On Friday night, I went to see a Grammy winning bluegrass legend wow his crowd with songs spanning his 40+ year career.
Because I’m both a bluegrass nerd and a social media nerd, I streamed one of his songs via Facebook Live.
It was late on a weekend night and it didn’t get a lot of views in real time. But over the next 36 hours or so, it was watched a few dozen times. (And now I can go back and rewatch the band anytime I want on my personal Facebook page!) But truth be told, by Sunday night, I wasn’t thinking about the video anymore than I was about the drive to and from the show.
But then Monday morning, something interesting happened — my video was “liked” by the bluegrass legend it featured.
Now let’s be clear: I don’t think that this artist liked the post himself (although he might have). More likely it was a member of his marketing or management team.
But the notification that he had liked my video popped up, and I have to be honest — I got excited. Like, more excited than I probably should have.
I work in social media for a living. I know how this works. I know he probably has some marketing agency liking positive mentions of him online. But you know what: it still got its intended effect out of me!
Having him like my video felt like getting a high five or a quick hello from a bluegrass legend.
Does that handshake mean that we are suddenly best friends? Of course not.
Does it mean I can suddenly shred on the mandolin like he can? I wish!
Am I still excited enough that I immediately want to tell all my friends about it? Yup.
Liking that post cost him literally nothing (save for whatever he’s paying his agency to manage his social media—but that’s a story for another post). Yet it added to my excitement about the show.
Social media serves many roles, not least of which is customer service and community relations.
Think about yourself as a movie star. When you walk down the street, people recognize you. You can't stop and have lunch with every fan. You can’t even stop and take a picture with them all or you’d never get anywhere. But you can nod and smile to everyone who waves at you.
That’s what a "like" or a "favorite" is on social media — it’s a head nod from a celebrity. It doesn’t suddenly make you best friends or ensure that they will buy your product/go see your next movie/buy your upcoming album. But it shows the fans that you are real, and that you respect them as people, not just as consumers. And it only takes as much time to create that connection as you need to give a single click of your mouse or tap on your phone.
If you see a celebrity on the street, and you wave at them, you are going to tell your friends one of two stories:
“Oh my goodness, I just say this famous person on State Street. It was so cool!”
*** OR ***
“I just saw this famous person on State Street. He was kind of a jerk.”
You’re the celebrity. Which would you prefer?
When you sit down to write a social media post, it’s easy to think about promoting your amazing, important and worthwhile message to the world — to make pronouncements that will change your audience’s behavior and blow their minds. Whether you are selling a product, promoting an event or even just sharing an interesting article you came across, you know the value you are adding to your community, and you want your audience to recognize it as well.
It doesn’t matter what the content is, every one of your social media posts will be consumed by (numerous) INDIVIDUAL people, reading it on their INDIVIDUAL screens, as they go about their INDIVIDUAL lives. So ensure that you are writing for each of them as an individual, not some amorphous crowd of people. It’s easy to forget this because your content, once published, will be seen by tens, hundreds or even thousands of people. Rather than thinking about how many people will consume your content, think about how they will consume it—alone. Think of it this way: you aren’t playing in a packed arena, you are providing a private living room concert; adjust accordingly.
Here’s a simple trick for ensuring that your content rings true to each individual member of your community: when you sit down to create it, picture an actual person with whom you want to connect and draft as if you are speaking directly to that particular person. Think about a costumer, a donor, a constituent or a fan… pick one person and write your post directly to them.
Here are some important questions to ask yourself before hitting publish:
It’s easy to think about a social media post as a megaphone, announcing your latest content to the world. But really, it’s more like a telephone, creating a connection between you and an individual. Treat your content accordingly and get ready for higher engagement rates and better reach on future posts.
And if you are wondering, I wanted to let you know, I wrote this post especially for YOU!
Author's note: I wrote this post leading up to the holiday season. But these tips are valid all year round. So whenever you might be reading this post, I hope you find it helpful and timely.
The holidays are almost here and that means it’s spending season! People are going to be buying presents, taking vacations, going out for family dinners and thinking about end of year giving. There is no better time to take stock and make sure your social media is working for you as strongly as it should be.
So here is a quick top ten checklist to help ensure you get everything you can out of social media this holiday season:
1) Tag and recognize your partners
To tag on most platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn...) type an @ and then start typing a partner’s username. You will see a dropdown menu of options. Choose the right handle (unique name of person or brand) and viola! Instead of just writing their name online, you are tagging them. Now they will get a notification you mentioned them and hopefully they will turn around and spread the love.
2) Text < Pictures < Video < Facebook Live
Good text is important.
But posts with pictures are better.
Video will take you even further.
And Facebook Live can take you to levels you didn’t know was possible!
3) Have ONE hashtag (#) and use it
If you live, work and post in a B2C world (business 2 consumer as opposed to B2B--business 2 business), you should utilize a hashtag and you should use it often. It’s okay to have additional hashtags for specific sales, events, or campaigns, but regularly using multiple hashtags means none are as strong as they could be.
Post using your hashtag and encourage others to use it as well. You can do this by displaying it in your store/office/meeting spaces, sharing/retweeting/reposting content that uses your hashtag and generally letting your audience know about it.
4) Don’t autopost
When you autopost from Facebook to Twitter, you are telling your Twitter followers that your time is more valuable than theirs. It’s fine to post similar versions of the same content in both formats, but copy and paste your post into each platform and ensure that everything is optimized for the platform in which you are posting. (If a post ends with a "..." that is BAD!)
One potential exception: use a site like If This Than That (IFTTT)* and build a “recipe” that automatically posts your Instragram pictures to Twitter. Don’t EVER post a link to your Instagram picture on Twitter (automatically or otherwise). If people interact with you on Twitter, show them your picture where they are!
*Here’s an explainer blog to walk you through setting up an IFTTT recipe.
5) Engage with and share content from happy customers and respond openly and honestly to unhappy ones
While seeing negative content online about yourself and your brand might be painful, it’s there whether or not you engage! If you see negative comments, decide if the poster is a troll or an unhappy customer. A troll should never be engaged with, but DO NOT ignore unhappy customers; if they write about you on social media, they are talking about you publicly. Respond. Don’t be defensive, just explain your side and if you offered solutions, share them publicly. Don’t cede the conversation, engage in it!
And of course if people say nice things about you, like the comment/tweet/picture, comment on it, and share it! It’s amazing how far a little TLC can go.
6) Post often (but not too often!)
As a rule of thumb, you should post on Facebook and Instagram a minimum of 3-5 times per week and a maximum of 3-5 times per day.
On Twitter, post a minimum of 8-10 times per week and maximum of 8-10 times per day.
Sound like a lot? It’s not! Follow the 80/20 rule (#8) and you’ll be good to go.
7) Use your blog as a bridge to drive traffic from social media to your website
Spell out ideas in great detail on your blog. Then share snippets on social. This is a great tip for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and keeping your site up-to-date and dynamic. And it will serve as a bridge between your social and your site.
You shouldn't repost the same content over and over. But it’s okay (encouraged even!) to repackage your content. Your social will have a different audience in the morning than the evening. Different people will be logged on Wednesday than Friday. Keep finding ways to share your content, creatively and helpfully.
8) Follow the 80/20 rule -- don’t sell, build! (trust, community, relationships)
The 80/20 rule states that 20% of your content should be about you and your brand. The other 80% should be content that your audience will find helpful/relevant/interesting/funny/provoking...
For every post talking about a sale, a new product, store hours, or the like, you should have four posts that will simply add value to your audience’s lives.
9) Understand your analytics and learn from them
There is no shortage of third party apps and sites that will provide a tremendous amount of data about your social media’s analytics. But Facebook and Twitter each have very powerful analytic tools built right into the platform. They are free to access and will provide you invaluable data that you can learn from and use to improve your content and digital strategy.
To access your Facebook analytics, go to your brand page and navigate in the top menu bar to “Insights.” For Twitter, login to your account and open a new tab. Then go to analytics.twitter.com and they will be there waiting for you.
If you’ve never visited either, you’ll be amazed what you can learn.
10) Display your handles (and your hashtag) for the world to see
If you have a brick and mortar store or a restaurant, display your handles (and your hashtag) loud and proud. Let people know that you want to see pics of their new end table or the special cocktail you just served them.
Don’t have a brick and mortar store? Promote your handles in your emails and newsletters. Put it on your website. If you have clothing or merchandise, include your hashtag on it. If you are in front of a crowd (one person or ten thousand), let them know how to find you online.
No one will care more about what you have to say online then the people who already love what you do offline!
I get emails from all kinds of people, businesses and organizations. I love the art of the email, so I subscribe to many lists. Of course, this list includes numerous candidates running for President in the 2016 cycle, both Democratic and Republican.
Amongst the list of people I get emails from is Hillary Clinton. Or at least, I try to get emails from her. I have subscribed to her list on several occasions, and for some reason, I continue to be excluded (maybe I should start to take it personally?!).
On Friday, February 5th, I signed up for her email list—AGAIN. I was immediately thanked for my support and taken to a landing page asking me to contribute to her campaign.
[For those of you not familiar with the term landing page, the idea is simple. It's a single webpage that a user is taken to when clicking on a specific link. It can be from a Facebook post, a Google ad, an email, an online sign-up or the like.]
This is the obvious next step in the funnel for any candidate: The people who want to hear from a candidate -- in their inboxes and on an ongoing basis -- are by far going to be the most likely to give money to that candidate.
But here was the landing page to which I was redirected:
It thanks me, offers me a range of amounts to give, doesn’t confuse me with numerous asks or calls-to-action (Pro Tip: a sure-fire killer of any ask is to be surrounded with numerous other asks!). So what IS the problem with this landing page?
It’s February of 2016. Voting has already taken place in Iowa, and we are days away from the New Hampshire primary. Three of five democratic candidates have dropped out of the race and there have been countless debates, town halls, campaign events, tv appearances and so much more. And yet this landing page is asking me to “be one of the first people to support Hillary’s campaign.”
ONE OF THE FIRST?!?!
What is going on in the Hillary campaign that so few people have contributed, a year into her campaign?
Obviously, this isn’t true. Clinton has raised tens of millions of dollars over the last year, from big and small donors alike. But this landing page apparently hasn’t been updated in some time.
The lesson of this post is simple -- a landing page needs to be updated as often as your ask. A year ago, this would have been a strong ask. Today, this makes the Clinton camp look weak, or at the very least disorganized.
The worst part is that nothing on this page even needs to be updated, save for the ask. The picture and the “select an amount” are still applicable, a year later. Change the text and this page is good to go.
A good habit to get into is to regularly go through any processes you expect your audience to go through, and to update them as necessary.
Not sure what your landing page should say? Or have another question about messaging or engaging your community? Drop me a line, let’s chat.
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