Last week, Greg Swan shared an interesting tweet as part of his presentation on the state of social media in 2020. It talked about the “half life” of content. See below.
Fascinating to compare the half-life of content across platforms (time it takes for a piece of content to reach 50% of its total lifetime engagement) 🧐
Twitter: 20 mins
Facebook: 5 hrs
Instagram: 20 hrs
LinkedIn: 24 hrs
YouTube: 20 days
Pinterest: 4 mos
Blog post: 2 yrs
— Anu (@anutopiaa) January 28, 2020
Greg glossed over this tweet fairly quickly, as he had a lot of ground to cover. But, I thought it was very interesting–and worthy of more conversation considering the implications for social media marketers.
What piques my curiosity the most is the inverse relationship between the platforms where we spend the most time (Facebook, Insta and Twitter) and the half-life values for content.
We’ve all seen the stats that show where social media marketers are spending the most time–typically, Facebook and Insta are at the top of the list (Twitter has fallen off, but many marketers are still investing time there).
Meanwhile, which networks and tools do we see fewer social media marketers using? Pinterest, for sure. In fact, only 28% of marketers claim to be using Pinterest as a social media tool.
And, just over 50% of Fortune 500 companies do have a corporate blog, that number is far cry from the number of Fortune 500s that use Facebook, Insta and Twitter as social media tools (and, most likely, don’t update their blogs as much as those other channels, either).
And, as you can see from the tweet above, those are the two platforms with the highest content half-life values. Create content for Pinterest or a corporate blog, and it tends to stick around for a while. And, in the process, drive value for your brand.
What’s behind this? A couple key factors.
First, easy of creation. Let’s face it–it’s a lot easier to create a few Facebook or Insta posts each week than it is to create a 750-word blog post. Creating longer-form blog content takes time, resources and money. According to research, the average blog post takes more than 3 hours to create! I’m guessing it probably takes a fraction of that to create a Facebook post.
Second, immediacy is playing into this, too. Marketers want to see immediate returns for their content investments. Make a post on Insta, and you’re seeing likes, comments and tags within minutes. Create a new board on your Pinterest page and it’s litereally months (or years) before the final returns roll in. Our bosses are (typically) demanding immediate (or, at the very least, monthly) returns for our content investments. Long-tail assets like blog posts and pins don’t satiate that desire for immediacy.
I would add podcasting to this list, too. If it were on it, I’m guessing it would reside right between Pinterest and blogs. Same issue–tougher to create (much tougher than a blog post, in fact), little to no immediacy, but long-tail value for weeks and months at a time.
This all speaks to the “what have you done for me lately?” marketing culture we’re now living in. It’s tougher to sell a social marketing approach that won’t pay dividends for months vs. one that will see (almost) immediate results.
I’m usually an advocate for a social content strategy that embraces the immediate (Facebook, Insta, Twitter), but also the long-tail (blogs, podcasts, even LinkedIn, in some ways). As usual, it’s all about moderation and hedging your bets. In this case, it’s also about owned channels vs. “rented” channels.
Again, I thought this was good food for thought as you think about your ongoing social content strategy–and it was worth a little deeper conversation.
Last week, a friend sent me a note the posed an interesting question:
“How do we remain authentic about our business selves on LinkedIn? Comms people are ethical, authentic and we challenge our leaders to be authentic communicators. Yet, on LinkedIn everything is so positive. Rarely do people show any hint of humility.”
Great point, right? So good, I thought it was worth a more lengthy discussion and exploration here.
First, are comms folks really so braggadocious on LinkedIn? In a word, yes. I spend more time than the average person on the platform, and I can tell you: the number of people who don’t either 1) promote their company more times than not or, 2) promote themselves more times than not is pretty small. Like, I can barely think of anyone that DOESN’T do these things. David Armano at Edelman comes to mind (always has thoughtful posts and rarely promotes Edelman or his clients), and Amber Naslund (who does talk about her employer, LinkedIn, but rarely in a “look how cool my job is”-kinda way).
No, that observation is spot-on by my friend. We are self-promotional on LinkedIn. We do show only our best selves. And, we rarely show any chinks in our armor.
And, that is odd. Because, like my friend said, we would never encourage leaders or others at our company to do that. In fact, when I’ve led trainings for clients on LinkedIn, it’s one of the first things we talk about–don’t promote your company too much. Work on building relationships. Work on commenting and sharing other people’s content. Work on showing humility.
But, are we practicing what we preach as communicators? Are doing those things on LinkedIn?
I’m not so sure.
But, it can and should be happening more often. After all, I firmly believe most people who work in our industry are ethical and sensible.
So, what we can do to right this ship? A few easy things come to mind.
1 – Focus on being a listener.
Like I said, I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. But, the bulk of it is spent on listening–not talking. I’m looking for posts to comment on. Information I can use to send someone a private note (job promotions come to mind). Or, nuggets I can use to build a blog post or podcast “talking point.” Add to the conversation–instead of always trying to start a new one.
2 – Seek to open up discussions around topics that interest you.
This is one of my favorite things to do on LinkedIn. I’ve done this with case studies (recently, the Winona Super Bowl Ad discussion). I’ve done this with “controversial” topics (like how and when to correct people when they misspell your first/last name!). Give it a try sometime. I think people are thirsty to participate in these kinds of discussions on LinkedIn, but we just don’t see too many of them. Give us something to react to. Give us something to talk about with you. Start a MEANINGFUL conversation that doesn’t involve your brand or company. See where it goes. Report back!
3 – Instead of promoting yourself, seek to promote your colleagues, bosses and friends.
Everyone wants recognition. I get it. And, I’m no different. But there’s so much value in promoting your colleagues and friends vs. talking about yourself. First, it’s going to feel really good. Trust me. For me, nothing feels better than writing and sharing one of my PR Rock Star interviews–and then seeing the comments of support from the Rock Star’s friends, family and colleagues roll in. You can do the same thing on LinkedIn. The next time a friend or colleagues scores a new job, showcase them in a post of your own (instead of just commenting on that post noting their promotion in your feed). I guarantee your friend or colleague will notice–and so will a bunch of other people.
“What’s a typical day look like for you?”
It’s a question I heard a lot last semester at the University of St. Thomas. The students asked that question of the guest speakers. They asked it when we went on our tours at Best Buy and Padilla. And, they asked it of me!
I also love these “day in the life”-type posts when I see them on other sites. I’m a sucker–I’ll read them almost every time, no matter the profession or person!
So, what does a “typical” day look like for me as an independent consultant and now, adjunct professor? Goes without saying, but there is no typical day! So, I pulled a random day out to give you a glimpse at one 24-hour period!
6:30 a.m.: Wake up; walk dog; eat breakfast; get one kid to school. I am not an early riser person. I leave that to people like Susan Beatty and her 3:30 a.m. runs!
7:50 a.m.: Drive to nearby Starbucks. I always start my day at the coffee shop. I live near 3-4 different Starbucks. I try to mix it up, but often find myself at the one on 54th/Lyndale, although it has to be one of the busiest Starbucks in the city!
8:03 a.m.: Take a peek at the social communities for my biggest client (of 10 years now!), Sleep Number and respond to about 20 comments and private messages on their behalf. Over the last five years, we’ve created a social media playbook document that makes this a lot easier!
8:46 a.m.: Start research and writing a byline for my Trustmark client. Much of the work I do for them revolves around B2B media relations with HR publications, podcasts and blogs. We’re pitching a lot of bylines to these kinds of pubs, and in many instances, I’m on the hook to take the first stab at the draft.
9: 51 a.m.: Putting the finishing touches on a new business proposal I’m very excited about! I proof it twice and send it off, hoping I hear back shortly. It’s for some social + PR consulting for a health care start-up in town. I don’t normally do a ton of start-up work, but this referral came from a friend and I really like the people involved, so I went for it!
10: 17 a.m.: Walk dog–again (don’t look at me like that! I just took you for a walk!)
10: 28 a.m.: Scan LinkedIn; comment on a post where a friend got a new job; make a post promoting a Talking Points Podcast episode we just completed the previous day.
10: 41 a.m.: Do some last-minute prep for class! Finalizing a lesson plan and coordinating details for a few upcoming speakers coming into class. Don’t let anyone fool you–teaching a class is a lot of work!
11:01 a.m.: Draft social content for my Visit Richfield client. This usually involves coming up with creative ideas to sell the city of Richfield and promote tourism (i.e., hotel stays) in the city. Fun creative challenge each month!
11: 44 a.m.: Change into my professor clothes (just kidding, but I do change to go to class); and head over to the University of St. Thomas for class.
12:15 p.m.: Class starts! I review a few to-dos with the students and lecture about social media marketing. I only have 10 students in my class this semester, but they’re all fantastic in different ways.
1:20 p.m.: Class is done–head back to south Minneapolis to let the dog out.
1:42 p.m.: Work on drafting social content for my Sleep Number client for March. I work with the wonderful Kellie Weiland on Sleep Number’s Employer Brand work. We create content for Sleep Number’s Careers Facebook and Instagram pages and the company’s LinkedIn and Glassdoor pages. Super fun work and Kellie is one of my favorite all-time clients.
2:21 p.m.: Follow-up with the 30+ folks in the local mastermind group I manage with a note about our meeting tomorrow. This is a group of senior-level communicators at the biggest companies in town (General Mills, Toro, Medtronic, etc.) We get together every other month to discuss trends, professional development and case studies. I’m so proud I have the opportunity to know these folks (many are friends; this is just a few of the people in the group below) and chat with them each month.
2:38 p.m.: Walk dog. Again.
2:49 p.m.: Daughter walks in the door (she’s in seventh grade); I leave to pick up my son who’s in ninth grade at a local private high school (read: No bus!).
3:08 p.m.: Media follow-up outreach for my Truth Initiative/EX Program client. We made a pitch last week and I’m following up with a few key reporters to gauge reaction.
3:29 p.m.: Blog post research. Writing a post about influencer marketing trends and I’m knee-deep in research. It usually takes me 2-3 hours (at least) to write each post. I’ve been writing at least two posts a week for 10+ years now. I have the process down to a science, but I still love the process!
3:57 p.m.: Check the Sleep Number Careers Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram pages again for comments. I check-in with these pages three times a day (once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening).
4:18 p.m.: Do a little work on an Employer Brand presentation I’m giving in the coming weeks (a version of which I gave at Social Media Breakfast back in December!). I created this prezo 100% from scratch, so it took a while to do all the research. I figure I put in easily 30+ hours for each deck like this I build.
4:52 p.m.: Start meal prep for family. My wife texts that she’ll be home in 15 minutes.
5:43 p.m.: Dinner.
6:01 p.m.: Family time; read the newspaper (yes, we still subscribe to the Star Tribune!).
7:15 p.m.: Run to Mall of America with my daughter to shop for dresses for her school dance. I’m lobbying for Father of the Year for the 35 minutes I spent in Pac-Sun watching her try on somewhat inappropriate clothing for a seventh grade dance.
8:47 p.m.: Catch the tail-end of the Timberwolves game. I’m a huge b-ball fan–and Wolves fan, despite their less-than-stellar history. But, with the “New Wolves Order”, I’m all in again this year! #GoWolves
9:35 p.m.: Check on my Sleep Number communities one last time.
9:51 p.m.: Do a little work on another new business proposal. Would like to get that out to the client tomorrow.
10:12 p.m.: Walk dog for final time. I hope.
10:24 p.m.: Check phone for any urgent client issues one last time before I turn it off for the night.
10:32 p.m.: Watch episode of Fleabag with my wife–our new favorite show.
11:12 p.m.: Pass out. Day over. (I almost always fall asleep before my wife! I’ll have to catch the end of that Fleabag episode tomorrow!)
But, while the brand refresh appears to be a big hit for AWD, I’m not so sure about the social activation piece.
Let’s take a look at the social posts AWD made to announce the launch. On Facebook, they used a short video that played to the heritage of the company:
Although, to me, the better post was the one they made a few days later…
On Twitter, AWD used a branded gif.
Today, we’re proud to announce a bold evolution of our iconic brand that celebrates home design as part of the everyday moments and once-in-a-lifetime experiences that inspire today’s homeowners. #LoveTheLifeYouSee #AndersenWindows pic.twitter.com/LzHUWiZlTS
— Andersen Windows + Doors (@AndersenWindows) February 12, 2020
Again, to me, this was the more effective branded gif.
— Andersen Windows + Doors (@AndersenWindows) February 17, 2020
On Insta, they went with the same video they used on Twitter.
And, on LinkedIn, they once again went with the heritage video.
These content assets are solid–nothing out-of-the-ordinary or too crazy. Good solid branding posts, right? The heritage video, in particular, gets at the history behind AWD–something many are proud of in Bayport, and Minnesota. And, the short video of the new logo coming to life in lights in the morning sunrise is pretty cool.
And, these assets drummed up good–not great–engagement. And, from what I can tell, I don’t see any paid amplification at play (which seems odd, given how big of a rebrand this was for AWD, but whatever; budgets may have been tight).
The real oomph of the rebrand came from (possibly) an unexpected source: AWD employees.
I say unexpected because we don’t know if AWD orchestrated this or not. We don’t know if this was a purposeful strategy–or, if they just kinda fell into it. But, AWD employees are the ones who made this rebrand come to life. And, that’s the secret weapon to any brand refresh announcement: Your employees.
Allow me to elaborate.
For starters, AWD employees put a human face on what can be a very inhumane process (I mean, just read the Egotist article for proof of that! Holy corporate/agency buzzwords!). Below you have the AWD director of comms with the CMO and Eliza sending a strong “I’m proud to work at AWD” vibe.
Or, what about this powerful photo of what I can only assume is a Father-Son duo who work for AWD. What a message–two generations of Andersen employees! That’s probably 50+ years at AWD right there!
Or, what about digital marketer, Jackie Krings, who posted this great shot of her with two other AWD teammates celebrating the big day for the brand.
Finally, maybe my favorite–this LinkedIn video post from Jocely Lauer of the longest-tenured AWD employee raising the new brand flag at headquarters. Man, this could have been the feature image to the entire rebrand launch! At the very least, it was probably worthy of a bigger, splashier brand content piece.
As you can see, all of these employee-generated posts had good to tremendous engagement (again, remember, these are all organic engagements).
311 engagements. 56 engagements. 44 engagements. 132 engagements.
But again, more importantly, they put a very human spin on what is ordinarily a very ordinary and non-human process.
And, many times, that’s what the rebrand process is missing–a human element.
For future rebrands, I think there are a few lessons we can learn from the AWD brand relaunch:
1 – Think about your employees as an audience for the brand launch–and a channel.
Sure, employees are going to a key audience in terms of consuming the rebrand message. But, they can also be key content creators and sharers of the message! That definitely needs to play into the planning process. And, it can’t be an after-thought at the last minute. Given where social media marketing is at today, people trust people–not brands. So, you could argue what you do with your employees is much more important than what the brand accounts share!
2 – Give employees environments to capture and create content.
I’m not so sure AWD didn’t actually do this. Just look at some of the pics employees posted above. They are framing things up in front of the new logo. That may have been intentional on AWD’s part. And, if it was, that was smart. You really don’t want to be too prescriptive with employees–you want to empower them to create content. But, by giving them an environment to capture content (i.e., a backdrop with the new logo in the background), you’re setting the table for them. In this case, maybe they could have played off the tagline a bit more? Could AWD have asked employees to talk about how they #lovethelifeyousee on a piece of paper and show it as they stood in front of the new logo?
3 – Treat your most engaging employees like influencers.
Brands are already doing this with more advanced employee advocacy programs. Why wouldn’t you do it with a big brand re-launch? Identify your top 8-10 employees who are the most active on the channels you care about (maybe LinkedIn and Insta, in this case) and rope them in to the planning process early on. Involve them in planning meetings. Ask for their input. And collaborate with them on the best ways to involve employees in the sharing and social media process. I’m not sure I’ve heard of any company doing this, but man, it sure would be smart. Essentially treating your most influential employees like influencers. Tell me they wouldn’t love that! And, my guess is you’d get some great ideas from them on how to best share the big news with employees and how to best empower them to share.
It was big news in my world when Squarespace ran a Super Bowl spot featuring my adopted home town, and alma mater, Winona.
The spot featured Winona Ryder, who was born and raised in Winona (no, really), seeking the “real Winona”. The spot did feature a few images from Winona, but funny–the first image was of Ryder sitting in Mickey’s Diner in St. Paul, Minn.!
I can only imagine Winonans recoiling in horror as that image hit the screen on Super Bowl Sunday!
The Super Bowl spot actually didn’t perform too well, in the grand scheme of things. It was the 4th lowest rated ad in USA Today’s Ad meter (ouch!). And, many Winona residents weren’t too thrilled with it either, based on this Star Tribune opinion piece!
But, the big story here isn’t what happened in the spot or during the Big Game–but instead, what happened after.
Part of the Squarespace campaign also included, you guessed it, a web site (hello call to action!). The site, welcometowinona.com, included some wonderful photography of Winona and a link to buy a book of photos of the town–with proceeds going to the American Indian College Fund.
Good idea, wonderful integration and helping a great cause, too!
But, like I said, the spot didn’t exactly resonate with many native Winonans, who thought it didn’t accurately depict the town and its heritage. So, Visit Winona (the Winona board of tourism, which, by the way, is one of the best in the state), took matters into its own hands to act on that sentiment, and use it as a chance to attract more people to the city.
The move: Visit Winona developed its own site (using, you guessed it, Squarespace!): welcometotherestofwinona.com.
The Visit Winona site is also full of great photography–but, it featured photos that were generated by Visit Winona staff and actual Winonans. To my eye, the photos on this site are more representative of the city than Squarespace’s site (which looked like photos taken by an ad agency).
And, Visit Winona decided to create a photo book of its own as well. This one will be full of pics from the Visit Winona team and local social media followers. In fact, if you want to get a pic in the book, just snap a photo and use the hash tag #WelcomeToWinona for your chance! All proceeds go to “local initiatives”–what a great idea!
But, Visit Winona didn’t stop there. The site also includes a sweepstakes titled “Find your True Winona!” where folks can win an all-expense paid trip to Winona that includes airfare and tickets to a number of well-known Winona events (Great River Shakespeare Festival, Frozen River Film Festival, etc.). A dozen donuts at Bloedows (best donut shop in MN–no arguments!). 2 flights of beer at Island City Brewing Company. And a series of outdoorsy adventures (climb SugarLoaf!).
All in all, an absolute home run for the Visit Winona team. Outstanding work capitalizing on a big moment for the city.