For the last few years, I’ve heard a few common refrains among friends and colleagues working for smaller and mid-sized organizations:
“I need social media marketing help, but I’m not sure I can afford an agency.”
“I just need a quick, fresh perspective when it comes to my communications approach.”
“I need to revamp our social media strategy, but I’m not sure where to start.”
For the last eight-plus years, I haven’t really been able to help the folks who come to me with these types of questions at these types of organizations.
But, that changes today.
Introducing Talking Points Mini-Strategy Sessions (I know, I know, innovative name)!
These mini-strategy sessions will include:
- Up to five hours of time (meeting + pre-meeting research)
- One in-person meeting up to two hours in length at the location of your choice
- Deliverable will include a one-pager/short deck summarizing our meeting and the outcomes of your request (strategy, ideas, recommendations, etc.)
I’m hoping the price tag for these mini-sessions will be a bit more attainable for those who can’t afford an agency, although I’m not sharing that information publicly (please send me a note at email@example.com for more).
Rest assured, it’s more than a fair price, especially considering how much you’d pay for the same service at any agency (and, keep in mind, you wouldn’t get someone with 20+ years experience working on that strategy either).
Use the time and meeting to revamp your social media strategy.
Use the time and meeting to explore influencer marketing options before investing further.
Use the time and meeting to peek at your existing social media activities and see what’s working, and where you could use additional help.
Use the time and meeting to brainstorm digital marketing and communications ideas for an upcoming new product launch.
It’s really meant to be an uber-efficient use of resources toward a key project, goal or strategy you’re responsible for.
Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get started!
If you’ll remember, a few months ago I made a commitment to supporting the #HeForShe movement. One way I committed to doing this—writing a blog post a month around the topics highlighted on the #HeForeShe site.
Today, I wanted to talk a bit about women who have made an impact on my career. In particular, five women who have made a significant impact on me, but might not know it.
Now, to be clear, there are a number of women who have shaped my career over the years. And, that list probably begins and ends with my wife, Angela. Without her support, none of this is even remotely possible. So, I need to note that right off the top. But, beyond that, there are simply too many women to mention in a single post. So, I thought I’d call out five. Women who have truly made a substantial change to my life and career.
Candee Wolf, Founder, Wolf Olson Communications
Candee Wolf is probably one of two people, professionally, who have changed my life the most. And, it all started with a cold call. Candee reached out to me in about 2004 with a simple ask: volunteer with the PRSA programming committee. At the time, I was a PRSA member, and was volunteering with the student relations committee. But, the timing was perfect. I was looking for something else. And, the programming committee gave me exactly the kind of opportunity I was looking for (prime networking and more visibility). As a result, I was quickly thinking about my APR (which I attained in 2006). I then was nominated to sit on the MN PRSA board of directors. And, after a couple years on the board, I was nominated to sit on the executive committee. All this, because Candee made a phone call. What’s more, Candee was one of my first clients as an independent consultant. In fact, she was a client TWICE! So, not only did Candee spark my career through my development with MN PRSA, she also helped me grow my business at a time when I was trying to get things off the ground. I will be forever indebted to Candee Wolf.
Shelli Lissick, Partner, Bellmont Partners Public Relations
I’ve know Shelli Lissick now for almost 25 years. Man, I don’t like to say that out loud. We met in college, as fellow mass comm majors at Winona State University. Since then, Shelli has went on to be a partner in the local and growing PR agency, Bellmont Partners. When I started my consultancy nine years ago, Shelli was one of the first people that reached out to me. The result of that meeting? One of my first clients (a partnership with Bellmont Partners) and two new life-long friends (Shelli introduced me to Brian and Jen Bellmont, who have since become dear friends of our family). She’s also responsible for introducing me to the gentleman above in the photo (Dr. Grier, a professor in the Mass Comm department at Winona State). At the time, she was recommending me as a speaker in his class. Since then, I have not only spoke to Dr. Grier’s class no fewer than 10 times, but I’ve developed a great relationship with him, and deepened my commitment to my alma mater (I sat on the Alumni Board for a couple years, as a result). That all happened because of Shelli Lissick.
Sarah Platte, Independent PR consultant
I first met Sarah Platte eight years ago as she was graduating from the University of Minnesota. And, she impressed me immediately. I remember at our first coffee meeting that she took note and had clearly developed a list of questions to ask during our time together. I can count on one hand the number of students I’ve met with over the years that have done that. She quickly found an internship at Sleep Number (my client), so our paths crossed a bit there. Then, she found a full-time job with my friends at Bellmont Partners. Our paths crossed again, since I do a bit of work with the BPR team from time to time. And, then a few years later, after she had moved to Los Angeles, our paths crossed again as I decided to hire her as a sub-contractor. And, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Because in our time working together, I learned a lot from Sarah Platte. How to be a bit more even-keeled, for example. How to be more organized. How to think about things in a more process-oriented way. One of the biggest drawbacks of working as an independent consultant is you really don’t have a sounding board. Sarah gave me that sounding board for a good solid year-and-a-half. And I’ll always be glad she agreed to do it.
Gabby Nelson-Thill, Global Communications Lead, Cargill
I first met Gabby about nine years ago. She reached out to me for a meeting, and at the time she was the director of internal and external communications at Sleep Number. A couple weeks later, Sleep Number was my first Fortune 500 client. I cannot over-state how huge this was for me as an independent consultant. And for that, I will forever be grateful to Gabby. And, really, that would have been enough. But, it was more about the four-plus years I worked with Gabby and her team at Sleep Number that changed my professional life. For starters, few people have the ability to navigate and manage a meeting the way she does. I learned a ton just by watching and observing Gabby in meetings at Sleep Number during those 4-5 years. I also learned how to expect more of myself from Gabby. As a client, she expected a lot from me–and, over the years, I came to really appreciate that, because I realized I should be expecting more from me, too! I really owe a lot of my early consulting success to Gabby Nelson-Thill.
Kellie Weiland, senior director, employer brand and social recruiting
While I’ve “known” Kellie for many years (Minneapolis is a small town, after all), I’ve really got to know her a lot better the last 3-4 years we’ve worked together at Sleep Number. And, during that time she’s been one of my favorite people to work with. Kellie is definitely one of the most results-driven clients I’ve ever worked with, a quality I really admire. But, she’s also fun-loving and quick-witted, which I truly enjoy. While most of our calls and meetings are very much agenda-driven, they are always filled with laughter, too. I’ve learned a lot from Kellie over the years. From the value of “optics” in social media to something I struggle with–the ability to deliver and receive constructive feedback. Over the years, Kellie has gone from professional acquaintance to client to dear friend. And, there’s no value I can put on that when it comes to career development. Or, life development, for that matter.
A few weeks ago, I attended my first trade show on behalf of a client in three years. It was a rather large trade show and I was tasked with social media strategy and execution during and after the show.
I’ve always found trade shows to be fun–pure adrenaline and exciting for me, as a solo, to work with people for a few days–but yet challenging considering the days are usually long (9-12 hours, usually) and devoid of solid food and beverage choices (lots of water is my mantra).
But, for many brands, trade shows are still content goldmines. Your customers are at trade shows. Thought leaders are at trade shows. Media are at trade shows. And, influencers are sometimes at trade shows. These all represent significant content opportunities for brands in different ways.
At the shows I’ve helped manage in the past, we typically focus on five different kinds of content:
- Promotional (straight-forward–what are we there to sell?)
- Thought leadership (both our own thought leadership and others at the show)
- Trends (what are we seeing at the show, what are people talking about, new technology unveiled at the show)
- Media (engaging with reporters on Twitter, sharing earned media we’ve secured at the event)
- Show-specific (engaging with the show sponsor’s Twitter account, for example, or talking about sessions at the show).
The formats range from video (heavy on interviews) to text/photo to more interactive (Facebook 360 pics, gifs of you walking the show floor, that kind of thing).
Usually, our approach is to capture a ton of content at the show, share some of it during the show, and save much of it for after the show to share over the course of the next 2-3 weeks (if not more).
During the show is pretty straight-forward–it’s a mix of sharing via Twitter (for real-time, hashtag following, tweeting more often here), Facebook (with paid support, of course, far less often than Twitter), Instagram (quite often, depending on the show) and LinkedIn (a post a day at absolute most).
After the show is where things get interesting. And it’s also where brands miss an opportunity to really repurpose that content they captured at the show in many ways. In my experience, I’ve found the following to be particularly effective:
1: Wrap-up and trend blog posts
This is where you can talk all about those tech trends you saw at the show–including your new product! This is also a prime spot to incorporate interactive content you captured at the show–embeds of 360 pics on Facebook, video interviews and gifs of you walking the trade show floor work well here.
2: Arm sales reps with key video assets
All those video interviews you captured of customers at the show? They’re great assets to share with your sales team as they approach customers in the coming months. In fact, you could create short email templates/language for your sales reps to use that include links to your video interviews on YouTube or Vimeo.
3: Follow-up with customers with email marketing featuring social content
Remember all those customer leads (email addresses) you got at the show? Why not follow-up with them in a couple weeks with an email that includes many of the content assets you grabbed at the show including customer interviews and the wrap up blog post above? Great way to show added value without asking for a sale (save that for the NEXT email!).
4: Add key social assets to product and service landing pages
Those video customer interviews are great content assets to add to any product landing page. They add instant credibility, and for many landing pages, they may be the only video assets you have on the page.
5: Create and promote your own Twitter Moment
Recapping the show is easy on Twitter now with Twitter Moments. Just grab your very best tweets (a mix of interactive content works best, in my opinion), a few customer tweets, and other tweets from the trade show organizer (the welcome and closing tweets to the show are good) to partner orgs or vendors at the show to put together your Moment.
6: Re-share social videos a few weeks after the event
Those video customer interviews from the show that you shared DURING the show–yeah, you can use them again! They probably don’t have an uber-long shelf life, but you should definitely use them a few weeks after the show again to max out on exposure and use.
7: Make sure to share on employee comms channels
And finally, all these content assets we’ve been discussing make for great content to share via employee e-newsletters, intranets and other internal communications. Ideally, you’d want to tether these communications fairly close to the end of the show though. Kinda like a “take a peek at what our team was up to last week at CES in Las Vegas”-type thing.
Lately, there’s been a lot of hand-wringing over the drop in Facebook usage. And while the big blue network is definitely priority number-one for most people when it comes to social media marketing, I think a much bigger issue is lying in the weeds.
By now, you probably read the New York Times piece calling out Devumi and a long list of celebrities who bought Twitter followers over the years. That piece has already led to some key moves by Twitter.
And, earlier this week, the New York Times was at it again–this time talking about bots and their impact on another social media platform, Instagram.
Anecdotally, I’ve had a couple conversations with clients in the last few weeks about the legitimacy of accounts and people on Facebook who have “liked” our content on an ad we posted. Just like Twitter and Instagram, many of these accounts seem fishy at best.
Yep, bots are becoming a big problem in social media marketing. And, I think it’s about to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.
And for us, as brand marketers and communicators, I think there’s a few things we should be doing in the meantime.
First, it’s probably high-time to start looking at your audience make up on social media platforms, if you haven’t done this already. That means checking your Facebook Insights for red flags in the audience pane. It means spot checks on your Facebook and Instagram ads for accounts that fit the audience you’re targeting. Warning: This will be time-consuming, but you will also get much smarter about the make-up of your audience by taking these steps.
Another area of work this impacts in a big way: Influencer marketing. In a world where follower counts are (almost) everything, you need to be more careful than ever with your influencer plans. Before engaging with any kind of influencer, make sure you do your due diligence. Spot check your influencers followers on the social media platforms where they’re most active. Make sure it’s made up of real people–and real people who are in your target audience. If you’re already working with the influencer, check their posts and see who’s liking and commenting on those posts. Again, make sure they fit your target audience profile. I know I sound like a broken record, but this isn’t easy work either. It’s going to take time. But, effective social media marketing is time-consuming. There are no shortcuts. You want to do great work? You need to put in great effort.
Finally, Twitter, Insta and Facebook are networks where bots seems to be somewhat rampant right now. But, you know what network isn’t over-flowing with bots? LinkedIn! Why? Because it’s full of actual people and their professional resumes. Much tougher to fake that than a Twitter bio. I’m not saying you should suddenly switch course and start investing in LinkedIn. What I am saying is LinkedIn has long been a hugely under-utilized social platform, especially when it comes to B2B and professional circles. If you’ve been thinking about spending more time on LinkedIn, maybe this is just the kick in the pants you needed.
There’s been an awful lot of hand-wringing about Facebook lately.
Edison Research released a report last week claiming Facebook usage was down–for the first time ever–from 67% to 62%. What’s more, Facebook usage among the coveted 12-34 segment was down from 79% in 2017 to 67% in 2018.
According to a recent BuzzSumo report, social sharing has been cut in half since 2015. This isn’t necessarily all about Facebook, but certainly sharing is a big part of user behavior on the platform.
Heck, even Mr. Zuckerberg himself is saying he believes time spent on Facebook will GO DOWN in 2018.
That doesn’t pain a very rosy picture for brands looking to invest more money in Facebook, does it? But, truth be told, I’m not sure there’s a big reason to panic–yet.
But, the “yet” got me thinking: What IF Facebook were to fail in the near future?
Think about it for a moment, because it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.
First, recent stats are pointing to a downturn. How much of a downturn, we don’t know just yet.
Second, from a societal perspective, it does feel like we may be at a tipping point. With the election, downturn in trust and over-load and stress many people are feeling due to the always-on nature of Facebook and other social media platforms, I could easily see people ditching Facebook in droves in the coming year(s).
In some ways, this may already be starting. Remember that stat above about people ages 12-34 using Facebook less? That could be just the start. What if that trend line continues and young people completely jump off Facebook. Who do you think would be next? Boomers and Xers who are using Facebook to monitor their kids behaviors and whereabouts!
Think about the domino effect and momentum that would create. All it’s really going to take is one key group to ditch the platform and I think a wave of people will follow.
The result? Facebook could be the next MySpace within a few months.
It could happen, people.
So, the question from the brand side then is this: How can you prepare for this scenario now?
Well, a life without Facebook probably means all those people who were once using Facebook will probably be using some other form of social or digital communication. So, Instagram and Snapchat usage would probably go up–especially among younger users. Dark social, like texting would increase. Niche platforms would become more of a focus (think LinkedIn, in spots).
I also think it would be wise to think about where you would put all that budget you’re using now in Facebook advertising. After all, if there was no one using Facebook, there would be no one to target with Facebook ads. So, where could you better use those dollars? Again, you would potentially shift ad dollars to other social platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat. Or, maybe you up your investment in your influencer marketing efforts. After all, most influencers are most active and successful on platforms like YouTube and Instagram–not Facebook.
Finally, I also think brands would think about focusing more time on owned digital marketing channels like their blog and email marketing. Of course, I’d probably recommend you spend a fair amount of time here NOW–but, you’d probably spend even more time here if Facebook became unavailable as a channel. More time and energy would definitely go here.
Could Facebook fail in 2018? Yes, but it’s probably not likely.
However, the bigger question is this: Are you ready for a scenario where Facebook does fail?
That’s an issue worth pondering.