Which Social Site

Love this Infographic from Neil Patel. I’ve written about the importance of not getting totally carried away and joining every social site here, here and over here too. Obviously new channels Snapchat and What’s App and a few other developing sites are not on here yet, and the stats are a bit out of date, but this is a nice overview of the largest platforms.

info on socil

It’s tempting when you look at big brand sites and see them all over every platform to try to be there too. But, social media is like any media and is growing more like them every day – there are a multitude of choices, you need to pick the ones that work for your product and  target market. This is particularly critical due to the total time suck that social media can be, whether you are a billion dollar company or an entrepreneur…especially if you are trying to grow a company.

Taking the time to think through a strategy and decide which platforms are best for your brand can make a big difference in your marketing program and is you are a do-it-yourself-er…your life.

 

professional content creationMARYANNE CONLIN IS AN CPG TRAINED MARKETER AND AN AWARD-WINNING DIGITAL EXPERT. SHE SPECIALIZES IN HELPING GROWING BRANDS DEVELOP STRATEGIC  MARKETING PLANS AND EXECUTE THEM EFFECTIVELY. 

CONTACT HER AT REDROPESDIGITAL.COM

FOLLOW HER  ON TWITTER @maryanneconlin

 

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Instagram Joins Twitter & Facebook in Ending Free Reach

free marketing new.png

After 10 plus years of social media growth, we’ve finally come to the place where we can admit, social media is media and you have to pay to play. Boutique platforms and quirky accounts will still occasionally go viral, for a time, but with Twitter and Instagram joining Facebook with algorithmic timelines, we now have to look at social media just as we would any other marketing tool and allocate resources accordingly.

If you’ve done any marketing on Facebook in the last year or so, it has become clear to you, that without boosted posts and paid ads, the level of traction and engagement that you can get organically is limited. Facebook’s algorithmic timeline (showing you what you are most likely to want to see based on what/who you liked/clicked in the past) effectively blocks traction for new content that isn’t pushed out by Facebook ads or supported by other advertising or P.R. efforts (hopefully both.)

Now Twitter and Instagram have joined Facebook, print, T.V. and radio in offering real value for advertising dollars. Yes, it’s still important to create content and have a P.R. program, but perhaps even more than in traditional media, it’s really important to have an ad plan. In other words, please stop believing that social media is the “cheap” way to market a business. Social can be viewed through the same lens as any media, as a tool – it’s part of the P.R. plan. It’s part of the advertising plan.

In some ways it’s more expensive that traditional media. It’s much more content heavy. It requires a high level of skill that has to be both quantitative and qualitative. It’s constantly changing, so it’s difficult to devote the resources to manage it in house.

On the other hand, it’s a key part of any marketing plan. Network TV watching is dropping rapidly as binge-watching on Netflix, etc. increases (up to 35% less!). Print has been on a downward slide for years and radio is impacted by the rise of music apps. On the other hand, over 80% of consumers are on social media.

In some ways, it’s a relief that the top social channels are acting more like traditional media. Less mystery and more strategy will make it easier to create great programs and effectively measure the results.

headshot newMARYANNE CONLIN IS AN CPG TRAINED MARKETER AND AN AWARD-WINNING DIGITAL EXPERT. SHE SPECIALIZES IN HELPING GROWING BRANDS DEVELOP STRATEGIC  MARKETING PLANS AND EXECUTE THEM EFFECTIVELY. 

CONTACT HER AT REDROPESDIGITAL.COM

FOLLOW HER  ON TWITTER @maryanneconlin

 

Executing Content Marketing

If you want to know “How Effective is Content Marketing”, you could do worse than reading this article in Forbes. Beyond discussing data based on surveys, the author manages to insert one line that should resonate with anyone who has tried content marketing:

 

As with social media it’s not the theory that’s controversial, it’s the execution.

 

 

Somewhere between concept and measurement, effective execution seems to get lost. Mostly this is the case when brands jump from theory right into execution without the planning step in-between.

But, making content marketing work means taking the time to develop a strategy, starting with:

  1. Selecting vehicles by measuring impressions –Should you put your efforts into publishing on your own site or focus more on placing content on complementary sites?

 

  1. Following Best Practices regarding keywords –Are you using a keyword tool to ensure your posts are found by consumers who might purchase your product or service?

 

  1. Keeping it short and sweet – the more information available, the less we want to read. Short yet powerful posts rock.

 

‘Nuff said.

 

Maryanne

 

Content That Connects – Building a Content Creation Strategy

CONTENTI think a lot about content creation. All marketers do. All marketers have always thought about words and images that connect with consumers- whether on a package or on TV or on the side of a horse drawn buggy.

 

But the absolutely ferocious, voracious need for content that brands have in the 21st century is mind- blowing!

Great content drives engagement and ultimately sales.  We need it. We need a lot of it. and in the typical manner, when a need hits the spotlight, brands are rushing willy-nilly to fill that void, sometimes at the expense of strategy and organization.

Let me give an example. Brand A embarks on a website redesign with a need for blog posts, video and some How-To’s or recipes. Brand A reaches out to everyone with a keyboard or camera and some skill in their network – bloggers, interns, employees, etc… and request content. Content of varying quality starts pouring in.

 

The streams of content, much of it time sensitive, gets uploaded to the website, blog, and social media channels haphazardly tagged and barely indexed. Some have typos. Content is written in a variety of different voices…only some of them the brand’s. Those closest to the brand struggle to take off their “sales person hat” in their writing. Very little of the content is repurposed.

 

Let me suggest a smarter way. Content development, like any marketing initiative should have a strategic focus. Take the time to develop a plan and execute it slowly. Great content written by professional content writers with the knowledge of keywords and some HTML goes a long way. With an understanding of the value of backlinks, search, how to edit a video for YouTube, what photos work best on Intsagram and how to use consumer networks to promote a post, great content creators develop end product that can be used in a multitude of ways- on blog posts and Facebook, as pins and tweets and discussed and promoted through brand advocates. Higher quality content, executed flawlessly goes further…less is more.

 

Building a content program that includes all of the various types working together under one theme goes even further. I’ve found the greatest success for my clients working from an editorial calendar to develop video, photo and written content around a theme, then repurposing it in creative and interesting ways across social media network while integrating it into marketing plans.

 

The framework is the key, but not the end all, because speed and timeliness makes a difference too. Editorial calendars in the digital world need to be flexible and strategic opportunities need to be exploited, so while I advocate a framework, I encourage flexibility. A professional content creation program requires a bit of art and a bit of science and a long term goal. Doesn’t everything?

 

professional content creationMaryanne Conlin draws on her years of blogging, posting, tweeting, shooting and editing experience to create great content for her clients and sometimes for herself.

 

Storytelling -Write Like a Fifth Grader

writingThe very best storytellers draw you with evocative language and immediate imagery. But it starts with a simple road map, an outline, a trail…

Intro – say what you are going to say

Body – say it!

Ending – say what you said.

Without this basic framework, as we all know, everything from blog posts to e-books begins to resemble a trail of breadcrumbs already half eaten by a flock of pesky sparrows.  As homework helper in chief though, I have to say, a dose of middle school English has made me a better writer by not only focusing me on those key points, but also by providing a way to take my writing to the next level.

It’s amazing what a rubric can do to improve your storytelling! While I think, as professionals in the business of writing, we all know how to break down a piece into main idea and supporting points. What we, at least I, don’t always do in any systematic way is review for what makes an essay a story – language!

Excerpted directly from a fifth grade rubric:

Sentence variation:  Does the story include a variety of compound sentences, independent clauses, appositive phrases and introductory adverbial and prepositional clauses?

Figurative language: Is there extensive use of similes, metaphors and personifications?

Word choice: Does the story include vivid and lively verbs? Imaginative and unusual adjectives? Too many vague or overused words?

The first time I used this rubric, I must admit, I had to review what exactly some of those words mean . I always get similes and metaphors mixed up; what exactly IS an adverbial clause?  But, the process, of course gets easier and admittedly more fun. And an essay becomes a story.

These days, rather than channeling my inner Irish, I draw on my inner English teacher. Though we prefer to believe otherwise…all the best storytellers do.

headshot newMaryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Digital. Though she prefers to believes she has an the Irish gift of gab, she finds finding and following the rules of effective writing probably has something to do with her writing ability.

What Home Depot’s Tweet Tells Us About Staffing Social Media

home depot2Once again, a major brand gets in trouble over a tweet. In case you missed it, Home Depot posted an extremely offensive tweet yesterday which they of course then promptly took down and marshaled their PR force to apologize profusely across the media sphere.

Since the tweet was posted by Home Depot’s outside agency, you wonder whether the same people were deployed to apologize as posted the offensive tweet in the first place. It’s really a bizarre world that we live in now where brands pay outside agencies to handle their social media and then have to pay again to field a crisis campaign to apologize for their mistakes.

But, it’s really less a bizarre strategy than it is a result of the short-sighted way that social media is staffed. I wrote here about  lunacy of having interns and lower level employees be responsible for strategically deploying the brand’s message out to millions of consumers every day and in the case of Twitter, to thought leaders in those communities.

In no other part of marketing do we expect  entry level employees to  have the strategic experience to broadcast the brand message without supervision. It’s not fair to the employee and it certainly does very little to help the brand.

headshot newMaryanne Conlin is an award-winning social media expert and CEO of RedRopes Digital, a consulting firm focused on building strong digital brands. You can access her Sept 27 presentation at ExpoEast on Social Media Marketing for Socially Conscious Brands here  and connect with her on Twitter @maryanneconlin

Social Media Marketing For Socially Conscious Brands

Just returned from the Natural Foods Expo in Baltimore. What a great show! I’ve been attending the Expo West show for the last 5 years or so and have watched it explode until now it is bursting the seams at the Anaheim Convention Center. It looks like Expo East is headed in the same direction!

Lots of interesting sessions and some innovative new products. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be part of the program and talked about my approach to social media – Integrated Digital Branding, in this presentation. Thanks @momcentral for attending and the kudos after the session. A special thank you to the man in the back of the room who yelled out, “this is the clearest presentation of social media I have ever seen!

Missing the Mark With Millennial Moms

Photo courtesy Business Insider

Photo courtesy Business Insider

Earlier this year, while executing plans for a major food client, an opportunity to pair with a lifestyle mobile app came up.  The client reaction could be described as, “huh?”  A nudge and a resounding success later, it had the unexpected effect of  starting  us thinking more about targeting that consumer of the future, the younger, Millennial Mom.

In one of those marketing illuminating moments, we realized that while most of our programs targeted moms 25-54, when we looked around and started asking our brand advocates and digital vendors about the average age of the moms we were reaching, it seemed heavy on the 35-54 and light on the other end. This didn’t seem to be a prescription for exponential growth.

As I wrote about this month, in MediaPost, we’re remarkably better informed on the psychographics of our online target market these days than their actual demographics. At the same time there are some significant differences between Baby Boomers/Gen X-ers and the Millennial generation that follows – the new cadre of moms we’ll be targeting for the next 10 years or so.

More culturally diverse, living a wider variety of “family” lifestyles and more often the family breadwinner than older generations, they also are more collaborative decision makers when it comes to buying the family groceries. This last, I suspect has to do has a lot to do with growing up online where eliciting the opinion of 20 different people can be accomplished in record time.

So, while it’s easy to connect with Millennial moms, it’s not so easy to engage without better insights into their needs, wants and lifestyle. And Millennial Moms do feel neglected by brands, as this study shows. So, take some time to learn more about the moms with whom your brand connects – it just might surprise you.

headshot new Maryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Marketing. Connect with her on Twitter @maryanneconlin

How to Make Content Go Viral – Land on the Mars

photo courtesy http://www.nasa.gov

photo courtesy http://www.nasa.gov

With all due respect to the author, this article on How To Make Content go Viral  answers the question with one example of a large company that does a good job using viral marketing in a fairly common way. Linkedin was able to raise awareness by sending out information to current users about their ranking on the network. In truth this is a “feel good tactic” that most social networks use from time to time.

The second example (couldn’t you think of anything else?) simply tells of a news worthy event (by definition information that should go viral) the landing of the Mars Rover and how Mars candy was caught off guard by the sudden interest in Mars candy. Umm…that happens all the time, when a news event brings to mind a brand, searches for the brand go up.

What most brands really want to know is how to create content that spontaneously goes viral with little to no investment on their part. Cheap Marketing. A Low Cost Publicity Stunt. Something For Nothing.

But…usually, sorry to say: You Get What You Pay For.

We all have heard stories of the surprise hits – from low budget movies that become blockbusters to bloggers who get book deals to Twitter accounts that end up on screen. Those are the outliers and as is usual, as little exploration of the backstory usually reveals lots of hard work, some seriously good connections and a little bit of luck.

The real story of how things go viral in the second decade of the 21st century is truly a story of calculated planning, good PR strategy and judicious use of budget. The spaghetti approach to churning out fun and whimsical content and waiting for someone to notice has its drawbacks –most importantly – the other 3.66 billion other web pages out there, each with multiple pieces of their own content! Kinda tough to get noticed.

The better approach for most brands is to create a mini wave in your own pond. It’s not free, but it’s more likely to get noticed by exactly the consumers you want to see it.  Creating good, solid and fun content is the first step, of course. But from there it’s all money and expertise. Reaching out to a limited number of brand advocates with strong social connections in an exciting and personal way and compensating them for their efforts can drive the exact traffic you want to your content and ultimately to your brand.

And that’s really what you want anyway, right?

headshot newMaryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Marketing. Connect with her on Twitter @maryanneconlin