Ever been to a networking event and met that guy who is just rapid-fire handing out business cards and talking about how great he is? Ever received an email from a marketer asking you to do something for her, with no reciprocal value? And we’ve all seen the automated, non-engaged Twitter accounts trying to sell you on best practices for being social, right?
What is truly missing from each of these? An authentic human element. So often people get caught up in their own “gimme gimme” bubble, that they don’t focus on giving. They don’t consider what you or their customers are actually getting out of the relationship. And they forget that quality relationships are reciprocal.
In a recent podcast with Temitayo Osinubi, I discuss all three of these arenas: networking, influencer marketing, and social media, and my personal successes that have come from being genuine, authentic, and an actual human. Listen below.
For the TL;DL (too long, didn’t listen) crowd, here are some takeaways:
4:19 – How to network the right way, and how it could get you a job
10:50 – Why curiosity is a marketer’s best friend
19:40 – The importance of listening in marketing
25:40 – Ways to get the most out of in-person events
There is that and a lot more in this great conversation we had. Take a listen and let me know what you think!
Subscribe to Temitayo Osinubi’s Marketing Disenchanted podcast here.
We’ve all seen it. The automated bot messages. Twitter accounts that are completely on autopilot. Email automation that makes us simultaneously cringe and want to punch a robot in the face (not recommended, I don’t think you’ll win that battle).
The world is becoming more and more automated, and people crave real human interaction more and more. But not just any human interaction. We need genuine, trustworthy, relationship-building humanity. The recent results of Edelman’s Trust Barometer study shows that we are severely lacking in this right now, across the board. It’s time to act. It’s time to connect. It’s time to be more human!
But being human takes time. It takes patience. And many marketers are strapped, needing to make results happen. In this webinar for MarketingProfs, I explain a couple ways you can achieve a human voice at scale, to help you reach more people in an authentic way.
TL;DW (too long, didn’t watch)
I’ll sum up some of the points and provide time stamps in case you don’t have time for a full 40 minute webinar, because we’re all busy.
(6:50) There is a reason influencer marketing has become such a hot topic. Almost everyone has someone they follow that they trust and listen to. Find people who have the trust of the type of audience you want to reach, and work with them in a way that helps them provide value to their audience. In this segment, I provide some specific ways you can reach out to influencers, track your progress, and a B2B example of how we did it when I was at MarketingProfs.
(15:32) Chances are, you have people who are excited about your brand or your products. These could be longtime customers, early adopters, blog commenters, or even employees. Putting the power in their hands, and rewarding them in ways that are appropriate to their needs and wants, provides a human face to your marketing. In the Edelman Trust Barometer study mentioned above, 60% of people trust “people like me” most of all, and that tops the list of people they trust. Employees come in as the most trusted spokesperson on nearly every aspect of business. You need to make these people part of your marketing plans. I also provide a case study on how we did this for MarketingProfs.
Each segment ends with actionable takeaways you can start implementing right now to make your marketing more human, and how to approach influencers and advocates in a genuine way so they’re more willing to work with you.
Unplug the robots. Bring back humanity. Make social social again. We’ve got this.
The beginning of the year is the time everyone starts reflecting less on the year past and more on what is to come, especially in the world of social media and marketing. If you’re curious what kind of things we can expect in the social media landscape, however, you need only look to the direction of one app: Snapchat.
I know, I know. You’ve heard a ton of hype around this app, and you may or may not have adopted it—especially with Instagram nipping at its heels and fighting feature-for-feature with Snapchat. But I’m not trying to convince you to hop on board. I’m simply pointing out some of the features this app has implemented that are steering the direction of what we can expect from social in 2017 and beyond.
A constantly changing landscape
If Snapchat has been anything this year, it has been ever-evolving. Adding some functions, taking others way, and even making some simply temporary. The constant iteration of facial recognition filters, and now augmented reality filters, keeps users on their toes wondering what is next. It is also a way to find out (via clamoring when they’re gone) which ones users are particularly attached to. This constant evolution keeps the app fresh and new, giving them plenty of press and making each update something to look forward to. Iteration like this, or simply keeping your company fresh and in the spotlight, will be a challenge brand marketers and app developers will need to be prepared for in 2017. This ain’t going away.
A convenient aspect of an ever-changing landscape is the ability to push the boundaries, sometimes to a weird place. Let me tell you, there have been some absurdly odd facial filters on Snapchat. And since they’re only there temporarily, it gives Snapchat the ability to experiment. One bonus to this weirdness though, is that it creates virality. People appalled or amused by some of the filters are more likely to screen capture and share on other social sites, leading to more popularity potential for Snapchat. In a sea of weird selfies, brands will need to figure out how to stand out, how to experiment, and ultimately how to stay relevant.
Augmented reality and interactive media
In Q4 of 2016, we saw Snapchat do some really ingenious things with AR and their filters. One that really stood out to me was the ability to turn your own face into an old school slide puzzle game (see below), with only 10 seconds to successfully solve it (since Snapchat videos are only 10 seconds long). Entire apps are created around a game like this to pass the time. Snapchat put it IN their app. How will brands create interactive experiences that make customers and prospects feel like they are part of the fun?
There was also a skiing game, reminiscent of the old Ski Free game on Windows computers (for those of you my age) that put your face on the skier. You had to tilt your phone to move the skier and avoid obstacles. You literally become the game, and could share it with your friends to find out if they could do better than you in 10 seconds. A messaging app became an interactive game with AR functionality. Whoa.
Bringing people together
While this isn’t necessarily a new thing, going from one-to-one chat, to one-to-many chat has taken off (live video anyone?). Snapchat does this in a few ways. The Snapchat Stories feature isn’t anything new (and has also been copied by Instagram), but the ability to do two-person filters and face swaps encourages you to take more than selfies—ussies, perhaps. A new feature Snapchat added this year is group chat for up to 15 people, which still disappears after 24 hours as has been their M.O. This builds friendship and community through a chat app while still staying true to itself. Want to stay top of mind in 2017? Be the hub for your community.
I read an interesting post claiming that Snapchat’s non-intuitive interface may actually work in its favor by encouraging collaborative learning. By actually learning how to use the app from another (possibly younger) person, you’re forming a relationship with them via the app. Now this claim hasn’t been substantiated by Snapchat, nor would it be. Some have claimed this would never work for another app, and it only works because Snapchat has buzz behind it already. I can agree with that. But it’s an interesting perspective to consider, and there is a lesson here. If you can find a way to encourage your community to help each other, with you being the connection point, you’ve just become vastly more valuable to both teacher and student.
Adapting to the way people use the product
Listening to your customers? Whoda thunk it? Snapchat has done a really good job of paying attention to which features and filters people use and love, and how people use the app. For example, people were often taking screen captures of their own content, so Snapchat added the ability to save to camera roll and in the cloud in a section called Memories. Then people wanted to be able to upload photos from their camera roll and edit them, so the functionality was added. Actually, there are even a special set of paintbrush filters specifically for images pulled from your camera roll, like below.
As more companies become agile, listening to feedback and acting on it will be key to success. Snapchat exhibits this approach very well. While some companies will find an agile approach daunting due to bureaucracy and red tape, being able to quickly pivot and make changes based on customer feedback can be another key to success in 2017.
So, what do you think? How will these shape up in 2017? Where do you stand? Are you already on Snapchat, and if so, what is your favorite newer feature? Tell me in the comments. Also, feel free to follow me by snapping a photo of my code below.
Instagram has been making some major changes lately, likely as an attempt to curb Snapchat’s popularity and maintain users. I’m actually a fan of many of these new features, including disabling comments, easier reporting of abuse, ability to zoom in on photos, and the constant updates to the stories feature, it’s biggest jab at Snapchat. However, the ability to ‘Like’ comments to me is just pointless, especially for brands. Let me explain.
Engagement, you say?
This update to Instagram’s comments simply maintains a status quo. It turns the comments on Instagram into exactly what Facebook’s comment system is. Now, I get that perhaps it could be useful for establishing affinity, but I think it fails us in engagement. On Instagram previously, you’d have to reply to a person and either thank them for a comment or reply with an emoji or two. I feel the ‘like’ is going to make brands (and people) lazy. It’s going to minimize that conversational element in the comments section because now it is just easier to tap the little heart and move on than to give an actual reply. They’re saying it will increase “engagement”, but is that the engagement we really want?
Don’t you dare do it, Snapchat
I’ve seen many people saying that Snapchat should emulate this and follow Instagram’s lead. That is something I wholly disagree with. Snapchat has changed the game, and the expectations, for social. They removed the constant vying for ‘likes’ and the public social proof rat race of how much “engagement” your snaps get. Now, nobody knows how many views your snap story gets but you. People are less inclined to post that perfect photo and create content that is a bit more off the cuff. Responses to snaps can be silly, snarky, or stupid, without worrying about them living indefinitely on the web. AND, you never have to focus on whether or not everyone else likes what you just said. I think that is moving in a better direction.
This update to Instagram simply maintains the status quo of vying for ‘likes’, inflating our egos, and lazy engagement. Of course, if people wanted it, I’m sure Instagram was simply fulfilling the request. But in terms of innovation, I think it’s a step backward, or at minimum, no step at all.
What do you think? Comment below.
By the way, follow me on Instagram or on Snapchat (by snapping the image below) if you like.
Earlier this year, I attended the #FlipMyFunnel B2B Marketing and Sales Festival event in Austin, TX. The event is hosted by Terminus, who you may know is an account-based marketing company. So you’d think the conference would have been solely about ABM. And you’d be wrong. The topic that came up time and time again was a relentless focus on the customer, much to my delight.
(Full disclosure: I received a free pass from one of the speakers.)
One of my favorite statements came from Lincoln Murphy, who had this to say.
“We exist to alter the state of our customers. If we can make our customers powerful, they will make us powerful.”
He explained to attendees why the current situation in B2B marketing is not a power struggle and we don’t need to “take back the power from our customers.” We’re in this together and I love that idea of reciprocity in our relationship to customers.
In order to do this, we need to relentlessly focus on what customers want, what they need, and how we can create content that helps. This was the idea that surrounded the discussion of content from nearly every speaker I listened to at #FlipMyFunnel in Austin. And I furiously took notes.
The whole concept of “flipping the funnel,” according to Sangram Vajre, CMO at Terminus, relies on four key concepts.
Identifying our best-fit customers and what they need and want
Expanding our focus on the right people (which may not be simply one person within an organization, but many)
Engaging with them using the right content on the right channels
And turning customers—and even non-customers—into advocates
Personally, I’ve been so over the term “growth hacking” for a while. It has become such a ubiquitous term that people often use improperly. However, I became a believer when I attended the session with Sujan Patel, Co-founder of ContentMarketer.io, on growth hacking tips for identifying the needs of your customers. Though he gave many, here is one hack that fits perfectly in this step of the flipped funnel.
Contribute and add to secondary SEO sources – So maybe you don’t own the search results for terms important to your brand. But what you can do instead is participate and add value in places that do. This could be the comments section of popular blogs in your field, for example. Interact with people there, and look for what kind of questions they’re asking (you can do this on Quora, too). Use that to identify the challenges your customer base needs help solving, and position you or your brand as a subject matter expert.
In order to expand our audiences properly, we need to change and adapt our approaches. One of my favorite points from Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing at InsightSquared, was this.
“We need to get sales the audition, not the part. We’re not just looking for traffic—we need to provide our sales teams with substantive conversations.”
If we’re not identifying the right people with our marketing, we’re not setting our sales teams up for success, and not expanding our audience in a way that works for the audience OR sales. And that experience is becoming even more crucial to our success.
We also cannot expand our audiences if we’re not listening to them. Especially in B2B—a purchase isn’t simply a transaction; it’s a relationship. It means something, and customers are taking the time to do the research necessary for that to be a successful relationship. As Russ Somer, VP of Marketing at TrendKite, said during the CMO Chat:
“No matter what size your company, when you make a purchase, your job is on the line. So you’re going to do your research and see what others are saying.”
As marketers, we need to not only understand what our customers will be searching for, but have empathy for that process by making it as painless and seamless as possible.
Your content doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The atmosphere in which people engage with your content can make all the difference in the world. I love the analogy from Uberflip’s Head of Strategy, Hana Abaza:
“You could drink a piña colada in a dingy basement or a sunny beach. The piña colada is the same, but you’re going to enjoy it much more on the beach.”
The same goes for your content. The experience of consuming your content can make the content. We need to not only be creating content that people want and need—we have to present it to them in ways that make it enjoyable.
One great suggestion Hana gave was organizing your content by topic, not type. No one goes to your website searching for a bunch of whitepapers (audience chuckles uncomfortably, realizing many of us have our websites set up like this), but they may be going to your website looking for different types of content around a specific topic. Cater to that, give them the experience they want, and they’ll be back for more.
There were numerous brilliant statements that came from Lincoln Murphy. He seems to have a passion for customer advocacy and how to attain it. One thing he spoke a lot about was “Desired Outcome.” This term means helping customers get what they need (the Required Outcome) in an appropriate means of achieving it (the Appropriate Experience). And as Lincoln puts it,
“Customer success is when customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company.”
The Desired Outcome is a conversation your customers are having that you need to be part of. Because when you help them solve problems in a way that works for them, that’s how you build brand advocates that will gladly spread the word about your company, products, and services. People remember those that help them.
The conference wrapped with a fantastic fireside chat with women in tech:
It was a great way to close out the show with some insight on the current state of women’s roles in the tech industry, and wisdom for anyone coming up in the tech scene. I loved hearing from four women in different stages of their careers, talking about how we can improve things.
And speaking of creating better customer experiences, if you haven’t seen my session from the MarketingProfs Marketing Strategy virtual conference, you can check it out on this page. I discuss ways to maintain a human approach in your marketing. And it’s robot-themed.
Do you agree with the above approaches? What would you add? And if you’re taking this kind of account-based approach already, how is it working out for you? Make sure to comment below!
Oh, man. Come on Robzie. An outdated Disney’s Frozen reference? Really?
You’re right, dear reader. My apologies. But guess what?? I’m BACK FROM THE DEAD.
Ok, p-put the knife down. I said back from the dead, not undead. Whew.
Anyway, guess what again? There is so much that has happened since we last spoke. Firstly…
I’ve started a podcast (as you could probably gather from the title) with a couple of friends. It is called the Why Are You Talking? Podcast! It’s a podcast about life (especially around us millennials [Collective groan? Or maybe valuable market research? You decide.]), relationships in the digital realm (because I’m single, and it’s not as sunshine and rainbows as one would think these days), and of course, digital dweebery, because I’m involved. We treat it very much like a conversation among friends. And we’d like for you to be part of the friend circle.
We’re seven episodes in, so you could even binge listen if you wanted to. Not that I’d expect you to, because I know you’s busy peeps like me. But still. You do you. Check out episode seven below to get an idea of what we’re doing! I’d love your feedback. Mind you, we’re new to this and have been evolving the whole sound and feel.
Also, I’m trying to do more video this year. With so many apps and options, I really want to get back to creating content in the videosphere. I’m not sure if I’ll go into full-on vlogging, but below is my most recent video, which I put together for MarketingProfs (where I work, shameless plug). In it, I offer some tips on how to make sure your video doesn’t suck. It’s a video about video! So meta.
So there are my recent exciting endeavors.
What are you up to these days?
Tell me what new projects and ideas you’re working on. I’d love to check them out and share them. I hope to start blogging a bit more consistently again so maybe we can have conversations like the olden days, and there is DEFINITELY a redesign coming in the near future. Until next time, dear friends.
I have a friend who recently wrote a blog post for the agency she works for. It was a great post: well written, included graphics she made herself, was helpful and offered takeaways, and had a title just interesting enough to garner clicks without being click bait. Then, the CEO had her take it down. “It might give the wrong impression.” (It didn’t.)
Vanilla is the worst flavor of marketing
Maybe you love vanilla ice cream, or vanilla pudding, but no one likes vanilla content. To make an impact among the overly crowded digital marketing space, you need to do something to stand out. You have to take a position. You must offer helpful information while not turning your content into a snooze-fest lecture. With the concept of Content Shock looming over all of us marketers, you have to write something worth reading.
Maybe try chocolate instead
Embrace a deep, rich, and possibly darker side of content. Piss someone off, start an argument, take a stand. But be willing to back up your argument with informed points and a reasoned point-of-view. Don’t just troll the world. In Jay Baer’s “Jay Today” video series, he goes on some pretty serious rants—calling marketing and service mediocrity where he sees it. Some people may disagree with him on some points, and that’s ok. His definitive, and sometimes angry, perspective is visceral and real. People remember it and share it if they relate to it. Do you have a viewpoint in opposition to the status quo? Talk about it! I did in this guest post, and things got pretty hairy, but I stood by my points and even helped some people in the process.
Don’t forget the savory bits
My choice would be salted caramel, but you do you. Ahem, I digress. Give people definitive takeaways and sharable tidbits in your content that they just can’t help but share with their friends and followers. For example, provide a click-to-tweet takeaway image (like above) that makes sharing those points seamless (something else Jay Baer does really well with his Social Pros podcasts). Try putting some key takeaways in bullet points to visually sum up what the reader should get out of a post. Before you hit publish, seriously ask yourself, “What exactly will someone reading this post/article/blog get out of it?” If the answer isn’t clear, fix it.
What’s better than regular ice cream? A sundae.
Don’t be afraid to mix up your content. Slap on some toppings, mix up some flavors, and create a tantalizing piece of content people can’t help but share. Here are some examples of how you can incorporate different media to see what resonates with different audiences.
Embed a slideshare in a blog post to reinforce the points you’re making.
Record a video clip to break down a complicated concept rather than writing a long-form post.
Try embedding tweets surrounding a hot topic you’re discussing to show its relevancy and highlight important points-of-view.
Your content has to have some character, something uniquely you. There are likely other posts in the world on the same topic you’re writing about, so what makes yours different?
Admit it, you totally want some ice cream now, don’t you? Sorry about that.