Last week, Edelman exec, David Armano made an interesting post on LinkedIn. His question: Do you respond to everyone who reaches out to you professionally for help?
It’s a great question and one I’ve struggled with as long as I’ve been a solo (nine years and counting now!). Apparently, I’m not alone as Armano was lamenting the same thing. His strategy: He can’t respond to every inquiry so he chooses to prioritize those he’s met in person on in meaningful ways in the past.
That’s a good approach, and it got me thinking specifically about LinkedIn since I know this is a challenge for many people–no matter their age or experience level.
Do you respond to everyone who reaches out to you for help on LinkedIn?
My answer: No–with explanation.
I definitely don’t respond to every request I get to connect on LinkedIn. After all, many of those come from people who aren’t even in my industry. Or, people from random locales that I’ve never met before and have few connections in common.
So, what I try to do is be fairly selective based on a few key criteria:
Have we met in person?
If yes, that’s an easy yes. Unless you’re a Packer, Bucky or a K-State fan. Then it’s a hard no 🙂
Have we worked together in the past?
If yes, another easy yes. Unless you were that jerk who kept stealing my lunch 15 years ago. Then, you can take a flying leap.
Are you a student?
If yes, that’s yet another easy yes. Especially if you attended: 1) Winona State University (my alma mater), 2) the University of Kansas (where I went to school for a year), or 3) the University of Minnesota. I will almost always say yes to a student asking for help (if my schedule allows). I’m a firm believer in paying it forward, and this is a big way I do that. So many people helped me along the many journeys in my career–it’s my turn to repay all those favors.
Do you work in PR, communications or social media at a big company in the U.S.?
Another easy “yes.” Especially if you work in these disciplines at a big company here in the Twin Cities or Minnesota. Not just because these types of people are ideal clients for me, but because I’ve been in their shoes before and I can identify with a lot of what they go through on a day-to-day basis. Getting together for coffee is easy with this crowd.
Are you a fellow solo or independent consultant just starting out?
Another easy “yes.” Much like my student note above, so many other solos helped me get my practice off the ground nine years ago. It’s the least I can do to help those making that same transition today (and I get asked to do this a lot!).
Do you work in sales, investment banking or real estate?
Easy and hard “no.” When I need a new home, I’ll call you.
As you can see, my strategy is a bit of a mixed bag. The real trick is this: Figuring out how to not turn down what could be a serendipitious connection. For example, a number of years ago, I reached out to a guy named Jamie Plesser. At the time, he was working in digital at Best Buy. I thought he sounded like an interesting guy to meet–and he was a fellow Jayhawk fan! But, from his perspective, I’m sure I came across as a consultant looking for work. Lucky for me, Jamie took that first meeting. A few months later, we ended up serving on the MIMA board of directors together. A few months later, we were co-chairing a committee together. A few months later, we were watching KU games. A few months later, we were starting our own digital training practice. A few months later, we were vacationing together with our families.
Point is, NONE of that happens if Jamie turns down that first email outreach.
So, how do you know which of those random requests to respond to? I’m not sure there’s an easy answer to that. For me, it usually involves some research. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can usually give you a pretty good glimpse–but asking around helps, too. Sometimes it’s a leap of faith. Sometimes it’s just a risk you take. And sometimes it just doesn’t work out. There’s no foolproof strategy. A lot of it is just gut instinct.
But, I thought this was an interesting topic today because, again, I know it happens to virtually everyone.
How do YOU determine who to respond to when people reach out professionally?
photo credit: marcoverch Linkedin-Logo am PC-Monitor, durch eine Lupe fotografiert via photopin (license)
Two years ago I wrote this post. The theory: Brands no longer need to post 20 times a week to drive results in social media marketing.
Back in 2016, this was actually a somewhat progressive concept. A few brands were leading the way (Target, at the time, was the example I liked to use), but most were still playing by 2012 rules (volume > quality) and posting 20-30 times a month on Facebook.
Fast forward to 2018–nothing has changed. In fact, you could make a pretty solid argument that less is actually WAY MORE now. Volume no longer matters–not even a little. Charts and research like this confirm it:
Less is definitely more when it comes to social media content in 2018. Yet, I continue to see MANY brands completely ignoring that best practice.
Just one of many, many examples–I’ll pick on Home Depot. They had a whopping 39 posts in October on Facebook. My math’s never been great, but I believe that comes out to just under 10 posts per week. More than one per day!
What’s more, most of those posts average right around 250 engagements per post. That’s a 0.00005 percent engagement rate. Again, I’m not a math expert, but I don’t think that’s an admirable engagement rate–especially for a brand like Home Depot.
So, essentially we have a brand wasting it’s time and resources by posting 39 times to a social platform that no longer requires you to post that often. Of course, Home Depot most likely has a slew of paid social media campaigns on Facebook each month. But, that makes the decision to post so frequently to their wall even more confounding.
My theory: This is all about ego and protecting jobs.
It’s the only possible explanation. Creating all this content takes people-power. People-power that was obtained after years of trying to convince corporate bosses that we needed all these people to create social content. After all, volume was the play.
But, then things changed. Algorithms changed. The whole game changed. Paid took over. You no longer needed to post 20 times a week. However, we now had all these people instructed to create 20 new pieces of content each week. How do we justify those jobs if we now need just 2-3 pieces of social content a week?
How do I justify MY job to manage all these people if we now just need a handful of pieces of content each month? How do I explain that to my bosses?
This is what’s behind it. And, it’s flawed thinking.
Consider the opportunity cost of producing 39 pieces of content a month. Let’s say Home Depot was creating just 6-8 pieces of content for Facebook each month–a much more realistic number. Take the time/effort your team used to create the additional 30 pieces of content and sink that into creating 6-8 pieces of super-impactful content.
Or, use it to start experimenting with an emerging platform, like Instagram Stories.
Or, use it to help staff recruitment marketing, which is struggling to get a foot-hold.
Certainly, there is no shortage of opportunities for your team!
These are the “Big Four” of the social media marketing world. And, they encompass about 90% of all social media marketing for most companies. In fact, according to a recent UMass-Dartmouth study, 91% of Fortune 500 level companies use Twitter, 89% use Facebook, 63% use Instagram and 98% use LinkedIn.
However, a slew of other more niche social networks exist that may help your social media marketing efforts. Any social media marketer worth their salt is exploring these new and emerging social networks each month. If you’re not doing that, you’re not doing your job.
Today, I want to touch on four of these niche networks I think are WILDLY overlooked by most marketers. I’d like to cast the spotlight on them for a moment and talk about the existing audiences you’ll find there, and the potential uses for brands (and which types of brands might find them most helpful).
Overlooked social network #1: Quora
- 190M users
- 400,000 topics
- 775,000 people access Quora each month in the U.S. alone
Quora’s probably the most niche of the four networks mentioned here. But, in spots, it can also be the most useful. Why? Because Quora is essentially a Q&A site. And people have a lot of questions. So, this is a great place for brands to establish authority by simply answering customer questions. It’s also a great place to learn about your product or service. A few simple queries can tell you what people are asking about for the issues surrounding your product or service–it’s a great research tool! Just starting there could be a big win for many businesses (and unlike other social networks, it doesn’t require constant care and feeding).
Overlooked social network #2: Pinterest
- 250M active users
- 175B+ pins
- 1 in 2 millennials use Pinterest every day
Why Pinterest? Lots of reasons! First and foremost, the long tail–pins are forever and that means long-term engagement and traffic from Pinterest. Second, Pinterest definitely influences purchase decisions. According to research, 87% of pinners have bought a product because of Pinterest! Finally, Pinterest drives traffic. A lot of traffic. According to Shareaholic, around 5% of all referral traffic to websites comes from Pinterest. This is second only to Facebook.
Overlooked social network #3: Reddit
- “Front page of the internet”
- 300M users
- 853,824 subreddits
- 58M daily votes
- Average visit: 15 minutes, 47 seconds
Why Reddit? Let’s be clear: Reddit isn’t for every brand. I say that because Reddit isn’t a marketing play the way most social networks can be. It’s a COMMUNITY play. Case in point: Brands like Microsoft that use Reddit as a customer service channel. They’re not marketing xbox, they’re simply answering questions and addressing concerns about the xbox on Reddit. Yep, Redditors have a long history of calling out and despising brand who attempt to marketing (the traditional way, at least) on Reddit. So, as a brand, you need to get creative. Like using AMAs. “Ask Me Anything” is now a popular phrase and ploy used across many social networks–but that concept started on Reddit. And, it’s a popular way for brands to interact and show up on Reddit (just ask Transamerica, who held an AMA a few years ago about).
Overlooked social network #4: Nextdoor
- 200,000 active neighborhoods
- More than 17M recommendations
- 90% of U.S. neighborhoods are active on Nextdoor
I’ve see a fair amount of what I would call “brand spam” on Nextdoor already. Brands pitching their products right in the feed. Feels completely out of place–even more so than other social networks because there’s not a ton of it yet. But, what I see REALLY working well here is government and non-profit content. The City of Minneapolis does a decent job here with regular posts about hyper-local events and to dos like street sweeping and its recent 2020 strategic plan.
I know everyone is sick to death of blog posts titled this way. Really, I am aware. However, I just couldn’t think of a better way to title this post–and I really just wanted to write about this movie today.
Because this was the best movie I’ve seen all year. Might have been the best movie I’ve seen in FIVE years. I mean, I dare you to watch this video and not tear up:
It was that good. It was that well acted (Cooper will be nominated and may win). Gaga’s voice was tremendous. The music was off-the-charts good. And even though we all knew what was coming, I loved the story (who doesn’t love a great love story?).
The reason this movie is still with me 48 hours later is the emotional connection it made with me. For the first time in a LONG time, I was completely sucked into a movie. I was locked on those characters. Sitting on their every word. Watching, transfixed, with every concert and song they performed. I mean, I was ALL IN.
And, that doesn’t happen very often at the movies. Not for me.
But this movie drew me in. How? A few different factors:
- Music. First and foremost, the music absolutely made this movie. So many great, compelling songs. From “Black Eyes” right off the bat to the powerhouse “Shallow” to my favorite “Always Remember Us This Way” the music hit me just right. It’s my kind of music. And Gaga’s tremendous voice paired with Cooper’s surprisingly capable vocals made for the perfect mix. I got chills in the theater at least 4-5 different times due to the music.
- Details. The acting was amazing–but what I noticed most was the smallest of details in the acting that made all the difference. Like how Cooper changed his voice to add a twist of gruffness to it–very similar to what Jeff Bridges did in Crazy Heart years ago (another fantastic movie if you have the time). Or, the scene with Cooper and Sam Elliott (his brother in the movie) where Elliott is driving Cooper home from rehab and he stalls when leaving the car, pauses, voice cracking, and tells Elliott it was him he idolized growing up–not his Dad. Elliott doesn’t miss a beat and drives away with tears in his eyes. Details made all the difference in the acting.
- Directing. I loved the way this film was shot. From the gritty concert footage (loved the shots of Cooper playing the guitar wildly in concert) to the closeups of Cooper and Gaga, which were tremendously powerful and heated throughout the movie. The directing made a world of difference–and Cooper knocked it out of the park here, too.
Now, what do all these things have to do with social media marketing? One word: Emotion. Like I said at the outset, this movie made a strong emotional connection with me. I’m still feeling it two days later! And, judging from the comments on a Facebook post I made about this movie the day after, I’m not alone.
Social media content–specifically, video content–should be designed, in many ways, to do that very thing. Yet, we see very little of that from brands. Oh sure, every once in a while a brand like Nike will come along and blow us away with a powerful video, but for the most part, brands struggle to create true emotional connection with their customers.
What’s more, as brands get into the programming world, this will become even more important. Think about Deluxe’s Small Business Revolution. Great example of a brand getting into broadcast programming (the show is on Hulu, after all!). As brands start creating more ongoing, long-form programming, they’d be wise to think about how they create and nurture that emotional connection.
Through music. Through details. Through direction.
Three key elements to keep in mind as you develop your video content.
Now, GO SEE A STAR IS BORN!
I’m a sucker for a good keynote presentation. Lucky for me, the MIMA Summit seems to hit home run after home run when it comes to keynotes.
This year was no different.
Unfortunately, I missed the morning keynote, otherwise I’m sure I’d be blogging about Cindy Gallop this morning. But, I did make the afternoon keynote, and I dug a lot of what entrepreneur, Scott Belsky was throwing down.
His prezo was full of those slides with standard inspirational lines. You know the ones. Like this:
But, I’m a sucker for these kinds of slides. Not because I think they’re particularly insightful, but because they typically spark some other kind of thought that leads to a bigger idea I’d be thinking about for a while.
So, I thought I’d talk about seven of these “observations” Scott had during his keynote, and what they sparked on my end:
“The future is crafted by those who do the work they don’t have to do.”
I loved this quote and it spoke directly to me as I’ve been this kind of person throughout my career. A hand-raiser. I’ve always been the kind of person who’s not afraid to tackle roles and responsibilities outside my job description. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever uttered the phrase “sorry, that’s not in my job description.” However, I’m going to disagree with Scott on this one. In my experience, the people who go above and beyond frequently get taken advantage of by the people creating the future (i.e., the bosses). It’s almost like they’re too good at what they do. Those people are too valuable in those positions, so they fail to move up. It’s one of the things that frustrated me about corporate America and I continue to see it as a consultant.
“Resourcefulness > Resources”
One thing I hear all the time from clients (especially when it comes to social media marketing): “We don’t have the resources.” Scott’s point here: Before you throw up roadblocks re: resources, determine if you’re being as resourceful as you can with your EXISTING resources. It’s a great point to keep in mind the next time you’re thinking about throwing up that roadblock. For example, do you have an intern who can help you with tasks you’re considering outsourcing? Could you use employees from across the company to create more content vs. paying an agency to do the same thing? Or, better yet, could you shift some of the money you’re still investing in print ads to those social media ads you’ve been dying to invest in (but thought you couldn’t due to a “lack of resources”). Sometimes, you don’t need more resources–you just need to be more resourceful.
“If you avoid folks who are polarizing you avoid bold outcomes.”
I actually love this quote–I just don’t happen to believe in it. I do believe involving polarizing and bold individuals to your team can lead to bold outcomes. Sometimes, you need that big personality to stir the pot and get the team moving in a different (and bold) direction. But, I also think often times those “polarizing” individuals are also assholes (pardon my French). And, I don’t really like working with assholes. So, I don’t work with assholes because I believe I can achieve “bold outcomes” without working with assholes. So, I guess I actually violently disagree with Scott here. Don’t put up with assholes. Life’s WAY too short.
“Share ideas liberally.”
I wrote a post a few years ago about my “top 10 dream jobs.” The idea: To share my dreams with the hope that some friend, family member or acquaintance could help connect the dots and make an introduction to one of those dream clients. That didn’t happen in this case, but I came close in a few situations. People tried. Made intros. It worked. This is the same concept–and a mindset I’ve adopted on this blog years ago. It’s served me fairly well.
“Be the bureaucracy breaker.”
Easily my favorite quote of the presentation–and of the entire MIMA Summit. One of the biggest frustrations most folks will tell you about working in the corporate world is all the red tape. All the things you do year after year because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”All the rules and sacred cows that exist for God knows what reason. Bureaucracy comes with the territory in corporate America, I’ve learned. But, that doesn’t make it right. Corporations could achieve more of the bold outcomes they’re looking for if they had more people who just said one more more often: WHY? Simply asking “why?” would help break down some of these bureaucracies and tear through some of this red tape. It would also help question why certain things are done the way they’re done–examining existing processes and decisions is always a good thing. Start asking annoying questions like “why”–it may not make you popular, but it will lead to better results in the long-term.
“When you start getting attention, you stop paying attention.”
This quote is all about ego. Essentially, when you start achieving success you also tend to stop paying attention to the details and work that got you to where you are. I see this in my own career arc. I remember back to when I was starting my business nine years ago. I was hungry. REALLY hungry. I NEEDED to succeed. At all costs. And, over the past nine years, I’ve been pretty successful. But, keeping that level of intensity is tough. It’s hard to maintain the same level of hunger you had when you were first starting. Just ask Rocky Balboa! 🙂
“Double down on curiosity.”
May apply more to digital and social media marketing than just about any other discipline on earth. Why? Because our field is constantly changing. Doubling down on curiosity is almost a requirement in our industry! So you think you mastered Facebook advertising? Well, they just added five new features that you need to now learn about. You think you’re familiar with all social media channels? Just wait until a client asks you how to execute a paid campaign on Nextdoor! In order to succeed in our world, an insatiable curiosity is a “must have.” Always be doubling down on curiosity.