• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • alexmoffit
    Alex Moffit on September 4, 2014

    John Doerr on OKRs and Goal Setting at Google and Intel [VIDEO]

    “Ideas are precious, but they’re relatively easy. It’s execution that’s everything,” says John Doerr, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and the man who introduced Objective & Key Results (OKRs) to Google. Google widely credits OKRs for helping the company grow from 40 to 40,000 employees. Other businesses including LinkedIn and Twitter have also embraced OKRs.
  • Greg Gerik
    Greg Gerik on September 16, 2014

    Shaking Up Social: Attending the Social Shake-Up in Atlanta

    Last year, the Social Shake-Up was one of the best social conferences to attend and this year promises to be even better. Here are a few of the hottest topics and sessions at the Shake-Up this year that are sure to deliver and drive this industry forward.
  • ddarnbrough
    Drew Darnbrough on September 19, 2014

    The Power of Hindsight: Using Historical Twitter Data to Make Better Decisions

    WEBINAR: Tuesday, September 23rd, 11:30am EDT How many times have you looked back and thought, “If only I’d known x”? We’ve all experienced the power of hindsight, and luckily now businesses can harness that power by analyzing historical social data.
  • In this video, hear what people are saying about The Social Shake-Up this year.

    The Social Shake-Up started off with a bang at the W-Midtown Atlanta, where leaders of big-picture social and technology have gathered to speak about the rapidly changing way we work. Attendees, from high-level executives to freelance practitioners, rub elbows and learn from panelists on the front lines of social business. In this video, see some of the conversations we've been having about new ways to connect with customers, employees, managers and leaders.

     

    This year’s Social Shake-Up conference in Atlanta is bringing together an impressive breadth of brands, industries and marketing professionals from around the globe. From the world’s most recognizable brands like—Coke, IBM, Facebook, Walmart, UPS, to name just a few—to leading universities like Emory and the University of Rochester, to the world’s top public health research organizations.

    “Different roads sometimes lead to the same castle.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

    This year’s Social Shake-Up conference in Atlanta is bringing together an impressive breadth of brands, industries and marketing professionals from around the globe. From the world’s most recognizable brands like—Coke, IBM, Facebook, Walmart, UPS, to name just a few—to leading universities like Emory and the University of Rochester, to the world’s top public health research organization—the Center for Disease Control—the conference has brought the best and the brightest to converse and brainstorm about the impact and the future of social marketing. 

    Here’s a profile of the 600+ attendees, starting with attendees by industry.

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    And although the Fortune 500 is well represented, attendees came in large numbers from start-ups and high growth mid-sized companies as well.

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    Reflecting the makeup of our visitors to SocialMediaToday.com, the Social Shake-Up attendees are heavily geared towards decision makers and influencers within their organizations.

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    Social conversations with a real substance seem to be on the verge of extinction. Some of the most popular blogs have a few comments, but reflect very little interaction between writers and readers.

    These days, social media interactions leave little room to imagination. All attempts to communicate begin with a fervent desire to introduce, promote or sell a certain product in a more or less predictable manner. While the targeted audience may change, the mechanism of social interactions remains pretty much the same: companies start rambling about the uniqueness of their products and services, instead of focusing on the real needs and demands of their potential buyers.

    Perhaps this is why their act is not rewarded with a big round of applause. Savvy readers are bored of sales pitches. They want exciting, fresh, original, newsworthy facts delivered in a unique manner. Some of them are nostalgic and still think that social media should involve more than a semi-polite exchange of information. Whatever happened to those great chats that we used to have, which went beyond someone’s selfish, mercantile goals?

    Should You Settle for Feedback, When All You Need Is a Good Old-Fashioned Conversation?

    Social conversations with a real substance seem to be on the verge of extinction. Some of the most popular blogs have a few comments, but reflect very little interaction between writers and readers. Some bloggers write back, others are just too busy measuring their own level of awesomeness. Some individuals leave a comment just to bring their own links in the public eye. This is not even proper feedback, let alone a meaningful conversation that could lead to a deeper relationship with your audience.

    So how could you get people to reply to your social content? What’s the secret formula for success that you need to steal and apply to get them to share, like, favorite or re-tweet your ideas? Most importantly, can you use social content to bond with your readers without being perceived as a money-hungry stalker? Let’s find out.

    6 Ways to Start and Maintain a Dialogue with Your Audience via Your Social Content

    A great dialog with your readers should be founded on a well-balanced mix that includes premium content, common sense, empathetic thinking, politeness and a strong desire to stay relevant, engaging and helpful. Here are 6 ways in which you can convince your virtual friends to join the conversation without being cataloged as pushy or desperate.

    1.     Set Realistic Goals: If you’re still in the initial phase in which you’re making a name for yourself while building credibility and trust, don’t expect to get millions of likes and shares in a split second, even if your content is truly amazing. According to Jay Baer from Convince & Convert, you should expect less without settling for less.  Accept the fact that online conversations will never be perfect substitutes for face-to-face interactions and try to bond with your readers by upgrading your content and making it more palatable.

    2.     Humanize Your Content: If your social content makes your readers think that you are as lifeless as a mannequin from a Fifth Avenue store, now may be a good time to follow a different approach. Let the veil down and create personalized content that enables users to discover who you are, what you stand for, and most importantly, what you can do for them. Introduce yourself just like you would during a face-to-face interaction (minus the awkward gestures and long pauses). Write freely, express your enthusiasm and present your goals, brand and product features and benefits in a more spontaneous manner.  

    3.     Be Helpful and Engaging: All your readers are wondering: what’s in it for me? Aside from the fact that you let them contemplate your beautiful pictures and read the story of your life, what else are you willing to bring to the table? The key is to provide real value to your readers, before trying to convert them into buyers. If you’re a blogger and you let your blog visitors admire your outfit of the day (#ootd on Instagram, in case you didn’t know), tell them where they could find the products that you’re flaunting with such great pride. Provide timely answers to their questions. Offer additional details to keep the conversation going. As long as you know everything about your audience and your own field of activity, you should never run out of things to say. Be witty, be friendly, but most importantly, be yourself, since everybody else is already taken.

    4.     Let Your Readers Hop on Board: Let your readers take control. Ask your clients, prospects and collaborators to share their ideas with you. You should create the context and come up with adequate commentary for the input that they’ve sent you. According to Heidi Cohen, this type of web content that resembles a collage may enable you to lift old barriers in content creation and profit from the expertise (and the level of popularity) of your favorite contributors.

    5.     Invest Time and Energy in Curated Content: Use interesting, trending third party web writing to make a statement. Add your comments to the original article and present it from your perspective. Don’t forget to include changes in images, headline, tone and also context. Here’s an extra tip: leverage the incredible power of seduction of amazing photos that are relevant to your topic and write magnetic, attention-grabbing headlines to make your visitors read the rest of the article and interact with you. According to Moz, content curation lets you organize and collect some of the most existing things that may be floating around the Internet without a lifejacket and share them for the greater good. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to curate content and prove that you are a true connoisseur.

    6.     Use Comments as User-Oriented Social Content: Stay active on social media platforms. Share and tweet like there’s no tomorrow. Monitor your readers’ reaction to your messages. Feel free to extract some of the most interesting and relevant comments posted by your readers (on your blog, website or social media profiles) and include them in your next piece to prove a point. This action will reflect the fact that you care about your readers and put a high price on their opinion.

    By reaching the contributor status, you followers will feel valued and stimulated to maintain a more meaningful conversation with you in the long run. At the end of the day, your mission is to dump the unnecessary baggage and make more room for your readers and their needs, desires and opinions in your own web writing.

    We might be able to learn a thing or two from celebs when it comes to managing our own businesses. You did know that acting, music, and other forms of celebrity-making endeavors are businesses, right? Creative businesses, yes, but businesses nonetheless. So what can these digital-savvy celebrities teach the rest of us?

    Of the many success stories we see in the social media world, few have been more widespread than those from celebrities. Sure, I know, celebrities by definition already have a huge fan base to draw from and connect with, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't doing some things well. Very well in some cases. So well, in fact, that I would venture to say that we might be able to learn a thing or two from them when it comes to managing our own businesses. You did know that acting, music, and other forms of celebrity-making endeavors are businesses, right? Creative businesses, yes, but businesses nonetheless. So what can these digital-savvy celebrities teach the rest of us?  

    1. Give Before You Get

    Let me blunt. Most of you are using social media in the same way that you have used other forms of marketing, and in the same way you think about almost everything in else in your business: it's about making you money, ultimately. This is a fine line to walk, because in reality that is the ultimate goal, sort of. The problem lies in your motivation and your view of things. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with making as much money as is humanly possible, as long as that is a result of what you do, and not what you are putting your effort into. It's confusing, I know, but it's really a perspective thing and a heart thing more than a business strategy.

    Amanda Palmer is a prime example of this. She routinely gives her music away for free to her fans. A few years ago she asked her fans to comment on the social site Get Glue about their favorite moment at her concert, and then she chose the best and most heartfelt comments and gave those fans a free ticket to a private concert. She made no money from these things. In fact, it cost her money to put the concert on, and technically she loses money from giving away free music. However, when she took to Kickstarter in 2012 to raise money for a tour promoting her new album and book, that giving came back to her (as all giving does - remember that). She wanted to raise $100,000 in 31 days, She raised just shy of $1.2 million. Give first, and you will receive. That doesn't mean that you have to send every follower a free widget or buy them a house, but it does mean that you need to think about how you can put something into their lives before you try to extract money from them.

    2. Be Genuine, and Genuinely Care

    Taylor Swift has become one of the most prolific celebrities in the social media realm, probably due in no small part to her age. Even outside of social media, she has always gone out of her way to engage with her fans and let them know how much they mean to her. When she did an autograph signing in 2010 as part of the CMA Music Festival, her fans lined up for blocks. Not only did she not charge for the autographs (a completely selfish and ridiculous practice in my opinion), but she decided that anyone who took the time to wait would get an autograph. As a result, she spent 15 hours that day signing autographs. Do you think that created any loyalty with her fans?

    Not only that, but she spends time going through her social pages herself and has been known to often retweet her fans' tweets. With her following, that must be a harrowing process, but surely she uses social media management software to get through them all. Simple recognition goes a long way. Swift also has helpers at her concerts who look out for devoted fans that are obviously more engaged than others by their signs, dress, or actions, and then invites them backstage to hang out after the concert in what have become known as "T-Parties".

    Lady Gaga is another music artist who goes the extra mile to engage with and thank her fans for their support. A high school student council president in Canada sent letters to dozens of celebrities asking for their help in spreading his message of anti-bullying. Gaga was the only response he got, and she made and sent him a personalized video thanking him for his work and encouraging him. Gaga wants to connect with her social fan base so badly that she created her own social network for them, Littlemonsters.com, where she can easily connect with them apart from the clutter and noise of the big networks. The bottom line is that the more directly and personally you can find a way to connect, the more impact you will have and the better the response will be.

    3. Invite and Reward Engagement

    Superstar Katie Perry's hit "Firework" a few years ago was all about being someone who inspires others. Instead of holding herself up as an inspiration or talking about her own inspirations, she invited fans to create videos telling the world who their inspirations were. She made the story about them, and they loved her for it.

    In a similar vein, the band Blink-182 discovered video after video of their fans using their music illegally in their self-created videos. Instead of suing them, they rewarded them for the loyalty. They used a compilation of clips from the fan-created videos to make their own video for a new single, and then credited each fan at the end.

    4. Be Consistent and Have a Strategy

    Everyone saw Ellen Degeneres' now-famous selfie tweet from this year's Oscars was the most retweeted tweet of all time, with 14.7 million retweets. It was also the most shared selfie in social media history. It also crashed Twitter temporarily. Sure, there were 10 popular celebrities in the picture, but don't be fooled into thinking that this was some spur-of-the-moment, offhand phenomenon. On the contrary, Ellen is extremely engaged with her followers and handles her account herself. She had been teasing the awards show through her account for two weeks prior to develop and keep up interest. When the night came, it was the end of a well-strategized plan - not a random tweet. Celebrities, businesses, regular people, it doesn't matter. The secret sauce for social media is always the same, and it always has been: be authentic, be engaged, be consistent, and genuinely care. This is one medium where you can't fake it for very long before fans catch on and then move on.

    This post gives a recipe for amazing social media content. Actually, it gives the ingredients. You can tailor the measurements and adjust the seasonings, to taste!

    If you’re like me, you fall for headlines. Most people do. That’s why news outlets call the salacious ones “click bait.” They do lure us to open the links.

    Social media content so great that it gets widely saved and shared includes other components, of course. Together, those elements blend together deliciously. This post gives a recipe for amazing social media content. Actually, it gives the ingredients. You can tailor the measurements and adjust the seasonings, to taste!

    Gathering the Ingredients

    Content is a truly broad concept: Video, blog posts, white papers, slides, presentations — all of these, and many more, are kinds of content. This infographic lists the 11 ingredients in the recipe.
    Then, the post gives detail about why and how each ingredient matters, with examples and links…

    • Goal

    Know what you want to track and frame the content around that goal.

    This is the result you want to achieve through the content. It might be credibility, email sign-ups, white paper downloads and so on. Everything else about creating the content will relate back to, and advance, your goal. This post goes into more detail about why and how to start with the goal.

    Remember in school when you learned about topic sentences? Each sentence in a paragraph relates to the topic sentence. It anchors the rest of the paragraph.

    Setting a goal before you create content serves the same purpose. It anchors the content. If the focus floats away from that anchor, the hold your content has on the audience slips, too.

    • Audience 

    “Everyone” is not an audience.

    This element is tied directly to the goal of the content. Pick your goal, then select a specific audience you need to reach. Potential clients? Subscribers to an email list? Depends. Who needs to get the content, based on your goal?

    As you create, keep in mind the image of the audience you’ve chosen. That will help you craft the content in a way that speaks directly to them. This post shows, simply, how to give, essentially, the same message (the goal) to five different audiences.

    • Headline 

    Attention spans are short. So, don’t make your headlines long.

    A headline is the first thing I write because it helps me shape everything else. I also use a wonderful tool: the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value Analyzer. A huge tip of the hat to blogger and content creator extraordinare, Jeff Bullas, for opening my eyes to this tool. It reminds users not to use too many words by declaring, simply, it won’t include them in the analysis. Also, long headlines get cut off in Tweets, email subject lines and mobile devices.

    How a headline looks and sounds is also important. Read it out loud to yourself, to check. This post goes into more detail about headlines.

    • Subheads 

    Think of subheads as markers spaced within the content.

    Subheads need to be short and interesting, too. But their main point is to guide, rather than lure. Leaving markers for your audience helps keep them on the path you want them to follow.

    • Visuals 

    Even white papers are no longer just black and white.

    Images in content are essential. Without them, you might as well not bother to create or share content. A few points about visuals, though, in addition to just “have them”

    1. Make them large enough to be easy to see.
    2. They must tie in to the subject of the content and support the point — even better if they advance the goal.
    3. Also, make sure the visuals you use actually fit the social channel or channels you are using.
    4. Be mindful of the platform’s limitations or scale.

    Templates exist that provide the dimensions various social platforms use, but these specifics change regularly. So, to be sure of the sizes, double check. Also, this post by Mike Allton, who runs the Social Media Hat, says it will be updated as changes occur across different social sites.

    • Call to Action

    Make it clear why you led the audience on the journey they took.

    This drives home your goal: Sales, sign ups, opt-in permissions, subscribers, and so on. It might be just to educate, build credibility for yourself and offer insight — with, or without, requiring registration or a fee. The bottom line is that consumers of your content should know what they got, and what they can (or should) do next.

    Here’s a post on tips for effective selling (which is what a call to action really is.)

    • Accuracy

    Careful content creation counts.

    It quietly builds credibility in your content. If you include statistics, make sure they’re correct and cite the source. Does your content include names or titles? Double check they’re right. Grammar counts, too. This post gives a quick go-to guide.

    • Links

    Links to other useful content add value to your content.

    Adding effective links to your content adds value to it. Links should give additional information or extra places to go for more insight or examples. Go ahead and use links to other pros’ content that helps make your point.

    Links not only help the consumers of your content, though. Using this ingredient can also help you: By providing links, you lend extra authority to your work (or your agency or client.) And it’s a great way to promote other content you’ve created that might be relevant or on-point.

    • Pace

    Pace matters for any kind of content, including writing, infographics and design.

    One reason anyone keeps watching or reading or listening is because of effective pacing. The pace of content needs to move fast when the subject is bold, brash and loud — or, if the audience being targeted connects with that vibe. On the other hand, using that pacing wouldn’t work at all for content intended to inform and educate an audience about something brand new to them. Details, and perhaps the main point, would get overwhelmed.

    This explainer video for Mint has just the right pace: it’s interesting and moves fluidly, yet slowly enough to hear the narration, understand the information and take in the fabulous motion graphics.

    Mint.com “Financial Life” from Nate Whitson on Vimeo.

    • Tone

    For content to captivate, the tone must align with the message.

    Tone can make your content flop or pop. Yet, as important as it is, tone can’t be measured. When you look around, though, you’ll spot plenty of examples of content whose tone has the perfect touch. And others that are jolting and jarring. Take notice of why it works in one case, and distracts in another.

    This post goes into more detail about tone in content, with examples where content creators got it really right.

    • Interest

    Will your content hold your audience’s interest?

    The ten other ingredients, together, combine to create interest. Or, they should. Review your content before sending it off to swirl around the social web and check that it is, truly, interesting.

    Often, you’ll need to tweak or edit the content at this point. Revising content to improve it will, undoubtedly, also increase its interest. This is what I ask myself when I get to this point in the content-creation process. Does the content need another example? Another visual? A better visual? Or link? Will the tone resonate with the audience and is it consistent with my goal?

    This is not a quick step. But it is essential if you want to create amazing content.

    Cooking Up Irresistible Content

    Blending these ingredients, and getting the proportions right, takes some getting used to — especially if any of these items is not one you normally consider when creating content. Use the recipe as a check list. It creates a process. That’s what makes this recipe goof proof: if you blend these 11 elements into your content, you can’t go wrong.

    Ask a colleague for an assessment of content you created without this recipe, and then with it. Or judge for yourself. If you’re brave enough, ask your audience! I’ll throw that question to you…what did you think of this content?