What started as a few Facebook ads for Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies became something so much bigger. Northeastern CPS’ entire strategy depends on lead generation. So in addition to advertising in targeted verticals, we recommended using some newer tools to generate leads and hyper target based on the individual programs. In order to do so, we created best practice document after document. We made a case to go paid social. And it “paid” off!
So, if you’ve followed any of my blogs at all, you’d know that I can, at times, get a little sappy (or maybe a lotta sappy). Well, this blog is one of those times. How can you talk about Father’s Day without being a little mushy?
In any case, our fathers will always have a special place in our hearts. And that usually shines through in our work everyday. We may not like all of the characteristics we carry on from our daddy-o’s, but we have to admit that we’re thankful for some of them. And more than thankful for the lessons we’ve learned that help us as advertising professionals.
In that light, here are a few things I’ve learned from my dad:
- Be careful. Details are important and my dad taught me that a long, longgg time ago. When he took me on trips to the flea market, I was not allowed to touch anything. Take that back, when he took me most anywhere, I was not allowed to touch anything!!! If he was helping me with a project or craft, he always stressed taking my time – I can remember watching him as he cut the edges of a photo for literally 10 minutes. You better believe those edges were straight. In an age when everything is right now, it’s so easy to rush. But in the digital world that could mean a tweet with a huge grammatical error, or publishing the wrong version of a blog. So this tenant has been one of the most important to my own success.
- Never Lie. Well, it seems obvious. But it’s a basic one that my dad could NOT stand. He always would rather that I tell the truth about something I did, then lie. He always was truthful with his feedback to others and to his daughters. And he was truthful with himself. And in the advertising/PR/marketing world it can be so easy for a brand to fudge the truth just a bit about its product, or blow things out of proportion. But I’ve found, transparency and honesty are the things that make the best brands engaging and successful.
- Be a do-er. Now you may not all agree with this, but my dad is the ultimate busy body. He always has a list of things he wants to do, and he’s always doing some new hobby, whether it’s gardening, making hot sauce, drinking wine (yes that’s a hobby), fixing something, getting artsy, he’s ALWAYS doing something. Except of course when he’s asleep on the couch. I’d argue that there are times when you should just relax, but I know that I always feel more accomplished when I’m out and about in the world, taking a hike, writing a blog, even doing laundry. And that’s something I’m definitely a proponent of – there’s always something to do.
- Disconnect. Kind of counterintuitive given his busy-bodiness, but I have to say that I have never once seen my dad answering a work email or taking a work call when he’s with me. When he’s at my soccer game, he’s at my soccer game (and likely the loudest cheerer in the bunch…something I’m fond of now, but was not so fond of back then). When he walked through the door for dinner, he took a shower and he ate with us. There was no more work…at least no more actual work. In PR this one is a little harder to carry out because news never stops and neither does social media. But the basic principle of taking time to be in the moment and be present, is one that could help us all be that much more creative.
- Read the Newspaper. Okay, I admit that I don’t read the physical newspaper every day. Why would I when I have Twitter?! But my dad did. He’d come home and read the paper every night (usually falling asleep to it). I never really realized that this is something he did often until I sat down to write this blog. But his fondness of keeping up on the times trickled into my life and has become a large part of what I do on a daily basis. Social media is always changing. Journalism is changing as you read this. And if you’re not keeping your eye on the world’s broader context, you won’t keep up.
- Ask for Help. Almost embarrassingly so, my dad always stopped to ask for directions. I know, he debunked all of the stereotypes. He asked people what their favorite menu item was. He never hesitated to ask my sister or I to help him hold something while he fixed the car. This is something I carry with me everyday. Guess what, everyone has different experiences and different knowledge sets. Asking questions only fosters collaboration and innovation that never would have happened otherwise. So thanks dad, I always ask my coworkers for help or advice. It’s a way of life.
- Never get bangs. Pretty straightforward. No bangs allowed in the Wassum household. Why would you want something covering up your eyes?! Same is true in social. Open your eyes. Look around you. Listen to your customers. Be aware. If you’re not, someone else will be and they’ll be all the more relevant because of it.
- Turn the other cheek. It’s just too darn easy to retaliate, whether it be in your life or via a Twitter convo. But it never ends up the way you want it to. I learned that from my father, who never struck back with words or let someone else’s behavior affect his own.
- Never give up. I think it comes from his athletic background, but my dad never, ever let me give up. If I started something, I was going to finish it. From girl scouts to school to a swim meet. No matter what I was doing, he always taught to give as much as I could. In today’s digital world, it’s easy to look at a behemoth brand and think, “I’ll never be able to compete against them.” But it’s just not true. If you never give up, you can carve your own niche and become something great. What would have happened if Thomas Jefferson got discouraged? Or Picasso? Or Steve Jobs? All of the greatest innovations came from people who never gave up.
- Make a to-do list. I sort of alluded to this earlier, but I list everything. I even make most of my blogs into lists (16 things…). Why? Because my dad had list after list after list. My favorite was his chalkboard list of things he wanted to do around the house. I think there are some things still on that list from when I was in high school. But, he does cross things off from time to time. And it helps him remember all of the genius, crafty ideas he has. Now, I have google doc after google doc. I have a list of the lists I want to make (okay that’s an exaggeration). But my best ideas almost never come at a convenient time, so I keep lists in the Notes app on my iPhone. And to make my days more efficient, I create lists of the things I must accomplish the next day, every night before I leave. Sometimes I don’t need to look at it, but the act of just writing things down keeps me from ever dropping the ball.
- Embrace Diversity. Enough said.
- Get Smart. This one is hilarious to me. Before we could get an aquarium, we had to read a book about taking care of fish. Before we could get birds, we had to read a book about taking care of birds. Before I could get my driver’s license, I had to log 100 hours of driving time and show him I could change a tire. Before I did any craft project, in my dad would come asking “well did you read the directions?” “Did you read the book?” That was a mantra. Don’t start anything without getting smart and reading not just the instructions, but fully immersing yourself in the subject. This is almost second nature to me. We have to know everything about our clients. We have to be subject matter experts, industry experts and media savvy – how else can we help our clients tell their stories? So I always read the book. I always scan for industry trends. I always follow influencers. And I have my dad to thank for learning that early, early on.
- Give to others. Another basic principle of life, but something that’s often overlooked. My dad was so good about giving of his time, talents and resources. Whether that be at work, in the community, with his family, etc. It’s something you can’t miss about him. And now it’s something I bring into my everyday. And it doesn’t mean donating money. It could just mean helping a coworker out. Or, as a brand, making sure to commit a percentage of what you or what you earn to some cause. It makes you feel good, and that stimulates your creativity and your exuberance in life. Something that can’t be missed by those around you.
- Recycle. And I’m talking a real commitment here. We lived pretty far out, where the recycling trucks didn’t go. So we hauled our recyclables 5 miles away and separated it into huge bins ourselves. Now, you might wonder what that has to do with social media. It’s simple. Things have several purposes and they shouldn’t just be cast aside after one use. And that tenant is true in content creation. Create content that can be re-used, re-invented, recycled. It’s more efficient for you and it’s more helpful for others. A good story is a good story, no matter how many times you tell it.
- Dance. My dad never misses a chance to live it up a bit, liven up the party and dance. He’s even got a signature dance, which I’ve gotten pretty good at replicating. And I think the real point here, is that he’s not too embarrassed to have a little fun. He never lets the status quo dictate how he’ll react. And the same is true in communications. You have to embrace your brand’s personality and stop taking yourself so seriously. In your press releases, in your tweets, in your internal communications, don’t be afraid to do something a little goofy or different, because the most essential part of building relationships and meaningful interactions, is being real. And you can’t be real if you’re stodgy or serious with every piece of communication.
- Enjoy a gin & tonic. Or a glass of wine. Or a cold beer. Or a root beer. Or a ginger ale. Just enjoy your beverages.
There are a ton of other things I learned from my dad. In fact, I deleted a few to keep this post under 2,000 words – yowza! Anyway, I’m always learning and I love my ‘did’.
Happy Father’s Day to all!
My undergrad commencement ceremony, as special and Carolina blue as it was, was missing one thing. A commencement speech (most southerners can’t handle a 55 degree, rainy day in May). And today, as I watch student after student in long black robes roam the Boston streets, I wonder…
What I would have liked to hear that day from our speaker? What would have made an actual impact in my life and my chosen career? The answer: a speech specifically aimed at bright-eyed journalism and communication grads, something like this:
Good morning Class of 2015! Congratulations!!
You’re all sitting here today because you’ve taken the past four years to get book smart. To do some hard work, get good grades (at least relatively), tighten up your grammar, attend a party or two, and maybe do some good for the world. Now you’re off to enter the world of communications; the always changing, always on, always whirling world of, professional, careful, decisive conversation.
That’s what it is at the end of the day, right? We’re all just talking to one another, (and hopefully, listening too). Now your job will be to learn (over time) how to do this in a way that is meaningful and engaging. And, maybe, just maybe, in 140 characters or less!
So, what I’d like to share with you, on one of the most defining days of your life (at least for your Klout score), are the things you won’t learn right away. They’re not things to do when you grow up. No. They’re things you should be. A list I’ve developed based on years of experience from advertising agency to PR agency and beyond, 8 things I try to be each and every day.
They’re also the things that likely won’t sink in until you actually experience them. And that’s okay. My hope is that you’ll recognize these defining ways of being, even more quickly because you were here today. If not, at least you can tell an amusing story about the lame speech you heard on commencement day, and how you really wish it had rained so you could have just fast-forwarded to grabbing your diploma.
So here goes:
1. Be Personal. The old saying “it’s not personal, it’s business,” well, it’s not true. It’s all personal. It has to be. If you want to have meaningful, wait for it, “engagement,” you have to get personal. You have to dig down into your work and look at your client’s needs and their customer’s needs and you have to make products, provide services, and develop content that will resonate with them, whether they’re cognizant about it or not. I recently worked on a new business pitch alongside some amazing teammates. We all researched and then brainstormed the growing pain points of our potential client’s customers. We talked ad nauseam about how annoying a lack of connectivity across enterprises was. And it got us energetic. It got us pumped up. Why? Because we’ve experienced these problems first hand. We found a way to relate to both the brand and its customer base. By making it personal we were able to communicate the brand’s solution to this problem and, simultaneously, forge relationships with their customers in the future. When you get personal, that’s when you dig deep and come up with the really successful campaigns. This leads me to my next point.
2. Be Intuitive. In communications, you need insights. You’ll never be relevant if you can’t determine what’s of value to the person on the other side of your ad, or piece of content, or tweet for that matter. How do you develop insights? It’s a two-fold process. First, draw from your intuitions and personal experiences. If you want to have real conversations with people that translate to sales (and, drum roll please, ROI for your clients), you have to trust that little gut of yours. One of my staple statements, “WWYS,” What Would You Share?, always comes in handy. Because it’s true. If it doesn’t make sense to you and you wouldn’t share it, who would? Second, allow your personal experiences to inspire research, so that your intuitions combined with data help you to create communications strategies, ideas and content that are grounded in reality. In the pitch I mentioned before, we drew from our own dis-connectivity troubles and let those intuitions guide our research. From there we discovered the macro level frustrations that a CIO or CTO experiences around the same topics.
3. Be a Partner. Always. To your coworkers, to your clients, to your customers, and beyond. Where ever you work, your time is money. But the way to create a trustworthy reputation is to be a partner at all costs. To walk across the lines of communication, across the digital world, and help your clients, your colleagues, your bosses, your coworkers out, even if it isn’t in your job description or SOW (statement of work). Oftentimes I have coworkers or clients who are just starting out in the digital world (my specialty), and have questions…some as simple as, “What’s a hashtag?” <long pause> and some are more in-depth questions around how to become more active in the social space. Yes, it takes time to help out. But in the long term, this investment pays back in dividends, when you can see your coworker learning and getting better. And, as happened to me recently, chiming one of your isms back in your face and reminding you to practice what you preach (thanks Anastasia!).
4. Be Decisive. Just as it’s important to trust your instincts, it’s as important to give those instincts a voice. Especially when you walk into a well-seasoned company with articulate, experienced people at the helm. In front of such senior leaders, it can be intimidating to share your idea or have faith in the direction you see a strategy or piece of content going. But, trust me, you have to get in there and roll up your sleeves. I remember the first time I edited the President of an old company’s blog post. He was the owner of the agency, can I really edit his blog? The truth was I found many ways to edit it. So I sucked it up, went to his office and shared my feedback. He LOVED it! And it got to the point where we were both able to provide each other feedback in our own areas of expertise. Hello – that’s why he hired me! Ultimately, if you’ve chosen a company that values your unique POV, that places an importance on what makes you, you, they’ll appreciate your willingness to go against the grain or be bold. And, maybe, just maybe they’ll listen to what you have to say!
5. Be Creative. Take 10 minutes every day to write something. Something of your own. This is how you will begin (if you haven’t already) to form your own opinions. You’ll explore new topics, you’ll find you have something different to say. And it will help you to hone your ideas in a safe place. Eventually, inspiring a blog post, a book, a picture, a new campaign, a new strategy, a commencement speech even ;). I promise you the time is worth it. You can’t ever be too busy to take time out to plan long term, to let yourself think outside of the box and forgive your blabbering, forgive your unordered thought and just write. Don’t judge, don’t delete. Just write. I like to do this with a pen and paper, but you may very well like to dictate to your Apple Watch. Whatever the case, create, create every day. This is what will keep you in touch with the core of what makes you a communicator in the first place.
6. Be Proactive. Take every opportunity to grow and learn. Not just about other people, but about yourself. Learn how you work best. Learn what triggers your creativity. Reflect back on the most efficient times of the day and try to remember what you were doing before, what you were doing during. For instance, I wrote this speech late in the day. Why? Aside from the fact that I’m a night owl, I wanted to put my whole mind into this for you. I wanted to use my most creative time, and guess what? That happens to be later at night. We may find a shift in the coming future that accounts for these kinds of individual preferences in the work day, but until then, figure it out on your own and proactively incorporate these learnings into your everyday. It’s what will help you to not just to get by, but to also be successful.
7. Be Informed. I really can’t stress this enough. You need to keep up-to-date. You need to read, read, read. And I don’t mean just keeping up with the news or the Kardashians. I mean keeping up with your industry trends. Yes, while you need to do that, you also need to be informed about your client’s idiosyncrasies, what pressures they have. What they’re worrying about. What keeps them up at night. You need to learn the nuances of media relationships, client relationships, internal relationships, as all of these will affect your ultimate results and successes. Once one of my teams found ourselves interacting with a reporter on Twitter, on the behalf of a client. And not just any reporter, but one that would be characterized as “very opinionated” and “hard to reach.” Because we knew this about her and her reputation in the industry, we were much more confident about our approach and our conversation with her resulted in a great success for the client. There’s just no way to be decisive and a great partner without being informed. So dive into the nitty gritty, spend time daily to learn what separates your clients from the pack, learn the industry’s nuances, learn your target audience’s challenges. There will never be a new technology that allows you to skip over those steps, not even Hyperlapse.
8. Be Valued. There are way too many firms/agencies to count and as you continue your career in comms you’ll learn that there are significant differences between them. Some are team oriented. Some foster a sense of individuality and difference of opinion. Some don’t. Some work with markets that stay pretty similar. Some work with companies with new innovations on a daily basis. And these are the things to think about when you think about your long-term fit. In tech PR and I’ve found that an “all hands on deck” mentality (as my colleague Zora says), plays to my strengths. But that might not be your style. Long story short, you need to be at an agency that values you and has clients that you’re passionate about, that you (as we like to say at LPP) “nerd out” on.
I could continue. But the reality is that you’ve probably only heard a small percentage of what I’ve said, and a fraction of that small percentage is what you’ll actually remember. And I’m not even going to get into recall – that’s something I can only hope for if you see this speech again on YouTube. This is the burden and the challenge to each communications professional each day; to create things, to enable and foster conversations that are memorable. So today, move that tassel over and start cranking those engines, because in order to make the connections and create the content that will one day fuel the most memorable conversations of our time, you have to be YOU. Don’t take that lightly.
Thanks, and so many congratulations to you all!
Originally posted on LPP’s blog, Beyond The Hype.
Tonight, the UNC Tar Heels will take on the Wisconsin Badgers as a part of the Sweet 16. Now, I’ve been a Tar Heel for a long time (over 10 years) and have watched my team in many #MarchMadness battles. But this year is a tad different, it’s the first time I created a bracket that didn’t put UNC as the tourney winner.
Okay, okay – all you hardcore madness fans, I know the cardinal rule of bracketology is to complete with your brain, your research and not your heart. But how many Tar Heels out there can put our Carolina blue hearts aside this time of year? My assumption from my time there, not many.
I filled out my bracket with an empty soul, my eyes devoid of NC and somehow filled with ISU (and let’s not even talk about how that worked out for me). But tonight, UNC will face a #1 seed, rocking some awesome kicks and, hopefully, proving my bracket wrong.
So what does any of this have to do with PR? Aside from needing to get this off my chest, it reminded me of the importance of heart, of intuition, being unpredictable but also being stable. March Madness is, in fact, the opposite of mad, it’s a celebration of passion and heart and all the possibilities that come along with those things. And, for some reason, when I filled out my bracket this year, I did so with research and statistics and I forgot to create a bracket based on my gut, my emotion.
And I think that’s why it makes sense to talk about on a PR agency blog and, more specifically, the LPP blog. Now, don’t get me wrong. Statistics and well-developed content based on research and trends are the basis of most everything we develop. But, that bracket I filled in, NEVER would have left this agency. My coworkers would have looked at me, looked at it, and looked back at me asking, “Do you really believe in this?”
And my answer would have inevitably been, “No.”
This answer would then take us back to the drawing board. Why? Because we’re a team of people who make decisions based on energy, passion, what’s right, never what’s easiest and definitely not because everyone else is doing it.
We’re an agency filled with heart. An agency that’s never scared to trust our intuition, in fact, it’s that burning opinion that’s fostered here. And it’s what we hire for. People with opinions. With guts. With emotion. And, because it’s PR, people who can communicate all of those both internally and externally for our clients.
Quite honestly, it’s March Madness here all year round. And we’re looking for players who are ready to be a part of a sincere and passionate team. A team that’s not afraid to go up against a #1 seed, and certainly not scared of some little ol’ badgers.
Okay. I always saw it as black and blue. In fact, I have no idea how anyone else saw that dress any other shade. But, my cones & rods aren’t the point here. The virality that was #thedress had all of us (who aren’t hidden under a rock) scheduling eye doctor appointments. All of us except for the Salvation Army, who used the dress as a chance to spread awareness about domestic violence:
Now generally the response to their campaign was positive. It’s a topic that needs to be talked about. But, something about it put me off. I wasn’t immediately sure whether I agreed with it. But I knew I felt something. And as I talked with a colleague, it reminded me of a very simple content principle:
Three R’s: React, Resonate, Recall.
One I learned first hand in research I conducted years ago on these Australian anti-drunk driving ads:
Try to watch that and not react.
We tested the difference in reactions between these drunk driving PSAs by the TAC (drink and drive and people get hurt) and the American very pragmatic approach toward drunk driving PSAs (drink and drive and get a ticket). The results were pretty astounding.
The people who watched the Australian PSAs reported having stronger opinions regarding drunk driving than respondents who watched the American PSAs almost without fault. And if you watch that video, you’ll notice that the PSAs also had a huge effect on the amount of lives lost due to drunk driving since they began 20 years ago.
So what’s the point? The point is the reaction. It’s all about the reaction. Whether it be a smile, a laugh, a tear, a gasp, and in this case, probably all of the above, it’s the reaction that triggers memory. It’s your strong response that allows you to remember the experience, make associations in your brain and then recall the information later. And that’s why a PSA with such a strong message actually gets results.
Now we can’t attribute everything to an ad, or a tweet for that matter. But what we can surmise from this is the powerful effect or contribution that advertising, messaging, brand perspective and storytelling can have on a society when it’s relevant – yet another ‘R’ to add to the mix. Can every campaign we create elicit this same level of emotion? I’d argue no, it can’t. But is it something every brand should strive for? Absolutely.
And if you want to strike a chord that resonates and people recall later, with an eventual goal of increased awareness and, dare I say, increased sales or brand lift, you have to think strategically about the types of people you want to react, how, and how it aligns with your brand.
Your goal can’t be to make someone laugh. Well, it can be…if you’re a comedian. But the real genius brand content is the content that elicits a laugh and evokes a memory that can easily be re-associated with your brand, or your brand’s message. Otherwise the emotion will pass, and you will have lost your moment to make a lasting exchange with your audience.
So, back to #thedress takeover. My first reaction to the Salvation Army tweet and campaign was negative. I felt it in my gut. Black and blue used in that way disturbed me. But that was the point. And that’s the genius of it. The entire campaign was designed to shock you. But shock you into awareness around something that we all try our hardest to ignore. And guess what, we’re talking about it. We’re remembering it. And we’ll recall this later, I promise.
What are your favorite examples of content that makes you react?
Originally written for Search Marketing Daily, published here.
Thanks to Taylor Swift we know for sure that, yes, haters are gonna hate. But I’m pleading with you, don’t hate on Valentine’s Day, especially if you’re in marketing.
I will hand it to you, Valentine’s Day definitely has a commercialized aspect to it – a “Hallmark holiday,” as one of my colleagues referenced it the other day. But I remember a Valentine’s Day that’s all about hope, passion, and displays of appreciation, placing importance on making those you care about feel wanted, loved and connected.
Okay, I’m sappy. I know it. And, no, I don’t think red roses are mandatory for healthy relationships. But what is mandatory is emotion – tapping into someone’s heart and pulling out happiness. And just as positive emotions and connections are the keys to healthy relationships (marriages and friendships alike), they’re also the keys to great marketing.
Why? We receive more marketing messages today then ever before. Marketing is everywhere, it’s in our video streams, our email, on our phones, I’ve even seen it on my cup o’ joe. And, according to the most reliable study I’ve found on this topic, we see about 360 ads per day. But there’s a finite amount of data that our brains can actually pay attention to, which means we end up ignoring 10,999.950 bits of data every second we are awake.
“Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart. ”– Unknown
Marketers can’t rely on just getting someone’s attention anymore (if we ever could). We have to engage people, build relationships with them, pull at their heartstrings. When a campaign isn’t targeted or specialized or doesn’t consider the actual person on the other end, it just becomes noise – another bit of data to ignore.
And with each new generation this is becoming more and more important. We’re all looking for ways to make our choices both easier and more informed. And that’s what’s influenced the rise of brand loyalty among younger generations.
48% of people between the ages of 18-44 report that any loyalty they feel toward brands in the future will be determined by the types of experiences brands create for them (Analytic Partners).
And how do you create meaningful experiences? Being vulnerable, or in business terms, being transparent. Being considerate. Creating content your audience actually needs. Investing empathy and thought into each message you put in front of someone. Making bold moves and creating special moments. And that’s the entire spirit of Valentine’s Day.
So, before you hate…appreciate. Take a moment this Saturday to appreciate your employees, appreciate your customers. No, you don’t have to send them a Valentine’s Day eCard (though I really enjoy them, especially those with great subject lines). But you can take a moment to evaluate your content strategies. Evaluate your marketing plans from your customer and prospective customer’s point of view.
And next week as you return to work, start making the changes you need to ensure that every part of your marketing mix screams “BE MINE!” Ensure that every tactic works toward creating lasting impressions, forging new relationships, and creating experiences. No one can ignore that approach.
P.S. Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day!
In a recent post, I introduced the reasons why LinkedIn Publisher & Pulse should be a part of your 2015 content marketing strategy. Once you’ve got great content and you’ve decided to leverage LinkedIn Publisher, though, you need a few rules of the road to help get maximum impact. Because who wants to spend all that time on a great article, if no one sees it?
10 LinkedIn Publisher Best Practices for Maximum Impact:
- Take it personally. Brands can’t publish posts for a reason. It’s about individuals and individual expertise and influence. So, if you’re developing a content plan for a brand, consider who would be the best social advocates to set up to use LinkedIn Publisher on the brand’s behalf. It’s a win/win situation, because it’s extra exposure for the individual and the company. But this means that every post must have a personality that’s authentic to the individual. And the content posted should make sense for his or her own unique experience. The more personal the post, the more it will resonate. People can see through BS, so you (or your social advocates) must stand behind each article, as much you stand behind the experience listed in your LinkedIn profile.
- Tailored Approach. You know your LinkedIn network better than anyone else. Are you connected with mostly B2B PR professionals? CEO’s? Up & coming professionals? Maximize the relevancy & share-worthiness of your posts by staying on top of what the majority of your network is interested in, and giving it to them. And, if you’re re-posting something you wrote for your corporate blog, be sure to tailor it for your network (if it differs).
- Responding. Insert “preach-it” mode here. The reason social networks are called social networks is because they’re networks made for being social. Nothing you ever post should be with a set-it-and-forget-it mentality. The whole purpose is to interact. Every time you publish an article on LinkedIn, there’s another opportunity to make a real connection with someone based on their comments or questions on your post. Respond like you’re having an actual live conversation, use the other person’s name, and pretend to look in their eyes if you have to. Avoid, at all costs, canned responses which defeat the purpose of a response in the first place. If the answer is longer than a few sentences, suggest getting together or having a phone call to discuss. Who knows how helping someone out today could come back to you tomorrow…maybe in a new biz lead!
- Legit Content. As mentioned above, this is a professional network. This doesn’t mean you have to be bland – there’s certainly room to be quirky, funny, spirited and passionate. But, if you want people to take you seriously, you need to provide value in the form of real, legitimate information, insight and opinions that make sense in today’s world. And, proofread. Grammar and spelling errors are a huge turnoff.
- Post Frequently. Post often. The more you post, the more engaged your network will become in your content. And, the more you post, the higher your profile will rank in LinkedIn’s search results. So maximize viewership by simply being consistent.
- Think about Timing. Practically half of our Boston office comes in from outside of the city, so we find that posting on LinkedIn Publisher in the mornings and early evenings is the best time to engage with our audience – commuters are literally looking for content to keep them busy.
- Imagery. Images make your post come to life and attract eyeballs, and LinkedIn Publisher allows you to insert videos, charts, images and infographics into the body of your post, as well as in a header image. Think outside of the box when choosing an image, too. The more it stands out for being a little unusual, the more likely you are to get views. I recently posted a blog about Facebook with a picture of a bear. Yes, a grizzly bear. It’s been my best performing post to date.
- Links. Where the magic happens. Use LinkedIn as a referrer to your company blog or website. And I don’t mean by posting a short-form version of the blog and making readers leave LinkedIn to read it somewhere else. You can do that, but it provides an annoying user experience! Give users an opportunity to check out your site for additional information or other blog posts about the topic, or provide your contact information at the bottom of the post. These are ways to easily prove the worth of what you’re doing. But believe me, when your exec sees that your LinkedIn article made it to the front page of LinkedIn Pulse, you’ve got all the proof you need.
- Branding. If you’re posting on behalf of your company in some fashion, consider including some sort of branded element, either on your LinkedIn profile or your post itself (or both). Including an email signature-type image at the bottom of your post with a link back to your company blog or website is a great way to accomplish this. Or you can add your brand’s logo to the header image of your post. The goal is to associate your expertise with your company’s expertise.
- Share It. Okay this might be obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people create amazing content and then forget to share it with people. Obviously using your other channels (like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn status update) is a great way to get extra eyeballs. But have you considered emailing current or prospective clients, coworkers, etc.? If you’re not excited about your post, no one else will be. For instance, we’ve had a few clients ask us about LinkedIn Pulse before. Wouldn’t we be remiss if we didn’t email them and say, “hey – remember that convo we had about LinkedIn Pulse? <Insert Blog Here> Thought you’d find this helpful! Reach out with any questions.”
With these best practices in your back pocket you’re ready to starting LinkedIn Publishing!!
Quick How-to on actually publishing your first LinkedIn article:
Then, click on the little yellow box in the top right corner that reads “Write New Post.”
Once you’ve create one post, you can then view, edit and create more posts on your LinkedIn Profile page, they’ll appear right underneath your contact information.
When you click on the “Write New Post” button, you’ll be taken to a page where you can write a new one, edit an old one, etc.
I’ve heard it time and time again from clients, and I’ve even considered it myself, what’s the ROI of this blog post? Is it worth the time creating it, when I could be finishing my laundry? And while we’re all trying new innovative ways to drive traffic to our blog in order to answer this question, we’re finding that the number of blog views isn’t always the best indicator for success, (nor is leads generated).
Rather it’s the quality of the people who read it, the impressions they’ve drawn and their importance to you or your company. And, we get it, more traffic increases the likelihood of getting quality views. But, really, it only takes one important prospect reading your post to justify its ROI. So how do you ensure that both important and relevant people read your blog post? Two answers: LinkedIn Pulse & Publisher.
LinkedIn Pulse has been around since earlier this year, and it recently opened up its Publisher tool to everyone. Now there have always been concerns about LinkedIn’s actual relevance for marketers – LinkedIn’s UX has taken more than one attack, LinkedIn Groups are a bit lackluster when it comes to providing genuine engagement, and many see the network solely as a recruiting and job searching tool – however, with LinkedIn Pulse and the new Publisher tool, LinkedIn has moved to the top of our must-use content marketing tools list. Here’s why:
- Exponentially Increase Impressions. As with any social network, your content has the ability to increase exponentially based on the size of your network and extended network. As you publish blog posts via LinkedIn Publisher, your network receives updates in their LinkedIn feeds about your posts. As they begin to share this content, people in their networks will then see your content as well.
- Hyper Relevance. Your network of LinkedIn connections likely includes former classmates, colleagues, clients (new and old) and industry-related professionals that you’ve met meaning that they’re predisposed to either be invested in or interested in the content you create.
- Showcase your expertise. Blogs published via LinkedIn Publisher also get posted to your LinkedIn profile. Consider the new business prospect you just Linked in with. He or she will not only know who you are and your experience, but he will also be able to see all of your thought leadership in the form of blog posts. A powerful tool to showcase your knowledge as well as your company’s expertise.
- Enhance your LinkedIn profile & LEO (LinkedIn Engine Optimization). By publishing, not only are you upping the ante on your profile, but as with SEO, the more you post on LinkedIn, the more eyeballs your posts and profile will receive – we like to refer to this as LEO. The more eyeballs, the more opportunities to connect and engage with leads.
- Ease of Sharing. LinkedIn may not win any UX awards any time soon, but it does make sharing very, very easy. Though easy sharing has become standard practice, we’ve actually found that our posts are more likely to get shared on Twitter when they’re posted via LinkedIn Publisher, than when we post them to our blog alone. So there must be something special about LinkedIn’s sharing experience.
- Ongoing Engagement & Optimization. Once your post is seen, users can easily follow you on LinkedIn Pulse so that each new post you share gets automatically shared with them, and also raised to the top of their LinkedIn feed. Users with the LinkedIn Pulse App will also get push notifications on their phones about any new posts. This speeds up your ability to notice which blogs resonate with the majority of your network, allowing you to tailor posts moving forward based on what gets shared most often.
- Opportunity for Super Stardom. Okay, well you may not be a super star over night, but if your LinkedIn post gets enough views, it could get picked up by LinkedIn Pulse and re-posted under a particular category (like social media, marketing, etc.). LinkedIn Pulse curates the top articles to show to each individual user based on their interests, so once placed in a category, your post can then be viewed by even more people who will find it interesting, giving you the potential to connect with new contacts or new biz leads. If your blog is amazing, it could even get posted in the Pulse’s “Top Posts” section and viewed on the front page of Pulse. Content marketing gold.
- Knowledge of the “Who.” This might be the most important element. Not only are the people who see your post more likely to read it and share it, but you’ll know exactly who shares and comments on it, including a link to their LinkedIn profile. This is the piece of the puzzle missing on traditional blogging platforms, because people often use aliases or different usernames. But with LinkedIn, you know exactly who that person is, their name, their profession, where they’ve worked, etc, in order to reach out to them in a meaningful way.
So, now that you’re convinced. How should you get started and what are the best practices for using LinkedIn publisher? I’ve got that covered – 10 Best Practices for Maximum Impact with LinkedIn Publisher.
Times are changin’ – literally and figuratively. Yes, we’re moving into 2015, switching over our calendars and preparing ourselves for another countdown. But the countdown we should really be paying attention to is the countdown to a very, very new Facebook (at least where marketers are concerned).
We’ve talked about this before – organic reach on Facebook (and soon other networks) has already decreased for most brands. But in January, Facebook plans to make an even more substantial change to its algorithm (not EdgeRank anymore), significantly decreasing organic reach for any Facebook content that is deemed as promotional in any way. If it looks like an ad, smells like an ad, reads like an ad, you’ll have to pay to ensure that users see it starting in January 2015.
Here’s the deal. Facebook reports that an average of 1,500 stories are generated each time someone logs in. Of those, a user’s Newsfeed only displays around 300. And its algorithm is the deciding factor as to which stories you see – it filters based on factors relative to what each user likes, their clicks, articles they’ve commented on, etc.
And recently, via a user experience survey, Facebook found that users wanted to see more stories from friends & pages they care about, and less promotional content. This didn’t mean ads, though. This meant salesy posts from the pages users already “Like.” So in response to this, Facebook has rejiggered their algorithm to filter out any “overly promotional page posts.”
Facebook constantly makes updates to its algorithm, however this recent change is one of the most substantial updates they’ve made so far. In effect, Facebook is forcing marketers who often use the network as a means of promoting their contests, new products and events, to spend money on ads, if they want these messages to be seen (even by their existing followers).
And, not only does Facebook want to control how & how many promotional messages users see, but they also want to control who sees them. If someone is going to see a promotional message, Facebook wants to make sure that it’s marked as such AND that it’s shown only to users who will find it highly relevant. And the only way to do that, is by paying for an ad and selecting a very specific target audience. In theory, the more hyper targeted your ad’s audience, the more relevant the ad creative can be, the higher the engagement rate, and the more satisfied Facebook users will be.
This is certainly great from a UX perspective. But for marketers, this means more money, more creativity and, our favorite, more time. And we’re a little suspicious of Facebook’s actual motives i.e. Facebook is likely looking to get rich quick (or wait, have they already done that?).
Okay, so what’s all of this mean for YOU?
- Take a deep breath.
- You need a budget. No matter what you have planned for the next year on Facebook, if an ad budget isn’t a part of that plan, you need to start over. Facebook ads are no longer an option, they’re a requirement, especially if you want to increase your reach and amplify your promotional messages. Remember, if your post has any of the following involved it MUST be posted as an ad: contests, events, product-heavy, “buy this.” The specifics are outlined here.
- Get creative with your organic posts. You can’t post about a gift card sale. You can’t post about an event. You have to add value to people’s lives in some way. You have to provide quality content that’s creative, that makes people stop & think, and then share.
- Be relevant. If you want to increase your organic reach, you must increase your engagement rates. What’s the best way to do that? Talk about what matters. Have a point of view about trending topics and always think about what’s going on seasonally, and personally for your community.
- Measure. If you’re not already tracking your social metrics, get on it. You’ll need to ensure that both your organic posts and paid ads receive high engagement rates. Because this will be one of the biggest factors determining whether users will see either type of post. Now, you not only need to spend more money with Facebook ads, but you also need to spend more money reporting out on organic and paid content.
- Optimize. And what should you do with those reports? Use them as the basis for continual optimization. Use the insights to discover which content is best performing and replicate it. Do A/B tests with your paid ads to determine what’s going wrong with the ads that receive low engagement rates – is the creative off or is your targeting off? Or both?
This is a lot to take in. Facebook and the constantly changing world of social media can be a bear. Fortunately brands who are already leveraging paid social will have a little easier time making this transition. They’ll just need to review their ad creative and optimize for the highest engagement rates and be sure not to post any ads to their wall as organic posts.
But for marketers who have yet to explore the world of Facebook advertising, this may take some ramp up time and potentially some consultation with someone who knows the ins and outs of paid social.