digital marketing, Facebook, Social Media, Twitter

Beware The Audience

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It’s strange how certain trends/pet peeves/viral content starts to slap you in the face repeatedly before you acknowledge it’s impact on the industry and common practices. This past week has been a reawakening for me about the topic of the Audience Attention Span on Social Media.

So what am I talking about?

The fact that I refuse to watch a YouTube (or any other form of online) video that’s longer than 3 minutes. The knowledge that as Social Media and our access to information gets easier, our tolerance for information and content which we have to work for shortens. It’s also the idea that unless we

1. Heavily incentivize or
2. Rethink how and what we approach consumers with

we could very well alienate our audience and eventually, lose them.

Today our project manager was looking for a how-to video for our new office tea-brewer and was significantly annoyed that all the videos were over 20 minutes long and it sparked this defining conflict in my mind. I believe that there are subtle differences in the definitions of online content which boil down to how much time, effort and money it costs the consumer. For example, the word “tutorial” implies an in depth and therefore longer video or piece of content, whereas when a user is looking for “how-to”, they’re looking for a short, easy to digest piece of content to help them quickly overcome their obstacle. If a piece of content is wrongly titled (like a 30 minute long how-to), consumers won’t just look elsewhere, but become actively negative towards your channel and your brand- for wasting their time, their data and their effort.

Some time back I ran a simple giveaway on a client’s page, but I warned client that forcing fans off Facebook and onto a tab (which even though it’s been defined as being native, really isn’t at all) would shoot our entries and overall success of the campaign down. This proved to be true, but obviously the reason why consumers didn’t want to leave Facebook wasn’t because our entry mechanic wasn’t ‘native’. From a consumer standpoint, what we were giving away just wasn’t worth the time and effort to waste less than a minute for. If however we asked fans to comment on the post, the uptake would be substantially better because the effort and time to do so had been sliced in half.

My point is this. We keep falling into the same trap of assuming that once we nail content on a platform that it will remain that way, forgetting that Social Media is human, fluid and it’s state of flux is dictated by the users and their preferences- not our shitty Traditional Media turned Digital Experts.

The wisdom? Keep your ear to the ground, so you don’t end up pissing your fans off with a bullshit 30 minute long video.

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digital marketing, Facebook, Marketing, Social Media

Social Media Incentives: Breeding Inauthentic Engagement

Content is King

The slap-dash solution for a lack of reach and engagement (I really do use those words way too much) always seems to be running a giveaway. But to what end?

For the brands I work with, nothing scares me more than when my client wants to run a giveaway, especially after months of perfecting the brand’s content, and it really is just an issue of how much inauthentic engagement you end up receiving.

People who aren’t interested in your product will flock en masse to your page, engage, engage, engage, and then just like a hot guy with no personality- will leave you feeling empty and shoot your stats down so fast and far you’ll be back at square one, just trying to get into a good space content-wise.

It’s all good and well that I whine about what shouldn’t be done, but what should the actual solution to increase reach and engagement be?

  1. Think about who the brand speaks to, who the target market is and what sort of content they consume online.
  2. Target bloggers, publications and personalities who your audience will resonate with and collaborate (emphasis on the word collaborate, not to be mistaken for “take my product and my creative and make people love me without any creative input”).
  3. Launch a campaign, it can be on little to no budget, but if it’s well thought out and passionate enough, people will respond. 
  4. Keep the momentum going even after the campaign is done, analyse which parts of the campaign worked best and capitalize on them.

Good social isn’t rocket science, but being one with your consumer takes a bold set of stress balls.

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Facebook, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media

Social Media Strategy: Keep It Custom

The other day I found a Social Media agency bio that claimed being able to increase a fan base from 1k to 100k in the space of a few months which naturally made me throw up, but then I realised just how many agencies get big bucks based on bold (but not impossible) claims like this. I ranted on Twitter for a little while and reached the conclusion that South African brands and businesses need to be educated on what Social Media is, what it can do and what they should consider a success so that people aren’t being conned out of their money anymore.

Most brands and businesses in SA are still largely traditional, and are thus taken for a good old ride by agencies who will present them with a standard Social Media offering awash with buzzwords and bullshit statistics. More often than not, these agencies will convince client that Social Media is all about reach (maybe a little footsie talk about engagement too) and ultimately, they’ll get a nice fat sum to work with.

But that’s not how any of this works in my opinion.

Sit down with you client, acquaint yourself with their business, what their inspiration is, their goals and exactly what they expect to get out of Social Media. And then customise your strategy, target according to their desired audience, work your ass off so that their ROI is meaningful, so that their brand is positively affected by your work.

Establish whether they are local, regional or national, who they want to reach and where, then apply your knowledge of the industry, of influencers and the tone the business needs to take on. Social Media is so far past the point of every brand being witty and clever and sarcastic, it’s a way to reach consumers and fans on a human level beyond the theatrics we’ve become so used to.

Keep in mind that the nature of content differs from brand to brand and then requires optimisation from platform to platform, don’t be a doos and put a hardware business on tumblr, not unless it’s owned by top-knotted beardos who listen to Vance Joy.

Are they an international publication? Let them get reach, engagement and a kick ass CTR.

Are they a family run bakery? Help them engage with their customers, promote their yummies and reach new fans who are able (read: in the area) to visit.

Ain’t nothing standard about Social people, if it isn’t custom, it isn’t working.

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digital marketing, Facebook, Marketing, Social Media, Twitter

Social Media Under Traditional Control

So I got to thinking this morning, about how Social Media success is defined, by other agencies, and by clients, and the sad truth is that there are polar opposites in the way that success is defined, and therefore, the way that a strategy is formed.

A brand may decide to join Social Media to ‘engage’ with their consumers, but let’s face it, it all comes down to an ROI and a way to drive sales, and this is where the problem starts. When brands first became interested in the Social Media phenomenon, the need to engage with fans and consumers was what fueled the strategy at the time, but old habits die hard and brands are starting to look at Social Media figures like advertising ones.

Does the brand you manage really care about your engagement beyond how it affects the reach and number of likes it gets in return?

Have the number of Likes and Followers you have on Social Media become the modern day interpretation of what circulation figures were/are in the print advertising industry?

It’s this set of criteria that is based on huge numbers and not on content and authenticity that is coercing agencies to buy Like and Followers, because truthfully, who would ever find out right? But that’s the issue for me, how does 47% of inactive followers help your brand build awareness, affinity or drive sales? You may be meeting or surpassing your KPIs, but you’re killing the benefits of Social under the guise of how it can (mainly) only bring an ROI indirectly.

As someone who is passionate about Social, I’m not interested in the numbers, they mean very little to me compared to what the reaction to content is. Social Media is MEASURABLE, and that makes it better than print, but that certainly isn’t the be all and end all, not when delving into what makes your consumers tick is far more beneficial to you as a brand than knowing how many people saw your post.

Social Media isn’t here to be your brands bulletin board, no one wants to read your print-focused copy on an image that makes me feel like i’m sitting through an endless stream of print ads. Learn to use the medium, it isn’t a mag or a billboard, learn to get personal, learn from your fans, and remember that reaction always trumps the silly numbers.

I look at the Top Performing South African Brands on Social Media (now isn’t that a pleasant mouthful for brand managers?) and evaluate their content and the sort of feedback they get when they aren’t any incentives for fans or followers, and it makes me wonder how many agencies are cooking the numbers and getting away with it, and that there is a growing need for Social Media Legislation in SA.

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Facebook, Marketing, Social Media, Twitter

When Mediocre Content Becomes Awesome

Ever wondered how viral videos go viral? How memes appeal to a global audience and not just a niche one? The reason I love seeing people’s reaction to what I would consider being mediocre content lies in the cross cultural psychology of it all, and how the same principles apply to the way Social Media Managers should start creating and curating their content.

How is it possible that people from distinctly different walks of life and location can converge on one video or concept without any direct contact?

It’s a matter of How, What and Where that makes decent content go B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

In my mind, the way content is received forms the basis of your audience’s expectations. Remember, in the age of the spambot, people are very reluctant to click on anything suspicious, so your strategy to get them interested enough is just as important as what they’ll be clicking on.

If you tweet a link for a video and say “funniest video by far!”, the people who click on the link will have already fallen victim to the same disease that makes people who go to comedy shows laugh at material that wouldn’t ordinarily be funny at all.

The great thing about viral content is that you don’t need agency or big brand backing to make it. This means that pulling buzzworthy stunts as a Little Guy could get you laid (in terms of fans and sales and what not, obviously).

So the first step is deciding HOW you’re going to deliver your content, and that doesn’t just mean tweaking your goods (please do not misread as “twerking”) but rather, thinking carefully about what your audience will want to see more of. Don’t underestimate the power of well-thought out content but don’t overwork it.

The best content is often stuff that provides followers and fans with a revelation of sorts. Make the revelation out of their reach, and it will be ignored. Give too much away in your post, and you won’t be directing traffic anywhere.

Step 2 is ensuring that WHAT your content is, is not only up to be viewed, but something worthy of being shared. Whether it’s funny, controversial, or (God forbid) edutainment, you have to be certain that what you’re putting up is nothing short of brilliant. Some of the best viral content was the sort of stuff someone looked at and went “Wow, I like that”. If you dig it when you look at it the first time, and then a little more the second time, run with it.

Step 3 is all about playing to the present trends in the way you market your content. There will always be a part of the internet that will LOVE your content, you just have to find WHERE and capitalize on their love. People are into some weird shit, if naked Lola Bunny can make it, so can you.

How, What, Where people. Get wit’it. And let your shit go Bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

(dear reader: excuse the excessive Stefani-ness. Hollaback Girl is stuck in my head and I’m hoping this will get rid of it)

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Facebook, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter

Pop-Up Social Media Agencies (Bleh)

So you’re a go-getter? Cool.

And you’ve tweeted for a number of labels? Nice.

Does that make you an agency all by your lonesome?

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Now before anyone attempts to accuse me of being bitter, let me explain why pretending to be an agency when it’s really just you and your buddy working from home is bad.

1. You’ve reeled your clients in by pretending to have the resources of a credible agency, but when your client expects a brilliant campaign from you, you’ll end up sounding like a swindler.

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2. Social Media Marketing is about a lot more than pushing out brand appropriate tweets and posts, and when a (smart-ish) client requests Analytic Reports from you, they don’t want an Edgerank Image and raw insights from Facebook either. Merely graphing a bunch of shit up doesn’t count as good Analytic Skills. Social Media Marketing is about analyzing trends, layering your stats to draw correlations between content, timing, date importance, tone and context (to be brief), and then, to be able to show your findings to your client in a way that’s easy for them to understand.

Does the other half of your supposed agency know this? Do your clients know that they’re paying between R4-7k a month (if not more) so you can tweet as you please with no direction or attention to what works and what doesn’t?

If it’s just you and a friend landing clients, kudos, but then call yourselves a team of freelancers, don’t dupe your clients, because when you fuck up on a campaign that’s important to them, your name will be so tainted in the industry that you won’t land another client or job again.

Want to know what a brilliant little agency looks like? Look no further than these pint-sized PR genii.

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Small Girls PR

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