This is one of the top questions I am asked by my clients. Here are some variations:
Social Media Objectives
Always the most important consideration, you must start at the beginning. Let’s use an example – a software company. Let’s say that this company has 5 different product lines; three of them are well established with strong recognition in the marketplace. But two of these products are new and it’s critical that you bring more attention to its benefits, as well as position your organization as a thought leader in these areas. Of these two product lines, one of them has a “cheerleader,” someone who is quite knowledgeable and loves to share her thoughts. The other product line, while very critical, has a very limited staff at the moment and it’s almost impossible to get their attention for content creation.
Clearly, the group with the thought leader provides the perfect opportunity to create and grow a thriving social media community. There is clear need with associated objectives and with someone at the helm who can serve as a content source.
So how about the group who desperately needs product recognition but has no one who can provide the necessary thought leadership? Here, a decision needs to be made; you can either locate someone in the organization who is at least well-versed in key trends in this area to find and curate content or outsource the content development. If neither of these is an option, you might consider just building content surrounding this group into your corporate Twitter, Facebook or Google+ account.
Key Insight: Do not create social media accounts that you cannot support.
Social Media Content
I already alluded to this above but you really need to let the content, coupled with audience need, drive the decision about how many/which accounts. The reality is that some topics will drive more interest than others. But if you position it correctly – by adding value and not just promoting a product/service – then you will likely find a niche.
It is always challenging to not only locate but also gain buy-in from thought leaders within any company to contribute to content. But keep in mind that if you establish clear objectives, articulate them and put forth a process by which you will gather and publish content, you are much more likely to receive a commitment to content development. If this is challenging for you, I recommend that you read my recent post, How to Make a Blog Happen, in which I discuss how to make content gathering as easy as possible for your stakeholders.
And don’t forget that social media is about publishing both original and curated content; in this way you establish thought leadership for your brand, provide value and build relationships with others.
At the end of the day, though, don’t create social media accounts just because you think you should have them. It’s a lot better to have one Twitter account, for example, with robust content than 4 with sporadic content. If you can only support one corporate account – or if your objectives lead you to one account – then that’s what you should build.
What do you think? What has your experience been with multiple social media accounts? I would love to hear your comments.
I was just reading a blog post about how to write a blog post in an hour – great post by Marsden Associates, 8 Tips to Write a Blog Post in an Hour and Why Often Times You Shouldn't that addresses key considerations for making it happen. And each point is quite valuable in the development of authentic, interesting blogs. But something struck me…
I think I spend more time with my clients working through the challenges of getting people to blog than the actual development of the blogs themselves. It’s the age-old problem:
“I need great content to fuel my website, social media and my overall digital presence. But everyone is so busy and people just don’t see content development at the top of their to-do list.”
This is usually followed by the following questions:
Like anything else, a blog requires resources and a plan. Your blogging goals should light the way to your intended audience and, thus, help you decide WHO should write the posts. Typically, this would not be a PR Manager or someone in Marketing. While these folks can and should assist (I’ll get to that in a bit), the posts should be written by authors who feel passionate about the topics at hand and would be considered thought leaders in their respective fields. This might be an HR Director, a Sales Administrator or the CEO! The audience and content should dictate the author(s).
THE HOW AND THE WHEN
Spread the wealth. Try to make more than one person accountable for blog posts and assign them specific weeks. If you want to be nice, you can ask them how frequently they are willing to create content and if there are specific days/weeks that definitely will not work for them. Then, create the calendar of who is blogging and when. Publish the schedule and send reminders to help them out. But HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE. If they tell you that they can’t craft a post this week then find out if they can commit to the following week and revise the schedule.
Make it as easy for your authors as possible! While it might put a bit more work on you, try your best to work with the style of individual contributors. In other words, find out how they prefer to transmit the content to you and then accept it in that format. When I work with my clients I let them know that we can schedule 15 minute calls where they can just tell me their content, they can record audio files on their iPhone and email it to me, they can write up some notes and email them, send me bullets – you get the picture. And then I will write up the actual posts and get their approval.
You might even decide that it’s best for your PR or Marketing Manager to take on the role of interviewing thought leaders; they can schedule 20 minute calls with contributors, gather the content and then write up the posts. It really all depends upon the style of the thought leaders and the resources you have available to make this happen.
Commit to a blogging frequency and stick to it. Ah, the question of how often you need to blog…there is no standard answer, in my opinion. In a perfect world, we would blog everyday but the reality is that for most of us, this is just not realistic. If possible, blogging 2-3 times per week is recommended. If you can’t commit to this, then I would say that you should plan on at least once per week. But here’s the caveat – whatever the frequency you select, you need to stick with it so that your readers know what to expect.
You could also determine that certain people in your company need to blog more frequently but others might only blog once per month, like your CEO, on very high-level topics. Again, whatever that mix is, spell it out, let the organization know and make sure you stick to it.
Many blogs have been written about developing great blog content, including the one from Marsden Associates, so I will not get into too much detail on that here. But I will recommend the following:
So it would seem that this is out of order – you might be saying, “Shouldn’t THE WHY be first?” My answer is kind of like Curly’s answer from the movie City Slickers when Billy Crystal asks Jack Palance what his secret is – yes, I’m showing my age with this reference. You have to find your “one thing” – it’s probably more than one but it all comes back to your objectives. What’s the purpose of your blog? To increase your brand recognition? To drive new leads? Whatever it is, spell it out and figure out how you are going to measure it.
I have seen the power of blogging and it’s pretty amazing so I’m always excited when my clients commit to creating a vibrant, thought-provoking blog. But I will also say that it’s not for the faint of heart. I would even suggest that in order to get people to truly commit to blogging, managers should incent people to do so and make blogging part of their formal yearly goals.
Okay, it’s your turn. In the comments section, tell us how you have successfully implemented blogging as part of your process. Still struggling with it? Let us know how we can help.
One of my new favorite shows is HBO’s Silicon Valley. Why? Because I find the startup world – and particularly the startup scene in SV – to be fascinating. On a regular basis, I am blown away by some of the ideas and technology being produced by these super smart twenty- (and sometimes 30- or 40-) somethings. And being from the more traditional coast and of a “not 20-something” generation, I find the culture to be very interesting. But on a deeper level, I think there’s more to my fascination.
If you haven’t watched the show and/or don’t plan to, it’s intended to tell the story of Pied Piper, a company founded on an algorithm developed for highly advanced file compression. And the main character first explains it as a way to for companies to quickly locate music copyright information. It’s not until others see what he’s doing that the true value of the algorithm’s compression value comes to light. And quickly, a few investors come flocking. But the main character decides to take the seed money rather than the quick but financially lucrative buyout offer so that he can create and foster his company, Pied Piper. And then, it’s off to the races…which is what is most interesting. The continued episodes share his escapades in developing a business plan, dealing with company name challenges, and purchasing SWAG. And the humor is absolutely not lost on me and I’m sure it’s not lost on those who consider themselves entrepreneurs and marketers.
But at the core, I enjoy the show because it brings up topics that entrepreneurs face every single day: WHAT is this company – this thing that we’ve created – all about, really? Are we really selling an algorithm? That might be what’s behind your company but if this is what you try to sell to your prospects, you will probably not recognize a lot of revenue, especially in the B2B space.
The truth is that there will be 50 more ridiculously smart entrepreneurs right behind you who will create the next faster, better, easier solution next month. So you damn well better figure out WHY you exist and be able to articulate it simply and effectively.
So if you’re a startup or a small business that hasn’t really taken the time to think through these things, here are 4 key questions you need to ask and be prepared to answer. Do they sound simple? Yes. Are they easy questions to answer? Just ask every entrepreneur who has tried to answer them:
Always put yourself in the mind of your customer/potential customer. It’s not about what you call a product or service – it’s about what your customer calls it and how it relates to their pain points.
But my absolute favorite scene in the first episode of Silicon Valley is the part where the founder and his friend approach Hooli, a startup turned large company, and witness a group of people on a “shared bike” to which he exclaims:
“Oh God. The marketing team is having another bike meeting.”
Perfect. Remind me to get one of these shared bikes when Take Root Marketing makes it big.
If you love building social connections and engaging with audiences on social networks the way I do, then you probably spend lots of time looking at content – Tweets, posts, blogs, images, videos, etc. It’s amazing but let’s also admit that there is a ton to sift through. Our social tools, like Sprout Social and Hootsuite, really help a lot. BUT it’s still wickedly time consuming. Yes, I said wicked…I live outside of Boston.
And it is never lost on me when one person out of the hundreds of people and brands I follow inserts a bit of humor and personality into their content; a fun image, an interesting metaphor, a personal story. Here’s a fun and very simple example. Wistia, an awesome video hosting company here in the Boston area, always injects a bit of humor into their content – always! They obviously produce a ton of their own videos that are always natural (vs. posed), include multiple employees and are not only offering valuable content but always make you laugh at least a little. So I always watch them! Yes, for the great content but also because they make me laugh.
I was just looking at Wistia’s Twitter page and saw this – a great photo + a fun addition to the bio description.
Let me ask you this question: can we not be both professional and show a bit of humor and personality at the same time? Why does everyone think that things have to be formal and serious? If you had the choice, what would you rather read?
So, my friends, it’s time to lighten up. For companies, that means…
On behalf of the company
Think about common themes that run through your office. Is there a group that goes running at lunch or plays softball in the spring? Think about how you can bring some of these themes into your content.
Come up with a fun campaign. This is especially helpful for companies whose products tend to be very technical or traditional. A great example is the Approva Corporation, an audit software company, who created the campaign, “I love a good audit.” They created a website, a greeting card app, videos, etc. But even if you don’t want to take it this far, think about how you can have a bit of fun with your brand or product. It may be a Facebook contest, an email campaign theme or a video and it could be as simple as a fun graphic that you carry through your marketing channels in various ways.
Posting on your personal accounts
What are you passionate about? What are things that you contemplate that you’re curious about? You likely have full networks of people that might share these interests but also might be curious about some of the same things! So take the opportunity to connect and engage with them. Below are a few examples.
So many of us travel for business and sometimes more often than we would like. I have seen executives post stories about their business travel, including how they passed the time and suggestions for frequent travelers, that have garnered more views and comments than anything they ever posted about their products or company. What about posting a “travel log” when visiting interesting locations? Add photos, unique experiences, people who you met, etc. These stories can be valuable because they make people “relatable” through common experiences.
Conduct a quick poll. Chances are you are connected to people within your industry and areas of expertise. So utilize these networks to ask questions of your peers and to gain new insights. For example, I have been seeing other social media consultants using titles like Social Media Advisor and Social Media Coach. So I created a quick little poll to see if I can find out what people prefer. I’m hoping to get thoughts from clients, prospects and other consultants. It’s like my own focus group that I have access to 24x7!
These are just a few ideas to bring your content down to earth and hopefully add some personality and humor to the mix. If you’re looking to get down to specifics or for more ideas like these, please reach out. I would be happy to explore them with you.
Renay M. Picard
The Take Root Marketing Blog is intended as a vehicle to assist and engage with marketers and social media addicts like myself - please share your thoughts, good, bad or otherwise. I'd love to hear from you!