4 Things You Will NEVER Hear A Social Media Marketer Say About Content


As marketers, we have long heard the saying “delivering the right message to the right person at the right time” when speaking of traditional marketing. This rings true to social media marketing as well. Consider the various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and Pinterest to name a few. Each has a specific demographic and can be optimized accordingly. What is often overlooked is the importance of relevant and timely content for these platforms.

Here are 4 things you will NEVER hear any successful social media marketer say when talking about content:

“I am not interested in trending topics or what my audience is talking about”.

Are you listening to what your audience is talking about? What are your followers, fans, and others in the blogosphere having conversations about? Social listening is much more than just responding directly to conversations on your Facebook page, Twitter Stream or blog. It’s about spending time on a regular basis researching topics that are of interest to your audience and producing or curating content related to these topics.

Several tools exist for marketers to better listen to the conversations about not only their brand, but other trending topics. In my Social Media MBA courses, I suggest (or highlight) free tools for the students to experiment with. I outlined a few of these tools in my blog post Social Media Inspired by Big Gas Savings. Some worth mentioning again are:

1. Twitter’s hashtag ( # ). This is by far my absolute favorite tool. It can be used to find content and conversations around specific topics. My favorites are #smm #socialbiz #socialmedia #marketing #branding and of course my hashtag I use for my classes #snhusmm
2. KRED: Assists in finding influencers in your audience.
3. HootSuite: Allows teams to collaborate across multiple social networks from one dashboard. It is a web-based dashboard that includes the ability to create custom reports. Upgrades are available for a small fee. Hootsuite can also be used to help identify what’s trending among your audience members
4. Google Alerts: Sends email updates based on your preferences
5. Pinterest Web Analytics: Allows you to see how people are interacting with pins that come from your websites.
6. Pinpuff: Very much like KRED, but targeted at Pinterest.
7. Social Mention: Offers real-time social media search and analysis that curates user-generated content from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, Google, etc. into a single stream.
8. Industry specific publications. I am an avid reader of The Journal of Marketing, Fast Company and Ad Age. Popular articles (or studies) in publications such as these can be extremely good indicators of timely topics.

“I do not have a stockpile of content. Why would I do that?

Starting with an editorial plan is great. But, after time you will need to progress to an editorial stockpile. My grad students are working on a class blog this term and have just created their editorial calendar for the term. This is a great way for us to plan their one or two blog posts they will each contribute. However, in a real world scenario, we would need a lot more content! This means, it would be necessary for some content to be created and/or curated long before the need to publish it. I suggest a collection of a wide array of topics relevant to your audience in your arsenal that could be used in a pinch. Of course, be sure they are timely! Also be sure you have done your research (as outlined earlier in the post). Content should resonate with your followers/fans. This is a basic skill but worth repeating. The more the viewer can identify with what you post, the more likely they will be to share or reply (engagement).

“I never time my content, I just post it whenever”.

One of the first steps in delivering timely content is monitoring, and then seeing what topics fit the content you already have ready to go. Using some of the tools above, you will be better able to see what your audience is talking about and when. Content is more effective when your audience is most receptive to it.

After looking at previous research and reading the commentary of many of the thought leaders in the social content space, here are a few suggestions I provide my students:

1. Blog: Publish your blogs in the morning.
2. Facebook: Post to Facebook when there are the most shares (between 8:30 and 10:00 am).
3. Twitter: Twitter appears to have more activity later in the day, so why not time your content appropriately (BufferApp and Hootsuite again are great ways to do this).

“I have no more ideas, so I am not going to post anything until I do.”

Often, you will no have content already created or curated to share. You may need to take some time to create it. Ideas are everywhere! Consider reading/re-reading comments to your blogs and seeing if there is a topic that needs further attention or elaboration, ask your audience what they would like to see more of, see what your competition is presenting, provide something educational, or even take an older piece of content and re-purpose it.

Not only do you need to be relevant and timely, but content should be compelling. There is a lot of “clutter” online and having content that is compelling (or actionable) is paramount to differentiating yourself from the competition. Content your audience finds valuable will be viewed and shared; you will want to be sure to be the source of that content. When content is “done right” you can create content that people want to share with their online communities.

Do you have an awesome approach to delivering relevant and timely content to your audience? Please share!

(full Article here).

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Whats on my reading list?!

reading list

I have been asked several times of the past few weeks what is on my reading list over the Holiday Break. Well, I am busy working hard to finish grading Finals, Final Papers, and preparing material for the Spring terms so that I can truly have a “break” over the holidays. That being said, I have not come with some elaborate list, just a simple photo of my bookshelf that has been holding 3 books I hope to read for the past 2 months! Note I have linked to Amazon and author websites/blogs. I suggest reading the reviews on Amazon and exploring the authors site as well.

Big Data MarketingLisa Arthur
Maximize Your SocialNeal Schaefer
Brands & RousersLuis Gallardo

I hope you will join me and read one or all of these titles and tell me your thoughts below!

3 Labels I hate: Social Media Jedi, Social Media Rock Star, & Social Media Guru

One of the first things my Social Media MBA students come to realize within the first 2 weeks of class is that the world of social moves at a rapid pace, changes often, and is constantly being evaluated and re-evaluated. You, the social media professional, carry the responsibility of ensuring you stay current with technology, methods, and strategy.

With this responsibility also comes the need to represent yourself in a realistic light. Resist the urge to describe yourself as a social media Jedi, social media rock star, social media guru or the like. However, ‘social media professional’ is quite descriptive in itself. As the name implies, you specialize in social media, you are proficient, qualified, practiced, and this is your career.

Specifically, to be effective in this role, you must be:

Open to trying new things

In the quest to find the right methods, the right apps, the most effective platforms, the newest technology and the like, one must be open to experimentation and trying new things. Just as constructive criticism is difficult for some to take, trying “new” ways to perform traditional marketing duties is also difficult for some to accept. Social media and technology are working symbiotically to drive business by not only making it possible to communicate with others over a variety of channels in real time, but also allowing it to be done in a way that fosters an atmosphere of collaboration.


Anyone working in business knows the importance of remaining flexible. Inevitably unexpected obstacles will abound, and it is necessary to have the ability to be flexible. Meaning, having the ability to react, adapt, and prosper. Being flexible means different things in different contexts, and different things to different people. To me, it means bending a little, but not breaking; adapting, but not losing focus. It also means knowing where you are going but not ignoring opportunities that present themselves along the way that could benefit business. This applies not only to your career as a social media professional, but also to your business and its social media marketing strategy.

An avid reader

The social media professional must commit to reading daily. Whether it be blogs, books, trade magazines, etc. you must read constantly. I suggest my students set up a blog reader like NetVibes to curate valuable reading material surrounding social media, analytics, measurement, ROI, careers, and other industry specific topics. As Dr. Seuss said, ” The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”.

An avid researcher

This point goes long with reading. Not only should you be reading, you should be keeping relevant information as it pertains to your social media goals and specific objectives. Let me repeat, specific objectives. Research case studies similar to your brand, search aggressively for the latest trends and best practices. This is a must to keep you current in this ever-changing social landscape.

I have definitely over simplified these four traits. But, over the next four weeks focus on one trait a week. As with any new regimen (like working out), start off with small goals. For example, week one you may decide to focus on finding some blogs you find interesting and adding them to a reader. Then, begin to read and absorb the wealth of knowledge available. Then, week two you may decide to continue reading and also make a conscious effort to be open to new things. I am not saying to go sky-diving, I am strictly speaking about business and social. Something ‘new’ could be investigating BufferApp or another social media focused application.

Do not forget to be aware of your flexibility, moments when you need to give a little, and moments you do not. And of course, don’t forget to pick a week to do a little in-depth research (possibly over an application you read about).

By the end of week four you should have assessed your level of flexibility, found what interests you in regards to research, tried a few new things, and done a lot of reading! These suggestions are not only useful to the new social media professional, but for the seasoned one as well. We all need a reminder (and the motivation) to stay in touch with our industry and in touch with ourselves.

photo credit: Pedro Glez. via photopin cc

Creating A Social Media Marketing Strategy

medium_5688645738Another eleven-week term wrapped up for my students and I last week. As we reflected on all the topics we have covered in all three social media marketing related courses I teach, a common theme emerged. Almost all the work we did in our final project within the concluding course was dictated by set goals and long-term objectives. As with any business, students first began setting goals and objectives that accurately addressed our vision and mission. With this information, they began to brainstorm about specific tactics that we could use to accomplish short-term goals and choose metrics best suited to measure performance. All of the short-term work students did also fell in line with the long term goals of the project set by myself, the instructor/creator.

The ‘campaign’ was very short in length, but it definitely gave them the opportunity to not only strategize, but also blog, utilize Google Analytics, experiment with Hootsuite, explore video use in social media, and use best practices covered in previous classes for Twitter/Facebook community management, and more. Each facet of this project directly relates to initial goals and objectives. The first few weeks were a bit chaotic, as they are every term, but once business objectives were clearly defined, the social strategy fell into place. Similar to a real world scenario, if objectives and goals are too broad/ not specific enough, or not measurable, the rest of the plan will not fall into place as easily or effectively. In a few weeks I will have another group of eager graduate students ready to set their short-term goals and continue the fun.

This month we visit concept #10 and #11 from my series 15 Social Media Concepts to Make you a More Marketable Social Media Professional:

Concept 10: You must identify and understand your business-related goals. All content on your blog, Facebook page, Twitter profile, YouTube channel, etc., has to support your business-related goals.

Concept 11: As a social media professional, you must have the patience to go the distance. Social strategies are not short term. Long-term goals with specific objectives must be identified first, followed by specific tactics in place.

Before undertaking any type of social media initiative, an organization must begin with identifying objectives and then coordinating social media activities that address those objectives specifically. Most readers would choose to utilize social media to ‘increase sales’ armed only with an arsenal of tactics such as start a contest on Facebook, develop a blog with postings weekly; set up related Twitter feed. These actions in and of themselves are fine and could very well increase sales. However, what about the long term?

A viable social media strategy should start with these basic questions:

Who? Who is your target audience? Understand your target in terms of not only demographics, psychographics, and interests, but also influencers. Consider your targets behavior while on social media, do they create content, share content, or simply view content? The better you know your target, the easier it is to coordinate social media efforts to achieve desired results.
What? What are your primary goal/objectives? These could be building brand awareness, building online credibility, providing education about your brand; increase sales. Or maybe you want to generate a specific number of qualified leads. By setting quantifiable goals from the get-go, you will be better prepared to prioritize efforts and determine where time is best spent. Again, these tie back in to the overall organizational objectives.
When? When will you evaluate the social strategy, and how will you evaluate it? Often organizations have no real set time-frame in which to assess objectives to ascertain if they are on target or if plans need to be re-evaluated or possibly revamped. You must evaluate periodically to know if you are reaching goals and if efforts are producing results.
Where? Where is your target audience online, how can you reach them? There are the mainstream sites like Facebook and Twitter, but do not forget to investigate niche sites that may be more tailored to your needs, each business is unique and may have various networks that are more effective than others. The State of Inbound Marketing Report found different industries experience different customer acquisition results with different social platforms. For example, Retailers reported success with Facebook, however Healthcare businesses did not and instead found more success with LinkedIn.
Which? Which social platforms will you use, it may make more sense not to use them all. This relates back to “where is your target audience online”. Keep in mind you may not use all of the platforms but you might consider securing your name on the main social media sites as a branding effort, being sure to incorporate elements of your brand into your profile(s).
How? How will you create a relevant conversation? How will you encourage sharing/referrals? This could be from something as simple as share buttons, to a call to action on a blog post, a “How-To” video, to Facebook contests. Again, your goals drive the type of content that you create and the calls-to-action you use.
How? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Identify your competitors strengths and weaknesses as well as your own, this will help in planning your social strategy.

A key concept for business to understand is that a large portion of Internet traffic still comes from search, therefore, having timely and relevant content is paramount. Content with value will drive social influence. However, content must also directly relate back to the business goals and objectives. Great content can be a source of Internet traffic as well as assist in building authority and trust that ultimately leads to social influence. With this social influence, an organization can leverage this it to drive growth and sales.

Take a moment and think about your own brands social strategy or your personal brand strategy: Do your social media goals and objectives directly relate to set (organizational) objectives? Specifically, can you align each social tactic you employ to a social goal or objective that relates to a business/personal objective?

Traditional marketing and social marketing must be integrated and nurtured in order to realize the full potential of a very powerful combo. Traditional campaigns are easier to measure success than a social strategy as they typically have a defined start and completion date. With a social media initiative there typically is not or should not be a completion date as social intends to create connections and maintain long-term relationships. This is a huge difference.

For the long haul you will want to:

Plan for Content: Review last months post “4 Things you will NEVER heard a Social Media Marketer say about Content”. Not only do you need to be relevant and timely, but content should be compelling. There is a lot of “clutter” online and having content that is compelling (or actionable) is paramount to differentiating yourself from the competition. Content your audience finds valuable will be viewed and shared; you will want to be sure to be the source of that content. When content is “done right” you can create content that people want to share with their online communities.

Schedule the content:There are several ways to do this, I use the editorial calendar within WordPress but you could also use an Excel spreadsheet or Google Docs. You could schedule a week at a time, or a month at a time: it is up to you. I also suggest scheduling the corresponding Tweets and Facebook updates as well via a tool like Hootsuite (full list of tools I like here), be creative with your 140 characters, entice someone to click and read the link. Reminder, be sure to remove #hashtags when doing your Facebook posts. Term after term students tend to neglect this and it is a personal pet peeve.

Repeat: Consistency is key. Be sure to make time in your week to plan and schedule content religiously along with daily monitoring. Social media monitoring is used to identify, predict, and respond to consumer behavior. Listening to the conversations surrounding our brand is key to getting great results from a social media campaign. Understand that this is not something you do when you “feel like it”. This is a long-term investment in your brand. It is a continuous process that (in my opinion) is enjoyable. What better way is there to spend your day than to getting to know your customers?

photo credit: Sean MacEntee via photopin cc