It's Called SOCIAL Media Because...

It happens more often than not. When business people talk about social media they tend to think it's their personal broadcast station used Man Confused to push out only what THEY think is important.  And, that is exactly why so many fail to harness the true power of this media platform.

Consider this: ESPN broadcasts sports. All kinds of sports. Not just baseball or football or (my personal favorite) curling. OK, not really but you get my point. They broadcast what is in the interest of their viewers. How do they know? Because the network spends millions listening to the general public and then it spoon feeds us what we tell them we want. Which is why you don't see Monday Night Curling.

I get it, you don't have "millions" but you do know your consumer base...right? What is it that motivates them? What is it that gets your customer to nod their head in agreement? What trigger is it that, when pulled, launches engagement? If you don't know then please stop using social media because you will not be pleased with the results and you will consider it all a waste of time.

But...if you understand that your social media platform is more about THEM than YOU...you're on to something.  Let me give you a real-world example.

Mindi Sudman MPL 24 March 2017Some of you know that we are the fuel that powers the daily business news broadcast Insight on Business the News Hour. Every weekday all engines stop here at the ad agency and we go to work compiling the business news of the nation, region and the local Des Moines Metro. It's then off to the Des Moines Radio Group to deliver that news, the Wall Street Report and perform two long-form business interviews with startups to established companies. We've been doing this for nearly four years.

Each Friday we do a "Restaurant of the Week" segment and invite a locally owned restaurateur in to learn the "back-story" of their business. Once done we share with that restaurant (or business) the link to the Radio Blog, photos of our time together and a document that suggests how they might use the radio interview to engage their social media fans/customers.

We can always tell who is successful in their understanding of social media by watching the number of people who then click through to One Eleven Public House 26 March 2017listen to the interview. Last week our Restaurant of the Week was One Eleven Public House a brand new place on Main Street in Knoxville, Iowa. Within 26 hours that interview had been downloaded and listened to by over 225 people. And that is on only ONE of our metrics. You can add another 87 downloads from Podbean, our podcast page and iTunes is still growing. (Go ahead and click on the image to the right.)

Mindi Sudman, (above in studio) the owner of One Eleven Public House gets it..or whomever is doing her social media gets it. And they did not limit their sharing on just Facebook they shared across Instagram and it was trending on Twitter.

Understanding social media, what it is and what it is not, is critical to your marketing success. It has to be done often, right and targeted toward those whom you wish to reach and influence.

Otherwise...it's just a waste of time.

Love to hear your thoughts and thanks for reading! 

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Is It The Content or Something Else?

We're now in our fourth year of reporting the business news of the nation, region and the IOB_podcastv2 Greater Des Moines Metro during Insight on Business the News Hour. Each weekday starting at 5:05pm we take to the air on AM-940, FM-104.5 and in HD at 103.3 HD2 and report the business news of the day, what the market did and why and then conduct two long-form business interviews with startups to established corporations. To date we've conducted over 1,500 of those interviews with nearly 147,000 downloads on just one of our podcast pages, Podbean. You can see that here.

That's the history.

And we've noticed something that should be of interest to those of you attempting to extend your voice with social media.  

Social media experts tell us that "content is king". If you produce good and valuable content people will notice and engage. We think that's true as long as the content is about cats or food. Business? Not so much. The vast consumer population could care less about how to grow, maintain, start and stay in business.

Or wait...might it be something else?

We watch, very carefully, the download and listening numbers as they appear on iTunes and Podbean. We also follow the data on Bitly and we've noticed that those business people and businesses who join us for an interview and then share their story along several social media Man Megaphonechannels gain a big advantage. In other words they are not keeping their story...secret or to themselves they are telling the world and it matters.

And, if those businesses or business people carry their message forward for several days/weeks their download numbers explode. Sure we're there carrying the water as well but when the organic tweets and Facebook posts and LinkedIn posts happen more than once...it extends their voice so much further.

There is a valuable lesson here: Social Media is not a "one-and-done" effort. Think of it this way, if you got a new job or you're about to get married or you've just closed a huge deal... would you tell just one person?  No. You would repeat that story several times over the life of the news.

It's the same thing here. The very same thing. Content does matter but so too does properly sharing that content.

Your turn!

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Never Mind We've Got This...

I recently attended a meeting of about 20 volunteers who had gathered to discuss Man Head in Handscommunication efforts. The communication they desire is to build brand awareness and to share information critical to their brand and interested consumers. From what I could gather, from the brief introductions, I was the only professional marketer in the room.

In that two hour meeting there was plenty of discussion about social media, particularly Facebook. An hour into the meeting I asked a question about their existing website, "As with any brand the company website is often the first point of contact among consumers seeking more information about the product or service. It would seem to me that your first consideration would be to put up a website that is mobile friendly, easy to maintain and simple to navigate." I should note here their existing website has none of those qualities.

The response was, "The people we are attempting to reach do not go to websites they would much rather get their information from Facebook." In other words, "Shut up. We've got this."

I spent the next hour listening to minutia about Facebook. From posting to monitoring to limiting access of comments. It was an interesting insight on "group think" with the group having no clear understanding of marketing their message.

For those of you who are in business, and have an interest, allow me offer some simple marketing and advertising thoughts when it comes to building your brand. Ready?

Websites - In my professional opinion your website should be the foundation of your brand. It is your website that is accessible to the world. It is the repository of your brand message, contact information, blog, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter links. It must be mobile friendly. It must be updated on a regular basis and it must contain information of value to consumers. Ignoring that simple truth is putting your brand at jeopardy.

Blogging - Second only to your website should be your business blog. It is here where your "voice" can be shared in well thought out posts. For folks who want to know more about your business or non-profit your blog can be that gateway. Then use Social Media to share that message with a wider audience. Finally, when your blog becomes part of your Website Home Page you are updating content each time you post. And that is critical to Google Ranking and SEO.

Facebook - The potential universe for this particular non-profit would be roughly 300,000 people of various ages, ethnic backgrounds and lifestyles. Their existing public Facebook page has about 800 followers yet they believe this should be their main branding tool. They are talking to themselves. There is a place for Facebook but it should never be your primary marketing tool. Never.

Twitter -There seemed to be some confusion about how to best use Twitter. We find it to be an amazing news gathering and sharing tool that should, in our opinion, never be linked to your Facebook stream. They are two very different forms of communication and when your Twitter feed has a few words and then that Facebook link it tells those of us who use Twitter on a daily basis you're not really putting in the work to share your brand. We've got a blog post on that from several years ago. It will offer you "why".

YouTube - The world loves video. Here is a post from 2012 that speaks to the power of video for business THEN. Today the numbers are even more staggering. However, to gain traction the video that is produced must be well done, share valuable information and have the ability to capture the attention of the consumer in the first five seconds. This is a project best done by professionals otherwise it can be a waste of time.

Instagram - There was little talk about this social media tool that we've found to be fun, informative and growing in popularity. However, Instagram does have some limitations such as linking and we believe you must post to the platform at least three times a day to gain traction.

Just some of the things I would have shared with my friends however...they were not really interested. They've got this covered...

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Yesterdays News

In the fast-paced world in which we live and with the myriads of information outlets available People Fast Pace Twodo you notice how fast yesterdays news gets forgotten?  Not that it was not important but people move on...quickly.

If you are a business and you are using social media to communicate with consumers doesn't it make sense to continue to drive your message...often and at different times of the day?

We think so and here are several tips to help you on the way:

  • Post Often - You work on your blog post and put it on Facebook and Twitter once. Chances are very few people will actually see what it is you took time to create. It is not bad form to re-post your piece several times during different day-parts; 
  • Mimic the Media - To that point start, on Twitter, to follow several news outlets. You will find they re-post news stories often and, in doing so, they change up the wording so that it is fresh;
  • Use Images - Doesn't matter if it is Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Snapchat make sure your image is included and the caption matches the image. It is more difficult with Twitter and 140 characters but worth it because the click through rate goes up;
  • Use a Service - We have used Hootsuite (there are others) for several years. It offers us the opportunity to schedule Tweets over a wide period of time. So we can send out the same story, with different words and sometime photos over various time periods and it takes just a few minutes;
  • Respond - If somebody likes what you are sharing make sure you respond with a "Thank you" or better yet feel free to ask a question about why they liked or re-posted what you have written.  Remember, social media is not just a broadcast tool it is about building relationships.

Five pretty simple tips that will help you boost your engagement.  After all, that is what we are all hoping for...right?

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It Took This Long...

This is a message of hope to those of you who have not updated your business website or the Update Image internal pages because you "don't have the time".  This week we updated our agency website to show the radio broadcast of Insight on Business the News Hour in the header bar. Three years after we started broadcasting from the Des Moines Radio Group.

Three years...

It's not that we didn't WANT to make the change. It's just that it was a secondary issue...but, in reality it's not. You see when you fail to adjust your home page or internal pages to add new content getting "found" by the search engines is more difficult.  Some tips from "The Procrastinator":

  • Your Blog - If you do a business blog (you do...right?) make sure you tie it to the home page of our website. Why? Because when you are posting you are automatically adding fresh content to your home page. Ask your Web Developer to make it happen;
  • Change Wording - At least twice a month alter the wording on your home page and your "About Us" page. You can keep the same general theme and intent but changing the words around offers fresh content;
  • Stuck? - Sometimes we get so busy or we get stuck on WHAT to write about. Take a few minutes and reflect on what changes have happened to your business. What are you doing that is new, that might be of interest to your customers...then make an adjustment to your wording;
  • Non-Static - The most important thing to remember is that your website should not be a "static brochure". You have the power to adjust images, wording and more. If you don't KNOW how to do that just schedule the changes with your Web Developer. Static is bad...change is...good.

Hope that is helpful. Even we need to be reminded from time to time.  

Thanks for reading!

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Too Old for Social Media?

It happens all the time. Most recently I was at The Island Coffee Haus on Anna Maria Island (If Vacation 2016 crop useyou have not been, you must go!). I was working on The Business News Hour and using their Wi-Fi. I thought I'd shout out on Twitter and asked the owner what their handle was. She told me they didn't have one, yet, but they had Facebook and just started using Instagram. "We really need to get on Twitter but I don't know how."

I said, "Hey, no problem. If you want I can set it up for you and then link it to your Instagram account."  She said, "You know about social media?? I'm impressed that you keep up on that stuff."

It's the gray hair...

I mentioned that social media is just one of the tools we use for ourselves and our business, "It's what we do." I don't think she believed me...  

Hey, I offered.

Age bias and social media?  Sure. Because the platforms are new folks think the only people who can master the media are young people under 23.  Not so.  How about some updated social media tips?

  • Don't Marry Them - I'm talking about Facebook and Twitter because they are two very different platforms and methods. Tweets are here and gone in a matter of minutes while Facebook Posts linger and the audience isn't the same nor is how you communicate.
  • Blog Often - Beyond the engagement of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram there is the blog. This is an amazing tool to offer people the back-story of your business. Remember blog 3 times a week each week and keep it under 400 words.  Great for SEO by the way.
  • Hashtag Use - If you want to boost engagement check the #Hashtag for your particular industry and use it as well. #Coffee #BusinessLaw #Radio #IaWx (or whatever state) for weather. Find your industry and take part in the conversation. On our Business Broadcast Instagram account we use #CelebrateWorkers and post random shots of people doing their jobs...fun.
  • Communicate - Ask questions, post surveys, ask for input. Remember social media isn't a one-way conversation or your private media outlet for sales.  They call is "social" for a reason.
  • Plan Your Effort - Have a plan for what you are going to share and talk about.
  • Video - Just use it!

Have more? Share!

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Just Shut It Down!

This past week Twitter celebrated its 10th Birthday. That caused lots of people to Tweet "Happy Birthday" and wonder, "Gosh, how long have I been using the 140 character platform?" Me too. Twitter Profle March 2016
So, I looked. I joined as @MichaelLibbie on July 15, 2008. Since then I've posted over 39,000 Tweets and interacted with thousands of people and businesses.

I'm not sure what you might consider an expert to be but, I'll suggest to you that with nearly eight years of experience, thousands of messages and giving dozens of presentations on the power of Twitter and Social Media...maybe I get it.

That's why, when I look at the Twitter Feeds of businesses and individuals and see how anemic their attempt is, I often suggest, "Just shut it down, you are doing more harm that good."

That was my suggestion to a former social media client who decided they knew better and said, "We'll just take over the posting duties. I think we've got an intern or some young people here that can get the job done."

Right...  I looked. Had to...it was the 10th Birthday of Twitter and I was wondering how far they have come over the past several months. Crickets.

So here is my social media marketing tip for you and your business. If you've decided to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn etc.) but you're not doing it....just shut it down. Stop because it ain't working and you are doing more harm to your brand than good. If you don't have a strategic goal. If you don't have a social media marketing plan. If you don't know....just stop. Or admit that you don't know and find some help.

But, what do I know...  

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The Power of the Podcast for Business

I get it you've already got plenty on your advertising/marketing plate and you may think you Podcastdon't have room for more. Fair but let me share with you an opportunity to have your voice heard like in "really heard".

If you want to skip reading and rather listen to what a Podcast can sound like...here you go:

Podcast Blog

Podcasting is something most businesses don't do mostly because they fail to see the value in podcasting or they don't understand how to create a podcast. Let me help you with both:

Podcast Value

People are busy, often too busy to read. They may head to the gym, drive a distance to the office, get on the road for a game or hit the highway for a meeting. Tough to read when jogging or driving but really easy to listen to a podcast.  The value of creating a podcast for your business is that you can, in a very short period of time, capture the attention of your target audience and they can "tune in" to the "voice of your business".

Creating a Podcast

It doesn't require much. Your computer and a microphone should work but then you'll have two additional issues. You'll need some software to edit your podcast. There is a free version of Audacity out there that we've used for years or you can pony up and purchase another system.

The content of your podcast should be original. Just like your blog you now have the opportunity to share your knowledge with others but remember, just like video, you've only got seconds to capture the attention of your audience. Get to it and make it enjoyable to listen to. Offer tips, suggestions and put your expertise on display. Keep your podcast to maximum of IOB_podcastv2 TuneInfifteen minutes. Often less...is best.

I'd also suggest to you that you use original music at the front so that your podcast becomes your own. Looking for original music for yours?  Contact my friend James Goodlett from JamGood Productions great stuff and he did ours for the Business News Hour.

Also get some original artwork for your podcast. We also did that for the Business News Hour and it's instantly identifiable to what we do.

Hosting Your Podcast

So where do you put your podcast? There are a number of sites out there. We've used Podbean for several years and it allows us a tracking system to record the downloads. There are others and here is a link to TechNorms for a listing of eight. And don't forget to include iTunes for an option.

Sharing Your Podcast 

Social Media time baby!  Don't be bashful. Place it on your website, splash it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook...what you are currently using for sharing...now you have your podcast to share as well.

I'm not going to kid you it takes time...but if you've already got written content why not re-purpose that into your new podcast?

You're...On!

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Social Media Marketing in Northern Iowa

I'm honored to have been asked to be part of this amazing group of  NIACC Oct 2015 Two Use
professional marketers who will do a full day event about Social Media Marketing for Business.  I'll post a link to the registration page toward the end of this post.

Here's the deal: As a business person you've been told "Social media is free and everybody should use it." That, my friends is a lie. Social Media Marketing is not free it takes time and talent. That being the case why not attend a session where some of the best professionals in marketing will share their tips, suggestions and demonstrate what works...and what needs work. Here's more:

 

If you are in business you want to add more to the bottom line...while engaging consumers with your story.  Spend some time with us on 24 October at NIACC during the Midwest Social Media Summit! Here is that registration link.

Seek...answers.

Thanks for reading, watching coming by!

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What can we do?

Man Paper AirplaneThat was the honest question asked by a new blogger.  "What can we do to get our company blog post out there more?"  

They wanted to know if others would re-post their blogs or if other bloggers might use their content or if somebody in publishing might pick up their blog for some technical information.

Here is the reality:  Other bloggers might pick up another company blog IF it has amazing content. The blog might get re-posted IF there is some really interesting content that helps others. The media might pick up the blog if, once again, there is some great content that they might not have access to.

Notice the one word "content".

To be fair, we had not seen this corporate blog until we got the email and once we clicked through and found it...

Lesson #1 about blogging:  Quit selling!  When your company blog is simply a sales message about what you can do or what you have for sale or how wonderful your service is...nobody will pick it up or re-post other than friends (maybe) and family (maybe).

Three tips on content:

Be Helpful - You might have the very best product on the market but if you are seen as constantly selling it...it turns folks off.  Better to tell a story about how your product or service truly helped somebody that needed it. Story telling is powerful.

Be Sincere - The days of the "Snake Oil Salesman" are long gone. (Unless you are in politics it seems.) Better to help people understand how you can fix a problem they have and be factual.  

Be Easy - A blog post should not scream at the reader.  It can be funny, helpful, informative but bold type, various hot colors in the text don't cut it.

One more?  For your blog post to "get out there" you must post more than three times a month. Honest...

Now, go "Get Out There!"

Thanks for reading...

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