A question I get frequently from small business owners is “how do I get more fan engagement” This point usually points to the lack of a developed content strategy, or the need to tweak their existing strategy.
As marketers of any brand, there are two assets to work with – time and money. Large companies (Starbucks, Nike, etc) have almost endless amounts of money and time to spray content out to wide gamut of audiences. Small businesses have one of these assets and that is time, which we need to spend wisely targeting the people we enjoy working with, those who know, like and trust us and will recommend us to everyone they know. As you know, social media and contemporary marketing as a whole relies on ROE – Return On Engagement. There are many pitfalls small business owners fall into that contribute to minimal engagement in the content we produce – on your website (blog, vlog, audio) and on the social sites in which you participate.
The first is that you haven’t truly identified who your target market (or as I like to refer to it, tribe) is and therefore you are not creating content specifically for them, which means that you are probably trying to be ‘all things to all people’ which translates to serving no one online. The content that twenty somethings want to consume is very different from that of the sixty year olds, as one illustration of this point.
The second, is that you are not giving them content in the format they want to receive it. This point ties directly in with the previous because knowing the demographics and behaviors of your audience is key to deciding what type of content to deliver. For instance, is your content primarily text based and does it point people to countless articles on your site and other sites? This tends to work well for readers who are over 50, however, if you don’t shake up your content and delivery now and then, you may see drops in participation. As another example, is your content consumers and clients made up primarily of 30-somethings? In this case, you’ll definitely want a healthy mixture of video, images, audio, and some written content.
The third is the content itself. Producing content that is strictly related to your business can be boring, while producing “entertainment” content can muddle your message. A healthy balance of educational subject matter expertise content and entertaining content is best. For example, if you are a cosmetic dentist who’s clientele is affluent women 45-65 years old, a healthy mix of content would be related to cosmetic dentistry (showing before and afters, videos of case studies, etc.) and also would share information about the community events she’s interested in and the articles on topics that matter most to her). This all, of course, requires getting to know your tribe well. If you would like to create a DIY Content Marketing strategy, I recommend reading Get Content, Get Customers by Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett. Your content strategy is an important foundation of your social media strategy. If you already have a content strategy and you feel as though you are looking for more ‘tactical’ step-by-step ideas for Facebook fan pages and such, I recommend checking out Amy Porterfield or Hubspot. Your overall social media strategy is comprised of: Objectives, Tribe, Content, Team, Brand Guidelines, Onboarding, Channels, Tactics, Metrics, Monitoring, and Modifying. When these items are applied to your social media efforts, they will create engagement, and they will create habit that you and your staff can adhere to and re-examine semi-annually for ultimate social media marketing success.
What hit you as the biggest “aha” in this article? Or what’s one thing you can go and apply to your business?
A concept I learned many years ago, which has helped me understand the psychology of Internet users and my clients, is known as the 90-9-1 theory of Participation Inequality. Studied and reported first and most by Will Hill and Jakob Nielsen. This theory states that, on the Internet, 90% of users are lurkers, producing almost no content, 9% of users are producing and contributing from time to time, and 1% of users are very active and produce most of the online contributions.
Why is this theory so intriguing to me? I would go to networking events, coffee shops, cocktail parties, and interact with people and time and time again I heard “Meghann, I just read your blog or watched your video or read your post on Facebook, etc. and I loved what you had to say.” And inevitably, looking at said blog posts, videos, other content, I noticed those people didn’t comment, share the content, or even “like” it! I was really befuddled by this because I am a flagrant commenter, interactor, sharer, and liker of other people’s stuff. I was having a conversation with a friend one day and he told me about this theory and it all clicked. A vast majority of people are lurkers.
What does this mean for my business and for my clients? I keep putting out quality content. Even if it seems like people aren’t reading, watching or listening, I keep creating. I use new tactics to draw comments and shares out of my followers. I niche in more to my tribe and laser-focus my content to them. After all, there are an estimated 7 billion internet users out there. Am I going to be reach all of them? No! Nor do I want to; I want to reach the members of my tribe with the content I produce.
My tribe is women industry leaders and their teams who want to transform their marketing and catapult their business into the spotlight. Industry leaders are subject matter experts. They have a lot to say about their area of expertise. And for the most part, they are able to express their expert content well in one of three forms on their website: blog (written content with visual aids), vlog (videos), or plog (podcasts). And because their website is the hub of all of their marketing, and there is so much value in producing regular content for their tribe (and an unending supply of content ideas), I encourage my clients to strive to be part of the 1%.
What’s the general formula for becoming part of the 1% you ask?
What will you get for being part of the 1%? Great SEO, a loyal tribe of raving fans who shares your viral content regularly, a positive reputation that precedes you and leaves you little need for introduction anywhere, more clients/customers than you know what to do with. Sound good? I think so!!
Here’s an incredible case study of an industry leader, Marcus Sheridan, who has proven this theory to be true. And to prove that this can be done by any leader in any industry, he’s the perfect example – he sells fiberglass pools.
Are you a leader? Do you have what it takes to be part of the 1%?
I see a lot of posts for bootcamps that say things like “no more excuses,” “blast your fat,” but really none of that language appeals to me. What I love about Blunt Force Training is that the trainers are personable and they care about you and what you want to create in your life, there is a great community of like-minded people who are fun to work out with, they have a sports chiropractor and a somatic specialist (a massage therapist that is skilled in helping people with injury elimination and performance enhancement) on staff and in the building to get you to your optimal self, and they offer bootcamps nearly every hour of every day and never repeat the same work out. Oh, and they have yoga and kickboxing too.
So, I guess if they had to advertise like traditional gyms they could be the “all around best, most encouraging, fun, creative, supportive and all-inclusive gym in Denver.” Your first visit is always free, so head to http://Blunt-Force.com and check out the schedule. You won’t regret it!
Whether you are just starting out in business or you’ve owned a company for years, you know that connections and authentic relationships are everything. And if you are a newbie entrepreneur, chances are you’ll spend a good amount of time your first couple of years running around town having way too many coffee meetings, resulting in repetitive caffeine crashes.
Why not save yourself some time, and some gas, by meeting new people online? I have met more quality business connections through online networking and have spent a fraction of the time that it takes to go to in-person events. This simple formula for networking success can be applied online and offline.
1. Form authentic, meaningful connections with members of your tribe. Your tribe is made up of the people you want to serve through leadership as a subject matter expert. They are your customers, prospects, referral partners, friends, supporters, and raving fans. Getting clear on the shared characteristics, habits, interests, and desires of your tribe is key when connecting with them. Figure out who they are, then ask your friends to introduce you to them at networking events. Similarly, ask your well-connected friends online to connect you (personally) with the people who fit the description of your tribe.
When you begin your new online relationship with a member of your tribe, make sure to personalize it as much as possible. Make note of the information they have on their profile and engage them in conversation. Send them a “new friend video” that is a non-soliciting introduction to who you are and what you’re up to in the world.
2. Figure out what’s most important to them by asking questions that help you get to know them authentically. Get more value out of networking by asking questions of those you meet like, “What do you do for fun? What is your favorite non-profit or cause you believe in? What’s an endeavor you’re working on right now in case I or someone in my network can help you?”
Ask those same questions of your new online connections. Show them they’re not just another friend on Facebook or connection on LinkedIn.
3. Perform systematic follow up. Don’t let networking connections go by the wayside; create a spreadsheet or use your CRM system to keep track of follow up. I suggest friending them on Facebook, connecting with them on LinkedIn, or, if you aren’t able to find them in either of those places, send them an email and ask if they would like to connect somewhere online.
When it’s a new friend you met online, following up is even more important. Put them in a new friends list on Facebook, create a spreadsheet of follow up sequence, and reach out to them on a personal level several times before you even begin talking about business.
4. Provide value in every interaction. In your follow up phone calls, meetings, and communication on social sites, help others as much as possible. Connect them with valuable resources, email them links to blog posts you’ve written that could assist them with a current project, comment, like, and share their content on social networks, and engage them whenever you can.
One last point to acknowledge. If you can approach it online and offline with the attitude of turning the people you meet into clients, you may be sorely disappointed. However, if you can go about it all with the attitude of getting connected to more people in your tribe who can be advocates of you and your brand, it opens you up to possibilities of endless referrals, and raving fans. Looking at networking as finding the golden geese will assist you way more than trying to find golden eggs everywhere you go.
What says you? Where have you found your golden geese?
If you’re reading this blog post it’s probably because the image that goes along with it grabbed your attention. If not, you are now looking for the image within this blog post and you’re going to read it. Perhaps you came to this blog post from Pinterest, or maybe from Facebook or Twitter or an RSS. In any case, it worked, because you’re here.
Do you know why it worked?
I know my tribe. I know exactly to whom I am writing. When I write my blog posts or create videos, I visualize my tribe, I open up to the infinite energy that surrounds me, and I let the energy flow through that speaks directly to them as I write.
I have figured out that my tribe thinks visually. They love images and if they love the content on or with that image, they will click them, and go to the source of the content. I have trained myself to think visually and can pick images and words that will speak directly to them and will educate, entertain, and/or engage them.
Marketing my business has become far more fun now that I understand and apply this concept. Understand who your tribe is, find out how they like to be communicated to, and deliver your messages in their language and in the way they like to receive it.
I bring up Pinterest in the image illustrating this blog because it is the fastest growing social media site and drives more traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google Plus, and YouTube combined. There are many more women on Pinterest than men, by far. Women go on Pinterest to swap recipes, create virtual vision boards and wish lists, pin things that inspire them, and, they follow posts that intrigue them to their website of origination.
Once you’ve delineated your tribe and have determined whether or not they spend a good amount of their online time on Pinterest, and that they are drawn toward images, you can begin to get creative and think of ways to convey your expertise through images. These images should be housed on your blog and should contain at least a couple of paragraphs of keyword-rich content expanding upon the subject your image addresses. Then, the image should be pinned from your blog on one or more of your boards which you’ve titled creatively. I recommend you maximize other means of getting these images out to your tribe, such as email, Facebook, Twitter, QR code, etc.
Have you thought of some images you could create while reading this blog? Jot them down! Keep a list of topics you’d like to cover and start taking photos with your smart phone to build a stash of backgrounds or use royalty free photo sites to find photos from others.
And tell me, what business or personal development book is on your nightstand right now?
How do you, as the content producer for your company, create compelling content for your social media sites?
Make your content engaging and appealing to your target market. Simple.
A recent article in Fast Company, called the Art of Dialogue said “brands ought to start acting less like things and more like people, and they should engage traditional humans, their consumers, in dialogue.” After all, people don’t want to talk with a black and red icon representing your brand, they want to talk to someone representing it. “Consumers don’t want to have a relationship with just this cold logo.” So how do you make your brand more personal?
Give your brand a personality that matches your company culture.
Sit down with your creative team (whomever that may be; if you’re an entrepreneur, find someone like me, and some other marketing strategists and do a round table session) and figure out what are the elements (traits) that make up your brand. What do you stand for? How do you want to be recognized in the marketplace? What makes you stand out from your competition? What are the words you use to describe the characteristics of your brand? Are you funny like Southwest Airlines? Are you serious like Allstate? Are you lovey and cuddly like Charmin?
Make the lists, elaborate on them, and then take these traits, elements of recognition, and characteristics, and get creative with them. Weave them throughout your marketing. Tell the story of your business in new and interesting ways that get your tribe (target market) involved and entrenched in the story.
In your social media, make sure you use these creative elements to do (what I call) the three most important E’s in social media marketing: Educate, Entertain, and Engage.
Below are a couple examples of how to combine all three E’s:
“People love bacon. Sooo much. Every time I post anything about bacon, it usually gets really good engagement,” quoted the Fast Company article. This person, who is a social media coordinator for Denny’s, found a topic their audience liked through trial and error. She uses pictures of bacon to inform her audience of Denny’s specials, and to entertain them with humorous stats about American’s obsession with bacon.
Sometimes this is necessary in order to see what your tribe “likes” and comments on. Other times, you just know your tribe like it when you speak about certain topics. How do you know? Your clients, prospects, and loyal followers ask you questions about certain subjects all the time. The questions they ask you provide you with golden nuggets to take, and transform into value-add content on your blog and social sites, to enforce your subject matter expertise.
Here’s an example, applied to a solo entrepreneur so you can see that anyone can do this, not just Denny’s. You’re an esthetician. You want to talk about the importance of the brush and the sponge for everything. Applying makeup, applying masks, washing your face, whatever. Your primary clientele is young professional women, and they have communicated to you the difficulties they have adequately cleansing their faces, applying foundation, etc.
So do you just keep telling them over and over with words the various things they need to do with said brushes and sponges? No! You show them visually. Please, take some time to laugh at my amazing cartooning skills:
I have given some personality to this pretend esthetician’s brand, and it took me 15 minutes from start to finish to draw it, add captions, and put it up. If this caricature representation of your brand and subject matter is going to be something that you can repeat throughout your content, I would hire a cartoonist to do a much better job. They could make the cartoon representatives of your brand versatile – with different expressions, outfits, props, whatever – so that you can use these cartoons on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, on printed postcards, calendars, you name it. Get creative!
There are, of course, countless other ideas of how to make your brand engaging, entertaining, and educational. I will share more in future blog posts.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What ideas do you have?
The other day, my best friend, whom I’ve known nearly my whole life said to me for about the thousandth time “Meghann, you’re so weird!” And I responded as I normally do, “thank you.” I received a message on Facebook just yesterday from a complete stranger who has been subscribed to my posts who “just had to reach out and tell you that I love your energy, it’s apparent you’re not afraid to be yourself in any setting and that’s really nice to see.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not so weird that people stare at me sideways when I walk down the street or anything, I’m just never afraid to let whatever adventurous energy is in me come out to play. I realized this could be part of my personal brand even before I got out of corporate America. My second boss at my very “type A” job (I didn’t make it there very long) who loved my personality and I dug his (which is probably why I lasted there as long as I did) used to call me “Spunky.” I don’t think he even used my name when he referred to me in meetings.
Over the last two years I have realized life isn’t about what I do, who I know, where I go, or why I do what I do; it’s about who I be, when I truly be me. It’s that deep essence of seizing who I am when I just ‘be‘ – not masked by my personality, not tainted by a fake projection to fit in to a certain setting, and letting my being out. It’s when I stopped looking at myself as how I “fit in” to this reality, and start letting my true nature, from deep within my soul, out to play, that I really started loving life.
When we embrace our true self, whatever that looks like for us as an individual, more stuff starts showing up that just is “right” for us. In business, I’m happy to say, it’s the right clients – those whom you wake up thinking of ideas for, and go to bed grateful for having worked with,because you love working with them. Personally, you begin to attract people who you enjoy spending time with, because they match your energy and vibrate at the same frequency.
I’m not ‘all’ the way there yet, but I tell you, the more I embrace my quirks, catch myself when I’m taking on someone else’s energy, and allow myself to “be” with whatever I am feeling at that time, the easier living in this very interesting reality, and the more enjoyable, it becomes.
All my friends out there who are willing to embrace that you are different, we are all different, that you can’t be compared to anyone else because there is no one like you… comment below and tell me why you love you?
In response to the articles that have been posted in recent days regarding Instagram’s claim to sell the rights to their users’ photos (see article here,) And, as with anything you learn via viral flurry, it’s a good idea to check your facts. Here is a good article about the legal ease and the true meaning of Instagram’s new policies. I decided it would be helpful to share an overview of other mobile apps for fun photo editing; it’s always good to consider other alternatives. Some of them have direct Facebook and Twitter integration, some don’t. Some are paid apps, some are free.
This is just a quick list of apps that you can use to make your photos more eye-catching for your online tribe. I recommend trying a few, finding the one with the interface and effects you like, and using it. If you have others you enjoy, please comment below!
Recently I posed a question on Facebook asking for the other only children out there to chime in and tell me how they felt about being an only child. The responses actually astonished me – most of the people replied how they couldn’t stand it. I loved growing up as an only child. In fact, I can only remember one time when I wanted an older brother (my best friend had two really cool ones), which my mom explained would be impossible to create, so I gave up on the cause. I decided to write this post, to refute many of the arguments out there that growing up as an only child sucks. In my experience, it doesn’t.
Here are some of the circumstances surrounding my only child-dom:
• I was a young child in the 80s and a teen in the 90s
• My mom stayed at home with me, my dad worked and traveled quite a bit for business
• I was very well rounded as a child – I was active in music, sports, and I played outside as much as possible
• I grew up in a neighborhood with many children my age, we played together all the time
• The television never babysat me, I always did my homework before anything else, I was raised in what I considered a strict household
Only child – been there, done that like a champ, got the t-shirt!
As an only child, I feel that there were very few disadvantages.
First, I never could ‘pull one over’ on mom and dad. I didn’t even have a dog to blame stuff on. My fish and stuffed animals did not play great scapegoats.
Modeling/teaching – I did notget to model myself after an older brother or sister, nor seek advice when my parents were being ‘tough on me.’ Also, I didn’t get to teach a younger sibling how to do things. I did, however, become an ‘older sister’ at 10 years old with the birth of my cousin. I practiced for months ahead of time, digging out my old cabbage patch dolls, and carrying or wheeling them around with me everywhere I went in preparation for all the time I was going to get to “take care” of him. I may have dressed him in my clothes a few too many times. Good thing he turned out right
I feel my childhood was lived in complete opposition to common stereotypes of only children.
Spoiled – This was one I heard often, “you don’t have any siblings? You must get everything you want.” I definitely didn’t get everything I wanted, and, things were only given to me if I was behaving and doing what I was responsible for doing. And the minute that I mouthed off to my parents or disobeyed, things were taken away. Even as a teenager, I worked during the summers to buy my gas and pay my car insurance and I paid for my own entertainment. Now my grandparents on the other hand, well they spoiled me. But that’s another story. I was just much cuter than my cousins. kidding
Lonely – All only children must be really lonely. Wrong. I had the best situation! As I mentioned before, I had a lot of kids around me who were my age (that was included in the research my parents did while looking for the neighborhood we lived in.) I still to this day have the same best friend, whom I met at 4 years old. Between her, and about 5-6 other kids in the neighborhood, I could always have a friend over or hang out at one of their houses. We also lived in an area where there was a ton to do outside, during all 4 seasons. We weren’t children who were cooped up in front of the television. We were “playhouse warriors” and sled hill aficionados.
Too much pressure – Although I was definitely expected to do well in school, and there were rewards when I did and consequences when I didn’t, I do not feel as though I was put under too much pressure. My parents made themselves available to help me with anything academia; yes, my mom pulled out her old algebra, trig, geometry, and calc notes to refresh her memory in preparation to help with my distaste of mathematics. They are both extremely intelligent and were amazing role models.
I reaped a lot of benefits by being an only child raised by two baby boomers.
We traveled a lot! I went on my first trip to Europe at 4 years old and I have been there at least 15 times; I have been to 42 states and seen almost all the biggest and best national parks in the US. This was much easier to do when only having to pay for 3 people. I grew up knowing my relatives, near and far. We were always doing road trips to see cousins and family in MN, FL, NC, CA, PA – my parents and their siblings made a commitment early on to making sure that all of us cousins got to see one another frequently. I don’t consider my family to be distant relatives, but rather people I know well and adore and still visit regularly to this day.
I worked hard in school and earned good grades, and was always in higher level classes, which allowed me to easily get into college. I wasn’t allowed to party in high school and my parents always knew where I was. My mom had close ties to my schools from K-12, which meant that she knew who I was going to homecoming with my sophomore year before I even came home to tell her. I found this extremely annoying most of the time while growing up. I missed keggers and other popular high school ‘ragers’ which also peeved me and I definitely got caught for the two parties I tried to have during high school, and was justly punished. I frequently think of the time in college when I called my mom and said, “I’m sorry I was such a PITA in high school. I’m seeing people flunking left and right and getting out of control and most of them never had an ounce of discipline growing up. Thank you.”
Responsibility was something I learned all throughout my childhood. My parents believed that when I was in school, that was my primary job, and when summers came around, working was my responsibility. By the time I was out on my own after college, working and taking care of me weren’t shocking requirements.
The word shy is not part of my vocabulary. My parents made me, well ok, they highly encouraged me, to be outgoing and to meet new people. I learned early on that playing in my room by myself became boring quickly and that if friends were around, it made things much more fun! I can now get along with just about anyone.
I have some of the best, closest friends any woman could ever ask for. I know the value of friendship. I am also close to my parents. They are my trusted advisors, and my friends. I love and respect them infinitely.
Of course I’ll never know what it could have been like to have siblings. Truly though, I have been completely content being an only child.
I’d love to hear your comments – How did you feel (if you were an only child.) What are other stereotypes of only children? Are you considering having your child remain an only child and if so, what are your concerns?
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