Win of The Week: Brand collaboration gold…

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Social media is all about leveraging content, engagement and growth tactics effectively. Brand collaborations are an excellent way to attack all three and are very easy to execute. They offer you access to new eyeballs, easy ways to “stage your product” and new conversations with potential would be customers along the way. We are all in!

Here at Sircle Media, we are big buyers of underpriced attention for our clients. Brands are all trying to figure out how to maximize their own social media efforts and are usually very interested in collaborating this way. We regularly seek out partners who have a nice aesthetic, are clearly open to working with other brands and who have a highly engaged audience.  As an agency, companies are even more interested in working with us, as we can be an entree to working with multiple brands and not just a one off transaction. We use this to our client’s advantage of course, to help land more relationships and control the conversation along the way.

Some brands make the mistake of only looking to others who have larger audiences than their own. In every collaboration there is always one who will be bigger and one smaller, and we think they all have value. We care more about the image, the target and the experience. If a brand has a smaller, but highly engaged audience of core customers we want to be in front of, then we are buyers for sure!

These have proven to be a surefire way to grow an Instagram following, to land nice looking content to round out your own feed and to create direct communication opportunities with customers. With content, you get to use the imagery (including secondary shots of the products side by side) in your messaging, which alleviates some of your organic content creation pressure.

When it comes to engagement and growth, we recommend some gaming to help stir the pot. Above, we had an Instagram contest, that required both a follow AND the tagging of friends to enter.  We received 451 likes, 300 new followers and 142 comments, each of which included the tagging of 2 IG users. Afterwards, we engage with those accounts and strike up conversations on a one-to-one level, that can help our client Modern Oats establish a dialogue that would not have existed before.

In the end of the day, these collaborations provide a very powerful punch and should be a core component to any social media strategy.

 

 

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On real social media strategy, that solves client needs…

Our client IMDbPro, (an Amazon Company) was referred to Sircle Media because they were seeking a social strategy that was right for their unique business. They are really focused on new user acquisition for their paid service, which focuses on all types of professionals in and around the entertainment industry. Whereas their consumer facing brand IMDb, can rely on countless movie quotes, actor backstories and unlimited useful (and sometimes useless) movie facts and pieces of information to help them create and cultivate a community, the Pro version has more of an uphill battle.

Sircle explained they needed to do a better job with conveying the USP’s of the platform, many of which lived only behind their pay wall.  We suggested moving some of their powerful video testimonials to their homepage, so new prospects could get a taste of the benefits they could expect from a subscription to the service.

We also recommended featuring a free 30 day trial to reduce the risk for new users and help get them into the brand’s marketing CRM channel.  We then created and implemented the use of video (as seem above) to help them convey the ease of signing up and to earn them more visibility. This type of clean and simple video content, is effective at conveying a brand’s key marketing messages and is a surefire way to hack more impressions on social media.

This creative will be used for organic messaging, as well as on paid social efforts.  We will optimize for reach and then retarget users who viewed the video, with messages that will move them further down the funnel.  Social networks provide targeted pools of individuals that you can serve smart messages to, and video arms you with a powerful tool that earns more impressions than all other forms of content.

Our suggestion is that brands reverse engineer what they want to have happen, without over thinking how social platforms will help at the outset. First identify the barriers to conversions and then work to remove them. Next, capture your USP’s through video, to properly convey your marketing messages and accelerate the reach of that content. Finally, deploy on social media platforms and add gasoline to the fire with paid social efforts.

Wash, rinse, repeat!

 

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Thinking about winning in Q4.

Sircle- 4th quarter

As we all approach Q4 and start to get really serious about our digital efforts, we think all clients should have some clear plans and objectives in mind.  We always say that the business drives social and not the other way around, so it is so important that brands really think about what they have lined up. The more we know about their internal objectives and plans, the better we can advise on how to approach things digitally.  Here we outline what we think most should be thinking about as this year comes to a close, and 2017 looms.

1. Got goals?

Paint a success picture for the final few months.  What does a home run look like?  The very first step to creating a successful social media strategy is understanding what your end goal is. It’s important to be realistic and set challenging yet achievable goals.

Here are some examples of goals you might want to consider for your social media strategy:

  • Increase overall traffic to your website by 50% year over year
  • Drive 60% more engagement year over year
  • Influence 30% more conversions year over year
  • Increase revenue from social media by 20% year over year.

The above goals are completely random, purely intended to get you thinking of the types of things you might like to accomplish in the coming months. With definitive goals in mind, you can then align everything you do towards achieving them.

2. Who do you want?

Are you looking at data and understanding who your real target audience is?  Who has been buying?  Who is engaging with you on social?  First, we would recommend taking a look at your current customer base and trying to create demographic personas based on needs, spending and whether you want to keep this current customer base or aim for a different one altogether.

If you don’t have a large customer base to vet for that ideal audience, there are tools you can use to see who is naturally gravitating towards your brand via your website and social media channels.

Where to look:

  • Google Analytics – Google Analytics has some awesome tools to help you understand the demographics, location, interests and even behaviors of your website visitors.
  • Facebook Insights / Audience Insights – Facebook is king of the data kingdom and has a wealth of information on users that are connected to your page, visit your website and even engage with your content. Installing a Facebook pixel or uploading an email list will help you unlock this valuable data.

Leveraging data to identify your target audience has always been important, however when it comes to creating a successful social media strategy it’s absolutely a must.

3. What are you saying?

Social networks offer you access and data to tell you how many people are out there and what they are interested in.  You must decide, once armed with this information, what you are going to say. There is so much content and clutter out there, so you have to start to hone in on how you will differentiate. Graphics, photos and videos need to be top notch and really stand out. In addition to visuals, you have to put out well written content too.

  • Look – 90% of information transmitted to the human brain is visual and our minds process visuals 60,000x faster than text. To win attention (and impressions) on social media you’re going to need to create compelling visuals to tell your story.  Don’t sleep on art.
  • Watch – Video, video, video. Almost every social media platform has upgraded their video capabilities and you should follow suit. Videos don’t have to be expensive to produce either, anything visual that is not still, qualifies.
  • Read –If you have a blog on your website, you’re already ahead of the game. If you can create valuable blog content that’s promoted properly through your social media channels, you’ll definitely begin to attract your ideal customer to your website. After all, you’re writing the content and you control the messaging.

4. Pay to play?

To truly reach a targeted audience and see a real tangible business/revenue result from social media, it’s highly recommended to allocate a dedicated social media advertising budget. Within the next five years, social media advertising is expected to comprise over 20% of marketing budgets. Social advertising is the absolute most cost effective way to reach a targeted audience where they are the most engaged.

5. Where are they watching?

Did you know that it’s estimated that people check their phones an average of 150x per day? Since we’re all addicted to mobile devices, wouldn’t it make sense to tailor your social media strategy to be mobile-first? 33% of shoppers do a majority of research on a mobile device and 49% say that they would buy more through their mobile device if the process was easier.

Since the consumer journey is no longer linear and takes place across different devices, we should all make sure that we make our content, social advertisements and website mobile friendly. 80% of social media time is now spent on mobile devices, so not optimizing your social media strategy for mobile could prove deadly.

Spend some time thinking and/or rethinking your POV on these categories right now and then get your house in order before Q4 and 2017 come calling. You don’t need to do it all today, but you do need to be leaning in on all of these categories right away. Set yourself up to win and get to work.

 

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Sircle Sessions: What the key areas of focus in social media?

Sircle-Social Sessions

Many brands are not taking a holistic approach to social media and are treating it like its own silo of activity.  The team responsible for social, is usually understaffed and is often not in sync with the rest of a company’s digital initiatives, which is a big mistake.

Social media management is a full time job and pulls from a lot of different talents.  You need to be able to write, create, navigate various social platforms and be able to have the understanding of digital, to have it all working pursuant to a make sense strategy. Once you have the right person or team in place, then it comes down to a lot of small ball work. Click the image above or here, for an excerpt from a recent interview on the topic.

It really needs to be a balance of content, engagement and growth tactics in order to have transformational social media results. Brands need to really invest equally in all three, if they want to experience a really meaningful impact:

  1. You must contribute to the community with good content that people will enjoy and want to consume.
  2. You cant just put out content, you must seek out conversation opportunities and then close the loop.
  3. You also need to have a content and engagement strategy that aims to satisfy bigger marketing or company growth goals such as: fan and follower aggregation, traffic to the website, email capture, awareness (reach, impressions, branded searches) and of course – sales!

Social media affords brands a very inexpensive way to speak with and listen to customers and prospects.  So many marketers spend so much time talking about why social doesn’t work, why it isn’t trackable or how it dosnt have an ROI, and if they spent half of that time actually putting in the work, they would be singing a very different tune.

In order to win you must be a daily practitioner, and continue to tinker around.  Small moves, can produce big results- but only if you are really in the game.

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Sircle Sessions: Where do brands go wrong with social?

Sircle-Social Sessions

I sat down for a recent interview and we went deep into a discussion on social media and how brands approach it the wrong way. Most get (or pretend to get) that they need it, but do not invest the right resources into making it work. Click the image above or here, to watch some of that conversation.

It has to be an all in mentality to win and you cannot be half pregnant. You must plant the seeds and then water them with time and dollars to make sure that they not only grow, but flourish. The brands who get this and approach it as religion rather than just tactics, are winning and I am proud to say we work with many of them.

Garyvee said it right when he stated that “social media is just a slang term for the internet-the math is straightforward: people’s internet consumption now happens on mobile, and the thing people do the most on mobile is use social media platforms. That is the internet now. If you don’t understand this, you’re behind. There is zero difference between “digital marketing” and “social media marketing.”

Social media is not a fad, it is the current state of the union. Not creating and putting out content and of equal importance not listening to and engaging with the community, is just not acceptable for any business in today’s day and age. Brands need to wake up and participate, or they are going to put themselves out of business.

 

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The Customer Is Always Wrong?

customer is always wrong

Well not really, but the subject is sure to get me some eyeballs right?  Hear me out though…

I find that most companies are making bad decisions these days either based on lack of knowledge, insecurity and/or fear. When they are feeling insecure or scared they tend to be conservative and not forward thinking. This is the wrong POV and a surefire way to go out of business. I am convinced that to succeed you must be proactive, confident and be willing to experiment and go outside of your comfort zone.

Many brands hire a Social Media Agency, because they feel pressured to by the market, but don’t really understand what that means. They do it from a position of weakness, rather than a proactive and positive decision to implement what they know deep down needs to get done. Because they are not 100% sold on the value of social media for their business they often are “half pregnant” with the decision and therefore play in the middle of the tennis court.  This sometimes makes for an awkward engagement and it almost seems like they are waiting for them to screw up and/or looking to prove that it was not a good hire. Almost like in some perverse way, they want to show them that the decision was a bad one.  What is the sense in that?  Again, just the wrong POV.

I suggest they take a different posture.  Make a threshold decision that online efforts are mission critical for the brand, determine what they want to see happen and then staff to those goals.  They will need an excellent Social Media Manager (or an agency like ours that serves as one) who is well versed in all nuances of social media, understands the importance of excellent customer service and perhaps most important, feels like a dedicated employee who works each day to outperform their pay grade.  In the end of the day, great companies are driven by great employees who are committed to the cause. Jim Collins talks about that in his book, Good To Great and it all comes down to having the right people on the bus, working on clear objectives.

So when I say the customer is always wrong, what I mean is that in my experience most just have the wrong POV. They either don’t buy in, or they do so half heartedly and don’t allow for the effort to (fully) succeed. At Sircle, our best clients are the ones who have full confidence that social and digital media are a “must have” for their business and either give us full autonomy and/or work with us to solve for X and find the can vs the can’t, in any effort we deploy.  When as a team we believe it as religion over tactic, it takes hold and we see amazing things happen.

Clients want and need me to speak my mind and stand my ground.  Not to be argumentative or combative, but to be a voice of reason and the usher of change.  If I employ a customer is always right mentality, we all fail.  So I try to tell them the opposite, with a smile of course. :)

 

 

 

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Safe is Risky

Safe is Risky quote

I meet with brands each week and nearly every single meeting comes down to a conversation where they know they need social media, but they just aren’t ready to really pull the trigger in a meaningful way.  They see that retail is hurting and they agree they need to do more web business, but it is less than 5% of their total revenue.  They don’t have a digital strategy (let alone a social one) and they think that somehow it is going to change. News alert…it wont!

The problem is that they dont understand digital so it scares them.  They instead choose to “play it safe” and advertise on traditional mediums like TV, outdoor and mailers (that don’t work) OR even worse they don’t market at all.  I would argue (and I think Seth Godin would agree) that this safe approach is the riskiest of all.  Failure to act, is an act of failure.  Brands need to start changing this mentality, before they go extinct.

If you had a heart attack today and survived, it would most likely cause you to assess and adjust things right away. You would start taking better care of yourself, would consult with experts on how to get there, read blogs and articles for ideas on how to incorporate for yourself personally and would generally take a much more serious stance on your health and well being. It would be a catalyst for you to start doing what you aways knew you needed to, but just didn’t.

So, imagine that your business had a heart attack today and get going on improving its health now. Stop wasting money on things that you cannot track and don’t work. Stop procrastinating on social media and stop putting your fate in the hands of ill equipped junior staff members, or worse in a marketing department that doesn’t believe in or understand it.  Start capturing emails and communicating with your customers in a smart and strategic way.  Start creating content that they care about and want to read.  Start spending advertising dollars on highly trackable platforms such as Facebook and Instagram now.

As we have said before, social media is just a new term for the internet and social networks are just part of the ecosystem. Not using the internet and/or thinking about how to engage people on their mobile phones (where the focus and attention clearly is) in 2016, is like eating bacon and ice cream 7 days a week and never working out. Some people might survive, but the vast majority will drop dead too soon. Don’t be part of the latter group.

Playing it too safe, is super dangerous for your (business’) health!

 

 

 

 

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What does Sircle Media do?

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We help brands and businesses win online. Too abstract?  Well let me explain it a bit further.

Most companies are trying to do more online, generate business from their own e-commerce store and/or strike up a conversation with clients/customers/prospects via digital channels and just don’t know how. Either they don’t have anyone on staff who is skilled in these areas (so we fill that void) OR they do, but those people often don’t know how to approach marketing in the year that we live in. So many senior marketers are employing old and/or safe tactics without understanding how to navigate the current terrain. This is a recipe for disaster.

You see, many Marketing Directors have earned their roles over the last decade, and given their trajectory they didn’t have to get into the trenches on social media.  As a result they lack the fundamental understanding of how to use it and how to explain the merits to their bosses. It is safer to stick with what they know, than to experiment and explore with social.  We look to join their team and help them change that way of thinking and really make a difference through their social efforts. We make it clear that their brand is “on social media” whether they choose to engage in it or not. Those that get it, are one step closer to harnessing the power of it.

We believe that business drives social and not the other way around. First we define what the goals are for the company and then we lay in a social strategy commensurate with those goals.  Once we know what we want to do as a team, then we solve for X.  Social is about much more than Tweets and Likes and we create a much deeper and holistic digital plan.  Website traffic is mission critical as it generates opportunities for an immediate sale and also creates a pool of people to retarget, email and/or communicate with via social channels.  We want to get a lot of potential prospects into the ecosystem and then deploy multiple tactics to continue the conversation and move them down the funnel towards transacting with us.

We tell brands:

  1. Don’t try to sell online and then not have Google Analytics (or an equivalent) to analyze the data.
  2. Don’t have Google Analytics setup, but not look at the data.
  3. Don’t spend money on print, radio and TV and then argue about not wanting to spend on social because you can’t measure it.
  4. Don’t stop spending on Facebook because it is pay to play. Start spending on Facebook because it is the most powerful Ads platform ever.
  5. Don’t email “blast”. Have a real CRM strategy in place and email with some purpose.

In the end of the day, stop talking about what doesn’t work (especially without proof) and start focusing on understanding the market and figuring out what does.  Things change and tools evolve.  If Gary Vaynerchuk put the video above out today, it probably would have been posted natively on Facebook first because that is what the times demand.

It is hard keeping up with the changes, that is true.  Good thing we are here.

 

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