How to Share Your Content in Social Media Updates

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Your window of opportunity to garner the interest of the consumer is small. With attention spans shortening due to social media induced comprehension issues, that window has shrunk even further. What you say to the public has to grab them from the first phrase. And any excess wordage or concepts results in attention drift. Once that happens, you’ve lost them. They are already moving on to the next update in their feed.

Consumers don’t want their social media pages to be overburdened with posts they aren’t interested in. ‘What will interest consumers?’ is the question which every marketer has foremost in his mind. Not every post you make will produce a like or a share. But knowing what to say and how to say it has a direct correlative impact on whether or not consumers will find your posts interesting and worth sharing. Below is a short guide on how to share your content in social media posts.

  • Have great content. It doesn’t matter how much your update garners consumer attention and interest if the content you send them to is subpar. They’ll soon stop bothering to read your posts altogether, much less share them, if they’re disappointed on the follow through. What makes great content? The marketing rule is that it must teach, entertain, or inspire. If your post rambles, is a mere narrative about your day, or otherwise fails to teach, entertain, or inspire, consider writing or hiring experienced content writers who can start filling your website or blog with content worth reading.
  • What posts you share are important. Don’t take for granted the content you have that can remind consumers of your company’s existence. Share your about page, your testimonials page, your most clicked on posts (see what those are via analytics), and the posts that consumers found the most useful.
  • Keep posts short. Twitter length is a good rule of thumb. Consumers skim through their social media feed, which means they spend about two seconds reading a post before the decide whether it interests them.
  • Post updates with a link attached, but draw them in with your words. Don’t rely only on content you’re linking to. Even if the content is important, consumers need to have a reason to click on your link.
  •  Ask a question you think your target audience will agree with. Ego is an important part of the sales process because consumers have to feel good about the product they buy. If the audience can give a resounding Yes or No to your question, odds are, you will be getting more clicks.
  • Make a statement that will surprise your target audience. ‘Surprise statements’ cause curiosity, and curiosity equals clicks. Get familiar with presenting the unexpected, but don’t mislead the consumer as to the nature and slant of the subject matter.
  • Keep your updates clear and easy to understand. Pick a single point to emphasize rather than multiple points that leave your reader confused about why they should click on the link. Use the simplest word and the shortest sentences. Simple and clear beats out elaborate and confusing any day of the week.THAT MOMENTWhen your updates start
  • Use hashtags. Not all social media has ease of use with hashtags (Pinterest is a noticeable hashtag exception to the hashtag rule). Research which hashtags are the most used and visited hashtags in your industry. Add a minimum of two of hashtags to each update and make sure they are appropriate to your content.
  • Know your business. And not just your business. Check out the updates of competitors and peers with a high number of followers. Pay attention to which of their tweets are retweeted, which of their FB updates receive a high number of likes or shares. Figure out why. Are there good ideas you can implement there?
  • Share updates that link to content similar to your own. Part of having a social media page for your business is not just about linking to your own content, making announcements, or offering discounts, it’s proving to the consumer that your business page is worth perusing more in depth for other articles they might find relevant or of interest. And it helps to sell your brand by creating a mental association of your business with a specific industry as a whole.

Knowing what to share and how to share it can take some finesse and a good sales sense. If you don’t think you have those kinds of chops, stop by our page. We can help with that!

The Far-reaching Effects of Social Media

The following post is not intended to endorse or support the actions or in-actions of those whom it discusses.

If you ever had any doubts of the power of social media, lay them to rest.

Recent events triggered various social media firestorms which lead to raised conventional media awareness. News agencies, wise to the utility of Twitter and Facebook as an indicator of “the people’s voice,” further fomented discussion by continued coverage and sometimes baiting. This, in turn, resulted in a call for action and authorities becoming more involved than they might have otherwise.

hello!According to the New York Times, #Ferguson is what thrust the Ferguson, MO shooting incident into the national limelight.

It has spurred a new iteration of discussion with the hashtag #iftheygunmedown, which had hundreds of participants posting dual photos of themselves on twitter. One, in which the participants were dressed in clothing and posing in ways that might indicate they were a gang member, and another which indicated they were upstanding, law abiding, and community contributing citizens. All this posing the question, which photo would the media use “#iftheygunmedown”?

Their point to conventional media outlets? One hopes their point was that they now understand the media’s attempts to manipulate the populace and whip them into a frenzied race-based flame war. Because controversy sells. But it’s possible that such techniques on the part of money-hungry news agencies have only confirmed to blacks that white bias exists on a large scale.

A month later, we are still seeing that the incident is fresh on people’s minds as social media and conventional media feed off each other. Protesters attempted a shutdown  of I-70 and Attorney General Eric Holder has promised to launch an investigation. One has to wonder if such efforts would have been expended if news social media discussion of the incident had faded away.

The recent rash of NFL controversies have sparked social media outcry, as well.

As news of Adrian Peterson’s suspension for alleged child abuse broke, the world was still reacting to the interview Reggie Bush gave for WFAN’s Boomer and Carton Show. Social media users have had plenty to say about Reggie’s less than prudent words. (#ReggieBush)

The indefinite suspension of player Ray Rice from the NFL only came about after public pressure via social media was brought to bear on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The populace is enraged at the thought that the NFL hoped to brush the incident under the rug. Paul George, who tweeted a comment in support of Ray Rice, felt an immediate social media backlash that had him scrambling to apologize.

All of these incidents are cautionary tales for both businesses (of which the NFL is one) and individuals alike.

If business practices are anything but above board, one would do well to view social media with a wary eye.

Before social media came along, businesses and high profile individuals could afford to anger people to a degree. They could count on the powerless isolation of consumers. But social media allows people to find, interact, and discuss with strangers, like-minded and not. All of a sudden, consumers aren’t so isolated and the people’s voice has more economic and political clout than it ever had before.

Many businesses and bureaucratic powers that be are still trying to play catch up. Some might be mystified at the immense pressure that can be brought to bear via the seemingly innocuous social media platforms.

Will social media change how businesses do business?

If the Goodell case is any indicator, we the people want transparency. It upsets consumers to realize that business owners (or government officials) might be looking at preserving their own interests over preserving their integrity.

To rehash an over-used parallel to ancient Rome, we can say that modern social media has shrunken the nation to such a degree that the star movers and shakers of this world can rise and fall as easily as the politicians of ancient Rome rose and fell by the voice of the mob.

Nevertheless, there is no way to guarantee your business will never experience a stock-shaking scandal. At that point, all you can do is act with integrity and hope that you have built up enough of a relationship with the public that they are willing to believe any apologies made or mistakes owned.

Look for Part II of this article next month: The Social Media Takeaway on Recent Events

The Who, What, and When of Content Marketing

Let’s face it. Content marketing is a challenge. There never seems to be enough time and really, what exactly is content marketing?

According to Content Marketing Institute, “content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action… The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”

Without content, marketing is close to impossible as quality content is key to successful marketing tactics. Without content, what do you share on social media? Without content, how do search engines consistently find your site? Without content, how do you address consumer issues? Content marketing is the way to bring those quality customers to your website and build your brand presence, generating loyal consumers.

This all sounds wonderful, but put into practice, is a lot harder to implement. Below I’ll share 3 challenges facing content marketing and a few ways to address those challenges:

1.     Who is going to write this content?

Depending on the size of your business, you may have someone in the marketing position that can fill this role and be in charge of leading content creation. However, many employees in small businesses are already busy enough and don’t have the time to allocate to an additional responsibility. Take a look at the subject matter experts in your company and see if they can assist in this process – providing quotes, doing a quick interview – or take a look to see if the content could be outsourced to help create enough quality material.

2.     What is this content going to be about?

To know this, take some time to understand your buyer personas. Buyer persona is a fancy way of saying your customer and prospective customer base. For example, if you run a print shop, you may have several buyer personas including brides to be who need wedding invitations to executives who need large scale printing for corporate events. Provide information that will help these personas and you will show yourself as a subject matter expert who they can trust and go to for more information.

3.     When is this content going to be published?

This is a very common challenge when it comes to content marketing – everyone has their own schedules and determining who is to curate content and what the content will be about is time consuming. Without the right resources, content marketing can seem exhausting. Overcome this challenge by creating a content marketing editorial and production calendar. At WordWorks, we use one to direct this blog, as well as other client scheduling. That way we know who is working on what and when the drafts and final products are due.

Now that I’ve shared a few challenges facing content marketing, I’d love to hear if you share these same challenges and what other challenges you face (and ways you’ve found to overcome these challenges!)

How Social Media can protect your brand (Thanks, Nordstrom!)

The whole point of having an “industry” blog, in our conception, is to talk about what is happening OUT THERE, not necessarily what happens in the personal lives of our staff.  But when the incident is directly related to your job, you really HAVE to write about it, if for no other reason than not to put off expressing gratitude to a well-handled situation.

One of the reasons that I shop at Nordstrom is for the customer service.  Yes, sure, there are other reasons to eat there (like having a great lunch) but I know that if something goes wrong, and the original manufacturer doesn’t do right by me (which happens sometimes), Nordstrom will take care of me.  This was a theory, based on stories I read in textbooks, heard about at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, and had heard about from friends.  But the theory became a fact earlier today.

On Monday I stopped by Nordstrom with a cologne bottle which had an issue with the sprayer (I know, with a government shutdown this is a #firstworldproblem par excellence, but read on!) and I was hoping the staff could help me fix the sprayer or transfer the contents to another bottle.  The patient in question was a bottle of Ralph Lauren for Men Silver (which is, alas, discontinued, but lives on in ebay auctions) and I stood at the counter and chatted with the new employee who, like me, couldn’t get the sprayer top to stay on.  The supervisor was busy helping another customer.  The new employee and I worked on it over a period of 10 minutes (he also pointed out it was going be painstakingly long to transfer the contents to another bottle which would only hold 1/4 of what was left in my bottle).

Look, I’ve worked retail – I know you can only help one person at a time, and it’s probably Nordstrom policy to stay with your customer the whole time – but I would have appreciated a quick stopover from the supervisor to acknowledge my situation and to give me a time when she would be able to help me.  She did, after about 15 minutes of waiting (and that’s real minutes, not customer minutes.  I know the difference!) stop by and acknowledge the issue and that she’d be by to help me.

In addition to repeating what we had already tried, she checked over with the ladies’ fragrance counter for any other ideas.  None forthcoming, she asked when I had bought the fragrance.  Years ago, I told her.  I didn’t remember when, but it was likely in California and I didn’t buy it on a Nordstrom card.  We searched old phone numbers and zip codes to try to find a record of the purchase.  Nada.

“If we had a record I could process a return,” she stated glumly.  I thought to myself that surely the Nordstrom reputation doesn’t necessarily need a receipt.  I expressed surprise that I could “return” an item I had used for years that was discontinued.  If that was the case, why would the holdup be simply the paperwork?  To contextualize further, I had two samples in front of me, the Burberry and the Prada, which had some of the same scent profile of the RL – light, citrusy, etc.  I wasn’t expecting a full return – I would have been happy with some kind of partial credit and I would have bought a new fragrance right then and there to replace an old favorite.  So, perhaps the failure here wasn’t customer service, it was salesmanship.

In any event, I returned back to the office and tweeted.  I received a response from Nordstrom exactly one minute later.

We began direct messaging and I gave the Nordstrom social media rep a twitter version of the story I’ve recounted above.  She promised to look into it, took my info, and that was that.

A little over two hours later I received a phone call (I couldn’t answer) and heard a voice message from a manager at the Nordstrom I had visited informing me that I had a giftcard for an equivalent return waiting for me when I came back next.

Yeah, I just said that.

Photo Oct 03, 14 24 02Nordstrom processed a return for my cologne (which I had just left at the store when we realized we wouldn’t be able to fix it) at what the market rate would have been for that type of brand and gave me a gift card.  And they did all of this within about 2 hours of my first tweet.

I mean, the customer service lessons here are beyond obvious, but I’ll restate them, just in the spirit of recapitulating to the Nordstrom team what this meant to me:

1.  We all make mistakes in dealing with customers, but the mistake isn’t the issue – the issue is how you deal with it.  And Nordstrom lived up to their reputation (and exceeded it) in how they responded to me.

2.  You never know who you’re going to please.  Now, I don’t have some nationally syndicated blog, but I am what Malcolm Gladwell would call an “Influencer” and I often share my thoughts and views with family, friends, students, colleagues, and even acquaintances (ask the barista who I just told the story to while typing it up here at Parisi in Leawood) who go on to buy from brands and firms I rave about.  I’ve told at least 10 people about this story since Monday, when it happened.

3.  See customer service as an investment.  Sure, I’m going to use that gift card right away towards a new fragrance.  But they’ve strengthened their brand reputation with me and know the dividends that will come from this one act.

4.  Social Media moves as quickly as you want it to.  Nordstrom did not want to see their name in a tweet with #bummed in it.  They dealt with it at a speed that is not necessarily expected, even by a guy who runs a small boutique social media and blogging firm.  It made me feel important and taken seriously, and it ensured that their swiftness was documented (for anyone who wanted to go back and look later).

Thank you Nordstrom.  You guys rock.

Now if I could only get Ralph Lauren to bring back Silver. 🙂

The 5 ways social media affects your business

There are over 15 million businesses on Facebook. Twitter has over 200 million active users, and many of those users are Tweeting on behalf of a business. Instagram has 150 million users, and, increasingly, those users are companies looking for new ways to promote themselves. But skeptical small business owners might wonder whether all of this social media stuff really matters for their bottom line. Are these millions of users just wasting time online and procrastinating when there are more important things that could be done? What is the return on investment? Do all of those status updates, 140 character messages, and interesting pictures really bring in more customers? The answer is yes. We’ve got five good reasons why social media matters for your small business.

1.) Social Media Provides an Insider’s View to your Business

Spend some time on Instagram and you’ll feel like you’re getting personal photographic glimpses into people’s lives. It’s like paging through a friend’s photo album, except that you might not know that friend offline. Celebrities have taken to Instagram to get closer to their fans–singer Beyonce uses the social media outlet to post pictures of herself backstage and with friends. These peeks into Beyonce’s personal life are seen by 6.5 million followers. Instagram has, then, helped her boost her fan base. Businesses can do the same with Instagram. Think of your fan base as current and potential customers. You can use Instagram to show the behind-the-scenes elements of your company. Have a quirky Friday tradition in your office? Snap a picture of it for Instagram. Are you a restaurant owner? Post pictures of your food on Instagram to advertise new dishes. Are you a clothing designer? Use Instagram to show yourself in the creative process. No matter what kind of business you own, social media is a great tool to provide more transparency–and more trust–in your company.

2.) Social Media Helps you to Connect with Customers

There are over a billion people on Facebook, so if your business does not have a Facebook page, then you are, quite simply, missing out on connecting with a lot of people. Why is it important to post frequently to the social media giant? Because it is a perfect way to connect directly with your customers. Once people “like” your page, then they will see everything that you post and then they can interact with you online. Be sure to post every day to keep the name of your business on the minds of these page-viewers and also to develop relationships. Potential and current customers will use your page to ask you questions, to offer comments, and, yes, sometimes issue complaints. But if you respond to these customer posts in a timely and professional way, then you show that you’re a conscientious business owner who cares about your customers, whether they are happy or not. Facebook is also a fun way to connect with people–implement a weekly trivia contest, take pictures of your patrons and post them, ask your clientele to take pictures of themselves with your product and then post them to your page.

3.) Social Media Helps You Tap Into Industry Trends And Connect With Other Businesses

Platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn can help your small business tap into larger industry trends and join industry conversations. With Twitter you’ll want to follow lots of local people in order to build your customer base, but you’ll also want to follow other businesses that are similar to yours. By doing this you can see what social media methods have been successful for others and which methods have not worked. Twitte and LinkedIn also allow you to communicate directly with other businesses, industry publications, and social media gurus. By following the right people, you’ll have plenty of insightful industry-specific reading material at your fingertips. It’s like attending an industry conference every day without the hassle of traveling and spending excess money.

4.) Social Media Is The Best Kind Of Word-Of-Mouth Advertising

People are already talking about your business on social media–even if you’re not out there. But if you are present in the social media world, and you’re using the platforms correctly, then you’ll tap into the the best kind of advertising–viral, word-of-mouth marketing. This doesn’t mean that you need to use every single Facebook post to sell something, for instance. Personal, fun, and interesting posts are the ones that people share. And you want people to share your posts because then the name of your brand is not only seen by that one person who shared your post, but also by that Facebook users hundreds of friends.

5.) Social Media Allows You To Have Real Time Moments With Customers

Social media gives your business the chance to have “real time” moments with people online.  Let’s say that someone has a question about one of your company’s services. Instead of getting on the phone, they send you a tweet. If you respond quickly, then you have provided a direct, real time response to an issue that may have taken a lot longer to resolve if the customer had to place a call, perhaps be put on hold, and maybe even talk to several people before receiving the right answer. And by reacting quickly to tweets like this, you show the entire twitterverse that your company is on top of customer service.

Or maybe you see that someone has posted a picture of your product on Instagram. Simply by “liking” the post and posting a short comment you are showing that your business is run by actual people who care about connecting with customers. And, like on Twitter, that Instagram users followers will see this, too.

The 5 reasons your company should be blogging

Blogs are everywhere and lots of people are reading them. How many people, you ask? Currently, Word Press (one of the most popular web-hosting vehicles due to its user-friendly blogging platform) has over 70 million sites around the world. (And that number rises daily.) Those Word Press sites are viewed by over 370 million people each month. But, you might say, how do I know that blogging isn’t just another internet fad with a short lifespan? Because people will always seek information and now we do so online, often in the form of blogs. In terms of Word Press, for instance, over 100,000 blogs are created every single day.

People are heading to blogs daily, using them to gain knowledge, to see something visually interesting, to connect with others, and to publish articles that can be shared widely. So, quite simply, if you’re a small business and you’re not blogging, then you are missing out on myriad connections with current and potential customers. We’ve got five basic reasons why your business needs to be blogging.

1.) Write Your Own Story

Positive or negative, the social media sphere is buzzing daily with reviews and commentary on businesses. Your customers are already talking about you on Facebook, Twitter, etc… No, you can’t control what customers will post about you online, but you can write your own story with a blog. Blogging provides your business with a platform to get more personal with your customers, allowing them to see you, the owner, as a real person and your business as a labor of love into which you’ve invested yourself fully. Write a blog post about your business’s origin story. Write a post that takes readers on a day-in-the-life journey. Write about why you love what you do. By telling your business’s story through blogging you have the chance to create deeper bonds with your customers.

2.) Be A Teacher

Advertisements are everywhere, permeating our lives throughout each day. Because of this, you don’t want your blog to be just another endless sales pitch. People can spot an advertisement-disguised-as-a-blog-post from a mile away and, when they’ve sniffed out the commercial element, they typically click away. The best way to sell your business to customers via blogging is to be a teacher–an expert–in your industry. Do you own a car wash? Blog about the difference between car waxes, for instance. Own an apartment complex? You could blog about various ways to decorate a living room. As a small business owner, you are an expert in the industry in which your company resides. Why not share that expertise with the blogosphere and gain some some new fans in the process?

3.) Go Viral

If you use your blog as a teaching mechanism, then you have the chance to go viral. Why? Because when you are sharing valuable information–not just company-specific advertisements that are tied to your local area–people will post your blog on Facebook and Twitter to spread good ideas around. Your company’s name then has the chance to be seen far-and-wide and your brand becomes synonymous with your industry. This is the best kind of word-of-mouth advertising since you’re not being pushy with overt advertising and you’re engendering trust in possible customers. And when a blog goes viral it can do so forever, landing on websites around the world and social media networks of all kinds.

4.) Communicate With Your Customers

A company blog can be a great place to crowd-source your current and prospective customers. Get a conversation going with people. Are you considering offering a new product at your business? Ask your customers first with your blog. Readers can chime in with their thoughts in the blog’s comments section. And conversation starters get people talking on your blog’s own page as well as in the social networking community; your readers will be more likely to share your blog post on Facebook if you’re asking for input. People love to see their ideas online–Facebook is filled with users sharing their opinions ad infinitum–so a crowd-source focused blog post can solicit lots of helpful feedback and more exposure.

5.) Share What’s New

Use a blog post to share what’s new with your business. Make it a less aggressive way to advertise new products and services. Tell a story about why you’re bringing in these new elements. You don’t want every post to be a sales pitch, but it’s OK to sprinkle in an article about new offerings and sales every now and then. When you strike a balance with a variety of types of posts, then your customers won’t feel bombarded or annoyed with a sales-y post once in a while.