This week I traveled down to Louisville, KY to the Louisville Digital Association’s event. They had Jay Baer, (@jaybaer) the author of Youtility speaking about his vision of marketing in a social media culture. There was no doubt I was going to enjoy it, he was among the first people I had heard say what I have been saying for the last several years, not exactly – but similar concepts. However, I had no idea how valuable this little trip was going to be for me and our clients.
If I had to summarize Jay’s message it is this – “Youtility is marketing so useful, people are willing to pay for it,” and we have to be “playing the long game” in today’s fragmented world. Attention spans are shrinking and the world is noisier and shiner than ever. What are you doing to capture the attention of your intended audience?
In his book he puts it this way:
“Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and customers.”
One of the examples he gives of this hyper fragmentation is the fact that is 2006 there were approximately 35,000,000 blogs and today we have over 175,000,000 – and it’s not showing any signs of slowing.
Think of this example Jay uses in his book:
“In 1977, the number one television show in the United States was Happy Days. In 1977 Happy Days did a 31.5 rating, meaning that 31.5 percent of Americans living in a household with a television watched the program.
Ten years later, in 1987, the number one show was The Cosby Show, which did a 27.8 rating. Ten years after that, the number one show was Seinfeld. It did a 21.7 rating. And ten years later the number one show was American Idol, which did a 16.1 rating.
In 2011, for the first time, the number one show wasn’t really a show at all. Sunday Night Football did a seasonal average 12.9 rating as the number one television program in America”
What can be concluded is you have smaller and smaller targets to hit with your messaging. Add to that the difficulty brought about by the collision of commercial and personal messages in social media and you realize, as Jay said, “Your message is competing against EVERYTHING!”
So how do you create Youtility?
This year is the tipping point, 57% of cell phones are smart phones now with widgets, apps and browsers which means that nearly 60% of your audience is walking with the world’s information in their pants. (What a contrast from the set of Encyclopedia Britannica that mom and dad bought for the house circa 1972.)
People have questions and are constantly looking stuff up. Answer those questions. Marcus Sheridan of River Pools in Warsaw, VA has over 859 pages indexed with Google…most of them answering questions, NOT PROMOTING. The value to your business is this:
i. Questions create doubt
ii. Doubt creates friction
iii. Friction keeps people from taking action
Don’t be afraid to give knowledge away, some will use it for their own purposes, yea verily, some competitor may even use it…so what! Is your world so small that if you miss one to two you’ll go out of business? The great likelihood is you don’t have the capacity to serve every potential customer in your zip code, much less your market.
Right now someone is tweeting someone’s secret right now. Truth comes out today, more than ever so you may as well get used to doing business in a public spot-light. Learn how to make mistakes publicly and fix them publicly. (for an example of this, here is how I responded to a poor Yelp review for my 14 year old daughter’s dog sitting business)
Real Time Relevancy
Jay advises to “market sideways” by introducing your brand into the life of your customers outside of your specialty. What do people need? Go find it and provide it. BTW, the best way to find out what people need is to…well…ask them.
This is a terrific book and a must read for anyone trying to compete in the age of social and ever fragmenting media
Question: What 2 things could The Social Sherpa provide you? What do you need? (We’d really like to know.)
Hashtags are getting a great deal of attention recently. People ignore them, people swear by them and others swear at them. So what’s the hashtag hubbub Bub? What’s all the fuss about anyway?
Let’s first define what a hashtag is and how you create one. A hashtag is a # symbol followed by any unbroken string of characters; unbroken being the key. If we wanted to hashtag our company’s name it should look like this - #thesocialsherpa NOT #The Social Sherpa. In the first example, we have a successful tag and in the second I have a successful tag of the word “THE” which is just a tad too generic.
Think of #hashtags as bookmarks of sorts but the author is bookmarking their content to be found at a later date.
How do people use hashtags
Users of social networks leverage hashtags to find the content their looking for and/or follow online discussions. If you did a Twitter or Facebook search for #socialmediatips, you would find ALL posts or tweets available where that hashtag has been used. Once you have gotten all that information in front of you, simply peruse at your convenience.
Currently these are the networks using hashtags, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, Orkut, Fluidinfo, Catch.com and FriendFeed. (Do not panic if you haven’t heard of some of these, its okay) The ones you should be most concerned with are the first five on the list.
It’s important to simultaneously stand alone and in the crowd, so I’m a two hashtag kinda guy. I use one hastag that is focused on our brand, such as, #SherpaApproved which is sort of our USDA seal of approval on other’s writings and ideas. It tells our followers that we’ve read it and found it worth reading and on track.
Well, let’s face it, we don’t have the social media cred of a Jay Baer (@jaybaer) or Mari Smith (@marismith) so we need to tap into some other hashtag that is more generic and has greater likelihood of being found WITHOUT hijacking a hashtag. Hijacking a hashtag is when you use one created by someone else for the purpose of getting caught up in their trending…booooo, very bad form.
So if we lay our #SherpaApproved tag on a retweet about, say hashtags, we might put the generic #hashtag on the retweet. Now if someone sees the retweet and finds value, they may want to see what else the Sherpa has approved and now we have a new follower.
So we are both standing alone (#SherpaApproved) and in a crowd (#hashtag) at the same time.
Take Your Shot!
Now that you know a little more, take your shot. Do a search for hashtags on your favorite social platform and see if you can come up with one that is unique to you and your brand, then find the most closely matching generic and start using hashtags.
What is the best use of hashtags you’ve seen? Lord knows, we want to encourage good hashtag use, so here’s your chance to toot your horn about someone. Likewise we need to #shame #into #submission #those #that #abuse #the #hashtag. What are your worst examples, present company excluded please?
SEO (search engine optimization) to SMI (social marketing integration): What’s Going on and 3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Help Your Content.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…No, Charles Dickens was not referring to a company trying to keep its website up in the rankings, but it sure does seem to fit does it not? As few as five years ago just a little bit of content and a truck load of backlinks and you were on your way to page one with a bullet. Okay, so maybe it was never quite that easy, but you have to admit, it was a clearer, simpler time.
Not only are search engines expecting good content, with the proliferation of one social media outlet after another, they now expect your content to be popular and yea verily even shared. Oh, by the way, your followers and those you follow play a role is the algorithm as well. (Remember - in through the nose; out through the mouth.)
It has been said that the first step on the road to recovery is the admission you have a problem. I wasted a bunch of years in denial over the fact that I just plain suck at some stuff. I was that person that would take on responsibilities and projects I had no business with AT ALL. It was obvious to everyone BUT me sadly. In the last 36 months or so I have had the freeing experience of acknowledging my lack and found teammates or partners that have talent where I have deficits. Subsequently, what I am gifted to do, I have more time to do and do it far better!
So here are 3 things you can do right now if you realize you have a web presence problem.
1. Build Community AND Content – Frankly, unless you’re living under a rock and do not do any research at all, quality content is not that difficult. You do not have to game the system as I stated in my post 5 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Website. Where it becomes more challenging is getting others to promote your content. Let me ask, how many times have you had someone write a testimonial for you without some sort of prompting? I know, I know, it happens but not with the regularity you need to have the desired result. In the same way you have to engage your communities to such a degree that they are compelled to share your content. You have to be obsessed with your communities; obsessed like your first teenage crush obsessed. Yes you are right, it will take a bunch of time but look at it this way; if you do not you will find yourself with no customers and all kinds of time. There is a group of young people that in 10 years will be your customer and they will have already built a brand bond with another who was busy courting new members to the marketplace and you will have – well – time.
2. Build Consistency – Your community(ies) need to depend on you for the content they desire and the great news is it does not need to be Pulitzer prize winning prose…just solid. Fret less; share more should be your mantra. If you blog or release other content twice a week…do it on the same day and time. You can drop in other content periodically, but you have to be solid about whatever your minimum delivery will be.
3. Build Continuity – Just like consistency, your community also wants to know that you are the source for “Widget News/Info” and every Friday they can learn from you. (and stop being stingy with your knowledge – unless it is proprietary…SHARE)
Link your content to others content as well as your own. When you put content on the internet you monkey around with a search engines reputation, make them look awesome by having the right tags and keywords with the appropriate content.
Given enough good content over enough time there is no reason you should not see the desired results. If not, you should consider having someone audit your keywords and content against competition and relevance.
If this was helpful, please comment and share your thoughts below. Thanks (oh yeah, share this on your favorite social channels too.)
In the last post we shared with you what we believe are the 5 things to avoid on your website and hopefully you've knocked them off your “to-do” list.
We want to take a little more positive tact with this particular post and talk about some things you definitely want to see in your website. These will seem commonsense, but you'd be surprised how easy it is to miss the obvious during the development process if you haven't done the boring work of documentation and/or workflow analysis.
So here we go...
This is only 3 things your website must have. We'd love your opinion – What are YOUR must haves when you are on a website? Take a minute and comment – Thanks!
There are several challenges running your own business, your website is just one but unlike most everything else, it’s the one that, in many cases, customers and potential customers see first and see most.
Search engines have become much more sophisticated over the last several years and are making it easier for consumers to pinpoint what they want and find the content to match. Your job, or the job of whomever over sees your website is to give The Big Three (Google, Bing & Yahoo), what they want.
Certainly you can go to 10 different sources and probably get 10 different lists of “Dos and Don’ts” and none would likely be completely wrong, but we are going to start with the Don’ts. Here are 5 mistakes to avoid on your website:
1. Avoid gaming the system – We’ve heard the axiom for years, “the house always wins,” that’s no truer than it is in the world of search engines and content. You have to remember that when you try to “trick” the search engines, they will find out and YOU will pay a price for it. (don't believe me? Look what happened to this guy)
Undoubtedly, there are things you do every day to run your business such as pay bills, create invoices, see potential clients etc. You need to make content a priority if you’re serious about becoming and staying relevant.
2. Avoid gobs and gobs of text on a single page – It’s true you need text, BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE TO ALL BE ON THE SAME PAGE! Get feedback from clients, friends, neighbors, puppy dogs…find out what people like and don’t like about your site.
Depending on your target demo, you might want to have some teens or twenty-somethings look at your site, that’s the next generation of customers anyway, right?
3. Avoid looking like every other competitor – I’m going to pick on service industries a little here, but why do plumbers, electricians and HVAC contractors insist on showing off their service vehicles?
You must make a distinction between you and EVERYONE else and if your site looks just like the next guy, how are you doing it?
4. Avoid being incognito – There is an expectation today that I can get to know most everyone in your company without ever spending a dime with you. Let me meet your staff and PLEASE for the love of Pete, do something to make them look happy. No mug shots please.
5. Avoid being anti-social – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, whatever you choose as your venue(s), get active and get involved. People may not do business with you JUST BECAUSE you have a fan page, but the numbers are increasing of those that won’t because you don’t.
Again, the expectation is that I can get a feel for you and your company through social media without ever picking up the phone. Recently a client of ours told a story of how they gained a new client simply because a LIKE on their fan page. The new clients said, “I figured if Matt liked you, you were okay.” (Nothing like a little borrowed credibility, huh?)
So there you have our 5 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Website. Now, before you get to comfortable, we could have probably made the list 500 Mistakes, but didn’t want to overwhelm. Blessings!
Not if they are worth their salt they won’t, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it. The people who control the search algorithms are the only ones able to make a claim like that. A reputable firm will focus on increase visibility, traffic and conversions.
Such “guarantees” should be the equivilant of caution flag for you. Ask yourself these questions -
Same is true for Google PageRank. Next to Ft. Knox Google’s algorithms are among the best guarded secret in the world. A reputable firm understand and explains that to their client and doesn’t spinkle them with fairy dust and bedtime stories.
I know it’s tempting to believe. Many times I wanted easy only to discover it was harder to undo the mess than to do the work the right way in the first place.
We have been “pushing” information for more than 150 years in the United States. Through newspapers, magazines, radio and television, we have been inundated with what other people think we want to know about their products and service.Today you have to have a compelling “pull” mentality. You must be in constant search for what your audience(s) want in the way of information and then set about providing it.
Do the researchFor what is your audience searching? What do they want? Take some time to do the hard work of research. This is where hiring a firm can work to your advantage. Some have already done industry specific research and you can tap into their expertise to your advantage.
If you are doing the research yourself, here are a few channels to consider:
Defining and discovering your audience can feel like quite a challenge, but with research and persistence, you will find your target.
This question is typically asked because someone is thinking of social media as “telemarketing” which is most definitely is not. Feeds, as they are known in most networks, scroll constantly as new content is added old posts move out of view. Unless your follower has asked to be notified of your tweets, pins or posts it’s very unobtrusive. Remember, they have to LIKE or FOLLOW YOU to receive the information, they are the initiator.
That said, there are some facts that can help you with your timing and quantity of posts, tweets and updates.
Take a step back, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth and repeat after me -
This is a marathon, not a sprint
This is a marathon, not a sprint
This is a marathon, not a sprint
This is a marathon, not a sprint
There, now that feels better doesn’t it?
Take some time to construct a plan that gives your audience what they desire in the way they want it. That is all.
The Social Sherpa helps you define your company's online goals, then guides your every step in the achievement of those goals.