Don’t sleep on August: Take some time to assess and plan your social media strategy…

On this episode, I talk about the importance of taking some time to plan during August. When many brands and individuals slow down and go quiet, I think it is a smart move to lean in and think strategically. Don’t want until after Labor Day to turn the engines on and make sure you are in full stride come September.

When it comes to your social media strategy:
1- Look around at the competition and see what they are doing when it comes to content, cadence, frequency etc. Most are moving towards less posting and higher quality!

2- Remember Instagram/Facebook followers/fans are irrelevant. It is a paid ecosystem now and the faster you get your head around that, the better off you will be. Allocate a budget, force rank your KPIs and GO!!!

3- To that end, take a look at the Ads others are running! In an effort to be more transparent with users, Facebook rolled out the ability to see all of the Ads a page is running even if you are not the intended target audience. This translates into a very powerful tool for brands to learn more about their competition and vertical and to see what other “best of breed” brands are doing.

Bottomline is that social media is not static and as it pivots, so too should you. Spend some time really investing in understanding what you want to have happen and then deploy social media strategies for the now and the future, rather than holding onto the past. Use August to learn, and attack and thank me in September!

 

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

On trusting your “trainer” when it comes to social media…

I wrote a blog post last year about sometimes feeling like a personal trainer when doing my job as the owner of a Social Media Strategy. The post actually received some positive feedback and I wanted to get into the topic again. On this episode, I took it a bit deeper and added my thoughts via voice which is a more popular format it seems these days. However you choose to consume it, I think it is a simple yet important one to hear.

If you are hiring a trainer for something as serious as your health OR an expert for something as serious as your business’ marketing success, it is imperative to choose a good one and then let them do what they do. Dont second guess or undermine along the way, especially in areas you might not be super well versed in.  Remove the hedge, follow blindly and see what comes from it.

I know for certain it will lead to better results with Sircle Media…

Add a comment

Tags: , , ,

On balancing the art and science on social media…

On this episode, we talk about balancing the art (brand) and science (sales) in your social media strategy. For a brand looking to win online, it is imperative that you have a balance of both. It doesn’t need to be 50/50 but it also cannot be 100% on either extreme.

Sometimes brands try to be too cool with their branding and messaging and they lose out on sales opportunities. You shouldn’t get too cute with your imagery and copy and risk losing out on transactions. If you have a brander or designer running point, you risk leaning too far this way.

Conversely, if you have a salesperson or E-commerce lead running point you will tend to lean too far in the ROAS/ROI direction and come across too sales-y. If you are only looking for the money, then consumers won’t feel a brand connection and your product or offering becomes less relevant and important. You need to have a brand and a POV to stand out and be sticky in the minds of your consumers.

Our recommendation is to constantly be looking to find a balance that works for you. Look at your feeds, review your strategies and tactics regularly and listen to your audience. You don’t want to feel like an art gallery or a telemarketer. You want to convey who you are and what you stand for, and then make it very easy for those who are listening to transact with you. Social networks make this very easy to do, but the tools only work if you know how to use them the right way.

 

 

Add a comment

Tags: , , ,

On under-investing in social media…

I am continuously baffled by brands under-investing in social media. While many say they want exposure, engagement, and access to targeted consumers, most don’t want to invest the time or energy into their social efforts. What is the alternative?

First off, you must market your business in order to tell your story and even put yourself in play for consumers to make a buying decision. So where else are you doing that? Print? Out of Home? Word of Mouth? Demos? All of those are less measurable and harder to scale than leveraging social networks. Are they not?

I think brands get lost in the unknown aspect of it all, and they fear that since they don’t understand it they won’t be any good at it. As a result, many stand on the sidelines watching other brands succeed. No expert was labeled that way on day one. It takes time and effort to develop expertise. Just like developing a good product or service takes careful thought, planning, trial, and refinement, so too does your social media efforts.

Also, brands take a long time to come around to action and by the time they do the ball has moved. Newer brands to social media are looking at fans and followers and the metric for success, yet those are 2016 KPIs. These days it is about paid social prowess, influencer tactical warfare, and true content marketing. So some put their toe in and when they get it wrong they recoil and almost take an “I told you so” posture. This is the wrong move, because not only do you need to stay the course, but you need to be all in and on all fronts.

With anything good in life, what you get out of it depends on what you put in. You must invest the time and resources now if you want to succeed and just like working out, you must not get discouraged if you don’t see results after your first session. You must believe in the religion over the tactics (shoutout @garyvee) and play the long game. It is a matter of survival…

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

On social media and the right POV for brands…

social-media-trends-2014

When I started Sircle Media in January of 2012, the social media conversation was an uphill battle for sure.  I would meet with owners, and/or Marketing Directors and would have to hard sell (READ: convince) them on why this was an important frontier for their business.  75% of the initial conversation was about proving their initial preconceptions about social media wrong. It was exhausting but so necessary.

These days companies are more “hip to the game,” meaning they are committed to being active in social, but that being said, I think that many brands are still half pregnant on the topic and are not fully committed.  They don’t know if they should treat it like marketing, customer service or sales and they are often too singular in their focus. They are just not committing where they need to – let me explain:

1- They spend too much time overthinking content - Yes you need to be on brand, you need to be consistent and you should think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. That being said, many brands spend too much time overthinking their content in my opinion. We have talked about documenting over creating before (thanks, @GaryVee) and we suggest doing more and learning, as opposed to carefully crafting every single word and image. It is not branding, PR or even direct response where you want to say as much as you can, in as few words as possible to elicit the desired response. Those are controlled mediums, whereas social media is uncontrolled.

RECOMMENDATION: Be more flexible and fluid with your content and copy and see what happens.

2- They are thinking of social media as “a silo” - Sometimes I speak with some clients who think social media is just about branding and doesn’t create sales (WRONG) and then I speak with others, who think it is only a digital and e-commerce play and doesn’t help offline business (WRONG AGAIN).  It really is a horizontal layer that touches all parts of your business and stretches across different departments and initiatives.

RECOMMENDATION: Think about your different departmental needs and goals and then think about how social media might be able to help in each. Solve for the positive, rather than for the negative and unlock ways that social can be more useful. 

3- They are not investing in paid social - Many brands are active on social but are not leveraging the Facebook and Instagram paid social ecosystem. Some feel social should be organic only (myopic POV) and some are using paid, but strictly for e-commerce acquisition. These are the most powerful advertising vehicles on the market and provide more real actionable and supportive data than any predecessors.

RECOMMENDATION: Invest more in paid social, learn the platforms and products and leverage them to grow your business. Whether you want more exposure/reach, more engagement and/or more traffic and sales on your website (or in your store), paid social is your number one vehicle for this. It is highly effective, underpriced and extremely targeted. Start budgeting and implementing paid social ASAP!

4- They are not focusing on video - I have talked about the importance of video before and while the majority of brands I speak with these days totally seem to follow and want video, most are not backing that up with action. Video helps with storytelling in a more effective AND efficient way and will shorten the learning curve for consumers.  You can hack better reach, engagement and action on your social content, as well as your website, email and other advertising efforts with video.

RECOMMENDATION: Commit to video and start creating a lot of it. I’m talking about motion graphics, live action AND even going live on Facebook and Instagram, which will provide more depth and insight into your business. 

5- They are not paying influencers - Most of my clients are working with influencers in some capacity, which shows they fully understand that those influencers bring with them an audience that is worth reaching. So if this is the case, why be totally closed to the concept of paying them for that service? If you aren’t open minded to at least exploring paid partnerships, then you are going to leave a lot of opportunity and money on the table.

RECOMMENDATION: Allocate some budget to paid influencer engagements and then court, review and select partners who offer real value for their price point. Pay close attention to the types of engagements they offer, how they have performed in the past and what type of engagement they get from their community. Negotiate best case pricing and explore the most creative ways to work with each individual influencer. 

It is my opinion that if you are going to be active with social media, then you should be all in.  You have to have the right POV on content and benefits and then be deploying the best tools to help you succeed. The mentality is the swing and paid social, video and influencers are the nasty topspin follow thru…Your serve!

 

 

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

Win of The Week: Brand collaboration gold…

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 7.50.29 AM

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.

 

 

Add a comment

Tags: , , ,

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!

 

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

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.

 

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

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.

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

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.

 

Add a comment

Tags: , ,