Why Content Needs Context in Order to Survive

There is more content produced and shared on social media everyday than you can sink your teeth into. That means you need to find ways to create meaningful content that grabs attention.

Here are 3 things you must know about content creation based on a presentation at Social Media Week in Toronto by Josh Muirhead, the founder of Socialmark Media, entitled “Content may be king, but without Context – no one will pay attention.”

Be brief, be brilliant, and be gone

The key in creating great content is the meat. Unlike the traditional hamburger model of marketing, where your message was sugarcoated with a tasty bun and an assortment of hearty vegetables, the content you create for social media must waste no time getting to the point. Social media users don’t have the time or the attention span to listen to a long-winded version of your story. We suffer from the need to tell our audience everything, instead of what really matters. So find out what’s important to your audience and just say it. Avoid overwhelming them with too many condiments. Continue reading

Social Media Week: Is ROI a Myth or Reality?

After attending Social Media Week Toronto‘s Social Media ROI: Myth or Reality? session, it was clear that measuring the development of a social media campaign can be different for everyone and everyone has a different opinion on it. One panelistnoted, social media ROI is like Sasquatch, everybody is looking and no one can find it. Another said social media ROI is like asking about the ROI of a toilet. It’s difficult to put a number on it but you wouldn’t want to live without it.

From this session, it was clear than you have to start with strong community development and management in order to start measuring results. Here are four ways to get there. Continue reading

15 Reasons You’re Not Generating a Twitter Following

Image courtesy of Megachix

Jumping into social media may be the easy part. It becomes difficult when you’ve been active for a while but just aren’t seeing the results you would like. Are you doing something wrong? Is there something you can do differently? Are you boring?

Those are just some examples of the second-guessing we all do with social media. Here are 15 things that might be ruining any chance at social media success:

  1. Your Twitter avatar is an egg
  2. You bio is everything but a bio
  3. You blast the same message across multiple platforms
  4. You don’t tweet enough, or at all
  5. You use Twitter solely to sell a product or service
  6. You promote yourself more than others
  7. Your contributions are thin or lack innovation Continue reading

4 Social Media Lessons from Obama’s Google+ Hangout

President Obama Google HangoutRegardless of where you stand politically, last night’s Google+ Hangout with President Barack Obama highlights some important aspects of social media engagement.

The Google+ hangout was diverse with two wives, a group of students, a war veteran, a small business owner and others. President Obama listened and communicated with these Americans and others while effectively leveraging a platform that was comfortable for them and a vast majority of his audience. How do we know this? Before the hangout, a total of 228,094 people submitted 133,184 questions and cast 1,630,369 votes on the White House YouTube channel. This was a successful example of knowing where your audience spends their time. Here are four lessons you can apply to your social strategy:

Be innovative. While Obama has incorporated townhall meetings on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn during his presidential campaigns, this marked the first ever Google+ Hangout with a President. Talk about catering to your audience and encouraging dialogue. You too can be innovative if you know your audience and find a way to connect with them.
Tweet This Line!

Engage your advocators and face your detractors. Obama faced the difficult questions about the economy, foreign aid, homelessness and unemployment rates head on. While some Google+ Hangout attendees had voted for him, others had not. Challenging questions are inevitable, especially in social media, and your community is judging you based on your ability to handle such questions. Think of this as an opportunity to turn your detractors into brand advocates and to further confirm the decisions of ambassadors. Honest, sincere and transparent answers go a long way.
Tweet This Line!

Use multiple platforms. If you’re going to host multiple parties, you’d better mix up the venues. In this case, the White House effectively utilized several social media channels. People could submit a question on YouTube, watch on Google+, or follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #askobama. The next time your business wants to engage with your community be sure to know when and where to host the party (or parties!).
Tweet This Line!

Understand public relations 101. Never turn down an opportunity to sway public opinion. It is important to use every conversation as an opportunity to improve your image, even if that means laughing at an impersonator.
Tweet This Line!

It can be challenging for a brand to be knowledgeable, educational and laugh at the same time. Social media takes practice and requires companies to take chances. Find the right balance and your community will grow and reward you in return. What did you think of the first ever Google+ Hangout? I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you missed the hangout, watch it here: here.

This post originally appeared on the Radian6 Social Strategy Blog where I contribute to the community engagement team.

How to Wow Sports Fans with Social Media

Social Media Sports

“My kids, if I ever accidentally have some, will not go to school. They will start twitter accounts and learn from the people.”– Paul BissonettePhoenix Coyotes

It’s tweets like these that have made Phoenix Coyotes’ enforcer Paul Bissonette generate a healthy following on social media. And there is something to be said about how athletes engage on social media.

Most sports fans know their favorite athlete’s height, weight, jersey number and noteworthy statistics. But that trend is changing as more and more athletes dive into social media and fans around the world subscribe to their every tweet.

Just like in business and other industries, professional sports organizations are seeing the vast promotional potential of social media. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White has even announced that he would dish out $240,000 towards improving his fighter’s followings. How’s that for incentive? Paid to socialize, sign me up.

So what is it about social media engagement that fans really enjoy?

Accessibility: Fans want to gain access and connect with athletes. Social media has made that a possibility. Whether it is a  brief exchange about last night’s game, insights into fitness regimens or injury updates, all of these provide something meaningful to the fans. People connect with athletes through social media to learn more than they would get from the radio and television. Takeaway: Be accessible to your following. Make them feel special.

Be Human: The public sometimes forgets that athletes have significant others, children, and even a life outside the game. Interacting with fans via social media shows a human side that online communities desperately want to see. My personal favorite is Paul Bissonette, the professional hockey player mentioned above who has amassed a following of 211,686, despite only tallying 5 career NHL goals. If you’re looking for personality, he’s your man. Takeaway: Crack a joke, admit you were wrong, or thank your social followers for pointing something out. Show you are human.

Insight: Just like someone who works in law, business or education, athletes have a significant level of insight about the sport they play and can build their community up by educating their audience. Takeaway: Whether you work for a sports related brand or not, share your knowledge so the rest of us can take it in.

Relationships: Social media gives athletes and their fans a chance to connect and deepen relationships. Your audience is constantly evaluating the strength of their relationship with you so take the time to show them you value their support. Takeaway: Show them love and it will come back 5-fold in long-term support.

Regardless of who you are or what you do, make your audience feel valued.  Give them access, show your personality, and provide any insight you might have. You can manage the relationships by consistently WOWing your audience. For Bissonette, that is providing humor and insight that fans don’t expect to get from professional athletes.

To learn more check out the top 100 tips to live by via @darrenrovell. Can you think of any other methods to engage with your following? Share below! This post originally appeared on the Radian6 Social Strategy Blog where I contribute to the community engagement team.

Communication Trends of 2012: Need to Know

After reading several articles from socialmediatoday.com, mashable.com and others I’ve decided to round out my COS blogging contribution by highlighting some major industry trends that have started to transpire, or some that might. Most of the changes in the industry, they suggest, are attributed to advancements in technologies.

1. The Shift to Digital

More companies are  giving priority to their digital media marketing and communications before their traditional print media. Case in point: news organizations. More people are flocking to the Internet and it provides more flexibility for news networks as well. Some call that a #nobrainer

2. Decentralization of Social Media

People are becoming more and more competent on social media and realizing that it is no longer acceptable to limit organizational members from participating.  According to Paul Holmes, “the more consistent a company’s message, the less authentic it sounds. […] Any consistency should be organic – a natural result of shared values and cultural cohesion, rather than imposed by the message police.” As mentioned in mine and @Tatjana’s #PC8005 seminar, the key to success is empowering staff members by educating them on social media and ensuring that they understand the company values and they ought to be portrayed. Censoring employees will only result in resentment, which can backfire.

3. On the Go

Mobile, mobile, mobile is the biggest adjustment that communication professionals need to make because everything is going mobile. Don’t believe me?  Check out this #shocking slideshare. Yes, I sometimes hashtag my blog. That might warrant its own category…next year. Social Media Today maintains that this is because of convenience, context and fun. Mobile is convenient. It enables people to be connected ‘24/7’ and, as a result, work more efficiently. Finally mobile is fun…because, well….it’s fun.

4. Playtime

Consumers need more enticement than ever when it comes to mobile phones, which means communications and PR specialist must find creative ways to engage their audience. Make digital media a game. What do I mean by that? Check out how BMW turned a Mini Cooper giveaway into a real life game of manhunt. Mobile media has become more than inviting the public to scan a QR code that takes you to their company website. Consumers are more adept with the technology and expect more out of communications professionals. To be successful, we must exceed those expectations.

5. It’s a Brand New World

My personal favorite, is the shift towards companies thinking and acting like journalists. It relates back to a Web 2.0 concept that instead of being a consumer or a producer companies must all think like “prosumers”. In a nutshell, tell stories about your company. Be modest, unbiased and critical of yourself when need be. Nissan was one of the first companies to participate in brand journalism. What does this tell communication professionals? Start thinking like a journalist. Tell your company’s stories.

Been Blogging, you?

A business Blog has proven to be an effective way to generate buzz and traffic.

—Why Business Blogging is much more than a hobby

I knew a guy that refused to Blog simply because he despised the word. He was a journalist, constantly on the lookout for story leads, but he cringed when someone said the word.  He is just one of a handful who feel that way, and like all acts to resist new technology, they eventually fade into the night. Especially when that fad becomes overwhelmingly popular and beneficial.

But think of Blogging as one tool in your online marketing strategy, perhaps even a central piece. It can be used in many ways to communicate more effectively with staff, customers, industry experts and potential investors. What makes a Blog work so well? They have the ability to target a specific audience in a quick and cost-effective way. This means keeping your customers informed about new products, events or industry information. All of these components portray that you are the expert in your field; whatever that is.

But just as Blogging can be a great way to generate traffic and buzz, it can also work against your intentions if done improperly. Posting unfavorable content or saying something you might eventually regret can’t be erased. Someone, somewhere out there, has it stored on a server. Not to mention the traces left on search engines like Google.

Blogging is a powerful marketing and communications tool that can help businesses indirectly promote their product(s) to customers, stakeholders and suppliers. According to eMarketer, as many as 43% of companies will be Blogging by 2012. Here’s a list of 6 things to consider when starting your new Blog:

Shipping it is not enough. You’ll need to ensure that your Blog is integrated into your existing marketing/communications strategy and presents a brand message that is cohesiveness throughout all mediums. If it’s done properly, a Blog can enhance your overall traffic, activity and more importantly, ROI.

Consistency is everything. Publishing periodically isn’t enough (as I admittedly do myself).  Assuming readers enjoy your work, they will come back and expect the same level of “awesome” that the received the first time. So set up a monthly calendar of potential topics, and stick to a weekly plan for consistency.

Content is King. As important as consistency is, it’s the quality of that content that will make you stand out amongst other similar Blogs.  Think of your top 5 favorite television commercials. What do they all have in common? The fact that they stuck in your head is one of them. People like commercials that stick and commercials that people like often stick. As you embark on your new Blog, make your posts memorable. If you are memorable your posts will stick in the minds of your readers long after they were published. If you are really lucky, they will even share it with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Read It, Stumble Upon, Delicious, Flickr, etc.

Simplicity. The simplicity of Blogs makes them influential. For the many of the technologically challenged, Blogs are refreshing. They cut out a lot of the fluff and simply present what matters most. That is the information.

SEO. A Blog will inevitably enhance your businesses Search Engine Optimization. The more your name is associated with keyword-rich content, the more often it will show up in search engines.

Blogging is hard work. Before jumping into it you need to understand that this is much more than a diary of the days events. You’ll need a dedicated staff member to be responsible for the creation and maintenance of the Blog. They will probably spend 30-60 minutes a day to brainstorm topics, write, edit and tag all posts. Depending on the size of your company, that number could increase dramatically.

After considering these recommendations, it is important to measure and track your success. This means analyzing website traffic in key areas such as top posts, referrals, and click rates. You can start by using complimentary stat trackers and even Google Analytics in-depth array of information on bounce rates, visits by country, and more.

Blogging has its advantages and disadvantages and should be handled with great care. If you can’t wrap your head around Blogging, don’t be alarmed. It is a learning experience that, if done properly, can be very beneficial for your business. After all, the goal is to become the expert in your field, solidify your position in the industry and attract new business.