Tagged Business

The Best Money You’ll Ever Spend on SEO, Social, and Content

 

You may have all the technology and expertise in the world at your disposal, but do you have this crucial element to SEO, content and social media success?

the best money you'll ever spend on seo, social and contentDo you have a fantastic SEO platform? A beautiful piece of software, with all the data dots connected, and all the keyword bells and social media whistles that you could ever ask for? If your brand has a culture that is forward-thinking enough to recognize how crucial a tool like this is to the success of your digital marketing, then I hope the answer is yes.

But that’s not the only thing that demands your precious marketing dollars. Are you promoting your posts to precision-targeted audiences on Facebook? Gaining a following on Twitter by advertising your best stuff to key influencers? Utilizing all the many paid search tools to drive traffic to your brilliant content?

All these magnificent things are not cheap, but they are certainly worth it . . . IF you’ve also made another important little investment. An investment in great people.

Don’t underestimate what it takes to win in SEO, Social, & Content Marketing

It’s no secret that the biggest bottleneck in content marketing (and by extension, SEO and social) is TIME. It takes a huge amount of time to develop truly great content that delivers value, ranks in search, and resonates throughout social media. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that brands hit when developing their content marketing strategies and social plans. Most brands just don’t have enough people to actually execute what is needed to outpace competition and gain more ground in their markets.

I mean, on their own each thing you do for digital content doesn’t seem very daunting, and this is part of the perception that makes content ‘seem’ easier than it actually is. Seriously, how long does it take to write a 500 word blog post? But what about 4 or 5 of them? Maybe add a whitepaper in there, too? Throw together a handful of tweets every day? A few Facebook posts? Couple of things for LinkedIn? Pic for Instagram? And let’s not forget the time needed to crush it on YouTube. It adds up fast.

But that’s just reality, isn’t it? I mean, you can’t just ‘buy’ time, can you?

clock-1274699_640Yeah, actually, you can buy time.

What if I told you for the low, low price of a single person’s salary, you could flat-out BUY dozens more hours every week? Because that’s exactly what you’re doing when you hire people. Every person you bring on is paying your brand back with their time. All of it. Every day.

Hiring great people gives you their time, their expertise, and their knowledge to execute your strategies and tactics. Without great people to action those ideas and plans, they’re nothing more than decorations on Powerpoint slides.

1+1 = 2, mostly. Sometimes it’s 3. Possibly 4?

This is really basic math. When you go from one content writer to two, that’s instantly doubling the amount of content you can churn out. That’s two times the amount of original, fresh, relevant and valuable content for your brand to rank in search and share in social.

Yeah, it’s that simple, and it scales in huge ways. Once those two writers begin to develop synergies, sharing valuable research, conducting brainstorming sessions, etc, you’ll find that your content team becomes more than just the sum of its parts. They now have the support they need to do more than they could on their own.

Investing in people pays the biggest dividends of any dollar you spend in SEO, social, and content. People give you the ability to action what you’ve been told by all the data that you have in your analytics tools and platforms, and put in motion all the advice coming from your agencies and consultants. Great people and their time are the best things you can buy for your brand.

5 Tips to Unleash the Power of Long-Tail SEO

long-tail seo

People ain’t searching the way they used to. It’s a fact. Google doesn’t arbitrarily change their algorithms just because they ‘feel like it’. They do it because they’ve got endless piles of data that tell them how you’re searching, and they constantly tweak their system to deliver the most relevant results.

The most recent update to Google’s world famous/infamous algorithm (Hummingbird, for those of you keeping track) is mostly about ‘semantic’ search (aka: conversational search). In it’s simplest terms, semantic search is more like asking an actual question instead of just plugging in keywords.

For example: “hotels Toronto” vs. “What are the best boutique hotels in downtown Toronto?”

Semantic search queries have additional qualifiers beyond the basic subject. Words like best, closest, cheapest, fastest, etc. get at the root of what KIND of products and services the searcher is actually hunting for. Adding qualifiers to the base keywords creates what is known as ‘long-tail’ searches. These long-tail searches are looking for much more targeted, refined results. This is where the real opportunity presents itself for businesses. Get found for long-tail searches, serve up quality content that solves the searchers problem, and you’ve immediately delivered real value to a potential customer.

How do you make this work for your business? It’s actually a pretty simple formula.

1) Start with a powerful question – Think of the questions your business gets asked every day. What are the frustrations your customers have when evaluating alternatives & choosing products? What knowledge or experience do you have that can alleviate these frustrations? Choose a clearly defined question that originates from the point-of-view of your customers. The key to long-tail search is being a problem solver, so solve THEIR problems, not yours.

2) Write in your customers language – Your company may make the coolest widgets complete with MegaWidget® technology now available in colours like Arctic White™ and Fierce Red™, but none of those proprietary or trademarked words are going to make their way in to your customers search vocabulary. Long-tail search can only be unlocked if the language matches up. Your content needs to be crafted to read in the same manner that your customers talk. Use their terms, not yours.

3) Optimize & maximize – Once you’ve picked a valid question, and written a solid answer in the language that your customers understand, you need to make the piece of content visually readable & optimized. This includes a lot of little things that add up to make a big difference. Break out key points in to bold sub headers or lists, add in supporting images & graphics, embed related content like videos or tweets, link to related content in the body through keywords or phrases, provide a few options at the end for additional content that might be useful. All of these things give your content more weight, and deliver more value to the reader.

4) Put it here, there, and everywhere – You’ve got your content ready to release in to the world, and the time has come. Hit publish and spread it out to all relevant channels. If your community consumes content in various places then make sure this shows up in each of them, but be sure to tailor the share/post to fit the style of the place it’s being shared. Cookie-cutter repetition usually doesn’t jive when you’re dealing with different platforms and formats.

5) Repeat – Great job! You’ve now published a solid piece of content that will reap the rewards of targeted long-tail searches. Now do it again, again, and again. Sorry, but this is how it works. Do it for each and every relevant long-tail search you can think of that you are able to produce and deliver valuable, helpful content. Each question you answer and each problem you solve builds up your brand as the industry expert, as a solution provider, and as the preferred choice.

It’s a long road to go down, but the benefits of being found not just for ‘keywords’, but for solutions to well-defined problems are massive. The most crucial factor of the long-tail search is that it hinges on your ability to deliver value at first sight. You need a legit solution to the question being asked. Solve the problem, and you’ve delivered the value. Search is getting smarter all the time, and so should your content. This is what long-tail is all about; smarter searches, smarter content.

You’re gonna have a bad time on social media in 2014

This post exists because of this Tweet…

Yes, I know it’s a dated meme that’s been driven in to the ground, and I’m ok with that. In fact, because this is a meme from ancient internet history, it makes it even more appropriate for this topic because this is something that should just not happen anymore, and yet it happens all the time.. So, here’s a post inspired by that all-too-true tweet from 20kGroup and Matthew Carberry, along with couple more things that still happen in social media that should have been wiped from existence ages ago.

It’s 2014, everyone. These things need to stop.

If you fight your customers on social media… (Thanks to @20kGroup & @matthewcarberry)

Don’t pick fights with your customers. Ever. Because you will lose more than you think. Yes, you’ll lose that customer, but you’ll also lose something much more important: RESPECT. Nobody wants to do business with someone who’s confrontational and too proud for their own good. Your brand can’t win here so take it offline, solve the problem, and move on.

If you still send Auto-DM’s… (Thanks to @erinbury)

Why does this still happen? Auto DM’s are the least-social way to say anything in social media. Proponents of Auto-DM’s say it’s simply the easiest way to show appreciation for a new follower. Well,  I’m sure your followers are truly grateful that you’ve put forth the absolute bare minimum of effort to thank them. If you really appreciate new followers, then take the time to thank them personally. And in the name of all that is good in this world, don’t tell me to follow you on Facebook too.

If you think your personal posts don’t impact your employers brand… (I came up with this one)

I’ve got news for you: If I see someone swearing a blue streak in the parking lot of a store, you better believe that it will change my opinion of that store if they walk in and stand behind the counter for their shift. Same thing applies in social media. On or off the clock, on your own account or on theirs, you are intertwined with your employers brand, not because your boss says so, but because the CUSTOMERS say so.

My Three Words for 2014 – Taking up the challenge

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Here I am, jumping on the Three-Words bandwagon created by the one and only Chris Brogan. It’s a tradition that I am more than happy to adopt because of its elegant simplicity. Three words, no more, no less, that serve as inspiration, clarity, and focus for the upcoming year. Three little words that can make a difference in how you feel and how you live. Three little words that can be the difference between ‘more of the same’ and ‘the year things got better’.

Seeing how this is my first attempt at crafting a Three-Words focus for the year, I struggled at the onset with how to really approach this. Do I focus on work? Do I focus on personal life? Do I go all philosophical? Then I realized, why does it need to be limited to one aspect of my life? Why can’t there be three words that transcend my whole being? I can, and will, choose three words to make me better across the board.

Let’s start the insanity…

1) Encourage – Encouragement is one of the most valuable things you can give to another person. To say YES when others say NO. To say GO when others say STOP. My family, friends, students, and colleagues deserve encouragement to strive for great things, to achieve more, and to grab what they want from life. This year, I will be their cheering section.

2) Run – Literally and figuratively. I lost my habit of running a few years ago, and my body has paid the price. Getting softer around the middle is not something I am ok with. 2014 I will run again, if only in fair weather. (Hey, I’m all about improvement, but I’ve never been a huge fan of running in sub-zero temps). But more than just the physical act, I will also run with things that I believe to be important. Taking inspiration and running with it gives me immense satisfaction. Even if some things ultimately don’t turn out how I want them to, I don’t want 2014 to be a year full of ‘what ifs’.

3) Savour – There’s a lot of good that happens in our lives, every day. How often do we really recognize, and take the time to savour it? This year, I’m going to do it a lot. Moments with family, and moments of solitude. Wins at work, and wins at home. Inspiration from old friends, and inspiration from new connections. This will be a year of recognizing the positive, not focusing on the negative.

Maybe these are too lofty, but if I can progress a little further towards each one, then I’ll consider this year a success. Improvement need not come in leaps and bounds. Sometimes it comes one small step at a time.

What will your three words be for 2014?

The Content War – Is your business poised for victory?

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by Jonathan Barrick

“Open war is upon you, whether you’d risk it or not.” – Aragorn to King Theoden, Lord of the Rings

I’m not going to tell you that a crucial shift is coming in business. I’m not going to tell you that, simply because it’s already happened. We’re already in the midst of the Content War, and if your business hasn’t taken steps to mobilize, you’re potentially losing ground to your competition already. Businesses of all kinds are producing content at an astonishing rate, and it’s making a difference for those who do it right. The good news? It’s not too late to take up arms.

I’m not going to get too in-depth on what qualifies as ‘content’, or more appropriately, ‘good content’. For the best resource on this, check out the awesome book “Content Rules” by C.C Chapman and Ann Handley. Suffice to say that whatever your content consists of, whether it be articles, images, videos, or a combination of all three, the overarching qualifier necessary to register as ‘good content’ is VALUE. Whatever you produce for your audience, it’s got to be valuable.

Nobody builds authority, expertise, or trust with garbage content. Delivering value to your audience is the only way to gain ground in the Content War.

Time to get deeper in to what factors impact the success of your team, and are necessary to actually deliver that value to your audience. How does one business gain an advantage over their competition in the Content War? By being superior across a variety of measures, none of which have anything to do with having the deepest pockets.

You’ll be the most effective in the Content War if you have:
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Superior Intel – Don’t confuse intelligence with data. Raw numbers are useless without context and interpretation. First, look where the action is happening and examine the types of content that are generating action and engagement. Understand what your audience craves for content, and then understand why they crave it. Ask yourself “What is it about that piece of content that delivers value for them?” Look, listen, and figure out what you can give that they want. This will give you a purpose for your content.
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Superior Supply Chain – How do you get the content from the idea stage to being in front of your audience in the best possible way? Who in your organization is the best person(s) to provide the raw materials you need to create your audience’s desired content? Who can take that raw material and turn it in to a usable product? Who is the best person to deliver the content in a timely manner in the right location? These all may be the same person, or all different people. Identify the best team to have in place to take content from concept to reality and deliver it.

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Superior Training – What tools will you use? What are the intricacies of navigating through the necessary networks to reach your audience? Squeezing the most from the tools you have available helps you maximize the impact of your content. Your team should be trained on the ins-and-outs of whatever platforms and tools you’re using to create, distribute, and monitor your content.

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Superior Tactics – You know what kinds of content to make. You know who the best people are to help make that content. And you know how and where to post it. The next question is WHEN to post it. The brilliant Gary Vaynerchuk once said that content is one thing, but CONTEXT is truly where the power comes from. Creating the greatest content the world has ever seen is all for naught if it has no context. This article might as well be called the “Relevance War”, because that’s really where we are headed. Posting the right stuff at the right time is how you become the most relevant. Be tactical about what you post, when you post it, and where.

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Superior Leadership – Leadership matters, not at just the level of the Generals and Admirals, but at the Squad Leader level. Bring everyone in the loop on what your objectives are in the Content War. Allow them to be flexible, to adapt to changing battle conditions. Never stop learning. Never stop pushing. Having superior leadership gives clarity of purpose across all levels.

Finally, be aware that involvement in the Content War is not optional. The magnificent quote at the beginning of this article sums it up quite nicely. “Open war is upon you, whether you’d risk it or not.” While a business may elect not to create, this does not exclude that business from being compared to all the others who do. In a world full of conquerors, as the world of business truly is, how long will a business last if they stand idly by? Good content is authority, expertise, trust, and visibility. Good content is value, not just for your customers, but for your business. Good content is relevance.

Time to take up arms, and join the battle.

A City’s Brand – It’s about more than Rob Ford

I take branding really seriously. It matters. And not just for the company in question, but for everyone connected to it. Customers, distributors, partners, suppliers, etc. And what I see happening to the great city of Toronto is one of the most tragic examples of unjustified brand damage in recent memory.

There’s no reason for Toronto’s brand to be going through what it currently is, and I think that this is due partially to the parties involved not truly realizing the long-reaching effects this could have on the city as a whole.

For example, let’s take a quick look at what happens when the CEO of a major corporation goes off and makes an utter mockery of a once-proud brand. Simply look at what’s happened to brands like Lululemon, Abercrombie & Fitch, Kenneth Cole, and the likes simply due to some callous and ignorant comments made by their CEO’s. Their brand value has taken a major hit, and one could argue strongly that their position in the mind of their customers and in the marketplace may never be what it once was. Competitors with stronger, cleaner, more honest brands start looking really good to your customers.

What if that happens to the largest city in Canada? How will this stigma of the hot-headed crack-smoking mayor in a constant state of denial label Toronto to the rest of the world?

What will be the economic impacts? Will investments in business and infrastructure be scrutinized more closely before commitments are made? Will this result in businesses considering alternatives with renewed interest? There are factors at play here that go far beyond just ‘the mayor’.

Right now, Toronto is a joke worldwide. It was funny for a while, then it got sad, then funny again, and now it’s truly distressing. And it won’t be something that is forgotten quickly. A city’s leadership matters just the same as a business’ leadership matters. Every brand has a figurehead, for better or worse. They embody the brand. If they aren’t aligned, there are consequences.

He needs to go, if for no other reason than Toronto’s brand can’t afford him. The city needs a leader reflective of the true nature of the city, and Ford is not that leader. He needs help, that much is certain. And at this point, so does Toronto.

Social Media Sommeliers – Choosing perfect pairs of social networks

by Jonathan Barrick

A well maintained social media presence is like a fine wine; it develops more character as it ages. As you invest more time in to social media, joining additional networks and using new tools, your presence gains different characteristics that it did not have before. However, just as certain wine characteristics mesh well together, others simply do not. Certain wines will pair well with certain foods and enhance the experience, while others conflict and compete. So it is with different social networks. Some are natural fits, enhancing each other and creating synergy. Others are so vastly different in scope and purpose that using them together can actually weaken the total effort.

So how do you know which networks jive well together, and which just don’t? Well, I reached out to several brilliant professionals whose experiences in social media give them a unique perspective on which networks work great together. They are, for all intents and purposes, Social Media Sommeliers, pairing different networks together to create an experience greater than the sum of its parts. So, what networks do they believe hold the greatest power for synergy?

Here’s what Ric Dragon http://twitter.com/ricdragon had to say:

image“I’m of the mind that the Twitter/G+ combo is killer.  G+ is more open than FB, and it’s easier to share blog-type posts publicly. Twitter, of course, is the place for garnering those weak-link connections – those people with whom you share an affinity. So Twitter makes the connection, and G+ allows you to share deeper content with those new connections.”

Smart stuff, to be sure. And after speaking with multiple other professionals, and with so many different networks out there to choose from, it became quite clear that everyone would have a different approach tailored to their individual style, fitting with their unique approach to their industry.

I asked this extremely savvy group of Marketing/PR/Social pros to look at this concept from two different angles:

1) Which two social networks do you feel are most complementary, and why?



2) Which two social networks do you feel have the biggest disconnect, and why?

Here’s what they had to say:

Mark Schaeferhttp://twitter.com/markwschaefer
image“The biggest synergy that I see is between Blogging and Twitter. Building a Twitter audience is an effective way to build an audience for your blog. A tweet is like the movie trailer for the movie! They fit like a hand in a glove.

As I see it, the biggest disconnect in social networks right now is between Google + and everything else. Google is not making the sharing easy so it is probably the least integrated network.”

Peg Fitzpatrickhttp://twitter.com/pegfitzpatrick
image“I feel that Google+ and Pinterest are a powerful combination. They are both very visual networks with savvy users. Photographers are really killing it on both platforms such as Trey Ratcliff, with 4.5 million Google+ followers and 4.7 million followers on Pinterest, that’s an enviable social media network! Google+ and Pinterest, more than other platforms, really reward their power users with engagement and activity with their content. You can save your Google+ posts on Pinterest boards or find interesting things to post on Google+ from Pinterest. Both platforms support hashtag usage and using keywords is a benefit.  Google+ and Pinterest complement each other and add mutual value without distracting or overwhelming the other.

I feel like LinkedIn and every other network are disconnected. LinkedIn doesn’t seem to fit naturally with any of the other networks although they have taken strides towards improvement. The endorsement feature made LinkedIn spammy to me and weakened the recommendations, which I felt was their most valuable asset. I feel that LinkedIn has its place for job seekers and networking but I don’t see how it blends with Pinterest, Facebook or any other site. I think that this was their intention but they shot themselves in the foot with that plan. You need to have a presence on more than one social media platform so if you are on multiple platforms, you’d like to work them seamlessly together.”

Don Powerhttp://twitter.com/donpower
image“LinkedIn and Twitter work beautifully together for me. I use LinkedIn to get comprehensive background info and details about individuals and their histories and companies before connecting with them on Twitter. Or, you may be connected with a person at Company X on Twitter – you can use LinkedIn to find more people at Company X to connect with (including their Twitter backgrounds). I use them in tandem quite a bit but for me – all roads ultimately lead to Twitter – if I make a connection on LinkedIn, I’m always suggesting that we continue the conversation on Twitter.

Facebook and Twitter – two almost completely exclusive sets of users (in my opinion and personal experience). For example, almost all of my high school friends are on Facebook (I graduated high school in ‘86) but NONE of them are on Twitter. Most of the people I’m connected with on Facebook are not active on Twitter. I only use Facebook to respond to people who find me or reach out to me there. I don’t start conversations on Facebook and 99.9% of my posts on Facebook (unless I’m responding to a specific tagged post) are simply copies of what I post to Twitter (and no – I don’t care that my Facebook posts are often marked up with @ symbols and hashtags)

As I see it, albeit an oversimplification, Facebook is made up of 90% of the people who want to be social 90% of the time. Twitter is made up of 90% of social people who want to do social business communication (in a no sales-y way) 90% of the time. Facebook is 90% wasting time and sharing crap, Twitter is 90% time connecting with people and building networks where the underlying assumption is – how might I be able to leverage this connection, now or in the future, for a business purpose? Because those networks have two completely different modus operandi, they are a total disconnect for me.”

Susie Parkerhttp://twitter.com/susie_parker
image“I often see how well Facebook and YouTube can work well together. Facebook being the largest social network and YouTube being the second largest search engine makes it easy to share a powerful, compelling, funny, or moving video with a large network of people with one click.

There is so much potential with Foursquare and Twitter. But there is too much disconnect and not enough businesses have claimed their locations to maximize the benefit to their businesses. When sharing where you are on Foursquare it would be great to have better Twitter integration to connect better with a potential new place to experience.”

David Christopherhttp://twitter.com/davidchris
image“Twitter I find great as a tool to build new relationships and to start conversations that continue on other platforms. It also allows you to connect with your network and keep those important relationships alive in just 140 characters when in today’s busy business world you don’t have time for much more.

Google+ for is the opposite. It’s where conversations continue and evolve (especially with the recent release of Google+ Communities) and for those where the need for much deeper level relationships are important. What I find interesting is that of the Twitter users in my network, very few of them use Google+. For this reason I find they complement each other as they don’t compete against each other for market share.

As for networks that have major disconnects, I’m going to give you a response that maybe you weren’t expecting here. External Social Networks and Enterprise Social Networks. There is a big disconnect between the Enterprise Social Network (behind the firewall) and the External Social Network (beyond the firewall). This isn’t a technology response, but a cultural response. Employees are your companies Brand ambassadors and should be leveraged as such but fear of what they might say prevents this. This is creating a disconnect in consistent messaging and preventing engagement opportunities with your customers.”

Sam Fiorella – http://twitter.com/samfiorella
image“Google+ and YouTube are natural partners and work together for the brand’s benefit on many levels. Google+ Hangouts upload directly to a YouTube channel for one-click cross-network sharing. Further, with Google Authorship, the combo packs a great SEO/SEM punch. There’s little-to-no expertise required to create conversational videos with customers, vendors, the  media or others and best of all, the platforms are free!

When talking about disconnected networks, I believe those are Pinterest and YouTube. Each are successful in their own right and each is a visual medium. Pinterest is great at sharing with Facebook but doesn’t accept other forms of visual content from other networks well. I see great opportunities for individuals and business if Pinterest would allow the inclusion of videos onto their boards, it would make for a richer experience.”

As for me? I believe that Facebook and Instagram are a very powerful combination. The ease with which you can insert creative, timely images in to your Facebook timeline, and the ease with which users can interact, share, and comment on this activity make them a natural fit for both personal use and for showcasing the personality of a brand.

Where I fail to see much synergy is between Pinterest and Twitter. Much in the same way that the absence of Instagram image support within Twitter has hurt the synergy between them, I feel that it is a crucial missing element that Pinterest should be working towards achieving. Being able to see a pin from within Twitter without the need to click would add a lot of utility, enabling users to view and re-share Tweeted content from Pinterest in one step instead of multiple steps in two different apps.

As you can clearly see, there is no definitive, all-encompassing answer to the question, which appears to be the general nature of social media to begin with. Everyone does it differently, and that’s ok. Ultimately it comes down to your personal ‘taste’ when choosing the social networks that work best for you.

What do you think? Are there two networks that consistently create business magic for you? Or are there two that don’t jive for you at all? Let’s hear!

Who I want to meet at Social Slam, and why.

by Jonathan Barrick

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Ok, so the title of this post is a bit deceptive because ideally I would like to meet everyone at Social Slam because it sounds amazing, but that’s likely not possible in the span of a one-day event. So, here’s a handful of brilliant speakers that will be dishing out the awesome in Knoxville in April, and why I want to meet them face-to-face and shake hands.

Dino Dogan – Dino’s the founder of Triberr, a tool founded on the principle that awesome bloggers helping other awesome bloggers distribute awesome content is a great thing. Triberr is a brilliant way to expand the reach of your content. I’d like to ask Dino what the future might hold for content sharing tools like Triberr, and what he thinks about the negativity surrounding automated sharing methods.

John Morgan – John literally wrote the book on no-BS branding. ‘Brand Against the Machine’ is an inspiring read. It provides real-world examples of what it takes to build a powerful and distinct brand with passionate advocates. I’d like to ask John what his opinion is on the power of small brands vs big brands in the age of social. Does he believe the passion of small brand advocates can overpower the big dollars of major brands?

Kim Garst – Do you recognize the hashtag #youcandosocial? If so, you’ve most likely seen it attached to tweets from @kimgarst. Kim is a content machine, producing & curating tons of smart marketing and social business articles. I’d like to ask Kim what she believes the core social strategies should be for unknown or obscure business types that don’t necessarily have thriving or passionate customer bases.

Mark Schaefer – The guy who founded Social Slam, author of {grow} blog and the books ‘The Tao of Twitter’ & ‘Return on Influence’. He’s wicked smart and a class act. I was fortunate to have met him at an event in Toronto in 2012, and I’d like to shake the man’s hand again. I’m not sure exactly what I would ask Mark at this point. His thoughts on the ongoing ROI debate? His premonition on the fate of the ‘new’ MySpace? His views on who the up-and-coming superstars of social business will be? Perhaps by April 5th I will have it figured out.

I look forward to seeing what Social Slam delivers. By the look of the speaker lineup, it should be a pretty incredible day of great content and intense conversations. I would love to hear from any other people headed to Social Slam who they’re looking forward to meeting, and why! What has you fired up for the event?

5 Promises Every Living Marketer Should Make to Themselves

by Jonathan Barrick

imageMarketers, I hate to say this, but we kinda suck. There’s an awful lot of stuff that we’re doing every day that is simply no good. It’s awful, in fact, and we’re better than this. At this point in time, we should be WAY better than this. We have the ability to connect to our customers in real-time, and understand them on a unprecedented level. We have the ability to send out complex information in formats that make it easy to consume and understand, anytime anywhere.

We have the ability to turn business around to a point where it’s no longer the brand with the deepest pockets who wins customers, but the brand who is the most awesome. Yet, we still trudge along doing things that hold us back like a ball and chain. I say, NO MORE. It’s time to break the bonds, make some new promises, and move forward.

1 – I will not make statements the brand can’t live up to.

Stop fibbing. Stop embellishing. Stop over-promising. Do these two things instead: Make realistic statements AND/OR Improve your product/service so that you deliver on your promises. People are sick and tired of being let down, disappointed, and underwhelmed, and they’re not hesitating to tell their friends. Falling short of expectations is no longer an option. Meet or exceed, or be called out.

2 – I will not view my customers as simply a means to an end.

Your customers aren’t there so you can ‘leverage’ them. I hate that word. Is there any term less respectful of your customers? They’re not numbers, they’re people that you have relationships with. Social media is helping to ‘humanize’ business, so Marketers need to humanize along with it. The value is in the relationships, not simply in the numbers.

3 – I will not pretend that ‘there is no ROI’ of social communications.

Everything you do has an impact, good or bad, that can be measured. Is this impact ALWAYS measured in dollars and cents? No. But it CAN be measured. The key is to identify what area of your business the impact takes place, and then measure the ROI as it relates to that specific area. Saving time on customer service? There’s your ROI. Getting new product development ideas? There’s your ROI. The dots are there for you to connect, so grab your pencil and start connecting.

4 – I will not brag about meaningless metrics.

Fans, likes, followers? No good. Decreased bounce rate, higher share of search, improved sentiment? Good. Give some context to your metrics, and they actually become worth talking about. “Because of X, we achieved Y, which led to Z.” This ties directly in to the ‘ROI’ situation, making it far easier to see what’s helping and what’s hurting. If you’re measuring something that doesn’t give you some kind of insight in to why something worked (or didn’t), then why are you measuring it?

5 – I will not ignore how people feel about typical marketing actions
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Banner ads suck. We all hate popups. Opt-in is good, opt-out is bad. Yet marketers continue making terrible choices in spite of overwhelming data that says ‘STOP!!!’. Make the commitment to yourself to stop doing things that people hate, and do more of what people love. Remember ‘do unto others as you’d have them do unto you?’ Well, replace ‘do’ with ‘market’ and run with that. If you ignore popups, blow past banner ads, and junk spam mail as fast as it comes in, then your customers are doing the same. Stop wasting time, money, and energy on stuff that sucks. Go for the stuff that’s awesome instead.

Simple stuff, don’t you think? You can boil it all down to this: Stop sucking, be awesome, and prove it.

This should be the mantra of every marketer alive today. Now, place your right hand on your business card, and repeat after me: Stop sucking, be awesome, and prove it.

This article originally written for http://crowdshifter.com