How do you sell social media to your superiors?

Lack of measurement leads to the dark side: ego driven websites and social media.

Whether you like it or not, data is important. I have heard the arguments about Google Analytics and the rest don’t tell the whole story about your audience. The question is: if you are measuring nothing, how can you make any comparisons or determine success and failure.

Lack of measurement leads to the dark side: ego driven websites and social media. This is when the website content is based on the whims of someone – usually whoever is in charge – with no quantifiable reasons for the decisions made. It basically boils down to, “I don’t like Facebook, so it is not worthwhile,” or “My wife told me she didn’t like our landing page, so we should change it.”

Beware the Uneducated Boss

In his article “Social Media Measurement: The Numbers Suck Because the Models & Metrics are Wrong,” Sean Carton notes that “Currently only 16 percent of CEOs participate in social media themselves.”

This is huge problem, because people tend to think that things they don’t like aren’t important. Carton also notes, “Most companies (2/3rds) didn’t have any clear way of measuring what they were doing social media-wise and most weren’t bothering to measure the performance of their activities against their social media objectives. Most weren’t even measuring revenue generated by social media efforts.”

With the amount of people on Facebook alone, it seems crazy not to add social media to your marketing plan, but there have to be some ways to measure.  However, with no types of measurement of success, all it takes in a non-believer boss to turn their back on social media, and you are missing the chance to reach millions of potential customers.

No measurement is perfect, but you must pick something! At least then you can set a benchmark.

Pick something

As I mentioned, there is no perfect metric in web and social media analytics, but you have to pick something – some way to show that your efforts are paying off.  A few suggestions:

– Sell the idea of affinity. Try to show the social reach of your posts, noting what works and what doesn’t. This can give your boss the idea of the power of social media.

As Carton says, “The reason that nobody clicks on Facebook ads is because they get in the way of why people are on Facebook: to talk to each other, not to find products and services. “Marketing” in social media has to be about facilitating conversations, not interrupting them. Measuring the impact of social media has to move beyond the idea that it’s going to drive clicks and move toward measuring influence, participation, engagement, and, yes, delight.”

Rather than looking at how many products you sold in a limited amount of time, look at how many people are talking about your posts? The average person on Facebook has 190 friends, so anyone who has interacted with your content has broadcast (hopefully) good vibes about your company to 190 people.

You can measure Facebook Insights right from your page, or you can use a tool like HootSuite some cost) or ThinkUp (free!) to measure it for you and put it into nice, pretty reports.

– If you have made your website a destination, perhaps by posting news articles or blog posts on a regular basis, you can use Google Analytics to track where your visitors are coming from. Share with your boss the amount of traffic coming from Facebook and Twitter posts.

Facebook = Free Focus Group

– Note the idea of free focus groups.  As I mentioned in this post, large companies like Frito-Lay are eschewing focus groups and taking R&D right to the people.  You have your audience right in front of you. Don’t be scared to interact. It’s called SOCIAL media. Be social.

As mentioned before, there are no silver bullets for social media measurement, but if you arm yourself with some type of facts and measurements, you will easily defeat the ego-driven, information-free powers that be.


Enlightened personas: Fight for the User!

Be like Tron! Fight for the users!

We have talked about creating personas in a previous post.

Personas are a good way to prevent making the dreaded ego-driven website – a website that you love, but that does nothing for your customer. Personas are stand-ins for the main users of your product.

I was inspired by an article by Bryan Eisenberg, “Content Marketing Personas,” and I wanted to share some of his thoughts with you as we expand the discussion on putting yourself into the shoes of your average customers.

It is hard sometimes to look beyond what you think is the best way to design a website or to run a Facebook page.  That is why so many projects fall prey to the personal preferences of the boss or are “committeed” to death.

Ask yourself the hard questions

Once you have created your personas, you need to evaluate your websites and social media outlets and ask some questions.  I will quote Eisenberg directly here:

“Ask yourself and be honest:

  1. How is this ad/landing page/blog post/tweet relevant to this persona? What does this term mean specifically for them?
  2. How have you framed why they should buy from you and what value do you bring to this persona to solve their specific needs and problems?
  3. How have you helped this persona decide what action they need to take and how have you given them the confidence to take that action?”

This is the time when you have to fight for the users. What the customer likes is what matters – not what you like or what your boss likes. It is up to you to find out what that is. Careful research into keywords and web analytics will give you insight into who is coming to your site and what they are looking for.

What about your Facebook page? Is it engaging customers? Are you paying attention to what they do and don’t like? Have you looked at Facebook Insights to see the demographics of your fans?

It takes a little homework, more than saying “I like this website, so it is good.” However, personas can make a little work go a long way.

The Myth of SEO

The myth of search engine optimization

Slay the mythical beast known as SEO.

I’ve been to many meetings and job interviews where I am asked “What do you know about SEO? We want to make our page more search-optimized.”

This is the first sign you are dealing with someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. There is a common misconception that SEO is some mystic practice where the right combination of keywords will put you on the front page of a Google search, and many web marketing groups would be more than happy to perpetuate this myth.

The truth is that Google’s ranking formulas are always changing.  The way to boost your pages searches is to create content that people like. That means you may need to actually transform your website from a corporate-mission-statement billboard into a place where people come to for valuable information and come back on a regular basis.

Keep your content fresh! Stale page = stale search results.

Keep it fresh

Give me a reason to come back to your site.  Find some way to update content frequently, at least in some part of the site.  That could be through a blog, a newsroom, photo galleries, videos or something great that I haven’t even thought of! Stale site = stale search results.

Give it away now

This requires you to give something away.  I don’t mean promotional t-shirts.  I mean information.

If you run a tax service, offer a weekly tip on financial fitness or deductions people might not know about. If you make carburetors, host a car-talk blog on your site.

Turn your site into a place where people know they will find new and engaging content on every visit.  Also, don’t be afraid of giving away your valuable information for free.  When you see restaurants giving out free samples, there’s a reason.  They know you’ll like it and you’ll come back when you’re hungry. If I read your baking tips every week, guess where I will come when I need a wedding cake? That’s called building affinity.

listen to your customers

Are you listening to your customers?

Listen to your customers

Instead of brainstorming terms you think are most important to your business, use Google Analytics look at the monthly keywords that are bringing people to your site. These are the keywords that are important to your customers, and they may not be what you think they are. Your customers are telling you what they want – are you listening?

Make it sociable and sharable

Okay, now that you have started creating great content on a regular basis, make sure people can share it.  Add social sharing options to all of your content and maybe even allowing comments on your blog posts or videos.

Consider creating interactive forums where customers can share tips and even troubleshoot product problems (saving you some customer service headaches). Your experts can participate in the forums too – a great way to monitor what people are saying about your company/products and to see any possible PR crises before they hit.

Also, use a strong social media presence, email marketing and a solid website to support each other.  You can read more about this concept here.

Say ‘so long’ to SEO

Now I want you to put your hand over your heart and swear that you won’t ask anyone about how to improve SEO again.  The truth is that SEO is a byproduct of having a site that provides information that is helpful – a site that people like, visit frequently, and share with their friends. You won’t get good search results just by being there – you have to be worth finding.

Until next time…

Blog for business, blog for passion – be the expert

Would Shakespeare be a playwright today or a blogger?

Sure, there are a ton of blogs out there. In fact, you’re reading one right now. That doesn’t mean you don’t have something important to say.

Blogging is a great way for a business to build value to customers.

  • This personal trainer blogs about fitness tips and trends; by showing his knowledge, he is also establishing himself as someone to turn to when you decide to shape up.
  • Babycakes Bakery blogs about recipes, shows baking videos and features celebrity news involving their brand.
  • Leonard’s Garage & Service Center in Austin, TX blogs about keeping your car in good condition.
  • Food blog writer Tim Mazurek began his blog, Lottie + Doof, as a passion project, but it has led him to freelance food writing and photography jobs (see more in this Huffington Post article). Plus, his blog was named food blog of the year by

Think about your business today and ways in which you could reach out through a blog.  What kinds of tips and stories do you have to share?

No time to blog? It could be your most important business tool, and you can make it easy on yourself with these tips!

Don’t stop yourself before you start

There are some common walls that people put up to keep themselves from blogging.  The following are a few of those common fears, and the answers are from Elizabeth Dunn’s HubSpot article, “How to Squash Anxiety and Kill Your Inner Blogging Critic.”

“You don’t have anything to say.”

Don’t worry, you have plenty to say. But waiting around for inspiration to strike is a notoriously ineffective strategy. The only thing that actually works is sitting your butt down in the chair and getting started. But you can make it easy on yourself. Create a list of topic ideas, and keep adding to it. Ask for topic ideas from everyone you can think of, inside and outside your company. Start with a post for each frequently asked question about your business. Check out your competitors’ blogs to find out what they write about.

To Do: Start a list of 5-10 potential blog post topics and circulate it by email to your coworkers and friends for suggestions. Imply that the best post ideas will be rewarded with ice cream. Lots of ice cream. Apply whipped cream as needed.

“You don’t have time to write — you’ve got a business to run.

Nonsense. Hogwash. Poppycock. Bullnoodles. Blogging is business development.

Businesspeople make time to grow their business, or they go out of business. Writing a blog is a discipline like any other. But it doesn’t come naturally like magic — you have to form a habit. It’s just like going to the gym — you’re going to have to mark it on your calendar and keep these appointments as a sacred debt of honor.

To Do: Set aside a block of time each week to write for your business blog. Commit to publishing them on a set, consistent schedule. Refrain from making lame excuses (Hint: all excuses are lame excuses), as these have been proven to cause headaches, nausea, and unsightly blemishes. Nobody likes an unsightly blemish.

“You need hours of uninterrupted time to write a good post.”

If this sounds right to you, then you’re doing it wrong. Not every post needs to be a long, drawn-out manifesto. In fact, very, very few of them need to be long, drawn-out, and manifesto-ish. Goodness. Who wants to read a manifesto, anyway? Aim for around 600 pithy little words. Try to present just one clear, cogent nugget of thought in each post. Back it up with a little data, add an image, and you’re done.

To Do: Write one post that is about 600 words long. Print it out and stick it on the wall by your desk. Stare at it until you start seeing spots. Then write another.

“You’re a failure because nobody ever comments on your blog.”

Seriously? When was the last time you went to the bank and made a deposit of all of your recent blog comments? Paid your bills with a robust exchange of opinions? Thought so. Blog posts are there to help you (1) get found by the right visitors, and (2) convert those visitors into leads. That’s it. Instead of worrying about how many blog comments you’re getting, worry about how many of your blog visitors are clicking through your calls-to-action (CTAs) to your landing pages. Worry about why you don’t have a CTA at the bottom of each and every blog post. That’s what should be keeping you up at night, not some thinly veiled popularity contest.

To Do:Add a CTA to the bottom of each and every blog post. You did see that one coming, didn’t you?

“You’ll never be as good as [INSERT FAMOUS BLOGGER NAME].”

Well, you’ll never be somebody else, that’s for sure. You can only be you. But that’s as it should be. Don’t waste your time trying to emulate somebody else who’s already found blogging success. Find your own voice, and learn what kind of blogging works for you. Even better, find out what works for your audience. Find out what resonates with your most highly sought-after customers. That’s where the gold is.

To Do: Write a blog post. Now, before you publish it, read it out loud. Read it over the phone to your best friend. Read it out loud to your mother. Now rewrite it, using the voice you speak with. That’s your real writing voice.

One more personal note – don’t give up! You may start out with one reader a week.  The only way for that to grow is for people to find out about you, and that means you need to keep putting out valuable information! Now, what can you blog about today?

Make it easy to socialize your website

By now, we all know that social media is the place where most companies are now focusing their efforts.  That means that your website needs to be equipped for social sharing.  Attention is the currency of the internet, and you can’t get attention without word of mouth.

Image 1 – Puma’s social sharing

In image one, you can see how Puma all0ws you to socially share their products, encouraging you to post the image on Pinterest, to “Like” it and to Tweet about it.  This allows the customer to share things that they are passionate about.  Puma is not scared of you using their copyrighted images on Pinterest, they are encouraging it.  That’s because they will reach a much bigger audience through social sharing than they ever could through traditional advertising.  What’s more, the message is more trustworthy because it is coming from one of your Facebook or Pinterest friends.

While clothing is a great product for social sharing, this can be applied to many types of businesses. At your next brainstorming session, have a discussion about what items on your website would be good targets for social sharing.  I’d be interested to hear the results.

Another great item for social sharing is news.  If you put any type of news on your site – press releases, articles, blog posts, whatever – make sure it has social sharing functions attached.  Not only will this share your content, but it will also allow you to track the sharing via Google Analytics.  Keeping track of which items generate a lot of shares can give you a better idea of what appeals to your readers.  This is what you call Actionable Analytics.

Image 2 – This news article from Stanford University encourages social sharing.

In image two, you can see some social sharing links, which you should incorporate into any type of “news” that you put out.

(A side note: I’m of the opinion that you should put out news as much as possible.  Anything that happens at your company.  Cast a wide net, see what people like, and then start crafting your messages to meet the audience’s tastes.)

Showing the number of Tweets and Likes helps encourage sharing by showing the reader that others are doing it.  Adding your page to StumbleUpon will also help people find you (more on StumbleUpon in the future!).

What items on your website have you made sharable? What website items are you thinking about adding social sharing to?  Please let me know in the comments below!

Until next time…

When is the best time to post on social media?

Ah the age old question, or at least the few years old question: when is the ideal time to post on Facebook or Twitter. What is that magic time of day that will turn my post into the talk of the town.

I’ve read a couple of conflicting thoughts on this subject. However, I wanted to share a report from Poynter that uses data collected by Bitly.

Here is the direct text:

Bitly, the URL shortener of choice for most people, has analyzed its click-tracking data to find the optimal days and times for posting links to social media. The results show interesting, distinct patterns among Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

On Twitter, the best window is 1 to 3 p.m. (all times are Eastern) Mondays through Thursdays. Facebook was hot at 1 to 4 p.m. And Tumblr is a night owl, with posts doing best after 7 p.m. See the charts below for the full breakdown from Bitly.

The article also has some interesting graphics to help break this down.

More thoughts

Some thoughts on Facebook posting times here, here and here. Note the divergence of opinions. I think the third article states it best:

The one thing studies like these do is make people think there’s a one-size-fits-all magic formula – also rushing to target them thereby shifting the best times to update your Facebook page.

You’ll probably need to experiment across all hours of the day, night, week, month to find out what’s best for your brand.

Another article from Mashable links you to analytics to help you time your tweets and find out when YOUR audience is listening.

The writer also notes:

Frequency of tweeting is nearly as important as timing. If you can consistently and regularly post 5-10 tweets with valuable content, well-spaced throughout the day, you will achieve maximum impact.

Tweet a variety of sources. This has equally contributed to increased engagement on Twitter. This means, the more varied the destinations of your links, the more trust you can build among your followers. If all you do is send tweets to your own blog or products, followers gradually drop off and stop clicking through.

Here is an article on Tweeting from MediaBistro with some interesting infographics (see one below).

What if I’m busy?

I’ve seen several studies that cite weekends as the best time to reach your Facebook fans and Tweeples.  However, since many of us work 9 to 5 M-F, we are missing out on the prime talking hours.

I like to schedule a few items to go out over the weekend with HootSuite.  Not breaking news, but conversation starters.

If you are at a college, the question might be “Who was your favorite professor at Brown?”  You get the idea.

Have you been looking into the science of posting?  If so, please share your findings here!

Until next time…

It’s the content, stupid! Content creation and curation.

Content is king!

When addressing the issues with their web marketing, the first idea is often, “we need a new website.”

Rather than spend thousands on a website redesign, the truth is that many businesses can use sound web content strategy to make their site appealing to visitors.

No matter how beautiful your site is, if the content sucks, the visitors will not come. And, if the content never changes, they won’t come back. The same is also true for social media. People won’t follow your Facebook page just because it’s there – you have to inspire then to visit, interact and share.

Where can I get content?

Generating a consistent flow of content can be a daunting task. Here are some ways to make it easier:

Where does he get that wonderful content?

1)      Curate: The web is full of mofos like me, spewing out tips and opinions. Whatever industry you are in, you can find tons of people writing about it: education, healthcare, pest control.

I recommend finding a few relevant bloggers that you like and subscribing to their email lists.  Then you will get content delivered to your inbox every day, and you can choose what to share with your readers. Also, Twitter is a great place to find a lot of good articles.  Follow some Twitterers in your field of interest and check in daily for some good ideas.

This is not stealing; it’s an accepted practice to reprint other people’s blogs as long as you note where the information came from.

What I often like to do is use ideas/quotes from someone else’s article and then write my own thoughts on their viewpoint or topics.  It’s a good way to get inspired when the idea well is running dry.

2)      Create: Look around the marketplace and find that which would help customers and which you can create.

Say you are an accounting service.  You may want to create videos about tips on deductions (maybe “5 Big Deductions You Might Be Missing”) or a list of tips to keep from exceeding your holiday budget.

These are actual, helpful pieces of information that your customers can use.  And remember that when you create content, it may be cited by other bloggers and people in your industry, establishing you as an expert.

And remember, a content calendar can help you plan out what to say when. This will help you find content that is more relevant to your customer at the right times.  Relevance = timeliness and proximity. Ex: If you are offering tips to eat smarter on vacation, plan to use it in the summer.

With the variety of platforms out there now, like YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr, etc., there is no limit to the types of content you can create and curate.  You are only limited by your ambition and imagination.

Until next time…