Digital Sharecropping

Why You Should Avoid Digital Sharecropping

 

Digital Sharecropping

Using social media is now a fact of life, but there’s one key mistake business owners have to avoid. If you have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or whatever social media is best for your business, that’s fantastic, but you must avoid the perils of digital sharecropping. What is it? It’s where you put your eggs in a social media basket and have no web presence of your own.

A lot of small business owners who are starting out ask whether, instead of a website, they can set up a Facebook page. I always tell them no. The thing is, you may spend hours creating the perfect Facebook profile, tricking out your timeline, and making sure that it reflects your branding and personality, but it doesn’t actually belong to you.

No-one ever reads the fine print, but take it from me – any time Facebook, Twitter or any social media site thinks you have contravened their terms of service, they can shut you down. And they do – and that’s definitely not good for your brand.

Getting Banned on Social Media

It’s also worth knowing that you don’t have to do anything to be shut down; they just have to think you have. Here are a couple of examples.

A few months ago, I tried to log into my own Twitter account to find that it had been limited because they thought the account had exhibited spamming behavior. That meant I could read my Twitter stream but couldn’t interact with it – no tweets, retweets, mentions or DMs.

I checked to see if someone had hacked the account (they hadn’t) or if I had sent any unexplained tweets or DMs (I hadn’t). I thought maybe the cause was one of my IFTTT sharing recipes, so I switched them off for a while.

I contacted Twitter and asked them to look at it again. When they did, they said that on reflection my account was OK and had just got caught up in one of their spam sweeps. No real harm done, in my case, as it was sorted out in just over a day. But if you were providing customer service on Twitter, then a one-day lockout could be a disaster.

This happens on Facebook too, and the shut down targets aren’t always because of questionable content. This Arizona couple got banned because Facebook took exception to their last name – Avatar.

Most social media sites ban first and ask questions later, leaving you to prove you’re not violating their TOS. And that’s the danger of digital sharecropping. If you’re building a presence on someone else’s virtual patch, then if you’re banned or shut down, even if it’s not your fault, you lose everything you have been working for. As Copyblogger points out, landlords are fickle.

A Better Social Media Strategy

So what’s the answer? The answer is to see social media for what it is: a necessary tool in your overall marketing strategy but not the place where you expend most of your energy. As we’ve said before, Facebook is not your website.

Instead, spend some time putting your own content on your own site. Sure, things happen to websites too, but if you’re all paid up with your domain name and hosting, then generally your piece of cyberspace belongs to you. And that’s a better foundation for your online business presence.

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brand voice

Finding Your Brand Voice

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This is an oldie but goodie and it’s still as useful today as it was when I wrote it for Social Media Explorer. This construct is being referenced by social media smarties everywhere, including Buffer and Kevan Lee writing for Fast Company.

Are you using this in your company? Please tweet me @stephanies if you are!

Oscar winner Colin Firth could be the perfect person to ask about finding his voice – his virtuoso portrayal of a stuttering King George in The King’s Speech so cogently highlighted the frustrations of not having a clear way to communicate with a community. Some brands are equally tongue-tied, unclear about what the brand should sound like, leaving them either silent in social media or sounding haphazard and unrehearsed.

Get over your brand speech impediments by considering the following concepts, all of which play an important role in a well-rounded social media brand voice.

Character/Persona

This is the starting point for the development or furthering of your brand voice: Who does your brand sound like? In order to determine this, you may need to first determine who your customers are, so you can assume a persona for the brand that will resonate with your primary target audience. If you have multiple audiences you may need to have a more flexible brand voice, or you may determine that you need multiple social media channels to reach different audiences. Ideally you will be able to determine character attributes (see diagram) which meet the needs of the majority of your customers or users. If you’re a non-profit which raises awareness of childhood diseases, your character might be a gentle parental type. If you’re a software tools company, you might want to be a bit geeky, just right for the Star Trek crowd.

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Tone

Tone is the underlying vibe that emanates from your brand’s communications. This is where you establish your credibility; place your brand in the past, present or future; and subtly alert fans and followers whether your brand is going to be wide-open or a bit more buttoned up. Be a showoff if your character is something like a street-savvy hip hop artist, but know that humble usually goes farther in generating customer loyalty. Clinical or scientific could be good for a very specific B2B entity or professional services organization.

Language

Although your brand may be the expert in its field, coming off sounding like you’re smarter than your customers could turn people off pretty quickly. Establishing appropriate brand language will give you a foundation for the types of words, phrases and jargon to be used in social media communications. Want to sound very exclusive? Use insider language and acronyms. Want to sound hip? Stay up-to-date on the latest slang. But be careful – if you make a misstep in slang it’ll look like you’re trying too hard.

Purpose

In the end, why are you here? Your brand voice in social media can help customers understand what you want to do with and for them. Are you working to educate your user base? Do you want to delight them, and get them to visit your store or website just because they’re amused by what you’re writing? And even if you do want to sell stuff, what can you give people to help them become engaged by your brand?

Once you’ve brainstormed around these four brand voice attributes, develop a roadmap for your brand’s voice which you can share with everyone who is involved in writing for, or speaking on behalf of, your brand in social media. This roadmap can be a simple as a one-sheeter with your brand voice attributes in writing, or you can craft some examples which front-line engagers can emulate. Add buzzwords – the words which describe your brand and which you want to have used when appropriate; for example, if you’re Disney, your buzzwords are something like: kingdom, magic, magical, family, experience, fun. Then add some “dos and don’ts” guidelines for your engagers so they can get a feel for the types of language and content you expect them to create.

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Your brand voice in social media will evolve over time. It would be great to think about undertaking a brand voice development exercise before you open a new Twitter account – but if you’ve already been engaging in social media and feel like your voice needs refinement, take the time to work on it now. Make subtle changes and your fans and followers probably won’t even notice that there was a change – but if you can more closely match your voice to their needs, you may attract even more customers and develop greater engagement and loyalty than you ever have before.

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negative comments

Negative Comments About Your Brand? Make Them Work for You

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It’s never pleasant to receive negative comments and reviews. You work hard to deliver your very best products and services, and bad feedback stings. However, every business receives negative feedback from time to time. It’s how you handle it that sets you apart and keeps your customers coming back to you despite one less-than-stellar experience. And it’s how you respond that influences new customers to give you a chance, despite any negative reviews. The most important thing to remember is that social media is a public forum. Your audience (current and potential customers) will be paying attention to how you handle criticism and complaints.

So how should you respond? Here’s a list of 6 best practices for dealing with negative reviews:

1. Check Your Ego at the Door

Criticism hurts no matter how tough you are or how long you’ve been in business, but suck it up, butter cup. It’s not about you, and usually, it’s not personal. The feedback you receive is all about your customer’s experience. You can’t change what’s already happened. The good news is, you can influence what happens next.

2. Respond Promptly

There’s little worse than letting negative feedback sit and fester because you don’t want to deal with it at the moment. Treat online feedback the way you would in-person complaints. If someone were to complain to a staff member onsite, how would you expect your employee to respond? Promptly, right? Respond to negative feedback you receive online with the same attention and speed you would give a customer standing right in front of you. Also, keep in mind that others will view your lack of response as an attempt to ignore the issue. If you already have an angry customer, expect the lack of response to make matters much, much worse.

3. Acknowledge the Complaint

It’s important to genuinely acknowledge the complaint. Don’t be defensive or use sarcasm. How do you want others to perceive your brand? You want to appear not only competent, but also interested in your customers. You want to demonstrate with every response that you care about customer experience. Don’t brush the problem off, make excuses, or attempt to minimize the customer’s complaint. Tell the customer you appreciate and value his feedback. Remember, it’s not necessarily what the complaint is about—it’s how you handle it that can make the biggest difference.

4. Follow Up

If the negative feedback was the result of a genuine problem with your products or services, take steps to fix the issue promptly. Then, invite your customer to try your product or service again, giving her incentive to do so. For example, you might offer a free meal or provide a discount on a future purchase.

5. Respond Publicly and Privately

In addition to responding to your customer’s comments publically, contact him privately to address his concerns. Let him know you are genuinely sorry and want to make the issue right. Handling the issue in private demonstrates that you are truly committed to customer satisfaction and provides a personal touch customers appreciate.

6. Ask Your Customer to Remove the Negative Feedback

Once you are sure you have resolved the issues to your customer’s 100-percent satisfaction, ask her to remove the negative feedback or update it with her positive reaction to your attempts to fix the problem. Your customer may not fully understand how important positive feedback is to your business, but if asked, she may be willing to report how prompt and caring you were in resolving the issue.

Getting negative feedback isn’t the end of the world, especially if you handle it well. Use the above best practices to handle social media complaints the right way.

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How User-Generated Content Can Tell Your Brand Story

How User-Generated Content Can Tell Your Brand Story

How User-Generated Content Can Tell Your Brand Story

Your brand story is so much more than a collection of facts about your business. It’s even much more than how you feel about your company and what makes it tick. It’s a unique, complex combination of the facts about your brand blended with the emotions your brand stimulates in its customers. Essentially, it’s a human-to-human representation of your business.

As a business owner, you work to create a compelling brand story that speaks to the heart and soul of your business—your customers. And what better way to create a compelling story than by having your customers tell it for you? Think about it. Brand evangelists can be a marketer’s best friend. You spend time liking their photos and positive comments about your brand or product, but you could use their content for so much more.

Share UGR Content

When your customers post photos or videos of themselves using your products or services, don’t just like their content. Share it far and wide. These are the people that are living the lifestyle your brand represents, and they are the perfect people to tell your brand story visually.

People love the opportunity to genuinely engage with a brand. What’s more flattering than having your favorite brand re-share your photo or comment to its community? This can often lead to inspiring more people to post their own pictures, and you might be surprised at how good they are.

Burberry did this well with its Art of Trench website, but you can do this with just about any business. It can be as simple as sharing user-generated content across your social media sites or as focused as building a website designed just for this type of sharing.

Don’t forget to share positive comments, too. If your customers are tweeting praises about your brand, a thank you and a re-tweet can go a long way.

Create UGR Contests

When done well, contests are a great way to get customers and prospects engaged and keep your brand on their minds. Create a contest with an amazing prize and make the entry user-generated content. For example, you might have them submit videos or photo collages that demonstrate how they use your products and what your products mean to them. You can share the submissions via social media and even incorporate them into your marketing campaigns.

Chobani, the Greek yogurt brand, managed to increase its revenues by more than 200 percent by running a contest that asked customers to tell their personal stories about eating the brand’s yogurt.

Build Emotional Connections With Personal Stories

Remember, it’s not only about videos and photos (though visuals are always helpful online). Your target audience can be won over by your customer’s personal stories. Personal stories help create a shared experience, stimulate customers to get involved and interact, and help create an emotional connection to your brand.

Don’t Forget the Reviews

Good feedback naturally helps sell your product. Many people who shop online read reviews before they click to buy. However, that’s not the only way reviews can help you. Take the time to read them and use them as constructive feedback. Take what you identify as most important to your customers (from their reviews) and use it in your next marketing campaign.

How important are reviews? Consider this: In a survey by Dimensional Research, almost 90 percent of those polled said online reviews influenced their purchasing choices.

Let Your Customers Do the Selling

How better to sell your product than with words, photos, or other creatives directly from your customers? Adding user-generated content to your product pages is an excellent way to give your customers and prospects a break from the norm and showcase what people who are actually buying from you think of what you have to offer.

It makes sense to let your customers tell your brand story. It’s the most genuine and authentic story that could be told. Put user-generated content to work for you.

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Exploring Mobile and Social Analytics

Exploring Mobile and Social Analytics

Exploring Mobile and Social Analytics

In my last post I explained some of the insights analytics offers to help you improve your marketing campaigns. This time round, I’d like to look at two aspects of analytics in more detail: social and mobile analytics. Over the last couple of years, Google has enhanced these features significantly, so it’s worth seeing what you can learn. The reason this is important is because the more you know about how your customers are using mobile and social, the better you can target your marketing.

Mobile Analytics

If you live in North America, two out of every three people you know probably have a smartphone or tablet. We Are Social says mobile device penetration has reached 63% in this region. Worldwide, that figure drops to 50%. How is that reflected in your web analytics?

Go to Google Analytics – Audience – Mobile to see some interesting statistics. Analytics data now segments your audience so you can see who’s browsing from a desktop, a tablet or a smartphone. You can see bounce rate, average session duration and conversions (if you have set goals) for each type of device. When I checked my own site about a year ago, only a small percentage of web visitors were using mobile devices; at the time of writing, the figure had risen to 20%.

If you click on Devices, you can also see which devices people are using. Not only does that help with mobile web optimization efforts, but it can guide you if you are thinking of integrating a mobile app into your strategy. Google Analytics lets you set secondary dimensions (in other words, other metrics) so you can fine tune your analysis. That means you can see, for example, which pages people with iPads landed on or cross-reference referral path with device. You can use this information to understand your customers and segment your marketing even further.

Beyond the mobile report itself, you can add mobile traffic as a secondary dimension to many of the other pieces of data, for example to find out which browsers mobile device owners use to access your site.

Social Media Analytics

To find social media analytics, go to Google Analytics – Acquisition – Social.

From a marketing viewpoint, it’s important to know that if you have goals set up, you can see how social sites contribute to conversions and revenue. This report is on the social media overview page. You can also check which social sites are sending traffic your way (there might be a few surprises), including activity from Google’s Data Hub partners.

Also included here is data on landing pages resulting from social media referrals, trackbacks, plugins and conversions. It’s also useful to see how people navigate your site after arriving from a social site – it can be another indication of whether your search engine optimization and social media marketing efforts are paying off.

While the mobile and social media reports in Google Analytics aren’t the only reports you need, they provide a good starting point for other analyses. When running your campaigns, it’s useful to augment these with the other analytics tools which are geared to measuring marketing effectiveness and not just traffic.

social-media-training-cta

How to Improve the Success of Your Marketing Campaigns with Analytics

How to Improve the Success of Your Marketing Campaigns with Analytics

How to Improve the Success of Your Marketing Campaigns with Analytics

It’s only a small snippet of code, but it’s the difference between knowing whether your marketing is working or failing miserably. I’m talking about analytics software, which packs a powerful punch in terms of helping you to understand your website, social media profiles and customers and letting you know whether you’re succeeding in getting attention for your brand and making your business better known.

There are dozens of analytics tools around, but one of the best known is Google Analytics. So what can you learn with Google Analytics, and how will this affect your marketing?

1. Use Analytics for Audience Targeting

You get more from your marketing when you understand who your audience is. Analytics can help with that. Google Analytics can tell you:

  • who’s visiting your site and what country, state (and sometimes city) they come from.
  • what languages people speak.
  • key demographics such as gender and age (you will have to enable this).

This information will help you see whether you are attracting the right audience.

2. Analyze Traffic and SEO

Google Analytics has a “traffic sources” report which is another good way to track marketing effectiveness. For best results, take a snapshot of the key metrics for your site at the start of a marketing campaign, so you can see how different initiatives affect visitor numbers.

The traffic sources report lets you see:

  • how many people are coming directly to your site as their initial destination
  • whether people are sending traffic your way (which probably indicates that they see you as an authority)
  • whether SEO efforts are paying off in terms of search engine positioning
  • how any paid marketing campaigns are doing

You can even figure out what people are looking for on your site so that if you’re not providing it you can improve your content.

3. Track Social Media Effectiveness

Google Analytics now tracks more social media data than ever before. That makes it a great tool for helping to check the effectiveness of social marketing campaigns. You can find out:

  • which pages are most popular on social media
  • which sites are linking to you most
  • which sites are sharing your content.

It’s a good way to find out whether your customers are using social sites where you don’t have a presence. And when you use other tools to dig deeper you may find new advocates for your business that you can work with in different ways.

4. Tweak Content

Google Analytics lets you see which content titles and URLs attract the most visitors, as well as popular entrance and exit pages. That lets you know whether you need to amp up your headlines. Visitor flow shows you where you are losing people after they get to your site and that may suggest new content areas. You can also check for other issues that affect the effectiveness of your site, such as slow page load times which can drive visitors away.

5. Set Up Goals and Campaigns

If you’re marketing your business, you probably have a few goals in mind. You can set up goals and campaigns in Google Analytics, so you can see how many people are visiting your store and making a purchase, downloading a free resource or signing up for your email list. This will give you a handle on marketing conversions and see how marketing is helping your bottom line.

These are just a few of the ways in which you can use Google Analytics to improve your marketing. Look out for more tips in a future post.

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Will Your Customers Be Wearing Your Website?

mobilemarket

The Mobile Market Shift – Are You Ready?

Will your customers be wearing your website soon? The chances are that they will be. If you pay attention to technology news, you know that wearable computing (it’s exactly what it sounds like: computing devices that you wear) is set to make the mobile market even more mobile.

The most common devices are smart watches. These started by allowing you to manage smartphone functions from a device worn on the wrist. But some of the latest ones fly solo, so you don’t need a smartphone to use them. (Check out the Samsung Gear S for an example.) That’s the revolutionary part, and it’s why if you’re not ready for mobile market changes, it’s time to think seriously about what that means for your website and marketing. Google Glass may be wearable, but something that’s just like the watch you wear already, but better, is likely to be more popular.

All the major tech developers are investing heavily in wearables. Google has even launched Android Wear, an operating system specifically for wearables. With application developers busily updating all their apps to work with Android Wear, it’s another reason to bet on mobile.

The mobile market is already huge, but there’s still room for growth. According to We Are Social, mobile penetration is already at 63% in North America and 50% worldwide. In many emerging markets, mobile devices are the primary devices used, so if your business targets those markets, a mobile marketing strategy is a must.

Here in the US, mobile devices are the devices of choice for millennials. According to eMarketer 77% of millennials watch video on tablet computers while a whopping 90% watch video on their smartphones. Social media is part of the mobile revolution too, with mobile device users twice as likely to share content from those devices as from desktops. (Source: ShareThis)

So what does all this mean for your web and marketing strategy? You already know the impact of a good user experience (UX) on marketing success. Some mobile users wait less than a second before leaving a website that’s not working for them. Good mobile UX, says Google, can help turn people who visit your site and read your marketing material into customers.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to fine tune your marketing strategy to take account of mobile device users. You need a website that loads quickly, with messaging that’s on point. You need to ensure that people don’t have to spend a lot of time swiping and can act quickly on your call-to-action. A screen the size of a watch face doesn’t leave much room for error.

One day, there may be even more devices providing information to help you target your marketing. At this year’s soccer World Cup, several players wore boots with chips that provided stats on running distance and more. That’s the tip of the iceberg. In the future, your customers will expect to have the same seamless experience on small computing devices as they do on smartphones, tablets and desktops. If you haven’t thought about how to adapt your web and marketing strategy, it’s time to start now.

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google algorithm

Google Algorithm Updates: Should You Be Worried?

google algorithm

The Mopocalypse is here. What does that mean for your marketing strategy? Let’s take a look at Google’s mobile-friendly update and other algorithm changes and see what you need to do next.

The Mobile-Friendly Update

Google’s been trying to get us to be more mobile-friendly for a couple of years. In the past, the search giant has advised website owners to use responsive design and to have super-fast page loads, ideally under a second.

But with more people searching on mobile devices than desktop computers, now Google has implemented the mobile-friendly update. It says mobile users should now “get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” This update affects mobile search for all languages worldwide, making mobile-friendliness an important ranking factor.

Google points out that this update is for individual pages. That suggests that if you can’t make your whole site mobile-friendly right away, focusing on your most important and highest-converting pages is a great starting point. Before you can do that, you’ll need to test those pages for mobile friendliness.

How to Test Your Site

Google’s provided a mobile-friendly testing tool to help you do that. Type in your URL and you will soon get a result. If the page fails, then there are recommendations for how to fix the page before you re-test.

If you want to get an idea of how mobile-friendly your whole site is, then the Page Speed Insights tool, which is also linked within Google Webmaster Tools, will help you identify site-level issues. Note that the tools don’t always return identical results. That’s perhaps because the mobile testing tool operates on a pass/fail mechanism, while Page Speed Insights uses traffic light grading for different issues.

Other Google Algorithm Updates

This is not the only Google update to affect your SEO strategy, but it’s important because higher search ranking results in more clicks and leads. If people are searching on mobile and your pages don’t show up, your online lead generation could take a hit.

Other updates you should have paid attention to include:

  • Pigeon, which tried to ensure that companies provided useful local search information.
  • Penguin, to eliminate spammy search results
  • Panda, which targeted sites with poor content

Google is constantly updating these, so you can’t afford to ignore them.

What This Means for Your Marketing Strategy

So what do all these Google updates tell us about your marketing strategy from now on? Here are some thoughts:

  • Make sure your site is mobile-friendly ASAP. Google has an excellent guide which includes help for optimizing WordPress site, mobile SEO and common errors to avoid.
  • As part of this, ensure that your site loads fast and that it’s easy for visitors to find mobile-specific content (no 404s where there should be pages).
  • Check your analytics to identify the best pages to optimize first.
  • Create fresh, well referenced and relevant content that links to and pulls in links from high-quality sites.

An important part of your content marketing is to include the kind of content that mobile devices users consume (video is hot) and make it easy to share that content on social media.

Create your content for users first, make sure it’s mobile accessible and continue to check your web pages and you won’t need to worry about Google algorithm updates.

If you want to stay in the loop about changes that affect your marketing strategy, grab the free Crackerjack Marketing newsletter.

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blog editorial calendar

May the Force Be With You: Your Blog Editorial Calendar

blog editorial calendar

You are the social media Jedi, and your editorial calendar is The Force. Use The Force, my young Padawan. Use it well.

Making your blog or social media into an effective marketing tool is a challenge, and so many people get lost along the way. It’s harder than it sounds to not only post regularly but also post content that attracts the right type of traffic and keeps it coming back for more. Even harder is getting your audience to engage by commenting on your content and sharing it. When the going gets rough, though, you’re not at the mercy of fate. Here are three ways your blog or social media editorial calendar can make your job easier.

Mission #1

Post regular content. Regular content helps draw in traffic from the search engines and also gives your audience a reason to come back to your blog. They get used to reading your scintillating content on certain days and come back expecting more of the same. If your posting isn’t consistent, you will have a much harder time building a loyal audience.

The Force

Your blog editorial calendar will help you stay the course. You’ll have it right there in black and white—what you are supposed to post next and when. This makes it much harder to procrastinate and fall into the posting every now and then category.

Top Tip

When you create your blog editorial calendar, make columns to help you stay organized, including those for the month and the day you will publish; the topics, categories, and keywords you will cover; the images you will add; and any notes that may help you with your post.

Mission #2

Create content of value for your audience. You could blab all day about the way your sofa swallows your remote control and the deals you got at the grocery store, but that’s only going to interest some audiences. You need to plan the right content for your unique audience.

The Force

Create a blog editorial calendar with various topic categories of interest to your audience (after you’ve done your research, of course). Then fill in post topics for each category. Use the calendar to ensure that you don’t focus too much on one topic or category and ignore the world of others you could cover.

Top Tip

So you get stuck for topic ideas? No worries. The rest of us are rowing along in the same boat with you. It’s always a good idea to spend time where your audience does and create content based on what they are discussing or asking. Don’t forget that you can, and probably should, turn those great questions and comments you receive via social media into blog posts as well.

Mission #3

Create content that marches in step with your other marketing efforts. Maybe you have a big promo coming up, an event, or a new product line coming out. Maybe you’re opening a new location or bringing some new, exciting talent on board. Shouldn’t your blog content reflect what you have going on in the present or coming up in the future? If it doesn’t, you’re missing out on an important chance to spread the word.

The Force

Use your editorial calendar to strategize around the release of blog content that works hand-in-hand with your other marketing efforts. Of course, many of your posts will be unrelated to your specific business activities, but when you have news, you want to share it. And when you aren’t posting specifically about your company’s going-ons, you may do well to share content that is somehow related. For example, if you are selling computers, posts about malware and anti-virus protection might fit the bill.

Top Tip

Guess what? If you’re cultivating an audience on social media, you need an editorial calendar for that as well. It’s a separate entity from your blog, and you’ll have different goals and rules of engagement. Here’s what you need to know about creating an editorial calendar for Facebook.

Become a social media Jedi, and tell us about how you’re using an editorial calendar to wrangle your content. We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

6 Ways to Help Your Marketing Agency Do a Better Job

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Are you planning to hire a digital marketing agency this year? Here’s what I’ve learned from working on thousands of projects that can help set you up for success.

1. Talk Amongst Yourselves

One of the first things to do is to brainstorm internally about what you want from your marketing agency. You’ll be looking at areas like:

  • in-house capabilities
  • strategic goals – this is important!
  • whether you have buy-in from the right people (you don’t want your strategy to fail later because you didn’t get all the necessary approvals)

Think about who will take responsibility for managing your relationship with the agency. It helps to have a main point of contact and someone with the final say, in case of issues later.

If your business is multi-faceted, divvy up the areas of responsibility before you talk to the agency. That will avoid wasting time when the agency sends you content for approval.

The bottom line: sort out internal issues and minor turf wars in advance so you present a united and coherent front right from the start. That’s less confusing for everyone and will result in a smoother working relationship

2. Prepare a Brief

Share your thoughts on strategy with the agency, making it clear which points are hard-wired and which are available for their input. This will help the agency to come up with a digital marketing strategy tailored to your business. Expect some back and forth before you nail down the strategy.

3. Foster Collaboration

Marketing is a collaborative effort. You know your business and some of the ideas you want to communicate; the agency knows marketing and can help flesh out your thoughts. Help the agency by providing background information and context so they can do a better job when creating content for you.

Don’t make the agency beg for new info; keep them in the loop! Let internal content producers know it’s ok to share information which the agency can drip feed to your social media profiles and blog. Work together and you can create a great online profile for your business and enhance its authority.

4. Communicate Often

Especially at the start, spend some time working with the agency so you can identify any issues. Respond to emails promptly because in this time-pressured social environment, delays can make content less relevant and downright boring. It’s worth setting up regular phone or video meetings or face to face chats to keep the strategy on track.

5. Trust the Agency

I get it: your company is your baby and sometimes it’s hard to let go. But when the agency communicates issues, listen and act. The best digital marketers are experts at what they do, have worked with dozens or hundreds of businesses, and are always willing to put that expertise to work for you.

Think of your digital marketing agency as a trusted nanny who will look after your business as if it were their own. After all, a good recommendation from you means more business for them.

6. Be Realistic

Keep your expectations manageable. No agency in the world can guarantee a top three Google ranking in a couple of months, or thousands of followers for your social accounts overnight. What they can guarantee, especially if you use their expertise, is more attention for and awareness of your company. More attention means more leads – you’ll have to take it from there to convert those leads into sales.

Put these tips into action and you can have a beautiful working relationship with your digital marketing agency, executing a strategy to put your company on the map.

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