Tag Archives: Conversation

Promises Promises

promise

I recently had a potential client ask me to make them promises on how many “likes” my product advertising would gain for the business. I wouldn’t do it. But why? Shouldn’t a marketer be able to promise a return on investment? Absolutely, but for so many reasons this request was simply wrong. Let’s break down why.
As I’ve written before, likes are largely irrelevant. If you want guaranteed likes, well then you can just buy them. They’ll be completely worthless. Let me correct myself; they’ll cost you to buy and then, later, they’ll cost you when you have to pay more to get your content out to your page since you now have a page that’s filled with people who don’t care about your stuff. But hey, if that’s your measure of success then you can, indeed, just buy them. But you’ll need to find another person to do that for you. I don’t do that kind of work. I also won’t sell you a bridge. Ruining my reputation isn’t worth it.

Another reason this request didn’t work is that this contract wasn’t about likes or growing the page. It was specifically about advertising product for purchase. Now granted, a side effect of advertising product is almost always growing a page. If people like and purchase a product, they’ll often like your Facebook page as well. It is important, however, to keep the actual end goal in mind. Do you measure your sales success by how many people like you? I hope your mortgage company takes likes as payment. Mine doesn’t. Measure sales success by sales.

I should stop here and say that I have done work to grow a page’s following. Lots of work focused on that end goal. There is a time and place for that. But how you go about that is VERY different from how you sell a product. It’s important not to mix the two. Just like friends, you don’t want your friends constantly selling to you, and when you go to buy something you don’t want someone spending all of your time trying to become your good buddy. There’s a time and a place for everything.
So then, will I guarantee sales? Probably not. But, isn’t that what the ad was about? You bet. And I’ve done exactly that in environments where I had control of ALL of the details that went into selling a product. The minute that one of those details changed my ability to guarantee sales drops to zero.

I can bring you in sales leads but if your sales team doesn’t follow up on those leads nothing I can do will make your product sell. I can get people to your website but if that website doesn’t convert there’s nothing I can do to make people want to buy. I’m more than happy to guarantee at least industry standards for metrics; frankly I’d be surprised to see anything that poor… I’ve yet to have rates that low.

If you want me or any marketer to guarantee something, they’d better have full and complete control over whatever it takes to make that thing happen. Are you willing to let your marketer do that? Check out this AWESOME post on just what a marketer should ask for regarding control should you want to guarantee sales…

As a marketer part of my job is setting realistic expectations. Some of that is working with customers to determine what they really want from their marketing. Many people don’t truly know. It also means sticking to an end goal. “I want ALL THE THINGS” from a single campaign doesn’t work. It’s the very reason many people believe Facebook and social selling doesn’t work. They’re doing all the things at the same time.

It also means making sure a client knows that a sales process isn’t simply putting out an ad. “If you build it they will come” works in fantasy baseball movie land. A true sales process is far more complex and requires effort across all parts of a company. If any part of that is broken the sales process suffers.

A final note. While all of this is “sales” related the same is true for nonprofits. Perhaps even more so. Many nonprofits have trouble determining what the end goal is for their social media campaigns. Or alternately they start with the hard sell before they’ve established any friends at all. You might be able to do that with a great product. As a nonprofit, you’re VERY unlikely to do that, even with a great cause.

The final point? Sometimes the person you need to hire is the person who will tell you no. No, you can’t (or shouldn’t) run this wire through your bathtub no matter how much you want to. Don’t listen to the electrician who tells you yes just because it’s what you want to hear.

Anyone can tell you yes, but that yes comes at a price. And that price is getting the results you ACTUALLY want.

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Breaking the Law

It never fails that you’ll see an article here or there on the “Rules” of social media or marketing as a whole.  Sometimes these rules are pretty solid.  Sometimes they’re stupid.  But like anything else, there is always a time to break social media rules.

One of my personal rules?  

Never link accounts.  What do I mean by that?  Never have what you post on Facebook automatically post to Twitter.  Never have what you post on Instagram post automatically to Facebook.  Etcetera.

Why?  

Each of these platforms has its own unique ways of operating.  If you automatically post your Facebook content to twitter you’ll get tweets that are truncated and look bizarre.  You’ll usually be missing hashtags that could make you a part of a conversation or topic and you’ll likely not tag people who might need to see what you’ve written.

The same is true if you post your Instagram to Facebook.  Instagram LOVES hashtags.  HASHTAG ALL THE THINGS!  It’s how people find content they want to explore.  But seeing an endless stream of hashtags on Facebook is both annoying and tacky- Facebook doesn’t do hashtags except in joke.  

And really, regardless of the medium, your fans deserve quality content and effort don’t they?  Well… mostly yes.

But as with anything, there’s an exception to every rule.

 

Nial McGaughey of Hovercraft

 

Meet my friend Nial.  He owns and runs Hovercraft Amplifiers.  He builds beautiful stuff and does an awesome job of posting it to Instagram along with personal pics.  His fans love him and he’s growing a huge following there.

 

(you can see more of the Hovercraft Instagram feed HERE)

 

But Nial is also a sole proprietor who does everything himself, from answering endless emails to building these amps to packaging and shipping them out- and EVERY OTHER THING in between.

He doesn’t have time to manage every social media channel.  To be honest, he doesn’t have time to do half of the stuff he’s actually doing.  The fact that he can find time to even be on Instagram is a miracle.

And yet being on Facebook would be solid for his business and indeed Hovercraft has a page there… a page with 10k fans.  A page that he has no time to manage and has basically “shut down” by telling folks he won’t be posting there anymore.

My advice?  

You got it.  Link your Instagram account to Facebook and have it automatically post to Facebook for you.  He should be able to even turn off comments or at least, let fans know that they can’t get in touch with him on Facebook (remember, he has no time for community management… no really, he doesn’t).

This would help keep his page alive, with content and when it comes time to advertise on Facebook folks could see that something was being posted on the page.

 

For normal folks this would be problematic

REACH and all… but unlike most folks his fans actually are pretty rabid… he doesn’t need to worry too much about his reach and right now, with a page that isn’t being used, it can’t actually be less.  Remember, he posts pictures of his dinner on Instagram and people still love it.  Not everyone can get away with that.  He is a celebrity for the work he does and people want to see his process, even if it’s not well-polished marketing content with solid community management and perfect response times.

So yes, there are times to break rules.  Does this mean YOU should instantly have all of your Instagram posts pushed to Facebook?  Probably not.  Do you honestly have 10k fans you grew without trying who would care what you ate for dinner?  No?  Then the answer is NO.

The key to breaking rules is to know when it’s actually appropriate and not just doing it because you want to.

 

For those who want to learn more about Nial and the work he does you can read more about his work in this Popular Mechanics post here, or purchase his stuff here.


Marketing the Impossible…

 

Ducati EventEvery once in a while as a marketer you’re asked to promote something you just don’t think you can sell.  It may not be the product or the event itself.  Often the problem is the timing or something else outside of your control.

Just such a case happened last winter.  You see, winter in the motorcycle industry is not particularly friendly.  Few people are thinking about riding when the weather is cold and wet.

But when a major brand says they’re coming to your shop on a specific day you don’t get a choice in the matter.  And so it happened that I had to promote an event that would happen at what might well be the very worst time ever.  Tuesday, in March, at a motorcycle shop that’s hard to get to on weeknights, or really any time after about 3pm.

What To Do?

There are a couple of choices when you have something like this to promote.  You can go all in, trying absolutely everything to see if anything will stick or, you can decide to save your money for something with a larger pull.  I decided not to spend too much money on this event, knowing that I had a limited audience to pull from on a weekday.

What I did know is that if I targeted my audience correctly I might just stand a chance of getting people in the door.  Maybe.  So that’s what I did.

While the brand had done some advertisement, it really focused on general advertisement all over the US that basically said, we’re coming to a dealership near you… check out this page to see where.  Nothing that specifically told them to come see us.  Nothing that highlighted our shop in any meaningful way.  That was going to be up to us.

Competition

And it was going to be a huge sell.  Our local competitors had much better slots.  One of the big shops to the north had the Saturday slot.  Big city, Saturday.  And here we were at a shop that’s hard to get to on a Tuesday… Ugh.

So what did I do?  Well first I sent out our email blast.  With an open rate of over 50% our customers would certainly want to know if there’s something going on at the store.  We would make sure to tell them.  After all, we were joking that we’d have 6 people in the shop, 5 more than the usual 1 we see at this time of the year and we might not have that if we didn’t send our email blast!!

And then I did what I knew would be the most focused and least expensive marketing I could do… I advertised on Facebook.  For $15 I could very accurately target people I thought would have an extremely high likelihood of showing up at the shop.

But would it work?

The day came and almost immediately we were all blown away.  People were showing up at the shop all day.  And it wasn’t just our regular customers.

When all was said and done we had about 100 people in the shop, a miracle for a Tuesday in March.  And of those 100 people about 75% – 80% were customers who were new to us.

That is amazing.  For $15 we had a much higher turnout than we ever expected and more importantly, we had more new customers in the door than we have ever seen before at any previous event.

Needless to say, that was easily the best $15 I have ever spent on advertising.

Many may think that 100 people isn’t a ton of people through the door and for some businesses that would certainly be true.  For a motorcycle shop in March on a Tuesday none the less, it’s absolutely huge.

Spend, Spend, Spend!

When people tell you that you need to spend big money on Facebook what they’re telling you is that they don’t know how to run Facebook ads well.

A LOT can be done with $15.


Why Followers Aren’t Important

For quite some time I was an admin of a page I no longer managed.  It was basically a service to a business I had worked with for years since the people they had taking over were still learning how to manage their page and their admin roles.  As such, I had a unique opportunity to look inside the workings of someone else’s social media strategy to see what works, and, in this case, doesn’t work.

To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention at first, occasionally popping in to look at their posts.  Most were not interesting at all- links without pictures and poor headlines.  They received few if any likes.

But, like anyone who has admin access to a page and has it set up, I regularly received updates on their statistics emailed to me from Facebook, specifically their “like” or follower numbers.  And here is where I saw something that sparked my interest.

FANS

Each and every week they had new fans.  Not just a few, but a LOT.  Considering they were a major player in their particular knowledge base this might not have been strange except for a few little facts.  First, as mentioned above, each post had few if any likes and almost no shares.  They were not creating a lot of traffic from their content.  But hey, maybe they were getting traffic elsewhere.  Completely possible.

No, that’s not what really raised the red flags.  It was the number of new fans.  Each and every week for more than 6 months they had an increase of 100 fans, sometimes it was a few more, but NEVER less and almost always it was EXACTLY 100 fans.

You might be thinking, that’s AWESOME, how do I do that!?  Let me stop you there.  It’s not awesome.  There’s only one way you do that.  You buy it.  You buy fans.

Why NOT?

Great, you think, now you’ve got a huge fan base!  But what value is a like if those fans really don’t care about what you’re doing?  I’ll tell you, not only do they have no value, they actually are COSTING you.  It’s true.

You see, because these paid for fans don’t actually care about your content, they don’t interact with your content.  They don’t click on and read your posts, they don’t like your posts, they don’t share your posts.  And as you have more and more fans who don’t interact with your post the more your reach goes down.

Reach is a metric Facebook uses to see if you’re producing good content that people like.  And well, now that you have a bunch of fans who don’t care what you do, your content is seen as bad content.  You’ve just paid to make sure your content is seen as bad content.

So what does that mean?  It means that all those fans you had who actually liked your content are even less likely to see your stuff.  Why?  Because Facebook is pretty sure your content is garbage.  As a percentage, very few people like or interact with the stuff you’re posting, so why should Facebook show it to anyone?  You’re posting junk.  Of course the fans who actually like you might not think so, but those paid fans do.

You’ve literally ruined your Facebook page by paying for fans.

Another Version

As a note, there’s another version of paying for fans.  You can pay for fans AND get them to comment too!  Great right?  Not so much.  I’ve seen a small nonprofit do this with horrible results.  How could I tell?  A post about a slaughter of a pack of wolves had people posting comments like “this is great!”  You see you’re not paying for people to post good comments or read your articles and, with that, you’ll get nothing but comments like “this is great” or “cool” to absolutely anything you post.  It degrades your community and eventually your real fans will wonder what is going on with your page and why you have fans who don’t seem to care at all about what you’re doing.

The Proof

So check out the graphic below…  The top page is a look at the page in question.  Check out the total reach compared to their total page likes?  See what a small portion of people are looking at their content vs the total number of people who like their page?  Now check out the pages that I manage.  Every single one has reach far beyond the number of people who like the page.  My fans are seeing my content.

If all you care about is how many people like you then why are you on Facebook?  It’s not to sell your product (people aren’t seeing your posts or your product) and it’s not to get your message out to people.

Your goal NEEDS to be getting people to see and CARE about your content.

This isn’t a popularity contest folks.  Trying to be popular is a failure proposition… just check it out below!

 

(Note: Click on the picture to enlarge)

 

Compare Weekly Total Reach to Total Page Likes..Social Media (2)


Haiti

OK, this is somewhat off topic except that it isn’t.  My friend Kathy’s organization is doing very important work in Haiti and one of their people on the ground in Haiti wrote a great note in Facebook about the reality of the large organizations and how they aren’t getting aid to people, instead favoring paperwork far too much of the time.  I decided to tweet this note out to many people on twitter who seem to be really following the stream there on the topic.  Many people I tweeted don’t have Facebook (my learning for today, not everyone on twitter is also on Facebook… everyone has their own desires for communication) so I need a way to post this note elsewhere to share it.  So here it is.  Yes folks, this is what Social Networking is about. 

Hello tout moun,

It has been an interesting experience sitting here in Port-Au-Prince being part of a coalition of 25 non-profit organizations coming together to coordinate the dispensation of food, water, and medical supplies. It hasn’t been easy because of the extreme difficulty of passing through the myriad loops that the large NGO’s require before anything will be given out. There is a 100 question form that they are passing out to communities to fill out bring back in order to receive aid. This alone can take them a week or so. The questions they ask are very difficult to answer and explaining location in Port-Au-Prince, is nearly impossible. Often Haitians use directions like, next to the large tree around the corner from so and so market. The UN wants GPS coordinates because many streets are not marked here and navigating the city has proven to be difficult.

After the one riot that took place in the worst part of the city, they are only sending out non-food items at first to see if the communities can function without a disaster taking place. I understand their concern for safety, but it seems to be quite a long process to go through before any nutritional needs are met. It has been nearly three weeks now and communities all over the place are living on minimal amounts of food if any. The Haitian government has been completely bypassed in all of this. The president has thrown his hands up in the air because he is not being included or informed about anything that is happening involving this process of bringing aid relief to the people.
Boats full of goods are being redirected to pass through the Dominican Republic (DR) which is a very lengthy process as well. We actually have a boat waiting in the DR which hasn’t received any clearance by the port of Jacmel to debark.

When did it occur that our society got so disorganized. Where paperwork and numbers are given priority over bringing actual aid to the people. Smaller organizations have given up all over the place trying to deal with the larger NGO’s and the UN because there still has been any sign of the goods being distributed. They have warehouses full of boxes and can’t organize their dispensation to the country. The small organizations have given up and are buying local food to distribute and/or taking trips to the DR and driving truck loads of good back to the communities they are working in.

I understand that indeed this is quite a difficult project, but how could it be so disorganized? I hope that there will be a reflective inquiry into what made this all such a mess, so in the future aid relief will arrive and actually be given out to the people in timely manner and avoid the watching the population deminish everyday while groups run around like a chicken with its head cut off staring at piles of papers and computer screens, forgetting that behind the numbers are real people in dire need.
This has been a huge disaster, not only with the earthquake, but with the response. I only can hope that we get it together before more and more Haitians perish because the loads of aid aren’t quite ready because they haven’t been given the go by those in charge. If this doesn’t reflect the depth of our Orwellian times, and not wake us up from this great mess we have gotten ourselves into, I am not sure what will.

The Haitian people are unfortunatley used to living with very limited resources including food and water and have a high tolerance for suffering. If this was to happen in the US there would have been no tolerance for such suffeering. With great hope and determination we will overcome this all and Haiti will revive itself.

Thank you,
Ryan McCrory


More on that funny thing called conversation…

There will probably be a lot on this conversation topic here.  It’s probably one of the most important things to remember when you dive in to the social media world.  Far too often we just want to jump in and get things perfect.  We want the most pretty, perfect blog.  We want all the best tweets (not to mention the best looking page).  We want to have people donate to us like their lives depend on it.  But we forget that its SOCIAL networking and SOCIALl media, not just marketing.  And that means good social skills.

I originally started this blog because I have read a ton about social media and wanted a way to share the great articles I’ve found with my coworkers.  I work for Community Voice Mail and at our yearly conferences I’ve talked a bit about Seattle Free School and what nonprofits can do, marketing wise, without any money.  A fitting and timely topic these days for everyone, especially nonprofits who are feeling the pinch from both business and private donations.  There were a number of choices to get the word to my friends in the federation.  I can post on Facebook as many of my coworkers are friends there.  I could email to get to anyone I’m not yet connected with on Facebook.  But like so many, far too often I delete emails that I’d like to read because I just don’t have time right now and I don’t want it hanging over my head in that gigantic to do list called an inbox.  By blogging people including myself can come back to articles and ideas at some time in the future should they want to.  So I hope this winds up being useful to you… it will be useful to me if nothing else!

Because I’m thinking the most about my nonprofit friends the first article I’ll post is an excellent one by Josh Catone posted on Mashable (a great resource that you might want to bookmark.  Now.  http://mashable.com/)

The article takes you through the 5 main points of Social Media for nonprofits.  Engage your followers, consuming information as well as broadcasting it.  In other words repost things, share information from other nonprofits, be a part of the, yes you guessed it, conversation!  But wait you say, that sounds like a ton of work!  And a ton of time.  The first clarification I’d like to make here is that you don’t need to be everywhere.  You don’t need to be on every social media site ever invented.  I suspect that your head would explode if you even tried.  So pick the ones you like or ideally, love and make those the ones you really dive into.  As Josh states “pare down your social media presence to only the essential sites”.  More on how to figure that out in a later post.

OK, so we know we need to talk, converse back and forth to matter to our followers but that means regularly checking on whatever form of social media you’ve picked.  “Inactivity only hurts your brand and turns users away”.  You can’t grow a community if you only respond once every couple of weeks.  No one will follow your blog if you only post every once in a while.  Remember, people are looking to you for information on whatever subject you’re talking about.  If they aren’t getting it from you they will go somewhere else.  So if you’re not going to use it then DON’T use it.  Keep the profile if you want, just don’t ever post there.  Because I just can’t pass up the chance to quote my favorite movie guru “Do or do not, there is no try”.  You don’t have to do it perfectly, but you do have to actually do it, you have to post regularly and respond regularly.

The beauty of this is that you’re not in college.  Your posts don’t need to be dry and sterile.  And frankly those of us following you would prefer that they weren’t, we’ve gotten enough of textbook writing long ago.  We want to hear what you, the human has to say.  “You’re a real person, so you should tweet, post and email like one.  Always interact with your followers on social networks as you.”  You have passion.  You have energy.  You believe in your cause.  Your organization or business is just a thing.  It can’t have those emotions so use what you have and make us love what you do by sharing your drive with us.  There is nothing motivational about a dry, informational post.  But you, you can make us really truly care.

I’ve posted this article first because I think it really covers the basic requirements for getting involved in social media, in a way that is very accessible.  There are lots more great articles coming, and of course if you have one let me know… I can never read enough!

Read “5 Essential Tips for Promoting Your Charity Using Social Media” by Josh Catone here.


Conver-what?

Most of us get what it takes to have a good conversation in our daily interactions face to face or on the phone.  But what does it mean to have conversations when using social marketing?  It’s easy enough to think about and easy enough to do if you just frame it in terms of your in person interactions.

So imagine just for a second that you were meeting someone for the first time.  You like the person enough to spend the time with them and in general you’re excited to hear what they have to say.  So you meet for coffee somewhere.

Maybe you shake hands and exchange business cards and then the “conversation” begins.  Your “friend” begins talking about something they’re doing, “yesterday I went to” blah blah.  You find it pretty interesting and know enough about communication to nod your head, put out verbal cues that you’re listening and at some point you try to relate to them through a story of your own, showing that you do know what they are talking about and that you’re interested in having a real conversation.

They don’t seem to notice that you said anything.  They’re quiet for a while and then go on talking about that same subject.  Hmm.  OK, well maybe what you said just wasn’t interesting or maybe they were thinking about something else.  The conversation continues and again you try to relate and again you’re completely ignored.  What the…?  You’re a big enough fan of this person to keep going and eventually you start talking about something that you find very interesting and that you suspect this other person will see as important too.

Apparently they don’t.  They don’t comment on it, they don’t talk about it and yet again they just start talking about themselves.  This goes on.

And now you’re probably thinking, “yeah, this goes on but not for long”.  Why?  Because it’s RUDE.  Not listening to others, not responding when someone reaches out to you in conversation, just being totally self-absorbed isn’t a way to make friends.  It’s a way to annoy people.

And yet how often do we do just that in our social media venues?  How often do we just post about us, our organization, our business?  Do we watch to see when people respond and make sure we’ve responded to them?  Thanking them for reposting?  Continuing the conversation if they comment or post a question?

It’s too easy to see social marketing as a one way information dump for you and your organization or business.  But that won’t gain you any friends and eventually, unless you are just so important people can’t ignore you, people will stop caring about what you’re saying.

If you’re not reposting important things on Facebook or Twitter or sharing information with your network and instead only talking about yourself you’re not being a good conversationalist.  If you’re ignoring the conversation you started you’re not being a good conversationalist.  But more importantly you’re not networking.  This doesn’t mean reposting everything… then you’re just that needy weird friend.  But when you find something interesting SHARE IT!

The very idea of social networking and marketing is that we’re all spreading the word about things we find important, including those things other people have brought to us.  So make that happen.  Those articles you found interesting on Facebook, share them!  When someone makes a post on Twitter about you or about something you find interesting, respond!

If you don’t or feel like you don’t have the time then get out because frankly we want to talk, not just listen.

(there are lots of articles that inspired this post not just one so the reviews of great writings will start tomorrow… and yes, please do respond to this if you’d like.  I do want to start a conversation!)