A Lesson in Rebranding from Snapchat

A Lesson in Re-Branding from Snap (Snapchat)

A Lesson in Rebranding from Snapchat

Yes, you read the title right, Snapchat is now Snap. A change of name in the fall told us that the brand is now planning on expanding itself to be more than a messaging network. Since its creation in 2011, Snap has been interesting, unique, entertaining, and fun! You know about the filters (maybe you have used the dog filter a time or two), the disappearing pictures, videos, and chats, the compilation of stories, memories, ads, spectacles, and discovering other news and current events.

Rebranding became necessary to Snapchat in the fall of 2016. You might find yourself in the same shoes now. You can’t hide from rebranding (and that’s a good thing), and you can’t ignore it. If you feel the pressing need to rebrand and don’t know where to start, take a page out of Snapchat’s book on the matter.

Lessons in Re-Branding From Snap

Snapchat rebranded flawlessly; we’re all wondering how they did it, and how we can do the same.

Simplicity

Don’t change too much too drastically. Snapchat dropped the “chat” indicating that they’re more than “chatting” now, but will still be the channel you know and love. Even when you hear “Snap,” you know who that is. Same color scheme, same logo, same basic identity, but they’re moving forward.

Curiosity

Keep your users guessing. Snapchat announced the new name first. The co-creators were clear in the changes and comforted users in the knowledge that more information was coming on the rebrand. There’s a fine line between leaving your users curious but excited and curious but frustrated. Your users like to see you innovating and moving forward, but they want to know about it in a plain and clear manner. They’ll wait to hear what you have next.

Control

Decide what, how, and when new information gets released. Snapchat controlled the details in their announcements, creating the hype until the next installment of information. Users don’t like to be overwhelmed with new information. Make your rebrand exhilarating by giving a little here, and a little there. By keeping your hand on the plans, the rebrand is completely yours and yours alone.

Timing

Plan your timing. The timing of your rebrand may be more important than the rebrand itself. Create a schedule that you’re able to stick to with some flexibility if necessary. Refer to this schedule when users ask you what’s happening (because they will). Make this timing realistic as well, so you can stay on top of what you’re releasing (there’s the control) and do it promptly for you and your audience.

Tasting

Release something new with a rebrand. I like to call this “tasting” because you’re giving your users a little taste of what’s to come. The first question they’re going to ask is, “What’s going on?” The second is, “What will this look like for me?” So you need to show them. Change for the sake of change isn’t always the best answer. Your users are going to ask why you’re changing and you need to know why and why they should get on board. Snapchat released Spectacles with their rebrand. They told us they wanted to be more than a messaging network, and they showed us how with Spectacles.

Personality

Be who you are. The greatest quality of Snapchat’s rebrand is their personality. They want to remain fun and still be familiar to their audience. How will your audience follow you into your new arena if they can’t recognize you? Completely changing who you are will almost guarantee you a loss of current users. Stay true to you, and you’ll reach your net wider to catch the audience you want, without dropping the audience you have.

Follow Through

Do what you say you’re going to do. Don’t make empty and lofty promises if you can’t deliver! If you say you’re going to release a new product on a certain day at a certain time for a certain price, do all you can to make that happen. If you’re presenting a name change, do it! Set yourself up for success by being timely, creating a release schedule, and making your promises simple. If you can’t follow through on your word, or you need more time to make it happen, just be honest! Users can be understanding and patient if external, unfortunate, and unexpected things happen because we all know they do.

Start Using Snapchat

I hope you’re thinking about looking into Snapchat (excuse me, Snap) for your brand or business now. I think that’s what Snap is hoping for with this rebrand, too. It’s no longer a channel for young people, but for everyone. Include how you’re now on Snapchat in your rebrand! You’re casting your net wider, staying true to yourself, giving users a taste of what they can expect, and keeping it exciting. Is it time for your brand to take a new turn? Let us know in the comments!

How to Use YouTube for Content Marketing

How to Use YouTube for Content Marketing

How to Use YouTube for Content Marketing

When you hear the phrase “content marketing,” chances are written text comes immediately to mind. However, blog posts and articles aren’t the only types of content you can use for content marketing. You can also create, publish and share your content in video format. YouTube provides a fairly easy-to-negotiate and definitely well-known platform for doing just that.

Why should you consider video content? The answer is simple. Many people find watching a creative video much more interesting than reading simple text on a page. And if you can be creative and attentive to your audience’s interest, YouTube can become a vital tool for fulfilling your content marketing plans.

Before you begin, here are three critical questions to ask yourself.

1. Is your business right for content marketing on YouTube?

You can do well with YouTube content marketing if you have a product or service you can video-tape and show off visually. For example, if you’ve created a product that solves a problem, you can show it at work. Likewise, if you provide a helpful service, you can show yourself in the act of providing the service. If you clean carpets, you can create a video of you or your employees taking a section of carpet from filthy to pristine. Some services, such as consulting, can be difficult to show off this way. This doesn’t, however, mean you can’t do it. You’ll just need to be very creative to pull it off.

2. Do you want to educate, inform, or entertain?

YouTube is a good choice for each of these purposes, but it’s important to consider which one you can accomplish. Informational and educational videos can be the easiest to make. An informative video just provides details about your products, company, or related topics. Educational videos, on the other hand, typically provide insight into how something works or how to accomplish a task. Both educational and informative videos provide value for your audience, but they can seem dull and boring if not carefully planned and well-executed. You’ll need to put a lot of thought into their creation to keep your audience’s interest.

People tend to flock to entertaining videos, and if done well, they often go viral. Unfortunately, these videos can be hard to make. You need a great idea and equally spot-on execution. If you can make them work, however, they can do a lot for your business. Just make sure that the video you create shows off your business’ personal style and doesn’t detract from its image.

3. What is your goal?

Do you want to use YouTube to get new customers? Are you planning to use YouTube to provide support for the people who currently buy from you? You can use YouTube for both purposes. To attract new customers, you’ll need to create videos that make your prospects want to learn more about you and what you offer. Then, you can provide the link to your site in your video as well as in your video description. If you want to provide support to your current customers, you can create how-to videos and question-and-answer content that help your customers get more out of your offerings.

Now that you’ve decided you do want to publish content via YouTube, it’s time to consider how you will make your content appealing to your audience. Creating video for video’s sake simply won’t help you meet your goals. Instead, it’s critical to develop a plan for your video content that not only speaks to your audience’s interests and needs but also effectively tells your story, and when desired, compels your audience into action. Here are 6 tips for creating video content that sings.

1. Be Interesting: The mere fact that you’ve created video content won’t capture your audience’s attention. There are many other video marketers out there trying to accomplish the same thing. To stand out among them, use different perspectives, include movement, incorporate color, and add music where appropriate. Focus on creativity and personality.

2. Try It: Often, people hold off on creating video content, spending too much time thinking about it and not enough time acting on it. Go ahead and plunge in with creative content, and try not to worry about perfection. Use your first few efforts to gauge effectiveness and reaction. Then, use what you learn from your initial efforts to tweak your approach and create even better video content.

3. Publish Regularly: When someone sees your video content and likes what he sees, chances are he will check to see if you have any related content. Don’t be a one-hit wonder. Publish regular content so that your audience knows what to expect from you and looks forward to viewing and sharing your videos.

4. Create Video Tutorials: People are always looking for how-to information, and many prefer video how-tos. Fulfill this need by making your own video tutorials. You can use questions your customers asks as topics or search the Internet to see what burning questions your target market has.

5. Tell Your Story: You’ve probably heard this suggestion when it comes to written content, but it’s important for video content too. Some people just prefer digesting video content instead of the written word, so don’t limit yourself. Go ahead and tell your story in a video, or a series of video content as well.

6. Create Video Contests: You can use video contests to engage your audience and obtain more video content. Run contests that ask consumers to submit videos or video clips. Set guidelines for submissions, and offer attractive prizes. Use the best video on your site or make a new video that compiles the best of the video clips you receive.

So you’ve begun creating high-quality, informative, entertaining videos? That’s a great start, but unfortunately, it isn’t enough. You’ll also need reliable ways of getting the word out and securing the right kind of attention for your videos. Here are 5 free ways and 1 paid way to promote your YouTube content:

1. Use Your Blog: Your blog gets a study flow of customers, prospects, and curious visitors. Make it your first stop for promoting your YouTube content. When you create a new video, be sure to promote the video on your blog by describing it, detailing the whats, whos, whens, and whys, and telling your audience members why they’ll definitely want to check it out. Then, make it easy for them to view your content masterpiece. Embed it in its own post.

2. Share With Your List: Don’t expect the people on your email list to come to you for interesting, valuable content. Go ahead and take the content to them. Craft a relevant, helpful message and email it to your list along with a link to your video. If you have an email newsletter, be sure to include it there as well.

3. Create a Custom Channel: This can be the difference between having what looks like just a bunch of video content and having a series of credible, interesting, valuable videos people want to see and share. A custom channel lends your video collection credibility, makes it look more professional, and helps you to create a more cohesive message.

4. Apply Your Social Media Know-How: Share your videos via your social media accounts. For example, tweet about your video and include links, create a status update with a message about your latest YouTube video and embed the video, and pin your video to your pinboards. Take a look at each social media account and figure out where and how to share your video content. Don’t forget to share your link on social bookmarking sites as well, adhering to the posting rules of those sites, of course.

5. Spread the News: When you create newsworthy, or particularly helpful new video content, look to news outlets that can help you spread the word about them. Write a press release and include the link to your video. Also, contact relevant news outlets about your video by phone or via email.

6. Pay to Promo: You can also pay to advertise your videos. If you have the budget to do so, consider the Google Adwords for Video opportunity. It’s a pay-per-click program for promoting videos on YouTube. With this program, you pay when someone views your ad rather than when you place it.

With time and effort, you can make video marketing a successful part of your content marketing campaigns. Use the above tips to get started. Then, be sure to come back and let us know how using YouTube for content marketing works for you.

The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

It’s that time of year again. If you’re like many of us, you’re probably deciding that this year will be different. 2017 will bring a better you, and perhaps a better business too. That’s right. You can and should make resolutions for your business. But before you get off to the races, preparing your long list of business resolutions, we want you to know that one resolution stands out in importance. It involves social media but doesn’t focus on crafting more posts or finding more followers.

This year, resolve to build a community

If you’re marketing to a target audience, you’re doing this social media thing all wrong. Your goal should be to build a community of people engaged with your brand. This means giving your fans a voice and providing them with information they will find helpful. Solve their problems; don’t just sell your product or service.

How Will You Do This?

Provide Great Customer Service

Anyone can sell products or services. Anyone can ask their target audience to pay attention to and share their messages, but not everyone can build a community. To accomplish this, you have to provide great customer service. To build a community, you need to give your audience a reason to care about you and want to not only pay attention to what’s going on with your business but also stick around after that initial purchase. You can do this by showing that you care about your audience via top-notch customer service.

1. Combine delivery of customer service via social media and traditional methods. Your customers should have options when it comes to reaching you, and they should never feel forced into using one method of contact over the other.

2. Kick the automation to the curb. Customers hate, hate, hate having to struggle with an automated system when they need help. While there are situations in which automation is helpful, you won’t make a community member out a customer who can’t get help from a live person.

3. Train your customer service reps well. They should know your business and its policies inside and out. And most importantly, they should truly care to help your customers. If they seem bored, annoyed, or clueless, you haven’t a prayer of converting customers into community members.

4. Develop a method for monitoring and tracking customer service contact. This will help you to improve your company’s customer service going forward and head off reputation-damaging problems before they become mountains instead of molehills.

Share Relevant, Helpful Information

Yes, you have products or services of interest to your audience, but what else do you have to offer? To build a community, you have to provide relevant, helpful information, not just once but all the time. This gives your audience a reason to come back repeatedly and consume your content. It gives them a reason to share with others and even provide their own relevant, helpful information. Without this, you are just like every other company with something to sell. You’re just adding to the social media noise.

1. Find out what your audience needs. You have your products and services covered. Now, focus on who your audience members are, what drives them and what they want from life.

2. Share content and messages that meet your followers’ needs. You’ve identified their needs, so now go ahead and meet them by sharing meaty, valuable content that speaks to those needs. Keep in mind that you don’t have to create every piece of content you share. You’ll want to provide a mix of original and curated content to your audience.

3. Don’t just share content; have conversations. Communities aren’t built by talking at people. Instead, engage in real conversations, sharing ideas back and forth, asking questions, and offering suggestions. Be genuinely interested and fully responsive. Your followers will know if you’re faking it.

Give Your Community a Voice

Your followers have stories to tell about their lives, about their interests, and about your brand. Give them a platform and a purpose for sharing what’s important to them with others and you. Their shared stories and experiences will build and nurture a sense of community among your followers and support an emotional connection with your brand.

1. Provide a safe place for your followers to share user-generated content. Take genuine interest in what they post, comment on it and share it. This content will interest other followers, inspire them to engage as well, and build the sense of knowing each other and being part of a community.

2. Encourage a range of user-generated content. Of course, videos and photos are among the most compelling types of user-generated content, but personal stories really hit the mark as well. Inspire your followers to share their personal stories by sharing some of your own and by commenting on and showing enthusiasm for the stories your followers share. This not only stimulates an emotional connection with your brand and a sense of belonging but also gives each person who shares a stake in supporting the community.

3. Let your community members sell for you. Building a community takes the focus off selling, but that doesn’t mean selling won’t happen anyway. Your community members’ content becomes part of your brand’s story, and as your community grows, so will your users’ reviews of your products and services. Likewise, many of your followers-turned-community-members will become brand evangelists, telling your story and drawing prospects to your business.

Most importantly, Build Relationships

Social media should be about more than just broadcasting your promotions and building up an impressive number of followers. It should be about more than just making sales, and that’s why your emphasis should be on community building this year. Without a personal connection to your brand, customers are likely to jump at the chance to patronize your competitors whenever they offer sales, announce new products, or simply shout for their attention. However, by developing relationships with your customers, and encouraging your customers to develop relationships with others in your community, you build a loyal customer base that will translate into more sales and steady business growth.

Start 2017 off on the right foot by focusing on building a community. With each step you take toward community building, and each relationship you develop and nurture, you’ll enjoy long-term benefits for your business.

Twitter Hacks for Content Marketing

8 Twitter Hacks for Better Content Marketing

Twitter Hacks for Content Marketing
Often, business owners try Facebook out as their first venture into social media marketing. They know they need to have a Twitter presence too (because their audience is there), but they often drag their feet, finding Twitter intimidating or believing it’s complicated. The truth is Twitter is no harder to use than Facebook; it’s simply different. But no worries; we have you covered. Here are 8 Twitter hacks to make successful tweeting easier:

1. Craft an Engaging Elevator Pitch

Your Twitter bio has to be short and sweet. You have only 160 characters to work with, so make sure it packs a serious punch. Think of it as the ultimate elevator speech, and be sure to include your link. Don’t hesitate to update your header photo with text as well. Many Twitter users will check out your profile before they decide to follow you.

2. Go for Quality Over Quantity

You can cast a wide net and get a huge number of followers, but that won’t help your business if your followers aren’t really interested in what you have to offer. Aim to attract quality followers rather than random hits by crafting tweets that are relevant to your industry and of clear interest to your audience. Tweeting about your lunch or your fun weekend plans might entertain you but probably won’t help your business (unless this is somehow relevant to your brand).

3. Follow the Right People

You can work towards building the right audience by following others who are interested in or involved in your industry. Not only will these people follow you back, but their followers may jump on board and follow you too. How do you find the right people to follow? Do a Twitter search using industry-relevant hashtags and keywords. Check out your competitors and see who’s following them. These people are probably interested in what you have to offer as well. Want some handy tools for finding followers? Check out TweetStork and Audiense.

4. Get the Most out of Each Tweet

With Twitter, you have a low character count, but you’re also dealing with a short tweet lifespan. The average lifespan of a tweet is only about 24 minutes, so you want to make each message count. Use a link shorterner like Bitly or Google URL Shortener to shorten your links, so you have more room for text. And be sure to include relevant hashtags to make it super easy for anyone who is searching to find your content.

5. Tweet When Your Audience Is on Twitter

The worst time to tweet is when your audience isn’t on Twitter. Use a tool like Tweriod to gain insight into your audience’s Twitter habits and figure out when they are most likely to see your tweets. Then, tweet at those times.

6. Provide Appealing Visuals

Social media users are very visual, so give them what they want. Tweets with images or videos get more click-throughs, more retweets, and more favorites. Tweets with images get 150-percent more retweets, and those with videos get nearly 3 times as many.

7. Be an Authentic Engager

There’s something interesting about you and your brand. In fact, there are probably a lot of things your audience would like to know about you. So tell them, keeping an eye toward ensuring that your messages are both authentic and interesting. Not sure what your audience will find interesting? Use a keyword search to learn which relevant topics people are talking about on Twitter.

8. Be Social

All too often, people forget that one of the key words in social media marketing is social. Get involved in conversations, follow others, retweet, share, and bring something helpful and informative to the table. Doing this will not only help attract attention to your brand but also humanize it. Make a point of being social at least a few times each day.

Use the Twitter hacks above to make tweeting a part of your social media marketing plan. They’ll help you put your best foot forward, find your audience, and be more social. Be sure to come back and let us know how these Twitter hacks worked for you!

Influencer Tips to Make You the One All Brands Want to Hire

Honing Your Influence: Influencer Tips to Make You the One All Brands Want to Hire

Influencer Tips to Make You the One All Brands Want to Hire

Being an influencer wasn’t even a thing ten years ago.

In fact, if someone asked you what you do for a living and your answer was “I’m an influencer” you would sound like a pretty nefarious person out to do some pretty nefarious things.

In today’s landscape, however, being an influencer means that you are a powerful and engaging member of the online marketing community making bank for getting things done!

It is a job title many are actively aspiring to.

But how do they get there?

For some, their ascension to influencer greatness is quick and large and spurned on by some viral photo or video shared across countless platforms.

But this is not the norm.

The average influencer works at their craft as meticulously and consistently as any aspiring professional –they are calculated with their movements, they are conscientious with their choices, they are educated about their field, and they pick their partnerships with care.

A lot goes into the development of their influence and they are protective of it at every turn.

Honing Your Influence: Influencer Tips to Make You The One All Brands Want to Hire

Looking for sure-fire ways to make the invite list and get the gig when it comes to hiring influencers? These tips can help you get there.

Stand and Deliver

Deliverables are an integral part of any influencer campaign. The key messaging the brand has hired you to bring to life is as important to their bottom line as your compensation is to yours. Stay true to it. Meet the requirements –include the messaging they provided you with, provide edits when asked, publish when you’re expected to, and promote as agreed upon. This doesn’t mean to sacrifice your voice, provide countless edits, or uncompensated promotion. This means the opposite in fact! The brand wants your voice to deliver their message under the terms of your agreed upon contract.

And remember, communication is key to every relationship and that includes the ones you’re in because of your online influence. If you’re expected to put up an Instagram post or attend an event, make every effort to do so on time and as expected. Of course, things come up from time to time, but standard professionalism says you pick up the phone and call or shoot your contact an email just to say something came up and you need an extension.

Which brings us to out next point…

Be Professional

Because once you start charging for your services, that is what you are. Doesn’t matter if you have another job, doesn’t matter if you’re also a mom, if you’d like to be hired, as a professional influencer, you have to act like one. That means meeting deadlines, responding to emails, negotiating contracts, knowing your space, and behaving like you mean business –because ultimately, you do!

Be Engaging

Your content, your imagery, you! Of course, reach is important when it comes to being an influencer, but engagement plays a major role too. A brand wants an audience that’s listening, one that is talking back, one that is a part of the story that you are bringing to life. Take time to interact with your audience in meaningful ways. Get to know them, what they want, what they like, and what they respond to. Then, when you bring a brand into the equation, your audience will be there for it.

Keep It Real

Authenticity, authenticity, authenticity –it’s like the location of real estate. It’s how you encourage engagement, how you grow your audience, how you differentiate yourself as unique in the sea of influential voices. And being authentic doesn’t mean being an open book –it means speaking your truth, sharing your story in a real way, and putting yourself into your content.

Know Your Audience

What your audience responds to is maybe not going to be anything like what another influencer’s audience is here for. Even if you’re in the same genre, connecting to the same demographic, what your audience expects from you is possibly not what that same audience expects from someone else. You have to learn that. And then, you have to figure out the best way for a brand to become a part of that conversation.

Be Creative

Brands love it when influencers take their basic idea and make it magical. Going above and beyond certainly isn’t a requirement, but if you want to stand apart, make an impact, and ensure that you are first on the list for their next activation, give them something memorable. Your best photos, your best storytelling, a new idea, an awesome video. All of those things make a brand think you’re worth the investment, and maybe more!

Your ability to be a successful influencer rests on your ability to build an engaged, committed audience with a meaningful, impactful story –your influence infrastructure, so to speak.

Work on the infrastructure and your road to success will be paved!

The Ins and Outs of Twitter Chats and Parties

The Ins and Outs of Twitter Chats and Parties

The Ins and Outs of Twitter Chats and Parties

If you’ve been on Twitter for an extended period of time, you’ve seen a Twitter chat and party or two. Maybe you’ve participated in or hosted one or two! It’s one of the ways brands and businesses are connecting on Twitter. Most importantly, chats and parties are a direct connection to your current audience and to the audience you’re trying to reach. We’ve had tremendous success in hosting Twitter parties for some of our clients! Our efforts yielded participation rates of up to 233 (averaging 185 per party) people and 8,194 tweets in just one hour!

The Ins and Outs of Twitter Chats and Parties

Let’s look at what makes up a chat or a party, because they are different. Yes, chats and parties both live on Twitter and include a relevant hashtag for search and participation purposes. However, chats are more laid back and geared toward businesses, groups, and individuals who want to discuss a pre-determined topic in a specific field of interest. Parties are more formal and are sponsored by brands that pay a host to run it for them, and the topic is, of course, about the brand. Start thinking of themes, questions, hashtags (I’ll talk about this later), and prizes now!

Twitter Chats

A Twitter chat is the online version of a social club. Most of them meet weekly at a designated time to discuss relevant topics previously chosen by the host. Chats are a casual event because they don’t require a reservation or registration. Participants are encouraged to join in at the appointed time and use the appropriate hashtag. Sometimes this hashtag changes so it’s important to check-in beforehand to know which one you should be using.

Twitter chats aren’t only social media, digital marketing, or online-topics specific. Chances are if you’re interested in it, there’s a chat for it. That also means that chats aren’t only hosted by businesses. Groups and individuals (sometimes even brands) host them to bring like-minded people together in conversation about what they love. If your interest lies in the medical community, but you want to know more about agriculture, join a chat! The opportunity for networking, socializing, and learning about other businesses are huge!

Brands can participate in chats as well, by not forgetting to look for a chat that aligns with their goals. If you’re noticing a chat that is reaching your audience and/or talking about your topic, join in! After you’ve participated in one or two chats, reach out to the host and ask about a sponsorship. The next chat might include a mention of your brand, a banner on the chat’s page, or an opportunity to ask questions. Sponsorships from Twitter chats have a less restrictive policy, so if you get the chance to have one, be creative!

Twitter Chat Etiquette

As previously mentioned, Twitter chats are more relaxed, but that doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all. Businesses and users need to follow some basic rules:

· Be polite: Everyone is there to have fun, learn, and talk about his or her interests.

· Don’t talk about yourself (too much): If you’re only there to turn the conversation to you, maybe you shouldn’t be there. However, if you have an experience relevant to the topic/question, that could be valuable to someone else.

· Interact: If you agree with a participants comment, feel free to say so. If you like a question, voice that. Like tweets, retweet, and others will return the favor.

Twitter Parties

Did you know that Twitter parties originated eight years ago? They don’t happen very often (although they could be done weekly), and they typically include a sponsorship from a brand. Organization is extremely vital for a party seeing as there are rules and guidelines participants need to follow. A host gets paid by a brand to run the party, and in return, the host gathers their top resources for the party which can include a diverse variety of things such as: influencers, blog posts, giveaways, events, etc. The host and the sponsor work as a team to decide what the topic will be, and additional features they want the party to have.

Parties are also more formal than chats. Think about a party that you’ve attended. Was there an RSVP giving the time, place, possible dress code, and directions to the party? The same applies to a Twitter party. An RSVP is your virtual guest list telling you who is planning on attending the party. If you’re giving away a prize or two during your party, check your guest list to make sure the winner actually attended the party and participated with the hashtag.

Twitter parties provide an amazing benefit to not only brands but the participants as well. This is give and take at its finest. Typically parties consist of women, either hosting or engaging. Men’s products and/or brands can make a name for them here and break new ground.

Twitter Party Etiquette

Organization matters greatly in a Twitter party. To keep from losing the structure, apply these rules that need to be followed by both the participants and the host.

· Be polite: This is important (and obvious) no matter if you’re in a chat or a party.

· Don’t ignore yourself: This is the opposite of a chat. Since a brand is sponsoring a party, the topics and agenda for the party are partly created by the brand, so, of course the brand is going to come up, and that’s okay! Make sure it’s relevant, though.

· Interact: Like, retweet, and respond to tweets. Show the participants that you’re listening to them and not only letting tweets scroll on by you. If you’re a participant in a party, this needs to be done to show the brand that you’re listening as well!

· Follow through: As a brand, you may be offering prizes and giveaways, and that’s great! After you’ve chosen a winner, get their information right away. As a winner, provide your information as quickly as possible.

Hashtags for Twitter Chats and Parties

A hashtag is arguably the most important aspect of a chat or a party. Hashtags are used for search on Twitter. When a user searches for a particular hashtag, they can choose a conversation based on that hashtag. If you know there’s a chat or party that you’re interested in but not able to attend, the hashtag allows you to come back later, search for it, and see what you missed. It’s what keeps your chat or party organized. Every time you compose a tweet based off of a topic, use the hashtag for it. You’ll be able to reach more people with one than without one. If you want to win a prize, chances are one of the rules is that you’ve used the hashtag.

By using a designated hashtag, you’re conversing with that group and not all of Twitter. At times you may use more than one; one for the party itself, and one for the topic/brand. Brands or businesses should set up a platform that allows them to search for the hashtag and see only that, making it easier to respond to the participants in the chat or party. Some of them even add the hashtag automatically into your tweet if you’re tweeting directly from that platform.

Let’s Chat (or Party)!

No matter who you are, a Twitter party and/or chat should be in your Twitter strategy, because they’re a part of what makes Twitter so special, and they bridge the gap between you and your audience. Get creative! Now’s the time to show your followers that you not only want them to know you but that you want to get to know them! How do you get to know someone? You chat with them of course!

Have you hosted or participated in a Twitter chat or party? Please let us know in the comments.

alternatives to vine

Alternatives to Vine (and What to do When a Channel Gets Shut Down)

alternatives to vine

Twitter through some of us for a loop (pardon the pun) at the end of October, by announcing the closure of Vine, its 6-second video app. This is big news whether you loved and/or were involved with Vine or not. Twitter is now refocusing, and we can’t wait to see what that looks like. In the meantime, social media marketers who have made an investment in the app now need to take serious steps in another direction. If the Vine stars we knew, loved and laughed at can move on, then you can, too. This is a great time for you to revisit your social media strategy to make sure that you have a backup plan if you used Vine, and to make sure the rest of your channels are covered in case one of them bites the dust.

Alternatives to Vine

If you have to say goodbye to Vine, wipe your tears and start looking at other channels. You don’t have to look far; you just have to look at what works best for you and your brand.

1. Snapchat

Snapchat is at the top of the list, and rightfully so. This app is certainly a challenge seeing as they don’t have a follower count or a follower recommendation feature, however, its popularity and 150 million users makes it the app you want to be on. The audience is large, and the demographics mostly include millennials, so how can your brand get started and maintain usage on Snapchat? Interact either directly through stories and chatting, or through special features and advertising! Just like Vine, you can download your stories, so you don’t lose them after 24 hours.

Should you use it?

Maybe. Snapchat mainly reaches millennials, so if you also want to reach that age group of 18 – 24 year-olds, then you need to be on Snapchat. If you’re not sure, keep an eye out. If you’re not using it now, you might be in the future.

2. Instagram

Instagram has also jumped on the stories train, so if Snapchat doesn’t work for you, try Instagram (or both!). The one-up Instagram has on Snapchat is its users base: 500 million. You’ll find a wider range of demographics on Instagram. If cosmetics is part of your goal, Instagram stories look better because of the higher image quality, but they load slower causing people to stop viewing after the 1st or 2nd story. If you’re a brand, the load time is crucial. You will also find ads and private messaging as a viable interaction tool.

Should you use it?

Yes! Or maybe. Again, it depends on your goals and your audience. If you’re already on Instagram, why not give it a try? Compare and contrast with Snapchat to get the best look for your brand.

3. Facebook

Vine might not have been live, but live video is certainly taking over the social world. If you’re considering going live with your posts (and still being able to keep them for later) start with Facebook. They’re adding more Snapchat-esque features like masks (or filters) in addition to enhancing the appearance of their video feature and giving their videos a more interactive feel. Live video gives you the permission to be authentically you without editing. Give a tour, stream an event or an opening; show off a product or a demonstration of one. As people react to your stream, comment back to them! Ads haven’t made their way into video yet, but there’s still time.

Should you use it?

Yes! Facebook is where your audience is. Let them know when you’ll be broadcasting, and you’ll have hundreds if not thousands of eyes on you. That’s great advertising! My sage advice before you “go live” is this: think before you do. Make sure you have a plan beforehand, so people aren’t watching you bop around aimlessly.

4. Periscope

Twitter hasn’t gotten rid of all of its video sources. Periscope is still kicking and still growing. Even though broadcasts disappear after 24 hours, it’s the latest and greatest for real-time marketing. One of the noteworthy aspects of using Periscope for live video is that it’s not limited by location. Your users can find you from anywhere in the world to see what you’re seeing.

Should you use it?

Maybe, probably yes. I’d like to repeat what I said for Snapchat: if you’re not using it now, you might be in the future. Usually the phrase, “everyone is doing it” isn’t the most positive of points, but when it comes to social trends, I live by it. Everyone is on Periscope, so you should be, too.

What to do When You Lose a Channel

Picture this: It’s 2008 and MySpace has been taken over by Facebook. How many of you hung on for dear life until the last possible second before reluctantly switching over to Facebook? So did I. Change can be hard and the opposite of fun, especially if you’ve invested time, money, energy, and strategy into a social channel just to lose it. My challenge to you is not to think of it as a loss, but a breath of fresh air to your strategy.

This is easier said than done because losing a social network can feel a lot like being dumped, can’t it? Sometimes it’s unexpected and leaves us with more questions than answers (especially when you find out you’ve been ‘broken up with’ by reading an article on the internet. Yikes!). If Vine could talk it would be saying, “It’s not you, it’s me.” And it’s true.

Go back to the drawing board to make the necessary adjustments in your strategy. Make sure you know how to move your content from one network to another. Download and save as much as you can to make it shareable on the other existing channels. Chalk it up to experience, brush the dust off, and move on. The closing of Vine is the picture perfect example of why social networks can’t be your only investment in social media. You’re borrowing someone else’s space, and it could go away in a second. Your owned space is your blog, and social media should be adding to that space, not vice versa. Keep that in mind and from now on you have a safety plan in place to protect your content and make a smooth transition whether a channel closes, or you have to leave one yourself.

Moving Forward

Vine is a great loss to many social media users and managers. If you were active on Vine, grab your videos and remember them in a positive light! Then, create a new strategy in case of emergencies and keep researching. Start looking into Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Periscope as a place your videos can call home. Thankfully, there are many options (and more to come) as apps grow, evolve, and new ones are added!

Were you on Vine? If so, where are you moving to next? Does your social media strategy include an emergency plan in case of a shutdown? Let us know!

Do You Really Need a Business Blog

Do You Really Need a Business Blog?

Do You Really Need a Business Blog

Any business can create a blog, and as you know, many, many of them do. But when the time comes to plan your own, you may be wondering whether you really need one at all. After all, you probably have a website, and you should be making your mark in social media. So how do you decide if you say “Hello World!” with a blog or just stick to your already traveled Internet terrain? Here are some questions to ask yourself when making this important decision.

Do you need more traffic?

If you already have all the traffic you need and you really don’t want any more, you don’t need to create a blog. After all, what’s the point of launching something that is likely to help you increase traffic and make more sales if you’re fully content in those arenas? A blog makes it easy to put out fresh, frequent content that makes the search engines happy and brings new prospects your way. Google and other search engines give higher rankings to fresh, relevant content. If you’re keeping your content fresh by providing helpful information and updating your blog regularly, search engines will make it easier for people to discover your blog. Maintaining a quality blog even encourages your current customers to check in regularly to see what you’ve published, possibly even sharing your content with others.

Do you want to build your brand?

If the world (and by the world, we mean your entire audience) already knows everything there is to know about your business, you might not need a blog. But if you’re like the rest of us mere mortal business owners, a blog can really help you build brand awareness. Just be sure to publish compelling, relevant content and mix things up with plenty of videos and images to keep things interesting and exciting. Show your audience who you are, show them why they should care about your business, and keep the self-promotion to a minimum.

Do you want to position yourself as an expert?

If you don’t want people looking to you as a source of information or relying on your expertise, you probably should not create a blog. Blogs are an excellent place to educate your audience, informing them and entertaining them at the same time. And a funny thing happens when you consistently produce quality content that fits this bill. Your audience begins to view you as an expert and looks your way when they need not only information but also products and services.

Do you want to engage your audience?

If you don’t want your audience to feel engaged with your brand—if you’d really rather just keep prospects at arm’s length, don’t start a blog. A blog can help with increasing engagement, which involves getting your audience to communicate with you via the comment section of your posts and (gasp!) responding to them. This helps your audience feel connected with your business. It also allows you to learn what your audience thinks and feels, which can only help you better serve them.

Do you want to demonstrate authenticity?

If you don’t want to convey a sense of openness to your audience, you probably don’t need a blog. Likewise, if you don’t want your audience to develop a feel for your brand’s personality, steer clear. With blogging, your audience gains insight into who you are and what your brand is all about with each post. You can’t help injecting personality into your posts, and as your audience witnesses your openness, they’ll also learn to trust you. That’s a win-win because trust builds brand loyalty.

The time and effort it takes to maintain a blog may be significant, but the benefits can be tremendous. Consumers have come to expect more than just promotion from the companies with which they connect. And if you want to encourage visitors to return to your site, give them a reason to do so. Provide the kind of regularly updated and useful content they expect from a blog.

21 Secrets to Getting More Blog Comments

21 Secrets to Getting More Blog Comments

21 Secrets to Getting More Blog CommentsAre your brand’s blog posts getting enough (or any) comments?  Do you wonder if anyone is actually reading your posts? More than likely, your posts are getting read, but you might not be getting the amount of interaction you’d like. While Facebook likes and shares are great, blog comments are the highest expression of social media love. Of course, we’re not talking about the weird “Buy these awesome name-brand shoes!” comments, but even comments that may disagree with your point of view tell you that people are paying attention to your brand.

Blog comments also have a bit of a snowball effect. Once one or two people respond to your post, other people start to jump into the conversation too.

How to Get More Blog Comments

Before asking your mom to leave a comment on your blog, there are a few things you can do to inspire your readers to interact a little more.

Create Compelling Content

No matter the subject, your blog is dead in the water without high-quality, compelling content. Focus on that first to ensure that someone, other than you, wants to read it.

#1. Write valuable content. Your blog won’t get many comments–beyond spam–if the content you provide isn’t valuable and relevant. You don’t need perfect writing skills or a flawless command of grammar to get comments on your site, but you do need to provide content readers can sink their teeth into and walk away with knowledge that helped, encouraged or interested them. If your brand provides valuable content on a regular basis, readers will eventually start visiting your blog more frequently and leave comments to let you know they were there and found your content helpful.

#2. Ask questions. If you’re already providing valuable content and giving your blog time to grow and attract an audience, the next step is asking questions. End each post with a question that is relevant to your brand’s content and intended to stimulate conversation. In general, your questions should be easy to answer but interesting enough that people want to respond and return to your blog to see what others have to say.

#3. Write content that stimulates feeling. Often, people feel most compelled to comment on posts that make them feel something. For example, posts about inspirational topics may be more likely to get comments. Likewise, posts that make readers feel a sense of kinship with your brand can have the same effect. People like hearing that others have thoughts and experiences similar to their own.

#4. Keep it short. If you’re getting enough visitors to your posts, but still not getting the traction you want, make sure your posts are optimized for keeping your readers’ attention. They don’t need to be haiku but shouldn’t be too long, either. Between 400 – 600 words is ideal.  We have a saying in our house, “The mind can absorb as much as the butt can endure.” If your posts are too lengthy, you might be losing your reader’s interest before he or she even gets to the point of leaving a comment or sharing with others.

#5. Ask for it! Are your posts just one long monologue, or do they inspire conversation?  The simplest thing you can do is to ask readers for their opinions.  It’s not complicated and doesn’t require any special or technical wizardry skills. By asking, not only are you likely to get more blog comments and interaction, but you’re showing your community that you care too.

Be Accessible, Prepared and Realistic

It would be wonderful if your goals for your brand were easy to fulfill. The reality is that almost everything that indicates success takes time, preparation and patience to achieve. Increasing blog comments is no exception.

#6. Make interaction easy. There are many ways a reader can interact with your post; leaving a comment is only one of them. Other ways visitors can show their appreciation for a well-written or meaningful article is to share it with their own communities. But, let’s face it, Internet users like things to be e-a-s-y, right?  We like to have the world at our fingertips. Readers will be more likely to share and like your brand’s post if they don’t have to go too far out of their way to do it.  Keep it simple by installing Facebook Like & Share Buttons, a Tweet Button or Social Bookmarking Buttons in each of your posts.

#7. Understand the 65-15-20 rule (formerly the 90-9-1 rule). This rule states that 65% of your community will consume (i.e., read) content, 15% will interact (comment, share, “like” a post) in some way and 20% will create content.  If we work on this assumption, then we know that only 15 out of every 100 people, on average, will interact with your content.

#8. Prepare for a numbers game. We all know that content is king, but if nobody’s aware of it, how can they read it?  Make sure you’re promoting your own content effectively by tweeting out your link, sharing it on Facebook and incorporating other strategies, such as commenting on other blogs. You can also include a link to your company blog in your email signature and let people know in your newsletters.

#9. Consider your own habits. Use yourself as a case study, and consider not only why you interact but also how you interact. Chances are the same thing that triggers you into action will trigger others too.  Take that experience and apply it to your brand’s blog.

#10. Be patient. Sometimes it just takes time to build up enough of a following to get regular comments. If your blog is fairly new and you don’t have a lot of well-targeted traffic yet, don’t panic. With time, you will likely develop a large readership and attract many more comments.

Encourage Readers to Comment

When someone reads your blog and comments, it’s victory for your brand. Commenting is the highest level of commitment someone can make on your blog because it takes the most effort. They can hit the like button or the tweet button if you have one, and both are great votes of confidence in your content, but commenting goes a step further. In general, it is best to respond to comments. However, some situations warrant a bit of caution.

#11. Respond to the “I agree with you” comment. It’s always great to hear when someone takes the time to let you know they like what you’ve said. In this case, it’s nice to comment and show your readers that you recognize and appreciate their feedback. Some people say if your comment won’t add anything to the conversation, you don’t have to respond. We only recommend not responding if you truly do not have the time to respond and regularly get many of these on a post.

#12. Tactfully dig into the “other point of view” comment or a respectful disagreement with your post. This is a comment that is asking for conversation. Absolutely respond to this type of comment by elaborating on your point or recognizing a valid exception. Never get into an argument. You may go back and forth with the commenter more than once, but at some point, you should agree to disagree.

#13. Delete the inappropriate and hostile comment or personal attack. This should be covered in a policy that can simply say “treat everyone with respect on this blog” or “play nicely.” You can post that policy somewhere prominently on your blog. Not only should you not respond to attacks, but these (almost always) anonymous attacks can and should be deleted, as long as you make it clear in your policy that that is how your brand will respond.

#14. Trash or ignore a comment that is meant only for the sake of getting a link back to the commenter’s blog. If you allow links in your comments or if the name of the writer can be linked to his or her blog, you may get a comment that doesn’t seem to add much to the conversation and it is only deposited on your blog for the sake of the link. It may be hard to tell this type of comment from the “I agree with you” comment. If you decide to thank the person, keep an eye out to see if this person makes it a policy to use this device regularly. In the future, you can either delete the comment (use the “mark as spam” function in your commenting software). Otherwise, do not respond.

Comment on Other Blogs

Online engagement is a two-way street. If you want people to take notice of you and spend time connecting with your brand, you need to make an effort to connect yourself. This means taking the time to comment and interact on other brands’ blogs (just not the competition’s).

#15. Get out and connect. Sometimes outgoing behavior is key to getting more attention to your blog and more comments for your posts. Visit other blogs that cover topics of interest to your target audience, and contribute to discussions in a meaningful way. Include your blog URL with your comments so that people know how to find your brand’s blog without any obvious promotion on your part. Readers who find your comments interesting and valuable will follow you to your blog and join the conversation there.

#16. Make sure you’re logged in to your own company’s account. Most blogs use a specific system for comments, such as Gravatar, Open ID and Disqus. If your own blog is using one of these systems, make sure you’re already logged in with your company’s profile first. If your brand doesn’t have one on that system, create one separate from your personal profile. ‘FoxyFlyDJLady’might get attention, but not the kind you want.

#17. Add value to the conversation. If you have something helpful to say, by all means, say it. Steer away from leaving ‘yeah, me too’ type of comments. Even if you do agree and are only trying to show your support for the author, these type of comments are a common tactic for link-droppers (people only commenting for the purposes of getting a link back to their own site). You don’t want to be confused for one of them.

#18. Monitor for mentions of your brand and respond appropriately. Use a simple tool such as Social Mention to look for relevant mentions of your brand. After all, not many bloggers are going to email you to say they’re talking about you. If you find a positive mention, or if the blogger is just trying your product for the first time, tell them thank you, invite them to your community and offer help if they need it.

DON’T Exhibit These Behaviors on Other Blogs

#19. Don’t argue with a negative review. Your brand is not going to please everyone, all of the time. Even if the blogger is completely wrong, using your product incorrectly or simply unfair, arguing will not make the situation any better. Instead, show professionalism and courtesy. Leave a simple comment thanking the blogger for taking the time to review your product, offer your apologies that it didn’t work out for her and offer to help answer any questions she or her readers might have.

#20. Avoid being overly self-promoting. Who enjoys a conversation with someone constantly trying to sell you something? Maybe a shopoholic, but most of the blogosphere does not. If a blogger mentions they are looking for a product or service similar to yours, it’s perfectly acceptable to suggest your brand. Most other situations, it would not be appropriate. In fact, it would be considered spam.

#21. Never use abbreviated text. Keep in mind who you are representing. ‘Gr8 post, UR the best’ isn’t the least bit professional. Unless you want to be perceived as a texting teenager, stick to spelling out the full word. On that note, be sure to have your spell check on too!

Now that you know the secret to getting more blog comments, go ahead out and apply them to your blog. With time and effort, you’ll have readers not only reading your brand’s blog but also taking the time to offer feedback and engage in conversations.

3 Ways to Deliver Successful Content

3 Ways to Deliver Successful Content

3 Ways to Deliver Successful Content
Content marketing is the bridge between you and your target audience – it connects you to people you otherwise might never reach. The goal of your content is to get the audience so interested in your content that they can’t help but cross the bridge to your side. However, we all know that sometimes our content misses the mark and our audience isn’t interested for very long, or even at all! What’s keeping readers engaged? Your story is! What makes up your story? Your content!

3 Ways to Deliver Successful Content

Content marketing is often misunderstood and overlooked. For those of us in content marketing, we might be thinking, “Yes it is, and I don’t understand why!” When you’re a marketer you not only have to think like a marketer, you have to think like a reader. When marketers only think in terms of campaigns and channels, the content only lasts for a short time. If it’s not something you’d like to read, do you think your readers will want to spend time on it? If you find your content struggling to make an impact on your consumers (and maybe your boss, too), we’ve got three (yes, only three, it’s that easy) ways to help you start delivering successful content.

1. If It Doesn’t Make an Impact, Don’t Do It 

How often do you check the efforts of your content marketing? The “post and forget” mentality almost guarantees that your content marketing strategy will never grow because, “if you don’t know, you don’t grow.” Make it a continuous practice to see how well your efforts did after every campaign. Test your campaigns against each other to see which one worked and which one didn’t. Asking these three questions can make the difference between content marketing that delivers results and content marketing that fails:

  1. Why does this matter?
  2. What’s the impact this will have?
  3. How will we measure this?

Can you answer those questions about your content marketing? It’s important to know what isn’t getting used in your strategy. What is your audience overlooking? What isn’t being used? Once you know what is and isn’t working, you can focus your efforts (and precious budget) on delivering strong content.

2. If It Does Make an Impact, Don’t Be Annoying

The internet can be an overwhelming place. There are millions upon millions of conversations happening every day, and you have to make sure that your content becomes a part of at least one of those conversations. However, if you’re content isn’t relevant, exciting, or if it’s constantly seeking attention, your conversation is going to be short and probably won’t happen again. Ask yourself these three questions to make sure your content isn’t bugging your readers:

  1. Am I talking about myself (my brand, my product, etc.) too much?
  2. Am I answering my reader’s questions?
  3. Is my content the overlap between what people are looking for and what I’m posting?

The goal is to show up first in a Google search, right? You want to be the one-stop shop for your consumers. To fulfill that dream, you have to know what they’re searching for, and what they’re searching for is general information. Although it’s instinct to talk about you, don’t do it! Talk about the bigger picture and not about product-specific topics.

3. If It’s Not Annoying, Share It

By now you know what content is working for you, and you know how not to annoy your audience. Now you have to figure out where to put it to receive optimal results. If you’re wondering why your content doesn’t have eyes on it, it might be because it’s in the wrong place. Where you share your content depends on your brand and your niche. If you’re in fashion, consider focusing on Instagram and Snapchat. If you’re in a business-to-business community, utilize Twitter and Facebook. You’re not limited to one or two, but it’s important to know what channel works best with and for you. To find your network, and yourself these three questions:

  1. Where are my customers spending their time?
  2. What social media channel fits my brand?
  3. How can I branch out from the main ones?

Social media is how you distribute your content. If you have a great blog or newsletter you want more subscribers and readers on, share it! Making content worth the time of your readers is half the battle. Sharing the content in the appropriate channel is the other half of the battle. Successful and deliverable content partly relies on where it’s shared. Do your research and your homework and apply what you know.

Add It All Up

Content marketers have to prove that their content is making an impact. You get out of content what you put into it – it’s a continual investment that will provide incredible results as long as you’re attentive to it. You truly can do more with less if you’re cleaning up what doesn’t fit, you’re a part of the conversation, and you’re sharing what you have to say. Remember to follow your content from beginning to end and ask yourself clarifying questions along the way.

How do you tell a story with your content? What are some of the ways you make sure you deliver successful content? Share your strategy!