Social Media, Not a Baby Anymore

by Lola Rain, Director of Social Media for Eskaton

Social media matured significantly between 2015 and 2016. Experts emphasize building community engagement strategies using new technologies to measure success and deliver better ROI. This year’s trends are around hyper-focused, relevant content delivered to the right audiences. The most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) include time spent watching videos, shares and comments. Companies must deliver content to where the people are already engaged. Consumers are now smarter and trust rich, engaging content over advertising.

During a February 2015 Social Media Summit in Las Vegas, people from around the country called themselves “Pioneers”. They shared metrics along with internal and external barriers to launching strategies and campaigns. By March 2016, the NYC Digital Marketing Innovation Summit was dominated by global attendees discussing social media success.

The contrast between 2015 and 2016 in this sector is mind blowing. Social media now falls deep into the “digital marketing” category and is no longer a standalone. Every online component is now integrated. The user moves seamlessly between platforms completely unaware if they are on a social site, a webpage or in an app. The fact is, today, 60% of consumers use smart phones and most digital consumption happens within apps says Scott Stanchak of The New York Times. No longer are marketers focused on the form factor of the device, they should be focused on the content delivery and the end-user experience.

With 40 minutes a day spent on Youtube by the average mobile user, and 41,000 Facebook posts per second across the globe, social media consumers have blossomed into everyday media moguls and peer influencers. Because of this consumption and influence every digital marketing strategy must include social. But social media is no longer a free way of advertising. AdAge predicts 2017 will be the first year digital marketing dollars will exceed TV advertising.

60% of users are now on mobile

The top three reasons someone selects one brand over another are:

#1 Access to detailed information – People will go to four websites on average looking for detailed information. They will even pull out their phones while standing in a business to get more information.

#2 Online reviews – The number one reason a person recommends a company is because of outstanding service; 90% of people believe recommendations over advertising.

#3 Price – Price is not the top objection, especially when competitively priced.

 

2016 TRENDS

  1. It’s the year of the video. Facebook changed the rules with instant watching. It’s not all about Youtube anymore. There are many video platforms now and videos should be developed to scale over all platforms.
  2. Social has aged up. Older audiences are now average users.
  3. Live streaming is growing. MeerKat and Periscope have changed the landscape.
  4. Blogs are more relevant than ever. Content drives decision making. Articles must be engaging and emotional. Blogs make it easy to publish articles and other content in a timely manner.
  5. Paid influencers are declining. Influencers are everyday people.
  6. Facebook’s Instant Articles now allows anyone to publish interactive articles quickly.

 What type of content is being utilized?

81% Articles          76% Videos        62% Infographics      61% Webinars   22% Podcasts*

*Podcasts are being underutilized

Key Takeaways from 2016 Digital Marketing Innovations Summit NYC

  • “Social is the fuel of the new marketing engine,” said Tami Cannizzaro from Ebay marketing.
  • 70% of Tweets go unanswered. Not answering a Tweet is like leaving a caller on hold. (Ebay)
  • Social media has moved to a pay to play format in just 2 years. Companies pay for written content, sponsored content and influencers.
  • CMOs are investing in social marketing with budgets and staff.
  • Understand how your content is being engaged with. “Sharing at the end of the day is the ultimate KPI,” says Ken Nelson, Odyssey’s Chief Strategy Officer.
  • “Build brand and earn your [online] citizenship at the same time,” said Alexander Chung, BuzzFeed. Co-exist traditional advertising with new Internet communities.
  • “If you don’t have something worth sharing, it isn’t going to go anywhere,” said Chung.
  • Make small bets with lean production, share as an insider (not outsider) and create a feedback loop for learning. Test, fail, test. Let data drive content.
  • 73% of consumers prefer to get content from articles not ads. (Time Inc.)
  • “There is no such thing as good content. There is only content in context,” said content strategist Melanie Deziel (@mdeziel), formerly of NYT and Huffington Post.
  • The funnel does not dictate the path to purchase.
  • Master the emotion, not product conversation.
  • Know your audience: Where do they hang out and who do they trust? We have so much detailed info about customers, but what drives them? How do they use content?

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12 Ways for your company to show its professional side

By Lola Rain, for the HBA

Successful businesses continually evaluate strategies and customer service. Once you identify areas you want to improve, implementing a strategy can be a simple task. Here are 12 ways you can shine in the eyes of your current and future clients.

(1)Be the Expert
(2)Listen Carefully
(3)Follow Up
(4)Respect, Loyalty, and Trust
(5)Keep It Clean
(6)Shop Around to Save on Your Bottom Line
(7)Appreciate Your Clients
(8)Prospect, Prospect, Prospect
(9)Respond to Every Inquiry
(10)Differentiate Your Company
(11)Evaluate Your Online Image and Yelp It Up
(12)Ask for the Business

(1)Be the Expert
Positive attitude and enthusiasm can win potential customers and even build clients for life. People are looking for an expert they can trust. “Be the expert,” said Jeff Metke of Metke Remodeling & Woodworking Inc. “We believe after 23 years, we have enough gray hair, advice, and expertise. We are going to take a lot of time — baby steps toward cementing a relationship.” Stating your expertise can also be the first step toward building a long and lucrative relationship.

(2)Listen Carefully
Active listening can help you succeed as a communicator. It requires the listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what they hear. The ability to listen actively can reduce conflict, strengthen cooperation, and foster understanding. When interacting, people often are not listening attentively. They may be distracted, thinking about other things, or thinking about what they are going to say next. “Listening is very important,” said Debbie Kitchin of InterWorks, LLC. “We want the process to be as comfortable as possible. We don’t want them to be concerned or upset.” Actively listening for clues that indicate the potential for concern or conflict can greatly improve your relationships with your clientele.

(3)Follow Up
In today’s world everyone is busy with family, work, and life. Communication has become difficult even though we have more ways to communicate. One successful sales person suggests asking your clients up front how they like to communicate: phone calls, voicemail, text messaging, or emails. Everyone has a preference. Check in with your clients often and communicate the process. Nancy Long at Sisu Painting said she touches base with her clients frequently after the initial free phone consultation. It’s just as important to follow up during the process as it is after the project is complete. Long does a final walk-through after painters walk away to look for issues and schedule touchups. She puts each client into a contact management system and sends them closing out papers, warranties, and thank you cards.

(4)Respect, Loyalty, and Trust
Professionals know who they can trust: other professionals. Recognizing and respecting the vendors who have been there for you is important in any economy, but trust and loyalty can be essential for survival in economic downturns. “It’s been very rough over the last few years,” said Thomas Liesy, owner of TA Liesy Homes NW, LLC, which is why he has remained loyal to his vendors. Liesy also understands the price sensitive market. “We provide more than our competition and we are extremely loyal to our vendors,” he said. Cutting corners and hiring sub-par labor is not an option for companies who are dedicated professionals. Knowing who you can trust shows your commitment to professionalism.

(5)Keep It Clean
Your professional image is important, but it’s not all about how you, your office, or your showroom looks. Kitchin said her crews always keep a clean work site, which cuts down on dust, improves safety, and is better for the environment. It’s also a common and professional courtesy to extend to your clients, some of whom may have concerns with chemical sensitivities, asthma, and allergies.

(6)Shop Around to Save on Your Bottom Line
In today’s economic climate any savings is good unless it erodes your professionalism and your company’s commitment to excellence. Loyalty to vendors you trust is extremely important. But when it comes to meeting your clients’ goals, sometimes you need to shop around and cut costs to help achieve a tighter budget. Thomas Payne from Craftsman Home Group, LLC, spends a lot of time with clients to make sure they are getting the best price for what they want. Payne said it’s important to help clients find products on sale early on in the process. “I am trying to avoid having to shop late in the project when the budgets are tighter,” he said.

(7)Appreciate Your Clients
Business is tough and your hard work deserves recognition. The best recognition often comes in the form of repeat business and referrals. Sisu Painting sends two cards a year, including a Happy New Year card with a photo and blurb about the Santa House at Bridgeport Village. “If you treat them as lifetime clients, they are more likely to refer,” said Nancy Long. This type of appreciation can come in the form of cards, emails, phone calls, or even annual events. Some members give Home and Garden or Street of Dreams show tickets to their top clients. Others have annual appreciation parties. Your clients will recognize your level of professionalism through these acts of kindness.

(8)Prospect, Prospect, Prospect
It’s a cycle! You just finished a job and now it’s time to start the next one. How do you ensure you always have business in the pipeline? Through prospecting. One of the best and easiest ways to prospect is through the HBA. Attend an event and talk to people. Build relationships and make friends. Prospecting can be fun if you enter it with a positive attitude. Besides events such as monthly luncheons and happy hours, consider attending the Reserve Trade Show or sponsoring an event. These simple techniques can actually change the way you look at prospecting in the future and help you to keep business in the pipeline.

(9)Respond to Every Inquiry
Each and every voicemail and email is important to your business. How many times have you left a message only to be frustrated by no response? Companies that respond quickly are more likely to earn the business and respect of clients. Not responding can also tarnish your business through word of mouth. People are just as likely to say, “Don’t use that company, they aren’t very responsive,” as they are to say, “They have great customer service, I highly recommend them.”

(10)Differentiate Your Company
Know what areas you excel at and talk about them with pride. Carl Paasche of Woodcrafters Lumber Sales says his company stresses high quality products and customer service. “Anyone can sell for a lower price,” he said.  “We try to maintain the highest quality and a high level of customer service.” Specializing in a niche product or service can be helpful in setting your company apart. Woodcrafters, for example, specializes in molding that are no longer made. “If you need a molding to match, we are your best source,” Paasche said.

(11)Evaluate Your Online Image and Yelp It Up
Metke uses Websites and Facebook to reach out to clients, but he doesn’t shamelessly promote his business. “Become an expert on what people are doing to maintain their house and work to engage with clients on Facebook,” he says. While Metke admits his company is not as diligent as it needs to be with its Website and social media, he is trying to be more regular by dedicating at least 5 hours a week.  Long developed a group of 12 professionals to help out with her social media. “It’s a group effort,” she said. Sisu Paiting trades services with the group and they review each other online. “If an electrician comes into the group, everyone agrees to use the electrician,” said Long. By having multiple reviews on Yelp.com, Sisu Painting has a strong SEO presence. Long received a total of 14 bids in January. “Most of it came from improving online presence,” she said. “Nine bids from Yelp, Angie’s List and Google, and five from PRO members.”

(12)Ask for the Business
However you market your company, whether it’s through advertising, social media, or a referral system, waiting for the phone to ring is a passive way to do business. Following up with leads takes time, but the sales cycle can be shortened by asking for the business. Simply add to the end of your sales pitch or elevator speech, “Can I count on your business?” or “When do you want to start the project? I know you will be happy with my service,” and watch what happens next. It takes practice to build the confidence for the “ask”, but the results will be worth the effort.

The Brand Experience: A Real Life Example

As a marketing professional, I build strategies. More often than not, my clients pick and choose elements from a customized plan I build for their brand. In my marketing I use industry best practices and evidence based strategies — and I always throw something unique in to ensure the brand stands out and communicates the essence of the organization. However, the client always has the last say and usually sticks with safe over shockingly superb.

In a recent “Marc’s Remarks” email from the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland president, I was shocked and delighted by Marc Blattner’s refreshing and genuine approach. First off, I was surprised at the content: The Brand Experience. But then I realized he was subtley making a point about the experience you can expect from him and his organization. The name of the newsletter is friendly, his writing is conversational, and the content is different. He tells his own experience in a very vivid way. Second, Marc makes a wonderful point to all business leaders. Every business needs to take into consideration how they approach and interact with their clients. Thank you Marc for sharing this with us. Here is what he said:

This past week, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc., stepped down from his role.  Mr. Jobs is credited for revitalizing Apple and turning the company into a world leader in technology and entertainment. Their products and stores are simply amazing – each with a remarkable look, feel, capability, and user experience. In fact, Apple, with the charismatic Steve Jobs as the chief sales/spokesperson, is able to sell products people did not even know they needed until the company invented it. The Apple “brand” is synonymous with cool and excellence. Yet, it takes more than that for one’s brand to be successful.

I recently read an article by Dan Pallotta titled, A Logo is Not a Brand. His thesis – “brand is everything and everything is brand.” Pallotta writes:

  • Brand is your strategy – your aspirations and the progress you make toward them
  • Brand is your call to action – what do you ask of your constituents
  • Brand is your customer service – if people get caught in “voice mail hell,” cannot figure out who to talk to, or not get the information they requested, what does it say about your organization
  • Brand is the way you speak – using jargon and acronyms will contaminate your message
  • Brand is the whole array of your communication tools – website, voice mail, mailings, which all must be of the highest quality
  • Brand is your people and the way they represent one’s organization – Friendly? Welcoming? Interested in you?
  • Brand is your facilities – is your place clean and uncluttered? Does it look and feel alive?
  • Brand is your logo and visuals – every organization deserves great graphic design

Large companies like Apple take their brand very seriously. Think of them in the context of the above descriptions and they hit a bullseye in almost every way. Yet, no matter how big or small, every organization/company can make their brand stand out. Let me share a recent local experience with you.

For my wife’s birthday we went to The Hangar at Oaks Amusement Park to see Portland’s own Rose City Rollers. Yes, we went to women’s roller derby! (This was her idea! She had remembered that on our flight from Philadelphia to Portland when my family moved here one year ago, the Rose City Rollers were on our plane following a tournament in the area – my wife was fascinated by them.) Now, I must admit this was not the same roller derby I remember as a child when the attractive blond-haired, blue eyed Los Angeles Thunderbirds would compete against those mean nasty New York Bombers on television. Those matches resembled professional wrestling with “good guys and bad guys” competing against each other in pre-determined matches. Instead, this was real!

The local Wheels of Justice (Portland’s “A-level” team) took on the Boston Derby Dames. We had special tickets (purchased online at the team’s website in a very simple and direct manner) and sat in the “Rock Star section” where we were treated to excellent rink-side seats. Although the facilities were not necessarily the cleanest (port-a-potties were the bathroom of choice), nor most comfortable (metal high-rise bleachers one would see in a high school gym), the ambiance was perfect for a night of roller derby. The crowd was colorful (and I do not mean just the tattoos), fun-loving, knowledgeable and supportive of the home team.

Beyond the fun of watching the match and seeing the true athleticism and skating skills of these women, it was the actual experience that cemented their brand in my mind. Signage was everywhere. Rules were displayed in easy to understand language on the scoreboard prior to the game so everyone could better understand what was happening on the rink (do you know what the “jammer” does or what the role of the “pivot” is?). A representative from Voodoo Donuts (one of the team’s many sponsors) was in our section and heard that this was our “first adventure to The Hangar” and the next thing we know he handed us four donuts with the team’s mascot in frosting free of charge. The people who worked the arena and for the team could not have been more helpful and welcoming every step of the way. Following the match, because I bought my tickets online, I received a simple survey from the team asking about my experiences and what I would like to see at roller derby in the future. They made the entire experience (before, during and after) so enjoyable – and hit on every point of Pallotta’s article.

By the end of the night, my family was hooked. Who knows, maybe we get season tickets next year? But what I can tell you – if you want an experience that will solidify a brand in your head – skip the Apple store and go see the Rose City Rollers.

Ultimately, “brand” is caring about your business/organization at every level and in every detail, from the big things like mission and vision, to your people, your customers, and every interaction anyone has with you, no matter how small.

Shabbat Shalom,

Marc

(Since I am sure you are wondering, the Wheels of Justice rolled all over Boston’s team and won by a large margin.)