.


What the NFL Can Learn from the NBA On Social Media

About a week ago, I, along with millions of other people, were treated by the NBA's official Facebook account with a behind-the-scenes look at reigning MVP Stephen Curry taking shots before the game.

 

 

Not only was I able to indulge in this pull-back-the-curtain moment, but I was able to control my view, too! Fans pay thousands of dollars, and arrive hours before tip-off, to see a player of Curry's caliber practice and here I have a front-row seat for free!

 

The NBA just gets it. Most importantly, they know how to connect with milennials. The NBA has the youngest audience among all American sports leagues with the average fan being 37-years-old. The NFL fan by comparison is 47-years-old, while the MLB fan is 51.

 

Reaching out through the right platforms is also key for the NBA, who is a major employer of Snapchat and Vine to peddle out clips:

 

"A cursory search on Vine shows that just under 100,000 videos have been posted with the tag NBA, while fewer than 50,000 have been posted with the tag NFL, and fewer than 15,ooo with the tag MLB."

 

They also connect through fashion, as explained by ESPN's Darren Rovell:

 

"Young basketball stars today are ingrained in culture and fashions and life in a way that the stars from other sports here are not," said Darren Rovell, who covers the business of sports for ESPN. "People talk about Russell Westbrook's glasses and Dwyane Wade's shoes. When you look at the numbers in terms of most Twitter and Instagram followers, the NBA blows other sports away."

It's no wonder why the NBA is even being predicted to overtake the NFL, in terms of popularity. They have a message they want to convey and they won't allow copyright restrictions from spreading that message globally.

 

If the fans want NBA all the time on any outlet, why not give it to them? Why deprive fans of your product when all they want is more of it? It would be like making a great sandwich and only offering tiny bites when you can easily just give each of your fans a whole sandwich.

 

Thus, you get awesome controllable videos like the one above featuring Curry.

 

As an avid NBA fan, there's nothing that can appeal to me more than even more basketball on top of the basketball I already watch.

 

The NBA is extremely gracious in its content availability, far more than any other league. They see widespread use of game clips by the media and fans of the game not as copyright infringement, but as an opportunity to spread its influence. This runs contrary to the vice-like grip the NFL and MLB have on clips of their games, which are generally kept close to the chest.

 

The NFL, in fact, is so strict that it actually issued a cap on the amount of video clips its teams can provide on Facebook or Twitter during games. As a result, you get clips mocking the practice like this one:

 

 

The NFL has since walked back on its policy to fine teams for using game clips. Nevertheless, it goes to show just how little the league values social media as an outlet to create a larger following for its sport.

 

Just compare their Twitter followings. Despite the NFL being the country's biggest sport, it has 4 million less followers than the NBA. The MLB and NHL lag far behind with 6.68 million and 5.51 million followers, respectively. This isn't due simply to demographics, but to the NBA having a liberal clip-sharing policy.

 

The difference is even more substantial on YouTube, the ultimate catchall for video clips. While the MLB and NHL both flounder with less than a million subscribers, and the NFL musters only 1.8 million, the NBA boasts a staggering 7.4 million followers.

 

Plus, I can find channels that exclusively make videos using NBA content. For example, the channel 'FreeDawkins' regularly creates individual player highlights from games night in and night out. So while I was busy watching the Miami Heat, I can wait a few hours and check out 'Dawkins' for highlight videos of other players who played that night:

 

 

While 'FreeDawkins' has had their channel shut down before (They were originally just known by 'Dawkins'), the NBA isn't cracking down on it heavily. No such channels exist for the NFL, MLB or NHL. It would be impossible to find an independent account that would exclusively give me highlights of a certain player I want to see.

 

The NBA embraces its the participation of their fans and their love for the sport. It's the country's fastest growing sport because it ran full steam ahead into the social media era populated by milennials who want their highlights and info fast and concise. They didn't purposely restrict their presence as other leagues did.

 

And maybe the NFL is comfortable with their standing, despite losing viewers. It's not surprising from the league that issues penalties and fines for players that want to celebrate touchdowns or any other accomplishment. Their outlook has long been an authoritarian one with widespread control of its players' actions and now the potential media outlets it's product can be promoted on.

 

There isn't a better time for the NFL to start embracing social media, either. Like the NBA, the NFL is facing a shortage of recognizable names that even the most casual viewer can identify. Basketball has already lost Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, and will soon lose the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony likely within the next five years.

 

So rather than wait it out, it builds up the personalities, aura, and names of its new league faces (Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, Karl Anthony-Towns, etc.) through outlets such as YouTube, Snapchat, and Vine.

 

The NFL is facing a similar issue. Peyton Manning has retired. Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton's teams are in shambles. Tom Brady is 39 years old. Ben Roethlisberger is considering retirement. Household names that casual viewers can easily identify are disappearing. While there are studs like Odell Beckham, Jr. and Ezekiel Elliott that will keep interest in the individual, it's a stark difference from the likes of Brady or Manning that anybody could recognize.

 

This would be the perfect time for the NFL to allow independent viewers of the game to create channels to showcase these players. If I wanted to tell a friend about a rising star in the NBA, for instance, I can easily find highlight video after highlight video of games that show just how skilled that player is. You may not know a rookie like Karl Anthony-Towns, but you might want to know more after watching this well put together highlight video of a 47-point outing:

 

 

It would be difficult to do the same with the NFL. I would have to go directly to their YouTube channel and hope they're as detailed in their highlights as a channel like 'Dawkins' is with NBA games.

 

In fact, I did the same with the NFL, searching for rookie Ezekiel Elliott's best game, and found one highlight video. If you're surprised it was made by the official NFL account, you haven't been paying attention. That video has 111,000 views.

 

The video posted above has 74,000 views, but take note that Towns is playing in Minnesota, while Elliott plays in Dallas, and isn't hyped up by mainstream outlets like ESPN nearly as much.

 

The onus of building up player personalities and legends is squarely on the shoulders of the NFL, while the NBA raises few qualms on allowing its fans to distribute its product without proper licensing. As a result you get channels like 'Dawkins', which has nearly half of the subscribers the NFL has on YouTube.

 

And that's after having their channel taken down on a number of occasions.

 

But this isn't to say the NFL is completely tone deaf because they do put out quality content. Here's a video by the Seahawks using a 360 cam to showcase their players running out of the tunnel:

 

 

So the NFL and its teams has embraced some features of the social media era. But will it ever loosen the reins it has on its product, or will it allow its game to be seen a wider scale?

 

Tell us what you think on our Facebook page.


You Still Have Time to Add Video to Your 2017 Social Media Strategy

Let's put it like this: If you haven't started planning, or at least exploring, to utilize videos as a significant part of your social media campaigns, start.

 

Because stats like this from eMarketer.com will tell you there's no better time than now:

 

"Video will be the fastest-growing content category on mobile, desktop and everywhere else through at least 2020, and as a result digital-video ad spending will rise from $9.90 billion in 2016 to $28.08 billion in 2020."

 

Not convinced, yet? This one might scare you a little more into making moves:

 

"In 2017, more brands will move dollars from traditional advertising toward social media platforms, which in turn should increase the quality of video and other content types that brands share on social media."

But you haven't run out of time. Even though you might be playing catch-up with brands that are already wielding the power of videos, there are plenty of tools and tips at your disposal.

 

The main issue is starting because there can be so many moving parts at work here, especially if you want to create a video that looks professionally done, which is what you should be doing. Many marketing agencies probably won't have members of their team experienced in this field.

Little did they know that video ads and posts on social media wouldn't be a fad, but a trend.

 

In fact, the most experience they'll have will be limited to Snapchat and Instagram. But that's not all bad. We'll get to that later.

 

The issue now lies in social media teams learning several new jobs; directing, filming, scriptwriting, film editing, and graphic design just to name a few. And that's only if you want your videos to look semi-professional. A video worthy of a TV spot would need expensive sound equipment, lighting, space, and the time needed to put all of this together.

Here's a way to solve that last problem: Whatever your social media team is doing now, tell them to forget it. Videos are here and they're the way of the future. Cisco predicts that "79% of all global consumer internet traffic will come from video by 2018."

 

As for the other issues, you don't need a professional set to make a video-driven social media campaign work. In fact, tech experts saw this coming. Over the past two or so years, major brands have taken advantage of the video craze and use short, high-quality videos to sell their product.

 

Samsung Mobile was at the forefront of this, which might explain the near 43 million Facebook followers.

 

For those without big marketing budgets and professional filming experience, however, tools have been created to help smaller marketing agencies with more modest funds.

 

Websites like Animoto are a huge help to newcomers and are even used by popular media outlets like The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed. What Animoto allows users to do is to take a series of pictures and create a video montage complete with captions and even music. The two aforementioned online publications will use these montages to showcase photos from the event they're reporting on and overlay the images with the main points from the event.

 

Here's a great example from Huffington:

 

 

It's essentially what I mentioned. It's a slideshow with captions overlaying the images and diegetic music that fits appropriately with the somber tone of the story. This video undoubtedly received hundreds of thousands of views, tugged at the heartstrings of its audience, and likely created a larger impact than had it been a story.

 

We live in a microwave society where everyone wants their news delivered to them fast, regardless of the facts, and without too much critical thinking. Journalism has become a race to the bottom, where publications are simply pushing out headlines as fast as possible, regardless of whether all the facts are in or not.

 

It's absolutely right to assume a video will have more impact on a user than an article. Videos, especially with sad music to set the right tone, add realism to a story that words sometimes cannot convey. Even when they could, a video is faster, easier, and will likely resonate more with the user.

 

You could write a 3000 word piece on how Syria came to be in the state it is today, which Huffington Post does, but it's far, far more effective to just compile a slideshow and add some sad music and captions.

 

Making a video is even easier with the Lumyer app. All you need to do to make a video is to take an ordinary image, uploaded it to the app, add your own effects, and you have a 7-second looping video.

 

Adobe Spark Video, Flipagram, Ripl, and Legend are all tools that can be used to turn run-of-the-mill posts with a simple image into one with a dynamic video that stands out.

 

Now that we know how to make the video. What should we know to make it as appealing to our audience as possible?

Here's some tips:

  1. Grab attention early
    1. Remember that point I made earlier about how easily distracted people are? And that they need their info spoon-fed to them as fast as possible? You need to capture viewers' interest within the first 10 seconds (or less) or they'll stop watching and move on to something else.
    2. "74% of total ad recall is achieved in 10 seconds of Facebook video campaigns."
  2. Appeal to emotion
    1. Think back to the Huffington Post video. Consider all aspects of the video. Choose language, background music, and even fonts so they come together and match the feeling you're trying to evoke.
  3. Attract attention without sound
    1. Simply consider your own experience online for this one. "85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound" and "80% of viewers react adversely to videos with automatic sound". Now, I'm not saying to disregard sound altogether, but you should definitely use captions. Fortunately for you, captions on a Facebook video will generate automatically on a video under 5 minutes long.
  4. Add a logo
    1. "Choose a logo that is relatively small and unobtrusive and place it in a corner." You want to make it easier for the users to associate the content with you.
  5. Feature calls to action
    1. "While viewers should get the idea of what you want to do just from the video, you should always have a clearly stated CTA."
  6. High Quality
    1. Nobody wants to watch a pixelated video or hear garbled sound. It's 2017. We're well past those days. Always ensure your videos are in HD and that your sound is devoid of background noise.
    2. The same goes for videos that buffer. Did you know "4 out of 5 users will click away if the video stalls while loading"?
  7. HIGH ENERGY
    1. Nobody wants to watch somebody boring, either! Be exciting and engaging! Act like you really want to talk about the subject at hand. People want to watch somebody who is excited about what they're promoting, so that they have equal reason to be excited, too.
  8. Sharing is Caring
    1. Every piece of content you create should be focused on getting it shared. Just think of EVE: 
      1. Educate
      2. Value
      3. Entertainment
        1. Your post, whether it's a video or not, should always be focused on these three principles of a social media post.

 

You can, in fact, go beyond this by going Live, specifically using Facebook LIVE. The real-time communication of LIVE allows for constant communication and engagement between the brand and users, thus cultivating trust via authenticity.

 

Why should you take this approach? Because "people spend 3X longer watching video which is Live compared to video which is no longer live."

 

Plus, native uploads allows you to upload videos directly to Facebook through your mobile or desktop, and keeps original content exclusive to Facebook. Uploading the video directly to FB is much more appealing than posting to YouTube first and then linking it on a FB post.

 

I know it's a lot to digest, but don't panic. You've read this article so you're already on the right track. Do as much research as you need to, get the tools you need, and start planning out your strategy for the year.


Making the Case for Social Media

There’s no debating it: Social media, and the digital medium as a whole, has emerged as a substitute to traditional advertising practices for brands of all sizes.

 

Add in the growing number of those cutting the cord and you have even more incentive to advertise predominantly online.

 

Almost all major brands have realized this, resulting in portions of their marketing budgets from common mediums, such as television and radio, being deviated to build a social media presence.

 

Smaller brands have also taken advantage of the medium’s cost-effective advertising, but have seen their reach taper off in recent years due to heavy spending from larger brands:

 

"The State of Retailing Online 2016, an annual study conducted by NRF and Forrester Research, found that 92 percent of retailers are investing in social media marketing to some degree and looking for ways to update content to stay on trends.

About 55 percent of retailers surveyed also said they are increasing their online merchandising budgets, a portion of which is clearly earmarked for social media activities that engage consumers to promote two way interactions."

 

Regardless, social media’s ubiquitous platform provides small and medium-sized businesses with exposure they would have never dreamed of. In a survey of over 7,500 local businesses that purchased local ads in 2016, Borell, the organization behind the survey, found that "local businesses have ramped up their use of social media to help drive business and generate new customers."

 

As much as it seems that every person you know has a social media account, you may be surprised to learn that social media is only gaining users. While Twitter is pulling up the rear with only a 3.15% increase between the 3rd quarters of 2015 and ’16, Facebook experienced a 13.6% increase in the same period and LinkedIn a 15.2% increase.

 

Instagram witnessed a 20% increase between September 2015 and June 2016. All of this may seem like a boom, but it also muddies up the landscape because there are so many platforms to post on. It’s up to the brand to do the research on where the audience is.

 

Unsurprisingly, "Facebook was the number one choice for local advertisers with 96% responding they have  Facebook page. Twitter was a distant second at 51%, and LinkedIn came in at 41%."

 

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-12-47-55-pm

 

It can be daunting to a newbie. You need to ask yourself a few questions before stepping up to the task:

 

Which social media platform is best for me work on?

 

How much money should I invest?

 

What type of posts should I make?

 

How often should I post?

 

The greatest issue with starting out on social media is the idea that it’s easy. Failure and frustration is a common characteristic among new businesses starting out on social media because they believe it’s as simple as making a sales-y pitch, attaching an image, and sending the post out.

 

It doesn’t work like that, at least not anymore. Strategies need to be put in place. Budgets need to be created. Research into best practices needs to be done. Basically, an entire comprehensive rundown of your social media plans should be resolved before you even begin posting.

 

Now, does this mean you should keep a rigid schedule? No. While you should have prepared copy to pitch your product, you should also have a free-flowing schedule that allows for transparency into your business.

 

Or, to make things even easier, a brand can simply hire a digital marketing agency that specializes in social media strategy, copywriting, implementation, and moderation.

 

Social media is simply too valuable a resource to waste. Without the proper funds and research invested, an inexperienced brand is doomed.

 

Experts in the field are a necessity; an expert at crafting concise copy that delivers an impactful message, an expert at graphic design that can create appealing images; an expert at website design that can make a landing page that converts; an expert at moderation that knows just what to say to disgruntled commenters; and an expert at SEO that can identify the right keywords, among others.

 

It takes a village to raise a brand on social media. Going at it alone and without the tools and people necessary to help it succeed are only going to hamper your efforts.

 

Interested in raising your social media standing or looking to start out? Visit our Facebook for more info, email us at ask@one12th.io or visit: https://one12th.io/contact-modern/


The All-Purpose Guide to Creating the Best Social Media Strategy

By 2018, over 2.5 billion people, more than a quarter of the population, will inhabit social media. No medium will serve as a greater organizer and platform for ideas than this wildly influential community of networks logged into and out of multiple times per day, every day, by the average user.

 

Because of its rise in popularity, added layers of complexity have shown. Despite this, brands approaching social media for the first time continue to treat it as a cheap and easy way to advertise. Over time, they learn that increased competition from bigger brands have left the playing field uneven.

 

Investments are a necessity. But what good is an investment without a strategy? Building on that, what good is a strategy without an audience you know will be receptive and inclined to buy? Going even further, what exactly do I want my audience to do? Where should I appeal to them? How should I appeal to them?

 

Let’s take it step by step.

 

I have to sell a product or service. What do I do first?

 

shutterstock_91706279

Start off by identifying your audience, so that you know whom you’re writing for and whom you should target. For example, if you were offering a pool cleaning service in South Florida, you’d want to appeal to adults over the age of 30 with a reasonably high income. These are the demographics that are most likely to have a pool.

 

Consider who has walked into your store or whom you’ve worked for. How old are they? Are most of them men? What do they come for most? When are you busiest?

 

This is significant because these customers are going to form the foundation of your social media audience. Now that you’re on social media, you can organize them and appeal to them through your page.

 

That’s good news. But I want more fans. What do I do?

 

crowd

 

Now you can start crafting a strategy to reach out to your fans and, most importantly, those who have yet to discover your business. Appealing to this group is where your investment is going to pay off most. You may already have a devoted, loyal fan base, but you should always be on the lookout to add more customers.

 

There’s no better way to reach out to these potential customers than through social media.

 

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, and a number of other social media platforms all offer a multitude of advertising platforms.

 

Let’s use Facebook as an example. Here are just a few of the targeting criteria I can use to narrow my audience:

 

  • Location (People who live in this location, People recently in this location, People traveling in this location)
  • Target by specific location, including country, city and region. You can also exclude certain locations you don’t want your ad to reach.
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Languages
  • Detailed targeting (Demographics, Interests, Behaviors)
  • Household composition
  • Net worth

 

On the right hand side, you’ll find an ‘Audience Definition’ column that indicates just how many people you’ll reach with the criteria you’ve selected. You want to be broad enough that you appeal to enough people, but specific enough that you’re not diluting your reach with people who have no interest in what you’re offering.

 

Great! I have my audience, but I need content to show them. Now what?

 

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This is where a lot of amateurs are going to slip up. But you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Just like with any endeavor, your first efforts may not live up to your lofty expectations. Even with specific targeting and all of the research in the world at your disposal, your advertisements or posts still might not deliver the results you anticipated.

 

Here’s some unconventional advice: Take pictures of your product or you performing the service you offer. A lot of pictures. Pull back the curtain and let people know what life is like walking in your shoes.

 

If you’re going to be unique, you have to post content no one else can make.

 

The importance of imagery cannot be overstated enough. But high-quality images aren’t enough since you can get those from Shutterstock. Those pictures are generic to the point that it’s TOO high quality and unrealistic. Instead, give your audience something no one else can: Transparency and a dose of your own reality.

 

Write like you’re having a conversation with your audience. They already know what you sell, so they don’t need to be explicitly told about your services.

 

Instead, offer them unique features and the ensuing benefits without being too pushy. Remember: You want to have a conversation with the reader, not shove your product’s info down their throats.

 

Speaking of being inundated with info, don’t turn your posts into paragraphs. The most effective copywriting practices all indicate that less is more. You have to be clear and concise with the action you want your audience to take, without being too generic.

 

Most social media users aren’t prepared to read essays on social media, and they’ll usually keep scrolling when they see a wall of text. But a short sentence with an interesting image or video? That could be convincing enough for a user to stop scrolling momentarily and check out what you’re saying.

 

I got my copy to write for today! Let’s go!

 

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Hold on there, Eager McBeaver!

 

Writing every post on the day of or the night before is problematic because you have to think on the spot, thus compromising the quality of your post. You’re going to run into situations where an event occurs that’s worthy of posting immediately, but an overlying content strategy needs to be created.

 

Now’s the time you think up themes, as well as research best times and days to post. Through your research, you’ll learn engagement on almost every channel increases near the end of the week and posting on weekends on certain channels is a waste.

 

Create a calendar, give each weekday a theme, and compose posts accordingly. Your stress will be minimized when you don’t have to think up a new post everyday that’s going to ‘wow’ your audience.

 

Also remember that different audiences are going to be on different social media platforms, and your copy will need to adjust. Your posts on Twitter will not be the same as your posts on Facebook or LinkedIn. This is not only because of the varying audiences between the two channels, but also the character count.

 

Your Twitter posts can consist of only 140 characters, while your Facebook and LinkedIn posts far exceed that. However, if you’re creating ads for Facebook then you can only write as many as 150 characters for the main copy, 25 for the headline, and 150 for the description. Your Twitter posts' character limit can also vary depending on what type of tweet you're using, as seen in this guide.

 

LinkedIn, meanwhile, allows for 150 characters in the main copy and description, but up to 70 on headlines.

 

The character count can be confusing due to all of the types of posts available, but reference material does exist for each material.

 

The ages and demographics will also differ.

 

My posts are uploaded and people are responding! What do I do now?

 

Answer them! This is your opportunity to establish the same degree of loyalty to your customers as they’ve provided for you. Social media is the most effective way of bridging the gap between customer and brand,
so use this to your advantage.

 

Be transparent and honest in your answers. Your customers don’t want the same canned response that you’re sending everyone else. They want to feel unique and valued. You certainly don’t want to be treated as another customer when you deal with brands, right?

 

Even the negative, critical comments need addressing. Leaving a disgruntled customer’s comment hang in the air without addressing is not only going to cause resentment from that customer, but from other customers that can see the complaint go unaddressed as well.

 

It’s always best to show you care. You could end up changing that customer’s mind by offering them a discount the next time they use your service or buy your product. Even if it doesn’t work out, putting forth the effort to ameliorate the issue pays off.

 

Thanks for all of your help! This is hard work, though. A lot harder than I thought. Is there someone out there that can help?

 

There is! For your consultation, call One Twelfth, Inc. at 786-616-3051


Nobody Should Like Fake Facebook Likes and Here's Why

When the going gets tough, buy your Facebook fans and give off the false sense that people enjoy your product!

 

Wait, that's not the expression, right? No, the actual expression is to try, try again! It's meant to inspire ambition in the heart of the recipient, not tell them to give up and take the easy way out. Your first attempt at success likely won't end up in success, but it could be used as a learning point on what to do and what not do in future endeavors.

 

That's the beauty of ambition. It's enjoying the sweet splendor of success because of how much time you invested into creating a viable product or achieving a personal goal. A payoff gained through shortcuts won't be as fulfilling as a payoff gained through deep thought and tireless efforts.

 

Buying your fans - Even writing it out sounds weird - is not the key to winning on social media. It's the exact opposite really. You're harming your page's metrics, and your brand's reputation with shady tactics to drum up business, when you have all of these fans but nobody seems to be responding to anything you say.

 

You can buy your friends, too, if you have the money, but who's going to be there when the money dries up?

 

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Plus, you're supporting even shadier behavior once you find out these fake accounts are being created by "workers [who] sit in dingy rooms, [with] bars on the windows, generating 1,000 likes for $1."

 

Facebook has come out strongly against fake likes, citing how "Facebook takes into account Page engagement rates when deciding when and where to deliver a Page's legitimate ads and content, so Pages with artificially inflated like counts are harming themselves, making it harder and more expensive to reach the people they care about most."

 

As one of my esteemed colleagues has pointed out, "It inflates your social proof, but your data won't be accurate." 454 fans and one conversion isn't pretty, but at least you earned a conversion through your efforts. 10,000 fans divided by zero conversions, however, is still zero.

 

Oh, and did I mention that Facebook "uses machine learning to catch suspicious behavior"? You could buy all the likes you want, but Facebook can still detect all of those fake likes and delete every last one of them.

 

When you buy fans, rather than crafting advertising efforts to create a solid foundation with a dedicated audience, you're cheating yourself. Conversions aren't going to immediately pop up because you bought fans. Neither are surface stats such as likes, comments and shares.

 

The only thing you're going to be left with is 6,500 fans, no engagement, and prospective fans wondering how a page with so many likes can receive so little attention. They might even think the page itself is fake or possibly an aggregator that's producing content for the sake of content.

 

Regardless, it's fake and dishonest to "customers who are being tricked into thinking you're artificially popular." Even worse is that you actually have to pay somebody for fake Facebook likes. Why not just use that money for an agency that can develop a strategy and target those who would actually like to become a fan of yours?

 

Well, it's the reason why most people cut corners: It's cheaper than hiring a professional, people don't have the patience, they don't want to spend the money, and they don't understand how it works.

 

Social media's main purpose has always been to bridge the gap between connections. Even before brands got involved, people logged on and created accounts to reach out to people they know, people who wanted to know them, and those they were interested in getting to know.

 

Now that brands are in the picture the significance of bridging the gap has never been more important. It's of the utmost importance to brands that they establish themselves as a reputable, reliable business that heeds the cries of its loyal customers and addresses them with a transparent, human response.

 

Your fans are out there. If you offer A/C repair, there's somebody sweating in their house. If you offer pool cleaning, there's an algae-filled pool in dire need of a detox. If you offer relocation services, somebody has a house filled with heavy furniture that needs to be moved to another residence.

 

Your job is to find them. If that sounds too difficult, there are plenty of marketing agencies (Here's one) who can find them for you and craft copy that will persuade them to use your services. This type of business isn't being conjured if your page has 10,000 fans, but they're all from Pakistan and you're a plumber in Norman, Oklahoma.

 

Unfortunately for those just discovering social media, it isn't the wild west anymore where an organic post can reach thousands. Big brands have stepped in and invested a lot of money, because they see how valuable and cost-efficient of a channel social media can be, which has led to smaller companies getting squeezed out and needing to compete with those bigger companies for attention.

 

Money will have to be spent if success through conversions and a new, formerly unfound audience is achieved. It's just the way social media is now.

 

But an investment, even a small one, can help build the foundation of loyal fans you need to start building.