Category Archives for "Strategy"

weekly top 5 - puppy edition
Nov 24

Weekly Top 5 for Nov 24, 2014


Our classes are just the start of the learning you get here at  Here are the additional resources available this week:

weekly top 5 - puppy edition

#1. How to Develop a Blog Tour Webinar Replay

Members learned how to develop an online publicity tour in this 30-minute webinar. Here’s the replay, .mp3 audio, slide deck and infographic . . . . .

#2. [CASE STUDY] How a Local Business Uses Social Media as Their ONLY Marketing

Don’t miss this SMOC-exclusive case study profiling Firefly Bicycles and how they use social media as their sole means of marketing . . .

#3. [COMMUNITY] How to Differentiate Your Brand on Twitter in Just 10 Seconds

Members discovered how one brand differentiates themselves on Twitter in just 10 seconds (examples & screenshots included) . . . .

#4.  How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the Sharing Economy

Businesses give away more than ever: free shipping, free downloads, free consultations, you name it! So how do you avoid those “freebie” seekers who have no intention of ever buying from you? Find out here . . .

#5. [BONUS] Holiday Marketing Kit

The holidays are almost here, and you’re going to need images for your holiday marketing. Members get this bonus package of almost 100 holiday images . . . .

Nov 20

How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the Sharing Economy

By Maria Peagler

How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the

I’ve got some tough love for you today . . .

Do you give away too much in your business?

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 member is like.

how to avoid freebie seekers

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 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.

how to avoid freebie seekers

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.

how to avoid freebie seekers3

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.

how to avoid freebie seekers4

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:

How to avoid freebie seekers

Member Pat Roa Perez became a brand advocate and shared why she paid for

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.

This process is called onboarding, and it’s critical to reduce refunds. Read more about how we onboard new members in this blog post.

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:

Nov 17

Weekly Top 5 for Nov 17, 2014


Our classes are just the start of the learning you get here at  Here are the additional resources available this week:


Colorful cupcakes with flowers

#1. 7 Surprising Secrets I Learned from Beauty Vloggers

My guilty pleasure is watching hairstyle and beauty vloggers on YouTube. I started watching them when I needed help with a new hairstyle.  What I ultimately learned was SO much more . . . .

#2. What Millennials Need to Know About Social Media for Business

Our summer intern for 2014, Amanda Jensen, was surprised at how much she DIDN’T know about social media when she began her internship.  She shares her lessons for millennials and others who think they “know” social media marketing . . .

#3. [VIDEO] How to Reach More of Your Facebook Fans and Get Higher Engagement

I’ve released this video from Lesson 20 of our Facebook 101 class. It’s one of a series of five videos in that lesson on how to measure your results on Facebook using Insights . . . . .

#4.  Which Tool is Best for Scheduling Social Media Posts for Multiple Clients?

This SMOC member had a question about what tool is the best for posting and scheduling for multiple marketing clients.  See my advice here . . . .

#5. Pinterest 101 Updated for New User Interface

Pinterest has a new look, and we’ve updated our Pinterest 101 class to reflect the changes for personal & business changes, as well as rich pins . . . .

Nov 14

Facebook Engagement & Reach: How To Social Media Training [VIDEO]

By Maria Peagler

The key to getting results from Facebook is in posting content that generates reach and engagement. So how do you figure out what kind of posts your audience responds to best?

This video looks at a simple way to identify which posts get the greatest reach and engagement so you’ll know what kind of content you should focus on sharing. Timestamps & transcript are below the video:

00:20: Identify How to Get Greater Post Reach & Engagement in Less than 30 Seconds

02:00: Second Facebook Post Type Insight Example

02:42: Comparison with Targeted Posts Excluded

02:58: Identify What’s Working Now

03:40: Why Status Updates Get the Most Reach


This is Maria Peagler with with the fifth in a series on Facebook Insights videos. And in this video we’re going to be taking a look at how you can easily identify—in less than 30 seconds—how you can get greater post reach and engagement. Again, we’re going to go to your Facebook page Insights by clicking on See Insights. And we’re going to go to your Posts section. And you’re going to look at Post Types. And the area that pops up here is incredibly important because it shows you the most popular post types that you do. Not individual posts, but the kind of post, whether they’re photo posts, just a plain text status update, a link, it could be a video, it could be an offer. But you can see for my particular page, photos are, by far, what get the most reach and, overwhelmingly, the most engagement. So for this, it’s a no-brainer for me. It’s going to be a photo post. Links tend to get more engagement than a status update, but status updates get a far greater reach than links do. So what that tells me is that I might want to do a status update and just put maybe a shortened link on it so that it doesn’t show up as the type of link that you would see in a Facebook link post. So, overall, what I would do is anytime I do a Facebook post I’m going to put a photo with it and I can also add a link, but that photo is going to be what gives it the greater reach.

Let’s take a look at another Facebook page. And you can see here that it’s pretty much the same proportion. Again, photos are the most popular type followed by status and links. In this particular case, though, the links didn’t get as much engagement as mine did. For this page a status post gets a lot of engagement. But again, overwhelmingly, it’s the photo posts that get the greatest reach and engagement. You can exclude targeted posts, which are ones that are done with an ad. I don’t think that there are any on this page, but we will go back to my insights and take a look at that.

Okay. Back here we’re going to look on the insights back on my business page. Again, we’re going to go to posts because we want to see what the most popular post types are. I’ll click on that section. And let’s see. I’m going to exclude targeted posts and see if that changes anything. Well, it does. It does a lot, actually. I want to show this to you again. Right here for all posts, photo, status and link. Okay. If I exclude targeted posts that means that these are only the ones that are organic. Status posts are twice as popular as anything else. They don’t get the most engagement but they do get the most reach. And that, it’s a theory on my part, but here’s what I think this is.

A status update is easy for Facebook to store on its servers. A photo takes a lot of storage space, and so does a video. And so they automatically give status updates greater reach to save on their own hosting and storage costs. So a photo, they’re not going to give as great a reach, but you can see it still gets the most engagement. So that’s interesting. And then a link, again, gets the least reach and the least engagement as far as both clicks, likes, comments and shares.

So this is how you can tell what your most popular post types are. Identify those and do more of them. This is Maria Peagler from

Nov 11

7 Surprising Secrets I’ve Learned from Beauty Vloggers

By Maria Peagler

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.

7 surprising secrets i learned from beauty bloggers

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:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

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:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

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:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

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+:

what i learned from beauty vloggersJenell 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:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

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.


2. Beauty Vloggers Share Their Editorial Schedule

What day is your favorite television show on?

You knew immediately, didn’t you?

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:

scrn_2014-11-10_12-54-21_PM copy

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.


5. Beauty Vloggers Understand the Power of Images

Their fifth secret is one that showcases the power of images.  Yes, their main content is a video, but vloggers know the first glimpse anyone will ever see of their video is the thumbnail.

Here, Sprinkle of Glitter showcases her videos with thumbnails that usually have her looking directly at you and display a clear title:

sprinkles of glitter optimizes her video thumbnails



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:

sprinkle of glitter collab video


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:

Top 5 at
Nov 10

Weekly Top 5 for Nov 10, 2014


Our classes are just the start of the learning you get here at  Here are the additional resources available this week:

Top 5 at

#1. How to Write a Press Release That Doesn’t Get Ignored [TEMPLATE]

When you’ve got news you need to share about your brand and get media coverage, use this press release template to follow the standard format journalists use (you’ll look like a pro) . . . .

#2. What’s the Perfect Size for a Pinterest Pin? [TEMPLATE]

Members – download this Photoshop template to use for the optimal Pinterest pin size. Edit it yourself or send it to your graphic designer . . .

#3. How to Find the 80/20 of Your Social Media Marketing [VIDEO]

Watch this free video tutorial illustrating how to identify the most profitable 20% of your marketing . . . .

#4.  How to Find Your Most Profitable Marketing

Discover how to apply the 80/20 rule to your marketing and double-down on the most profitable 20% (this is a resource post you definitely want to bookmark) . . .

#5. November Bonus Webinar Announcement

November’s bonus webinar is How to Do a Blog Tour, one of our most requested topics.  Maria went from unknown to Amazon’s Top 10 in two weeks by developing a blog tour. Learn how a tour can benefit your brand here . . . .

Nov 07

The 80/20 of Your Social Media Marketing [VIDEO]

By Maria Peagler

The best way to keep your social media marketing effective and efficient is to focus on what works. By following the 80/2o rule, you’ll focus on the 20% of your efforts that provide 80% of your results.

This video looks at three tactics to help you identify and employ this concept in your own marketing campaigns. For more in-depth instructions, take a look at the blog posts mentioned in the video:

Timestamps & transcript are below the video:

00:00: The 80/20 of Your Social Media Marketing

00:49: Set Goals for Your Social Media Marketing

01:34: Create an Action Plan

02:58: Identify What’s Working Now

04:00: Measure How Your Marketing Efforts Worked

05:12: Automate the Social Media Tasks That Don’t Require Your Engagement


Where is the 80/20 of your social media marketing? The most profitable 20% of your efforts that bring 80% of your results. That’s what we’re going to look at in today’s video. It comes to the 80/20 rule of social media marketing. You want to look at where your most profitable 20% is. And the way that you’re going to do that is with three tactics.

You’re going to identify your marketing goals. You’re going to identify what’s working now. And then third, you’re going to automate some of your social media tasks that don’t require your engagement. So let’s take an in-depth look at each one of these. The first thing that you want to do is to start setting goals for your social media marketing. I have had clients who make seven figures, but they’ve told me I don’t know what social media can do for me. And so, ideally, what you want to do is to set goals that tie business goals, or even revenue goals, to your social media marketing. And those goals need to be smart. They need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. In doing that, you will have a very specific goal that you can tie to your social media marketing effort.

Then once you’ve got your smart goals, you need to create an action plan. And I’m going to have links to each of the blog posts that I’m showing you in this video, because each of these blog posts walk you through this process step-by-step. This, Creating an Action Plan for Your SMART Social Media Goals, this is one of the most popular blog posts that we have at What I recommend that you do after you create those goals is to create a monthly action plan where you break down what you want to be able to achieve each month, and then break down those monthly tasks into weekly and daily actions. This works. I can tell you it works because I use this. When you look at a goal, sometimes it seems just too big. But if you break it down into very doable steps, it’s much easier to do. Thirdly, after you set your goals and after you create that action plan, you want to start measuring.

That comes into the second step of identifying the 80/20 of your social media marketing, which is how do I identify what’s working now. And there’s several ways that you can do this. One of the ways is that is most popular is to use Google Analytics. And if you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your website or if you’re not really sure how to use it, definitely come and take a look at this post. It’s my Google Analytics for WordPress, how to easily measure what matters. It will walk you through not only installing Google Analytics, but looking at things like who is my audience, where’s my traffic coming from and what is my most popular content. You can also take a look at three very important metrics with Google Analytics.

This is from a post that I called 3 Metrics to Measure Year-End Social Media Results. As you come to the end of the year—you should be doing this all year, but especially toward the end of the year—you really want to measure how your marketing efforts worked. So the first thing you want to be able to look at is how much traffic did online marketing drive to my website. I believe in keeping measurements simple, and that’s what this post does. First of all, you just take a look to see how much traffic did social media bring. What were your best-performing posts. Then, you measure sales and compare that with traffic and see is there a correlation. Now this is the simplest way to measure social media results as far as tying them directly to revenue. There are all kinds of more complex ways to do this, but this is one of the simplest ways to do it. Another way that you can measure social media success is to look at insights. Facebook and Twitter and YouTube all offer insights into who your most profitable fans are, what the most popular posts that you do are. So you want to identify what’s working now.

Then, automate the social media tasks that don’t require your engagement. And I list a whole bunch of these here. But ultimately, what you want to do is to identify what are the tasks that you can delegate that don’t require you to do them. You want to find out the simplest way to do that. Sometimes it could be an app, it could be a virtual assistant. There are a lot of different way that you can do this. One of my favorite ways is using different apps. I use one called IFTTT. It’s called “Ift.” Zapier is another one that you can use. So definitely take a look at each of these blog posts that I will have linked below. By doing these three tasks, you will definitely be able to identify the most profitable part of your marketing and automate the parts of your marketing that don’t require your involvement.

This is Maria Peagler from with the 80/20 of your social media marketing.

Nov 05

How to Develop a Blog Tour: Live Webinar + Recording + MP3 Audio + Infographic

By Maria Peagler


Free webinar Thurs, Nov 20 @1pm EDT/6pm GMT.  Join Maria Peagler for this brief live webinar:

  • Learn how to promote your business using a blog tour
  • Thurs Nov 20, 1pm EDT, 6pm GMT
  • 30-Minute Webinar + On-Demand recording + MP3 Audio + Infographic
  • $297.00 value FREE for Members (Membership is $57 per month, cancel easily anytime.)

Get Webinar FREE with SMOC Membership

Already a member?  Your webinar access codes will arrive in your Inbox a few days before the webinar.

“If you don’t get noticed, you don’t have anything. You just have to be noticed, but the art is in getting noticed naturally, without screaming or without tricks.
— Leo Burnett

Need massive visibility quickly?

I went from unknown to bestselling author (Amazon’s Top 10 List for my category) in just two weeks, and in this webinar, I’ll show you exactly how I did it.

No matter what business you have — retail, online, consulting, etc., you can use a blog tour to go from zero to “I see you everywhere!”

You’ll learn how to develop a blog tour, including:

  • what a blog tour is and how it generates incredible visibility fast
  • what online tools I recommend for creating blog tour content
  • whether you need a blog yourself to launch a blog tour
  • how to get featured by A-list bloggers

Plus, plenty of time for Q&A, so come with questions, so sign up today!

Get Your $297.00 Webinar ticket FREE When You Join Today

Purchase your Webinar ticket for $297.00 now, or get it free when you join as a Member today for $57 per month. Cancel easily anytime. is a continuous service, including instant access to over 200 online lessons valued at $1,997.00 plus $397.00 worth of new Bonus Webinars & infographics each month, billed to your payment card every 30 days at the lowest rate then in effect, currently just $57.

In total, you’ll get instant access to $2,297.00 (and growing!) worth of practical Members-Only training to grow your business using social media. Membership helps you:

#1. Get Access to One Billion Customers in 10 Minutes

Learn how to identify the social networks best for your unique business, then build a profile that turns more visitors into paying customers. SMOC brings you ‘what works’  training that cuts through the noise & crushes social media overwhelm.

Members  instantly access how-to videos, screen shots, checklists, infographics, and case studies — tools which can be put to work on your website & social networking right away.

#2. Get More Fans in Less Time

Discover how to get fans & connections without spending all day in social media.  You really can post to all of your social networks in as little as 15 minutes a day, and you’ll learn how to generate content & posts that get your business noticed, attract fans, and turn them into paying customers.

Members immediately get their hands on how-to checklists (like 13 Ways to Get More Facebook Fans), videos that teach you how to do search engine optimization yourself, and real-life examples of successful small businesses who’ve achieved great success.

#3. Customize Your Learning Track

Online training is often a one-sized fits all plan, but not for SMOC Members.  You’ll get a customized social media assessment that details the optimum social networks for your unique career path & industry, and you can use it as your guide for what classes you’ll need (Members are often surprised at the results).   Plus, Members can instantly access:

  • hands-on video tutorials
  • monthly social media makeovers (for your website or any social network)
  • bonus webinars that dive deep into profitable tactics
  • infographics to print as your cheat sheets
  • a private community forum
  • 1:1 private coaching

#4. SMOC networking plus exclusive Q&A Webinars & Workshops

Members get instant access to a private online community of peers eager to connect and discuss what’s worked and what hasn’t for them.  Each week, members also get one-on-one Q&A time with Maria during Virtual Office Hours.

Plus, your Membership includes a complimentary pass to SMOC’s monthly Bonus Webinar or virtual workshop focused on a hot social media business topic — ranging from one & done posting to getting listed on search results — with plenty of time for extended Q&As . The webinar alone is a value of $297.00 per month.

As a member you’ll get immediate access to all the materials on the site plus that month’s Bonus Webinar. After that, you’ll be billed the lowest available monthly fee (currently just $57) via convenient automated billing. It’s risk-free and guaranteed, you can easily cancel at any time.

So why not join today and see how can help your business grow!

Get Webinar FREE with SMOC Membership

80/20 of social media marketing
Nov 04

How to Identify the 80/20 of Your Social Media Marketing: Where is Your Most Profitable 20%?

By Maria Peagler

80/20 of social media marketing

You’re going to thank me for this . . . .

I’m going to show you how to exponentially multiply your visibility, leads, revenue and profit in your business using the Pareto principle: that 20% of your effort that leads to 80% of your results.

As a small business owner, you need to be ruthless with how you spend your time. The marketing efforts that aren’t not paying off — ditch them. In a moment, I’m going to show you how to identify which marketing efforts are paying off and how to do more of them to grow your business.

Forget coaches who tell you how to get more time in your day and expensive consulting for someone to tell you how to grow the revenue in your business.

Today I’m going to show you how to do all of that yourself.

1. Identify Your Marketing Goals

Can you articulate the goals for your marketing? According to a recent survey of SMOC members, their top three business goals are:

  1. Grow their business
  2. Get more sales
  3. Develop a personal brand

Awesome! Now, exactly what is your plan for doing that?

If you’re not sure HOW to achieve these goals, take a look at my three-part series on setting SMART Goals/Creating an Action Plan/Measuring Your Results. It walks you through every step of that process so you can turn your goals into actionable tasks you can measure to identify your progress.

First, you learn how to set SMART social media marketing goals for your business:

How to Set SMART Marketing Goals

Second, you learn how to turn those goals into actionable tasks you can accomplish:

How to turn your marketing goals into an executable action plan

Third, you learn how to measure the results of your goals & action plan. This is the critical part of the process most people skip.  Don’t miss this post:

How to measure the results of your marketing - simply & easily

If you can’t articulate what your goal is, your customers don’t know what you’re asking of them. Tie your marketing to your business goals using the three-part series (it’s one of our most popular blog posts).

2. Identify What’s Working Now

If you’re already doing social media marketing, do you know which of your marketing efforts is is generating the most business? Being able to look at all of your marketing efforts, from social media to content generation to advertising, is neither simple nor easy. But it’s essential for you to prune the campaigns not paying off and double-down on those that are generating the most revenue.

If you don’t already have Google Analytics (GA) installed on your website, then do it now (or hire someone who can). Read this post on using Google Analytics with WordPress — it walks you through how to install it on your website, plus the most important reports for identifying what’s working now:

Google Analytics for WordPress


It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the amount of data GA throws at you. Don’t let that happen to you.  Read this post for the most important year-end metrics to measure using GA:

3 Year End Metrics to Measure

Also, you need to be able to read Facebook Insights and identify who your most profitable fans are. This post identifies how to use Insights to drill down to find where your results are in Facebook:

Facebook Insights Explained


Facebook Insights Lesson How to measure what matters in Facebook
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3. Automate Social Media Tasks Not Requiring Engagement

Social media marketing is an effective marketing tool, but it can be a huge time drain if you’re not savvy about how you spend your time.  Not every administrative task requires your attention.  Instead, identify what you can automate or delegate to a staff member.

The tasks I like to automate:

  • posting to Pinterest – because it requires little engagement and we use the app to automate this process
  • posting to multiple social networks — use Hootsuite to post once and have it go to all your social accounts
  • creating a library of content — we create a content library by adding each social media post URL to a Google Spreadsheet file.  We automate this task using
  • repurposing content – my assistant creates our Weekly Top posts from the most recent lessons, blog posts, and forum Q&A here at SMOC
  • automating blog post creation — be careful with this one. The only time I automate a blog post is when I upload a video to YouTube: I created a recipe in that creates a blog post draft automatically that contains the video.  We then edit the blog post, add an awesome title, a transcript and time stamps.  I do have social media services clients, however, for whom we’ve created an entire blog post automation process: these clients are working multiple jobs or on the road 50 weeks out of the year. Their staffs are overworked already and dread writing blog posts.  So we created a process where they can automatically create blog posts generated by tasks they were doing already.
  • create content in 10 minutes – yes, this is an authentic tactic I use. Not all the time, but when I’m pressed for time, this workflow saves the day.  In fact, I created the framework for this blog post using my 10-minute tactic.


No matter where you are in your marketing journey — beginner to advanced — identifying the 80/20 of your social media marketing is critical  to streamline your efforts, be more efficient, and grow your brand.

I’ve shared how to identify your 80/20 goals, create an action plan, measure your results using both GA and Facebook Insights, as well as how to automate tasks that don’t require your individual attention.

Which is your favorite tactic? What did you find was the 80/20 of your social media marketing? Tell me in the comments below:


weekly top 5 - puppy edition
Nov 03

Weekly Top 5 for Nov 3, 2014


Our classes are just the start of the learning you get here at  Here are the additional resources available this week:

weekly top 5 - puppy edition

#1. Interview with Ekaterina Walter, co-author The Power of Visual Storytelling

Listen to this 30-minute interview (or the shorter clips) with bestselling author Ekaterina Walter, as she talks about how you can use visual content to make your marketing “sticky” with your audience . . . .

#2. Visual Storytelling for Brands: 3 Case Studies and Infographic

How to apply Ekaterina’s lessons on visual storytelling: three brands and how they use visual content in their marketing, including a mother-daughter team who became the largest employer in their town . . . .

#3. [VIDEO] Visual Storytelling: Video Case Studies

Video showing how three brands used visual content to grow their businesses . . . .

#4.  How to Use Hashtags Across Social Networks

An SMOC member wants to know how she can use a single hashtag and have it benefit her brand across social networks.  Learn how here . . . .

#5. Should I Use a Google+ Business or Personal Account for My Marketing?

SMOC member Alex wants to know which is better: marketing using a business page or personal account in Google+? Find out my answer here . . . .

Oct 31

Visual Storytelling for Brands – 3 Case Studies & Infographic [VIDEO]

By Maria Peagler

In this age of instant gratification, engaging your audience can sometimes seem like a race against ever-shortening attention spans. This week we’ve looked at how visual storytelling is a critical part of marketing.

To conclude the week, here’s a video defining visual storytelling and showing how three very different businesses are using visuals to tell their stories. Click here to listen to the interview with Ekaterina Walker, co-author of The Art of Visual Storytelling, and click here to view the full blog post and see the infographic on visual storytelling for brands. Timestamps & transcript are below the video:

00:00: How to Do Visual Storytelling to Market Your Brand

00:35: The Power of Visual Storytelling by Ekaterina Walker

01:12: Visuals Lead to More Engagement

02:25: Northern Valley Auto Body Case Study

04:35: Missouri Star Quilt Company Case Study

08:07: Marketing Experiments Case Study

09:44: Recap


This is Maria Peagler with, and in this video I am going to show you how you can do visual storytelling to market your brand. We’re here on the blog, and this is a post that we did that involves multiple case studies of brands who are doing visual storytelling well. And so I am going to show you examples of each of these brands. 

But first, we’re going to define what visual storytelling is. And this comes from an interview that I did with Ekaterina Walter, who is co-author of the book, The Power of Visual Storytelling. And in it, Ekaterina says that the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. And that the internet has caused the human attention span to officially drop below that of a goldfish. And so it becomes increasingly difficult to keep your brand’s message sticky. And so one of the best ways to do that is with visual content. Web posts with visuals get 180% more engagement. Viewers spend 100% more time on a web page with a video. If you’re doing a press release, if it has a video it will get 45% more traffic. And if you have a web page with an infographic you’ll get 12% more traffic. And so what you can do is to take your story as a brand and use visual content in the form of photos, videos, infographics, presentations, GIFs, memes, Vine video, you name it. Whatever is easy for you to create. Ekaterina suggests doing that by creating your visual road map. And that’s where you’re going to set the goals for your visual content. You’re going to listen to your customers and see what their pain points are. And from those two things you’ll identify your message, start your visual storytelling, identify what’s working and measure those results. So let’s take a look at three businesses that are doing this really, really well. 

The first one I want to show you is one called Northern Valley Auto Body. They are a New Jersey Auto Body repair shop and I have never been there. I live in Georgia, so I am not affiliated with them in any way, but they do a fabulous job of visual storytelling. You can see their Facebook page isn’t perfect. Their timeline cover could use a little tweaking here. But what they do really well is they have a ton of photos. As a matter of fact, I’m going to go to their photo album and show you all the different albums that they have. So you can see they show that they do Ford cars, Lexus, Saab, Toyota, Honda, Mazda. My favorite one, though, is this Mustang photo album. They show a Mustang before and after. Here it is after it’s been restored, and they show the photos of the process that they went through in fixing this car and, frankly, what a mess it was beforehand. So the story that they’re telling with these photos is one of transparency and trust. How many times have you gone in to have your car repaired and you have no idea if you can trust the brand? You have no idea who the people are, what they’re going to be doing with your car. It’s always a little anxious for people, to turn your car over to someone when it needs repair, whether it’s a mechanic or a body shop. And because they are so open with their process, they’re showing you exactly what they do. And so their story is one of transparency and trust. And it was a very simple thing to do. These are not sophisticated photos. It’s just they took the time to whip out their smart-phone and document the process of fixing these cars. So they’re doing a fantastic job with their visual storytelling. 

Another small business that I love to profile is the Missouri Quilt Company. And the reason they are so fascinating is that the founder—who is right here, Jenny Doan—she and her daughter opened a quilt shop at the height of the U.S. recession. It was about 2010. There was a woman who was a former Wall Street Journal reporter who also is a quilter, Meg Cox, who really followed this mother-daughter team because she really didn’t think that they were going to make it. The lived in a small town, they really didn’t have any kind of a business background, but they took their business from zero to being the largest employer in their small town. And they did it through visual content, specifically YouTube quilting tutorials. And it’s really smart the way they did this and I’m going to show you. This is their YouTube channel and you can see they’ve got all kinds of videos here. But the things that are really amazing to me about the Missouri Star Quilt Company is this. They started out having no idea how to do a really good video. In fact, if you look at their early videos, they’re pretty awful, frankly. The lighting is bad, there’s no titles on them. You can see they got far more sophisticated as they were going along. But here’s one, this video that’s two years old. There are some that are even four years old. And people don’t care what the production quality is. If they’re useful they get over a million views. And there was nothing special about this particular video. It’s simply a quilt that shows you how to make a quilt top in less than an hour. And it looks like they’re monetizing the videos, as well, with advertising. Let’s get past the ad and I’m going to show you the quality of this video. 

See now they have this nice little intro here. That wasn’t always the case. So you can see there’s nothing fancy about this. The lighting isn’t great. But it’s a 13-minute video that shows you how to create a quilt top in less than an hour. That’s the key right there. This is a hugely popular video on YouTube. They have over 205,000 subscribers, a million views to this one video. And the amazing thing that they’ve done is not only has this sold fabric for them in their quilt shop, but it sells fabric at a higher profit margin. They focus on what are called precuts. And that’s what a jelly roll is right there. They’re two and a half inch strips that are precut so that, as a quilter, you don’t have to cut those. But it also means that as a quilt shop they don’t have to spend the money on the labor for an employee to cut that fabric. It’s precut. And so it’s quicker for them to sell to you and it’s quicker for you to put a quilt top together. So not only are they doing quilting tutorials that are free, it sells their product at a higher profit margin than most other quilt shops would do. So that’s the second case study. 

Now the third case study is going to be a larger brand that’s based out of Jacksonville, Florida called Marketing Experiments. And they are pretty well known in the marketing industry, but you can see they don’t have anywhere near what the Missouri Star Quilt Company has as far as views or subscribers because it’s a B2B company. They are a company that holds marketing clinics, they do marketing research case studies. And what they do is fascinating to me, because they hold live marketing clinics—they’re really webinars, but they call them a clinic—where the founder, Flint McGlaughlin goes through and explains the findings of one of the case studies that they’ve done. They do some live optimization, they’re an hour long, they have a ton of good content in them. You can see that they’ve got a good number of views here, almost 18,000 views. But the other thing that they do which, to me, is so fascinating, is that they upload their slides to SlideShare, as well. So this is the same web clinic. But instead of having to watch an hour long video, they’ve uploaded it to SlideShare and you can go through the 73 slides in just a few minutes. Now, they don’t get nearly as many views, but I can tell you that, personally, when I want to see something that Marketing Experiments has done, I go through and I look at the slideshow. 

And so these are three different kinds of visual storytelling. The Northern Valley Auto Body shop is doing it with images, showing transparency. Missouri Quilt Company, their story is quick and easy. You go to them to figure out how to make a quilt easy, using precuts. That’s their story. Marketing Experiments, their story is deep knowledge and experience in marketing. And they work with very, very big brands. And so that is their story. And they’re all doing it in a different way. Some are using video, some are using presentations and some are using images. But all three of these brands are using visual storytelling. Now you can learn more at the blog. We have visual storytelling week with not only a post that details all of these brands and more, so I will put the link to this blog post in the description. But we also have an interview with the author of The Power of Visual Storytelling, Ekaterina Walter. And it’s a 30 minute video, but we also have the transcript and clips of the interview so you don’t have to listen to the whole thing if you don’t have time. So this is Maria Peagler with on visual storytelling for brands.

visual storytelling infographic
Oct 29

Visual Storytelling for Brands

By Maria Peagler

 visual storytelling maria peagler

Editor’s note: We’re continuing our Visual Storytelling theme this week with a look at how brands can market using visual content, along with examples of those doing this well.  You can listen to my interview (or read the transcript) of my interview with Ekaterina Walter, co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling here.

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:

visual storytelling case study

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 tutorials

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:

visual storytelling case study

Marketing Experiments offers their “marketing clinics” on video as well as slide deck presentations

visual storytelling case study

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 we use infographics to offer quick guides to social networks:

2014 Edition of Facebook Marketing Infographic

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.

Related Resources

Visual Social Media Webinar*

Your First Business Video Webinar*

Facebook Image Sizes Cheat Sheet

Google+ Image Sizes Cheat Sheet*

Instagram Marketing Infographic

Instagram for Business Case Studies

How to Build a DIY Stock Photo Library for Social Media

VIDEO TUTORIAL: How to Build a Stock Photo Library Using Canva

Your First Business Video Checklist

Our Most Popular Infographics from 2014

Our Most Popular Infographics from 2012

* denotes members-only content

Oct 28

Ekaterina Walter Interview – Author of Visual Storytelling

By Maria Peagler

Interview with Ekaterina Walter - co-author of Visual Storytelling

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:

Listen to the Full Interview with Ekaterina Walter

What is Visual Storytelling and How Does It Create a Movement Around Your Brand?

“the human attention span officially dropped below the attention span of a goldfish”Click to Tweet

“the most successful brands continue to drive back to the same message: what they stand for, what their purpose is”Click to Tweet

How Visual Content Increases Both Reach & Engagement

“web posts with visuals drive up to 180% more engagement than those without”Click to Tweet

How to Create Your Brand’s Visual Roadmap

“tactics without strategy is worse than doing nothing at all”Click to Tweet


Ekaterina Walter

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 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, 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.

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Oct 27

Weekly Top 5 for Oct 27, 2014


Our classes are just the start of the learning you get here at  Here are the additional resources available this week:

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#1. FREE VIDEO — Social Media Manager Learning Track

Check out our new video giving you a sneak peek of the Social Media Manager Learning Track here at . . . .

#2. WEBINAR EXCERPT – Your First Online Store

Just a few days left in October to get this month’s bonus webinar: Your First Online Store.  Take a look at the webinar excerpt to see what members learned this month about the easiest ways to get started selling online . . . .

#3. VIDEO – How to Find Your Target Market

A member identified two different target markets for his products, but was having trouble nailing down where to find them online.  Maria demonstrated a powerful tactic to instantly identify where to find them in this members-only video:

#4.  DOWNLOAD – Social Media Engagement Swipe File

Are you happy with the engagement you’re getting from social media? If not, download our FREE Swipe File containing 10 high engagement posts you can “copy & paste” onto your own page . . .

#5. Pinterest 101 – Updated to Newest User Interface Design

Pinterest has an entirely new user interface, and we’ve updated our Pinterest 101 class to ensure you’re getting the latest, most accurate training to reflect those changes.  Check out Pinterest 101 here . . . .