Why the future of marketing is heart first, calculator second

heart first

It’s been some two and a half years since I publicly introduced my concept of The Connected Brand.

Just to recap, my definition of a ‘connected brand’ is a person, company or organisation that:

  • connects with the people who matter the most to the success of its business, or cause or issue;  
  • contributes to their lives in respectful and meaningful ways;  
  • cultivates relationships with those people who are already fans, advocates, supporters and allies; and  
  • collaborates with other like-minded brands as a means of reaching new audiences, as well as helping it to stay fresh, relevant and vital.

4shotcropHow do they do this?

Through content creation (and curation), by kick-starting, facilitating and participating in conversation with customers and stakeholders via social media and other mediums (events, for example), and building a sense of community (or what I like to call ‘village of support’) around its brand by being empathetic, responsive and inclusive.

Over time, the brand becomes better placed to instigate its commercial call to action. 

In other words, it has earned the right to pitch its wares and thus has a ready-made market predisposed to its message.

Too often we see businesses go for the sales ‘kill’ straight away without going through any of the above steps; they pitch cold without putting in the groundwork to build any semblance of a relationship with people. It’s akin to someone interrupting you at a networking event, shoving their business card into your hand and pitching you their new product or service – and we all know how well that works!

But please allow me to push this idea a bit further … and I apologise in advance for the length of this post – consider it a ‘stake in the ground’ – I’m building a case for a different way to market your brand, and you can’t do that in 140 characters :)

I don’t know about you but I’m starting to see a growing number of businesses and organisations – let’s for the sake of this article call them ‘connected brands’ – that are taking a human, holistic and heart-first approach to marketing, and it’s really working for them and, more importantly, the public they serve.

Where more ‘mercenary’ businesses see people as prospects and leads to be nurtured and converted, connected brands see human beings and thus treat them accordingly, with empathy and respect.

So while the make-the-sale-at-any-cost merchants are focused on the hustle (but often with little empathy for customers), connected brands are busy delivering value over and above their products and services, and are generating a positive impact on the marketplace and their bottom line as a result.

Now before you say “but hey, businesses are there to make money and build shareholder value”, let me state right here, right now: I get it!

I get that business is about making the sale and churning out growing levels of profit year in, year out. That’s not what this is about - I’m more concerned with how businesses go about marketing their brand; I’m saying there is a better way to do that in today’s socially-fuelled ‘connection economy’.

Every time you call us “consumers” we feel like cows looking up the word “meat.” (Doc Searls and David Weinberger/BACKCHANNEL)

Continue in ‘old school’ fashion – the traditional marketing model – and I can almost guarantee you’ll be overtaken at some stage by individuals and organisations who demonstrate empathy and generosity, who lead with their heart first, calculator second.

Remember: People are now empowered and they love it! They have more information at their fingertips than ever before. They have connections and influence. In a world of abundance, they don’t need you or your products and services. So how are you going to appeal to this increasingly discerning customer base?

The answer is inject a spirit of generosity into your business, bring your people out from the shadows and humanise your organisation, add value by providing helpful and relevant ‘non-salesy’ information, and most of all lead with your heart!

I’m not the only one who veers down this path of ‘heart first’. This philosophy manifests itself in many different ways as we’ll see below, but there’s definitely a pattern forming. Allow me to elaborate – and I’d love to hear your take on this theme as well :)

unsellingScott Stratten, in his book Unselling, talks about “community before commerce” (I often talk about ‘connection before commerce’ as per The Connected Brand theory above, but I like Scott’s quote way better).

Mark Schaefer has judiciously and enthusiastically leveraged the power of blogging and social media to build an international platform for his personal brand; today he’s a globally-recognised blogger, speaker, educator, business consultant and author. Schaefer has come from a traditional sales and marketing role but understands better than most the shifting sands underneath the feet of marketers.

In his book Social Media Explained, Schaefer writes:

In an always-on, real-time, global world of business communications, the priority is on human interaction that leads to connections. Connections lead to awareness. Awareness leads to trust. Trust is the ultimate catalyst to business benefits, as it has always been.”

How good is that?

Bryan Kramer is the author of the acclaimed book ‘Human to Human #H2H’, which focuses on helping CEOs and marketers to bring back the “human side of communication, in all its imperfection, empathy, and simplicity”.

Kramer believes “relationships are the new currency in today’s social world”. He recommends companies keep it simple: ”Just be helpful. Do what you say you’ll do. Become better storytellers,” he writes.

Gary Vaynerchuk understands …

Gary Vaynerchuk is a born entrepreneur who is all about the hustle but he still understands better than most that by putting value first, by interacting with your community and building relationships, you’re going to ultimately win the fight for people’s hearts, minds and wallets.

Adherence to this philosophy has seen Vaynerchuk skyrocket from liquor store obscurity to becoming a social media powerhouse – professional speaker, best-selling author three times over, in-demand media commentator, angel investor and co-founder of a social media branding agency that employs some 420 people and in 2013 generated revenue of $23 million.

In his book The Thank You Economy, Vaynerchuk writes:

If your organization’s intentions transcend the mere act of selling a product or service, and it is brave enough to expose its heart and soul, people will respond. They will connect. They will like you. They will talk. They will buy.” 

Ted Rubin talks and writes not about ROI, but ROR – Return on Relationships.

Rubin says: “Return on Relationship (ROR, #RonR), simply put, is the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship, whereas ROI is simple dollars and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing, and is used to define and educate companies, brands, and people about the importance of creating authentic connection, interaction, and engagement.” (SOURCE)

How do you build and strengthen relationships with your audience (as a whole, and as individuals) to increase your ROR? Rubin says:

  1. Listen
  2. Make it be about THEM
  3. Ask “How can I serve you?”
  4. Aim for Ongoing Engagement
  5. Know the People in Your Audience 

Sounds like a heart-first approach to me!

In Unselling, Scott Stratten writes enthusiastically about Big Ass Fans, a company that designs, engineers and manufactures overhead and directional fans for industrial, commercial and residential spaces.

Founder of Big Ass Fans, Carey Smith, is quoted in the book: “Relationship first – then making money is good business.” Be part of the community, Smith advocates.

When you invest in the community, you know the pulse of those around you – your customers and your employees.”

Marketing software company HubSpot is all about people and education. 

The company’s co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah says: “The future of marketing is about being human”.

HubSpot walks Shah’s talk. With great emphasis on educating the marketplace and teaching people to become better marketers, HubSpot has earned its reputation as one of the world’s leading brand-led content publishers. Does it work?

Well, the company is certainly no slouch when it comes to generating leads and closing sales – its business booked $115 million in revenue last year (via HubSpot’s 2014 Year in Review).

hubspot

Okay, so let’s recap:

We’ve touched on the power of connection and how brands need to use social media and online publishing platforms to build deeper relationships, or as Mark Schaefer says, to “provide consistent, small provocations and conversations through content that lead to engagement and interactions” (SOURCE).

But what does this look like in action?

Here in Australia, companies such as Firebrand Talent and Valerie Khoo‘s Australian Writers’ Centre are not just growing their audiences (their respective ‘villages of support’) via social media, but their businesses as well. I frequently refer to these businesses as being classic examples of ‘connected brands’.

Give away your IP – and reap the rewards

Cam McLellan and his team at the property investment advisory firm Open Wealth Creation give away a fair whack of their ‘IP’ via their blog and particularly their daily video series. In an industry  known for its fair share of ‘sharks’ and hard-sell tactics, this approach is not only refreshing but stands out like a beacon in the night (a beacon, I might add, that people are attracted to).

Cam didn’t start with the mentality of: “How many leads will this blog post generate?” No, he looked at his audience, developed empathy for their issues and pain points, and created and published content that gave away all his ‘secrets’ (and in doing so empowered people with information they crave).

And the strategy is working big time: Business Review Weekly last year ranked Open Wealth Creation 13th on its BRW Fast 100 list; the business turned over $6.1 million in 2013-14, with growth pegged at 137 per cent.

The Honey Bar’s Steve Vallas: Building a ‘village of support’ 

Steve Vallas from The Honey Bar is a purist when it comes to social media. He’s all about using the likes of Twitter and Facebook to build relationships with people as well as a sense of community around the Honey Bar brand.

And while that works for him personally, it’s also a highly effective strategy in growing the Honey business.

Steve’s a businessman and he’s very cognisant the ROI that can be achieved by building relationships. On achieving an outcome with social media, he says:

If the outcome starts with ‘I want to get them here drinking’, then chances are what you produce and the sorts of conversations you have are very one-dimensional – you’ve got to add some value to people, and whether the value is conversation late at night or whether the value is the space I’ve got to offer or an introduction I can potentially do – it comes in many different forms – the value is the key proposition”

For a deeper dive into how Steve uses social media to grow his business, check out the video interview above.

Brian Goulet: How can I help the most people? 

I love what US-based Brian Goulet and the team at Goulet Pen Company are doing – they are in my eyes the absolute epitome of ‘The Connected Brand’ philosophy.

Rather than approach their content marketing efforts from the perspective of “how much traffic and how many sales will this video generate?”, Brian asks: “How can I help the most people?”

And it works! Goulet Pen Company provides so much value to its ever-growing community of adoring fans, followers, supporters and advocates of its brand, it’s seriously impressive.

The lengths Brian Goulet and his team go to, to help people and answer their questions through content and social interaction, would put most larger organisations to shame.

If you want to know what people think about the Goulet brand, check out the comments on this blog post. Indeed, I urge you to take a look and see first-hand what a community of raving fans looks like, then ask yourself: Would this heart-first approach to marketing work for my brand?

“Goulet Pens experienced 200% growth during their first year of business and have continued to enjoy growth rates each year in the 50-100% range.” (SOURCE)

Buffer is brilliant!

Social tech business Buffer too is brilliant at being fun, human, useful and helpful beyond the call of duty. The passion the company shows for its community is obvious, and they’ve built a serious global reputation in a short space of time.

Companies could do worse than check out Buffer to see how they go about their business.

buffer twitter

 

Becoming a social executive

Dionne (aka ‘The Social Executive’) Lew gives heaps without the expectation of getting anything in return. For example, Dionne is terrific at connecting people with common interests.

She takes notice of what people are talking/tweeting/writing about and then introduces them if she thinks there would be a ‘good fit’ intellectually and personality-wise.

Along similar lines, one of France’s leading marketing bloggers Gregory Pouy tells this wonderful story about the real-life ROI of Twitter. He writes:

Twitter is an incredible tool for managing customer relations, promoting your products, and following the discussions involving your brand. But perhaps most importantly, Twitter allows you to connect with people who may very well change your life or your business. 

Mark Masters & The ID Group

mark_masters_1393192200_36And finally, we have the ever-cheerful Mark Masters (left) who runs a design and content marketing agency based in regional England.

Rather than always be pushing his promotional message on to people, Mark – who’s also a blogger, podcaster and author - prefers to explore topics and issues by creating content, telling stories and participating on social channels. ”Let’s talk about it”, he says.

He writes in one blog post (‘Make Deeper Connections, Not Throwaway Moments’):

It is time to discover the ways where we can make an impact on others and to cause a reaction where we can challenge, entertain and be seen as representing a credible source that can create moments for others to be part of.

It’s working for Mark as he’s quickly making a name for himself in international content marketing circles. His new book – THE CONTENT REVOLUTION: Telling a Better Story to Differentiate From the Competition – is set to be released any time now.

(I recently recorded an interview with Mark for my Reputation Revolution podcast if you’re interested in hearing Mark’s philosophies in more detail).

But I’ll leave you with a quote from marketing provocateur and professional ruckus-maker Seth Godin:

“What matters now:

  • Trust
  • Permission
  • Remarkability
  • Leadership
  • Stories that spread
  • Humanity: connection, compassion, and humility

And yes, I underscored that last bit for a reason :)

Sorry this was a bit of an opus – consider it my ‘line in the sand’ moment for 2015! – but I think it’s a conversation worth having and as taking a ‘heart-first approach to marketing’ can manifest itself in many ways, I feel it’s a good idea for people to see the how this theme is emerging across the various different industries as highlighted above.

Over to you – what are your thoughts on this subject?

Why company directors need to be ‘out, loud and proud’ on social media

Social Media Scribble

Do you know who should be a company’s biggest champions?

Employees, I hear you say. And you’re probably right, but that’s only going to happen if a company has a super-engaged workforce and its employees are actually empowered to spread the love via social channels, as well in offline forums (public events, with friends over the backyard barbecue). Actually, not only empowered, but motivated to do so.

This is particularly important today as social media can help spread positive vibes about a brand far and wide, and if these ‘social vibes’ emanate authentically from passionately engaged employees, then it’s a massive win for the organisation in question.

But as research tells us time and time again, employees are not engaged.

Indeed, according to a Gallup study in the US, many employees are confused as to what the company they work for stands for:

Too few “brand ambassadors” – According to the report, “Only 41% of employees felt that they know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from its competitors’ brands.”  As always, such findings point to the need for more and clearer communication from senior management to all organizational levels. (SOURCE)

And herein lies the problem, and it’s not the fault of employees but more so a lack of passionate external communication (not to mention clarity internally) from senior executives and company directors.

I’ve always maintained the ‘C’ Suite, including company directors, should be at the forefront of a brand’s communication with the public. In the past that would mostly have meant being front and centre of dealings with the media (preferably sans stilted messaging and media-trained slickness).

Actively engaged

But today communications leadership also means being actively engaged on social channels.

If a company’s board is not out there championing the business they’re directors of, if they’re not leading conversation or generating debate around issues affecting their industry or trends relevant to the company they represent, then who will?

You certainly can’t expect your employees to embrace social media and become unofficial ambassadors for your organisation if you’re not prepared to do it yourself.

Nuances of new media

There’s also a second very important reason why company directors need to be active on social media.

They need to understand, with depth, how it works. They need to develop an intuitive feeling for the nuances of the new media landscape. They need to ‘get’ how consumers today are connecting with brands and with each other using social technologies. In short, company directors need to be fully ‘socialised’.

If you haven’t got first-hand knowledge and experience of the technologies that are disrupting the way businesses market to consumers (indeed, an understanding of how social media can impact upon the operation of a business positively or negatively), you will be at a distinct disadvantage in the boardroom.

Companies need directors who are not only passionate about social media but also willing (and keen) to use their social networks and online publishing platforms to create content on behalf of the brand and interact with customers and influencers.

Having directors who are part of a company’s social PR efforts, who are ‘out, loud and proud’ on social media, will speak volumes about your brand in a positive way.

This post was originally published on BUSINESS CONNECTOR.

The power of podcasting and why businesses should take audio-on-demand seriously

Microphone on Fire Background

I’m an unashamed fan of podcasts. I’d probably listen to some six hours’ worth of podcasts per week which gives me a steady flow of ideas and inspiration in equal measure.

You may have read the articles recently about the ‘podcasting boom’ and the upwards trend of audio-on-demand consumption. Many of these articles were inspired by the phenomenal success of the podcast Serial, which boasts 5M+ downloads and streams.

(In comparison, podcast network PodcastOne offers 200 different shows that are downloaded 120 million times per month – SOURCE).

Podcasting is on the rise, as weekly audio podcast consumption grew 25% year-over-year, from 12% in 2013 to 15% in 2014.

But while it’s easy to get carried away by the success of the blockbuster podcast brands, it’s the ‘underbelly’ of the podcasting world that interests me – the niche-driven ‘minnows’ that are emerging globally.

These podcasts are fuelled by passion and more often than not produced by podcasting amateurs who are enthusiastic experts in their respective fields or topics of interest.

Some are building fantastic, engaged audiences, for example, Tim Reid’s Small Business Big Marketing podcast which is (more often than not, according to Tim) ranked as the #1 marketing show on the Apple iTunes store in Australia, and downloaded by motivated small business owners in over 110 countries, including Kazakhstan!

Audience’s attention

suzi dafnisCEO Australian Businesswomen’s Network and host of two podcasts (herBusiness and Social Media for Small Business), Suzi Dafnis (pictured), has been podcasting since 2010 and she loves it!

“There’s lots that is fabulous” (about podcasts), she says.

According to Suzi, podcasts make effective marketing vehicles because:

1. You have the audience’s attention for a longer period of time than if they were, for example, reading a blog post or watching a video and you’re right in their head! 2. Unlike other media, podcasts can be consumed while doing other things and our listeners report on tuning in from the gym, while cooking, driving, and generally on the go. So, I’m fitting in with their lifestyle and not counting on them to be behind a desk. 3. iTunes is a search engine in essence. The better you optimise your podcasts the more likely you are to be found. 4. They can be a great way to drive traffic to your website (to the show notes) where you an capture details and add people to your mailing list and have them enquire about other products and services.

So don’t take my word for it. Or Suzi’s! The wisdom of the crowd agrees with us! I asked the question on Twitter, and below is what I got back unfiltered:

I’m writing a post on podcasting, crowdsourcing comments: What’s the best thing about podcasting for marketing? 

podcast8

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podcast7

podcast4

twitterpodcast

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podcast3

podcast1

podcast2

podtweetz Screenshot 2015-02-14 12.58.42 Screenshot 2015-02-14 12.58.55

Thanks to those who contributed to the conversation! Love your work!

You want more?

The good folk from Convince & Convert have launched a dedicated search engine for marketing podcasts. It’s well worth checking out!

Oh, and here’s a nifty infographic from Social Fresh (SOURCE) that dissects the podcasting landscape:

The-rise-of-podcasts-as-Business-Education

The Katering Show is set to become a YouTube sensation (if it’s not already by the time I finish writing this!)

abouttheshow-1024x681

Twitter and Facebook buzzed madly today with the emergence of a hilarious new YouTube comedy series called The Katering Show.

Fronted by two comedians Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney, The Katering Show takes the piss out of TV cooking shows (the official strapline is the journey of a food intolerant, and an intolerable foodie).

While the program has been produced in conjunction with Screen Australia and a few other sponsors and thus has an edge in production values, it’s still looks like a low budget affair but that hasn’t stopped people from flocking to YouTube to watch it – in just a handful of days, the videos have racked up tens of thousands of views (or in the case of the one embedded below, 640,000+ views).

Social media presence

The show began its social media presence on Facebook and Twitter in December and drip fed fun content to start generating a bit of interest and buzz. But what started as a trickle of interest has become a torrent as the media has picked up on the program.

It just goes to show that even when there’s a serious glut of content on the web, publish something of value (in this case, entertainment value) and people will not only check it out but share their thoughts on social media (and if you cause enough fuss, the media won’t be too far behind).

I’m not sure if the two Kates have a television deal already locked away and this is a canny way to build an audience before it lands on-screen, in which case it’s a very shrewd move! But you can be certain of one thing – these girls will get their own TV show demonstrating yet again that if you build an audience of raving fans, the ‘gatekeepers’ will come calling!

Check out season one of The Katering Show on YouTube. These girls are gonna be HUGE!

Talking content marketing and brand journalism with Rakhal Ebeli, Newsmodo.com

Rakhal Ebeli is the founder and CEO of Newsmodo.com, an online service that helps publishers, agencies and brands connect with audiences through quality storytelling, crafted by experienced journalists from around the world.

In this interview Rakhal chats about brand journalism and the role it plays in the broader realm of content marketing.

He discusses the trend of brands creating long-form content, and how Newsmodo has positioned itself as a go-to resource for freelance journalists and news photographers/videographers available to create content for companies and organisations as well as traditional newsrooms operating with slimmed-down news gathering personnel.

Follow Rakhal on Twitter - @rakhalebeli - or read the Newsmodo blog for more insights into brand journalism and content marketing.

DISCLOSURE: I’m an advisor to Newsmodo.com.

Building a strong personal brand in a conservative professional industry

charles badenach

Charles Badenach is an award-winning financial adviser with a passion for helping people, a trait that has helped him build his profile through content marketing and the judicious use of social media.

Post-GFC Charles was determined to make himself recession-proof and subsequently set about building a personal brand with a view it would serve him for the rest of his career.

“As individuals in the modern world we need to control our personal brand because … it’s an intangible that’s very valuable for all of us. Using the online forums  it works 24/7, 365 days a year and really enables you to reach out to people that you couldn’t reach out to before,” says Charles.

Trial and error

Started off his content marketing efforts by writing and publishing a book called Old Head on Young Shoulders, which explains in simple plain language what you need to know to control and grow your asset base.

He then started using social media, which he says was very much a “trial and error process”.

When it comes to creating and publishing content, Charles focuses on video – “I’d argue video is worth 10,000 (words)”, he says.

Charles produces three types of videos:

  1. Client testimonials (providing third party endorsement for Charles and his firm, Mainstreet Financial Solutions).
  2. Client stories (shining the spotlight on the interesting things his clients are doing)
  3. How-to tips (e.g. what to look for when reviewing your superannuation fund; should you have income protection insurance; what is the impact of the Federal Budget etc)

In terms of finding your own voice and showing your personality when creating content, especially with video, Charles says it’s something you develop over time.

“It’s always a little bit confronting when you first go on video but what’s uncomfortable to start off with becomes comfortable over time.

charles book“If you want to be different, you need to do different things. I wanted to really stand out from the crowd and make myself in a sense recession-proof and make sure I had a voice and a brand that I could use for the rest of my professional career,” says Charles.

“What I do doesn’t appeal to everyone but there’s a certain segment of the population that I work very well with, and it works well for both parties.”

So how does Charles manage to find the time to create his video content?

Firstly, he blocks out filming days in advance – “proper planning prevents poor performance”, he says.

Every video is quite meticulously planned ahead of time, and discussed with his cameraman/video producer in advance of filming.

On the day of filming, Charles meets his cameraman at 7 am and they adhere to a strict shooting schedule, changing locations every hour or so.

The day involves driving around in a car with 12 suits and shirts – “getting changed like Superman in the back of the car” – and shooting the videos back-to-back.

The resultant footage is handed to an editor who puts the videos together (Charles endeavours to keep them to one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half minutes in duration); the videos are then released via YouTube over time, with one being published every 3-4 weeks.

Charles says it costs him between $1600 to $2000 to produce 10-12 videos – “it’s pretty cost effective way of doing it, and you’ve actually got it in perpetuity”.

In terms of social media, Charles likes to “fish where the fish are”, thus he prefers to focus on LinkedIn because that’s where his clients tend to congregate online.

He’s had instances where providing helpful information via LinkedIn has resulted in “quite a bit of work”.

Charles is also “fairly active” on Twitter, often using the platform’s ‘direct message’ and ‘lists’ functions.

As a rule Charles spends 10 minutes a day on Twitter; he checks it twice a day unless he receives email notification he’s been mentioned personally and then he responds immediately.

He also uses Twitter in the first instance to investigate news topics that are trending.

CONNECT WITH CHARLES:

In this episode of the Reputation Revolution podcast, Charles discusses his approach to content marketing, especially the use of video, and how he uses LinkedIn and Twitter to grow his business.

If you like what you hear, why not subscribe to REPUTATION REVOLUTION on iTunes (and never miss an episode!) and/or join our LinkedIn Group:

SUBSCRIBE ON iTUNES

JOIN THE LINKEDIN GROUP

LISTEN TO ON SOUNDCLOUD

 

Have you checked the new Twitter Analytics function yet?

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A note from Twitter appeared on my feed this morning alerting me to the fact that I could now access the platform’s new Analytics Dashboard.

(N.B. It may have popped up earlier, this was the first time I noticed it and checked out the dashboard; I believe this functionality has been available to advertisers for a while but has only just been opened up for individuals recently).

On the surface, Twitter Analytics looks pretty useful.

I’m a bit ‘iffy’ on the impressions stat – Twitter defines an impression as the ”times a user is served a Tweet in timeline or search results”.  Thus, it represents the potential a tweet is seen, and as we all know, tweets appear en masse and disappear pretty quickly, so it’s not a true reflection of who actually sees your handiwork.

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 But I like what I see in the right sidebar:

  • Engagements: Twitter definition = total number of times a user interacted with a Tweet. Clicks anywhere on the Tweet, including retweets, replies, follows, favorites, links, cards, hashtags, embedded media, username, profile photo, or Tweet expansion (obviously something that’s worth keeping an eye on, although you can check individual tweets – reviewing high engagement tweets should give you a good feel for what’s working from an engagement perspective).

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  • Link Clicks - Clicks on a URL included in your Tweet (especially important if you’re sharing links to original content housed on your own blog or website).
  • Retweets – the number of times users retweeted your tweets (set a benchmark, see where you stand now and review to see if you’re able to lift that average figure).
  • Favorites – the number of times people favorited your tweets (this is a good measure to see if your content is resonating with people).
  • Replies – the number of times users replied to your tweets (this is an excellent way to gauge interaction with those in the Twitterverse).

What I do like is the ability to dissect the performance of an individual tweet (see example below). Of course, Twitter also gives you the opportunity to ‘boost’ a tweet through its Twitter Ads function (very kind of them, no?). More on this here

From a business perspective, ultimate measure will more often than not be whether Twitter is directly driving new business leads or somehow positively impacting on revenue.

For me that’s not as important as the connections I make and the conversations I have (these, I find, quite often lead to new relationships that in turn result to new business opportunities anyway); I guess it’s up to the individual (or business) as to how what they want to get out of Twitter and then how can that best be measured.

Have you used new Twitter Analytics yet? What do you think of the dashboard? 

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My interview for Canberra’s Small Biz Intelligence Network

I recently delivered a presentation for the Small Biz Intelligence (SBI) business network in Canberra.

SBI focuses on “educating the entrepreneur” and business owner. It offers professional connections with like-minded business owners who are life-long learners and want to grow their businesses through learning and instigating business opportunities.

Here is an interview I recorded for SBI on the day. In it I cover:  

  • Finding your voice through blogging.
  • Writing versus video versus audio.
  • What advice I would give myself if I was starting out today.
  • Why you don’t need to be on every social channel.
  • What are the best platforms for connecting with people online.
  • Who I follow on social media to keep up with marketing trends.
  • My predictions for the future of social media.
  • The one thing that has made a difference in my business.

Trevor Young (PR Warrior) Interview from Small Biz Intelligence on Vimeo. 

The value a ‘socially visible’ CEO brings to the company they run

I woke up this morning to the news that web hosting company GoDaddy had decided to pull its forthcoming Super Bowl advertisement (see below) following a backlash from consumers.

The ad, called ‘Journey Home’, stars a a way-cute golden retriever puppy named Buddy who accidentally falls from the back of a pickup truck before finding his way home, experiencing some scary moments along the way.

As he rocks up home, he’s greeted by a young woman who exclaims: ”Look it’s Buddy! I’m so glad you made it home because I just sold you on this website I made with GoDaddy.”

Poor ol’ buddy is then shipped off.

buddy

The public backlash was swift and GoDaddy acted quickly by pulling the ad from TV schedules.

The way the breakfast TV news in Australia covered the story, it simply sounded like it was just a bunch of wowsers who complained (we do see that a lot these days, don’t we?). But closer inspection of US coverage of the event tells a different story, one around animal advocacy and the sensitive issue of ‘puppy mills’. So with context, the situation takes on a different complexion.

But I’m not going to get into the issue here – Huffington Post more than covers that side of things; I’m more interested in how the episode was handled by the company.

From where I sit, GoDaddy acted swiftly and decisively and, it appears, with genuine contrition. They ticked all the right boxes – crisis and issues management practitioners the world over are probably weeping with joy at how well it was handled (errr, perhaps not)! And I think it’s fair to say GoDaddy has strayed into controversial territory over the years, so you’d think they’re well-versed in this regard.

But even that’s not what I want to focus on.

What caught my eye was the ‘social visibility’ of GoDaddy CEO, Blake Irving.

I liked how Irving :

  • penned a post on the GoDaddy blog explaining the situation, saying “we’re listening, message received” (interestingly, there was no apology, which is something the masses often demand);
  • jumped on to Twitter to further press his point (take note of the language used – no polished corporate-speak – ditto the blog post) .

Screenshot 2015-01-29 08.01.08

So what can we learn from this episode?

Well, apart from the swift and seemingly contrite nature of GoDaddy’s response, companies – particularly large ones – can learn from Blake Irving and his online behaviour.

Having a CEO active on Twitter speaks volumes; if they’re listening, if they understand the nuances of the medium, they will always be better placed to react accordingly if there is an issue that rolls into the Twitterverse.

(According to this HubSpot article, research suggests social CEOs are better leaders who can strengthen brands, build trust in products and services, demonstrate brand values, and communicate accountability – all by simply being on a social network).

In the case of Blake Irving, he has 12,700 followers on Twitter – this is an inbuilt audience for his message (and stories and ideas and links to interesting articles and observations and opinions and …). The man has tweeted over 3300 times, so at least he has a presence and a following, which is more than could be said for many (most?) corporate CEOs.

I’m tipping most corporate leaders hate the idea of being on Twitter because it means the public can talk to them directly. It’s the wrong attitude in today’s social age, of course, but it’s one that prevails.

We also learnt the power of posting an article on the company blog during times of crisis, stating your position on the issue in question.

In the case of the GoDaddy blog post:

  • It was the CEO who (presumedly) wrote the article – it’s his face and name accompanying the piece, and that counts for something. How many CEOs would do that, or would their first course of action be to ‘issue a press release’? Indeed, how many companies have a blog in the first place?
  • The company enabled comments on the post even though they would have known commentary by and large would be negative – the post had at time of writing attracted over 550 comments and serves as a forum for the further public debate on the issue. How many companies have the will to allow negative comments on their blog?

More importantly, I wonder if any corporate CEOs saw Blake Irving’s actions and presence on social media and saw a light bulb go off?

What’s your take on CEOs and social media?

 

Becoming an influential ‘go-to resource’ in your chosen field

Ed-Charles-tomato

Ed Charles from digital marketing consultancy Tomato Media has carved out a reputation as an authority on the ins-and-outs of Melbourne’s ‘foodie’ scene.

A former journalist turned magazine publisher (and later food blogger), Ed has over the past 10 years used blogging, Twitter, Facebook plus a strategic approach to content curation to grow his profile and circle of influence within the hospitality industry.

According to Ed, having a blog is a “good centre point” for any plan because it’s your own space, and then you magnify it with social media.

Own your own platform

You want to own your own platform, he says. You want to blog on your own website, on your own domain, adding that ideally it is visible on the home page of your website.

Tomato_web1-300x112-2What perhaps sets Ed apart from other bloggers and opinion leaders in the food and hospitality industry is the fact he’s willing to “ask difficult questions”, something he learned on the job as a journalist.

“I’ve always been very happy to write more confrontational things,” he says.

Twitter changed the game for Ed in 2008-09 – he says the platform really accelerated what he was doing, particularly connecting with industry people, chefs and the like, at in-person meet-ups, or ‘tweet-ups’ as they were known.

But interestingly, while Ed is still highly active on Twitter, he has been getting significant traction on his (personal) Facebook page.

“If you said to me three years ago I’d be getting a large proportion of my news from Facebook, I’d have told you you were mad,” he says.

Which leads to our next point: Content curation.

Ed is a masterful content creator but these days he’s becoming a serious content curator (I wrote about the power of content curation last week).

Indeed, while I’ve known Ed for a while, it was his content curation efforts that really made me sit up and take notice of the knowledgeable resource he had become.

It’s easy to share links to interesting content, but it’s another to judiciously select the right content and then add value to it with a comment or two, putting your unique take on a particular article or issue that may be percolating within your industry. And this is where Ed excels.

Important to have a view

The beginning of the process is to subscribe to a range of online publications via RSS so you get one feed, or stream, of stories and information, making it come to you rather than having to go out and chase it. Ed says this is a habit that has served him well over the years.

When it comes to content curation, “you’re using your expertise to say what’s good and bad,” Ed says. “It’s important to have a view.”

Reputation Revolution Episode #40

In chatting with me for Reputation Revolution, Ed discusses the effectiveness of issues-based marketing, why he intends focusing more on LinkedIn this year, and how it’s ”really important to get out and meet people … and social media enhances that”.

He says top bloggers would spend two to three times the writing of a blog post promoting it: “Amplification (of your content) is massively important.”

And don’t forget email, Ed says.

“I think email in 2015 is more important than email’s ever been before.”

Ed also explains how Twitter and Facebook “have opened up these amazing opportunities to advertise to email lists”, and why he loves the WordPress plugin CoSchedule.

CONNECT WITH ED

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