Where should you focus your social media efforts and budget in 2015? In this episode, Neal Schaffer encourages you to start the year by analyzing your content and process. This means helping you find more places to share your content, explaining the importance of internal education and ownership, and advocating for systems that help you amplify your strategies, like paid social and automation.
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In This Episode:
- Content: With the convergence of information and communication, brands need good content that encourages engagement in 2015. Is your content useful? Is your voice friendly? Are you strategically telling stories with different types of content?
- Visual: You need a visual voice and strategy. Visuals spruce up your posts and increase your visibility. It’s also important to get on purely visual platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
- Mobile: Some communities and demographics spend more time on mobile than on the web. Keep in mind that being active on certain platforms is part of a mobile strategy, as some use Facebook and Twitter on their smartphones. It’s important to look at purely mobile platforms as well.
- Process: If you don’t have a process, you don’t have a product. You must have a process for creating your content and customizing it for different platforms so that it’s scalable and teachable.
- Advocacy: Whether it’s influencers, brand advocates, or employee advocates, advocacy allows you to scale, and generate brand awareness in networks you’re not currently in. What’s fueling the advocacy fire right now is social selling: there’s a gap between salespeople branding themselves as experts, and the actual creation of content they need to share.
- Ownership: Your social plan won’t be as effective without ownership of your content, strategy, and process. It’s harder to have an authentic effort unless it’s created in house by people who feel ownership of it.
- Internal Education: With every employee advocacy program or social selling program, there’s a need to educate. Empower your team and allow them to understand your strategy.
- Paid Social: You need to be putting budget into paid and using it to amplify your content. Paid social can be effective if you’re doing it right: it targets your efforts and ensures you’re getting in front of people and getting clicks from them.
- Automation: Marketing automation platforms like Hubspot and Marketo are adding more social media functionality. In addition, new platforms are emerging based on automating things social activity. For example, Socedo and SocialCentiv are based on different triggers that allow you to build campaigns, engage, and follow. Automation is a great way to scale in social.
Resources & Links:
- Pinterest Board Ideas To Supercharge Your New Year
- Along with Neal’s Social Tools Summit, here are some more great Social Media Conferences to attend this year
- Start Creating Visual Content with these Top Tools
- Tips to help you Recycle Old Content for Social Media
- Ready to create your social media plan? Start here with tips from Neal Schaffer
Hey, there. This is Neal Schaffer. Welcome to 2015’s first episode of Maximize Your Social. Wherever you are in the world, I hope you had a fantastic new year. I didn’t really talk about it much in Social. I actually had a two-night, three-day business trip to Tokyo, Japan at the very end of 2014, so I was still sort of catching up on the time zone during New Year’s Eve, but I had a fantastic new year. I took my kids skiing for the first time over their winter break. It was awesome.
What we should be doing is really clearing our head and getting recharged and ready both physically, mentally, and spiritually for the New Year. With that in mind, I should have published this podcast earlier in the week. I actually wanted to wait for one week of work in 2015 to come my way, talk to customers, to vendors, practitioners, and really get my finger on the pulse of what I believe you all should be concentrating on in 2015 for the purpose of this podcast.
As usual, I’ll be podcasting this before I blog it. That’s why you should definitely be listening in to this podcast when we publish, and I hope you’re finding me on the new feed. If you found this in Social, note that I just moved over to a new feed, and therefore a new page in iTunes that you will need to re-subscribe to, so my apologies in advance for the inconvenience, but it’s sort of my own 2015 plan to optimize what I am doing in social media.
I don’t know how many of you have heard this or if you’ve listened to my previous podcasts, but I announced that I co-organizing my first social media conference called The Social Tool Summit. It’s going to be in Boston on May 12. I’ve had great conversations already with a few of our soon-to-be-announced early sponsors, speakers, as well as a number of people who will be attending in a speaker role, being corporate practitioners of social as well as just general attendees.
What I’m going to talk about there is really interesting because in 2014, I talked about six trends that I see evolving in social media in 2014. I published this January 1st on Maximize Social Business. What I’m going to be talking about is really an extension of that because some things have changed, but a lot really hasn’t. It takes time for people and sometimes technology to catch up with some of the trends I see. Therefore, I don’t see it as repetition. I see it as a further evolution of things in 2015.
Some of these have evolved more rapidly or are more mainstream than others. Either way, there’s always room for improvement with optimization. Therefore, let me get started with my list of nine things you should focus your social media efforts on in 2015.
By the way, usually when I do these podcasts, I stand and pace, literally, to keep my energy up. I am sitting for this one, but hopefully it’s one of my more energetic podcasts because I really want to help you get to the next level with your social, and I really think that you’re going to find this advice to be valuable, and at the least, a confirmation that you’re already doing what you should be doing.
No. 1: Content. Content, content, content. You can’t talk about marketing these days without talking about content marketing. You almost can’t talk about content marketing without talking about social media marketing, and social media marketing, and content marketing as well.
With the convergence of information in communication, brands and companies need to have content to engage with people. That’s just a fact. It’s a fact of social media, and a positive move is this evolution of content marketing which gives companies something to talk about in social.
It really comes down to is your content more of a traditional marketing web copy type of content, or is it truly useful and resourceful? Is it written in a voice that is friendly and acceptable to your social media target audience, whoever they might be? Is it delivering the ROI? Whether it’s curating or creating original content, are you just throwing it out there because there are keywords, or are you strategically trying to tell stories through all the different types of content that are going to lead people into your funnel, or whatever objective you have for your social media program?
Taking it one step further, are you on all the platforms? Are you sharing that content on all the platforms that you should be? Are you on SlideShare? Are you on Instagram? Heck, are you even on Soo where I see more companies doing sponsored content in already-emerging communities there like we saw in the early days of Google Plus.
Interestingly enough on this note, I actually recorded a video session. It’s going to be a video educational class, or course, or online education, for lack of a better term, with Pop Expert on content marketing for Social Media Marketing, or Content marketing for social media will probably be the final title.
I’ll be sharing a lot of this, all of my advice, very targeted advice, in a 45-minute online class. I hope you’ll be on the lookout for that. You can go to www.PopExpert.com. Sign up for it there, or be on the lookout when I announce it on my Neal Schaffer, or Maximize Your Social, or Maximize Social Business channels.
I digress. We all know about the central content, but I believe with most companies, whether it’s social media strategy alignment, whether it’s choice of platform, whether it’s voice, or just the content itself, or even the frequently of the content, there is always little tweaks you can do to further optimize an improve upon it. That’s really one of the central ones. Do you even have a blog? That’s a key one when we’re talking about content.
When we talk about content in 2105, we must talk about the visual. That’s going to be the second area you should be focusing on. When we talk about visual, there are a few different things we can talk about. Visual content as content in itself, right?
Even for boring B2B brands, if you’ve heard me speak and talk about Maersk Line, or Maersk, the corporate company, the shipping company, and how they have been able to adopt a visual strategy for a seemingly “boring” B2B company. I’m seeing more B2B companies, whether they’re in software or waste have you, launch really great visual marketing. If you already have a consumer-face product, it’s a lot easier to do. If you don’t, it is still possible.
If you’re looking for ideas, check out on Pinterest. I have a Neal Schaffer/Maximize Social Business account on Pinterest where I have thousands of pins. This is a B2B audience. It’s a B2B blog where I pin primarily B2B content. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the types of visuals you can use, even for something like that.
You need to have a visual voice, a visual strategy, visual content. You also need visuals to spruce up whatever content you post on social because it’s going to help you get more visibility in the social media streams, or newsfeeds, whatever it might be. Then you have purely social platforms that are based on visuals, primarily Pinterest and Instagram, but also Snapchat. Are you on these platforms? Is there potential for you to leverage them for your audience?
Visual is very important on a number of different levels. There are a lot of great tools you can use right now. There’s new video platforms coming out to help you support your video social media marketing efforts, or I should say visual social media marketing efforts. It’s something you really need to look into.
This might be one of my longer podcasts. I’m going to just squeeze all this in. I promise 10 minutes. It’s going to be hard. Let’s move on.
When I talked about Snapchat and I talked about Instagram, these are purely mobile social networks. We then talk about the mobile. In 2014, I talked about the emergence of mobile personal. Line, this Japanese app, which is similar to WhatsApp from Facebook, or Facebook Messenger, is a great example.
Just the other day online, I noticed that Linkin Park was online, and they’re one of my favorite rock bands, so I now follow them online. Immediately, I get a notification online. I don’t know who it’s from. I think it’s from a friend. Boom. It’s from Linkin Park. It’s not just for musicians or celebrities.
Anybody can use these platforms, but it just goes to show you, No. 1, mobile is prevalent. In some communities, or some target user audiences or demographics, they spend more time on mobile than on the web. Being active in social, considering that a lot of people do social from a mobile phone, or smartphone I should say, is a start, is part of a mobile strategy. Obviously, any link you put on your website or landing page has to be responsive. The more active you become on social, the more mobile ready your website, or whatever digital assets are, have to be.
Just by spending more time in social is going to help your mobile indirectly, but also looking at the purely mobile platforms are going to help you as well. The purely mobile platforms being primarily Instagram but also for some, depending on your target demographic, Snapchat. If you didn’t think Instagram was for you, wake up. It’s 2015.
Just as we saw with other social platforms, Instagram has already started sponsor content. There’s B2B companies on there now. I see people becoming a lot more self-promotional as we have with Facebook and other networks. If you’ve never been self-promotional on Instagram, you want to take a step back, and do it very carefully, and really test the waters and experiment, but 2015 I think we’re going to see Instagram explode. We already know there are more active users on Instagram mobile than on Twitter, for instance. It’s probably No. 2 right now to Facebook, and Snapchat might be No. 3. When you think mobile, think sociable. More importantly, think Instagram and potentially Snapchat.
Wow. We’re already at 10 minutes, but I’ve got six more to go. I’ve only gone through three. So we talked about content. We talked about the visual. We talked about mobile. What’s going to happen is not only are you going to be splicing and dicing your content for the different platforms, but even the visuals you’re going to be using, you’re going to have to recreate and reformat for each of the platforms, including mobile.
It’s going to get really complicated really fast. What I am stressing in 2015 especially is a lot of you listening to this podcast are already implementing social media marketing for your company, on behalf of your clients, for yourself. We need to scale. The only way to scale is if you have a process.
Some of you have been watching me tweet out and post out quotes, like from Edwards Deming, who I’m a big fan of, and I talk about in Maximize Your Social, which hopefully you’ve all read by now, PDCA, and what have you.
If you don’t have a process, you don’t have a product. You need to have a process around your social media so you can scale. You can teach others to do it if something was to, God forbid, happen to you. Or if the person you have social on your behalf was to leave, and go to another company, how are you going to do all this? It has to be defined by process, and it’s going to be something I’m going to be talking a lot more about. In fact, in Social Media Marketing World, I plan to do my keynote on process.
Two years ago I did it on social media strategy. I wrote Maximize Your Social. Last year was on big social data, and how to leverage it to compete with your competitors using best practices, and really big social data that really showcases what those best practices are. I’ll be repurposing that into other content as we go along during 2015. I also am going to be talking a lot about process, and really social media operations, operations for your social media marketing.
Now when I talk about operations for your social media marketing and process, the other thing that’s driving the need for it is advocacy. Now, advocacy is something I talked specifically about at the beginning of 2014. I talked specifically about employee advocacy, but I want to talk about advocacy in general. Whether it’s influence or engagement, or influence or advocacy, whether it is your brand advocates, fan advocacy or brand advocacy, or whether it’s your employees, employee advocacy, the whole idea is that it’s going to light scale and access, and to generate brand awareness in networks that you are not at as a brand, period, regardless of which of these three that you choose.
I think that influencer marketing is sort of where we talked about since the early days, the cloud and what have you. These days we’re talking more about brand advocates. Now in 2014, at the beginning, we talk a lot more about employee advocacy, and what is really fueling the employee advocacy storm right now from a lot of clients I have is social selling, is the hidden gap between getting salespeople to be sharing marketing content into their networks, and to brand themselves as experts to generate more inbound leads, to create deeper relationships with their clients, and the actual creation of that content.
There’s an alignment that needs to take place. It’s probably a great subject for another podcast. The whole notion of advocacy to meet a lot of different objectives – with employee advocacy being the latest flavor of it – it’s important to be doing – you don’t have to be doing all three of these, but at least to implement one. If you were going to decide on one or two, I’d go with your own employees as well as your own fans.
I would put influencer marketing No. 3 on that list. If you are a newcomer to the market and you don’t have fans that might be a great thing to do influencer marketing. If you feel like you already have an optimized fan base that are already heavily promoting you in social, now is the time to start thinking about influencer marketing if you haven’t done it. If you’ve only done influencer marketing, you definitely want to try these other two types of advocacy.
That’s advocacy, and my little thing on social selling, which you’ll hear a lot more about from me in 2015, obviously.
The next thing I want to talk about, when we talk about process, and we talk about advocacy, especially employee advocacy, something that is missing is ownership. Ownership by the brand, by the business of your content, of your strategy, of your process. If you don’t’ have it, your content – sorry to say – is not going to be as effective. You’re going to lack a process because it’s been completely outsourced. I think when you get to advocacy, especially employee advocacy; it’s going to be a lot harder to really have an authentic effort unless it’s created in-house.
I have great respect for agencies. I’ve worked with agencies before. There’s some great ones out there, so don’t get me wrong. There’s a role they can play, but ownership has to be at the brand and company level. I’m very passionate about this. Anyone who read Maximize Your Social knows my views on this.
If you do a lot of work with agencies, it’s time. I’m not saying to stop doing that work, but get more ownership. If you’re doing it internally, you need to have more ownership throughout the company, not just in one department or one person. It has to be by group because this is social media. It involves everyone out there in the public. It also involves every single department you have in your company.
The natural extension, then, of this, especially when we talk about advocacy and ownership, is the need for internal education. That need is not going away. It is just stronger. With every employee advocacy program that companies want to launch, there is a need to educate. With every social selling program, there is a need to educate.
I do a lot of these employee advocacy trainings, social selling training, social media marketing trainings, whatever it might be. Really, my existence is about education, whether it is this podcast, whether it’s the Social Tool Summit, the Social Media Center of Excellence, Maximize Your Social, Maximize Social Business. It’s all about that education. It’s what fuels my passion, passion about empowering others, and I hope that you will take it to heart that you will need to focus more on education in 2015, especially if you haven’t done it before.
All right. I’m running out of time here. My podcast editors are going to be throwing a fit here. I’m already over 15 minutes, so let’s end this up with the last two.
The first seven I talked about really had a more natural flow to them. The last two don’t, but they are themes we should not forget about when we think about things we should focus on. One is an old theme. One is a relatively new theme, but they’re both platform- and technology-dependent, one being paid social.
Really, you need to be putting more of your budget in paid, and really use it to amplify your content to build brand awareness, to opt people into the beginning of what is a social media funnel, and just to augment your efforts.
Whether it’s $5.00, $20.00, or $50.00, or $100.00, or $1,000.00, or $10,000.00, or $100,000.00 a week, depending on the scale of your marketing budget, I just think it makes good sense, and it can be very, very effective. It just helps your social media efforts become a lot more targeted and ensure that you’re getting in front of the people, and you’re getting clicks from the people you should be getting them from.
What’s exciting is that Pinterest and Instagram are offering new paid products on a more mainstream basis starting in 2015, we hope. I’ve not been invited to neither Instagram nor Pinterest, although I’m hoping to get access to Pinterest platform very soon.
Finally, we have automation. Now, we all know about marketing automation, and marketing automation platforms, like the HubSpots, the Marketos, what have you, are adding more social media to them. On the other hand, there are new marketing platforms that are purely based on automating things you do in social media. I think we’re going to see a lot more of these platforms in the future.
If I was to throw out two names now, I’m going to throw out Socedo, and I’m going to throw out SocialCentiv. These are two platforms that based on different triggers, based on listening; you can sort of architect either campaigns, communication, follows, what have you.
I’m a big fan of Socedo. I am a user of Socedo. I am an evangelist of Socedo. I hope they’ll be at the Social Tool Summit, and I hope that one of the panels I have at Social Tool Summit will talk about a lot of these emerging companies in this new field of social media automation.
Automation is not evil if it’s done right. At a Twitter chat I was on this week, Jill Rowley, one of the big names in social selling has a famous quote saying that a fool with a tool is still a tool. With marketing automation, or social media automation, even more so.
It’s very easy to do it wrong, but there are savvy ways of doing it, and with the technology, and with the platforms I’m seeing, I think it’s a really great way to scale because we all know with social media marketing, there’s too much to do, too little time, and everybody is looking for results. That’s where these tools are going to come in handy. Like I said, I can’t wait to see them developed in 2015.
That’s it. Did I miss any? What are you focusing on? Hopefully anything you’re focusing on in your social media effort is within one of these nine things, if it’s not, hey, let me know. Suggest me what I should cover in future podcasts. Make sure you’re subscribing to this new link on iTunes. If you’re on SoundCloud or some of the other ones, it’s the same link. You don’t have to worry.
Thank you again for listening through iTunes, ratings, and comments. If you haven’t, I’d really appreciate your comments and ratings since we’re starting from scratch again on iTunes.
That’s it. This week, I hope to have a second podcast for you. I’m playing catch-up, but there’s so much to talk about. Regardless, this is one of my longer ones. Wherever you are in the world, make it a great social day. Bye-bye, everybody.
Transcript provided courtesy of GMR Transcription Services, Inc.