Archive for the ‘digital presence’ tag
The internet is about to expand on a massive scale in 2013, and we can see the possible contours of that expansion with the recent release of the list of more than 1,900 applications for new generic top-level domains. When you consider that, currently, there are only 22 top-level domains — the portion of a domain name located to the right of the dot, the best known of which is “.com” — you can appreciate the impact that 1,900+ new ones will make on your brand’s digital presence.
Whether these new top-level domains (TLDs) are successful and embraced by consumers or not, brands need to plan how they will deal with this expansion now. ICANN, the non-profit responsible for overseeing the domain name system and orchestrating this historic expansion, has designated an “objection period” for reviewing the list of applications before the new TLDs open for business in 2013. This gives brand managers a much-needed chance to estimate how their brand will be affected — and the implications for 2013 budgets.
Understand how closed generics impact your brand
The first step for brand managers is to understand the “true” generics — terms like “.film,” “.fashion,” “.sports,” and, yes, “.sucks.” All of these terms represent actual applications that have been submitted; in fact, almost half the 1,900-plus applications are true generics, many of which come from entrepreneurs who hope to build businesses around offering the public the ability to register a domain name to the left of the dot, such as “brand.fashion,” “brand.sports,” or, yes, “brand.sucks.”
There is a particular wrinkle to the generics: the “closed” TLD — a type of TLD in which the ability to register domain names is at the discretion of the TLD operator. Some brands have chosen to apply for generic terms in their business category, and it is unclear at this point if those TLDs will be available for registration by competitors within the category or only to internal groups, partners, resellers, or, perhaps, fans.
What if a single company wins a TLD for a category of business and decides to restrict the ability to register a domain? For example, what if your company manufactures cameras and a competitor applied for .camera? Would you be able to register your brand in that TLD (i.e. “yourbrand.camera”)?
The question of whether a generic term will be operated as a closed registry, blocking other brands in that category from setting up a domain within it, is a valid competitive concern — one that needs to be addressed now, during the objection period. The “rules” defined by ICANN for filing objections allow organizations representing communities to object, but not individual companies. For brands, your trade organization needs to file any necessary objections — and with a 60-day period, it is crucial to start the process.
Scope the effect of open generics on your brand’s digital presence
The next step for brand managers is to examine the generics that will be offered by entrepreneurs who plan to “open” domain name registration in that TLD to the public. Do those generics represent an opportunity for the brand or another potential headache from cyber squatters and scammers who steal brand-bound traffic? Given the wide variety of open generics, it seems inevitable that domain portfolios will be burdened with additional defensive domain registrations, especially when you consider that, on average, large companies see about 80 percent of their portfolio dedicated to defensive registrations.
Even if only 20 percent of the open generics make sense for your brand, registering domains names in hundreds of new TLDs isn’t economically feasible, especially when you consider all the permutations involved — your corporate name, product and service names, titles of movies, books, software or games, names of corporate officers. Now is the time to purge your existing portfolio of domain names that no longer justify their expense, so that, if necessary, you can afford to register key terms in any new TLDs that make sense for your brand.
A few weeks ago, a Facebook fan asked on our page, “Is it OK to post our news releases on our blog?”
Dear Facebook fan, see image to the left.
Just a couple of days ago, I was perusing through my personal Facebook stream and a friend of mine posted pretty much the same question.
Dear Facebook friend, see image to the left.
Actually, what I commented is exactly what the image says (even the “the end”) and Jennifer Windram thought it was funny enough to create the image (thank you, Jen!).
In 2001, I joined an advertising agency to help build their PR department. The first few months were really exciting because the account managers were introducing us to their clients and we were providing a new service. Super fun and lots of immediate work to do.
The creative guys kept bringing their pretty new ads and asking me to “do some PR” around them.
Here’s the thing. There is a time and a place for news releases. But running them verbatim on your blog or linking to them through your social networks is not the place. Just like wanting journalists to write a story about your pretty new ad is a hopeless desire.
Social media, content, blogging…this whole digital place we live in is about engagement and intelligent conversation and community building.
It’s not about you. It’s about them.
It’s about your customers, your employees, your board, your prospects, your community, and even your competition.
By posting your news release on your blog or social networks, you’re making it about you. And there is only one person in this entire world who cares about you as much as you do: Your mom.
So, unless your mom is your only customer, it’s time to think about how to make your digital presence about those who do buy from you.
Last year, right about this time, I was standing in the grand hall at the conference center where BlogWorld was being held and I finally got to meet the incomparable Lisa Grimm.
After following one another on Twitter for quite some time, it was fun to finally see her. It was too brief.
But one thing I discovered about her then and have seen her demonstrate it every day since then: She really cares about our industry.
She does digital and social media for Mall of America (a job I can’t decide is really cool or super scary – I mean, people everywhere!). I don’t spend much time on mall websites (I’d rather kill myself than go to one, especially the world’s largest), but I’ve spent some time checking out the work Lisa does and, well, I’m impressed!
Get this. They have a blog. The mall has a blog, where Lisa and her team update multiple times a day. They have things you can buy for less than $100, a pick of the week, and events happening at the mall. Talk about some ideas you can steal from them – they are using content to interest their audience that also features their vendors. Pretty stinking cool!
But you know what I like best about everything they’re doing online? They are engaging with their fans, followers, and connections.
Lisa is at the forefront of this and you can tell, just by reading the streams, she knows what she’s doing and she spends time on the social networks personally. A distinction so important because it’s difficult to execute digital programs without having done it for yourself.
She’s one of the good guys. She knows what she’s doing. And she’s really nice, too.
A guest post by Michael Margolis of GetStoried.com.
Before every critical conference call, meeting, or video Skype, you’ve been googled by the other participants. Each time you’re considered for a position or contract, your digital presence has been scrutinized. What online searchers find will form their picture of the personal brand known as you.
Today, hardly anyone asks for a resumé, and, frankly, that’s because (to paraphrase Rhett Butler) nobody gives a damn. The truth is that you don’t need a resumé anymore.
But you do need a story. A personal brand requires it.
The story you tell about your life, your passion, and your abilities is what makes other people want to connect their network with yours. It’s what drives the creative-genius hiring machine around the planet. (But it’s not about bragging or looking like a self-focused egomaniac.)
Your story should address the following questions.
- Who am I?
- How can I help you?
- How did I get here?
- Why can you trust me?
- What do we have in common?
Trust comes from personal disclosure. And that kind of sharing is hard to convey in a resumé. You need to be able to communicate a bigger story.
If you can tell your story in a way that people instantly identify with and make them nod and say, “I totally get that. I’ve completely been there (or I wish I had)… ” then any need to persuade, convince, or otherwise “sell” yourself is unnecessary.
Here are four key tips for telling your story (and making it awesome), whether for your personal brand or your company’s brand.
1. Be authentic
You don’t have to go all open kimono, but you also don’t want to present a perfectly polished and spin-doctored account of your life story. You may think some things that you’ve done (especially colossal mistakes you’ve made) should be hidden at all cost, but, in truth, people identify with the real you.
2. Share your superhero origins
Provide a back story for your streak of genius. Did you study violin at age 4 with Itzhak Perlman? Was your great-grandmother a pilot? Did you fall in love with cooking while watching Julia Child on television? Pedigree can be established in many ways. Look for the unusual junctures with special people or powerful events that you can connect to your story, and people will remember you—and even find you remarkable—no matter how ordinary you have always considered yourself.
3. Fly your freak flag
What makes you uniquely you? What are your guilty pleasures? What’s the “strange and wonderful” inside you? For example, I’m left-handed, color-blind, and eat more chocolate than the average human. And my TV guilty pleasures are Millionaire Matchmaker and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Are you thinking, “Hey, were we separated at birth?” That’s the feeling you want to convey.
4. Share your trophies
You want to balance your story with external validation, so your authority in your arena doesn’t just feel like fairy tales from the land of make-believe. (If your arena is fairy tales from the land of make-believe, get some testimonials from Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and the rest of the gang.) Mention media outlets, recognition, credentials, or other markers that reinforce your “in-demand” success, although be careful not to lead with bragging and boasting. (Bragging can be a total turnoff.) Lead with your story.
Once you begin to craft and share your story in a fresh, powerful way, you’ll not only start to invite interest and engagement but you’ll also begin to find solid footing in your industry. The more you build on the brand that is you, the bigger your chances of attracting exactly the kind of work that you most desire.
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Two Women Having Coffee)
Michael Margolis is the founder of GetStoried.com and host of the Reinvention Summit 2, the world’s largest online conference on storytelling, being held online April 16-20, 2012. As the dean of Story University, Michael has taught thousands of marketers, change-makers, and entrepreneurs how to tell a bigger story.
Marketers, educators, parents, it seems that almost anyone in the Generation X or Boomer demographic is scratching their heads trying to figure out Generation Y aka the Millennial. After all, it’s the first generation to seemingly possess digital prowess as part of their DNA. And, it’s the first generation to receive both a birth certificate and a social profile or presence upon delivery into this world.
A study published in 2011 by security company AVG and Research Now surveyed 2,200 mothers from around the world and found that 81% of children under the age of two currently have some type of digital footprint. 92% of U.S. children have an online presence created for them by the time they are 2 years old. In many cases, a digital presence is born before the child, with sonograms (23%) actively published and shared on social networks and blogs.
With every day that passes, Gen Y becomes far more important to the economy than we can realize. Yet the gap between how Gen Y communicates and connects and how businesses, educators, governments, et al. approach them is only widening. I often wonder whether or not we are simply trying to talk to ourselves in our approach when in reality, we are talking to strangers. This is important as without understanding what’s important to them and why, without learning their behavior or decision making cycles, or without empathy, we cannot reverse engineer nor create a meaningful and engaging journey. We cannot create bridges from where they are to us nor can we expect them to use them.
How well do you know Gen Y?
59% update their social status in class.
29% find love through Facebook while 33% are dumped via TXT or Wall posts (SRS) – abbreviation for seriously
Millennials watch TV with two or more electronic devices
Only 11% define having a lot of money as a definition of success
Gen-Y will form 75% of the workforce by 2025 and are actively shaping corporate culture and expectations.
Only 7% of Gen-Y works for a Fortune 500 company as startups dominate the workforce for this demographic. Gen-Y expects larger organizations to hear their voice and recognize their contributions…increasing the need for an intrapreneurial culture.
Millennials trust strangers over friends and family. They lean on UGC for purchases.
They are 3x as likely to follow a brand over a family member in social networks
66% will look up a store if they see a friend check-in
73% have earned and used virtual currency
Gen-Y believes that other consumers care more about their opinions than companies do – that’s why they share their opinions online.
Gen-Y’ers are more connected on Facebook than average users managing a social graph of 696 Facebook friends versus 140.
If knowledge is the key to enlightenment, then perception and imagination are windows to engagement and relevance. We can learn all we want about Millennials, but if we can’t translate that into meaning or substance, we will continue to miss opportunities to build lasting relationships.
The gap isn’t just widening because of the growing pervasiveness of Millennials in our economy. As I introduced in The End of Business as Usual, anyone who places increasing emphasis on technology as part of their daily routine, in many ways, their behavior mimics that of Millennials and as a result, they prove elusive or immune to traditional marketing and service. In the book, I refer to this class of consumer as “the Connected Customer” and their behavior is noticeably dissimilar to that of their traditional counterparts. The connected customer is the stranger you must get to know as in comparison to the customers of the past, this group is only growing and it’s traversing demographics. As such, the connected customer becomes what we can or should now refer to as Generation C where the “C” represents connectedness.
No longer can we blame it on the youth. We must blame, if anything, the disruption of technology. Nowadays, age ain’t nothing but a number. It is how people embrace technology, from social networks to smartphones to intelligent appliances, that contributes to the digital lifestyle that is now synonymous with Gen-C.
A recent study published by Nielsen brings Generation C into light. In just one image, we can begin to comprehend the disruption of digital revolution on society. Call it the social economy. Call it the mobile or the app economy. Call it the connected economy. Whatever we call it, this incredible transformation that we’re witnessing, is indeed nothing short of a digital revolution.
The Last 10 Years
274 million American have Internet Access, which is more than double that of 2000.
81 billion minutes spent on social networks and blogs
64% of all mobile phone time is spent on apps.
42% of tablet owners use them daily while watching TV.
For the first time, the numbers of laptops have surpassed desktops within TV homes.
Women Rule Gen-C
In 2009, I discovered that in social media, women rule. As you can see in Nielsen’s report, women too rule Gen-C. Specifically, they rule social media and online video and TV viewership. With smartphones, men and women are tied in adoption. With tablets however, men rule.
Gen-C, By the Numbers
If you compare Nielsen’s graphic with that of IBM’s research on Social CRM, you can appreciate the full dimension of Gen-C as every demographic, in their own way, is adopting disruptive technology. And, it’s only becoming greater.
Platforms for Digital Access
Every digital experience has its springboard. Whether it’s a PC, tablet, smartphone, and soon, a connected TV, our ability to every platform unifies the 5-C’s of engagement, create, connect, consume, communicate, and contribute.
274.2 million Americans have Internet access
169.6 million visit social networks and blogs
165.9 million people watch video on a PC
70% of time using tablets is spent while at home versus 30% on the go
Content accessed on tablets is 1) News at 39%, 2) Sports at 34%, and Books at 31%
On smartphones, 117.6 million visit the Internet
App usage peaks at 5 p.m. among adults
Smartphones are used by 44% of all mobile subscribers in the U.S.
Video Continues to Kill the Radio Star: Engagement is Cross Platform
Nielsen found that consumers increased their online video consumption by 7% from Q3 2010 to Q3 2011. As you can see in theimage below, online and mobile video consumption is significant.
Younger demographics watch less TV and watch video more online and on mobile devices.
With each generation, TV viewership rises with age.
Connected Customers are Multitaskers
Nielsen also shared the engagement habits and online activity of connected customers. As consumers watch a program, they are online with 1) 57% checking email, 2) 44% surfing the web, and 3) another 44% social networking.
When asked what they were doing while online during TV, some very interesting answers emerged. 29% looked up programming information related to the show. 19% looked up product information related to an ad. And, 16% looked up coupons or deals related to the ad.
The Top 5 Sites Visited While Watching TV
How Gen-C Spends their Connected Time
On PC’s and mobile devices, Gen-C is always on. Nielsen found that during October 2011, Youtube was the top destination for all online video content, accounting for nearly half (45%) of American’s total streaming time.
Social networking represents 21.3% of all time spent online using PCs.
Online gaming accounts for 7.7%
Email, in many ways still the largest social network in the world, represents 6.5%
55.8% of mobile phone time is spent in miscellaneous apps, with Angry Birds most likely accounting for a notable share of that time (just kidding).
Text messaging continues to test the limits of thumb dexterity and the ability to find new ways to abbreviate our vocabulary at 13.4%
Browser usage represents 11.1%
Social networking equals 5.5%
Interesting that email and IM are among the bottom of all mobile functions at 5.3%.
From e-commerce to Mobile Commerce
As Nielsen and so many other research reports herald, mobile commerce is influencing transactions and decisions. Mobile is just one of the many channels for emerging commerce including social, F-commerce, and more importantly, syndicated commerce. 29% of of mobile consumers use their phone for shopping-related activities and more than 50% visit daily deal sites daily.
Mobile shopping activities include:
38% compare prices online while in shopping in a store.
38% browse products through websites or apps.
32% read online reviews of products.
24% search for or use online coupons.
22% have purchased a product.
22% scan barcodes for product or price information.
18% use location-based services to find retail locations.
My favorite state isn’t related to what people are doing, but what they would do if businesses innovated in their approach to commerce.
27% of male and 22% of female consumers would use their mobile phone to make payments in restaurants and shops if they could.
This is an EmerGen-C
Connected customers or Gen-C is only becoming more pervasive in society and ultimately your economy. If you look back at the Gen-Y behavior list and replace the words “Millennial” or “Gen-Y” with “Connected Customer” or “Gen-C,” the similarities are uncanny. Now’s the time to recognize how your customer landscape is shifting and to what extent traditional and connected consumers discover and make decisions differently. The customer journey is far more complex than ever before, where new touchpoints not only emerge, they introduce a new customer journey.
With connected customers, decision making is no longer signified by a simple funnel, nor can business models support decision making before, during, and post transaction across these distributed, but connected platforms. This is a time for augmented engagement strategies to cater to different types of customers differently not only based on behavior, but also based on their expectations, needs, and also the platform they use to connect, communicate, and make decisions.
Just as Amazon is launching a new Kindle (but not the Fire tablet, yet) in Europe, one of its big competitors is taking one more step in its bid to enter the European market: Barnes & Noble has incorporated a new company, Barnes & Noble Digital Media GmbH, in Germany.
The company filing dates from March 15, just around the time that the U.S. company came to London to promote the Nook to developers — an event that seemed to leave those developers with more questions than answers.
Apart from the fact that having a digital presence is essential for any bookseller looking to take a piece of growing revenues for e-books, expanding outside of the U.S. market is crucial for B&N if it wants to get more scale for the Nook — an important part of attracting more developers to the ecosystem and also improving its margins on the tablet. Currently the Nook only has around a 3.5 percent share of the market, according to IDC.
When B&N hit London last week for its developer event, many came away from the sessions on building for the Nook platform with the sense that the idea was not yet fully formed. For starters, billing and even the ability to collect revenues from apps required U.S. bank accounts, something that most independent European developers — the bread and butter of the app stores — would not have.
Although at the time the company would not confirm whether the event was organized in the lead-up to launching its Nook tablet on this side of the pond, there have been rumors swirling for months now that B&N will partner with large booksellers here to move ahead on such a strategy. In the UK, many believe its partner will be Waterstones, which has both spoken glowingly of the Nook and Waterstones in the past, and has said it will be launching its own tablet later this year.
In Germany, Buchreport notes that there are several strong incumbent players, including Thalia and DBH, and these could be potential partners. Moreover, B&N already has a partnership with German bookstore aggregator BookWire.
But as with the UK, B&N will be entering a crowded market: both Amazon and Apple are doing very well over in Germany. A survey from the University of Hamburg noted in a survey that 57 percent of respondents had purchased books from Amazon, while 27 percent from Apple’s iBookstore.
In the Netherlands — another key market for B&N, given that so many there speak English it’s an obvious way of extending much of its current content — the bookseller reportedly in line for a partnership is Centraal Bookhuis.
33Across announced it has hired Steven Stein as regional VP of sales for the West and Midwest regions.
90octane hired Steve Jurgensen as director of finance and administration.
Adara Media made three new hires. James Bohannon joined the company as VP of engineering, Greg Weber as director of sales, Midwest, and Tobi Wessels as director, business development.
Amplify Social‘s virtual fan network launched a VFN Golf division to enable professional athletes to monetize and amplify their digital presence. VFN Golf launches with Fuzzy Zoeller, Nick Price, Blair O’Neal, and Alison Walshe. Mike Galeski joined Amplify as director of the VFN Golf division.
HookLogic announced the appointment of John M. Haake as vice president of marketing.
Medialets hired Ian Mirmelstein as the new VP strategic accounts.
PJA Advertising + Marketing was named agency of record for Westlake Ace Hardware.
Solve Media announced the launch of its pre-roll insurance to protect advertisers against the growing threat of skipped pre-roll ads.
Think Realtime named Chris Smith to the newly created position of SVP, sales and marketing.
WDCW announced the appointment of Sean Vij as creative director.
Editor’s note: We list the companies and people alphabetically. Our bimonthly column is always looking for announcements, so please email them to email@example.com.
“Multimedia Distribution as a Global Business Art” image via Shutterstock.
Tweeting, commenting, blogging — Fortune 500 brands and small businesses alike are engaged in social initiatives, promoting their brand through social media. Looking at the bigger picture, outside of being engaged simply because it’s a trend, how does social actually yield results and meet your bottom line?
Let’s look at the components critical to long-term success as you plan your social strategy. Begin by identifying your business goals, analyzing your target audience, and their behavior, and understanding the type of content that resonates best with your demographic.
Identify your goals
Different businesses offer different things and, therefore, have different goals. Whether you sell a service or a product, begin by identifying your objectives for the year. Are you tasked with generating a certain amount of sales, driving brand awareness among a certain audience, or increasing traffic to your digital presence? Map out each of these alongside hard metrics in the beginning of your yearly cycle through a chart that correlates goals with initiatives and results. Referencing this organized method throughout the year will enable you to effectively work towards meeting and even exceeding your expectations.
Do your due diligence
Get to know your audience. Learn about their behavior, how they consume content, and through what media. Understand where they go on the web to learn more about your brand. Does your customer head straight to Google when looking for the best financial advisor? Or do they search a social network to find local resources? Next, perform that search and see what comes up. Are your competitors owning the organic rankings?
“If your audience is searching for your offering using search engines, search marketing should be part of your marketing mix,” said Joy Kim, search manager for Digitaria. “Search data can tell you a lot about your target demographic, and their search pattern and search volumes of relevant keywords can help you understand the intent behind keywords and prioritize your content topics. Knowing what users seek will help brands create engaging content that increases their visibility online.”
Produce relevant, compelling content
If research and site traffic indicates your demographic is making 80 percent of purchasing decisions based on Yelp reviews, appoint a community manager, identify key influencers, engage in the community, and interact with people talking about your brand.
Acknowledge positive feedback and address the negative, and no matter how clichéd, always put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Provide a solution that will put a smile on their face and encourage them to not only return, but share their positive experience with extended networks. Remember, although it may seem like you’re talking to one person, millions may be watching — and search may just pick up that conversation.
Identify the type of content that resonates with your audience and track success specific to your goals. Are social shares or click-throughs part of your goals?
“Measure each piece of published content and revisit the data to understand what worked best according to your success metrics,” said Mark Kegley, senior analyst for Digitaria.
Do you ever get a line from a film or a song or even a conversation playing over and over in your your mind? Some times for me it’s not the exact words but the rhythm of the concept. Today the words were “winds of change” as it is portayed in the award winning film Chocolat (a def must see!) These are the opening lines from the Storyteller of Chocolat: Once upon a time, there was a quiet little village … So through good times and bad, famine and feast, the villagers held fast to their traditions. Until, one winter day, a sly wind blew in from the North… I’ve been doing more work with organizations on what Bernie Borges and I termed “Corporate Personal Branding.” I believe as sites like LinkedIn automatically pull data into a common corporate page; and employees’ digital footprints continue to multiple throughout the Internet, organizations will realize this is a critical component of social business. It’s an aspect that must be managed. Since it would be near impossible to review every employee’s digital presence, most likely it will be managed through training and corporate culture norms and expectations. Corporate Personal Branding Defined: The convergence of corporate branding and employee personal branding, based on the alignment of common values, supported by content creation and social media, for mutual benefit. As part of a planned strategy each (enterprise and employee) lends their goodwill and influence to the other. The result is a a halo effect that…
The following is part ONE of a series called Build Your Platform. If you find it interesting, please consider subscribing for free to get the rest of the series.
This post is long. You might want to bookmark it for later.
The age of social media oversaturation is upon us. People are declaring Twitter bankruptcy to go along with their email bankruptcy. They cite not wanting to start on yet another social network as their reason for not getting more involved with Google+. And just as soon as you start getting into Pinterest, you hear about Path, but wait: there’s Gentlemint, which is really a kind of Pinterest for men, and… Stop the Insanity!
Pardon me while I channel my inner Susan Powter there.
If you seek to make an impact in 2012 and beyond, the time has come to think seriously about your digital presence. How will you use a handful of social networks well? How will you create a unified presence that builds your story, empowers your interactions, and helps you rise up from being just another voice in the stream?
Note: If you just want to tinker and enjoy social media and social networks, stop reading this post and go see what’s happening in the world of Klout, Instagram, and whatever else Mashable reports on. Totally okay. Nothing wrong with that. If you’re looking to improve your chances of doing business, read on.
Build Your Platform: Goals
The goal of building your platform is to create useful information, to select the best possible media to package that information, and then to choose a series of distribution technologies for delivering your ideas to others, to encourage interactions, and to drive towards certain target results.
Simpler still: your goal is to move your ideas through a platform to encourage a human interaction. ( Julien Smith and I might be writing a whole book around this right now.Shhh!)
You can use this goal structure for a nonprofit: I want to create information that encourages donors and volunteers, then create video and text assets, distribute them via video, a blog, and email marketing, and encourage sign-ups either to donate or volunteer.
You can use this for an artist: I want to shoot “the making of” videos of my paintings, then post them on Facebook and Google+, and provide my email address for people to contact me to inquire about buying them.
You can pick whatever you want for the different elements, but if you use the above as a simple way of framing your intent, it certainly helps you better understand how you’ll implement your processes, technology, and tactics to accomplish your goals.
Create Useful Information
What do people want most? They want to learn how to improve their lives, either by solving their problems, feeding their desires, satisfying their insecurities, helping them feed their greed, or comforting their worries around disruption. The information you create and share drives your intent to acquire more customers (and remember: “customer” can be a very wide term for you – maybe you just want your platform to get more attention for the pet shelter animals in your town. Same difference).
What makes information useful? It varies per goal, per type of sale, and many other factors. If you’re selling peer mentoring to CEOs, you’re providing a mix of informative articles, interviews with people in the mentoring network, and testimonials from satisfied members. If you’re selling email marketing software, maybe your content is all about how to improve a user’s email marketing.
In creating Shhh! The Secret Show, my goal is to create information on how to make a show, while also sharing other items and ideas and thoughts that might also help you develop yourself. It’s one way to try and provide useful information. My free newsletter is designed to be personable and useful to people because I’m modeling how companies can use human business practices to build their company and grow a successful channel.
What would make your information useful? What do you believe your buyer (or your intended audience, however you want to label them) would need? Not sure? Describe your business in the comments and maybe we can all take a whack at it.
Choose Your Media
More people purchased tablets and smartphones in the US in the last handful of months (including the holidays) than they did laptops and desktop computers combined. In both cases, this signals to you that people want:
a.) to consume more media.
b.) to consume more video.
c.) to consume brief information.
In choosing how you want to reach people, you might experiment with how you’ll deliver to reach people in a few ways. I have three tools in my belt: 1.) A very active blog. 2.) a video show, and 3.) a lot of short-form social media content. See how that answers all three? It also reaches different audiences in different ways.
Choose Distribution Technologies
First, if your site is not yet mobile-friendly, get on that right away. The Genesis WordPress themes (affiliate link) are mostly mobile-dynamic now. Or you can choose to use a plug-in like WPtouch, if you’re running WordPress. If not, your main site should be configured to toggle to present differently to smartphones and tablets. This is table stakes for the game at this point. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, you might as well just BURN some part of your money monthly to signify the missed opportunities.
You might choose a few distribution methods. My current mix is:
I have the blog coming out a few times a week (it used to be daily and more-than-daily). The social channels, I update quite frequently. My video show is weekly. My email newsletter is weekly. If I were to get even more clever, I’d consider building some kind of monthly “roll-up” of all my content into a larger theme/form, but that’s not there. Yet. (Note to self…)
Who should you use for this or that service? (most of these people are so good that I am an affiliate for them.)
Blog theme: I use Genesis themes on all my sites. This one is called Generate.
Video hosting: I prefer YouTube, but I also like Vimeo, Viddler, and there are a few other sites worth considering. But to me, it’ll always be those sites plus YouTube.
Social Networks: I’ve never had much business success with LinkedIn or Facebook, but your mileage may vary. I get great results from Twitter and Google+. You may also try Pinterest, depending on your potential buyer. There are many more networks to consider, but that might be a conversation for another time.
Anything I missed? Hit me up in the comments.
If you don’t make it easy for people to comment, to reply, to engage with you, you’re putting a gate up between you and potential buyers. If you don’t reply, people notice (I can’t always reply to everyone, and I hear about it quite often). If you’re not giving people an easy way to take a step other than “buy now,” then you’re encouraging people to leave and do nothing.
What types of interactions? It’s up to you. People ask whether comments are better on a blog or Twitter or Google+ or … you get the point. My answer: who cares? Listen everywhere. Respond wherever you see people talking about you, your story, your ideas, your concepts. Be where people are. Does it take time? Yes. So does everything that sustains you. Growing food takes time. Making clothes takes time. Everything takes time. Stop using that as your measure. Just decide how much can be done by others and how much is your direct contribution. (Listening tools can save you time, but you must invest. More in a later post.) Interactions are silver. Referrals and purchases are gold.
Drive Towards Target Results
When I create an episode of Shhh! The Secret Show, the goal is for someone to view the show, and/or maybe to also pass it on to others. I love every comment I get, and I also encourage email responses in-show. What I’m seeking for responses in the case of this show is simply any kind of comment and/or furthering of the exploration of what we’re talking about in the episode. It’s a bit loose.
However, when I write a blog post, each post has a very specific goal that goes alongside my larger mission to help you grow a successful business channel. This post’s goals?
1.) Encourage bookmarking. (Did you bookmark this?)
2.) Encourage signups to my blog’s RSS feed.
3.) Encourage newsletter signups.
In that order, my intent with my post (after helping you) was to drive one of those three reactions. Everything else is gravy.
In other posts, my targeted goal is for you to buy something. In other posts, it’s to improve my social proof so that you see me showing you that I’m great because _____ . Every post has a goal. If this post were much shorter, there would be only one goal.
In your email newsletter, encourage one goal per post. Keep the mail brief. Sub-300-word emails are gold. In your video, encourage a single call to action, if you can. Whatever you do, try to keep everything to a single message and point, as often as possible.
In this post, the intent was to talk you through:
- Determining your goals for creating a platform.
- Choosing what kind of content to produce.
- Selecting media types and distribution channels.
- Encouraging interaction.
- Seeking a targeted response.
Everything about this post is geared towards helping you consider how you might build a platform to improve your chances of improving the impact of your efforts on communicating and doing business in 2012. In the rest of the series, coming soon, we’ll drill down deeper into even more of the process, and cover some details on how to accomplish some of the above.