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5 Tips to Organizing Your Social Media Content

5 Tips to Organizing Your Social Media Content

Order and organization are on trend.  Have you noticed this? Marie Kondo and her organization tips are all the rage.  People want to get a handle on life by getting their personal “stuff” in order; However, order and organization are no less important for business marketing. This has always been true, a consistent marketing message throughout all forms of marketing and advertising has always been a characteristic of a successful marketing strategy, but it is even truer today now that promotion is fragmented among a wider array of channels such as print, audio, video, and social media.

The danger, especially when the responsibility for each channel is farmed out to a different person, is that the message can become confused and incoherent. What is more, the right hand might not know what the left is doing.

Below are five tips for keeping your social media marketing efforts organized and on point.

Tip #1: Write Out a Plan Ahead of Time

Every marketing campaign has a desired end. In order for your social media marketing (and all marketing efforts) to work towards achieving that end, you have to first define what that end is. Social media should not be thrown out just off the cuff.  Each of the stage of the development of your overall marketing plan for your business should be in the back of your mind when crafting your social media posts. How does this post reflect the overall mission and culture of your business? What aspect of the problem that your business solves illustrate? Which demographic group does this post speak to?

Often you will see a business assign social media responsibilities to administrative staff or an intern. It’s perfectly fine to give the task of the posting or scheduling of those updates; however, even in updating and monitoring social media, it is important that the responsible person is familiar with your companies overall  mission and values.

My recommendation is to not only have your written corporate mission statement, business branding guidelines, and a defined marketing plan, but to also write out your marketing plan specifically for social media ahead of time.

I know, I know . . . That sounds like so much work!  Yes, it is. But if you’re going to promote your business online, make it worth your time.

Having a framework for your social media updates removes uncertainty about the types of things that should be posted and ensures that all channels of your business’s promotion have a consistent message.

Tip #2: Have Consistent Categorization for Creative Elements

My second tip is to have a consistent categorization for all of your creative elements that go into creating your social media posts. There are a couple of aspects to this.  The first are the elements themselves. There have been so many times when in reviewing a new client’s existing social media presence that I’ve asked if they still have a particular image or video element that is used in an existing image or video and they aren’t sure if they have it or where it came from. If a particular creative asset was designed or developed by a third party agency, you might not have that particular element; however, make a note of where that asset came from.

For example, keep a record of who created a video, when it was designed, how much it cost, and the formats available. If you have raw footage, write that down as well.

If you are creating social media graphics using images from stock photo sites, keep a record of your business membership details for each site as well as the licensing details. For example, there are a number of stock photo sites that have free images, but the licensing agreement for those images may vary from photographer to photographer, even on the same site. Even when you pay for royalty free images, there are often restrictions on types of use.

My recommendation is to create a document to record the details for your digital assets with all of these details.

But maybe you’ve taken images at your place of business. We all know that the best marketing for any business is happy customers; however, if you have photos of customers, make sure that you also have their permission to use that image in your marketing and media. This means getting a model release signed. These releases should be kept on file in your digital assets documentation.

(I am not an attorney. If you want a legal opinion, please consult your attorney. My opinion as a marketing consultant is that a social media post is not worth getting into a legal battle no matter how cute the picture.)

The other issue related to photos taken at your business is the question of who took them and who owns the copyright. The person who creates the work, in this case the photographer, owns exclusive rights to that work.

If an employee took them, this would most likely be considered “work made for hire” and you, as the employer would own the copyright. However, this depends on the terms of the employment contract. If you bring in someone on a contract basis, unless you have a written agreement specifically stating that the resulting images will be considered “work made for hire,” the copyright is owned by the photographer.[1]

Again, I am not an attorney. Please consult a legal advisor and research your own specific situation. My advice to you is that copyright and licensing of digital assets is important . . . important enough to have a system for tracking the elements you invest in.

To recap, when you look at the variety of images and videos that you have posted online, each of those images and design elements could have a different copyright and usage terms behind them. Your social media manager should have a handle on how those items can be used.

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Tip #3: Spell Out Your Creative Process

Henry Ford was known for his Model T’s, but the key to  his success was his process. There are many uses for creative elements online: images in articles; social media images for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram; ads for social media, background images on videos, the list goes on and on.

Maybe you wrote an article with an image used as an illustratio and decide you want to use it as part of a Facebook ad. Those two uses will require a different size. Then a few months later, you decide to share it on Twitter, where the ideal size is a different dimension yet again. Luckily, you have categorized your digital elements and know right where to find that image, but have to recreate the styling of the original image to match the other two elements that you already created.

The fastest and easiest easiest way to create multiple version of a particular design is when you first design it. Make a spreadsheet with a column for each format or dimension a social media graphic that you use.  Create templates or actions in Photoshop to quickly generate the base file.  After the initial design is completed for one of the social media networks, that design can be copied over to the different formats and adjusted.

I’ll give you an example using one of our projects. When an article is published, we create the following images.

  • The featured image for the article with a naming format of title_f
  • The image sized for Instagram (title_bl)
  • An Instagram image with a prompt to read the article (title_i)
  • An image sized for Instagram or Facebook stories (title_story)
  • An Image formatted for Twitter (title_tw)
  • An Image formatted for Pinterest (title_pin)
  • An image only graphic sized for a video cover (title_v)

So you see we are up to seven variations for one main graphic design. After the first main design is created, it takes about 10 minutes to create the additional variations and record them instead of having to go back and recreate a design later.

As with your design elements, also have a consistent categorization for your created designs. Unless a client specifiies otherwise, we keep the PSD file of one format, usually the Instagram image.  If another variation needs to be created later on, the design can be quickly adjusted to the new dimensions.

I know a number of people like to use online services such as Canva or Adobe Spark. I personally think that Adobe Photoshop is much easier to create and adjust elements, but it also allows you to better organize your design files. A long list of designs on Adobe Spark quickly becomes a mess.

#4: Keep a Library of Created Assets

The fourth tips is to keep a library of all of your created assets including: images, videos, and articles. In our content strategy workbook, we include a worksheet each for articles, images, and videos. The details recorded will vary a little from client to client depending on their needs, but for articles the title, the date published, keywords or hashtags for the article, and the url are normally included. For images, we list the title of the image, the article it references (if any), keywords or hashtags, as well as noting each format the image is available in.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I just want to post a picture, this sounds like a lot of work.”

Whatever type of social media post you create, it took time and resources. If you have an easily accessible record of all your existing creative assets, you can quickly identify and locate those images (or videos or articles) that will be a good fit for future social media campaigns.

The more content you build up, the easier filling that content calendar in the future becomes. But you can’t do that if you don’t know what you have or where it is.

Tip #5: Stay on Brand, Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Remember that your social media postings are part of your brand. Just as you wouldn’t put out a different version of your logo with every new marketing piece, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and come up with a different style with every image, video, or graphic that you post online.

Decide on a design theme and stick to it. Use the same color values or tones. Be consistent with the fonts you use. Not only does this result in a consistent image for your brand, but it makes the creation and design process much faster. When the pillars of the design are already set, it makes filling in the details much faster.

Those are my five tips for organizing your social media content. What tips have you found useful?

 

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Notes

[1] Thomas Maddrey, “Works for Hire: How Not to Get Bitten – ASMP,” ASMP, last modified January 4, 2017, accessed May 28, 2019, https://www.asmp.org/legal/works-hire-not-get-bitten/.

“As stated previously, the distinction between employee and independent contractor can be significant regarding the doctrine of “works for hire.” If a photographer is acting as an employee, then any works created by an employee within the employee’s scope of employment will be considered Works for Hire. However, even this can be overridden in an employment contract if the contract explicitly states that the employee will retain the copyright in any works they create.

But, if the photographer is acting as an independent contractor, then a work will only be a Work for Hire if (1) there is a written agreement between the parties stating that the work is a work for hire, (2) the agreement is signed by both parties, and (3) and the work falls within one of the nine following categories:”

Where Do You Do Business? Developing a Marketing Plan

Where Do You Do Business? Developing a Marketing Plan

In the past several articles, we have discussed the steps to creating a marketing plan for your business and questions to ask: what problem you solve, what questions do you answer, and who are the people that you serve. In this article, I will cover the fourth question, and that is, “where do you do business?”

Where and how you operate is one of the key elements in creating a successful marketing strategy. Some refer to this stage as identifying the competition or developing a competitive analysis, but fully answering this question involves more than this.

Sales Channels

The first step in assessing where you do business is identifying your sales channels. A sales channel is:

“A way of bringing products or services to market so that they can be purchased by consumers. A sales channel can be direct if it involves a business selling directly to its customers, or it can be indirect if an intermediary such as a retailer or dealer is involved in selling the product to customers.[1]

Sales channels could include your brick and mortar store, your sales force, your website, resellers, or referral networks such as those that are common in the construction industry. A simple way of thinking about a sales channel is that it is the way your product or service gets to the buyer.

Let’s use an example with which many people are familiar . . . Girl Scout cookies. A Girl Scout troop and the individual Girl Scout has five sales channels to use in their promotional efforts: direct selling going door-to-door, selling through their social media profiles, selling through their online cookie sales page, and selling at cookie booths.

Looking at a restaurant as another example, the majority of their sales will very likely be through their brick and mortar location with customers walking in to dine. However, they might also have an online ordering and delivery service, which would be a second channel, and participate in services like GrubHub and UberEats as a third and fourth. Then they have a catering service promoted by a catering manager giving them a total of five channels.

Each of these sales channels may have different costs associated with them and the dynamics of the selling environment may be very different. Once you have identified the sales channels for each of your products and services, the next step is to analyze the sales environment for each of those sales channels.

Operating in Community

Every business operates in one or more communities. I like this definition of community, “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.[2]” A community is not just a location, but a binding element among the group. Each of your sales channels will be operating within a unique community. For example, a brick and mortar store will be operating in a community defined by its physical location. A company that wholesales their product will be operating in a community defined by industry rather than solely geographic location (although location will likely also influence sales).

An online sales channel will operate in its own unique community . . . no one competes against the entirety of the internet. This community may be defined by a network of blogger or influencers. The online community in which a local business competes may be made up of feedback on online community forums for the local area, community websites, and reviews on Yelp, Google, and Facebook. When someone enters the digital counterpart to a geographic community, who are the players and where is the information found?

Competition

After you have identified each sales channel and defined each community for each channel, the next step is to identify and analyze the competition in each space. This may seem straightforward, but often competitors are overlooked.

Let’s look at a housecleaning service, which can’t be ordered online or fulfilled by a company out of the area. A housecleaner will be competing against other housecleaning businesses which will be listed in business directories, but they will also be competing against individuals who clean as a side gig, high school or college students cleaning houses as a summer job, and the largest group . . . homeowners who clean their homes themselves. When developing a marketing campaign, these different competitors require a different strategy.

When presenting the advantages of working with your business versus another housecleaning business, you might focus on your reputation, longevity in the community, and value (which is not always the same as price.) For those potential customers considering hiring a nonprofessional, you might stress your industry associations, experience, reliability ratings, as well as your bonding and insurance. A campaign targeted towards overwhelmed homeowners cleaning their own homes might focus on the ease and relief of hiring a professional.

Once you’ve identified your competition, look at their strengths and weaknesses. What is the makeup of the company, including its size, ownership, and management? What product or service do they offer and how does it compare to yours? What is the competitor’s reputation in the community and what partnerships or affiliations does that competitor have that affects the competitive space? Finally, what promotional strategies are they using and can you estimate their market share?

Identifying the opportunities

Now that you have thoroughly analyzed your sales channels, the community, and your competition, you should have both a feel for the competitive environment as well as some hard numbers. As you researched, what competitive opportunities surfaced? Is there a pocket of the market where you could focus? On the flip side, where are your own business’s areas of weakness and where do you need to improve?

This may seem like a lot of work to develop a marketing plan, but these are all questions that have to be answered to have an effective campaign. Do you begin to see how of these details play a role in developing a message that will speak to your potential customer or client? It does take time but it is important to go through.

If you would like to discuss implementing a marketing strategy for your business, schedule a free call online.


Notes

[1] “Sales Channel,” Business Dictionary, n.d., accessed February 18, 2019, http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/sales-channel.html.

[2] “Community,” Oxford Living Dictionaries, n.d., accessed February 18, 2019, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/community.

In the case of a competitive environment, the group is made up of entities and organizations.

Who are the People You Serve? Developing a Marketing Plan

Who are the People You Serve? Developing a Marketing Plan

One of the key elements in developing a marketing plan is identifying the people your business serves and using that to craft your content and marketing plan. Previously, we identified the problems that you solve and we looked at the different ways to identify the problem, or pain points, of your customers. What motivates them to buy your product or service.

Taking Example from Fiction

In the next step, we are going to identify your ideal customer or client, often this is described as a “buyer persona.”

When you write a novel, you develop characters and great characters are fully fleshed out, at least in the author’s mind even if all those details don’t immediately present themselves on the page. Good characters have a backstory, the author knows where they grew up, the composition of their family, their likes and dislikes, their career history, and how they interact with their friends. When an author has a fully fleshed out character, how they react to a particular situation has a ring of authenticity. When we read The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, we can anticipate how characters will react in a situation because he has painted such a clear picture of who they are. His world building was far more extensive than the novels themselves.

Buyer Persona Goals

You don’t have to go to Tolkien lengths in developing your buyer personas, but you do want to go into enough detail that those personas can serve as a guideline for creating your content and marketing strategies. The goal of the buyer persona is to help you create effective communication to that ideal buyer. Whatever you write or create should be developed with one of those personas in mind. For every product or service line that your business has, you have one or more types of buyers. There may be overlap between those types, but often the buyer groups can be extremely different.

Buyer Persona Templates

Creating a buyer persona template can help you work through and define the characteristics of each type of buyer.

 

Title the persona, begin to describe that person. Who are they? What is their background? In what demographic group do they fall? What are their core values and how do they think about things? What are their interests and affiliations, for example, are they a member of any professional organizations or do they come to you from a specific community or group? How do they like to communicate? Millennials and younger will prefer texts while Boomers will prefer a phone call, or better yet, a face-to-face contact.[1]

Next, consider what that buyer is looking for and what they will take into consideration when they make their buying decision. What challenges are they facing that is prompting them to buy? What obstacle might prohibit them from doing so? What are their main concerns and objections? What are their needs, and finally, what is their primary goal for this buying decision?

Once you’ve worked through these questions, identify the primary product or service you offer that they would be interested in. After you’ve “gotten into the head” of this buyer persona, you will probably also have a pretty good idea of what their primary motivation is in their purchasing decision.

Finally, articulate why this particular type of buyer will buy from you over a competitor.

Buyer Persona Matrix

Now that you have your clearly defined buyer personas, it’s time to distill that information down into a buyer persona matrix as an easily accessed reference. This will be used as you develop your marketing campaigns and individual promotional pieces.

Create a chart with the name of each of your buyer personas along the top. In each line, list the core characteristics to keep in mind.

If you are a B2B company, the items on the characteristics axis might include the position of the person, their background, their needs, goals, and main challenges. A business to consumer company might include gender, age, the product line, the social media network that persona prefers, “hot buttons,” and relevant hashtags.

There is no hard and fast rule on how a buyer persona matrix must be. It is a tool to keep your messaging on point.

 


Notes

[1] “The Evolution of Communication from Boomers to Gen Z | NDMU Online,” Notre Dame of Maryland University, last modified February 6, 2019, accessed February 10, 2019, https://online.ndm.edu/news/communication/evolution-of-communication/.

What Types of Questions Do You Answer: Developing a Marketing Plan

What Types of Questions Do You Answer: Developing a Marketing Plan

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve talked about creating a marketing strategy for your business.  So far I’ve covered 3 steps to creating a marketing plan and identifying what problem your business solves.

Today we are going to talk about what question your business answers.  This is related to the types of problems your business solves but it is broader and covers more of the educational aspects.

So, for example, if you have a plumbing business and you are trying to think of topics to include in your content strategy, you can talk about the types of services you offer, the problems that you solve.  This is all information that a potential customer might need to know to understand why your service is the best choice for them.

Speaking about plumbing, I was just reading about the situation in Flint, Michigan and their water supply.  I think almost everyone is aware that in 2014,[1] there were dangerous levels of lead[2] found in the tap water.  There were several things that played a role leading to this: the switching of the water source, the lack of treatment of the water, and the old lead pipes going to the homes themselves that the water leached from.  Part of the challenge for government officials was explaining the factors and the problems involved because citizens had to be part of the solution.

The more complex the product or service you offer, the more important it is to explain the issues related to your industry.

The choices are: explain what you do or be prepared to compete on price alone. There is no other alternative.  Fortunately, businesses are able to communicate this information easily through content marketing.  This includes articles, informative images, videos, and audio.

The more complex the product or service you offer, the more important it is to explain the issues related to your industry.

The choices are: explain what you do or be prepared to compete on price alone. There is no other alternative.  Fortunately, businesses are able to communicate this information easily through content marketing.  This includes articles, informative images, videos, and audio.

The best way to determine what those questions are is simply by paying attention to the questions you are asked. Keep a notebook of questions that come up during phone calls or conversations with customers.  What are the things that you tell people over and over again?

I have a lot of articles related to domain registrations, not because I focus on selling registrations, but because that is something that has come up frequently over the years: people forgetting to renew their registrations and losing them to a domain squatter, domains being held hostage by a sketchy domain or hosting provider, or being outright hijacked.

Even though the problem my business solves does not involve domain registration, since we develop, manage, and promote websites, having control and proper security on a business’s domain is a top priority. Website promotion doesn’t do any good if those urls are directed somewhere else.

So even if it isn’t something you specifically offer, if there is an issue that impacts what you do, then include that in your potential list of topics.

The second way to discover questions people are asking is to simply look at the questions people use to reach your web site.

This used to be one of the most valuable reports for content marketing. Server statistic programs such as AWstats and Google’s own Analytics service would display the search queries, the words a site visitor entered into the search bar, to reach your site.

However, several years ago, search engines began to encrypt those queries, blocking their display in site analytics, if the user was logged into that search engine. Now only a fraction of search keywords display in your site analytics . . . But use what you have.

The third way to discover the types of questions people are asking is by looking at the suggested search phrases that Google provides with almost every search. There are three places this can be easily found: the list of related searches that displays at the bottom of the search results pages, the related questions that sometimes appear in search results, and in suggested searches that display as you being to type your query into Google’s search bar.

The fourth way you can find the questions your potential customers are asking is by looking at comments and questions asked on forums and social media. Quora is a general question and answer site, but depending on your type of business and where you operate, this might be in topical or special interest forums, in the comments of a popular blog related to your industry, or in a Facebook or LinkedIn group.

This leads to the topic of next week’s article, which is identifying the people you serve. Stay tuned.

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Notes:

[1] Cedric Taylor, “Flint’s Water Is Now Safe to Drink – but the Crisis Has Corroded Residents’ Trust in Government,” CityMetric, last modified May 16, 2018, accessed January 9, 2019, https://www.citymetric.com/politics/flint-s-water-now-safe-drink-crisis-has-corroded-residents-trust-government-3895.

[2] Sara Ganim and Linh Tran, “How Flint, Michigan’s Tap Water Became Toxic – CNN,” CNN, last modified January 13, 2016, accessed January 9, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2016/01/11/health/toxic-tap-water-flint-michigan/index.html.

What Problem Does Your Business Solve?

What Problem Does Your Business Solve?

What is the first question that needs to be answered when creating a marketing plan for your business? I’ve talked a little bit about the “Four P’s” of marketing: place, price, product and promotion. These are all important, but there is something else that needs to be analyzed first.

Let’s go back to the definition of marketing, marketing is the process of identifying a need of a particular group of customers and explaining why your product or service is the best solution for that problem. Examining that definition gives us the very first thing we have to do . . . Define what problems your business solves.

Taking a Tip from “As Seen on TV”

Before the advent of the internet, Youtube, and other social media sites, promotion options for businesses were very different. If you were a local business, your advertising strategy likely consisted of ads in the newspaper and the Yellow pages, some occasional mailers, and maybe if you were a larger business local radio and TV spots. Chain stores relied heavily on mailers, and businesses that produced specialty items would advertise in interest magazines.

But what about those weird products that don’t relate to a specific interest such as fishing or cooking and that wouldn’t attract much attention if they were sitting on a shelf in a store? Many of those products found sales through “As Seen on TV,” an infomercial (what is now known as “news”) service that demonstrated the problem the product solved, otherwise known as the “Unique Selling Proposition.”

One of the most well-known items was “The Clapper” which not only convinced a large swath of Americans that it was simply too much effort to get up and turn off the light, paving the way for Alexa, but it also earned a place in American pop culture with references appearing in movies such as A Night at the Museum and in SNL skits.

The “pain” in these infomercials was often exaggerated, as was the relief at the solutions. Never the less, the ad effectively created the idea that this “problem” was something that could be solved and with just an easy payment of $19.99, life would be a little bit better.

So what is the problem your business solves? If you were creating an “As Seen on TV” ad for your business, what would it look like? What do you want a potential customer to take away from your advertising? What can you do for them?

This is part of our strategy when we work with clients in our “Customer Conversations” program. We identify the hot buttons, or pain points, that potential customers and clients are looking for and design a marketing strategy and content to communicate it.

Being able to articulate the key issues in your industry and how your business effectively solves them is not only important for your general marketing or business plan, it is also critical to understand these points when designing and structuring your business website. Your website should be designed around presenting those solutions. How those solutions should be presented is covered in my upcoming book, 10 Steps to Success with WordPress.

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