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 2nd 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.
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.
Click to download a full-size version of the infographic
<< Click on the infographic to download your own full-size version.
Hashtags are ONE constant in an ever-changing social media world. So what are they and how can they help you in your online marketing?
Rely on the Ultimate Guide to Hashtags infographic and this blog post, where I demystify the hashtag and everything you ever wanted to know about it but didn’t know to ask. Browse the explanations of each tactic, why it’s important, and what it can do for you.
Remember to share this infographic with your own network, using the #hashtagprimer hashtag.
1. Hashtag is a # symbol used before a word
The hashtag is the pound symbol (#) preceding a word used online, in television, and in print media. For example, the hashtag #BreakingBad identifies the television show and would display on-screen during episodes.
2. Hashtags were created by users on Twitter
Hashtags were invented by Twitter users who were frustrated over the lack of a robust search feature to find tweets based on topics they were interested in. Creating the hashtag made it easier to search Twitter for topical content.
3. Hashtags offer a simple way to organize & search for content
Hashtags provide an excellent way to make your posts easily found by others. For example, #SXSW15 identifies a post about the South by Southwest conference in Austin for 2015, making it easy to find tweets about the event, who’s attending, and more.
4. Twitter turns a hashtag into a hyperlink
Twitter turns each hashtag into a hyperlink that, when clicked, will show all the recent tweets for that hashtag. It’s a great way to see what others are saying about that topic and to find people with common interests.
5. Hashtags are popular with the media and fans
All types of media — online, network, cable, and print — quickly adopted the hashtag and use it encourage fans to tweet about live events and shows. You’ll often see a hashtag at the bottom of the screen when watching your favorite show.
6. Hashtags help to brand your messaging
Hashtags provide an easy to way to brand your content, whether using your own hashtag or one identifying it with a popular trend. Look at how four different brands use variations of the #superbowl hashtag to brand their tweets:
The NFL and the SuperBowl use the official #SB49 hashtag for SuperBowl 49
AdAge uses the standard #superbowl hashtag to brand their article
StubHub created their own hashtag #SuperBall, branding an event surrounding the SuperBowl
Using just the right hashtag can give your message a completely new twist. #awkward, #winning, and #fail add an ironic twist to a tweet, such as “Best hashtag ever for an @NFL press conference #flexball #fail,” when the Gillette Flexball was shown on the backdrop of the Patriots “deflate-gate” press conference:
8. Use local hashtags
Using a local hashtag for your city makes it easy for people to identify where you’re located, and easy to find you in search results. Using a hashtag like #ATL, #NYC, #LA, #CHI, and others immediately give your tweet its own “geolocator.”
Where to Use Hashtags
9. Twitter is the king of hashtags, especially #FF FollowFriday
Twitter is the dominant network for using hashtags. It’s where the hashtag was born, raised, and continues to thrive. Twitter etiquette is to use one, two, or at most three hashtags. Any more than that is #overkill.
10. Facebook started recognizing hashtags in 2014
Facebook jumped on the hashtag bandwagon in 2014, and now allows its users to search using hashtags. Similar to Twitter, the etiquette here is to use one to three hashtags at the end of a post. More than that is seen as spamming your fans. Note: In the past, Google has shown Facebook hashtagged content in its search results, as shown in the image below. This screen shot is from 2014, and as of 2015, they have discontinued it; but with Google, you never know if it will pop up again:
Google displayed hashtag search results from Facebook & Twitter, as shown here. Clicking on the Facebook entry took you to the search results within it, as shown in the screen below
11. Instagram users make serious use of multiple hashtags
If hashtags originated on Twitter, Instagram users win the award for overuse of them. It’s not unusual to see Instagram posts with up to 25-30 hashtags, making the image easily found when people search. I don’t recommend using that many: 3-5 well-researched hashtags for your topic are certainly #enough.
Oprah uses just one hashtag to promote her upcoming cruise. But the commenter reaching out to her post is using far more (for his own purposes)
12. Google+ automatically assigns hashtags to your posts based on your content
Google+ is unique from every other social network for this one reason: it assigns your posts hashtags based on the content in them. You can still use hashtags of your own in the post, but if you don’t, Google+ tries its best to give your post at least one hashtag based on the words you used in the post.
Notice my post doesn’t contain a single hashtag, but Google+ assigned it the #webinar hashtag based on its content
13. Pinterest unofficially recognizes hashtags
Pinterest doesn’t natively use hashtags, but many people use multiple hashtags at the end of their pin description as a way to get found in search. Why not? It can’t hurt.
14. Google displays the results of a hashtag used in search
If you search Google using a hashtag, it returns results from social networks and website/blog content.
A Google search for #sm returns results from social networks and the web
15. Tumblr users tag their content using hashtags
Tumblr bloggers use hashtags to identify their content, make it easily found in search, and add it to what Tumblr calls a “tag channel.” According to Pete Cashmore of Mashable, “Tumblr is getting into the real-time search game, allowing users to contribute to a tag channel and find others who share their interests. It’s a move that makes Tumblr more public: in its early days it was a fairly closed community.”
In Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, you get classes on every major social network, infographics, webinars, and 1:1 coaching with me. I hope to see you inside Socialmediaonlineclasses.com.
How to Use Hashtags
16. Don’t use spaces in hashtags
If your hashtag is more than one word or a phrase, omit the spaces between the words, as shown below in #17.
17. #socialmedia not #social media
If you want to use the hashtag for social media, the correct usage is #socialmedia, not #social media. You can also use the abbreviation #sm instead. However, be sure to research if you’re using the correct abbreviation. Many hashtags use the same acronym, and you want to be directing people to the right content.
18. Use hashtags at the end of a message
While a hashtag helps to identify your content, it isn’t critical to conveying your message, so use it at the end of your message. You don’t want to force people to wade through multiple hashtags to get to the heart of your tweet or post.
19. Abbreviate long phrases
Hashtags are especially helpful on Twitter and Instagram where you have limited space, so it makes sense to abbreviate your hashtag if it’s a long phrase.
Coca-Cola uses the abbreviation #MLK in their Instagram post about Martin Luther King Jr. Day
20. #tbt for Throwback Thursday and #FF for Follow Friday
Throwback Thursday, or #tbt, is a social media tradition of posting a photo from a previous era (think 70’s bell bottoms or the 80’s ripped t-shirts). Follow Friday, or #FF, is a Twitter tradition of listing people whom you recommend others follow for their great tweets.
Johnathan uses #FF for Follow Friday to give his post context: these are the people he recommends you follow (and shows that rules are made to be broken, like using hashtags at the beginning of a post!)
21. Create your own hashtags
There’s no rule about who creates or owns a hashtag (even though Coca-Cola is trying to trademark a couple), so feel free to brand your business by creating your own hashtag.
I branded my Slideshare presentation with #college2career to immediately identify it’s purpose
22. Audi created #WantAnR8
A great example of not only creating your own hashtag but building a buzz around product demand is Audi’s #WantAnR8 campaign. Audi, its dealers, owners, and wannabe owners all use the hashtag:
23. Use at events #SXSW15
A widely adopted use of hashtags is at events: conferences, sporting events, and concerts. South by Southwest uses the hashtag #SXSW15, abbreviated with the current year’s event. Simply use the hashtag in your post making it easy for others attending or shadowing the event to follow what’s happening.
24. Learn popular hashtags
It’s important that you understand the most popular hashtags in your industry. Every field from accounting to consumer goods to schools and universities use hashtags to brand their messages. The best way to learn which hashtags are appropriate for your market is to follow industry leaders on social media and observe how they use them, and which hashtags appear frequently.
Examples of Innovative Hashtags
25. #RT gives a shout out on Twitter as a retweet
One of the most common hashtags is #RT on Twitter, which is a retweet of someone’s tweet you liked. It’s considered a recommendation of their post, and some of the most retweeted content are funny and ironic tweets.
26. #NYC, #ATL, #austin all identify cities in a tweet
Use a local hashtag to identify yourself or your brand as being located in a city and proud of it!
27. Fashionistas use #ootd to show off their “outfit of the day”
Beauty and fashion bloggers use the #ootd hashtag to share their outfit of the day. It’s a great way for readers to find fashion inspiration, and the bloggers gain new followers.
28. #socialmedia, #entrepreneur
Hashtags identifying your industry are a great way to give context to a post. #socialmedia and #entrepreneur are just two of the hundreds of hashtags that identify yourself and your content as relevant to your field.
29. Television encourages viewer engagement for #breakingbad, #idol, #xfactor
Television shows commonly display their hashtag on screen during an episode, encouraging viewers to live tweet about the show. Networks often generate more buzz by making the show’s stars available afterward to chat with viewers on twitter.
30. Recommend colleagues with Follow Friday #FF on Twitter
A Twitter tradition is to recommend new followers, colleagues, and those you admire by tagging them with the Follow Friday hashtag. The tweet “#FF @MarketingMel @PattyFarmer @EbonyLove @EkaterinaWalter awesome #interviews” would recommend those entrepreneurs as people I’ve interviewed and recommend.
31. Hashtags help raise awareness and funding for #curechildhoodcancer
Hashtags aren’t limited to for-profit brands. Causes like #curechildhoodcancer have run highly successful fundraising campaigns using a branded hashtag. One of the most successful non-profit campaigns was the #icebucketchallenge for ALS in 2014.
32. Charlie Sheen’s #winning is best known, most ironic hashtag #fail
Probably the most ironic, and well-known hashtag is #winning, used by Charlie Sheen during his personal meltdown. What #hashtag do you want your brand to be known for?
Branding Your Business with Hashtags
33. Southwest paints #bagsflyfree on their airplanes
Southwest is famous for not charging travelers for checking a bag, so they display the #bagsflyfree hashtag in big bold letters ON their planes. Where better to advertise than at the airport to travelers who DID pay to check their luggage?
Happy customers love to share their Southwest #bagsflyfree experience
34. Lancome encouraged celebrated their clients with #BareSelfie
While Dove is famous for using real women in their television and print ads, Lancome brilliantly encouraged women to take a selfie without makeup and tag it #BareSelfie, as part of a marketing campaign for a new serum. It generated 500 photos with the hashtag, and website sales were converting at four percent.
35. Lexus teamed with Instagrammers with #LexusInstaFilm
Lexus collaborated with over 200 Instagrammers to generate a stop motion film using Instagram photos. Tagged with #LexusInstaFilm, the campaign generated 1,000 new followers on the social network.
36. Coke so successful with #smilewithacoke they’ve applied for a trademark
Generations fondly remember commercials & jingles singing Have a Coke and a smile, and the newest version for the 21st century is #smilewithacoke. Now they’re applying for a trademark to protect it.
37. LiquidWeb hosting offers helpful #lwtips on Twitter
One of the best ways to connect with potential customers is by being helpful, and LiquidWeb hosting does that on Twitter by offering #lwtips
38. LinkedIn encouraged users to predict what the year would bring #BigIdeas2015
LinkedIn tapped into the “new year, new predictions” habit of many bloggers and thought leaders with their #BigIdeas2015 hashtag. They started the post series with big names like Richard Branson, then encouraged their users to write their own LinkedIn posts using the hashtag:
39. Dell computers sets up #DellLounge at industry trade shows
At its major trade shows, Dell Computers sets up an elaborate lounge for people to stop by, see their latest innovations, and take photos of themselves tagged #DellLounge. They team up with movie studios to show their movies on Dell computers, with charities who need exposure, and more, all in the lounge. They make #DellLounge a social destination at trade shows. Their marketing strategy is brilliant, resulting in trade show attendees generating massive buzz for Dell.
40. Who doesn’t love to share about a Wendy’s #Frosty?
Do customers love your products and share them with their friends? Then create a hashtag for them! Wendy’s uses the #Frosty hashtag on Twitter to announce the proceeds of coupon books going to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption:
41. Use relevant hashtags
Stick to hashtags that are topical to your content. Don’t resort to “hashtag spam” by using hashtags that are popular but have nothing to do with your message.
42. Twitter etiquette allows one to three hashtags
Since a tweet is a brief 140 characters, limit your hashtags to only those most relevant to your content: from one to three hashtags.
43. Instagram reigns with up to 30 hashtags
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per image (yes, really). Why you need that many is frankly beyond me, unless you’re trying to over-promote yourself. It’s not unusual to see Instagram images with 10 – 20 hashtags.
44. Use hashtags at the end of your message
The most important element of your message is the content, whether text or visual. So don’t force people to wade through your sea of hashtags to get to the good stuff — because they likely won’t.
45. Keep hashtags short
As much as I would love to use my brand name in a hashtag, #socialmediaonlineclasses.com is just too long. So I stick to #sm or #socialmedia. Some Instagrammers use long hashtags like #curlyhairdontcare, but they’re often tagging personal photos instead of brand images.
46. Use them to brand your content
No matter what social network you’re using, you can use hashtags to brand your content. I’m using #hashtagprimer for this post, and LinkedIn used #BigIdeas2015 for their post series.
47. Use hashtags to brand your event
Event marketing routinely takes advantage of a hashtag to promote the event, the people speaking & attending, as well as the great images and takeaways attendees love to share. Make sure that your guests know the appropriate hashtag to use at the event by announcing it at the beginning of each session.
48. Use hashtags to brand contests and run them across multiple platforms
YesToCarrots ran a great promotion called #YesToColor, and announced it via email. I received this email from them asking customers who had purchased from their online store to enter the contest and use the hashtag #YesToColor. Notice they did not specify which social network or online platform to use. It didn’t matter. They could search for the hashtag using Google, HootSuite, SproutSocial, or other social media marketing management tools to find all the entrants and the buzz they generated:
Search Using Hashtags
49. Makes content easy to find
Want to find the latest entries in Jimmy Fallon’s hashtag of the week? Search Twitter for it or click on the hashtag from Twitter to see the entries. Here are the tweets for #WhyImSingle (the hashtag for Valentine’s Day):
A Google search displays the results for the #whyimsingle hashtag
See a tweet with the #whyImsingle hashtag? Click on it and Twitter shows you all the tweets using it
50. Use hashtags in search engines
Notice I searched Google for the #WhyImSingle hashtag? It shows me the results not just on Twitter, but across the web from sources like HuffingtonPost, YouTube, Tumblr and more. Doing a hashtag search from a search engine doesn’t limit you to one particular social network, so it’s great for finding hashtags across platforms.
51. Search for content within a social network using a hashtag
Looking for a hashtagged post within a social network? Most let you search within the platform for hashtags. The results will vary by network and their privacy policies. For example, Facebook will return hashtagged content from people you’re friends with and public pages. You won’t see hashtagged content from people you aren’t friends with.
52. Hashtags are clickable in almost every major social network
Just as I clicked on #whyImsingle in Twitter, you can do the same to find inspiration for #weddingbouquets in Pinterest. In fact, you can click on a hashtag from almost every social network and it will display posts using it:
53. Find messages across online channels
Searching for a hashtag from a search engine returns results from multiple online channels, not just social networks, as shown in #49 and #50.
54. Motivated users find you
Hashtags make it dead simple for people looking for your brand or content to find you. Be sure to clearly announce which hashtags you’re using and people will find a path to your brand.
55. Great for contest entries
Running a contest but don’t want to limit it to just a single social network? No problem. Tell contest entrants to tag their #entry using your hashtag, and you can search for them in Google, Bing, Hootsuite, or other social media management tool. You’ll get more buzz and more entries.
56. Use in email & chat to make topics easier to find
While you don’t get any marketing buzz from this tactic, some people do use hashtags for their own purposes in email and chat. Using a hashtag #Introduction in the subject line of an email makes it much easier to find later than searching for “introduction” which will likely return too many results.
Marketing Using Hashtags
57. Brand your contests using a hashtag
Follow the excellent example from YesToCarrots in tactic #48: brand your contest using a unique hashtag. It immediately makes the contest buzzworthy. They were able to run the contest across multiple social networks, allowing customers to post where it was easy for them, all using the same hashtag.
58. Hashtags provide cohesive cross-platform messaging
Every social network has its own etiquette and rules: Twitter is limited to 140 characters while there’s almost no limit for Facebook. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags while Twitter discourages more than three. By using a single hashtag for your marketing campaign, you can follow those guidelines and still successfully brand your message.
59. Use in visual content: images, video
Smart brands use hashtags even in their visual content, like images and video (notice #hashtagprimer on the infographic on this blog post?). While it’s not searchable or SEO-worthy, it does provide a cohesive marketing message, and educates your audience on the proper hashtag to use when mentioning your brand on social media.
The Nobel Prize organization branded this video of Patti Smith signing Bob Dylan’s Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall with the hashtag #NobelPrize:
60. Let people tell their stories
The best writing & marketing tells just enough to get people motivated to tell their own stories. Fiction authors know this, and often leave out important details in a story to let readers form their own stories and meaning. Do the same with your marketing: people had diverse reasons for #IWantAnR8, but the sentiment was the same. Why they wanted one was the power of that marketing campaign (tactic #22).
61. Domino’s #LetsDoLunch offered a discount for all customers
Domino’s UK ran a savvy hashtag promotion: for every customer who tweeted #LetsDoLunch within a specific timeframe, they took one pence off the price of a pizza. The resulting price went from £15.99 to £7.74 ($24.56 to 11.89), and everyone else ordering during that time got the discount too (including people who didn’t tweet). The key to success was a group effort and a sizable resulting discount.
62. Know your reputation: #McDStories
Before you run a hashtag promotion, be clear on what your brand reputation is. If you have too many negative stories for customers to tell, don’t encourage them. McDonalds asked people to share their #McDStories on Twitter, and the result was horror stories of disgusting food and terrible service. What they had hoped to be a successful hashtag promotion turned into a bashtag fest.
63. Use on SWAG giveaways
If your business gives away great SWAG, brand the items with a hashtag, motivating the lucky recipients to thank you publicly on social media. You’ll likely see lots of photos and happy people with your giveaways.
64. Identify your brand as local
Know the phrase, “all politics is local?” The same can be said for business: “all business is local.” Take advantage of your brick-and-mortar location by identifying your brand as local using a hashtag. If you’re traveling on business or doing a promotional tour, definitely use the hashtags for the cities you’ll be visiting.
What hashtags are a fit for your small business? Are you using them?
[ninja-popup ID=16864] Click HERE to download the full-size infographic[/ninja-popup]
Every small business has a tremendous opportunity to increase their visibility using the simple hashtag.
Go through this post again and identify which tactics best fit your business. You don’t have to completely change the way you market your brand; instead, simply start using a hashtag in your social media posts, visual content, and contests.
Use this infographic as a “to do list” of tactics, and experiment with a few to see which ones generate the most buzz and results for your brand. Don’t forget to let me know which ones worked for you, using the hashtag #hashtagprimer.
Share this #hashtagprimer Infographic On Your Site
If you’ve been using social media marketing but haven’t seen results . . .
. . . then it’s time for a do-over.
And it starts with identifying which social network is your low-hanging fruit: where can you get the BIG win in the shortest amount of time?
That’s what the Social Media Strategy Template and worksheet will do for you: help you develop and optimize a no-fail social media marketing strategy unique for your business.
Socialmediaonlineclasses.com turns five this month, and I’ve learned much about how people use social media marketing to promote their brands. People usually assume Facebook is the first place they should start, when it could be that it’s totally the wrong platform for them.
So here’s a step-by-step process for developing the perfect social media strategy using our template . . .
1. Who’s Your Most Profitable Customer?
All your social media marketing efforts will be for nothing if you’re not reaching the right people. Who are your customers? Even better, who are your most profitable customers?
Here’s a hint . . . it’s NOT everyone.
I’m surprised at entrepreneurs who can’t answer this question. Or, if they can, they are often too vague. Be obsessively specific here. While we all would love to think everyone will want our products, it just isn’t so.
That’s okay — you’re in good company. I have clients who are ranked #1 in their industry nationwide, making seven figures, who’ve told me “I don’t know what social media marketing can do for me.”
Let’s take a look . . .
The top three goals for members here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com are:
Grow my business
Increase my sales
Get more visibility
Other common goals are to get more traffic to my website, launch a new product, develop a personal brand, and do fundraising for a non-profit.
You can achieve all those goals with social media marketing.
Ask yourself: what do you NEED to accomplish with social media marketing? Use the template and spreadsheet as a guide to answer questions to help you identify your primary goals (click to download).
Download this spreadsheet to build your social media strategy
Which social networks can help you reach your goals? That’s what you’ll answer in #3 . . .
3. Where Are Your Customers?
What’s the primary social network your customers use? Once you’ve identified who your most profitable customers are (step #1), you can identify where they are in social media.
It’s likely they use more than one social network, but don’t feel like you need to be on ALL of them. You want to fit your marketing to the optimal social network:
where your customers are
has the ability to help you reach your goals
For example, if you are a local florist and use Instagram to show beautiful photos of your arrangements, that’s great for increasing your visibility among potential customers. But, if your goal is to drive traffic to your website or get people into your shop, Instagram can’t do that for you:
Poppies and Posies shares gorgeous photos of their flowers & arrangements on Instagram
Google+ and Facebook are much better choices for driving traffic. Why?
Google+ (even if your customers don’t use it) helps you build a robust Google local business page (that your customers see when they ARE searching for a local florist)
The majority of your customers are using Facebook. Offer Facebook fans a Valentine’s Day special, or even better, offer them an exclusive during your slow season.
How often do you plan to post to your social networks — multiple times per day, once per day, or a few times a week? (Be realistic about your schedule and what you can accomplish.)
What I’ve found is that most entrepreneurs get excited about starting their social media marketing, post for a month or two, and either get frustrated over a technical issue or life gets in the way.
And they stop . . .
. . . then it gets even more difficult to restart. It’s cumbersome because they’ve lost their proficiency with their social networking, and they end up having to re-learn the basics:
When did you last post on your social networks?
That’s okay — we all have stuff that gets in the way.
However, I do have a recommendation that makes it much easier to continue your social media marketing even during your busy season or when life throws you a curve ball — an editorial calendar.
They’re also called a content development schedule — call them what you like — but by identifying what you’ll be posting about each month and eventually each week, you make social media marketing much easier (and far more likely to be consistent with it).
5. What Differentiates You?
They key to making a connection with potential customers in any form of marketing is the right message at the right time.
The right message is one that sets your brand apart, differentiating it from the competition and as a perfect fit for your ideal customers.
Differentiating your brand is often the hardest step in developing a social media strategy (even for the professionals). So let’s take a look at some brands who do it well:
ImagiBrand clearly differentiates themselves directly on their Twitter profile by saying “Every brand has a story. Let’s have some fun with yours!” What a great motto — you know if you hire them you’re going to get a company with a great sense of humor:
Molly McGrory, a real estate broker who sells over $100K in her own listings from social media alone, brands herself as a real estate agent who can sell your home quickly, shown here in this Facebook post:
Getting some ideas for your own marketing?
6. How Will You Execute?
The devil is in the details, isn’t it? The perfect social media strategy won’t produce results until you execute it consistently. So how do you do that?
Make it so simple you can’t fail. You’ve already identified the elements of your strategy — now you need to combine those into a simple, elegant action plan for your social media marketing.
To do that, download the spreadsheet that accompanies the social media strategy template (you can get both of these in my free Social Media Strategy Class). The spreadsheets guides you, step-by-step, through each of the six elements, plus what you need to have in place to put your strategy into action, helping you to identify:
what you need to learn to do your social media marketing
what tools you need to use
who is responsible for doing your social media marketing
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:
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.
Infographics are some of the most popular resources we offer here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com. Here are member favorites from the first half of 2014:
Social Media for Local Business
How do you decide where to spend your time marketing your local business? So many social networks and marketing options can be overwhelming. How can you ensure you’re focusing on tactics yielding the most return on investment (ROI) for your local business? Rely on the Social Media for Local Business infographic. It reveals the eight most powerful social marketing platforms for local businesses; use it as a menu to pick and choose the ones the suit your brand.
State of Social Media for Small Business
We posed questions to Socialmediaonlineclasses.com members (almost 300 of them!) to take the pulse of social media for small business in 2014. Some results were expected, while others were shocking. All are shown in the infographic below. (Following the infographic is a brief explanation of the finding for each question)
Facebook Marketing Infographic 2014 Edition
Get your Facebook marketing infographic. Quickly tap into 1 billion customers on the world’s largest social network. The infographic helps you get better results from Facebook in 2014.
College Guide to Landing a Job
Learn how to land your dream job earning double what your peers are in the same industry. Learn from Petra, an Socialmediaonlineclasses.com member who found out the hard way: “Flunked the job interview for a dream job because I don’t have social media skills. Gonna be smarter next time!” — P. Keasberry, Socialmediaonlineclasses.com member
WordPress Build Your Website in an Hour
Learn how to create your own WordPress website (or blog) in one hour. The goal isn’t for you to race through creating your own website, but for you to learn that you can build a credible & professional website in an afternoon.
Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Networking
How can you make sure you’re profiting from their latest changes to build a profitable network? Study the Ultimate Guide to Profitable LinkedIn Networking infographic. It outlines 64 powerful tactics in eight categories; use it as a menu to pick and choose the ones the suit you & your business.
Our Content Marketing Made Simple bonus webinar is a favorite with our members here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com. I generate a LOT of content here: what you see in this blog is only about 10% of it. Our members get access to our classes, infographics, webinars and way more.
How do I do it as a busy entrepreneur, wife, and mom? I fit my business into my life. I actively look for snippets of time I can use to work on content while I’m doing something else as well.
Here’s a brief look at the tactics I’ve developed to create cornerstone content in just 10 minutes. Timestamps & transcript are below the video:
00:15: 10-Minute Content – how we do it
00:25: Dictate Content (I do this while walking on my treadmill desk and in carpool line!)
01:15: My Favorite App for Dictating Content
01:26: How I Dictate Content — Step-by-Step
02:59: How to Get Content from the C-Suite Easily
03:40: Create Content Using Templates (tip from when I managed a group of writers)
04:16: Use Templates for Blog Posts, Images, Slide Decks, Audio, & Video
05:30: Repurpose Your Best Content
05:45: Examples of How We Repurpose Content Here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com
Now I know you’re all wondering about number 3, 10 Minute Content. Is it really possible or is it a gimmick? Well, ladies and gentlemen, it is possible and here’s how. You can dictate your content into your smartphone. I do this frequently. I don’t do it every time, but, I have set up for myself a treadmill desk and I do it so that I can get my exercise in so I’m not sitting in front of a computer all the time and I also do it sometimes in carpool line. You know, I’m sitting in carpool waiting to pick up my kids, you know, I’m not talking on the phone but I am talking into my phone and I’m going to show you how you too can do this.
You can dictate into your smartphone using an app. Now, there are several apps that you can use for this. I use Evernote, which I’m sure you’ve heard of, it’s a wildly popular note taking app, but you can also use dictation apps like Dragon Dictation, there are lots of apps that you can use and here’s how you do it. In Evernote, when I’m creating a new note, it has the cursor right here and it’s ready for me to type on my smartphone. Now, I’ve got my smartphone here and I’m doing it this way. Instead of typing it, I click on this microphone button here and I talk into my smartphone and Evernote will take 30 seconds of dictation and transcribe it into text. Now, if you’re doing this in a relatively quiet room it does an excellent job, I’m actually amazed at how well it does. If you’re in a loud room, not so much, but you can dictate 30 seconds of content at a time and then at the end of that 30 seconds, it will paste that content in, you just click on that microphone again, and you dictate your next 30 seconds of content and by doing that you have saved yourself a ton of time typing in a blog post or a white paper or a PowerPoint presentation and then, you can copy and paste this into WordPress or Word or whatever it is that you are using to create your content. You can even email this to yourself. So that’s one way of creating 10 minute content is by dictating it into your smartphone.
Let me also tell you, if you are a small business owner or if you are someone who is in a small business who is tasked with doing social media and it’s really hard to get your CEO’s time, this is a way that you can do this. Go to lunch, you know, when you’re in the car on the way to a meeting, you know, something like that, interview the CEO, you know, get him or her to talk, you know, do an interview, do it by phone there are actually phone apps that you can use, that I’ve used, to do interviews and then you can have that transcribed. You know, doing something orally is actually a really quick way to generate content for people who are just super busy.
The second way that you can create 10 minute content is to use templates. Now, I can tell you that we did this a lot when I was at ExecuTrain(?) and I was managing a team of about seven technical writers. We didn’t create anything from scratch. We did everything from a template and it saved so much time and I still do it now. It helps not only maintain quality and consistency if you have multiple people generating your content, it also saves a lot of time. You can have a template for any type of content that you create. My blog posts, many of them I use, I create starting with a template, especially the ones that are announcing my bonus webinars, that’s the same blog post every time, I just change out the content and the image for the webinar. All of my infographics and checklists I start with a template. I will take a template then fill in the new content and change the colors. Same thing with multimedia, this presentation came from a template. I didn’t even create the template, I purchased it and somebody else did the design and I filled it in. You can do the same thing with videos, you can get a video intro for your business, you can get music for your podcast, and use those over and over again. That helps with your branding and it also cuts down on the amount of time that it takes for you to create that content.
Thirdly, and finally, the last thing that you can do to generate 10 minute content is to repurpose your best content and I’m going to give you some examples of this. Whenever I do a bonus webinar, like this one, you get this content in several forms. It probably started out as an article, but you’ll get the video replay, you get an audio file, and the audio file doesn’t take me any time to do. When I’m editing the video, all I do is save this as an audio file and it takes one minute to do. That does not take a long time. Then I also repurpose the content in an infographic or checklist. So you can take your content, in the way that’s easiest for you to create it and then outsource it or delegate it to a staff member to have them repurpose it into whatever content is best for your audience. If you’re a business to business brand then you would look at doing a white paper or a PowerPoint presentation. If you’re a business to consumer brand, you would look at doing images, possibly some infographics or a video.
Over on our Socialmediaonlineclasses.com YouTube channel, we debut brief how-to videos tutorials to help you make the most of your time on social media. Our most popular videos of 2014 help college students, local businesses, and a lucky makeover winner, as well as teach you how to do Facebook ads, Hootsuite, and more.
#1. College Guide to Getting a Job | Webinar, Slide Deck, Infographic
Learn how to land your DREAM job w/simple steps that differentiate you from every other candidate.
#5. Pinterest Marketing How To: Makeover Your Boards to Drive Sales
Pinterest How-To for Business: drive leads & sales from your Pinterest account. Watch as I makeover already excellent Pinterest boards to generate leads, sales, become one of your most profitable marketing tactics.
#6. Facebook Marketing: 5 Minute Targeted Marketing Plan
Spend only 5 minutes every month identifying the TOP 4 Insights to create your own targeted Facebook Marketing Plan. Insights tell you What Works Now, so you don’t have to keep up with every algorithm change Facebook makes.
#7. Hootsuite How To: Master Hootsuite in Just One Hour!
Hootsuite How To Tutorial in this webinar: you’ll learn how to: * Post one time and send it to all of your social networks * Schedule posts for a future date and time * Add photos and videos to posts * Shorten links to fit them into Twitter’s 140 characters
How to guarantee your fans see posts from your business page. Crush that lowly 17% post reach by doing this single step! Share this video with your fans so they know how to Get Notifications from your business page.