Five Tips to Reshape your Social Media Plan in 2013


[This is an article I wrote for my book, Face2Face – I thought it would make a great post here, too – enjoy! DLK]

Social media has been around for over ten years. My guess is that by now, your organization is probably involved in some way with social media. Maybe you have created a Twitter or Facebook account. Maybe you even have some friends and fans on those accounts, and you share things with them when you have time.

Let’s rework this in 2013. Social media is now mainstream, and your customers are using it to connect. They connect easily to each other, and since the tool is the same, they’ll find it easy to connect to your organization, too… if you make a few easy-to-do adjustments in your approach to business-facing social media.

Here are five simple adjustments you can make to kick-start your organization’s social media efforts in 2013:

1. Focus on Conversations

First off, let’s focus on conversations. Many organizations and businesses have been using social media status updates as a broadcasting tool. They send out notices of events, sales, or coupons. Possibly, they have used social media as an easy outlet to send out press releases and important corporate announcements.

My new book - Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer ConnectionsGuess what? If your organization focuses primarily on sending out corporate communications, your customers will tune out your organization and unfriend you in a heartbeat. In 2013, instead of using social media as a one-way broadcast tool, work on starting and continuing conversations with your customers.

This will require your organization to do three important things: 1. Listen before you speak. Set up some listening tools (Google alerts and Twitter search alerts are good places to start) to see what your customers are saying about you; 2. Respond, using colloquial, conversational language. This will feel weird if you’re used to more formal marketing-speak. Make it feel like you’re talking to a work colleague at the water cooler – do this, and people will start talking to you. And 3 – figure out what types of conversations YOU want to start. Do some brainstorming on the conversations your organization needs to hear in 2013, and start those conversations.

2. Focus on the Visual

For the most part, many businesses and organizations have been posting text-heavy status updates in their social media accounts. That makes sense in text-based Twitter, but not so much in Facebook. In fact, Facebook best practices show that when you do one simple thing – add a photo or a video to your post – engagement increases by 100% or more.

So get those cameras out of your pockets (yes, that iPhone or Android smartphone makes a great point-and-shoot camera), and start taking photos around the office, the warehouse, or the store. Maybe think about the three most important things that your customers should know about your organization, take photos of that, then share those photos with customers.

3. Focus on Video

That smartphone I just mentioned in #2 is also HD quality video recorder, and we can put it to good use! There’s a reason YouTube is so popular right now – people love watching short videos. Studies show that people engage more with video posts than with text-only posts.

Here’s my guess – most likely, you haven’t made many videos for your organization. If you have created some videos, it probably resembled a TV commercial. That’s not what your customers want to watch. Instead, get to the point immediately – YouTube suggests that the first 15 seconds are critical to connect with viewers. So don’t waste those seconds with titles, fade-ins, and credits.

Just start sharing your main points. Then post that video to two places – YouTube and Facebook. Use YouTube to share in most places, and use the Facebook upload to share with your Facebook page fans. Facebook’s algorithm favors videos uploaded to Facebook, so those will get seen more than a shared YouTube video.

4. Focus on Next Steps

Many times organizations post information to their social media accounts, but don’t include anything for customers to do. They don’t include a next step. Let’s change that in 2013. Make sure that everything you do includes some type of “ask.” That ask can be as simple as asking customers to “friend or fan” a Facebook Page, or the ask might be to click a link that takes them to a new product or a buy-it-now page.

More people will click if you actually ask them to click. Because of this, make sure to provide customers with some next steps, and actually invite them to take that next step. Do that, and your organization will be one step closer to continued engagement with customers.

5. Focus on your Customers!

Finally, most businesses and organizations, believe it or not, don’t actually focus on their customers! Instead, they focus on their stuff, on their showroom floor, or on their sales staff. In 2013, let’s focus on our customers. Engage them in conversation. Ask them if they like what they’re seeing. Ask them to take next steps, and invite them into your organization.

Follow these five simple reshaping steps, and you will be well on your way to having a great 2013 with social media, and with some really engaged customers, too.

pic by Tintin44

Starbucks Cards and Libraries – Would it Work?

I sometimes pick up those cool Starbuck’s Free App/Free Song/Free Book cards when I’m at Starbucks buying a coffee. I think those cards are pretty cool, and I think they just might work in a library setting, too.

What if libraries did something like this – created some cards, and pointed to free content, like:

  • Project Gutenberg free ebooks
  • Free music via your Freegal account (or fill in the blank if you have another music database)
  • Free event – have the card be the ticket to the event
  • Free game – point to something on the web, or actually make an app-based game and point to that.

This idea is sort of like those signs I saw at the Denver airport awhile back.

So … thoughts? Do you think it would work in a library? I’d love to know!

And an aside – yes, I know the video is sorta jumpy. Sorry about that! I should have used the Focus Lock feature, and didn’t think about it. Next time!

Share the Right Info

windspeedIf you’ve ever flown on a plane, you’ve probably heard the pilot say something like this: “The wind is blowing south southwest at a speed of 10 miles an hour.” They usually say this like it’s either extremely interesting, or it’s highly useful information that everyone needs to know.

Does anyone really care about that? Does knowing how fast the wind is blowing and what direction it’s coming from really help make your plane ride a better one?

I’m guessing not.

Here’s what I’d much prefer hearing from a pilot: “this is the best plane I’ve ever flown, it should be a smooth ride, and I’ll get you there 15 minutes early.”

And maybe from the flight attendant: “the ginger ale is really yummy today!”

Some organizations share the wrong information. Information that’s inward-facing. Information that’s really important to the organization (i.e., windspeed to a pilot), but not really all that important to the customer. Libraries are certainly guilty of that – anyone ever seen a description of a library database? For example, here’s how Madison Public Library describes EBSCOHost:

EBSCOhost is a collection of databases provided by EBSCO and funded through a statewide contract with BadgerLink.  Most databases reference collections of magazine articles or newspaper articles, each with a different focus.  You may search all databases, or use only the collection that interests you by connecting to individual collections below.  A few EBSCO products, such as the Auto Repair Reference Center, have different search functions and interfaces due to the nature of the content.

This is on their “more info” page. Their more customer-focused description is better (on their main list of databases page):

EBSCOhost includes thousands of indexed magazines, many full-text, for over fifteen years. Magazine coverage ranges from the popular to the academic.

Is this the right info to share with customers? Do either of these descriptions tell customers what they’ll find if they use EBSCOHost? I think the smaller paragraph does. I don’t think the first paragraph says much of interest to a library customer.

And that’s just one example, for one small part of a library’s website. My question – do you do that on your website (I’m sure my library does)? Do you do that in other parts of your organization?

And more importantly – have you asked your customers if you are sharing the right info with them? Something to think about.

photo by Alex Marshall

How to grow your audience and market your podcast #Blogworld

blogworldPresenters: Cliff Ravenscraft (Podcast Answer Man), Father Roderick

26 things that will help!

1. There is power when your show has a narrow niche focus. The more focused on a niche you can be, the better. It will actually help you find a larger audience.

2. Only podcast about things for which you are passionate about.

3. Before you record your first episode, you should know why you are podcasting in the first place. Have a mission/purpose for your show. ANd – is a podcast the best medium for your message?

4. Become crystal clear on exactly who your target audience is! Imagine your occupation was that of a bounty hunter.

5. Build it and they will come does not, often, work in podcasting! Creating an amazing show is about 30% of the equation. The other 70% is marketing and relationship building. Go read the book “How to win friends and influence people.” Actually schedule time to promote your podcast, answer emails, etc.

6. You should submit your podcast directories like iTunes, Zune, Blackberry, and Stitcher Radio. Customize and brand those sites if you can. tweetadder.com – Cliff used this to follow 500 people a day that were interested in the topic his podcast focused on. You can do this manually too – just follow people that talk about the same things you are interested in. Cliff has some helpful info/submission tools on his podcast website.

7. Content is king! Create high value content that people can’t live without. It’s an added bonus if your content is so great that they are compelled to share it with others.

8. Entertainment goes a long way. Don’t be boring! Make your enthusiasm show through your voice.

9. Keep it positive. The world is seeking hope and encouragement. Give it to them! Sell hope – this keeps people coming back.

10. Be enthusiastic! Don’t do it more than what is natural for you though.

11. skipped this one

12. Audio quality is queen! Remember that there are times when the queen will trump the king! Many people will not listen to your great content if your audio quality is not that great. Both said don’t use USB mics of any type. Better to get a real mic, a mixer, etc and sound professional.

13. Build relationships with your audience! Learn the first name, last name, and a minimum of at least one other personal fact about as many of the people who download your show as possible. Wow.

14. Include the voice of your audience in your show.

15. Thank members of your community publicly, both in your show and in your online efforts. Give praise! DOn’t just focus on yourself.

16. Establish and build meaningful relationships with other content creators in your niche/industry.

17. Create keyword rich titles, show notes, etc for your podcast. And all that other SEO junk.

18. Make yourself newsworthy! (http://podcastanswerman.com/newsworthy)

19. Interview others in your show.

20 – 26. Went over time, so I didn’t catch these. Either way, these were all great suggestions!

Youtube – Calls to Action

next stepsStill reading the Youtube Creator Playbook … do you include a Call to Action in your videos?

Being successful in online video, especially in Youtube, includes being able to build community engagement and an audience (which is done through subscriptions to your Youtube account). There’s quite a lot of potential community engagement built right into Youtube. Things like comments, likes, favorites, sharing, and subscribing.

Not getting those? maybe you aren’t asking.

Which leads us to creating a Call to Action in your videos. You could also think of these as Next Steps. Basically, your goal should be to tell people watching the video what to do next – give them something to do (something that actually relates to your organization).

Here’s what Youtube suggests:

  • Decide what actions you want your viewers to take for each video.
  • Use Youtube annotations to ask, or have the host in the video ask for it (I’ll talk more about Youtube Annotations in a future video).
Two simple steps! Some Youtube-ish calls to action might include:
  • asking people to subscribe to your video channel
  • asking people to like or favorite the video
  • asking a question, and then asking them to answer it in the comments box
  • asking them to watch an older video (and providing a link to the video)

This works on your website, too. Embed your video in your website, then ask viewers to leave a comment on your organization’s blog. Or point out an organization-specific action, like checking out a book or registering for an event. You could include a link to the event in your blog post, on your website, or even in the Youtube description box.

Either way – don’t waste your time creating a video if you don’t have a next step or a call to action. Give your viewers at least one “what should I do next” instruction, and see what happens. They just might actually DO it.

So here’s YOUR next step – tell me what types of next steps might work well in a video for your library or organization in the comments. That’ll give readers a great list of ideas that they can use next time they create a video!

Next Steps pic from Bigstock