Last Week’s Top Social Media and Content Marketing Posts

13 Apr
April 13, 2015

I generally share over 50 different pieces of content a week, and each week I dip into my analytics on Buffer and see which ones struck a chord, and which ones missed the mark. I’m going to start curating a summary of these each week, as I believe that they are good pieces of content that should be read.

So, in no particular order…

Social Media Tools to Optimise Your Time

There are so many tool available to create efficiencies in the social space – some good, some bad, and some just make more work for you. Social Media examiner has pulled together a list of some tools that will definitely make things easier, including a few of my favourites.

Why Everybody Writes is the Book Everybody Needs

I reviewed the fantastic Everybody Writes back in January and got the chance to ask Ann Handley a few questions about it. It’s required reading for every content marketer

What the (Unofficial) Death of G+ Means for Marketing6101903676_c61d62f591_z

I’ll be honest, i gave up on G+ ages ago. I started out using it as you should with a social platform, and the longer it went, the less relevant I saw it become. Now even Google thinks it’s had its day. Here’s what the impending “stripping for parts” of G+ means for marketers.

6 Ideas for Images That Really Work

Visual social media is exponentially more engaging than just text, which has given rise to platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. But there is a science and an art to an effective use of images in social media posts. In addition to this advice from Content Marketing Institute, I would also recommend reading this post on 19 Visual Social Media Secrets from Socially Sorted.

10 Steps To A Successful Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing and strategy continue to be hot topics, which means there are a lot of these kind of posts floating around. This one from Demand Media is one of the best I’ve found, with a nice succinct infographic to summarise it all – it shouldn’t be rocket science if the fundamentals are sound.

10 Step Content Marketing Strategy from Demand Media

10 Step Content Marketing Strategy from Demand Media

 

Google Plus Photo – Leon Nicholls via Flickr

Can Your Old Content Work Against You?

23 Mar
March 23, 2015

Last week I was looking at an old presentation I gave at a conference 3 years ago.

The deck itself wasn’t my finest work, and from my memory of the event, it was far from the greatest presentation I had ever given.

Partly it was the theme of the conference and my desire to pick up an early speaking gig even if it wasn’t an ideal fit, but largely it was the views I expressed at the time.

I looked at it in the the context of my current thinking on the subject I was speaking about, and it no longer felt like me.

As thinkers, we evolve, and while three years may not feel like a long time, the pure speed of information that shapes our opinions has changed. Three years ago we hadn’t heard of half the platforms that are now the biggest on the planet. Consumption habits change, attention spans get shorter. Customers demand more. But in the face of all that, we exist on platforms designed to house, archive and organise content for people to find easily.

So given this permanence, what is the impact of old content on a brand, be it a corporate or personal one?

The Only Constant Is Change

I read an excellent piece recently about Content Ownership and Agile Content Development, and what stood out for me was this – “When our organization changes, the education of our target audience changes, or even the way they consume data changes, we need to repeat the process.”

There will always be a bedrock of information that aligns to the industry you work in, especially if governed by legislation and regulation.

But when it comes to thought leadership, opinion and educational pieces, how do you manage when your organsiation changes a position, or your customers needs change?

Recency as a search criteria is important, and people are looking for information that is current.

Should You Delete Old Content?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with retiring old content, be it a white paper, a slide deck or a blog post. There will come a time where the relevance will decline. I don’t think this should be the first port of call, however.

The greater value is in review and updating, and where possible, calling out what has changed (which I am currently doing with the old presentation on my SlideShare). Why? Because it demonstrates that you have evolved as your market or customer has. It shows you as in tune with the audience. It also demonstrates how the reader should be thinking about things as well.

Make Content Maintenance Part of Your Process

Just like a car, your content should have a regular tune up. Not every week, but at the least every quarter.

This ensures that the small things are still relevant, given the speed at which information moves. It also facilitates efficiency in the process of creation, because your base line is already there.

There will be a time when the content itself no longer makes sense, and your promotion of it will naturally decline. If you can’t find the new value, or it no longer makes sense, then pull it down and maybe revisit it again at some stage when it may make sense.

But above all, you need to make sure what you’re talking about reflects both the current market, and your current opinion.

 

Social Media Scams – How to Spot One

05 Mar
March 5, 2015

Today I noticed one of the old mainstays of social media scams appear in my Facebook feed again. I’m talking about the free voucher from a major brand (in this case Bunnings) that one of your friends has tagged you in when they have apparently “shared” it. For those unfamiliar, it looks something like the image on the right.

Social media scam dressed up as a Bunnings offerAside from me already knowing these are fake, there are a handful of tell tale signs here:

  • The poorly sized image – a brand like Bunnings would have their logo correctly sized on Facebook
  • The unnecessary capitalisation of the word “Now”
  • The source of the post – coming via Spotify
  • In all cases of seeing it today, the things that were consistent – the “Thanks”, and the follow up comment from the poster of “Quickly”.

If you want to get into the technicalities of how these scams work, I recommend reading this post from security expert Troy Hunt from a couple of years ago. The upshot of it is that it’s designed to suck you down further into the rabbit hole of free offers from other sites, capture personal data, and potentially worse.

It’s not the only type of scam that we see on Facebook though.

The offer of a free car from Mercedes for liking a page and sharing a photo with the colour you want? The over ordered iPads at a major department store that you can get for nothing by liking and sharing? Flights and accommodation to celebrate the millionth passenger that you have a chance if you share pictures of the boarding pass?

All scams.

If you’re looking for telltale signs, look at the number of fans the page has, an extraneous period at the end of the brand name, and grammatical errors. Then search for the brand itself, most will be verified with the blue tick.

Two examples of the latest Qantas scam

Two examples of the latest Qantas scam

Why do social media scams work?

People will share the and connect with them because they appear to be from reputable brands. Then they are in your feed, and have the opportunity to share other content that may be more malicious once you click on it.

So why is it that people continue to fall for it?

Simply, they rely on one of the top reasons people connect with brands on social channels at all – free stuff.

Promotions have long been one of the top reasons someone will engage with a brand, particularly on Facebook. 15% of people in a recent survey done by HubSpot claim they follow brands who offer something for free.

It only takes one “user zero” to make the mistake of clicking on it for it to spread into many of their friend’s feeds, in the case of the Bunnings example above, 78 people. Then it takes only one of those 78 to click on it, and you get the picture of how these spread so fast. Often times, people don’t know what they’ve done. The last comment below the one above was “I dont know what i clicked on. it’s just an advertisement….”.

Personally, I think it’s an unsolvable problem, short of some major action from Facebook that will limit how they work technically.

People will always want something for nothing, it’s human nature and to a large degree, social platforms have fuelled that further. The best we can hope for is that people are more vigilant about the things they click on and share, and continue to stick to the old maxim, that if something looks too good to be true, it likely is.

PHOTO – John Perivolaris via Flickr

Exploring Social Citizenship

12 Feb
February 12, 2015

I’ve been toying around this week with the idea of what it means to be a social “citizen”.

Your pereception as a “good” or “bad” citizen in everyday society is determined by others based on the way you conduct yourself, interact with others and add value to that society. When it comes to social platforms, it is exactly the same – others determine the value in associating with you based on the way you behave.

The difference with platforms though is that our interaction style is dictated to a large degree by the format.

The key to being a good “citizen” on a platform is to know when and how to use the function within the format to exhibit the same behaviour as you would offline.

I put together a quick SlideShare around what I am calling social citizenship (at the risk of sounding like I am trying to coin a new buzzword), with a focus on Twitter as a platform.

 

There were 6 areas I looked at, first around getting your house in order – your profile, feed and tone, and then the more executional – giving more than you get, giving context and credit, thanks and giving thanks.

To be honest, there are probably more than just these six, and I think there is scope to evolve the thinking.

The other important thing of note here is that I wrote this from a personal perspective, but the principles themselves I believe sit just as well within the framework of a brand.

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Agree, disagree? Any you would add, or remove?

PHOTO – Thomas Hawk via Flickr

3 Things Seinfeld Taught Me About Storytelling

02 Feb
February 2, 2015

Most nights when there is nothing else on TV, I will flick on some repeats of Seinfeld, still one of my favourite shows ever. When I first started watching the show more than 20 years ago, it was hilarious.

I still find it just as funny, but it’s only now I can appreciate the genius that goes into creating memorable stories that are still quotable, 17 years after the last episode aired.

When we think about content, and content marketing, storytelling is such an important part of making it engaging.

As I watched, there were several things that jumped out at me as key elements to telling a memorable story.

Characters Matter

Anyone can tell a story, it’s something many of us do every day. They tend to follow familiar structures of beginning, middle and end. The structure of a sitcom in particular is very formulaic. However, it’s the way they are told within that structure that makes the difference.

Seinfeld is famously “the show about nothing” and if you were to hear someone talk you through the premise of some episodes (as George does below), you’d have to agree it would sound pretty uninspiring and you’d likely not watch.

But put that premise into the hands of a character like Kramer, George, or even a minor player in the Seinfeld universe, and all of a sudden it becomes engaging. Because each of them brings a unique voice, their characters voice to the storyline.

When you’re thinking about your content, think about who it is that’s telling the story. Find that voice, and bring it to the narrative.

Create Stories Within The Story – Then Bring It All Together

There’s a lot going on in each episode, and at times, all seem like disparate threads. Take the Season 6 episode of The Mom and Pop Store. The episode starts with the loose central premise of a Thanksgiving Party at dentist Tim Whately’s house that Jerry’s not sure he’s invited to. From here, it takes off in different directions as it breaks into sub-stories:

Story 1

  • Jerry gives his sneakers to a mom and pop store to repair
  • Kramer get a blood nose that causes him to lie down in the store and notice the wiring in the roof.
  • Mom and pop shut up shop as they can’t afford repairs and skip town with the all the shoes, leaving Jerry with only cowboy boots

Story 2

  • George buys a car he believes to be Jon Voight, that actor
  • Jerry goes through the glovebox and finds a chewed pencil and papers belonging to a different John Voight
  • George kicks Jerry out of the car in his cowboy boots and he falls and chips a tooth running from a gang
  • Kramer sees Jon Voight in the street and tries to ask him if it’s his car and gets bitten in the process

Story 3

  • Mr Pitt wants to hold the Woody Woodpecker balloon in the Thanksgiving Day Parade, so Elaine guesses the big band song for him
  • Elaine loses her hearing sitting in front of a big band at the cafe where she is picking up the tickets

Now all of these are stories with comedic value in their own right. As with any story though, It’s important though that all of these come together into a resolution.

George and Kramer ask a dentist to compare the chewed pencil to the bite mark on Kramer’s arm. Tim grabs the pencil to take a note and puts it in his mouth, ruining the teeth mark and explains that he knows John Voight the dentist, who owned the car. Elaine, who wants Tim to ask her out ultimately rejects him at the party as she can’t hear him because she picked up Mr Pitt’s tickets. Jerry asks a dentist to look at his tooth, ultimately knocking a statue from the apartment and piercing Mr Pitt’s balloon.

All of the stories converge at once to round out the episode.

The lesson here for your content is that there are always going to many aspects to a story. To do them justice and tell them effectively, you need to break them down into sub stories. But the important part is making sure that they all fit together in the end. If they don’t, then you need to question if they fit the narrative at all.

Make It Relatable

While a lot of the storylines were out-and-out absurd (particularly towards the end), many of the memorable ones were things that happened to all of us. So much of Seinfeld’s success was built on making the situations relatable.

Ripped off at a car dealership? Waited forever for a table? Problem with a rental car? Angry food vendor? Close talker? Quiet talker?

There’s an episode for all of them.

This familiarity breeds longevity and memory of the story that’s been told. We remember the situation they relate to in the show, because we find ourselves in similar situations.

How can you ground the stories in your content in something the audience can relate to? This is the key to them remembering it after you’re done telling them.

PHOTOPranav Bhatt via Flickr