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3 Things to Stop Sharing on LinkedIn

3 Things to Stop Sharing on LinkedIn

There are a few post types that users need to stop sharing on LinkedIn.

I’ve been using LinkedIn for a pretty long time, and in that time I have had quite a bit to say about it. But one thing that the network simply can’t control is what users decide to post. Sure, there are guidelines and of course there are certain inappropriate posts that the network can take down. But, in the end, there are some pieces of content that have no business whatsoever being on the network, and yet there they are. These are three of the types of content that users need to stop sharing on LinkedIn if they want to be taken seriously.

There are a few types of content to stop sharing on LinkedIn.

Political Content

This might not seem immediately obvious to some (for whatever reason) but the fact is that politics really shouldn’t have a home on a LinkedIn news feed unless, of course, you work in the field. Let me explain.

One’s political disposition is very personal, and for those that have strong political beliefs, you are more than encouraged to share those where and when it is appropriate. But in this election cycle in particular, we are seeing just how divisive politics can be (and with the speed of information, we are seeing that on an international scale). Politically-fueled content that has absolutely nothing to do with your brand, professional position, or industry shouldn’t find its way to LinkedIn. That is not what the network is for, and while it may showcase beliefs about which you feel very strongly, it doesn’t reflect all that positively on you from a professional standpoint.

Again, this is not to say that you shouldn’t feel comfortable sharing your political views wherever they are appropriate, but LinkedIn is not one of those places. Unless you work in the field of political commentary and are sharing business relevant political content, personal stances and politically-charged content that in no way connects to your professional life should be left to other networks where it is more appropriate.

Do yourself and those around you that favor.

Pleas for Investment

It might sound like a joke but, believe it or not, I see this constantly on LinkedIn. The most recent example was in the form of a personal plea for cash in order to assist with the transport of a body out of a foreign country. You read that correctly; someone turned to LinkedIn to ask for ‘investors’ (their words, not mine) to help them with the transport and arrangement of a family member that had died while on vacation. I know I probably don’t need to say it, but this is wildly inappropriate.

Now, assuming this was, in fact, true (though since they were asking for minimum ‘investments’ of $10,000, I highly doubt it) it’s an unfortunate situation. But unless you’re raising money for a new venture, a plea for cash on LinkedIn isn’t a best practice. In fact, even when you’re raising money, a LinkedIn post isn’t really the most professional way of going about it.

Again, LinkedIn is a professional network and intended to house content related to one’s professional life. So, while this situation was one of the more extreme cases I’ve seen, I have seen a few personal, direct requests for funds on LinkedIn, which is a major faux pas.

Faith-Based Material

Much like the politically-charged content, the only faith-oriented content that should appear are posts about professional inspiration (which might have religious undertones) or content related to your faith-oriented professional position. Otherwise, LinkedIn is not a place to share personal content. That’s really the more universal lesson here. When it comes to LinkedIn, the only content that should make its way into your feed is content related to your industry, role or professional skills.

As I mentioned, there are certain cases where personal stories or inspirational/motivational content has faith-oriented subtext. So long as it fits in with your professional history/path, then it is certainly an appropriate piece of content to share to your professional network. But, again, when there is no affiliation, better to keep your personal beliefs on networks where it makes more sense, like Facebook or Twitter.

BONUS: The Word ‘Guru’

I have talked about this in the past. People are tired of seeing the word, it makes absolutely no sense (never did) and anyone who refers to themselves as a ‘guru’ of any sorts probably isn’t. After all, they’re using a term like ‘guru’ to describe themselves. So, if you still tout yourself as a guru, quietly head over to LinkedIn and remove the term from your profile.

My (Official) Thoughts on Snapchat

My (Official) Thoughts on Snapchat

No one can deny the unbelievable power of this social media juggernaut, but where does it fit in the world of marketing?

Snapchat launched in 2011. About a year later, it was on my iPhone and I started sharing. It wasn’t long before (almost) everyone I knew was using the app, and not too long after that, I read about how Spiegel and his gang turned down $3 billion in cash from Facebook. As someone who has yet to be offered such a huge sum of money (fingers crossed!) I couldn’t comprehend how anyone could turn it down. And I know I wasn’t alone. But, by all accounts, it seems like the Snapchat team made the right move. (At least for now; let’s see if Wall Street continues its devaluation tirade.) So here we sit, about three years later and Snapchat holds a lofty valuation of $16 billion (after a recently closed $175 million round of funding).

Snapchat and Marketing

Let’s Look at the Valuation

The $16B valuation is flat with the round raised in May 2015. But, as a recent Vanity Fair article points out, a flat valuation at a time where banks like Morgan Stanley and funds like Fidelity are slashing portfolio valuations is something to be proud of. Even Snapchat isn’t immune; Fidelity knocked the high-flying Icarus out of the sky in November with a 25% writedown. (Of course, they just led the new round of funding, so read into that as you will.)

The point is, the tech world is in the process of balancing itself out. A little over 15 years ago, money was pouring into tech companies (that returned absolutely nothing) and Wall Street went belly up when the sky came crashing down. This devaluation comes at a moment of sobriety where smart investors realize they don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Snapchat is exciting, and it resonates with a coveted demographic: millennials. So while the Zenefits, Palantirs and Dropboxes of the world are getting serious wake up calls (you can’t just take money forever and not be expected to pay it back) Snapchat still has some rope to work with. But that rope is getting shorter.

Intentional Hurdles

Right now, it costs $750,000 a day to advertise on Snapchat. To say that there are very few brands that can afford that is an understatement. The kinds of brands with six-figure daily ad dollars are very few and very, very far between. But that’s more or less the idea: in Snapchat’s eyes, if you want mom n’ pop shop ads appearing everywhere, you can spend your time on Facebook or Twitter. The limited (and, so far, coveted) ad space that Snapchat offers goes only to those deemed worthy.

This business model looks great when it is first rolled out. After all, everyone knows about Snapchat and its audience of 13-24 year olds (and yes, they say 13-36, but 77% of Snapchat users are under the age of 24), so when they announce that they will be selling ad space, the largest brands in the world tear open their wallets to the tune of $10 million commitments. But most brands and organizations don’t have anywhere close to that kind of spending power. So when a $100 million ad revenue is projected, it needs to be looked at a little more closely.

Snapchat’s ‘Run Rate’

In October 2014, Snapchat unveiled its ad model. They made about $3 million dollars over the course of the next few months. (They lost close to $130 million, but that’s the world of startups for you.) Then Discover launched, Viacom was signed up with several properties, and in the summer of 2015, Snapchat started looking at ‘selling’ its ad space overtly for the first time. Of course, at that point those wallets I mentioned flung open.

$10 million dollar commitments from several brands is impressive – there’s no question there. But let’s be realistic: Snapchat on pace to make $100 million per year if things keep moving the way they are is a concept that makes a lot of dangerous assumptions. Perhaps the most dangerous of all is that brands will derive measurable return from the network in the long run and continue to pour huge sums of money into disappearing ad space.

Snapchat’s Marketing Value

As I’ve mentioned, Snapchat is an exciting platform that is hugely engaging. We’re talking 8 billion video views a day huge. But Spiegel has not minced words when it comes to their approach to advertising: “We care about not being creepy. That’s something that’s really important to us. […] We think it’s weird when brands try to act like your pal [by tracking your web browsing habits].” (Source) That’s great for user experience, not great for advertisers. If I need to reach 18 year olds in the market for a first car with a high propensity to engage with digital ads, I won’t spend close to a million dollars a day to probably reach them. Once the novelty wears off, I’ll want measurable return and granular targeting. It seems like Snapchat is starting to accept that, and this kind of targeting is being rolled out (with criteria like age, gender, location, device and context), but more expansive interest and behavioral targeting will be a necessity for any long-term success.

On that same note, measurement is a real problem. On Facebook, I can tell you almost anything about the people seeing my ads because I outlined a very clear persona when I launched my campaign. What’s more, I can tell you everything that audience is doing from an engagement standpoint, and I can track all of that activity from the medium to my website. Snapchat started with views and reach. If we’ve learned anything from Google Display, views are pretty meaningless. Two seconds with more than 50% of pixels visible. So when I’m told that I received a million views, I have no way of knowing if that is worth my time. Slowly, Snapchat has been working to improve these metrics (for example, by partnering with Nielsen to provide more insightful and useful data). But the big issue (for me as a marketer) isn’t necessarily with either of these problems (both of which can and are being fixed by the platform). My issue has to do with using the platform to drive results for business objectives.

Snapchat is, by nature, a native product that is completely end-to-end (hat tip to Steve Jobs for the lingo). I, as a user, am not interested in clicking through to another source (be it a website or the App Store or what have you) while I’m using the app. I’m there purely to digest content and engage with a community. So when (if ever) Snapchat develops a more universal platform where smaller brands and organizations can afford it, how will they be able to justify the investment? Brand awareness and community development are extremely important; there’s not question there. But from an investment standpoint, will these intangibles (for the most part) be worth it?

My Official Thoughts

So here’s what I think about Snapchat.

I love the product. I think it’s brilliant and it keep getting better (with the exception of a few notable hiccups – paid lenses anyone?). I think that brand humanization potential is huge, and the ability to reach millennials is unparalleled. There is a vast array of potential when it comes to content, and people love digesting this content from both friends and brands (as we’ve seen with plenty of case studies). But, I think a long-run monetization of the audience will be next to impossible. We’ve already seen that with paid replays and paid lenses, the latter of which was one of the worst rollout strategies I’ve ever seen. (I won’t get into that here, because it could easily be another thousand-word article.) Millennials don’t want to spend money, so Snapchat’s only hope for revenue will be advertising.

For now, brands are willing to pay, and the future looks good in terms of targeting and tracking, but the platform is inherently limited in terms of its broad appeal. Barring a paradigm shift, the value in advertising on the platform will only be available to huge, global brands that find tangible value in impressions. Most companies, especially SMBs need results linked to revenue, and right now that doesn’t seem to be on the radar for the app.

There is a lot that marketers can do with the platform, and when it comes to personal branding, I can’t think of too many (any, really) media that do a better job of helping one build one’s brand and connecting with an audience (#KeysToSuccess). I look forward to seeing how brands and individuals continue to use it creatively, and to continue leveraging it in the work I’m doing, but I do wonder about the long-term. It’ll be fun to watch.

Brand Trust is on the Rise

Brand Trust is on the Rise

Every year, Edelman releases the Edelman Trust Barometer, and for the first time in a long time, consumers are starting to trust in brands again.

The Edelman Trust Barometer (embedded below from SlideShare) was first released in 2001, and its purpose has consistently been to show the state of trust of the average consumer (globally) in different bodies. Those bodies range from governments to NGOs to, most recently added, ‘a person like me’. When this last one was added, we started to see some changes in the way marketing and, more universally, business works.

Edelman Trust Barometer Trends Each Year

In 2005-2006, as social media began to take shape and brands began to adopt these new media as a means of sharing a message, reviews, experiences and stories began to rise as the most trustworthy sources for accurate information. Not much has changed today; most of us still turn to websites like Yelp! and TripAdvisor when trying to decide where to go to dinner, or where to stay on a vacation. But this year, something was seen that we have not seen since the Great Recession back in 2008.

The 2016 report shows a significant rise in the trust consumers have in brands themselves. Everyone from NGOs, to businesses, to media to governments saw a rise in the trust factor, with businesses themselves receiving the highest jump of five points. Transparency mixed with an increase in the size of the informed public has led the charge upward. But for the general public (not part of the informed public, that has seen a rise in trust) trust has decreased. We’re now in the midst of a significant trust gap (shown below).

Edelman Trust Barometer 2016 Trust Gap

Now, I won’t dive too deep into the correlations found in terms of income inequality and trust disparity (those you can review in the complete report below) but suffice it to say that it is all pretty interesting. What’s more, the countries identified as having these gaps might surprise quite a few of you (I was certainly surprised by some).

The Exciting Stuff

All of these universal findings are noteworthy – that’s for certain. But when it comes to my interests – both professionally and personally – I have to say that the focus on influence and the value it holds in terms of trust is what I find most interesting.

When it comes to the sources most used (and trusted) for news and information, half – HALF – of the top sources are peer-influenced media. What is peer-influenced media, exactly? Media with low barriers to entry that are influenced by the population around them. So, while newspaper and television might not be peer-influenced (seeing as how there are significant barriers to entry and a small minority controlling what is deemed relevant content) blogs and social media are.

Edelman Trust Barometer Peer Influenced Media

Once again this year, peers and experts are seen to be more credible than executives or even government officials. In fact, ‘a person like yourself’ received an impressive four point bump this year (CEOs received an eight point bump, but are still trusted by less than 50% of the general public).

Edelman Trust Barometer Trust Levels

These rises, after years of low trust levels, present a great opportunity for business. While the informed public has been quicker to trust businesses, there is still an upward trend on which brands can capitalize. The key, however, is going to be living up to expectations.

With every move a brand makes being thoroughly scrutinized by the public, decisions need to be carefully considered. In today’s fast-paced, highly social marketplace, it is hard to understand how so many companies still stumble. Granted, for a lot of organizations, these new media meant adaptation, and many are still in the process of meeting the learning curve. But now that 80% of the general population believes that companies can make money and do good, it’s time to pay more attention to detail than ever before.

The startup culture has turned the CEO role from one shrouded in mystery, to one that the public wants to see more than anyone else. The positive side of this has been the rise in trust (from 41% to 49%) by the general public. The risk (to the executives themselves) is shifting focus away from traditional business metrics to social metrics. This is a hard culture to adopt, but one that the general population is deeming necessary.

See For Yourself

There is (unsurprisingly) a lot of great stuff in this year’s Trust Barometer findings. Scroll through the slides below and see if anything catches your eye!

Effectively Manage a Social Media Crisis [New eBook]

Effectively Manage a Social Media Crisis [New eBook]

This article originally appeared on t2MarketingInternational.com.

We hate to think about it, but we should always be prepared for the case of the dreaded social media crisis.

The speed at which information travels has increased exponentially with the advent of social media. Therefore, when a crisis breaks, a carefully thought out strategy and proper mechanisms need to be in place in order to mitigate the issue before it spirals out of control.

In our latest eBook, we walk you through the proper steps to managing a social media crisis, and provide you with an easy-to-follow document that will allow you to outline every aspect of a crisis, making it that much easier to handle should it ever occur.

Click here or on the image below to download the eBook today and find out how you can properly plan for a social media crisis and mitigate an issue spiralling out of control!

How 2 Manage a Social Media Crisis

An Important Facebook Lesson Worth Sharing

An Important Facebook Lesson Worth Sharing

I was locked out of Facebook for five days, and this is what that ordeal taught me.

On Friday morning, I woke up, went about my usual routine, and when I sat down to go through a couple of every day work checklist items, I realized something: I was ‘temporarily’ locked out of Facebook and I couldn’t seem to get back in.

When the message first popped up, I thought to myself, “No big deal. I’ll just change my password and I’ll be back in any second to get some work done.” Then it seemed as though I was caught in a never-ending loop, where the closest I could get to accessing my News Feed, Messenger and, most important, Facebook for Business account and ad campaigns was this:

Locked Out of Facebook

It was a pretty helpless feeling, particularly when you realize that Facebook has made a great effort to prevent individuals from reaching out to them with problems. Luckily, as an advertiser (and a few peers working there) there are alternative routes to dealing with this kind of thing. Granted, it wasn’t until after the holiday weekend that the engineering team was able to help me out, but I was fortunate enough to have a contact there that helped me deal with this issue quickly.

During my five-day Facebook-less stint, I realized a few things.

Facebook and the Hierarchy of Needs

Somewhere between love/belonging and self-actualization lies access to Facebook.

MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds

I remember talking to a friend who works at Facebook recently and she said something that has resonated with me for quite some time:

“People talk about the decline in Facebook usage and how ‘Facebook is dead’ but the truth is that when people stop paying attention to how much they use it and it is simply with them and accessible wherever they go, Facebook has won.”

Nothing has ever rung more true than this thought while I was locked out of Facebook. So much of my daily routine – both personally and professionally – relies on unblocked access to the network. I was lucky enough to have a contingency in place that allowed me to resolve the issue, and all I could think to myself was, “What would happen if I needed access to all of this and was just…helpless?”

Marketers: Make Plans

For one reason or another, I was locked out of Facebook. Maybe it’s because there were issues with our email server (and my business email was connected to the account) maybe it’s because of a glitch on Facebook’s side, but whatever the case was, I was locked out with no end in sight. On a personal side, I wasn’t happy, but I would get over it and move on. On the professional side, if I hadn’t had contingencies in place I would have been in a very bad spot.

As an agency, t2 has been active on Facebook for Business for quite some time. (On a side note, if you’re not currently using the platform for your client management, you’re missing out on the network’s best feature for agencies.) So, when my account went down, administrators within the agency could still access and manage ad campaigns and client Pages. That won’t be the case for everyone.

So, if you haven’t taken the necessary precautions to protect your clients, ads and assets, stop reading this article and do it now.

Take Advantage of Security Options

While Facebook might not make it easy to reach a human being at the company, they do provide several security measures that are designed to both protect you and help you out in a case like this.

Make sure to have a few emails set up, a phone number or two, a security question to which you know the answer, a credit card on file (assuming you’re an advertiser) and – the one that I forgot to set up and wonder now if it would have made a difference – Trusted Friends.

Your trusted friends can be found in the Security menu within your Facebook settings, and it is a pretty simple way to get your closest friends on Facebook to verify your identity with a code sent by the network. Take some time and really complete your profile in order to ensure that you never find yourself in the same kind of situation.

Conclusion

I was lucky (and, again, many thanks to my friends at Facebook that helped me out of this jam) but not everyone will be. As soon as I got back into the network, I went above and beyond in creating multiple redundancies in order to ensure that if ever this happens again (and who knows – it might) I won’t sweat it. Do yourself a favor and do the same; it’s not fun to realize all of the things you’ve overlooked once it’s too late to take any action.

Some Marketing Trends for Which to Be Thankful

Some Marketing Trends for Which to Be Thankful

In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are a few marketing trends for which we can all be thankful this year!

We all know that the marketing world evolves rapidly. In just a few short years we’ve seen the landscape change from buying print ads to AdWords to social advertising, and as we approach Thanksgiving, there is yet another collection of new marketing trends for which to be thankful this year.

Smart Automation

Marketing automation has been refined considerably over the last few years, and the powerful tools that exist on the market make it one of the most valuable assets in a marketer’s arsenal. What we are starting to see is the evolution of these technologies thanks in large part to their improved and more powerful analytical capabilities.

According to research conducted by Smart Insights, marketers feel as though marketing automation will have the greatest impact on their strategies and success in the coming year (shown below).

Marketing trends and commercial impact

This shouldn’t surprise us considering the power behind a marketing automation software. As machine learning becomes less of a luxury and more of a standard and these technologies become more intelligent and capable of truly optimizing conversion rates and decreasing the length of the buyer journey (which they are currently in the process of doing) we can expect to see marketing automation become the central pillar for many marketing professionals’ strategies.

Simpler Data

As exciting as the concept of ‘big data’ has been for a lot of marketers, the subject has been largely too complex for most to breach. In the chart above, you can see that ‘big data’ is of growing importance, and a large part of that is the simplification of its applications and the lowering of barriers to entry into the field.

If you’ve read some of the articles I’ve written about data, then you probably already know my feelings on the subject; I have long asserted that in order to get any use out of data, we need to think about it in context and look at it on the micro level. Now, we are finally seeing a rise in that way of thinking and the release of tools that allow for the simplification of data use. That trend is growing, and data will be a much easier beast to tackle in the coming year.

All Mobile, All Day

At this point, talking about the importance and growth of mobile is about as redundant as it is necessary. Though we all know how crucial mobile is (see the chart below) there are still new facts and justifications released every day that further strengthen that point.

KPCB Importance of Mobile Marketing Trends

We’re spending more time on our mobile devices, mobile advertising is generating exceptional results and this year, for the first time, mobile web traffic is expected to surpass desktop traffic. All that (and a whole lot more) is reason enough to keep emphasizing how crucial mobile is and will continue to be.

Departmental Integration

The silo approach is dead. I’m not entirely sure why organizations still approach business in this way, but thanks to the advent and permeation of communications and media at every level of the business, it is no longer an option to look at your departments as operating in a vacuum. Everybody needs to be involved in everybody else’s business.

That is not to say that there still should not be carefully outlined objectives and tasks, but in order to find success, departments – from marketing to customer service to your executive team – need to work together. The reason for this is twofold: first, communication and action is happening too quickly to operate in a silo format. Simply put, buck passing is not an option when the whole world can hear about something in a matter of hours. Second, your organization is no longer just the big corporate facade, but rather the people inside it – all the people. Communication is not a department, but a part of your culture, and culture affects everyone and everything.

We’re seeing this happen at both large and small companies, quickly and slowly. The important thing, however, is that we are seeing this happen, and we can expect to continue to see this trend expand in the coming year.

Enter the Chief Marketing Technologist

Last time I counted the number of marketing technologies that existed on the market today, I lost count. At this point, there are well over two thousand. That, by the way, is not a type (which is why I typed it out). There are well over 2,000 pieces of marketing technology and MarTec clouds and add-ons and all sorts of tools that exist on the market. To know what to use and how best to use it, you’re going to need someone who lives and breathes this stuff.
Marketing technology landscape marketing trends

The Chief Marketing Technologist is a relatively new position (no more than a few years old at this point) but one that is quickly growing in value and importance. Tools are designed to not only make life easier, but help you build your business. Knowing which tools are right to help you achieve your objectives in the shortest timeframe possible while maximizing profits is crucial to the success of your company.

When you consider the fact that there are as many tools as there are listed above (plus hundreds more that are not listed at this point) and how important these tools are, it is no wonder we are seeing the rapid rise in the implementation of this position.

Conclusion

As with every year, there is plenty to get excited about and be thankful for in the world of marketing this year. We have seen a lot of changes, but those changes mean that the market is evolving. Processes are simplifying, the market is growing and capabilities are expanding. It should be an exciting year in our field, and there is no doubt that at this rate, we can expect to see some great advances next year as well.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Instagram Ads and the Future of Social

Instagram Ads and the Future of Social

As Instagram ads are rolled out to the general public, it is interesting to think on the future of social and digital advertising.

Instagram is about to explode. OK – it has already exploded by most definitions, but it is about to explode as an advertising platform. The Instagram advertising API has been switched on, and marketers simply can’t wait to dig into it. In fact, there is so much anticipation that analysts are predicting that by 2020 ad revenues could be close to $4 billion!

Instagram ads projected revenue

That’s 3,500% growth in five years!

Thinking about this brand new (publicly available) ad space and how many Instagram users will soon be digesting ads at the same rate they do on Facebook or Google, one wonders about the future of the socialsphere and what we might see coming out of the industry in just a few short years (or even months!).

Instagram

So, now we will see ads. We’ve already seen some, but these have mostly been tests and betas run by the companies willing to make the significant investments that come with these types of pilots. Now everyone from your local clothing store to international Instagram sensations can begin promoting content.

This has been a long-awaited integration and we have reason to be excited (on the professional front). As with all things free and tech, however, it won’t be long before people are up in arms over the inclusion of paid content. “How dare they?!” we will shout. But will it make any difference? Probably not. People will still open the app ten times per day to pass the time, only now the occasional snarky comment will be left on a brand’s ad.

It’s funny to think that that social network that (I think) has done the best job of seamlessly integrating advertising without an uproar from the public – Twitter – is having the hardest time finding its stride.

And speaking of Twitter…

Twitter Gets a Much-Needed Takeover

Twitter is struggling. Jack Dorsey is a smart kid – there’s no denying that – but he is also the CEO of payment processing startup Square, which is also set to go public. Twitter needs a full-timer at the helm if they ever want to succeed, and the only way to get the network on track might be through a takeover.

Rumblings can be heard that Google will be the most likely to buy the network. After all, Google has decidedly failed when it comes to social (more on that shortly) and Twitter would be a great fit. What’s more, even if Google paid triple the stock price (which they would never do, but humor me for a moment) they would still have double-digit billions in cash leftover. If they paid a slight premium on what Twitter is worth now, they would be able to buy it four times over.

But will Google be the one to take it over? Probably not. (But still maybe. But probably not.)

Larry Page and the Google M&A team are looking to acquire companies that are literally changing the world. Twitter would be a valuable tool when it comes to expanding their mobile and native ad presence (which Facebook is dominating, and Instagram will, too) but Twitter has (probably) affected all the change in the world that it is going to affect. Google tends to go bigger picture.

That said, someone is more than likely going to step in and scoop up the company. Even though it has struggled (despite a smart move to come into the market at an undervalued stock price) there is still a lot of value there.

As For Google

Google has conclusively failed when it comes to building a ‘Facebook Killer’. It built the opposite, in fact. Google built a network that put into perspective just how well executed Facebook really is. So what will become of the ‘social layer’ Google once boasted?

Required Google+ sign in is gone, the building that once housed Google’s tentpole for social is emptying (slowly and sadly) and everything is moving towards alternatives. That said, there are a few things we can still expect to see from Google on the social front.

I wrote an article a little while ago that details what we can expect to see from Google+ and Google’s social efforts. Take a look at it here.

Conclusion

Certainly, there is a lot we can expect to see in the realm of social. It is a constantly evolving space with a ton on the horizon. While these might be the trends of the day, expect so much more to come in the next few months (or even days, who knows?).

Reasons Why Charging for Guest Posts is a Terrible Idea

Reasons Why Charging for Guest Posts is a Terrible Idea

If you’re willing to accept guest posts on your blog or website, don’t bother charging for the ‘privilege’.

I was recently pointed in the direction of a website called Careerealism, which happens to have a guest contributor network. This isn’t uncommon; a lot of websites, blogs and communities offer a chance for guests to contribute to their network. I’ve personally written for websites like Search Engine Journal and Social Media Today, so offering guest spots isn’t an unfamiliar practice. What I was surprised to see with Careerealism, however, is that they charge people to write for them.

Don't charge for guests posts

 

Charging for guest posts is a horrendous practice for a whole host of reasons (a few of which are listed here). Sure, these guys have a fairly substantial number of unique visitors (though I think they might be bolstering those numbers a little bit, as my research through Alexa and Compete put their unique monthly visitors substantially lower in recent months, not to mention the fact that they’re certainly double-counting a lot of their social audience members, which is visible right away) but is it worth paying $130 per month to be a part of their ‘expert’ program?

No matter how you spin it, it never is. Here are a few of the reasons why charging for guest posts will always be the lesser of your options when running a blog that accepts guest contributors.

You immediately lose credibility.

Being a good writer does not make one an ‘expert’ in his or her field. Here is the list of requirements to become an ‘expert’ contributor on Careerealism:

  • Must be an author, consultant, advisor, or coach for a career-related industry (i.e. social media consutant, life coach, etc.)
  • Must have a website or blog
  • Must submit a writing sample (URL from previous guest posting/blog posts)
  • Must have an updated LinkedIn profile
  • Must have an updated Twitter account
  • Must provide a headshot and bio

Where exactly are the credentials that indicate that the person submitting their profile is an expert? Oh, I see, there are none.

One larger problem that this showcases (which I will not get into here) is that the ease with which personal brands can be established (he says as he writes from his self-titled blog) makes terms like ‘expert’ and the oft-overused ‘guru’ meaningless. Moreover, in this case, use of the term ‘expert’ is diluted even further by the fact that these ‘experts’ are paying for the title.

Imagine if MDs has the option to either pay standard tuition for medical school, go through their years of practice and receive their degree OR pay slightly more to skip the schooling and receive the degree right away. Having $130 in disposal income and a registered URL does not an expert make.

You limit your contributor network.

Anybody who works in the field of marketing, particularly those who focus heavily on social, will understand immediately why a potential network of contributing writers is shrunk substantially when they’re charged to write. It’s too easy to write for free.

Granted, to make it onto some of the larger publications it takes some time, a lot of work on your part to build that personal brand and, in some cases, a friend on the inside, but that effort is well worth it when you receive the credibility that comes with being published on one of these reputable sites. Readers can see right through that when the blog to which you’re posting very publicly touts their pay-to-post structure. So savvy bloggers will naturally steer clear. The problem with that is that it’s the savvy bloggers that you want.

Which brings me to my next point…

Article quality goes down the drain.

When savvy, experienced writers are turned off by your structure (and they always are in cases like this) you’re left with the bunch that is more desperate to have their name published with a third party than willing to craft high-quality content.

These are the cases where you see lazy posts that are repeated all over the place (with different titles). Case in point, when I type ‘personal brand’ into my finder on the Careerealism blog, I get 9 results…on the first page of posts.

You want honest, unique articles. Lists are great – the stats prove that – but subjective content that dissects phenomena, news and one’s industry are what make guest blogs great. There is only so much value that can come from reading list after list of ‘expert’ tips.

What’s more, if I, as a writer, am paying anything to write, I want to churn out as much content as I possibly can (with the expectation that, because I am a pre-approved ‘expert’, it will all be published) in order to get some value out of the money that I’m spending. Again, this often leads to shorter, repetitive articles that generally won’t do much to add to the reader’s experience. And that means that it won’t be long before reader attrition rates surpass acquisition rates, and you’re forced to try and explain to your paying contributors why they should stick around as readership declines.

Conclusion

This is an issue that I feel pretty strongly about (as you can see) because it cheapens the hard work that so many people put into building their personal brands. Sites that offer these kinds of programs dilute the value of real experts that have worked to earn that title (though hopefully not by touting it on LinkedIn, because that also cheapens the term).

I also think I should make it clear that Careerealism is not the only site like this. There are plenty out there. This just happens to be the example I’ve decided to write about.

When Should You Address Negative Comments on Social Media?

When Should You Address Negative Comments on Social Media?

When should negative comments on social media be addressed, and how?

I was recently speaking at a conference in Las Vegas, and a particular question kept popping up: “How and when should I deal with negative comments on social media?”

negative comments on social media

Photo credit: emich.edu

The most common answer is that every brand needs to deal with every negative comment that arises for fear that a single unaddressed issue will sink a company. But that’s not true. I know that this opinion isn’t the most popular one, but it’s the reality. If we truly aspire to transition into fully integrated social enterprises, then we are going to have to implement a strategy that evaluates, grades and prioritizes negative comments on social media on a case by case basis.

Negative comments and remarks on social channels can be fairly tricky. On the one hand, you want to address those that openly criticize your brand. On the other hand, you don’t want to get into an argument on a public forum. Jay Baer puts it really well: Anything past a second comment, and you’re in an argument.(I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the idea.)

There are two things you want to consider when it comes to handling negative comments.

First, when it comes to a large scale crisis, you want to have a carefully laid out plan in place. When there are comments coming from every which way, you’re simply not going to be capable to handle every one. That is especially true for a brand with a large following. So you’ll want to have a certain set of criteria that outline who gets attention. Does they user have a large following? Have they been a longtime, loyal customer? Do they hold a degree of influence with social users that you would deem to be of high-value to your business? Are they making a valid point, or simply trying to cause a problem by leaving a comment?

These and several other factors should determine the priority by which you answer unhappy customers. You also want to set a cutoff time. If you respond to someone hours after they tweet about your brand, you might revive a sentiment that they had moved past long ago, and that presents a whole new problem.

On a smaller scale, when someone posts a negative comment, you will want to have a strategy in place to deal with it sooner rather than later. Again, responding on a public forum hours or even days after a post appears can be as detrimental as ignoring something.

Identify whether or not a user has a legitimate complaint. (After all, sometimes so called ‘trolls’ just want to smear a brand, at which point blocking them might be a good option, but use that carefully.) If they do, handle it as you would any customer service issue. Showcasing that you care and can find a solution is something people appreciate – whether they issued the complaint or simply looking on.

Often times, addressing negative comments is a case-by-case issue, but having strategies for both versions in place so that you can deal with these issues easily and without any major hiccups is important.

Thinking About the Future of Social Networking as a Marketer

Thinking About the Future of Social Networking as a Marketer

We might not have a crystal ball, but one thing we can be certain of is that there will be a lot of changes in the future of social networking.

Marketers are always trying to predict the future. We always aim to be on top of whatever’s trending and find a way to (creatively) hijack the medium for our own (or our clients’) benefit. But more often than not, the reality is that by the time the majority of marketers hop on the bandwagon of a new medium, it is already something from which trendsetters have moved away.

The Future of Social Networking

But all is not lost!

Copious amounts of research provides us with insights into the future of social networking, and we can leverage these reports and information in order to keep up with what’s happening and ensure that our campaigns see the results we hope to achieve.

So where exactly are we, and what exactly can we expect to see when it comes to the future of social networking?

Teens Control the Future

In a Piper Jaffray Spring 2015 report, Taking Stock with Teens, research found that teens (aged 14-18) directly control $75 billion in discretionary spending in the United States. That’s roughly 4% of total discretionary spending in the country. Considering the fact that the definition of discretionary spending includes everything from new clothing to candy (basically, if you have clothes, are eating minimum calorie intakes and sleep with a roof over your head, any spending is discretionary) that’s a pretty big chunk of change.

Essentially, the long and short of this tells us that teens have a good deal of control over how their parents spend the money they earn. But it’s more than just the money.

The report also found that while brands are still important, the 2008 recession caused a foundational shift in how teens perceive value. Now, it is much more about the experience than the possession itself. So, if a teen feels a connection to a brand, that is the one they will choose. Brands need to be cultivating relationships, but as noted above, so many start too late.

Businesses are Behind

Not only are brands starting late, but they often find themselves in the wrong place. Facebook recently celebrated a milestone: it now has over two million registered advertisers. That’s not a major ratio of registered businesses (only about 5%) but from a volume standpoint, the network is making positive strides. That’s great! But tastemakers have already started looking elsewhere for their next thrill.

Barely two years ago, Facebook dominated the market in terms of importance to trendsetting demographics (teens and young adults). Now that level of importance has plummeted.

Important Network and the Future of Social Networking

In terms of where these key demographics rank Facebook in terms of importance, it is less than fifty percent as important as they thought it two years ago. Snapchat is about to surpass it and it has more or less swapped places with Instagram.

And yet, the majority of investment is going into Facebook.

Now, this is by no means claiming that every business should be active on Instagram and Snapchat. After all, those networks simply don’t work for a lot of verticals considering the rich nature of the media shared. But ask yourself if you are investing in a network where popularity is declining among your key demographics. If the answer is yes, you need to look elsewhere for success.

Mobile More Important than Ever

This is nothing particularly new. On the heels of Google’s ‘Mobilegeddon’, as the update has been dubbed, it has never been clearer that optimizing everything for mobile is a key (if not the key) to success. But having a responsive or mobile-friendly website is the highest point at the tip of the iceberg.

If you’re running a campaign, think mobile-first. If you’re sharing content, share something that people will be able to digest on a mobile device. The question you need to ask yourself until it becomes second nature is, “Will this work on a smartphone or tablet?” If there is even a moment of hesitation in your response, you need to rework the idea until it works on a mobile device.

Hypertargeting

Your audiences are out there. I say audiences because for every bit of content, every campaign, every new product, there is going to be a niche much more responsive what you have to say than anyone else.

The ability to hypertarget consumers has never been easier. On social media, people share more information about themselves than even the most detailed of censuses or surveys could ever collect. We, as marketers, need to start thinking about these data as segmenting criteria, and cut our audience down to the very small groups that fir a selection of characteristics. Then, we need to craft our communications strategies to appeal to the idiosyncrasies exhibited in each group.

Yes – there is more work involved. But imagine having the ability to skyrocket your conversions across hundreds of audience segments as opposed to hoping for a slightly above average conversion with your larger, semi-segmented audiences.

Conclusion

There is plenty more to come on the social networking front, but these trends are rapidly approaching (and, for the most part, already here). With these few tidbits in mind, we can begin to think somewhat differently about our next campaign and our overall marketing initiatives in order to keep with the upward swing of things, and avoid jumping on a bandwagon that has already been abandoned by the demographics that matter most.