The future of social media: 4 trends to watch in 2017

Predicting the future is a crap shoot at best. But the folks behind this years State of Social Media 2016 study have been at it for a while, and so far their track record has been pretty good, when viewed in hindsight. This year they surveyed 1,200 B2B and B2C businesses in the fall of 2016 for the results I’m going to note. You can get a full copy of the STATE OF SOCIAL MEDIA 2016 report here.

I’ve read through the full report and data, and have made a summary of my take on the four big overall trends that are worthy of attention going into 2017. And no, doing more cat videos is NOT the answer to social media success…

beyond-cat-videos

1. You’ve got to have visuals and video: While the use of visuals across all platforms has certainly increased in 2016, it’s likely to become even more so in 2017. And video in particular will be a way to stand out – at least until everyone actually gets on board! 83% of those surveyed said if there were no obstacles like time, resources or money, they would do more video, and 42% said they would do live video. Additionally 30% of marketers want to invest in Facebook video, 28% said they want to invest in Youtube, and 26% said they want to invest in Instagram. These are all visual platforms that focus on video. But it’s also evident that video has yet to hit mass adaptation. Only 27% of businesses have done live video, and of that it was primarily on Facebook Live (73%) followed by Periscope (44%) and Youtube (20%). Those surveyed also saw potential in Instagram and Snapchat, with 26% and 22% saying they intended to add the platform. What this all adds up to is a growth in visuals, and video in particular, with a gap still remaining in the field to stand out.

2. Facebook for business will dominate. Facebook is the dominant broadcast social network. I’ve long referred to Facebook as the NBC, or CTV of online. The reach is wide and deep across all demographic and geographic groups. It’s no surprise then that 93% of businesses saw Facebook as their lead platform. And 72% reported using Facebook the same or more then the previous year. When used for business, Facebook can be a pretty powerful tool. It goes way beyond having just a page and sharing good content, and possibly boosting a few posts. With Facebook ads and Power Editor businesses are strategically targeting audiences and lookalike audiences based on metrics like website visits and email databases and many more micro targeting profiles are available. Clearly the pay to play model has been accepted as organic reach has gone down. 91% of companies reported having invested in paid ads or sponsored posts over the last year. The next in line for paid content was Twitter at 34% and Instagram at 27%. Perhaps also worth noting is that 27% of respondents said they would use Google Plus less in 2017. It seems many will likely abandon that platform over time as Facebook assumes the dominant broad based social network.

The take away here? You have to understand Facebook beyond just sharing content on your personal account with family and friends. Learn to use Facebook for business and have a business page. Mari Smith is a leader in this area. She offers several training programs and has a book about Facebook tactics for business. Jon Loomer also runs some awesome online training programs to learn the basics. Intro stuff is free. The 4 week webinar based course is worth your time if you are serious about learning. Or shoot me an email, and we could set up some consulting time to get you started. mary@charleson.ca

3. You’ll need a social media budget. While there is a ton of stuff you can do for free through social, increasingly there is room to justify the pay to play model in your budget to stand out.  51% of those surveyed said they planned to spend the same on social as last year, and 42% said they planned to increase their budget.

The key here is to know how to spend your money wisely so you don’t waste it. My suggestion is to pick one platform that matches well with your audience to focus on, and after mastering it using free posting options and gaining an audience and engagement, then step into using the paid functions there to target. Check out Mari Smith for Facebook expertise, Sue Zimmerman for Instagram, Madalyn Sklar for Twitter, Carlos Gil for Snapchat, and Viveka von Rosen for LinkedIn. Viveka’s Youtube videos with LinkedIn tips are free and awesome. If you’re not sure which channel to focus on initially, go with Facebook first since it’s so broad reaching.

4. Content will continue to be king. In 2017 content production remains important because good content will always be a way to stand out. 84% of social media marketers also work on content marketing production. The main obstacle appears to be time and resources. And if there were no obstacles, 83% said they would produce more video content, 57% more blog post content, and 42% would do more live video. There’s that video theme again, but note the strength of blog content. Also worth noting is that blog and enews content are owned media, rather then rented media hosted on another social platform. For that reason, I believe they are further a way to dominate the content game.

Of course social media is just one of the tools in your kit, but these trends are worth noting for overall planning. Good marketing demands a strategic approach across media and platforms. As always, let me know what you think. How does you plan for 2017 line up with these trends? Where are you going to focus next year?

 

 

Why influencer marketing is set to dominate 2017

An influencer is a good friend who has knowledge and experience, and is willing to share their “inside track” on things directly with you. Online influencers serve a similar role, but to a much broader audience. At its core influencer marketing is a type of marketing where you don’t actually communicate directly with your audience. You identify a leader who is an information broker within a specific community, and drive your message through them. Key leaders are those who have earned the trust of your target audience. In an age of information overload and advertising clutter, the influencer starts to become a very appealing proposition to both consumers and clients. Here’s why:

Influencers provide consumers

  • Insider information
  • Save time and effort
  • Add credibility
  • Help ensure good choices

Influencers provide businesses

  • Large numbers of followers and reach
  • Provide third party endorsement
  • Direct channel to a special interest group
  • Remove the perception of advertising

powerofinfluencers

The truly brilliant thing about influencers is the ability for the audience to have been self selected and highly targeted already. You no longer need to comb a database for a target group, create audience profiles within social media for campaigns, or reach out with traditional media tools, because the influencer has already done the targeting work for you. They also have an established channel and reach already in place.

Influencers are nothing new though. For example, fashion magazines used to be the only broad reaching influencer for upcoming styles. Now it’s just as apt to be a knowledgeable and respected leader in that industry with a huge Twitter and Instagram following.

We could even argue that during the last US election, influencers used social media channels to inform and persuade with a reach beyond traditional news networks. For me, that event was likely the wake up call about the power of influencers, since most traditional media did not see the outcome coming. The power of those insider social networks now cannot be denied. As a political side note, if you want to dig into that further, I shared my opinions with Jim Brown on The 180 last Sunday during a CBC Radio One national broadcast. Link to it HERE.

So, you get it, influencers now matter. But short of taking your lantern out to the streets looking, where do you find them?

Here are a couple tools to help:

1. Klear Klear analyzes Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and blogs. It divides people into over 40,000 categories making it easy to distil the right people in the right categories. You start off by category, and then specify country, and then you can filter for location, network, skills etc.

2. Traackr Traackr is a dashboard type management tool where you can find influencers and track communications with them. The tools pick up their profiles across social media for posts, conversations, connections, and size of profile across multiple sites. It allows you to monitor your relationship and engagement with the influencer as well.

Of course there’s also the good old-fashioned “low tech” approach, which can still work with diligence and time. Simply check out a few hashtags that make sense for your industry. Follow the content being published on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook within those #hashtag channels. See who is sharing good quality stuff, who gets engagement, and who appears to have a strong following. Once you’ve watched for a while, join in and engage them on these channels as well as their blog posts through commenting. Over time you may score a “genuine” invitation to share more about your product, EARNING the interest and potential future influence of that person.

There are also several platforms out there that act as brokers to bring influencers together with clients more formally. Check out Tapinfluence.com The services are not cheap, but you had to know someone would make a business out of this! Tomoson.com is another one.

And once you find influencers, what’s next?

Do your research. Ensure the influencer has the desired relevance and reach. Let them be authentic. They are an influencer because people respect them. That includes how, why and when they communicate, as well as the tone of voice and style. Influencers are not a quick fix. Influencers influence generally over time. One quick endorsement might temporarily spike sales, but it’s unlikely to have long-term impact.

2017 will be the year of the influencer. It’s time to acknowledge the power that they yield. Or perhaps 2017 is the year to become an influencer yourself?

How to leverage EMBEDDED and EARNED media

Embedded and earned media are two of the five pillar’s of your media marketing strategy. Embedded media is where you publish or broadcast as an author using the reach of an established platform. Earned media is publicity from a third party. It’s when your newspaper does a feature on your business, or you are interviewed on TV or radio.

embeddedearned_media

This post is a case study on how to utilize a piece of embedded media throughout your five pillars, but also on how to leverage it for additional national earned media.

On Nov 2, a week before the US 2016 federal election on Nov 8th, I published an article in the Huffington Post titled Biased Election Coverage and Consumption Will Have Consequences. The article took a look at the role of media – from traditional broadcast and print news outlets to the economic based model of online social media and influencers and how they are all forming our opinions around the US election.

It was largely shared and commented on – both on the Huffington Post site, as well as the various social media platforms I shared it on. And I was delighted to see them feature it on their front-page news Nov 2. That gave it tremendous reach. Of course I also put the link to it on my website. It was a great example of using another established player’s reach to position expertise. In the last two days, Twitter follows have increased significantly, as have Facebook follows and LinkedIn requests.

I thought the leverage would end there.

But then a surprise ending to the election offered an additional opportunity, when it became apparent that my forecast of a Trump win being missed by the media would actually come true.

I used my piece of embedded media to further leverage a major piece of EARNED media this week – an interview for “The 180″ on CBC Radio One, which aired nationally Sunday, November 13 at 11am. You can now link to an archived copy HERE.

I argued a number of theories as to why so much media content seemed to reinforce a Clinton win in the US election, and how that had been misleading, as well as how social media channels with content catered to user profiles, based on opinions of others like us, served to only further reinforce those views.

From an earned media perspective, this was a major coup. CBC Radio One is the largest radio network in Canada, reaching 4.3 million listeners each week. Being positioned as a “marketing and media expert” during a 10 minute interview was great positioning. But it’s the ability to then put that earned content on owned media platforms (blog and website) as a permanent credibility builder that is golden. And of course being able to leverage it out on social channels further added to the reach and value. It’s a piece of marketing that I will be multi-purposing for some time.

mary_charleson_cbc_the180

promo-the180-smSo here’s the story on how this all happened and what you can learn from it in your own marketing efforts. Being on the west coast, by about 6:30pm results were looking shaky for Clinton. That’s when I went into my office and wrote an email pitch to a producer at CBC that I know. I didn’t send it until later that evening, after 9:30pm. I wanted to be pretty certain of the outcome before hitting “send.” Here was my pitch:

cbc_media_pitch

I also sent a text to her cell phone, referencing the email and the Huffington Post article. The producer discussed the idea with several colleagues Wednesday morning, and by 10am I got a call to come to their studio to record the interview Thursday morning.

There were 5 things that got this pitch noticed:

1. A contrarian viewpoint: Most people in Canada though Clinton would win. Because I had predicted that Trump would win a week earlier, it got their attention.

2. A catchy headline: “How biased election coverage and the consequences of consumption and social media prevented us from seeing a Trump win coming.”

3. The pitch was short: The view was based on three forces coming together, and it was substantiated by a previously published piece in a reputable publication, the Huffington Post. Media loves other media.

4. Targeted one influential media contact: There wasn’t time to fan this out to a bunch of contacts, nor did I want to. I pitched one only that I thought was a good match, and it came across as an exclusive offer. This was also based on having rapport with a media producer, and the email and cell phone to reach them in off hours.

5. It was timely: I knew the pitch had to go out that night so it would be talked about the following morning in a briefing session. I also knew the producer would be accessing her email and texts that night, since that’s what producers and reporters do.

One thing worth noting in all this: I keep in touch with media even when I’m not pitching them. I copy people on interesting stories or research I’ve found that they might find useful, or engage them on a piece they’ve put out. I try to help them do their job better, so that when I do pitch a story idea, there’s familiarity and respect.

Hopefully this example has shown you how the 5-pillar media approach of OWNED, RENTED, EARNED, EMBEDDED and PAID media starts to come together. It can be a magic cycle to build branding, identity and expertise when leveraged well.

Visuals are the New Headline

Getting noticed and commanding attention with content marketing has two parts these days: headlines AND images. While headlines are absolutely critical, images are what really grab people. Images draw you in.

read-pictures

Perhaps Andy Warhol summed it up best with the above quote. To a certain extent we’ve become more conditioned to “read through pictures” as we scan information, and the endless onslaught of content we sift through daily.

In a world of ready access to visuals with the prevalence of smart phones and easy to use photo editing software, combined with social media platforms that enable and encourage sharing, one photo can easily reach 10,000 viewers even if it is only accompanied by one or two words. That can go up exponentially with video if it goes viral. And it goes a long way to explaining the appeal of live stream video with real time visual connections and interactivity.

Humans have been reading words for hundreds of years, but we’ve been reading visuals for thousands of years. We are hardwired to be attracted to visuals. In fact consumers post 2.5 billion images every week according to Engadget, a tech blog.

There’s good reason why visual platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Youtube have generated so much growth. And it also explains why platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have become much more visually oriented, with images and streaming video.

Here are 5 reasons why visuals are so effective:

  1. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. We absorb visuals 50 times faster than words.
  2. Posts to Facebook are more likely to engage and be shared if there is a visual image. Posts with visuals receive 94% more page visits and engagement than posts without.
  3. Facebook posts with images on average receive twice as many comments as posts without.
  4. Tweets with images get 2 times more engagement than those that don’t.
  5. Visuals express ideas quickly – in a snapshot. This breaks through the overwhelming clutter of online content.

If you are not utilizing visuals well in your online, social media or enews marketing efforts, you’re likely missing out on views and shares.

The magic for marketers of course happens when narrative details and brand value can be communicated in a single photo or short video.

One example that caught my eye this week was Suprella, an innovative designed umbrella, that folds in an inverted direction, making it easier to fold when entering buildings and cars, and the water doesn’t drip from it. While I’m sure it’s the result of geo targeting, and the fact that Vancouver receive 28 days of rain out of 31 in October 2016, I’ve seen a sponsored video show up in my Facebook feed several times. I’ve seen it on Twitter, and on Vimeo. It doesn’t appear to have a Twitter page, but the hashtag #suprella as a channel there has several people commenting on it. Both the still visual and the video convey in a far more compelling way then a headline ever could the narrative details of the brand.

All this to say, you still need compelling words and headlines in your emails, blog posts, and social media shares. However, I’d invite you to consider that combining a powerful visual with it will make it that much more effective. And I’ll hazard a guess, that without a visual, you will be loosing a large percent of browsers who simply skim and fail to stop.

Choosing what NOT TO DO makes for powerful content marketing

Content marketing and social media are important, but let’s face it, they can take a tremendous amount of time to produce and manage. You can’t retrieve time once spent.

choices

Many of us get caught in an endless vortex of creating MORE content for MORE channels. We write a blog post here. Get some media coverage there. Post a photo to Instagram. Share some stuff on Facebook. Update that LinkedIn profile with awesome stuff. Tweet it. Snap it. Chat it. Maybe give that new live stream video thing a go because everyone says you’ve got to be on it. Then press repeat and do it all over again in the hope that it will push the needle on sales. Sound familiar?

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” – Michael Porter

Many businesses have yet to build a truly loyal audience in any one of these channels, or they’re targeting too many audiences with their content. Is it perhaps time to make decisions on what you are not going to do? Be honest with what is working, do more of that and you’re apt to have the biggest impact.

When we look at great media brands like the Huffington Post or the Globe and Mail, they started by building a dominant presence on a single channel, before branching out to more channels. There’s much we can learn from this strategy, even if you are a smaller player.

Scott Stratten, the UNmarketing guy built his initial following on Twitter. He’s at over 184,000 followers these days. I had the pleasure of meeting Scott in Phoenix while speaking this past summer. He was an early adopter on Twitter, and believed in total real time commitment to the channel, rather then the automation that has taken over the platform for many now. His irreverent musing and total commitment to the platform gave him dominance to then spill over into other channels. Check out his website HERE. Or follow him ON TWITTER.

Chris Brogen is unshakable in his belief that e-newsletters are a core strategy channel for his brand. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from him that I’ve applied to my own business. Check out his approach HERE.

Jeff Korhan is making huge gains with podcasts these days engaging with small business owners and their marketing challenges. Check him out and sign up for his podcast HERE.

Jeannie Robertson, a veteran speaker and comedian, plays in a dominant way on Youtube and Facebook. Link to her site HERE.

In all of the above cases, these folks are of course on other channels as well, but they chose initially to dominate one in particular before branching out. They also knew intimately who they were targeting, and created content for that audience. That is key.

Today’s technology allows us to publish in many different places and to reach thousands of people. But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Perhaps we need to consider that LESS could in fact be MORE.

5 Reasons why brands GET DUMPED online

A friend of mine sent me a link to an interesting study recently, on why people follow and unfollow brands online. I’m going to share with you some insights from that research this morning, because although much of it might seem intuitive, many companies still fail to really get it.

The study was done by SproutSocial.com on behalf of Social Media Today, a respected authority on trends and best practices in digital marketing. The data was collected from 1,022 online respondents during a one week time period in July 2016. You can link directly to the report HERE. Given the sample is based on an online group; it represents online users well, but would be slightly skewed if being used to observe overall population behaviour. Never the less, it’s relevant, since increasingly many consumers are engaged in some sort of online social interaction. *Note: Finding numbers have been rounded.

polls_just_been_dumped_logo_1_1023_424378_answer_1_xlargeSo what do people find annoying? What causes them to unfollow brands?

  • 57% posting too many promotions
  • 38% using slang or jargon
  • 35% not having any “personality” on their accounts
  • 32% trying to be funny when they are no
  • 25% not replying to my message

Basically what we see in the above is if you excessively brag, use a communication style that feels stilted, weird or tries too hard, and you don’t engage, you’re going to get dumped. Honestly, doesn’t this description seem like a bad date anyway?

So if that’s why brands get dumped, why might people choose to follow them in the first place?

  • 73% interested in their product or service
  • 59% interesting promotions
  • 51% they are entertaining
  • 42% offer an incentive
  • 41% interested in the industry
  • 25% to communicate with the brand
  • 21% friends follow/like their content

Again, in relationship terms, if you are interesting and entertaining, enjoy things I like, engage in conversation and are respectful of my friends, you’re probably a keeper.

Social media is meant to be social. It’s relationship economics. But somehow many companies seem to have forgotten that the same rules of respectful friendship still need to apply.

People will follow brands to hear about promotions and incentives. But many also follow simply to be entertained. That’s an important consideration when you’re looking to build a brand presence. Getting followers is great, but connecting with an audience and getting engaged followers is better, since it significantly increases the chances of them becoming a paying customer.

How does that work? Take a look at this – the numbers are staggering. Percentage of people who purchased because of social media:

  • 75% yes
  • 25% no

If you need further proof of the value of social media marketing, here it is. The likelihood of buying from a brand people follow on social media:

  • 58% more likely
  • 38% no change
  • 4% less likely

The findings reinforce the importance of content marketing. If you provide your audience with relevant, useful and entertaining content, along with some promotional offers occasionally, they’ll be increasingly likely to buy from you.

The key of course to any relationship though is to understand who you are first, know who is your ideal date, and then just build the friendship. That takes self-awareness, and community understanding.

5 Ways Trump is winning at media

Like a car crash all over the front-page news, we just can’t look away. It’s fascinating to examine international interest in the current US federal election. While many American’s can’t see it beyond their own borders, the results actually matter a lot to rest of us, given the role America has always played on the world stage. There’s something about having a major shift possible and not getting a vote that stirs us up. Too bad it’s not Thanksgiving south of the border already where I could ruminate in past tense about this with my American relatives. We’re eating turkey up here this weekend in Canada, and we’ll no doubt be glued to the TV and online come Sunday October 9, at 9pm Eastern. That’s when the second Presidential debate goes down.

breaking_news_trumpeffect_media

As far as riveting reality TV goes, it doesn’t get much better. Have a think on that statement, and just how far we’ve fallen…

Up front full disclosure: I’m not a Trump fan. While both candidates come with issues and baggage, in the grand scheme of political stability and international affairs, there can really only be one safe choice. But while I’m not a fan, I do think Trump is playing the media game well. In fact, he’s winning on that front. Here’s why:

1. Disruption: Trump is not conventional trying to preserve the status quo. And he’s not conventional in his presentation – what he says and how he says it. He’s disruptive and constantly breaking the rules. To his disenfranchised change hungry base, this is like a T-Bone served up daily. His disruption earns him an exorbitant amount of free media.

2. Earned media: Nobody understands the power of media and public perception quite like Donald Trump. The Apprentice made him a reality TV star. And he’s long been a tabloid king with his various real estate deals and bankruptcy battles. But it’s how he leverages that earned media that makes him a star. He puts it out on his owned channels (website, blog, email), then broadcasts it through rented channels (social media) and incites followers and foes to rebroadcast it even further through their private channels.

3. Audience: Trump had celebrity status before he even ran for office. He has 12.1 million followers on Twitter (Clinton has 9.4 million), over 11 million likes on Facebook (Clinton has 6.7 million), and 2.6 million followers on Instagram (Clinton has 2.3 million). While Clinton certainly has impressive numbers, Trump has a broader reach through his own direct channels. Trump stages events. He also stages his entrances. He plans bigger events. After years in the news, and involved in TV production, he literally orchestrates his airtime.

4. Simple message: Trump is the master of the branded tag line and sound bites that are media friendly. The statement, “Make America great again” is simple, and hard to disagree with. Whether the American dream is coming back again any time soon really doesn’t matter, but the promise that it might does. While there are some that would argue his conversation threads wander, and are often filled with lack of concrete knowledge, the guy gets the sound bites. In a world of 10 second videos and 140 character tweets, he has mastered delivering headlines and news that gets rebroadcast countless times over.

5. Engage emotion: Trump is a divisive and extreme candidate. You either love him or hate him. Like the candidate himself, there is little grey ground and room for conciliatory views. Trump evokes emotion. And he engages that emotion for media gain. His complaints about unfair coverage and being trashed by elites fuels further appeal to his angry voting base. We know from research that humour drives instant engagement, and often provokes sharing. While some of his humour is very dark (anyone catch that clip where he encouraged the terminally ill to go to advanced polls?) he does manage to keep things light and laughable often. But curiously a recent TNS study notes that humour alone may not sustain sharing. To provoke longevity, they found that going deeper was essential. Hope and pride were found to sustain conversations and sharing more so then humour. Friends, nothing screams, HOPE and PRIDE more then “Make America great again”.

While I want desperately to be wrong about how well Trump maneuvers the media, I have to admit he is winning the marketing side of this media game. Let’s just hope America votes with their heads and not their hearts. From what I know about marketing, that is likely the scariest observation of all.

For those that are wondering about the awesome photo accompanying this story and Googling the station PFN, where it was broadcast, here’s the scoop. I generated the image using PhotoFunia, a very cool APP that allows you to drop your own photos into set templates. After doing a little Photo manipulation on the tag line, I generated an image made to grab attention, be timely, and increase the likelihood of sharing and commenting – in short, some fun media and marketing!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Leave a message below or feel free to share and comment on your social networks. Regardless of the outcome in November, we can learn a lot about media and marketing by following this campaign.

 

 

Marketing Measurement Matters

“What gets measured is what gets done” is a business saying that remains as relevant today as the day it was first spoken. Businesses measure lots of things; sales, profits, costs, returns, market share, customer retention, the list could be endless. Another business saying that used to be muttered in marketing departments was, “Half of the money spent on advertising is wasted, I just wish I knew what half.” Fortunately these days we have many metrics at our disposal the measure marketing effectiveness. And when we know what is most effective, we tend to do more of it. It gets done.

measurement

 

So what do you measure in your business related to marketing? I measure:

  • Customer inquiries/month (email, phone, in person)
  • Bookings, new contracts, sales/month
  • Website and blog visits/month (+ basic demographics of who is visiting, where they’re from)
  • Page visits, time spent
  • Acquisition (how did they find me?)
  • Email newsletter opens, shares
  • Email new subscriptions, unsubscribes
  • On ramping and funneling list numbers for offers
  • Views and shares of boosted and sponsored social media content, correlated back to website analytics, since I’m always chasing people to “owned” media properties

I’m not a numbers wonk. I didn’t much care for math. I somehow got an “A” in university statistics despite finally figuring out two months into the course that “knot 5″ meant “0.5” when spoken by my very British professor. I had been thinking, “If it’s not 5, then what the heck is it?” True story.

You get it. Numbers don’r necessarily come as naturally to me as letters and writing. But I certainly understand the importance of numbers. They help me understand if what I’m doing is working, and by default if I should do more of it, or change the approach.

A couple simple tools for acquiring the listed information above are Google analytics and MailChimp. If you don’t have Google analytics on your website, it would urge you to do so. It’s absolutely free, and relatively easy to set up. Once you’ve signed up, simply embed the piece of code they send you in the header of each page on your website. Or give it to your website guy or gal to set up. Or google search one of many videos on how to do it. Honestly, it’s not hard to do, but will make understanding how your website is used by customers incredibly easy. MailChimp, or similar programs like Constant Contact will not only create a database of customers that you communicate with, it will also allow you to monitor how effective your electronic touch points by email are with them. The basic MailChimp account is free. Constant Contact runs you about $20 a month. And of course Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn all offer you analytics if you pay to sponsor or boost content on their platforms.

But at the end of the day, all measurement leads back to the desire to increase awareness, increase engagement, and ultimately be chosen. It’s basically about getting others to know, like and trust you.

Which is why I believe so much in the power of one on one communication in person and by a weekly newsletter, as well as through this blog. It’s about building customer trust and intimacy, as well as search and recognition. Did you know that I had four potential new clients contact me and set up in person meetings just this past week as a direct result of receiving marketing ideas from the last several months through this newsletter? In three cases we’ll be meeting on setting up a strategy for 5-pillar media marketing (owned, rented, earned, embedded & paid media) for their companies. In the other case, it’s a potential speaking gig around the same topic.

What works for me may not work for you. Your business and our customers might be quite different. But I do know that if you are measuring the results of what you’re doing, and taking action to do more of what is driving engagement and sales, and eliminating what isn’t, you’ll be way further ahead then the guy wondering which half of his advertising budget is actually working!

So, what do you do that you know for sure drives sales? How do you measure and keep track of results? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Great brands always have a story

Branding is about more then image recognition for customers. Great brands give their customers something to belong to and talk about. They always have a story.

I was reminded of that last week while in Ontario cottage country visiting relatives and friends before returning to Toronto for some business meetings.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess many reading this have never been to Magnetawan. But those that have will likely know the iconic history of “Downtown Magnetawan” shirts. If you’ve been to the Mag, you likely own a shirt. And if you own a shirt you share the same story and knowledge of the place with others who have been there. Downtown Magnetawan is of course an oxymoron. You could blink and miss it, but that’s the point. This little town of 300 has a global brand. And it all started with a t-shirt.

For years the Downtown General Store sold the shirts. It was the kind of place that proudly boasted “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it” which pretty much summed up their approach to retailing. They had it all. Including the sought after shirts at the front, and a shrine of photos that people had sent them, sporting their shirts in places all over the world. Even former US president Jimmy Carter was pictured wearing one.

downtown_mag_shirt_sign

On two occasions, once in France and the other time in New Zealand, while wearing a Downtown Magnetawan shirt, I had a complete stranger run up to me and tell me they’d been there, which then provoked a conversation of our shared stories anchored in this little town.

Those that wear the shirt have a shared story. They’re members of a global tribe. And they always have an emotional connection to the place and their time there.

Unfortunately the General Store burned down in 2011, and with it the shirts, and the shelves of photos of people wearing them all over the world, methodically collected and display over the years. In a curious twist of small town politics, the Trademark to produce them remained dormant for five years, further adding to the story. Those that had a shirt then became part of history briefly locked in time. Thankfully this year the Home Hardware store in town acquired the rights to produce the shirts once again, and they are now proudly building up that photo shrine, selling the shirts in store and online, as well as helping people share their stories and photos through a Facebook page and the use of hashtags on Twitter @DTmagnetawan and Instagram.

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So what’s the learning in all this?

1. Great brands always have a story. Downtown Magnetawan shirts had humble beginnings in a small town, and became a global brand simply through brand ambassadors wearing them in their travels. That’s a cool story. What’s the story around your brand?

2. Secrecy adds value. Everyone loves a secret, and if those in the know share knowledge about the brand not widely available, except to members of the tribe, it further ads to the appeal. Many people have a hard time pronouncing the name. It’s right up there with Penetanguishene, also in the area. But those who have been there can say it. Being so small, it’s a wonder that so many people have been drawn there from afar, but that is simply part of the secret of its appeal. Magnetawan is a town that joins Ahmic Lake and Lake Cecebe, a beautiful part of cottage and lake country.

3. Give people a way to share their story around the brand. For years the photo shrine helped tell the story of Downtown Magnetawan shirts, but now it is also told through online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

So there you have it. A story and a secret, and a way to share it among members of the tribe. Could great branding really be that simple?

 

 

Facebook Live: Video broadcasting live heats up marketing space

This week, I’m continuing on the video theme with a look at the new “Facebook Live” video streaming feature. This thing has awesome marketing opportunity written all over it.

I woke up last Saturday morning to my son using Facebook Live to watch a live broadcast of the longboarding Top Speed Challenge being held in Quebec that weekend. It was pretty cool to see a demo of how it all worked. I love learning from an18 year old! Plus, having become a bit of a longboard racing groupie, and knowing many of the competitors and their families while traveling with my son, it was really fun to see all these athletes doing what they love.

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One of his good friends, Emily Pross, was broadcasting. She’s the #1 female in the world in IDF rankings (and a respectable 6th in men’s open) so she has a sizeable following on Facebook (1,425 followers, 5,000 friends on her personal page, and in excess of 2,275 likes on here athlete’s page). She’s rock in’ social media. Her broadcast had attracted 93 comments, 4 shares and over 1,000 views. Remember, this is a feature that was only launched by Facebook at the end of August, and available in the most recent update on Sept 1, 2016. She is what I would consider an “early adopter” with a pretty decent following.

Online video consumption and in-the-moment updates are huge trends in the social media space. If you haven’t updated Facebook recently, go to the APP store and download it. Otherwise, you won’t see the features I’m about to tell you about. You’ll need iOS 8.0 or later.

By tapping the live stream icon, you can start broadcasting video live from your Smartphone and write a description of the event. Right now any users following you will have the ability to “tune in” to the broadcast, and in fact they will get a notification that you are “broadcasting live.” The maximum time for a broadcast is 90 minutes. Most will likely be shorter, but you’ll want to be on long enough to give people an opportunity to know you’re live and to then interact with them. Like Periscope, viewers can post comments and questions that you’ll see, or send “likes, hearts and icons” that float across the screen. The key difference and advantage of Facebook Live over Periscope is the ability for the video to be retrieved at any time plus many people already have a significant audience on the platform. That’s a major plus.

So how might you use this as a marketing tool?

  • Live stream a seminar
  • Interact with attendees at a conference
  • Share a product launch
  • Make a major announcement
  • Interview a leader in your industry
  • Broadcast an event

I’m really curious how this might shake up the webinar space, although I’d suggest checking on ownership of content in the Facebook privacy policy weasel words first. I’ve certainly witnessed over the last couple weeks an increase in the number of business people experimenting with the Livestream tool as a way to engage their audience.

There are a handful of best practices you should keep in mind too:

1. Attract more followers to your platform
Follows on your personal page, or likes on a business page are what you want lots of, since they will be notified when you go live with a broadcast

2. Post in advance your planned broadcast
Include topic, date, and time. Tease them with your content. You’re basically making an ad for your broadcast. Be clever and grab them!

3. Have a strong connection
It goes without saying that you need a solid, reliable connection. Use Wi-Fi if possible. It’s usually reliable, and you won’t be billed for data use!

4. Write a good headline 
You want a compelling headline and description. That is what will get people to tune in and participate.

5. Engage your viewers
This is not a one way broadcast. You can get feedback, see peoples names and respond to questions. Make it personal and acknowledge those on the call. They’re likely to return for future broadcasts.

I intend to play with this feature myself over the coming weeks. I would LOVE to hear if you’ve given it a go, or if this has caused you to look at Facebook Live more closely. Leave a comment below!

And for the record, Kyle Wester smashed the previous longboard speed record recently going 143.8km (89.4 miles/hr) in Colorado. Now the chatter within the longboard race community is if someone can crack 100 miles/hr. Have a think about what that would feel like on a skateboard next time you’re barreling down the highway in your car!