Archive for social media marketing

Using Twitter’s Keyboard Shortcuts

Have you tried Twitter’s keyboard shortcuts? Did you know they were there? We are getting so used to touch screens and voice control that it’s easy to forget about keyboard shortcuts. But when you know them, keyboard shortcuts can save you a lot of time.

Twitter refers to this first group of shortcuts as Timeline short cuts. I like to think of them as section or area shortcuts – they help me jump to the area of Twitter where I want to be. This set of shortcuts consist of two letters; the letter “g” followed by a letter indicating the Twitter section you want to jump to. I like to think of the “g” as being short for “go” so “g h” becomes “go home”, etc. Here is a list of Timeline shortcuts:

g h – home page
g p – your profile
g m – messagess
g c – connect
g a – activity
g r – mentions
g d – discover
g u – other “u”sers profile
g f – favorites
g l – lists
g s – settings

Once you jump to the section you want to work in, you can use the Navigation shortcuts to move through the list of messages in that section.

j – next tweet
k – previous
. – load more

Last, but not least, you have a set of shortcuts to help you work with the individual messages in Twitter:

n – new tweet
m – DM
t – retweet
f – favorite
r – reply

Pressing the question mark will bring up a menu of these shortcuts.

One quick note, you can use the shortcuts while this menu is open – you don’t have to close it first.

Selecting a Content Marketing Editorial Calendar

marketingai-calendar

A content marketing editorial calendar is and important tool for managing your small business marketing system. Modern marketing requires creating, publishing, and re-purposing content from multiple sources, in multiple formats, through multiple channels. Without proper tools and processes, managing all of these content related variables can quickly become overwhelming.

Editorial calendars come in all shapes and sizes – from Excel Spreadsheets to WordPress plugins to software systems specifically designed to help plan and manage your marketing content. Choosing a solution that fits your business can feel like an overwhelming task once you start exploring the available options.

Evaluating Your Choices

As with any software system purchase, it’s important to evaluate the needs and goals of your business before you begin shopping. Otherwise, the tendency is to focus on bells and whistles of each tool. This approach often ends up forcing you to change your business process to adapt to the way the software works.

This post outlines the factors I considered when looking for an editorial calendar for both my company and my customers. The editorial calendar from Marketing.AI is the one that best suits our needs. Your needs may be different but hopefully the information below will help you find  an editorial calendar that fits your needs.

I started by outlining the main categories of tasks and goals that I wanted to accomplish:

  • Planning content
  • Producing content – collaborating, workflow, tracking assignments, managing deadlines
  • Measuring and Reporting
  • Integrating with other tools
  • Managing multiple entities

Planning Your Marketing Content

When most people think of using an editorial calendar, they typically think of planning their content. Planning your content marketing generally falls into two broad categories;

  1. High level or strategic planning that focuses on connecting your content marketing efforts to your overall business goals.
  2. Production planning or mapping out what content needs to be created for the next marketing cycle – typically a month or quarter.

Without software specifically designed for managing content, the documents in the strategic planning category tend to be word processing documents. Excel spreadsheets are a popular choice for production planning and tracking.

The type of file used is not nearly as important as making sure that all of your team members have easy access to the information in these documents. You also want everyone working from the same version of that information. This becomes difficult when documents are being emailed around and no one is confident that they have the most current version. Producing quality content takes time and effort; time you don’t have to waste in meetings reconciling different versions of your content spreadsheets.

One of the features of Marketing.AI that I really like is that it enables you to store the information from your strategic content marketing plan in the same tool that you use to plan, create, and manage your content. Having easy access to this information increases the chance it will be actually used (and updated) by the people creating the content. It also makes sharing the information with your content authors easier, whether internal or outsourced. Marketing.AI help you manage strategic reference documents like:

  • List of Content Themes
  • Your Unique Selling Proposition
  • Buyer Personas
  • Customer Journey Matrix (or your customers buying process)
  • Content Ideas
  • Products and Pricing Models
  • Features, Benefits, Customer Pains
  • Keywords, Hashtags, Industry Influencers
  • Target Industries

Marketing.AI also gives you the ability to associate many of these characteristics with each individual piece of content, making your reporting and analysis much more powerful (more on reporting below).

Producing Your Content

Content production deals with the day-to-day, nitty gritty business of getting the work done. This is where we assign responsibilities, set deadlines, produce, edit, publish, repackage and perform all of the other tasks that need to be done to go from plan to delivery.

When we think of content marketing we typically think first about blog posts, web pages, eBooks, and other forms of written content. But content also includes video, audio (podcasts), presentation slides, magazines (traditional and electronic), books, and plenty of other forms I am forgetting to list.

In addition to (or maybe because of) all of the format choices, we often have several people working on and/or collaborating to create content. There are many companies who will help you create your content. Many of them provide an editorial calendar to help manage the process. However, most of them are designed around a workflow process that assumes you will order all of your content from them. While this is perfectly understandable, it just doesn’t match the reality of the small businesses that I work with. My customers get their marketing content from several sources. They may purchase some from content creation companies, create some in-house, and/or hire me to help them develop content. The last thing I or my customers want is to have several calendars (or spreadsheets) to manage and reconcile.

I like Marketing.AI because it is gives me flexibility in defining my workflow and it helps you manage that workflow by providing notifications via email. This makes it easy to bring people on board without having to spend a lot of time training them to use a new system or platform.

Measuring and Reporting

metricsRegular readers here know that I am a big believer in the idea that having a rhythmic planning process is more important than the plan document. A vital part of that planning process is a feedback loop that provides analytics to help you test your assumptions and adjust your plans accordingly (more on analytics below).

I like to have analytics that give provide me with feedback on the both the effectiveness and balance of my content marketing efforts.

Effectiveness helps determine which pieces are best at achieving a particular content goal. For example, knowing which pieces of content are attracting traffic to your website and which ones are leading to conversions are valuable pieces of information for improving your content marketing efforts.

Tools like Google Analytics can help you determine which pieces of content are attracting traffic to your website. Using the goals feature of Google Analytics to measure conversions (and the value of those conversions) can be a great way to start tying your content marketing efforts to business results.

Related to effectiveness is something I like to refer to as balance. By balance, I mean I want to know about the diversity of the content formats being used (blog posts vs. video, etc.) and the effectiveness of each. I also want to evaluate the effectiveness of content in the different stages of the marketing hourglass (or buyers journey).

For example, I may have content that is effective at generating awareness and attracts traffic to my website. But if don’t have content that is effective at moving people from awareness to the try or consideration phase, then I have some content that is effective, but my overall marketing content is not helping me reach my business goals.

Taking this information one step further, I can determine if content formats (i.e. video) are more effective in different stages of my marketing hourglass.

While it is possible to capture most of this type of information and add it back to a planning spreadsheet in order to perform the type of analysis described above, doing so is at best a tedious process. In my experience, when a process is tedious, it tends to not get done once the newness of starting a new project wears off. Or, it gets put off until it becomes a major project and then more time is spent gathering the data than analyzing it and gaining insights that will help improve future marketing efforts.

Editorial calendar software like Marketing.AI simplifies this process by helping you attach these important attributes to your content during the planning and production phases, so you can quickly determine how your content is performing anytime you want.

Integrating With Other Content Tools

gears-systemAs a systems guy, I hate unnecessary duplication. I hinted at that above when I mentioned not liking to waster time reconciling different versions for spreadsheets. I also don’t like to duplicate data entry across different systems. As it relates to content marketing, this is a little lower on the priority list than some of the other topics discussed in this post, but I always prefer to use tools that play well with others and save me time.

Marketing.AI currently integrates with the following tools:

  • WordPress
  • Hubspot
  • ExactTarget
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Unbounce (for landing pages)
  • Outbrain (for promoting your content)

The folks at Marketing.AI have told me they have other integrations in the works and seem open to suggestions if you have a particular integration need.

Managing Multiple Entities

As a marketing agency, I look for tools that I can use in three main settings:

  1. Marketing my own business
  2. Working with customers who outsource their work to me
  3. My customers can use to manage their marketing in-house

Other businesses that are not marketing agencies may also benefit from features designed for marketing agencies. If you have multiple offices, departments, or other divisions that want to manage their content marketing separately, but also have the ability to see a rolled up, “master” calendar then you will want to take a look at the features in the agency edition of Marketing.AI.

Don’t Forget About People

marketing.ai logoLast, but not least, I want to drop a quick plug for the people behind the software at Marketing.AI.

In the software as a service world (SAAS) we live in today, having conversations and getting help from real people (vs. email, chat, forums, etc.) is becoming something of a rarity.

However, the folks at Marketing.AI have been great work with. They’ve spent a ton of time with me, answering questions, learning about how I want to use the tool in my business, and supporting me in both the pre-sale and post-sale processes.

I will be posting some demonstration videos in the weeks to come. In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you would like to a personal demo or if you have any questions about whether Marketing.AI is right for you

LinkedIn Signal To Be Retired

linkedin logo

Earlier this week LinkedIn sent began notifying users that LinkedIn Signal will be retired on July 29, 2013. Signal was on of LinkedIn’s “products” that aimed to make it easier for users to find relevant insights within the large stream of status and news updates – as in separating the signal from the noise.

When Signal was released in 2010, it was comprised of 6 key features:

  1. The ability to filter updates in your stream by connection level, industry, company, location, time frame, schools, groups, hashtag (topic), seniority, and update type.
  2. Searching for keywords, topic, and/or people in your stream
  3. Automatic updates to your stream so you don’t have to refresh the page
  4. Trending Links
  5. See who is sharing trending links
  6. Saved real time searches

Several of these features have been become part of the product, including the newly improved search feature. Using search, you will still be able to find the people, companies, groups, jobs, and keywords you are interested in. Any searches you saved in Signal will not be available after July 29th. According to email notice I received, searching for updates will also be dropped from the product.

What do you think, will you miss LinkedIn Signal when it’s gone?

LinkedIn Announces 200 Million Members

Way back on March 2, 2004, I became member number 297,569 on a relatively new, little website called LinkedIn. Well, LinkedIn isn’t new, or little, anymore.

LinkedIn recently announced they crossed the 200 million member threshold. The infographic below is from the LinkedIn’s blog. Here are some of the stats from the graphic that caught my eye:

  • 2 new members join LinkedIn every second
  • Higher education is the third largest industry represented on LinkedIn
  • If LinkedIn were a country, it would have the 5th largest population in the world

Personally, I have several valuable personal and professional relationships that started on LinkedIn. I’ve had the chance to connect with several authors of my favorite books, and I’ve met people from around the world that I would never have met if it wasn’t for LinkedIn.

Do you have a favorite LinkedIn story? I’d love to hear it, leave a comment below.

 

LinkedIn 200M Member Infographic

How Much Time and Budget Do Small Businesses Spend on Social Media?

VerticalResponse recently surveyed 462 small businesses on how much time they spend on social media activities, including finding and sharing content on popular social networks and blogging, and what tasks take the most time. They also asked small business about their marketing budgets.

Here are some of the highlights from the survey results:

  1. Small business are spending more time using social media – Two thirds of small businesses responding reported spending more time on social media than they did last year with 43% reporting they spend 6 or more hours per week on social media activities related to their business.
  2. Facebook and Twitter dominate – Small business owners are focused on Facebook and Twitter. About half of those surveyed are on LinkedIn while only about 30% are on Pinterest and Google+.
  3. About 25% post to their blog once a week – About half of the businesses surveyed have a blog and a little less that half of those businesses post to their blogs on a weekly basis.
  4. Budgets are up – Social media budgets are increasing at a faster rate than overall marketing budgets.

The folks as VerticalResponse used the data from their survey to create this infographic:

VerticalResponse Social Media Infographic
Courtesy of: VerticalResponse

How do these finding match up with what you are doing in your business?

LinkedIn Introduces 1 Click Endorsements

On Monday, LinkedIn introduced a new feature that makes it easier for you to endorse your connections (and vice versa) based on the skills listed in their profile.

With just one click, you can now endorse your connections for a skill they’ve listed on their profile or recommend one they haven’t added yet. Here’s how it works:

  • On the top of a connection’s profile, you’ll see recommended endorsements for them. You can suggest additional skills as well.
  • You can also endorse them from the new Skills & Expertise section that now showcases these endorsements.

Here is a sample screen shot using my friend Michelle Golden’s profile

linkedin-endorsements

LinkedIn will notify you via email and on LinkedIn whenever you are endorsed. You can  scroll to the bottom of your profile page under “Skills and Expertise” to see the faces of people who think you’re great at what you do. You can also accept any new skills recommended by your peers that you may not have thought to include on your profile. Or you can also add a new skill by clicking on “add a skill” on your profile page.  Here is some more information from LinkedIn on how it works:

 

So now would be a good time to double check the skills you have listed on your LinkedIn profile.

Evaluating Your Social Strategy With Forrester’s POST

Did you have a clear set of objectives before you started working on your small business social strategy? Probably not.

If you were an early adopter, you jumped right in. You found some things that worked and some that didn’t and adjusted accordingly.

Even if you were a little more cautious getting started (or are just getting started now) chances are you had some broad ideas of how you might best use social media, but you probably didn’t have specific objectives. At least, that seems to be the majority experience of the folks I talk to.

As social tools continue to become a part of our personal and business lives we continue to evaluate how they can help us accomplish our goals. We care less about social being cool; we care more about how it can help us be effective.

Several years ago, Josh Bernoff and the folks at Forrester were trying to help businesses figure out how to “do social the right way”. They created an acronym called POST which stands for People, Objectives, Strategy, and Technology. The POST method provides a common sense method for evaluating your current social strategy and identifying areas you can improve. Here is a quick overview of the POST method:

People - Don’t start a social strategy until you know what your audience need to know and where they turn for answers.

Objectives – Do you want to listen to your customers, or to talk with them? Decide on your objective before you decide on a technology.

Strategy - What will be different after you’re done?

Technology – comes last. Once you know your people, objectives, and strategy, then you can decide.

If you are unhappy with the results you have received to date from your social strategy, use the POST method to evaluate your current strategy and correct your course. You can learn more about the POST method on Forrester’s blog and from the book Groundswell.

Social Media Conversion Tracking – What Small Businesses Need to Know

measuring social mediaSmall business owners using (or planning to use) social media channels for marketing need to be able to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns using those channels. Tools like Google Analytics can give you some insight into your social media campaigns performance but it is important to understand the role social media plays in your marketing hourglass and how that can influence what you see in your analytics reports.

Tracking conversions in social media is different than tracking conversions in most online marketing. One reason is that, as my friends at Argyle explain, social media tends to be intent generating while other online marketing activities tend to be intent harvesting. Here is the example they give:

Search conversions usually happen at the bottom of the (traditional sales) funnel:

  • A person searches for product or service.
  • They click on a natural or paid link
  • They buy a product, sign up for an initial consultation, etc.

Social conversions usually begin much earlier in the funnel:

  • A person sees one of your posts re-tweeted from someone they follow.
  • They click your link to an external website, thinks it’s pretty interesting  then wonders who originally tweeted it. They read about your company and think “Hm!”
  • Although person didn’t need your product earlier, they later have a need it fills.
  • They don’t remember your URL, so they search for you.
  • Person clicks on a natural or paid link.
  • They buy a product, sign up for an initial consultation, etc.

In the cases above, Google Analytics will count both conversions as coming from paid or natural search (the click on the link), because the click that led directly to a purchase was from these sources. The contribution from social media channels outlined in the second scenario are ignored.

As a small business owner you want to make sure that you’re using a conversion tracking tool that’s specifically built with your needs in mind. In some cases, using the information from Google Analytics provides may be “good enough”. Either way, it’s important to know what you are measuring and why so you can use the information to make better business decisions.

4 Social Media Metrics Small Businesses Should Track

social media metrics for small businessHow’s social media working for your small business? How do you track what’s working and what’s isn’t? There are lots of things you could track, but which social media metrics will give you actionable information that will help you grow your business? Here are a few ideas to help get you started.

Most small business start of their social media measurement efforts by tracking audience size, i.e., Twitter followers, Facebook likes, LinkedIn connections, etc. Audience size can help you see if you are trending in the right direction, but by itself it doesn’t provide you with very much insight.

To add some context to audience size, many small businesses find it helpful to measure the level of engagement with their audience. Two common social media metrics that measure engagement are Click Rate and Interaction Rate.

Click rate is simply the number of clicks your posts/updates receive divided by your audience. Click rate can help you determine how useful your audience finds the information you are sharing.

You can also measure your Interaction Rate (Interactions / Audience). While click rate measures clicks on links that you share, interaction rate measures all interactions i.e., re-tweets, replies, shares, likes, comments, etc.

Small business marketers often use social media to promote their marketing content. If you use social media this way, you may also want to measure clicks per post and interactions per post. Use these metrics to identify content that resonates with your audience and create more content like it.

Of course, when looking at these metrics you need to consider who your audience is, what you are sharing, and the fit between the two. Having high engagement rates on content that is of little interest to your ideal customers is unlikely to help you meet your business goals.

One last quick note – when discussing metrics, small business owners often ask me what the “ideal” number is they should be shooting for as a goal. I don’t believe there is a set of benchmarks for small business social media marketing to date. Even if benchmarks did exist, I believe small business marketers should focus on the trends, and what they can learn from them, in their metrics rather than trying to target a specific number.

How Much Does Social Media Cost?

[Note - this post appeared in yesterday's newsletter as the main article. I don't usually repeat my newsletter articles here, but several people told me they found it helpful, so I thought I would share it with those who read my blog too]

Social media provides a lot of opportunities for small business marketers.

But let’s face it, none of us have the time and budget to do all of the things we would like to do, never mind all of the things the experts say we “need” to do. We have to prioritize and make choices. In order to make choices, we need know what things cost.

We don’t have to be accurate to the penny at this stage but we do want to make sure 1) we are comparing apples to apples and 2) we are not leaving out significant costs.

To meet these goals, make sure you consider these 5 areas when putting your numbers together:

1. Building and Programming
What do you need to build? Does your marketing campaign require a landing page or a Facebook tab? Do you need an autoresponder or other follow up mechanism? What do you need to build or buy to implement your plan?

2. Content Creation
Content plays a major role in today’s small business marketing (both online and offline). When creating your campaign budgets ask how much content needs to be created. Will the content need to be updated? If so, how often? Who will create and update the content? Do you have staff with the skills and time needed or is this something that makes sense to outsource?

3. Monitoring and Engaging
Social media is about conversations and your company needs to participate in those conversations. Consider how often the conversations on your different channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) need to be monitored for questions and comments. How often do they need to be updated? How often do you need to check for and delete spam? Who will perform these tasks?

4. Measuring Results
One of the advantages of online marketing is it gives us the ability to measure results. Measuring results, however, takes resources. Tools for monitoring and gathering analytics range from free (i.e. Google Analytics) to hundreds or thousands of dollars per month (i.e. Radian6). Don’t forget the cost of reviewing, reporting, analyzing the data collected as well as determining action plans based on the data collected.

5. Training and Support
What skills and knowledge to you and your staff need to possess or improve in order to make your social media marketing efforts successful?

I hope you find these questions helpful when creating budgets or discussing pricing with your solution providers.

P.S. – these same questions apply to your other marketing campaigns (not just social) as well.