• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on January 22, 2015

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • Content marketing is all about creating quality content that builds authority and provides value to potential and existing customers. Content must be on-brand and should of course represent your business well. With this in mind then, I find it utterly baffling that even now, business owners continue to outsource content creation to the lowest bidder, ending up with low quality content that reflect poorly on them.

    Content marketing is all about creating quality content that builds authority and provides value to potential and existing customers. Content must be on-brand and should of course represent your business well. With this in mind then, I find it utterly baffling that even now, business owners continue to outsource content creation to the lowest bidder, ending up with low quality content that reflect poorly on them.

    Would you let a toddler design your business cards or your shop sign? Of course not, so why show a compelte lack of disregard when it comes to your website copy and blog articles?

    What Happens When You Scrimp On Content?

    In my opinion bad content is even worse than no content. If you don't have something interesting or valuable to say, don't bother saying it. You're not just wasting your time, but by allowing rubbish to be published in your name, you are actively damaging your businesses reputation making it less, rather than more likely that you will attract new customers.

    If you are currently outsourcing content, don't ever just leave an agency or freelancer to it. Insist on proofing every article, have an approval process, or at the very least, make sure you are regularly reading what is being published for you.

    Let's look at a recent example. It's shocking because it is so recent, dated January 2015. With such high levels of general awareness regarding content marketing, and with SEO being all about quality content, there are no excuses.

    The odd typo or misuse of grammar is forgivable, and I am the first to admit that i'm far from perfect, but when content is written by someone who doesn't understand English, you end up with something like the snippet below.

    Bad content example

    The heading immediately struck me as strange, as the picture used in the article depicted a couple moving, yet the language used ('transfer') was odd. It is clear that this article was not written by someone whose first language is English, but just look at the authors name “Mark Smith”. It is pretty obvious that the writer is trying to make out that he is English – alarm bells ringing yet?

    If you take a moment to read through any of the above, you'll see that it is factually incorrect (it's called 'moving' not 'transferring') and in many parts, it's just complete gibberish.

    Quality Content Isn't Quick or Cheap To Produce

    A well researched, well written 800 word blog article can take anything up to 3 or 4 hours to write. Add another hour for image sourcing, the creation of a custom graphic and editing the article. Add to that another half an hour to put the article live and then promote it across your various social networks.

    A strong blog article, designed to increase your authority in the eyes of search engines and to instil trust into potential customers (if your content doesn't achieve either of those things, what's the purpose of it?), can easily take half a day to produce; and like it or not, that's time you should be prepared to pay for.

    Never sacrifice the quality of your content for quantity. A single well written article published each month, will be more beneficial to you than any number of cheaply produced bad ones.

    How To Avoid Low Quality Content

    • Always look at past articles or website content written by the agency or freelancer you intend to use before making your decision
    • Have final authorisation over new content that is published on your website, blog or on your behalf on third party websites
    • Google is increasingly able to spot low quality, spammy content and your website or blog will drop down the search results if your content is consistently bad, or even dropped from search results all together
    • Regularly check the content that is being produced, to ensure that quality and relevance remains high
    • Outsourcing for the lowest cost possible will likely result in poor quality content that provides no benefit
    • Outsourcing work to an agency in another country is fine, as long as the writer who will be creating your content is fluent, and writes well in English
    • Never allow content to be published for the sake of it. Every article should serve a purpose and meet a clear objective
    On Monday night the Indianapolis Star's Tom LoBianco broke the news that Indiana Governor Mike Pence would soon launch a “state-run news outlet” to compete against local media outlets called Just IN.

    On Monday night the Indianapolis Star's Tom LoBianco broke the news that Indiana Governor Mike Pence would soon launch a “state-run news outlet” to compete against local media outlets called Just IN.

    LoBianco reported that, "The Pence news outlet will take stories written by state communications directors and publish them on its website. Stories will 'range from straightforward news to lighter features, including personality profiles.'"

    Apparently journalists all over the map - in particular at the Star, across Indiana, as well as nationally - are aghast. The Star's investigative reporter, John Russell, on Monday night Tweeted that, “Every professional journalist in Indiana should join me in denouncing Gov. Pence’s state-run ‘news service,” Indianapolis Star investigative reporter John Russell tweeted Monday night. 

    Opinion editor Tim Swarens of the Star then took it to Def Con Stupid levels, writing in an op-ed piece, "The very concept — that the state government would provide "news stories" to local media — is so absurd, so out of bounds, that someone inside your inner circle should have spoken up vehemently in opposition to the plan."

    Even on Wednesday morning, during witty repartee between Charlie Rose, Nora O'Donnell and Gayle King on CBS's "This Morning" show, Gov. Pence's gambit was compared to communist China's state-run news agency. 

    And what did Pence do in the wake of heavy-handed media criticsm? He lost his spine, retreating that Just IN would now be "just a clearinghouse" for news releases

    I'm not sure what is a greater shame in this debacle: Watching the transparent fear of an elected official, or seeing yet another nail in the death of traditional journalism being driven by the media themselves. Don't get me wrong. It's not because media organizations are ill-equipped to develop and deliver content the public wishes to consume. It's because media doesn't understand the sheer nature of media itself in today's world. 

    For many years, as consumer media consumption habits have changed I have preached to oranizations large-and-small that they must think of themselves as media outlets and content producers. Indeed, audiences are continually looking for fresh, unique content that stands out from the traditional take on today's news cycle. And whether it's delivered by CBS, the Star, High Times Magazine, or Oreo Cookies -- the public is consuming.  

    Take Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser, which, among other things, was an ambitious branded content trailblazer through the now defunct online portal BudTV. 

    "When Janet Jackson had her 'wardrobe malfuction,' we somehow got blamed because our brands were known for humorous and engaging advertising." said Tim Murphy, a former senior brand executive at Anheuser-Busch. "At the same time, technology was beginning to drive brand behaviors. We didn't like that and felt we could take ownership of our content through innovation. So while we toned things down in traditional channels, at the same time we created our own 'water cooler community' and took full ownership of our content and the channels they were delivered in." 

    The first example of A-B's foray through BudTV was the Emmy Award-winning "Swear Jar" ad which became an overnight sensation. And while BudTV ultimately failed, it only did so only because the portal was far ahead of its time and, at the time, audiences were not yet ready to consume much of the longer form video BudTV featured. 

    Since then, of course, many brands and organizations have followed in BudTV's footsteps, ranging from RedBull (the arguably most successul) to not-for-profits to hundreds upon hundreds of others. 

    Most parallel to what we thought might come from Just IN -- at least before Gov. Pence lost his spine -- might be an effort in which I have been deeply involved over the past year -- the Accelerate St. Louis program. It is a collaboration by the St. Louis Regional Chamber and St. Louis Parntership for Economic Development to create a living, breathing content portal and information engine that both connects and elevates the visibility of the startups and entrepreneurism ecosystem in and around metro-St. Louis. 

    More than anything, AccelerateSTL produces, sources and aggregates both original and third-party content and pushes it out to watchful audiences about startups in greater St. Louis from a variety of issue experts ranging from startup CEOs and founders to accelerator heads to innovation park developers to venture capitalists to entrepreneurial mentors and the list goes on.

    At least in the wake of the media's angst and Gov. Pence's weak knees, Just IN will only feature content written by the state's public information staff -- repurposed news releases that no one will read. 

    But had Just IN stayed the course as a news and content producer, the silliness of traditional media outlets to comparing it to communist states and suggesting Gov. Pence had prodigously breached some line in the sand on the media's beach is ridiculous. It's demonstrative of an out-of-touch industry that continues to struggle to understand today's consumer as well as grasping the reality of who their new competition is - consumer brands and a variety of organizations far and wide.

    This infographic highlights the three major enterprise use cases for social media along with products that support them.

    According to a new report published this morning, Customer Care, Social Intelligence and Marketing are the three primary social media software use cases for companies with more than 500 employees.

    The research is based on the analysis of 400+ in-depth reviews across 23 social media management products and thousands of insights from real software users reviews on TrustRadius, the leading peer review site for business software.

    Below is an infographic that summarizes which enterprise social media platform each use case. The report also lists the tool functionalities that are required for each use case and and feature in-depth case studies of Comcast, British Telecommunications and Groupon.

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    I like LinkedIn messaging. It’s a great networking tool and every bit as powerful as face-to-face networking opportunities both in group and one on one meetings. LinkedIn offers the ability to showcase one’s expertise, create authority and build great business and personal relationships.

    I like LinkedIn messaging. It’s a great networking tool and every bit as powerful as face to face networking opportunities both in group and one on one meetings. LinkedIn offers the ability to showcase one’s expertise, create authority and build great business and personal relationships.

    Sadly, I've seen a shift over the past few years to more sales pitches in the form of status updates and messages, connections being made for that sole purpose and more bulk messages. While bulk messages in themselves aren't always a negative, when you’re looking to strengthen the relationships you have already established, lumping me in with 20+ other ‘Robert’s in your contacts is certainly not a positive way to connect with me.

    LinkedIn Messaging Etiquette

    I received a LinkedIn message from an individual connection recently. It was a Season’s Greetings eCard with a clickable link.  From a professional perspective, LinkedIn is about connecting and building relationships. I think sending a Christmas message, and any personal message for that matter, is a great idea. Connecting personally develops stronger professional relationships.  What bothers me in this case – not only wasn't the post personalized, but it was sent, as I reference above, to more than 35 contacts and clearly from a block of the sender’s contacts as the majority of the names where ‘Robert’ or alphabetically close.

    Regardless if the intent of the message, it came across as merely an attempt to keep the sender’s name top of mind. Personally, I see this as spam. Since every relationship I have on LinkedIn is considered before simply accepting, I’m hesitant to just remove someone from my list so I sent a simple message:

    While I appreciate the card, I find being included on bulk messages like this to be spam. 

    I would prefer to be left off such messages and those other than of a personal nature.

    Thank you.

    Robert

    I expected a short apology and in the end, no true harm done and as they say, no foul. What I received back, however, surprised me:

    This is LinkedIn!! I prefer to only do or discuss business matters that are not of personal nature on the Professional Business Entrepreneur LinkedIn website. 

    Just simply wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays hope the rest of the season warms you up from being so suspicious and you actually enjoy yourself!!

    Not only did I not receive an apology, I ended up being accused of being suspicious and not enjoying myself or the holidays. What struck a chord with me more – this individual prefers not to use LinkedIn for business matters (cannot say I really understand that one since LinkedIn is a professional oriented networking site) and the sender wasn't actually wishing ME anything. It was a wish to a collective. At least make it personal to me so I know you care about me as a connection.

    I normally would have let it drop at this point but as a social media and marketing consultant I felt it was a good teaching opportunity.  I sent this……

    It's not about being suspicious.  Your initial message was not personalized (something I teach being critical for developing relationships) and that message was only a link to an ecard. 

    I have used LinkedIn messaging successfully to grow my businesses and consult with others to do the same. I regularly send greetings and other personal messages as well as those for business but I do so with each tailored to the recipient. If I include you as part of a bulk mailing it, to me it (and it should to you) shows I don't value you personally. How does one grow a relationship if nothing is personalized and the recipient is just part of a collective?

    Even the vast majority of my connection requests are personalized with how we know each other or why I want to connect if we do not.

    Since this is a network to build relationships, I simply asked to be left off bulk messages as I find them to be spam. I would have openly welcomed a personalized greeting sent only to me.

    Case in point, I did recently receive a similar message, replied with a thank you, spent some time on their profile and found they could be a valuable resource for a colleague whom I then referred. Why? They took the time to build that relationship with me.

    Robert


    …..to which I received no further replies.

    So how do you send that ‘message’ to all of your connections? A status update like Maria Orth’s may not be seen by everyone, but it is the right way to do it.

    The LinkedIn Messaging Protocol: So how do you send that ‘message’ to all of your #LinkedIn connections?  A status update like Maria Orth’s may not be seen by everyone, but it is the right way to do it.

    The Take Away:

    Regardless of the social site you use and regardless of whether the nature of your message is personal or professional – the end goal is to develop and grow relationships. You do that by connecting personally. Bulk messages have value when used correctly. Just make sure you are using them correctly.

    I’d love your thoughts on how LinkedIn messaging is being used or how you use it. 

    Make them laugh, cry or smile. It’s very difficult to get people to share the content you post on Facebook without making some kind of an emotional impact on them. No one really feels the need to share boring content. Would you?

    We all know how important social media is to our overall digital marketing efforts. Not only can it help your brand reach more and more people online through effective social media campaigns, but it can also improve your rankings through search. Here are 5 ways you can get people to share your content on Facebook.

    Ask for it.

    Yep, it may sound simple enough, but placing a call-to-action at the bottom of your Facebook post can encourage more people to share your stuff. Numerous studies, including this one, have demonstrated that specifically asking readers to share your content on Facebook dramatically increases the likelihood of further social sharing. These findings are consistent with the general marketing principle that if you want people to take a specific action, you need to specifically ask for it. (The same study found that the same holds true on other social channels, including Twitter, and that blogs that contained a call-to-action received more comments, views and links than those that did not.)

    Make them laugh, cry or smile.

    It’s very difficult to get people to share the content you post on Facebook without making some kind of an emotional impact on them. No one really feels the need to share boring content. Would you? However, create a post that makes your readers laugh, smile or even cry, and your content is much more likely to go viral on many a Facebook newsfeed. It’s a well known technique to inspire more engagement with online content, repeatedly put forward by many of the top social media monitoring companies such as iSentia.

    Go visual.

    Whenever possible, always include an image to go along with your Facebook post. The average user online prefers to consume visual content instead of reading lines and lines of text – especially when it comes to Facebook. In fact, using an image or infographic in your post can increase user engagement by as much as 53%, resulting in more likes, comments, and inevitably, shares.

    Create a connection.

    In an age of seemingly diminishing face-to-face contact and interaction, creating a connection with your customers in any way possible – including via Facebook – is extremely important. One of the best ways to foster a connection with users online is to showcase your company’s charitable efforts. A recent New York Times study found that 84% of people share content they come across online that allows them to be supportive of specific charities and causes. For example, creating a post that brings awareness to the fight against heart disease can help create a personal connection with Facebook users who may then share your post to build further awareness. Not only will this allow users to show their support for the cause, but it will also promote the company to more and more people online.

    Provide an incentive.

    Finally, if you really want to get more people to share the content you post on Facebook, then provide some kind of an incentive, such as a discount, special offer or gift certificate. Everyone loves a freebie, or at least a discount. Try and tie in a special offer for your Facebook audience and hopefully you’ll inspire them to share your content – if only for their own self benefit!

    So there you have it. Try and incorporate at least one of the above the next time you’re crafting your Facebook posts, and hopefully you’ll increase your audience online and ultimately take your business to the next level.