How Google Killed the Broad Match Keyword?

Sometimes, even for the largest of companies, adjustments and changes in one place can have unexpected consequences. Certainly as the world’s largest advertising network continues to turn the screw on advertisers, the cracks are appearing.

When we first started using Google Adwords, in the early days, it was clear that this was a gravy train for most of our clients – simple, easy way to generate income and business.

What Is a Broad Match Keyword?

A broad match keyword is one which initially matched based on the words appearing in any sequence or spacing in a phrase. So, for example, if your broad match was for: Car Finance

Your advert would appear for phrases with ‘car’ and ‘finance’ in them. From ‘how can I finance my car‘ to ‘What kind of car needs finance?’

However as Google had searches to fill, and also realised that it was a pain to manage misspells, it broadened the reach of ‘broad match’ to being:

Broad match lets a keyword trigger your ad to show whenever someone searches for that phrase, similar phrases, singular or plural forms, misspellings, synonyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), related searches and other relevant variations.”

What this means is that actually, no longer is the match broad, it is ridiculously broad. It means that your keywords could appear for phrases like ‘cat finance’ or ‘van financing’. Making ‘broad match’ look more like ‘vague match’.

What This Meant Until 2016

Until early this year, there was still a way to get broad match to work. This meant doing three things:

  1. Using a + for the most important keywords, which was an adjustment made by Google in response to this concern. So, if you use ‘+car’ then ‘car’ has to be in the phrase you are bidding on, and
  2. Being more aggressive on negative keywords to avoid bidding on the wrong phrases, and
  3. Targeting lower positions in the search rankings to achieve a lower cost per click which would make the lack of targeting affordable

And that was all right for the recent past, but now the final nail has been driven into the broad match coffin – the reduction in listing numbers in February.

This tactical move from Google was designed to limit the amount of positions for Pay Per Click so that advertisers would be forced to pay a premium for advertising or find somewhere else to generate business.

However the knock on effect is that because the targeting is so loose, and cost has risen, the return on investment is no longer there for most broad match phrases. Most advertisers should be looking very carefully at the performance of these kinds of matches.

Was it Really Unexpected, or was it Planned?

Of course, this suggests that this kind of ripple effect is down to a sequence of unfortunate events over which Google has little or no control. Yet we know this is not the case, that Google checks everything, tests everything and launches based on it’s data.

What this change has effectively done is squeezed more out of the busy and competitive phrases, but at the expense of longer tail income. It’s a challenge: search overall is slowly sinking and Google needs to continue the momentum or their share price will suffer.

The Ergo Digital View: Short Term Win, but Long Term Irreversible Loss

We maintain that this is, however, a short term decision and will have a negative impact in due course. It is relying on the inertia of advertisers not to spot that they are suddenly paying more for less.

However there is a problem: the one piece of data which Google cannot work out through short-term testing is long term trends and effects. Inertia is not permanent, and customers will get wise (some fast than others) to the lessening performance.

Given all the tools we have at our disposal, tracking, attribution and conversions, we can see enough to tell us when something needs to be optimised ‘out’.

And, so it’s time to publish the obituary for broad match. It was fun while it lasted.

Goodnight and thanks for all the clicks!

Posted in Ads

Google’s new PPC features are loaded with AI

At Google’s San Francisco marketing conference, held in May, the internet super-corporation made some startling claims about the future of its AdWords tool. Of huge interest to anyone who engages in pay per click campaigns in the UK, the event – named Google Marketing Next – saw a number of innovations added to Google’s current offering. Aimed at larger businesses in the main, their presentation of key new features was certainly designed to be eye-catching, but what of the details which will be of more interest to smaller organisations? Read on to discover the future of pay per click marketing and how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will play an ever greater role.

New Customisation Features Help You Hone In

In the near future, Google will allow e-marketing professionals to perform a query that will let them see who, or what sort of surfer, is accessing their website via a pay per click campaign in AdWords. This means that for the first time it will be possible to tell whether a particular search term is being clicked through on from a genuine customer or perhaps someone simply doing a bit of research. Google’s Director of Audience Products, Bhanu Narasimhan, said that this function will allow for conversion rates for in-market audiences that are improved by ten per cent, on average.

Any in-market search feature is likely to improve the ability to attract specific types of consumer. However, this is not all Google have announced. At the present time, there are just under 500 types of in-market audiences that can be displayed within AdWords. In a further announcement made by Karen Yao, the organisation’s Group Product Manager for Ad Platforms, fully customisable in-market audience will now be possible, too. For example, by adding keywords that might have been used by someone looking for a product or service you sell, it will be possible to customise an in-market audience specifically for them. Thanks to the big data and machine learning offering of Google, this should allow for a much greater targeting of customers, new and old.

Target Your Clients’ Life Events

In the past, life event targeting relied on fairly simple AI, but Google’s Tensorflow processing system has revolutionised it. Getting to grips with would-be consumers who are going through a targetable life event means being able to gain a distinct advantage over competitors.

Whether you market to recent graduates, to people who have just bought a home, or to newlyweds, advertising to people in a more structured and, frankly, intelligent way is now available due to Google’s investment in this fast-moving technology.

Use Attribution Modelling Features to Track Customer Interactions

Google Attribution is already available in AdWords, DoubleClick and Analytics, so what needed to be improved? Basically, the issue with many attribution models is that they are somewhat limited when it comes to reproducing real-world behaviours. People just don’t ‘behave’ online in the way that we assume they might. Nevertheless, thanks to Google’s updated store visit data, better store sales data and a consolidation of data that is easier to read, marketing professionals won’t need to try to use the existing tools in the same way anymore. For example, constantly tweaking models for one-off or seasonal behaviours will be done away with. Due to Google’s machine learning, data-driven models will now cleverly weigh up how each click point in a sales and marketing process contributes to the overall outcome.

In Summary

There are four key points to take away from Google Marketing Next. They are:

1. The growth of artificial intelligence in the way Google will run services like AdWords
2. The increased accent on life event targeting.
3. The ability to customise in-market audiences.
4. The fact that automation is likely to play an ever greater role in e-marketing this year and next.

Therefore, it is going to take even more specialisation and expertise to successfully squeeze the best out of e-marketing campaigns in the future. It looks like another learning curve for agencies and another reason why you shouldn’t attempt to use all these tools yourself!

Digital Marketing: why it pays to take a holistic approach

Generalists versus experts

So what’s it to be? Are we all generalists these days or does the world really belong to experts?Businesswoman in dress with arms crossed

Do we all need to carve increasingly narrow furrows in order to achieve?

It’s a debate that’s raged for years and been thrown into sharper relief by today’s business imperative for everyone to be able to ‘do more with less’.

Does that mean therefore, that people are increasingly becoming generalists and this skill is becoming more valued? Or is the complexity of our modern, fast paced and technologically infused business environment mean that people have to be an expert in something to enable them to be able to contribute meaningfully?

A recent expert review concluded that both skills are required, but at different times and what’s really important, is demonstrating versatility and being able to interchange these skills for different situations.

And how does this question translate into the digital world? Let’s imagine you are looking to employ a digital agency to help with some specific marketing activities, for instance search (whether organic or paid or both)? Do you go to a specialist SEO agency or PPC agency or a more ‘broad brush’ digital agency (like Ergo Digital for instance)?

The pitfalls of a narrow focus

Well, the specialist SEO agency is going to be great at SEO (you would hope so wouldn’t you!) and will improve your score on the organic ranking. Naturally the PPC agency is likely to be good at driving the appropriate traffic to your site according to some carefully chosen keywords. However, and it is a big however, each agency is likely to ‘bang the drum’ for their particular expertise, they’d be silly not to, and invest an inordinate amount of value to what they do , even if the activity was of narrow or possibly limited utility.

The knock on effect of this is that often businesses commit to a solution which may not be the best route to growth and performance. Certainly unless you are 100% sure that you know that a specific method is the best means to grow your opportunity, you may be left disappointed.

In our experience, digital marketing doesn’t respond to the narrow approach – its more interconnected than that, and the importance of one particular tactic versus another is likely to fluctuate according to each situation you are looking at.

Every business needs to nurture and grow every opportunity

New Opportunities - Green Pushpin on a Map Background.

Another difficulty with putting ‘all of your eggs in one basket’ is that every business is never just a static enterprise. All businesses change and evolve with time. Some grow, others shrink, but they all, to a lesser or greater degree change. Which means that your digital marketing tactics likewise should not stay static but needs to change as your business evolves.

Finally, we now know that it takes a number of touchpoints with potential prospects in order for them to convert into being customers – so often a journey can start with, say, AdWords, then move on to organic, possibly then email marketing and finally social – so banging a single drum may not have the best impact.

So the picture now looks a little more complicated, doesn’t it? There seems to be more of an imperative to look more broadly when reviewing your likely digital partner. So how do you recruit the right agency?

Let’s outline the ideal characteristics for ‘the perfect’ agency and think of some of the benefits these characteristics would bring:

  • Possesses an ability to see the bigger picture (its important to recognise which tactics are of greatest value at this point in the company’s evolution)
  • Has the required degree of specialisation to be able to leverage successfully each digital tactic
  • Has an understanding of the full suite of digital marketing tactics and the relative strengths and weaknesses of each when applying to different situations
  • Possesses flexibility, versatility and independence – to apply tactics when they are needed rather than because ‘we do this’

Or, if you wish to keep things simple – just employ Ergo Digital. More traffic, more conversions, more business….

Dangerous Mistakes in Email Marketing: How Your Business Could Flatline Before You Hit Send

Despite all of the recent hype about new marketing techniques that use SMS or social media, “classic” email marketing is by no means a thing of the past.

In fact, email marketing still has an extremely high ROI of over $32 for every dollar spent, with the average now being around $42. Of course, such success rates hold true when a company takes advantage of email marketing to the best of their abilities, using data about their customer base and smart email optimization techniques.

If you are already using email marketing and not seeing these sorts of results, make sure you are following the best email marketing strategies available.

Use some of these tips to take your email marketing campaign to the next level:

Make Your Readers Want to Open Your Email

opening door like emailsOne of the biggest hurdles in email marketing is getting your customers to actually read your message. This is because other common marketing problems, like knowing that your message has been delivered properly, are minor concerns when it comes to emails, which send you a response when your message hasn’t sent properly or other technical difficulties arise. Similarly, people have been found to check their email on average 34 times a day—largely thanks to the popularity of smart phones—meaning your email can be read dozens of times throughout the day. In light of this knowledge, your challenge is actually getting your customers to open your email and not send it directly into the trash.

You should consider the subject of your email very carefully. If you think this might be what is inhibiting your email campaign’s success, you can contact an email marketing agency or digital strategy agency to find out what messages your clients will best respond to. Research like this could increase the rate of opening by over 25% at times.

Perhaps most importantly, you must ensure that your website landing pages are optimized for mobile devices. If a potential client accesses your site via mobile device and it takes forever to load, or is difficult to navigate, you will have shot your entire marketing campaign in the foot. Responsive email design is a crucial party of your campaign—so don’t overlook it in this era of mobile phone mania.

Pay Attention to Alt Tags

Estimates find that over 80% of users have images disabled on their email accounts, probably to avoid downloading malware and to speed up processing. If one of your readers with this feature opens your email and only sees a bunch of empty frames, they will obviously ignore your message and odds are they will unsubscribe from your list. Add alt tags to all of your images. These should be concise, but still contain your SEO keyword and the basic message you want to get across to your customers.

Make the Email Interesting and Interactive

email marketingThere’s nothing worse than getting a form email that simply tells you to buy a product because, well, your company thinks they should. You have to make your email applicable to the clients that are receiving it and actually interesting for them to read. Don’t send out generic form emails to all of your customers – make groups based on whatever characteristics are applicable to your company’s product or message. An even better way to engage with your audience is to place a “call to action” in the email. Ask them to leave their opinion, vote for their favorite item, enter into a contest, complain to their local officials, or whatever makes sense given your organization’s goals. The point is to give your customers a way to really interact with your business or at least the cause that it is based on. Asking your customers to actively participate can be the difference between a successful email marketing campaign and a dud.

Take your company to the next level with an email marketing campaign tailored to your specific customer base and company needs, and use these tips to make sure you see the ROI you have been looking for!

Brand Building in the Digital age

Some definitions [and the good news first….]

The mechanics of developing the elements of a brand have remained constant, hooray! And it’s still fundamentally about the sweet spot between:

  • What a product/service does (its rational attributes and advantages)
  • The customer’s needs and how your product/service can satisfy them
  • An emotive charge – the values you wish to associate with your brand

So, the definition of branding as loyalty beyond reason still holds true.

But, what’s changed is pretty much everything else surrounding the brand, in other words the landscape the brand has to thrive in.

This time it’s different [sort of…]

While the core mechanics of what makes a brand a brand hasn’t really altered (your positioning is still defined as the space you occupy in the mind of your customers) what has changed is how you interact with those customers.

The digital age has fundamentally shifted the economics of marketing. That’s irrefutable.

What price loyalty?

Branding in the digital ageSo how has the landscape changed? Well for one thing consumers have so much more choice these days that they don’t have to show as much loyalty as before. Remember when you could get a customer and you had them for life (barring any screw ups obviously) – increasingly that’s not the case anymore.

Sure, there will still be some old (and in the main they tend to be old) advocates or brand aficionado who will remain loyal to you until the day they die, but that’s not the default position these days, they are merely a hangover of days past.

Today’s brand consumer is much more savvy, cynical and ultimately promiscuous. With way more choice than before. And are exposed to much more information not just about your brand, but that of your competitors. So it’s a lot harder to reach them these days.

You have to be able to cut through the clutter.

Customer interactions are now two way

And that’s not all; today’s consumers also expect to have a stake in your brand – marketers responded to this trend by customising their products (remember Burger King’s ‘have it your way?’).

In other words, they want to interact with your brands. There is a caveat of course, and this still holds true. They are looking for brands which share the same values as them. So you need to make sure that that part of your brand is as clearly communicated as possible.

This presents both opportunities and  threats. Do you also remember Nike’s customisation sweatshop PR debacle?   So you see, there can be as many challenges with a digital brand as opportunities. You have to be a lot more transparent with your brand these days.

The digital world means there is nowhere to hide.

A messy digital landscapeNumbers of Network

Another major change that the digital age has wrought is that there are so many more touch points to this interaction.

Now it’s a whole lot messier. And more iterative. With many more ways for a customer to interact with you. So how do you engage appropriately with your audience?

Today’s audience are looking for positive experiences. Not only that, they’re looking for a brand to provide content which is relevant to their lives and authentic. Transparency is key here.

So, to conclude, it’s about being creative on how you engage your audience to make it meaningful for them. Check out how Antwerp Zoo found a whole new audience by using the birth of a baby elephant to grow their visitor numbers. 

In the next blog post, we’ll give you some pointers on how you can start to engage your audience using social media.

Digital & Social Communications – ignore, adjust or optimise?

We are more connected than ever, yet actually reaching people has never been harder!

 

Digital social email sms automation methodsCertainly that’s what we see from both ours and our clients’ perspective and it was brought into sharp focus preparing for leading a session on how technology can help growth with the Worldwide Association of Girl Guides and Scouts (WAGGGS) last week.

In the session one of the main subject areas was the diversification of digital communications channels – phone, email, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, Pinterest, Viber, Twitter, Instagram and QR codes were a handful of the 20+ methods mentioned by the audience.

I suspect if we had more time we could have looked at regional differences and also teased out the differences between what is used, and what is of use – which are, of course, completely different things.

Yet, there is little doubt in our mind that when we look at the current digital landscape, this developing complexity is a continuing trend resulting in more fragmented and complex communications.

So, given this, any business or organisation need to consider an appropriate response; we have identified three possible reactions to these developments:

1. Ignore: keep on keeping on

The first response is to keep doing what you are doing. Let’s say your preference is email – you can simply say: ‘no email means no email’. It’s the recipients’ fault for not having an email address, so be it. Clearly it is they who need to change.

Yet, this approach ignores two really important considerations. Firstly, these are not just anonymous users, they are your stakeholders – the life-blood of your organisation. Even if the win is short term, and the blame is passed on, you are distancing yourself from them. And, the medium-term result is that many will drift away and become less engaged or participatory. Hardly ‘inclusive’?

Secondly, your reach through your stakeholders to others is increasingly reliant on digital. Email tends to be the most user-friendly method, but not being a ‘social’ tool, has little ripple-effect opportunity for others to like, share or post.

2. Adjust: start pedalling…

So, the next response is to adapt to suit the range of channels – don’t just email, but also text, call, post and tweet. Make sure everyone is reached, ideally through at least one channel. Setup accounts in different social media, manage all the responses.

The problems start mounting, though. Firstly, this is reliant on the individual having the capacity to manage all these channels and, if they have other work to do, it isn’t reasonable to expect them to be spending all their waking hours managing this diversification of dialogue.

Secondly, the increasing range of channels makes this approach self-defeating. Just as they master the ten channels in front of them, another three get added. Then one changes. Then five of their recipients move from one to another.

In the context of the meeting with WAGGGS, most of the frontline staff are volunteers, and many have ‘day jobs’ and  need to focus most of their attention on preparing and managing the actual events (not just the communication of what is happening). They deal with small groups, with sometimes as few as ten recipients. Catering for all options equally and doing it all manually is not going to happen.

3. Optimise: use the modern method

So, if we know that we cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach, but we also realise that managing all these channels is going to be too onerous on those using the systems, what can we do about it? We need help, the right kind of help. Selecting the right solution is crucial to delivering the right stakeholder experience.

The answer is ‘software’ as it can not only help manage the sends, lists and channels, but should be able to make it faster to send in the first place. It could even make this ‘multi-sending’ more efficient than sending one email. However giving the answer ‘software’ is not very helpful for the purposes of meeting this specific need.

So, let’s look at the constituent parts to help identify the right solution:

  • Cloud based: the software needs to be in the Internet so that it doesn’t limit the user to a single machine or location to be managed
  • Global: the software needs to be available wherever it is needed. The company office doesn’t need to be global, but the software needs to function across boundaries without license issues
  • Versatile: the software needs to be a multi-channel communication solution. Most just do email. Some offer chat and SMS. But you need more options than that.
  • Intuitive: the interface needs to be easy to use and easy to understand. With simple e-learning the user can get to know the system and be able to start sending without the need for great technical knowledge
  • Programmable: the system should involve some kind of decision-making system where users can either programme in specific logic for sending, for escalations (i.e. if no response to email, send text) and even receiving responses. This is more than just automation – it is smart, flexible logic

 

Summary: the future, realised

Love your marketing channelsThe truth with most customer software is that it was built at a time when most businesses wanted solely to move from spreadsheets or paper notes to something that stored information digitally. When we were running our WAGGGS session, the name of a very well-known CRM software platform was mentioned. Although this particular business is very successful and ideal for operating business follow up, it doesn’t have the capabilities needed to truly deliver.

What is needed is something where the emotive is not replaced by the mechanical, but is facilitated by it. So that the recipients don’t think that they’re being managed by a robot, but they are being reached by their point of contact.

That’s what we did when we created Omny.Link – we wanted to develop a modern software, built with stakeholders in mind, that didn’t claim to do everything in a ever-expanding box of tricks.

It helps organisations build from the ground upwards. Connect up what you want to connect, deliver what you want to deliver and uses a decision engine to run everything as seamlessly as possible. So why not use your preferred email solutions, your preferred website CMS, your preferred reporting tools – but using APIs and our open-source solution, it all gets connected up: your way!

Which means there’s a much greater likelihood of reaching your stakeholders in the ways they want to be reached. So you see, you don’t have to sacrifice connectivity in your bid to reach people, you just need the right technology.

Omny.Link – do more with your stakeholder communications.

The bottom line – why nothing else (really, truly) matters

Lies, damn lies and statistics is a well known expression and whilst we don’t strictly adhere to the hostility of this line levelled at what is just an inert mathematical measure, it’s instructive that figures can get a bad rep if used in the wrong way.

We’d like to outline why you need to sweep away the negative thoughts and embrace measurements and assessment criteria as they are the lifeblood of any ambitious or growing company.

Picture this: your financial manager comes into see you one day saying we need to invest more money into a new marketing channel and when you ask:

‘how much?’

They reply ‘I don’t know’

I don’t think it would be likely you’d grant their wishes. Marketing no longer needs to be conducted in a ‘hit it and hope’ fashion.

So why, fundamentally, does the bottom line matter so much? To understand this, lets take a look at SMART objectives, KPIs and measuring performance.

SMART-en up your thinking

Smart goal setting concept

Any growing business needs to be closely and carefully monitored and managed.

As your business grows you need to understand where you are today and just as importantly, it allows you to set the scene for target setting to influence your strategy for future growth.

As most marketing managers will be able to tell you, the best types of objectives are the ones which are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).

A non-SMART objective is no objective as the saying goes.

KPIs are the business

Key Performance Indicators or KPIs, are the specific performance measures for your business that you choose as your benchmark. They are your key business drivers and by definition, the parts of the business you should choose to focus on. You should be able to determine what your KPIs are. Put simply, the performance of these has the greatest impact on your business success.

Which leads neatly onto the digital world and the need to be able to measure the commercial benefit for any strategic or tactical digital activity.

There’s an apocryphal story of an advertising man saying:

‘I know that 50% of my advertising is working (and by extension, 50% isn’t!), the only problem is, I don’t know which 50%!’

That is no longer the case, with digital we have an opportunity to determine with both accuracy and confidence exactly what works and what doesn’t. And in the digital world, you really should be aiming to cut out the stuff that’s proven not to work, and maximise the stuff that is.

It sounds desperately simple, doesn’t it? Which makes it all the more surprising that many digital agencies seem to be focus more on the visible symptoms rather than the underlying disease, metaphorically speaking. By this we mean being more concerned with marketing activity metrics rather than what these metrics mean to the commercial interests of the company. Which seems very odd to us.

Measures that allow you to perform

When it comes to results and metrics and smart objectives, it pays to consider a company which first and foremost measures the bottom line for our clients (and is judged accordingly). Which is also why one of our challenges, to you, is to ‘do more’ because by doing more, and measuring more, you are more likely to achieve a successful result.

Which is precisely why most of our illustrations and case studies measure the commercial difference our digital actions made to our clients, rather than anything else.

‘Result’, as you (and we) might say!

The 9 Rules of Social Media engagement (Part I)

Turn your audience into advocates, and promote as naturally as breathing

Social media can either be the biggest waste of your energy and time, or one of the most rewarding experiences. And all of this depends on how you approach it. Here are some of our learnings from years of social engagement which we hope will help you set off on the right footing.

1. Be brand-centric, with serious business objectives

Whenever you are communicating online, you must be doing this through the lens of your company or the brand that you’re attempting to promote. By that I don’t mean you need to be robotic or engage solely in corporate speak, but simply that when you are developing your social media strategy, you need to be thinking about the messages you want to convey and, naturally enough, you want to think about what you are trying to achieve here.

Is it to drive traffic and leads to your website? Or is it to increase your profile and influence and to promote your brand to a wider audience? Or is it to counter some negative PR and address a reputational threat to your business?

All of these scenarios will result in very different approaches so this part of the planning stage needs to be thought through very carefully.

2. What does your audience want? Why not try listening?

“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something.”
Wilson Mizner

Social media listening engagement

Another important factor (which should be one of your first considerations) is your target audience. What do you know of them? What are their broad demographic characteristics, their likes and dislikes, their motivations, their influencers, peers and adversaries.

So before you start to engage them, you better know more about them. And what better way than to spend some time listening to them? Online: within the channels you are planning on engaging with them in!

Consider organising a social management dashboard to gather all of your social media threads in the one place, like Hootsuite or Sprout Social. That way you can set up search filters on each channel (particularly useful for the fast moving channels like twitter which is akin to a stream of consciousness – or unconsciousness sometimes!).

Once you know what your target audience is looking for, and you understand a little of how you communicate with this audience appropriately, this will give you confidence when you start to engage with them.

3. The rule of thirds: revolutionise your social thinking

Most business owners treat social media like a loud hailer – one way and repetitive. This is the perfect strategy to alienate your customers and advocates. How you communicate is almost as important as what you communicate.

You need to be guided by the rule of thirds:

  • A third of your communication should be about sharing –  offering advice and help and tips, industry news etc from experts and influencers
  • A third of your communication should be conversing and interacting with others. So it’s about listening first and responding. It should also be possible to promote your brand/service if an opportunity presents itself but this should not be overt in any way. It needs to be subtle.
  • And a third of your communication can be active promotion of your brand or service. This doesn’t mean a free for all. The more fitting the promotion is (tonally, subject matter, useful and informative) the more likely your audience is likely to be persuaded by what you are saying.  

Which leads me to the next point:

4. Talk like… well, conversationally, as if you’re a real bona-fide person

Dialogue and conversations work best when they’re natural and free flowing yet many people engaging in social media forget to be sociable and sound like a robot.

So, be natural and treat your audience for what they are individuals and a human! Not a radical thought but an important one.

Be real

In the next blog we’ll take a look at the the remaining 5 factors from this series. Thanks for reading.

 

 

The 9 Rules of Social Media engagement (Part II) – Turn Your Audience Into Advocates

In the first part of this article, we covered the first four rules of social media engagement: be brand-centric, listen, the rule of thirds and talk naturally. So, here are the remaining five rules.

5. Be easy to find (and to follow)

Want to increase your reach and influence? Then you’ll need to increase your number of followers. And the first thing you need to be thinking about is to make it as easy as possible for your potential audience to find you and then, provided you can prove to be of use, of interest and sometimes of amusement, to follow you.

Sometimes it’s better to get a deep twitter following (think quality over quantity) than a wide following. So you need to be thinking about relevance with consistency. You need to be following persons relevant to your business objectives, and try to engaging them.

Slow and steady wins the race so consistency is a must – which is important anyway. How do you engage your target audience once you’ve found them?

6.Ask questions, start conversations, engage

Well, the easiest way of engaging anyone, be it on the street, bus etc, is to ask questions. Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so give them an audience – use good open questions to get the conversation started and continue the dialogue with more questions and answers just like in the real world.

But what if the conversation doesn’t go according to plan or, possibly worse still, there is some very direct criticism aimed at you?

7. Criticism can be an opportunity

One approach is to use this as an opportunity to learn from your customers, and possibly to attend to the criticism in question so well that reputational damage is neutral or even enhanced by the incident.

But so many people find this aspect of being online difficult – why? Because people are inclined to take things personally and see any criticism as an attack on themselves. So the first thing that one should do is to look at the criticism carefully and dispassionately. Does the person making the criticism have a point? The first objective of any response to criticism is to draw the heat and emotion which is in the complaint. So, you need to show empathy and consider apologising.

Next, you need to address the source of the complaint (assuming that they have a legitimate complaint – sometimes social media can be driven a little too much by trolls so don’t get taken in here), by making amends if the complainant does have a point. Then state what you intend to do to make amends and check with the person that this addresses the issue. Go to Google and have a look at some of the examples from Dominos of how they address things when the screw up – 100% of us will do this at some time or other.

And try and address this tactic as quickly as it appears. Don’t let it fester.

8. Sharing is caring (and creates communities)

Sharing is caring, and will position you as a person of authority and influence. So put yourself in the shoes of your customers and think ‘what would they find really useful for me to share’.

Then do it – don’t be a hoarder of information – start to use the share button, the like button, retweet and repost and start to build a community of followers which are within your target audience (assuming you are playing to your strengths and sharing stuff which is within your brand or service ecosystem. And over time, this ecosystem will come to sustain you and help to grow your business.  And the wider you share, the wider your spheres of influence.

And finally… 9.!

If I do have a summary it’s this – be true to your brand and make sure the personality you create is as you meant it to be. Be as natural as possible, engage person to person. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

So what are you waiting for? Jump in – the water’s lovely!

3 Examples of How to Get Social Media Marketing Very Wrong…

linkedin failEver had one of those days where your time and attention was taken up by meaningless things?

We know what it’s like, for every email that matters, you get ten that don’t. And finally, to cap it all off we receive contacts like this.

This LinkedIn connection request prompted this post – to help us sharpen the mind and give you three tips to improve your social media communications. After all, I’d prefer to be at the  receiving end of good quality communications and connections.

Learning 1: Get Real in Your Social Media Connections

So, this is why this LinkedIn approach is initially amusing. First question: who is ‘Better Link Advertising’ and is Link his/her middle name, or is it a double-barrelled surname? That photo doesn’t look like a real person either and, worst of all, they have given me absolutely no reason to connect with them.

However, it’s not just for amusement. It needs to be treated more seriously than that, you need to do two further things:

  1. Consider why they are trying to connect with you: this approach, in my opinion, has much more value to them than to me. I am not connecting to anyone in particular but they are getting ‘endorsement’ from me and access to my contacts.
  2. Place a value your identity above just gaining contacts: you need to connect with people you know personally, ideally business contacts, but more than that people who you have an ‘even’ relationship with. Be very careful about connecting with those who’s interest is merely in your contacts (for example recruitment consultants and competitors)

If you’re not sure, then ask. Challenge them on why they want to connect with you.

Learning 2: Don’t Be Boring With What You Share in Your Feed

Boring LinkedIn post

Just because you can post, if you don’t have anything interesting to say, then it’s best to be quiet.

This post highlights just how bad it can get. I don’t mind your narcissism, but your post is painfully dull.

Why should I follow you when all I might get is rubbish like this? And hashtags don’t work in LinkedIn anyway so clearly this is just a tweet.

We like the quote:

“Wise men, when in doubt whether to speak or to keep quiet,
give themselves the benefit of the doubt, and remain silent.”

We prefer to have connections where quality is valued above quantity. Our feed would be less busy and more interesting and, ultimately, make our Social Media experience stronger.

Learning 3: Don’t Go On About ‘You’

boring video share on linkedinOf course it’s easy to do so, but don’t just go on about your business, your skills, your awards and your successes.

Mix up what you share, how you share it. Make it engaging, opinionated, informing and friendly.

Remember that incredibly dull person you met at a dinner party who kept on talking about themselves?

That could be you. Don’t fall into the same trap.

Ultimately there is no perfect formula for Social Media Marketing. It’s frustrating, it’s funny, it’s time-consuming and it has to be ‘you’.

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