Hi everyone! Hope you’re having a great weekend so far. Friday, I gave a talk at Rounded Development, where I was invited to talk about Social Media + Branding. Every week, they hold Rounded Presents, which occurs every Friday at noon. Sooo, if you’re in the Syracuse area, you should consider stopping by. There is always great discussion and even better food (double wink, double nudge).
Below is the presentation I created, available for any and all of you to look through. Hopefully, you will learn a thing or two about social media and brand-building that you didn’t know before! Below the presentation, I have listed the questions asked throughout the presentations, and my answers to them. I would love to hear any additions you may have. Enjoy!
Question & Answer:
Q: What do you mean by “knowing your value”? How can you implement that with a business?
A: Great question! To be honest, knowing your value is a topic that I could do multiple presentations on. But for now, we’ll scratch the surface by saying that you should always, always, always be confident in your talents. The main issue with not knowing your value comes when people (or businesses) are too afraid to ask for something more. In some senses, this may mean demanding a raise or asking for the bigger office, but in most cases, this means being confident enough in your own abilities to negotiate a higher payout, or confident enough to walk away if things don’t go as planned.
I was then asked, “But what if I’m in a negotiation with a client and they don’t have budget for what I’m worth? Do I lower my value? Do I ever really know my value?”. Unfortunately, this is a very grey area, and yes, most people will have times in their career that they have to negotiate for something lower than they originally anticipated. In these cases, you have to evaluate where there is potential for more benefits on your end if you decide to continue that relationship.
Is this client going to grow exponentially with your services? Down the road is there the possibility of the client becoming wildly successful and giving your company more attention? If the answer is yes, there are more ways to retain your value than with money. For example, if you’re an advertising executive and a start-up can only pay X amount of dollars for your services when you would typically be paid 5x that amount by any other client, you have to evaluate. Is this company going to go far? More importantly, with your help, is this company going to gain traction and increase in value? If yes, you say: “Okay, I will work with you for X amount, but I ask that I am given X amount of stock and my logo be on all of your advertisements, newsletters, websites, and any other materials produced by your company.”
In this situation, you gain significant exposure by the company (if, in fact, you believe they will be wildly successful in coming years), and will eventually receive a high payout in stock. It’s not an immediate Return on Investment, but in the long run, your value will remain in tact.
Q: How can social media help a business that relies mainly on referrals and word-of-mouth marketing?
A: I LOVE this question. So many businesses that are comfortable with their current marketing strategy (and I’ll be honest, this usually involves no strategy at all, but relying on past and current customers to say good things and refer you to friends and colleagues) are scared of trying social media. And that’s okay! It’s natural to be afraid of change, especially when you don’t know whether the ROI will be significant, or whether an increased following on social media will translate into sales. The biggest advice I can give any company is to be more active on social media and engage with past and potential customers, influential thought leaders, and work becoming a highly regarded voice in your space.
The fact is, social media is one big word-of-mouth marketing scheme. The reason why social media marketing (which can barely be recognized as marketing if you do it right) is so powerful is because it involves real people and real opinions. When someone uses a product or service, they’re most likely to be candid and honest about it, unless they are paid to say good things, in which case they are legally bound to disclose that fact.
When real-life discussions and recommendations happen via e-mail, in person, or via other private methods of communications, referrals are often acted on and generate business. But when these referrals happen on social media, it happens on a public forum, and hundreds upon thousands of people could see a conversation as opposed to one or two. Social media is word-of-mouth viral marketing on the largest scale. This generates a ROI unprecedented with previous methods of marketing, given that more and more people act on referrals from friends and acquaintances on social media than ever before. You can read more facts and figures related to B2B content marketing here.
Q: What would you do if there is an issue where people come to your page and immediately leave? How do you get people to stay?
A: This is a fun topic where we get into “Bounce Rate” and “sticky pages”. Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that come to your page and leave without clicking anything else. By deduction, the lower the bounce rate, the better. For example, if someone found a blog article of mine on Reddit and clicked to view, I would want them to stick around and read something else as well. We’ll also touch on User Experience Design and how that affects the stickiness of web pages.
To decrease your bounce rate, you want to have enough stimulating content on your blog (above, underneath, and to the side of your blog content) to generate more click-throughs and get people to literally be stuck on your website. They’ll end up clicking around and around to different posts until they start to wonder how long they’ve been reading. To do this, you want to have just enough stimulating content around your site, but not so much that it clutters.
This led to another question I was asked: “You obviously want stimulating content on your page – but how much is too much? How do you walk that fine line between too minimal and too cluttered?”. This is another grey area that takes significant trial-and-error and experimentation. For the most part, it’s highly subjective, and depends upon how well you understand User Experience Design and how well your readers respond to your current layout. One person in the audience (keep in mind, these are mostly web developers) suggested A/B Testing: Setting two designs next to one another and seeing which gets the most click-throughs. This is one good option, and fortunately there are many online tools that facilitate this kind of testing.
In general, you want stimulating headlines that make people want to click on your content. This comes from good copywriting tactics, and usually involves being very direct with what your content is about (“Grain-Free Paleo Pancakes” is one of my most popular ones), or being way more vague (“Big News” is a huge traffic-loader). Think of it like dating. There are two ends of the spectrum: Being very mysterious, and being very direct. For the most part, both generate and significant response. In dating, too far on either end of the spectrum and you’ll usually get confused looks, but on web copy, you’ll get clicks because people are curious. Additionally, having interesting images attached to these teasers will generate more click-throughs. People respond to visual stimulation, whether it’s a colorful image or an infographic.
What it comes down to is having good content. Good content will gain traction without much outside effort, especially with good SEO practices. If you have a site that looks like it deserves high traffic and more click-throughs, you will get high traffic and more click-throughs. Plain and simple.
Q: How do you monetize your blog? The ROI is obviously much different than with a business selling a product or service – how do you generate the most revenue?
I monetize my blog in various ways: Through the BlogHer Ad Network; Clever Girls Collective; FitFluential, LLC; and through sponsored projects and blog posts, whether that be on Chef Katelyn or otherwise. In general, I get the most revenue with sponsored projects and content, but also get some through traffic-based revenue. The best way to continue any stream of revenue is to be active and build a solid following and reputation. As I said before, content is king, and with good content will come bigger and better opportunities.
This also relates to knowing your value. If you are approached by a company to do a campaign or review, knowing and asking for your full value is 100% necessary and respectable. No one can make a living on working for free, whether it’s at a corporate office or online. In relation to my own site, having a sticky web page is essential to a decreased bounce rate, and consistently creating good content keeps opportunities flooding to my inbox.
This is where we get into guerrilla marketing, the term that I use to describe much of social media marketing, which taps into the subconscious, appealing to the way your audience thinks. If you read a company’s blog, you’re more likely to buy their product after reading something that you feel has had a positive impact on your day, work life, or otherwise. An audience is more likely to engage with a company that interacts like a person on social media. Generally, if your company has a good (and growing) presence on social media, your visibility will drastically increase and so will your interactions and potential business connections. More referrals will be generated on a public forum than a private one, and typically, you will see an increase in your ROI when there is an increased following of your brand by influential people and companies in your space; especially when these people interact with you, or you with them.
With a business, the tactic may be a little bit different, although is the same on principle. In general, you want to offer a lot of high-quality content for free, and then leverage that trust and authority into generating sales. Many online consultants do this by running highly regarded blogs (with, note, lots of free content), and then offering webinars, software, networking events, and consultation services, for a fee. The reason why these consultants are so successful is because they establish trust with their readers, who then become loyal customers.
For a company like Southwest Airlines (which has becoming increasingly prominent in social media over the last year), creating blog posts that appeal to every audience will build a trust in Southwest as a company that is a positive part of someone’s day. Eventually, the name becomes synonymous with good feelings in your subconscious, and you’re more likely to purchase product or service from that company. The human brain is wired to constantly search for things that are better. If a company promises to make your life better, and hits that angle in guerrilla marketing, they will score big.
I hope that these Q&A’s answered some of your questions, and I would love to hear…
- What are some things you would like to know about social media and branding?
- Any additional input to the presentation or questions + answer?