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3 Keys to Social Success

3 Keys to Social Success

While it’s easy to hop on your business’ facebook page every now and then and post a status about how great your company is, the key to social media success for your company relies on creating valuable content, making friends, and being consistent.

1. Valuable Content

Keys to Social Success

To be successful on social media, you need to consistently reach your prospects with valuable content.

Prospects aren’t connecting with your brand on social media to hear you talk about how great you are. They are likely people just like you–seeking the best ways to meet the immediate needs that they face. They connect with you online because they believe that you help them meet those needs.

“Primarily your posts should seek to meet the needs of your prospects.”

So primarily, your posts should seek to meet the needs of your customers.

When planning your content, ask yourself: “What problem is my ideal prospect trying to solve right now?” “How can I help solve that problem?”

Once you figure out the problem your prospect is trying to solve, help him solve it. If you create content that connects with your customers by helping them solve the problems they face, they will soon come back knocking.

2. Make Friends

To be successful on social media, you need to consistently reach your prospects with valuable content.

Let’s get something straight. Your content is NOT a field of dreams. Just because you build it, don’t expect your whole target market to just magically come. You can create amazing content helping your customer solve all of his problems and still not have success on social media.

In order for you to be successful on social media, your content needs to be seen by your prospect. If your content isn’t seen, it’s not providing value to you.

So how do you get your content seen by those who value it? Building your social following takes work and time.

As the Bible says, “A man who has friends must first show himself friendly.” If you want others to interact with you, you need to connect others.

Instead of jumping into every social media channel at once, prioritize which networks are best for your particular market and spend time on those specific networks. Connect with others who are networked in your field. Like their pages, follow them, do what you can to connect on that network.

As you get connected to others, start adding your voice into the conversation when appropriate. Offer your insight. Ask others for opinions. Share your experiences. Whatever you do, provide value to the community where you’re engaging.

Meet Bragging Brad.

Brad only talks about himself. In a group setting, whatever topic comes up, Brad can give you 10 reasons why he’s the best at it. Other people try to join the conversation, but Brad just cuts them off and keeps bragging on himself. Don’t be Brad. Remember, you’re on social channels to make friends, so leave the bullhorn and talking points behind.

Many social networks also allow you to advertise yourself to others on their network. This can be helpful for you to grow your network, but it is not a magic pill.

Social media is a conversation. The number of your page likes isn’t everything. You can buy page likes, but if you’re not working to connect with real prospects you’re not likely to see a great return on your social media investment.

“Social media is a conversation. The number of your page likes isn’t everything.”

It will take time and commitment to see it through, but if you invest into connecting with others and providing valuable content to the social community, you will see an increasing return on your investment.

3. Be Consistent

To be successful on social media, you need to consistently reach your prospects with valuable content.

In order to reach your customers, you need to post consistently. If you post only when “inspiration” strikes, you will end up posting sporadically (unless you are an unusually inspired person).

You may end up having 4 posts one day, but none for a whole week—maybe longer. This is social suicide because it does not promote sustainable interaction with your brand.

“If, after several return visits there’s nothing new to interact with, they will lose interest and find another source for fresh content.”

Imagine finding a bakery in town that serves amazing bread. You are excited after your first visit because you’ve been looking for a place to buy fresh bread and now you’ve found it.

So you return a week later excited to get some fresh bread. But this time, you find that they haven’t made any new bread, and they’re trying to get you to buy the same bread they baked the last week. Are you coming back?

So it goes on social. If you put out some great content, customers may check back a time or two to see if there’s anything fresh. But if, after several return visits there’s nothing new to interact with, they will lose interest and find another source for fresh content.

A great way to help you post consistently is to develop an editorial calendar. See our  Creating an Editorial Calendar post to learn more.

Growing your business through social channels may not be as quick and easy as microwaving popcorn, but if done right, can provide a valuable source of leads and measurable ROI. We hope these 3 keys will be helpful to you as you seek to engage your prospects online.

If you need additional help with your social media marketing, let us know, we’re here to help.

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The Social Editorial Calendar: Your Social Media Health Care Provider

You know social media is a big deal, so you’ve set up your company’s profile on several social networks, but how do you keep all of your posts straight?

You know you should post consistently on those networks, but how do you make the time to come up with something to post every day?

What about those days when you’re mind is in a million other places, and you’re just too busy to post?

If the thought of managing multiple social media profiles has left you with indigestion, don’t worry. There is a way to organize and manage the chaos of engagement on social networks.

The social editorial calendar is just what the social marketing doctor ordered.

What Is a Social Editorial Calendar?

A social editorial calendar is a schedule of planned social posts. Essentially, it’s a document that lists the details of your online communication plan. You can use a tool as simple as an Excel Workbook or Google Spreadsheet.

Why do I need an Editorial Calendar?

Although it’s possible to manage your social posts and engagement without an editorial calendar, having one simply makes life better and easier. Here are some core reasons it might be worth it to create an editorial calendar for yourself:

Reach Your Goals.

Your social editorial calendar can easily become the visual roadmap for which goals you want to accomplish. Perhaps you’re using your social as a way to develop brand recognition and loyalty and as a way to engage current customers. With an editorial calendar, you can “tag” certain posts for one goal or the other (brand vs engagement). This allows you to visualize how much you’re emphasizing one goal over others.

While it’s easy to hop on your business’ facebook page every now and then and post a status touting the features of your business, chances are, your efforts will end up being more randomized and less strategic.This editorial calendar also makes a great dashboard for executives and managers to easily grasp which goals you’re aggressively pursuing.

Create Consistency.

You may have the best intentions to get on each social network frequently and post. But without a plan, you are likely to neglect those networks. Worse yet, when things inevitably get busy, you are probably not going to be able to spend the same amount of time each day to come up with a new piece of content.

The social editorial calendar allows you to plan your posts in advance so you know ahead of time what you will post and when. This will help you to avoid accidentally skipping days or weeks between posts—a sure fire way to shoot your engagement in the foot.

“If you want to accomplish your social marketing goals, you need to consistently reach your prospects with content that is valuable to them.”

Provide Valuable Content.

Successful social followings are primarily the result of valuable content–probably because we humans pay attention to stuff we care about. But knowing exactly what your audience cares about usually takes a little bit of thought. Instead of trying to think up something brilliant just before you head out the door when your mind is already on to the next thing, you can strategically plan your posts ahead of time and have them scheduled in your editorial calendar.

The editorial calendar allows you to see a bird’s eye view of your content and control the number of posts you develop on a particular topic, by types of media, or for a specific target audience. Varying your content keeps your audience more engaged and loyal.

How Do I Make My Social Editorial Calendar?

Making an editorial calendar doesn’t have to be difficult. All you need to get started is a spreadsheet and some content ideas. We use Google spreadsheets here at blend.

Although you can customize your editorial calendar to do whatever you want, here are some columns to get you started:

  • Date: when is the content going live?
  • Type/Media: are you posting a photo, quote, video, link, etc?
  • Keywords/Description: what keywords or tags describe this piece of content?
  • Source: if there is a file to attach, where is it located?
  • Copy: what will the copy posted with the content say? Should this post include a specific call to action?
  • Destination: on which networks is the content going to be posted?
  • Status: has the content been posted or scheduled to post yet?

In addition to a micro-level monthly calendar that lists your daily postings, you may also want to develop a macro-level yearly calendar that highlights due dates for larger pieces of content, holiday promotions, or seasonal changes in the buying cycle that may influence the type of content you should post.

Once you set up your social editorial calendar, don’t forget to share it with others on the content team who will be contributing to it and those who will be posting the content. We use Google spreadsheets so other members of the content team can add items to the schedule.

Click on the picture below to see a sample editorial calendar in detail. 

Sample Social Editorial Calendar

Have you developed a social editorial calendar? How does your editorial calendar work?

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Exploring OG: What is the Open Graph?

opengraphprotocol

Even if you don’t know what Facebook’s The Open Graph is, you know what it is. Because you’ve been clicking the little “like” icons on any site where you see them—for probably about 18 months now.

The beauty to Facebook’s open graph like button is that it follows Steve Krug’s number one website design principle—it’s so intuitive, you don’t think twice about it. You simply see a thumb’s up, click it, and move on with your life.

But to be honest, integrating the “like” button to your website was just Phase 1 of Facebook’s Open Graph plan. If you don’t know what the other phrases are, let’s explore this open graph some more.

What is the Open Graph?

Philosophically, It’s All About (My) Relationships

At its core, I believe the open graph is 100% based on the idea that relationships are often the number one driver or restrainer in our lives. If that is true, then the choices we make—even on the internet—can be positively or negatively affected by our relationships. But we don’t care nearly as much about other needs and wants as we do our own—therefore, it is our own personal relationships that affect our choices the most.

Facebook is simply figuring out how to leverage this foundational aspect of human nature. And having a social media site isn’t enough. Facebook can’t go out and force every business to build their websites inside of Facebook just so the nebulous and difficult-to-objectify-relationship-driver-and-restrainer element can be present in a user’s choice online . . . or can they? Have they?

If you don’t recognize that this is the philosophical underpinning to Facebook’s Open Graph movement, your head is in the sand and you definitely needed to read this post.

Practically, It’s Three Ways For You (And Your Business or Idea) to Leverage the Power of Relationships

Phase 1: Website Integration (Open Graph Protocol code and Social Plugins)

A few years ago, I remember pasting a URL for an article on my Facebook wall. Suddenly, the URL disappeared and the lead to the story showed up—I think even with a picture. I was impressed. Cool! No ugly URLs and a photo!

That was years ago.

Today, you probably don’t think twice about this feature, but do you ever wonder how that story lead and photo got there? I remember wondering at the time whether Facebook was scrapping the internet to grab <img srcs> and <h1>s from sites.

I don’t know how they used to do it, but I know how they’re doing it today. They created a specific set of code—called the Open Graph protocol—that coders can add to their site. Once that code is added, Facebook can then pull in your blog’s or story’s appropriate image, the description or lead to your story, your headline, etc. The advantage to this set of code is that it is uniform—if every website does this, then Facebook can portray these stories and articles consistently on walls, the newsfeed, and the ticker (yep, that’s a new one!).

But to get programmers to do this work and to bring in the power of relationship sharing, Facebook pushed out several social plugins.

The current list of plugins are

  • Like Button and/or Box
  • Login Button
  • Registration Button
  • Send Button
  • Subscribe Button
  • Comments
  • Activity Feed
  • Facepile
  • Live Stream

The advantage for website designers is several:

  • We don’t have to build our own version of a social network world in order to have comments on a story or blog article.
  • We don’t have to rebuild a user’s community of friends for every article—we simply integrate into the user’s existing community.
  • We’ve just created a rich piece of content (complete with story lead, link back to our site, and images) that friends share in a user-friendly, engaging manner in their social world.

The marketing potential, brand saturation, and search engine optimization benefits can be huge for people who want to spread their ideas.

But Facebook didn’t stop with simple website integration.

Phase 2: APP Integration and Single Sign-On

Granting third-party application developers access to these same principles will certainly create similar effects for third-party applications, but Facebook is allowing application developers, as they say it, to go deeper. In fact, they’re inviting a new class of applications (as Mark Zuckerberg is calling them)–see list below–to “deeply integrate” into Facebook’s “core user experience.”

This new class will be business and companies with services and products who can leverage the power of real-time social media marketing relationships and back-end data integration.

Introducing Timeline: A New Facebook Profile and Structure for a New Kind of App

To let this new class of apps in, Facebook recently beta-tested and launched their new profile page—the Timeline. While this view is nice for squishing your life into key and pertinent (algorithmically-determined highlights), the real power to the Timeline is the ability for Facebook to nearly automatically share activity from this new clas of apps on your wall, in the news feed, and in Timeline’s ticker (a real-time stream of your activity).

Some examples of the new class of apps include (or will probably soon include, provided they can work out the legal pieces):

  • Spotify: digital music service that posts every song you are listening to in real-time (in other words, become a DJ for your friends)
  • Washington Post: see and read what your friends are reading in real-time
  • Netflix: posts what you’re watching in real-time

List of New Facebook Applications

To get into the new Timeline, developers must run their apps, using the formula of a verbs (cook) and objects (recipe). Here’s a list released on Wednesday, January 18, of new Facebook applications available:

Travel

  • Gogobot
  • Airbnb
  • TripAdvisor​
  • Wipolo
  • Where I’ve Been

Food

  • Foodspotting
  • Cookpad
  • Snooth (wine)
  • Urbanspoon
  • Yummly
  • ​Foodily

Shopping / Fashion

  • Pose
  • Pinterest
  • Polyvore
  • Oodle
  • Fab.com
  • eBay
  • Giftrocket
  • Payvment
  • Livingsocial

Fitness

  • MapMyRun
  • Runkeeper

Entertainment

  • Rotten Tomatoes
  • Dailymotion (French video site)
  • Cinemur (French video site)
  • Metacafe (videos)
  • Ford (game)
  • Wooga (Bubble Island, Diamond Dash)
  • OMGPOP (Draw My Thing)
  • Zynga (Words with Friends, Castleville

Giving

  • Causes
  • Fundrazr
  • Artez.com

More

  • BranchOut (job search)
  • Monster (job search)
  • Color (photo and video sharing)
  • Courserank (education)
  • Grockit (education)
  • Foursquare (location)
  • Goodreads (books)
  • Kobo (books)
  • StubHub (ticketing)
  • Ticketmaster (ticketing)
  • Ticketfly (ticketing)
  • ScoreBig (ticketing)
  • Appsfire (app discovery)
  • Artfinder (art)
  • Autotrader (cars)

Phase 3: Going Where the Users Are—Mobile Devices

Oh, and did we mention—all of the above power of integration and marketing applies to mobile devices?

Putting it All Together Now: Levi’s Friend Store

To date, the best case study of close integration with the power of the Facebook’s Open Graph, is perhaps Levi’s Friend Store.

Clothes have always been more about who is wearing what than what it costs (or whether it actually even looks good). So what better way to leverage the like button and single-sign on feature than to integrate it to the online clothing store?

If you’ve been around technology and philosophy, you know that “The Web is Us/ing Us” YouTube video is thought-provoking and prophetic.

I’m no fortune teller, so I don’t know what Facebook has up its sleeve next, but I guarantee it will continue to build on this principle—that it’s all about teaching the system to make connections while leveraging the power of relationships.

What do you think? Where do you think Facebook is heading next?

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Spread Your Ideas By Blending—Don’t Just Build a Website, Postcard, or Video

blendwritingwell

Not everyone likes to write. Some are okay at it. Others are not good at it at all.

But if we really believe in something, want to develop our brand, build our business, or simply just spread our ideas, most us get involved. And because we’re passionate about our ideas, we actually enjoy writing about that topic!

The team at blend is not any different. Because of our unique philosophy to blend all marketing elements together well—strategic vision, social media, content marketing, video, print, advertising, and website—our team members are qualified to post on many website design and marketing topics such as design, research, coding, social media, and writing. And we’re doing this all because we want to help you market not just your website, but the ideas that drive your business.

So, if you’re serious about learning how to blend your marketing efforts well, plan to stop by our blog. We look forward to meeting you!

Naomi
for the blend team

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