I’ve waited quite a while to debut this, as I wanted it to be the best social media certificate available anywhere — university, private, online, offline — at an affordable cost.
So here are the details:
What is the Online Social Media Certificate?
It’s an online certificate program designed for people who want to be professional social media managers, for agencies who need training for their new hires, for consultants who want to add social media marketing to their services, and anyone who wants proof they are on the leading-edge of what works in social media marketing today.
The certificate program includes 56 hours of classes, webinars, articles, and a final exam. The entire curriculum is shown below (click to download the PDF):
The all-inclusive program includes classes on EVERY major social network, webinars on strategy & management, case studies, mobile marketing, visual content, and more.
Plus, you get 1:1 coaching with founder Maria Peagler, who will mentor you in your studies and in landing your dream job and/or clients.
Finally, once you pass your final exam, you can be listed in our social media certified consultants directory.
How Long Does the Program Take to Complete?
Our certificate program contains 56 hours of instruction in multimedia classes, video webinars, articles, and infographics. However, it’s completely self-paced. How long it takes you to complete depends on your skill level and experience. Some people take two hours to complete a class, others need two months. You go at your own pace. You have one full year from your date of enrollment to complete the program.
How Much Does the Program Cost?
The online social media certificate program at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com costs $897, which is all-inclusive: the entire curriculum, coaching with founder Maria Peagler, and your final exam. I’m proud to offer a superior training program at an affordable cost that doesn’t place an undue burden of student loan debt on our members.
What is Required to Earn My Certificate?
To earn your certificate, you must take a final exam which is approximately 100 questions, and score at least 75%. You have only one opportunity to take the exam and pass it. You can purchase additional opportunities to take the exam for $150 each.
How is Your Certificate Program Different Than Those Offered Elsewhere?
Excellent question, and I’m glad you asked! Our program is unique in these ways:
entire curriculum is up-to-date with what works NOW in social media marketing, not six months ago or last year
you get 1:1 coaching every month with founder Maria Peagler
you learn how to get ROI on every major social network for your clients
you learn from a teacher who DOES social media marketing every day to earn her full-time living
you learn search engine optimization, mobile marketing, visual content, and other topics not covered by other programs
all this at a cost not requiring you to take out student loans
Why Do I Need to Renew My Certificate?
Because social media marketing changes so quickly, it’s imperative that your skills reflect the latest tactics, techniques, and strategies that work for social networks as they operate now, not as they did last year. And employers and clients need to know that your skills are up-to-date.
Most major certifications require retraining, including CPR, lifeguarding, and other critical skills.
When you renew your certification for $150 each year, you get access to the entire curriculum for an additional three months so you can update your skill set.
When Can I Start?
Right now. Our program is live, and you can proudly earn & display your certificate within 30 days when you enroll today.
Maria Peagler: Let’s sum up what it takes to sell on Instagram. The easiest thing for you to do is just post to your website or your blog or wherever it is on social media and just say, “Hey, on the blog today here’s what I’m doing. On Facebook today, here’s what I’m doing.” Just remind people, “Hey, there’s something new going on here. Here’s where you can find this.” Something that’s not quite as easy but it’s still pretty easy is something called micro content. This is what I do. I do a lot of info graphics but those are really too big to post on Instagram.
I do a very small version with one fact on it and I do a shortened link that people can remember to type in their URL in their browser. Because you cannot link to anything on Instagram on your post unless it is in your profile. That’s the only thing you can do, so I do it this way. Then, finally it’s more involved but do like Fox and Fawn and give people an EZ Button. They came up with a really really smart way for people to buy directly from them on Instagram by having their credit card on file and just saying, “Ring me up.” I just think it’s genius. They are doing really well.
The key to getting Instagram sales is having a clear photo. Here’s Elise’s journal photos and she’s got details about when and where to buy. They sell out within a day. Be very detailed in your description. Fox and Fawn in their profile gave you everything that you needed to know. They don’t put holds on items, no returns. Call their telephone number to purchase, where they are. They’re very detailed in their descriptions. Things sell out within an hour. This sweatshirt sold within an hour. Give people an easy way to do it. Theirs was a comment with, “Ring me up.” That is Instagram.
Now we’re going to move on to Pinterest which works completely differently. Pinterest works on both the mobile and desktop so there are no limitations there. The one thing that you really need to understand is Pinterest drives traffic and it drives a lot of it. If you are looking to get traffic to your website, Pinterest will do it for you. It is the number one driver of traffic of any social network. More than Twitter, more than YouTube, certainly more than Instagram. It is a huge driver of traffic to your website.
There are a couple things that you need to do on Pinterest. One is to have a really good image. Again, it doesn’t need to be professional but there are some things that you can do to get a really good image that gets a lot of likes, re-pins and traffic. Here’s what it is. You are actually going to get this template that you can use or give to your graphic designer. This is one of the goodies you’re going to get.
I got a call from a floral shop owner in a small town, and she was scared . . .
One of the HUGE online floral brands was running Google ads that made them “appear” to be local.
They had a big budget, an ad agency . . .
And they were taking away her business.
What could she do?
We developed a strategy in her personal coaching sessions with me (included with her membership), she took classes here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com to learn search engine optimization and tactics only local businesses can use. She developed a unique strategy based on her shop and her location, enabling her to compete against those bigger brands and take away THEIR business.
How? That’s what this post is all about —
1. Don’t Try to Win Shoppers on Price
If you’re s small brand who is competing against an online retailer or big box store, the price battle is one you’ll lose.
Ultimately, however, you’ll come out the winner.
Because shoppers who buy based on the lowest price are NEVER loyal: they go with whomever has the lowest price at the time. They’re also demanding, difficult to please, and rarely satisfied.
Let someone else have those clients — you don’t need the headache.
So first, realize you won’t win over everyone, nor do you want to.
2. Offer Specialized Products the Big Brands Can’t
Every floral shop offers wedding and funeral bouquets. But what don’t they offer?
Floral arrangements based on the colors of local high school and college teams
Themed arrangements for the local festival and celebrations
Participation in local cultural events
Specialized same-day delivery to local hospitals
Last year a family friend was in a horrific accident and recovering in an Atlanta hospital. I wanted to send a special floral bouquet, but because I’m over an hour away, I didn’t know which florists specialized in delivering to that hospital or even if she could receive flowers.
I made one phone call to the hospital, and found out that yes, this patient could receive flowers, and they even recommended a local florist who specialized in same-day deliveries: Peachtree Petals.
Peachtree Petals has a dedicated page on their website telling you which local hospitals they deliver to. They even have a same-day count-down timer to let you know how long you have to place an order.
They offered a dedicated website page for local hospital floral deliveries, reassuring me that they did deliver to the hospital I needed, and could do so within the SAME day.
Later in this post I’ll share related resources you can use for powerful tactics available only to local businesses.
Here’s another incredible small business: a local Alpharetta, Georgia bakery called Mama Bakes Safe Cakes. While that may sound like an odd name, any mother whose child has food allergies can immediately identify with what this unique bakery has to offer: allergen-free baked goods.
You can find cupcakes in any grocery store, Wal-Mart and Target across the country. What you can’t find is a bakery that can assure you that their baked goods were prepared in an allergen-free environment and are safe for your child to eat.
Specialized bakeries can charge prices for one cupcake that would buy six cupcakes at a grocery store, because it’s challenging to find bakeries that specialize in allergen-free products. Peace-of-mind for parents comes with a higher price tag they are more than happy to pay.
Score one for the little guys!
3. Show the People Behind Your Small Business
Who’s the face of Home Depot, Starbucks, or Target?
Here’s where small businesses can win BIG: let your customers get to know the people behind your business.
The secret to capturing the hearts of your customers is your PEOPLE. They are the ones who greet us as we come through the door, who ask us how our families are doing, who know what we want for dinner before we even order. All of these special touches make your store feel like HOME when we walk through the door.
No big box retailer can come close to that.
The Woodbridge Inn is a small restaurant in Jasper, Georgia, located in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Owner Hans Rueffert is carrying on the tradition his father Joe started in running the business:
Hans competed in the Food Network Star reality competition, does local cooking shows, and has fought a fierce battle with stomach cancer. Locals know Hans, his family, and his story because he freely shares them:
One evening this winter my husband and I were enjoying dinner at the the Woodbridge Inn when Hans came out with his new baby Heidi, and introduced her to every single table. We talked food, family, and connected over a great meal prepared by great people:
Peachtree Petal’s Facebook page shows their talented designers participating in at the High Museum of Art’s “Art in Bloom” event. No online retailer can show this kind of local support!
Peachtree Petals participates in local cultural events. You get to know the people behind the brand.
On Mama Bakes Safe Cake’s Facebook page is a “thank you” from a runner delighted to be greeted with allergen-free cupcakes after finishing a local road race:
Ultimately, big box retailers don’t know your town’s people, their stories, nor will they win their loyalties with low prices. Connection, incredible service, and specialized products will set your small business apart and allow it to thrive, even when you hear the FEE-FI-FO-FUM of giant big-box retailers approaching.
No worries. You’ve got this.
Small Business vs Big Business Checklist
Use this handy checklist as your guide to offering a specialized experience no big brand retailer can match:
Every week here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com we give you a list of our most recent resources with our Weekly Top 5: your lessons, infographics, webinars, and articles. We’ve gathered all those resources from 1st quarter of the year into one GINORMOUS list for you, making it uber-easy to find what you need to grow your business using social media marketing.
Today I’m coming to the rescue with four no-fail hacks you can use on ANY social network to increase your engagement.
Let’s get started —
1. Use Video to Get Higher Engagement on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter
In 2015, video has the highest reach of any post type on Facebook. To be clear, that’s video uploaded to Facebook, not linked to from YouTube. Reach is the gateway to higher engagement, so you’re guaranteed to increase both using video.
Video is still unique on Instagram and Twitter: we’re used to images on Instagram and text-only tweets, so video is unique and attention-grabbing. Use it and you’ll see your engagement skyrocket. On Jimmy Fallon’s Instagram page, he has only one video, but it gets more engagement than any of his photos:
The sole video on Jimmy Fallon’s Instagram page has more Likes & Comments than his photos
Instead, repurpose your content into smaller pieces, called micro-content.
Here’s an example: for 2014, we gathered all of the resources we published (in addition to our classes) and created one long resource post that included over 100 links:
While that list is highly actionable, I knew that not everyone who read the post would get through the entire thing. So I was determined to get more mileage out of it than just one blog post.
I repurposed that list into an infographic, allowing me to post the list on Pinterest in a visual way. Instead of listing every resource, I pulled out several and highlighted them in this infographic:
Repurposing the text-only list allows me to share it on visual social networks like Pinterest
That long list of links would never have made it onto Pinterest, but the infographic turned those resources into highly shareable and engaging content perfect for this visual social network.
Finally, I took one resource from that list and created micro-content to share on Instagram and Twitter:
I took one tactic from the list of 100 and created a small visual for it
Creating micro-content from that list engaged part of my audience who would never have read that long list of resources. I repurposed that content into different forms, eliciting more engagement from my followers.
4. Share Other People’s Content
This is a tactic often referred to as a best practice in relationship marketing, but it also pays off in terms of engagement.
This post got more organic reach, likes, and shares than any other post on my page last week. The cute photo Entrepreneur used also made it highly “shareable” and reinforces #2 on this list — visual content.
Engagement Hacks Checklist
Use this handy checklist as your guide to getting higher engagement no matter which social network you use:
Share this Image On Your Site
Which Hack Will You Use?
None of these hacks are difficult: you don’t need to be a coder, graphic designer, or videographer to do them. Each of them is within reach of small business owners who want more engagement from their audience.
Pick the hack that seems most natural to you or that will appeal to your audience the most and start there.
This book was one of my favorites of 2014. Written by a Ari Miesel, a business owner who has a debilitating disease and is the father of twins, who found a way to automate much of his business. I’m usually not a big fan of automation tactics, as they remove any personal touch your clients need from you. But Ari developed an online productivity system to automate much of the behind-the-scenes, freeing you up for the customer touchpoint tasks. I was able to save hundreds of hours and literally thousands of dollars by using his methods. He has perfected the art of automating his business and his life so he can focus on the priorities needing most of his attention.
“According to the 80/20 rule, I should be focusing on only the things that only I can do, like creating original content for the blog. Everything else should be handled by someone else.”
One of my favorite business books of all time. I’ve recommended this book often and cannot emphasize enough how the process of creating a checklist helps me to document lengthy and complex processes and train my staff how to do them as well. Gwande shares examples of critical professions relying on checklists to avoid loss of life, such as architects, engineers and World Health Organization surgeons.
“But finding a good idea is apparently not that hard. Finding an entrepreneur who can execute a good idea is another matter entirely. One needs a person who can take an idea from proposal to reality, work the long hours, build a team, handle the pressures and setbacks, manage technical and people problems alike, and stick with the effort for years on end without getting distracted or going insane. Such people are rare and extremely hard to spot.”
A slim, yet invaluable book from Derek Sivers on his journey from being a music lover who coded a simple program to founder of CD Baby, selling it for over 21 million dollars. What I love about this book is Derek’s candid story of ups and downs in his journey, and his advice on enjoying your own and not getting swallowed by sharks. Derek has done multiple TED talks and is generous with his time, answering questions via email from readers on his website. I asked him a question for my son about going into the music business, and we was kind and open with his advice.
“Never forget absolutely everything you do is for your customers. Make every decision – even decisions about whether to expand the business, raise money, or promote someone – according to what’s best for your customers.”
“It’s counterintuitive, but the best way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers: just thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone.”
I almost didn’t include this book in this year-end list because the author, Brian Moran, was decidedly curt when I reached out to him about an issue on his website. However, I have gotten such tremendous results using this method I would be remiss in not mentioning it. Brian’s method recommends intense focus on a few goals over a 12-week period, even scoring yourself on your efforts and results. I’ve been using his method for an entire year, and I can report I’ve gotten better results working with his method on my own than in hiring “experts” to tackle the same problem.
“In 12 week planning, you identify the top one to three things that will have the greatest impact, and pursue those with intensity.”
A similar book to the 12 Week Year, but Josh Kaufman’s (The Personal MBA) focus is on mastering a skill in a short period of time – 20 hours to be exact. What I loved about this book is similar to what Tim Ferriss does in his 4 Hour Chef: Josh recommends breaking down the skill set you need to learn and identifying the critical elements you need to master.
“What feels like the long way is the shortest way. Zero-practice shortcuts don’t exist. No practice, no skill acquisition. It’s as simple as that.”
As a gourmet cook, I didn’t read Tim Ferriss’ book to learn how to master cooking. Instead, I read it to learn how to “hack” learning, which is what Tim is REALLY teaching in this book, using cooking as the vehicle. Tim figured out the key to quick learning early on working for Berlitz — the foreign language company — and applied those same tactics to other learning disciplines. He distills the quick-learning principles to acronyms easy to remember like CAFE and DSSS, and these tactics help me learn quickly in an industry that changes daily.
“The lowest volume, the lowest frequency, the fewest changes that get us our desired results is what I label minimum effective dose (MED). It’s a broad concept that applies to almost any field.”
I interviewed Laura Vanderkahm on the blog here after reading her book about time management. I hesitate to call it a time management book, because I’ve decidedly eschewed those in favor of smarter approaches to life and how I choose to spend my time. Laura’s book is an eye-opener into how much time we all REALLY have, how we spend it, and how there truly is enough time in the day to do everything you need and want.
“Once you know what you want to do in the next year, you can break this down into what you want to do in the next month (120 – 240 hours) or week (24 – 26 hours). On Sunday nights, or before the start of your workweek, sit down and list the actionable tasks you need to do to advance you toward these goals. Then, this is the key part: schedule them in, knowing exactly how long they will take.”
Tony claims this book is all about how Zappos delivers an over-the-top customer service experience. I view it as the bible for anyone who wants to turn a boring business into a global brand that never competes on price. The shoe business was about as exciting as watching paint dry, until Tony turned it upside down with fun, great teamwork and amazing customer service. A must read.
“I realized that, whatever the vision was for any business, there was always a bigger vision that could make the table bigger. When Southwest Airlines first started, they didn’t see their target market as just limited to existing air travelers, which was what all other airlines did. Instead, they imaged their service as something that could potentially serve all the people who traveled by Greyhound bus or train, and they designed their business around that.”
If you’ve heard the terms minimum viable product, pivot and lean, then you’ll understand the impact Eric Ries has had on the startup industry over the past five years. Eric tells the story of how his failing tech business learned to stop guessing at what customers wanted and actually interacted with them and making tiny improvements along the way.
“Success is not delivering a feature; success is learning how to solve the customer’s problem.”
I finally got on the Evernote bandwagon in 2012 and this small Kindle book helped me figure out how to customize my experience in Evernote. As great a product as Evernote is, I never found it intuitive to use, which is why it took me so long to adopt it into my business toolkit. This book finally got me using it like a pro.
Add most-used notes to the the shortcut bar so you don’t have to search for them repeatedly.
Not a business book per se, but a fascinating read at how regular people can develop super-memories. I’ve been able to pump up my own memory with these techniques, and help my son do so for college exams. Not a how-to book, but a telling of one reporter’s story of covering the world memory championships, to challenging a participant to coach him in memory techniques, to winning the championship the next year. Truly a fun book to read.
“The more we pack our lives with memories, the slower time seems to fly.”
An inexpensive Amazon Kindle book that has a smart strategy for backing up your life and business (and what you don’t need to backup): personal photos, application purchases, etc. I’ve been days away from a book deadline when my home was struck by lightning, killing all the electronic equipment in the house. My backup saved me!
“I save all my application serial codes within my password application. If I ever need to install an application again, I just download it from the web and look up my password in 1Password (or LastPass).”
2014 was the year of the image in marketing, and has forever raised the bar for our expectations of visual communication online. It’s no longer enough to have great content: it needs stunning visuals to accompany it, and Ekaterina Walter’s book talks about this phenomenon, how it has impacted business, and her favorite tools for creating images (even if you’re not a photographer or graphic designer). Listen to my interview with Ekaterina here, then see case studies of small brands using visual storytelling here.
“. . . usage of visuals has resulted in a social media era that rewards creativity.”
Michael is a genius at structuring creative exercises that get you thinking beyond the everyday. I’ve used his techniques to develop formats for my infographics, identify new features for my products and far more.
Chet breaks down the sales process for people who don’t think they’re salespeople. My favorite parts of his process are “pig-headed persistence,” identify your six to do’s everyday, and discovering the common characteristics among your perfect customers.
“The key to being productive is to stick to the six most important things you need get done that day. “
16. Virtual Freedom
Author Chris Ducker
Chris owns a VA placement service, and often exaggerates what a VA can do in this book. However, I appreciated much of his management and bonus strategies for VAs and have used them myself.
“Request a list of the VA’s personal recommendations for your business. This could include potential products, ways to better serve your customers, or any tools or training that would help your VA do her job better.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of my favorite books for small business owners. What are your favorites? Add to this list in the comments below!
Every week here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com we give you a list of our most recent resources with our Weekly Top 5: your lessons, infographics, webinars, and articles. For the first time ever, we’ve gathered all those resources from this year into one GINORMOUS list for you, making it uber-easy to find what you need to grow your business using social media marketing.
Ever wish you could clone yourself to get more done?
We’re all striving to accomplish more with less resources in the 21st century, and that’s especially true if you’re a solopreneur or small brand. I’ve made it my mission to keep my business (and my training) as simple and elegant as possible. That makes it easier for me to develop and advance a thriving business while also being a wife to an entrepreneur and involved mom to two teenage sons.
Awesome tools. And a hack I’ll show you in a moment (saving me HOURS of time each week and thousands of dollars I don’t have to spend on labor that I can invest in my business).
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a tool junkie (you know — those people who are ALWAYS touting the latest app they’ve downloaded and can’t wait to tell you about it). I don’t have time for that.
Instead, I invest in the best tools that make it possible to run an agile business I love and allow me to enjoy a full life outside of work.
So today I’m sharing with you my favorite tools I use on a DAILY basis and WHY I think they’re the best at what they offer.
Google Apps for Business
The paid version of Gmail, Google Drive, Docs and more. This is a huge switch for me, as I made a lucrative career from being a technical writer of books on Microsoft and other Windows’ products. Five years ago I purchased a Mac (because it just works, period) and didn’t want to pay for the Office Suite, so I started using Google Docs instead.
Google’s suite of products is nowhere near as robust as the Office suite, so if you need deep features like long documents and tables of contents in your word processor, stick with Word. But for what I do, which is mostly tables, presentations, and simple PDFs, Google Docs works great.
I’ve become an enormous fan of using Google Sheets for applications far beyond financials — planning, dashboards, and libraries of data I keep in a spreadsheet. It’s so simple to create a worksheet with multiple sheets and keep track of goals, reports, and content libraries within one file.
But why the paid version?
In May of this year, my email address was blacklisted as a spammer due to my hosting company sharing my virtual private server (VPS) with another company that was identified as sending SPAM email. The only way to fix the situation was to enroll in Google Apps for Business and use the paid version of their Gmail. That way, I would never again have to worry about my email being listed as SPAM.
The best part of using Google Apps for Business? Google support. Yes, really! Once you are a paying client, Google provides the BEST support I’ve ever encountered.
Not surprising, since I teach a class on how to create your website using WordPress, but my love of this platform goes far beyond just being able to create a simple website with it.
When I started Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, I researched the most popular learning management systems (LMS) at the time, which were Moodle and Blackboard. I found them to be bloated, cumbersome, and better suited for enterprise organizations and institutions.
I also tried BuddyPress, which has a social network feature built into it, but found it to be unstable and not as well-supported as WordPress.
So why do I love WordPress so much? It allows me to:
create a simple website I can modify without being a developer
add a blog to my website that has the same look and feel as my website
create an online training site by adapting WordPress posts, pages, categories and shortcodes into an agile learning system I can change as my needs evolve
find answers to common WordPress problems because it has a global network of users who have encountered the same issues
easily hire developers and designers who have worked on WordPress and have deep experience with it
easily train interns and new hires on how we use WordPress because they likely already have experience with it
Wishlist Member (WLM) is a WordPress plugin allowing me to make my paid classes private. It’s categorized as a membership site plugin, but you can do much more with it than that.
WLM was not the first solution I tried (BuddyPress, S2Member, WPDev Member), but it’s the ONLY one that worked consistently, was stable, and well-supported.
They also have a companion membership program called Wishlist Insider I belonged to for a year to learn how others used it, network with WLM users, and get up-to-speed quickly to get the type of online training site I wanted.
Newer membership site plugins are available now, but I plan to stick with WLM. They offer a one-time price (vs. monthly for the newer plugins) and I don’t want to have to learn a new system and transition my members to it. I’ve found a solution that works for me and allows me to stay agile and robust in my offering.
Trello Project Management
Trello is an online project management system I absolutely love (and its cute dog mascot Taco).
I’ve tried BaseCamp, Asana, and even developed a class on Harvard Project Manager years ago. Most project management tools are needlessly complex and dull to use. The beauty of Trello is in its simplicity: it has a Pinterest-like interface, using cards, and you can organize your projects in any way that suits your business and working style.
It has few restrictions on how you setup your projects: that freedom allows you to make your Trello system truly your own. You use Organizations, Boards, Lists, and Cards to create your projects and invite team members. You can add links, images, video, and text formatting to your projects to make them multimedia-rich.
We use Trello for our in-house training and orientation, our editorial calendar, ongoing projects, social media services clients, and website development projects. I can assign dates to projects, communicate with and tag team members about projects and see a calendar view of our editorial calendar to see what’s coming up next.
Aweber Email Marketing
The first thing I did in my business, before I ever had a website, was invest in email marketing software. I started out using iContact, but have since transitioned to Aweber for the segmentation features (I can send automatic emails to my audience depending upon what their interests are).
I had used ConstantContact for clients and didn’t like its user interface, and wasn’t interested in free so never tried MailChimp. I wanted a tool I could use immediately and start seeing ROI. I loved iContact’s simplicity and great support, and appreciate Aweber’s terrific support as well.
Aweber has a steeper learning curve than other email marketing applications, but that’s the trade-off for more features, and I’m happy to pay it.
I use Aweber for sending out our weekly newsletter and sending automatic follow-up emails to people taking our free social media strategy class. I love the reporting I get: I can immediately identify what topics are most popular, what people are clicking on and what they open.
Snagit and Voila Screen Capture Tools
I use screen capture tools daily in developing and updating our training classes, building our Swipe File to show members examples of brands doing social media well, providing customer support, communicating with my team members, when we have technical challenges and are communicating with support teams, and far more.
When it comes to training, a picture really is worth a thousand words, and members love seeing an informative image rather than have to sit through a video.
I used TechSmith’s Snagit for years and found it to be the best screen capture tool available. However, when I upgraded to Mavericks operating system and to the latest version of Snagit, it slowed my computer to a crawl. So I transitioned to Voila, a Mac-based screen capture tool. It doesn’t have as many annotation and editing features as Snagit, but it takes advantage of the Mac operating system, allowing me to drag and drop images into almost any application.
For a long time I just didn’t get why so many people were fanatical about Evernote. Sure, it was a great note-taking app and you could do a lot more with it, but I hadn’t really investigated all of its features.
I became hooked for personal reasons: I was researching a family trip we were taking to Washington D.C., and saved our hotel, tour reservations, itineraries and more to Evernote, and it was available on my smartphone while we were traveling. I could research a museum and capture a screen listing its hours/directions, and that screen capture would be available on my phone.
I now use Evernote for my business: writing my daily To-Do list, saving articles I want to refer to later, outlining large projects, and so much more.
The Productivity Hack That Saves Me Hours Each Week
The best part of using these applications? They can work together in automating much of my business. I can set up tasks to be automated, saving me time, and my virtual assistant can work on far more productive projects.
This hack allows me to practically clone myself for far greater productivity.
Some of the tasks I automate:
Dictating the foundation for a blog post into my smartphone and saving it to Evernote
Creating a content library by building a list of our blog posts and their URLs in a Google spreadsheet
Automatically uploading a video to YouTube, which in turn creates a blog post draft in WordPress
Creating a spreadsheet of my latest Twitter followers, their bios and follower counts
and much, much more
I set up these tasks just once, and they run automatically as necessary. My virtual assistant doesn’t have to spend her time on these items, so I can have her generating important reports and focusing on customer service (tasks that require the human touch to really do well).
How do I automate these tasks? Stay tuned: tomorrow’s post will give you the details!
We’re in a “sharing economy” aren’t we? You’re supposed to give away content to get traffic to your website, to get engagement on your posts, and to ultimately generate revenue, right?
After all, Seth Godin says that’s what creates a “tribe.”
Here’s the tough love part: are you Seth Godin?
Didn’t think so. Neither am I.
So for the rest of us, how do you turn the expectation of “free” into a sale without turning people off? That’s what you’re going to learn in this post, plus a terrific example of how one of the major car brands does this better than all the rest.
Identify Free vs. Paid in Your Business
In my own business, I give away a free social media strategy class: it’s shorter than my paid classes, doesn’t have as much multi-media content, but it gives people a “taste” of the quality and scope of what being a Socialmediaonlineclasses.com member is like.
Visitors see Pricing right away, plus they can optin for a free class, both on Home Page
For some people though, that’s not enough.
They want to see more video — “I want to see what your videos are like.”
I point them to my YouTube channel. I DON’T give them access to paid content.
Did they complain?
Yes, some did.
Did I add more video to my free class?
No, I didn’t. I don’t want members who are constantly complaining and never satisfied, so those who don’t like the free class have weeded themselves out of the potential member pool.
They did me a HUGE favor by self-identifying themselves as NOT potential members.
Set Expectations Early That You’ll Be Selling
Every visitor touchpoint I offer includes marketing to set the expectation that Socialmediaonlineclasses.com is a paid service.
I make it abundantly clear by displaying Pricing & Plans prominently in the website main menu. From their first visit, people realize I offer a premium training experience they need to purchase to receive.
When visitors opt-in to the free Social Media Strategy class, the first screen they see is a one-time offer for 25% discount off of Annual Membership. I make it clear they’re still getting the free class and details are on their way to their Inbox. In the meantime, they get an exclusive offer no other visitors see.
Free class subscribers get a special offer after they optin
In an autoresponder series using Aweber, those same subscribers get a daily email from me for six days, telling them how to get the most out of their free class. At the end of each email, is a reminder that they have X number of days to take advantage of the discount for Annual Membership.
I train my visitors to expect a marketing pitch from me in almost every email
Our blog posts offer deep content on social media marketing that get shared globally, and in each post are links to recommended classes, webinars, and infographics readers can receive as a member to learn even more about that particular topic.
In this blog post, I have five recommended resource pitches embedded in my educational content
I’m not overly-aggressive, but almost every message visitors get from me will have some sort of an offer included it.
The first priority here is the best-quality social media training, whether in paid classes or on our public blog. However, included in that training is our marketing pitch.
Make It Clear Why People Should Pay for What You Offer
There’s so much available for free on the web that you need to make it stupidly simple WHY your brand is better than the free content available elsewhere.
Sure, you can find free social media articles all over the web. But how easy is it to find the training you need, on the topic you need, from a source you trust, that’s up-to-date?
Profitable business owners don’t waste time spending hours searching for a free solution on the web. They’re willing to pay for the right solution, right now.
I share my class outlines so people know exactly what they’ll be learning; I show the infographics they’ll get; I list the member webinars available; and I reassure visitors that we update our content continuously, so they learn what works NOW, not what worked six months ago.
Your most loyal customers will become your brand advocates, telling others why they shouldn’t waste their time on “free,” but choose your brand instead, as SMOC member Pat Roa Perez did here on a blog post she penned for Shewrites:
Member Pat Roa Perez became a brand advocate and shared why she paid for Socialmediaonlineclasses.com
Are you making it clear to your potential clients WHY they should pay for your offering? How is yours better than free?
Over-Deliver Once Visitors Become a Client
Have you ever felt like once you made a purchase, the honeymoon was over?
Before you bought, the brand was chasing after you like a puppy, showering you with sloppy kisses.
Once you purchased, however, that puppy started chasing someone else and totally forgot about you.
What you experience is called “buyer’s remorse,” and it’s the brand’s fault for not welcoming you with a positive experience.
Once your visitors become a client, you need to WOW them with an awesome customer service culture.
Reassure them they’ve made the right purchase.
Communicate exactly what will happen now, how they can use your brand’s offering, and how they can get get help if they need it.
If you offer a guarantee, explain to them how it works and how they can use it.
I purchased a Subaru this year, and they offer roadside assistance as a courtesy to their car owners. “Great,” I thought, “I’ll need to add that telephone number to my smartphone so I have it handy.”
Guess what? Subaru put the roadside assistance number directly on the driver’s side window, where you can see it WHEN you need it:
Subaru reassures car owners with their roadside assistance # right on the window
I’ve had roadside assistance with the last three cars I’ve owned, but never did the auto brand make it so EASY to actually use their service. In fact, most of them made it downright difficult to find that number.
Subaru makes tiny gestures that win over their customer’s hearts. Yes, their cars are reliable. But they also offer a culture reinforcing their tagline “Love. It What Makes a Subaru.”
You are competing with FREE everyday when you have an online business (or low-cost competitors with a brick-and-mortar presence). Ensure you’re educating your potential clients as to WHY your offering is better than free or low-cost. Don’t be afraid to include marketing messages when you deliver your best stuff.
What has been your experience with offering free content in your social media marketing? Share your experience in the comments below:
In this exclusive case study, you’ll learn how a local handmade bike shop uses social media exclusively to market their business. You’ll discover how they invest just an eighth of their time to make personal connections with their audience.
Case Study: Firefly Bicycles
Founded in 2011, Firefly Bicycles is based in Boston, Mass., a city known nationwide for its handmade bikes, and is one of the most well-respected small businesses in the bike frame building industry. Jamie Medeiros, Tyler Evans and Kevin Wolfson make up the Firefly team and have over 38 years of combined experience designing, crafting and fitting bikes.
Firefly Bicycles recognized that, like any audience, the cycling community was hungry for content, and that’s exactly what they deliver. They developed a plan to generate lots of high-quality content and, as a result, they’ve not only succeeded at building a deep connection with their audience, they’ve gone on to influence the cycling industry and bike culture worldwide.
Firefly Bicycles By the Numbers
Facebook Fans: 6,460+
Instagram Followers: 9,700+
Twitter Followers: 3,280+
Time Spent Weekly on Social Media: 5-7 hours
Visual Storytelling Makes for Strong Social Media Marketing
The most unique thing about the Firefly Bicycles marketing campaign is that it is executed exclusively via social media. The Firefly team is comprised of creative people, and art and design has a strong impact on their work. Since their work and process are extremely visual, Firefly uses this to their advantage when producing content to share.
Here’s how Firefly Bicycles connects with their audience and makes their mark in the cycling industry:
Making use of several social networks to build a strong, widespread online presence
Sharing photos of their process and products keep people engaged
Producing lots of high-quality visual content
Sharing relevant stories that matter to their audience
By building a presence across multiple social networks, Firefly Bicycles keeps all their bases covered and is able to continuously generate sales. Their audience gets the inside scoop on what they’re doing and their frame-building process, and they can reach far beyond the local Boston community.
They also share highlights from the past and recognize others in the industry, showing the relationships they’ve established throughout the Boston and cycling communities:
How You Can Adapt This Case Study for Your Own Small Business
Any local business or e-commerce company can learn from Firefly Bicycles’ social media strategy to build relationships with their target audience and drive sales:
Produce high-quality content and share it widely
Identify which social networks are most successful over time and focus on them
If your product has visual appeal, use that to your advantage
Use social media to communicate with your audience directly and transparently
Establish your reputation and become a recognized voice in your industry
7 Surprising Secrets I’ve Learned from Beauty Vloggers.
Beauty vloggers are not professional marketers, but they are CRUSHING traditional branding & promotion with their own style. Find out how they do it.
I have a confession to make . . .
I LOVE watching YouTube beauty and hair videos.
In fact, over the past year I’ve been consuming a lot of beauty vlogger content: I drastically changed my hairstyle from blow-drying everyday to going naturally curly, and I needed a lot of help in maintaining my new hairstyle.
So where did I turn?
YouTube, of course.
And after watching hundreds of hair videos, following beauty vloggers on multiple social networks, and seeing how they work individually and together — I WAS BLOWN AWAY.
Most of these ladies (and gentlemen) don’t have traditional marketing or technology backgrounds, but they are ROCKING their social media presence. I’ve observed them carefully, identified their secrets, and am sharing them so you can adapt them for your own marketing.
1. Beauty Vloggers are Prolific Content Generators
The YouTube beauty vloggers I watch are all generating new videos at least once per week, sometimes more often. Their #1 secret to their success is creating a generous amount of content. Here are some examples:
Goss Makeup Artist is a UK-based vlogger who records videos from his home makeup studio. Nothing fancy, but look at the number of videos he has on his channel — over 700, and he’s earned 1.8 million subscribers:
Sarah Stevens (married now, not sure of her married name) started making videos as a high school student, continued on through college (filming from her dorm room), and now continues as she’s married, living and teaching English in Qatar. Again, she has a huge amount of content: over 200 videos and 14K subscribers:
Angie (doesn’t give her last name) has a beauty channel for menopausal women, and again, has over 200 videos and 46K subscribers. She crushes the idea that you have to be young to be beauty vlogger:
Louise Glitter, another UK-based vlogger, offers a plus-sized beauty channel that draws a loyal audience of 1.7 million subscribers! Notice she also has a video collection over 250+:
Jenell Stewart is a black vlogger who focuses on natural hair styles and products for women with curly hair. She has over 500 videos and 105K subscribers:
Notice how diverse these channels are? They come from men, women, young, middle-aged, all colors, sizes and nationalities. The one secret they all have in common is creating A LOT OF CONTENT.
The second secret of these beauty vloggers is they adhere to a publishing schedule and share it with their audience. They schedule their own “shows,” just as network and cable television do.
Goss Makeup Artist displays his schedule directly on his YouTube banner:
Are you letting your audience know when they can expect new content from you? Are you consistent enough to publish a schedule at all?
3. Beauty Vloggers Follow Content Themes
One of the trends I noticed early on in my video watching phase is that vloggers often follow established themes in their videos:
Reviews – reviews of products both provided by brands asking for the review and those they’ve purchased on their own. Most vloggers were 100% transparent when they had been approached by a beauty brand and gave their candid review, sometimes being “I wouldn’t use this again.”
Empties – reviews of multiple products they’ve used up and saved for this video.
Hauls – sharing products purchased during a shopping trip. Not a review video, but a highlight of products they’ll be using and probably reviewing in the future.
Get Ready with Me – a how-to video of the vlogger showing their beauty or hair routine. Normally the video shows the vlogger getting ready and they add the narration afterward, so they’re not talking directly to you in the video.
Collabs – collaboration videos with a vlogger colleague. These usually take two forms: either both appear in the video together, or they each do their own version of the video and link to the other person’s in the video description.
How-to’s – the tried and true how-to video, done in the vlogger’s own style.
Beauty vloggers’ third secret is they follow similar content trends, making it easier for them to pick up viewers from other beauty channels. Their videos are similar, but still different enough, to interest viewers who want to learn and watch other vloggers in the same space.
What content themes appear in your industry? Have you watched enough video to know these trends? If not, take some time to watch channels with large viewerships and identify their content themes.
4. Beauty Vloggers Optimize Their Social Media Profiles
The fourth secret of these savvy vloggers is the one I was the most impressed with: they take advantage of every opportunity to share their other social networks and their most popular content. They use their popularity on one channel to build their audience for their others.
Sarah Stevens has Facebook, twitter, Instagram and blog accounts in addition to her YouTube channel, and she points to them not just once, but twice on her banner area: once with hyperlinks, and once with icons under her title:
Sarah also optimizes each of her videos with links to her other social networks, how to subscribe to her YouTube channel, and her most popular videos. Shown below are the links she shares from the video people see first — her channel introduction video:
You can do the same whether you have a YouTube channel or not. Almost every social network offers the ability to link to your other social networks. You can do this in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Slideshare, and Google+. You can also point to your most popular content in multiple ways on your blog.
Give people the EZ button so they can follow you, consume your content, and find your best stuff.
6. Beauty Vloggers Collaborate to Increase Their Visibility
I found it surprising how small the beauty vlogging world was. Each vlogger specializes in their own niche and often collaborates (called a “collab” video) with someone else in their niche to increase their visibility.
Rather than seeing each other as competition, they help one another reach a larger audience. That’s their sixth secret: they rely on colleagues to build their audience.
Here, Louise collaborates with another vlogger Karen, and links to Karen’s video and channels from her own:
7. Beauty Bloggers Have True Relationships with Their Audience
Many of the beauty vloggers I’ve profiled here get their video ideas from their viewers — and give them credit for it, naming them in the video.
They often receive hundreds of comments, and respond to them individually. They have true conversations with their fans, answering questions, responding to suggestions, and even asking their audience for feedback and their own experiences.
Of course, being so visible means you’ll open yourself up to some “haters,” but these vloggers didn’t let that stop them. In fact, they didn’t respond to haters at all. And often their audience defended them against snarky commenters.
That’s the seventh and final secret: while many social media experts tout “relationship marketing,” these vloggers establish deep and loyal fan bases that buy the products they recommend, watch every video they share, and anxiously await their next one.
I must admit I completely underestimated beauty vloggers: I started out simply wanting to learn how to style a new haircut. What I ultimately observed, however, was much more than that.
Beauty vloggers demonstrate you don’t need to be a professional marketer to grow your brand. What it does take is passion, consistency, honesty with your audience, listening to them, talking to them, and making it easy for them to find you.
What beauty vloggers do you follow? What have you learned from them about beauty and marketing? Share in the comments below:
The human attention span has dwindled to eight seconds — less than that of a goldfish — according to a 2002 BBC article. With so many competing websites, social networks and entertainment on the internet, how can brands make their message stand out, be remembered and generate results?
Visual content: our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. Done well, your story told in a visual way, sticks with readers far better than just words on a page or screen.
What is Visual Storytelling and How Does it Benefit My Business?
Visual storytelling encompasses far more than just using visuals in your marketing: it’s about telling your brand’s story — what your purpose is & what you stand for — in a visual way. I like to think of it as Start With Why meets The Back of the Napkin meets Made to Stick.
Marketing your brand visually makes your message sticky: your audience remembers it, engages with it, and is far more likely to actually consume it. Here are visual content statistics:
Web posts with visuals are 180% more likely to get engagement
Visitors spend 100% more time on web pages with video
Press releases incorporating video get 45% more traffic
Web posts including infographics get 12% more traffic
If you’d like more traffic from highly engaged visitors who are more likely to buy from you, visual content is a highly effective approach.
What Visual Content is Best for Your Brand?
The type of visual content you should use depends on several factors, including what’s easiest for your team (or you) to create, as well as your audience demographics and where they hang out online. While Vine is a great place to find 18-20 year-olds, it won’t be effective for reaching baby boomers. Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest are better suited for that audience.
Identify your audience, discover where they are online (and offline), and target them according to your business goals.
Tell Your Story Using Simple Images
A brand who does this well is is Northern Valley Auto Body in Englewood, NJ, as shown here on their Facebook page. They take before & after photos of the cars they repair, as well as in-process pics. Not only is it fascinating to see how they work, the story their images tell is one of trust and transparency: the usually off-limits to clients body shop has completely opened their doors and invited you to watch their process:
Photos of in-process restorations instills a sense of trust in their brand.
Notice the simplicity of this visual story: photos taken in the garage with a smartphone and uploaded to a Facebook album. No filters, no captions, nothing but photos of their work. This didn’t take a graphic design team, but one person who stopped long enough to document the brand’s work.
Educate & Entertain Using Video Tutorials
Missouri Star Quilt Company opened their doors during the height of the U.S. recession, and their odds were so slim of making it they were covered by Wall Street Journal reporter Meg Cox (a quilter herself). How founder, Jenny Doan, not only survived the recession but became the largest employer in her small town is all due to her free quilting tutorials on YouTube.
Missouri Star Quilt Company grew their brand to the largest employer in their town using YouTube video tutorials
Jenny’s videos are simple, brief, but show her personality and simple ways to make a quilt from pre-cuts: fabric pieces already cut into shapes ready for quilters to sew together. Not only do her videos market the shop’s inventory of pre-cut fabrics, they also help reduce her labor costs, as pre-cuts don’t require an employee to cut a piece of fabric for every customer, as do bolts of fabric.
Jenny’s early videos were rough, with poor lighting and showing her sitting at a sewing machine. But, viewers weren’t concerned with the production quality: they loved Missouri Quilt Company’s videos, and some of their most popular videos are their oldest, garnering over a million views.
Reach Business Clients Using Presentations
Marketing Experiments is a well-known brand in the marketing industry that uses presentations and videos to reach their target audience. They offer hour-long “clinics” where they share the results of their case studies, research, and do live optimizations of brands who need their advice. They offer the clinics live, but also upload the replay to YouTube, and the shorter slide deck to Slideshare:
Marketing Experiments offers their “marketing clinics” on video as well as slide deck presentations
Marketing Experiments uploads their presentations to Slideshare for those who don’t want to watch the entire video
Speak Your Audience’s Language with Infographics, GIFs, Memes
Here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com we use infographics to offer quick guides to social networks:
2014 Edition of Facebook Marketing Infographic
Dr. Pepper uses GIFs, Hubspot has an entire Pinterest board dedicated to marketing memes, the White House creates Vine videos, and brands aplenty are on Instagram. So no matter who your audience is, you can reach them using some form of visual content.
Create Your Visual Roadmap
To get the most from your visual content marketing, establish your roadmap: your brand’s strategy and execution plan, by answering these questions:
what does your brand stand for (and how does it differ from your competition)?
what is your brand’s purpose?
what are your business goals for your marketing?
what are your customer’s pain points?
what marketing efforts are working now?
Your answers shape your business’ unique visual roadmap, making your brand unforgettable to your audience, and resonating with them in a way no plain text ever will.
What type of visual storytelling is your business doing and what have been your results? Share your story in the comments below.
I just finished reading The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Video, and Social Media to Market Your Brand, and was impressed with how co-authors Ekaterina Walter & Jessica Gioglio recommend brands incorporate visuals into their marketing. I chatted with Ekaterina Walters, by telephone, and I’m sharing the audio and the transcript of that interview today.
Definitely listen to how small brands can create visual content easily, share it across the web, and use visuals to communicate what they stand for.
Ekaterina Walter Interview Audio
Here is the full 30-minute interview, followed by short clips of it below:
Ekaterina Walter, co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling
Full Interview Transcript with Timestamps
0:00:00 MARIA: Welcome, everyone. This is Maria Peagler with Socialmediaonlineclasses.com. And today I have with me Ekaterina Walter. She is an innovator, a business and marketing innovator, international speaker and author of two books. The first one is the Wall Street Journal Bestseller, Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg. And she is co-author of her latest book, The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos and Social Media to Market Your Brand. Welcome, Ekaterina.
00:00:41 EKATERINA: Great to be here. Thanks for inviting me, Maria.
00:00:44 MARIA: Absolutely. Ekaterina, I read your book over the weekend and I was fascinated with the whole process that you describe. And I just think that the timing is perfect for all the visual content that we are seeing across the web. Tell me how you came to co-author this book.
00:01:04 EKATERINA: *laughs* Well, it all began several years ago when I published an article in Fast Company in my column, and the title was The Rise of Visual Social Media. And it talked about sort of the importance and the tactics and the strategy. And several publishers actually came up to me or contacted me and said we would love to actually see the book of that. And I said I am actually in the process of writing my first one, so let’s talk later. So it was really quite fascinating.
And my first book is more around business innovation and sort of business culture and business principals. But I’m a marketer at heart, so I’m very passionate about making sure you build a relationship with your customers in the right way. Because a lot of things we do we don’t necessarily do it right. And so I always wanted to talk about how do we tell our story, our brand story. And the visual topic just started to rise. A lot of people started to talk about it. And the reason for that was just the fact that we were living in the age of infobesity. Brands are not used to the fact that there is so much information, not only produced but consumed every single day, every single hour online. And it’s now suddenly a two way conversation and it’s customer-centric versus brand-centric.
And so in this whole age of sort of overwhelming, drowning in information, the question became how does a brand stand out. So for us marketers, no matter what you do, whatever marketing strategies you talk about, brand strategies, community-building strategies, et cetera, et cetera, one of the questions that we need to ask is how to target the hearts of consumers in the right way. And to be able to do that they have to discover you. They have to discover and consume your information, your content. They’ll have to connect with you, start conversations with you. And one of the ways to really stand down besides advocacy, right, besides the peer recommendations which is, well, I’m looking for a new car, which one should I buy, what music do you recommend, et cetera, et cetera, sort of your immediate niche community, one of the ways to stand out is visual. Just because we humans are wired like this.
We’re wired to process visuals better than text. As a matter of fact, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster. 60,000 times faster than text! And language only existed for 5,000 years-ish. But we drew for millennia. So the question becomes with that, how do you tap into that natural human element of drawing attention and standing out from the noise, especially now that the human attention span officially dropped below the attention span of a goldfish.
00:04:14 MARIA: *laughs*: Yeah.
00:04:15 EKATERINA: A goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds, us humans now, scientists say this year we’re between three and eight seconds. And that’s the reason why all the visual networks like Vine and six second videos, 15 second videos and Instagram, all these networks like that are popping up is because that’s what we’re vying for as marketers, is that attention span.
So I just wanted to talk about things I learned on the job when I worked in Fortune 500 companies and what I see in the market. And Jess has also done a lot of stuff, Jessica Gioglio, my co-author, with Dunkin’ Donuts. Because people are passionate about that brand and they also do a lot of cool stuff with visuals. So I just wanted to put out a book that talks about not just road maps and how to build that, but tips, tools, tricks, case studies.
00:05:14 MARIA: Fantastic. And I loved that term that you used, infobesity. Because there is just so much out there now that it really is hard to capture people’s attention when you’re competing with so many other brands and that diminishing attention span. I’m wondering, Ekaterina, how did you find that visual content affected the visibility or the reach and engagement for a brand’s blogs and social media marketing.
00:05:52 EKATERINA: The data is actually quite staggering, Maria, so I’ll give you just a couple of data points. So, for example, did you know that web posts with visuals drive up to 180% more engagement than those without.
00:06:06 MARIA: Wow.
00:06:07 EKATERINA: Viewers spend 100% more time on web pages with videos. If you use infographics the traffic to your site will probably increase an average of 12%. If you’re putting out a press release, if you add video, the traffic on average will go up 45, 48%.
And I can literally keep going, because what started to happen is people—and it’s not just images, right, we’re talking about visual storytelling, not just for images, but for different formats like video, which is highly consumable. Cartoons, memes, infographics, animated GIF files. The list goes on and on. So the business case, not just psychologically why people prefer images or videos over other formats, but also the business case for using this very snackable, very visual content is there.
And you notice now, we’re living in this age of the news feed, and everywhere we go there’s always a news feed blinking at us and always going, passing by so fast. And you notice, even you as a person, that the content that you need to pick out is the content that’s actually accompanied by a visual piece, right? A quote, an image, something that draws back to the whole point of, for example, an article that you posted, et cetera.
00:07:40 MARIA: Right, right. Ekaterina, I’m curious about the title of your book, Visual Storytelling. How do you differentiate that versus just using a visual on social media. How are those two different?
00:07:57 EKATERINA: Actually, I think the question becomes how does that drive back to a story about who you are, what you do, what you believe in. So the way I sort of define visual storytelling—or Jess and I define it in the book—is use of images, videos, infographics, presentations and, basically, other visuals on social media platforms to craft a graphical story around key brand values and offerings.
So there’s definitely some, what I call, micro-content that you’re going to create maybe that’s more of a one-off. But I think the most successful brands, they continue to drive back the same message around what they stand for, what their purpose is. Because as a marketer, your goal is to create a movement around your brand. Around your brand and product, around people who work with you and for you. You are more than just your product. So the question that comes, what does encompass that brand and how do you really tell a story around it? So, to me, when you create it in those one-off pieces, the question you need to ask yourself is how does that tie back to the bigger story you want to tell, to that movement you want to create, to that purpose that you share with your customers and employees and vendors and partners that work with and for you, right. So how do you build that community in the right way? And the only way you do that is for continuity.
00:09:35 MARIA: And that really leads into what you call in the book your visual road map, which I absolutely just could not, I could not get enough of that. Could you explain what your visual road map is?
00:09:52 EKATERINA: Yes. So the road map is your course. What is it that you’re trying to build and what is it that you’re trying to do. And I think a lot of times, again, people go into oh, well I have to have presence here, I have to do this and that. But I think a lot of it, the tactics without strategy, is worse than doing nothing at all is something that Lee even said and we’re quoting him in the book.
I think you always start with sort of setting your goals and figuring out what is it that you are here to do. And then you move into auditing and analyzing. So what are your current efforts? How are you tracking the data? And how are you really analyzing that data to glean the right insights? Are you listening to customer conversations and getting their insights? Then you summarize that order, then you start figuring out what things really work for you.
And then from there you shape your visual story. What’s the company goals and what are the supporting themes around the visual story? What’s the company voice and personality? What’s the company-customer conversational themes? And then from there you determine your visual content mix and you talk about things like formats and frequency and how you allocate content themes and pair it up with different types of media.
And then there’s always an element of planning for the unexpected around brand and product marketing, public relations, customer service. You want to make sure that you sort of leave wiggle room in your road map and strategy.
And then from there you go into distribution and engage them in strategy and then, also crafting and sourcing your different types of visuals. So this is definitely something that, as you start thinking about it and looking at it, those are the key, critical elements of your road map. And then, obviously, at the end you never forget to make sure that you measure. So the measurement is the last piece that’s definitely critical. And the reason is because unless you actually know what works for you, what doesn’t, what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, it’s hard for you to then take that, those insights and then translate it into something that makes sense and allows you to reshape and maybe re-evaluate that strategy and road map as you move along.
00:12:27 MARIA: And one of the things that I really liked about the concept of your visual road map was that you tied it to business goals. What are the goals for your brand and how can you do that with a visual story. And I find a lot of times our clients here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, when they’re doing their social media marketing, like I said, they feel like they need to be somewhere, but they don’t really know what to expect or how to really tie that back to their business goals. So I thought that was a particularly strong point of the visual road map.
00:13:04 EKATERINA: You’re absolutely right, Maria. But thank you, I appreciate your kind words. But yes, you’re absolutely right. Unless you know where you’ve been, where you’re going and why you’re going there it’s hard to actually shape a meaningful strategy.
Exclusive Members-Only Lessons
Members — login to learn how small brands can do a BETTER job than large brands in using visual content, plus her favorite tools for creating visuals.
Social media training to help you get a new career as a social media manager, start your own agency, or update your marketing skills. Fast, easy, online.
I’m excited to debut an exclusive training curriculum here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com – our Social Media Manager marketing track.
What is it?
A curriculum designed to provide a managerial skill set for social media: not just tactics & social platforms, but how to develop, execute and measure social media marketing campaigns.
This track is perfect for anyone who wants a career in digital marketing, who needs to update their marketing skills, or needs to learn how to manage social media in their business.
The social media manager track covers:
how to tie marketing to revenue generation
how to measure a social media marketing campaign’s ROI
how to outsource social media marketing
how to develop multimedia for your campaigns
and much more
The learning is included when you become a member of Socialmediaonlineclasses.com at the Annual or 3-Month Levels. And the learning track is in addition to your classes, infographics, swipe file, 1:1 coaching and bonus webinars. You can learn more about our membership levels here.
Social Media Strategy, Execution and Measurement
A digital manager needs to know how to create campaigns for multiple audiences, platforms and outcomes. That all starts with the strategy, overseeing the execution, and ultimately measuring the success of the campaign.
Managing a Social Media Team
Sometimes you’ll create your brand’s campaign in-house, while other times you’ll be outsourcing those campaigns. You may even be interested in starting your own agency (it’s important to set expectations up front about what’s realistic). You’ll learn who makes a good candidate for outsourcing, what clients should look for in your agency, and much more.
Developing Multimedia Content
As a social media manager, you’ll be expected to be a multi-tool of content creation: blog posts, images, video, podcasts, social media posts, and more. You’ll learn how to create each type of content, no matter what your budget, using simple tools and the latest apps. You won’t need to be a graphic designer, videographer or professional voiceover talent.
Got Website? Get Revenue!
No matter what terrific social media marketing campaigns you execute, it all comes down to the website. You’ll learn what a website needs to get sales (whether it’s your own, a client’s, or a colleague’s), and how to have the “conversation” about updating it to increase revenue.