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.
I recently had the opportunity to read and review The Art of Social, the new book from social media powerhouses Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzgerald. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book early). The short of it: if you’re getting started in content creation, or just need some great inspiration, this book is definitely worth your time.
If you’re already comfortably familiar with social media platforms, you may find yourself glossing through some of the basics in the first couple sections. I actually advise against this. You’re likely to miss the many gems of knowledge inserted among these tips. If you’re reading the digital version rather than the physical edition, you’ll find tons of linked examples that are worth taking a peek at. Some of these offer step-by-step guides you’ll want to keep around. (For example, how to embed social content into a blog post.)
The book is a pretty easy read. Guy’s voice (which is the point of view that most of the book is written in) is casual yet informative, entertaining yet frank. You’ll likely find yourself chuckling, while also taking note of a really useful tidbit.
If you’re anything like me and love to check out the latest and greatest tools, you’ll be drooling over this book. Guy and Peg offer up a plethora of tools they recommend for social posting, monitoring, listening, content creation, and curating. Some you’ve likely heard of, but I almost guarantee there will be some new ones on your radar after reading The Art of Social.
The book also goes beyond simply talking about social media platforms and strategies for posting content to them. There’s an entire section on how to successfully run an event (including an extensive section on holding Hangouts On Air events) and make it a socially shared success. I really, really recommend this chapter if you have an in-person or virtual event you’re planning for 2015. You’re nearly 100% likely to find at least one piece of advice you’ll incorporate into your plans.
The Art of Social is a really great book. The only downside to writing a book on social media is how quickly things change (and there are already a few things that have changed since the book was written). In an awesome interview on the Social Pros Podcast, Guy and Peg mention that there will potentially be sporadic digital updates to the book, which leads me to recommend the digital version over the physical one (plus, you’ll have access to all those helpful links).
Couple this book with Ann Handley’sEverybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content (full disclosure, I work for Ann), and 2015 will be the year you completely rock every aspect of social media and digital marketing content. Your fans will thank you, your boss will thank you, and you’ll probably sleep better at night knowing you’re consistenly putting out great content thanks to the guidance you’ll find here.
You can purchase The Art of Social here.
Pick up Everybody Writes here.
I’m not really a fan of pointing out FAILS unless they really irk me. Rather than posting precautionary tales of what not to do, I’d much rather point people toward examples of what to do. Coming from a customer service background has given me an affinity for wanting to point out people and brands that get it. The ones that make you feel like an individual rather than one in a giant number of social media followers. Here are a couple that stood out to me this week.
Anyone who knows me knows I really get into two things: technology and exercise. During SXSW last year, I came across a fashionable and lightweight fitness tracker called the Shine, by Misfit Wearables. I love it. It’s minimalistic and not clunky, attaches nearly anywhere, and I get asked about it by people all the time.
So you can imagine my disappointment when mine suddenly stopped working a couple weeks ago. Meanwhile, a buddy of mine just picked up a high-tech Microsoft band and was trying to get me to convert. When I find something I like, I’m typically pretty loyal, so I decided to post on Misfit’s Facebook page asking for any recommendations on what I could do to try and get my Shine working again.
Their page boasts over 21,000 fans at the time of this writing. That’s no small number. Their posts to page section is a constant stream of comments, both compliments and complaints, and my question easily could have been overlooked. But it wasn’t. Instead, I was directed to private message, where they asked for my address to send me a new shine. No twenty questions, no asking me to send in my defective product. They fixed it for me. In my preferred color. Like customer service bosses. And now I’m writing and sharing about it. Social listening, folks. Do it. Your customers will love you for it and you’ll be respected because of it.
More importantly, they kept me from leaving. Had I received no response, I’d have likely started shopping around for another fitness tracker to see what was out there. By keeping me with them, they kept me from meandering. Nicely done, Misfit.
There isn’t a single bad thing I can say about the folks at Buffer. Their app is solid, their content never ceases to amaze me, and their people are genuinely the nicest on the entire interwebs. When I see their logo, I don’t see a brand. I see the smiling face of someone who genuinely gives a damn. They also happen to lead a weekly #Bufferchat that continually engages and informs their audience around consistently interesting topics.
I recently jumped in to a #Bufferchat that they held. It featured my very smart friend DJ Waldow (who actually inspired my last post), and turned out to be a great discussion. Afterward, I received a DM from Nicole, the Community Champion at Buffer (ps, I love their titles), asking me if she could send me some stickers to show her appreciation of my participation. One thing you should know about me is that I’m kind of a swag whore. Gimme all those things. Naturally, I was geeked.
What I received was a premium-stock card with a handwritten note (in very fancy handwriting, might I add), plus two high-quality stickers. All because I actively participated in a chat. You want to talk about building community and making your fans feel special? Nailed it.
Now, some of this could be chalked up to an influencer marketing strategy. I get that. I’m not what one could call a high level influencer (my followings aren’t that massive comparatively), but I am very vocal about things I’m passionate about. And you can bet I’m going to continue to be vocal about my affinity for Buffer and Misfit.
Good customer service also isn’t just about handing out freebies. The main points of this are to listen to what your customers are saying, solve their problems, let them know you appreciate them in whatever ways you can, and don’t treat them like faceless entities in an online crowd. Hats off, Buffer and Misfit. You won the week.
What are some examples of amazing customer service or community-building that you’ve experienced from a brand? Share your story in the comments below.
Imposter syndrome. By now you may have heard of it, especially if you suffer from it. Don’t know what it is? Let’s discuss.
The basic premise of Imposter Syndrome is a feeling of inadequacy. Feeling like your accomplishments are a sham, like you’re lying to everyone or you have everyone fooled, but any moment, ANY MOMENT, people are going to find you out. The consequences following will, of course, be the inevitable spiral to doomed failure from which you will never recover. I may be hyperbolizing that, or adding my own take on it, but that more or less covers it in a nutshell. And no amount of positive reinforcement seems to counteract it, because you simply can not internalize those positive things. You’re like teflon for compliments. And by you, I mean me.
This post is a bit more for therapeutic purposes than anything. If you read it and can relate, then this has been a success. If not, I got some stuff out on paper, and that’s cool too.
This year, I met a truly energetic and positive guy named DJ Waldow, who runs The Social Butterfly Guy and is a fantastic email marketing genius. He’s just fun to chat with and is a ball of positive energy. He also likes to ask questions and poll Facebook friends on various topics. A recent post he wrote led me to this blog post, and inspired me to write about my own version of what it’s like dealing with Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome is a fickle thing. You can be on top of the world one minute, then be looking to the skies for a meteor to turn you into a crater the next minute. It can simultaneously motivate you to work harder to maintain your facade, yet make you paranoid that the curtain will fall and people will see the wizard for what he is. But if you remember, the real wizard of Oz really wasn’t all that bad. He actually turned out to be a swell guy. Well, Imposter Syndrome sure makes you feel like he’s a fake, a fraud, not worthy of his acclaim. It attacks your wizard with flying monkeys, and they’re hungry.
The most debilitating aspect of this syndrome is the fact that you always think you’re the only one dealing with it. “No one else, surely not anyone who is successful or happy, deals with this,” you say to yourself. That’s the funny thing about depression. It fools you into thinking no one else suffers from it like you do. And let’s call this thing what it is here: Imposter Syndrome stems directly from depression.
I still refuse to say that I suffer from depression. I refuse to let it be true, whether it is or not. I’m “just dealing with some things” or “just not feeling it today.” I fool myself into believing what I call the “If I just” motivator.
“If I just” get all my bills paid off, the financial freedom will make me happier (that’s simply a lie, let’s be honest).
“If I just” get rid of these squishy love handles, I’ll have insurmountable confidence (I’m in the best shape of my life right now, insurmountable confidence not included).
“If I just” get a really cool job, I’ll feel like I’m smart enough (I have a really kickass and respectable job that I totally love. I still question my ability to do it every day. Like, literally question how I got the job. Every. Day.).
The “if I just” is simply another imposter, constantly working against me. The current is never ideal. There’s always the something more I “should” be. But I probably wouldn’t deserve that either, according to the Imposter.
I wish I had some novel gem of knowledge to help others deal with this problem. I wish I could tell you to stop lying to yourself, accept your accomplishments for what they are, believe that you got where you are by your own accord, and that you should internalize compliments you receive. But then, I’d be telling you things you probably already know, but refuse to accept for the same reasons I do. Which really aren’t reasons. They’re just stupid lies you tell yourself. Lies that likely stem from something in your life that you probably don’t want to talk about. But, you gotta.
So that’s the best advice I can give you: talk to someone. A therapist, and really good friend, a family member—talk to them honestly and openly. You may uncover some things that help you realize why you feel like an imposter. You may find a source for that crippling voice. Then you can try to punch it in the face. And it deserves a solid punch to the face. Oh, by the way, I need to take my own advice and go back to talking to someone myself. There were some discoveries made, and it’s probably a good idea to follow up on them. (See how good I am at taking my own advice?)
Also, take notes. Not just about the bad stuff, or the times you hear the Imposter speaking to you. Take note of the good things. Did someone compliment you? Put it on a sticky note and attach it to the mirror. Did someone you respect recommend your work to another person? Remind yourself of that when you’re feeling imposter-y and judging your work as not good enough. Take those moments of validation and hold on to them for times you need them. It’s not bragging, it’s a reminder. It’s validating. And it’s necessary.
You know, it’s kinda funny, the one who is the imposter is actually the one that keeps naysaying. He’s the one that’s wrong, he’s the one no one would like to associate with—but he’s the one with the louder voice most of the time. The imposter is lonely, and wants you to be like him. Don’t be like him. That guy isn’t any fun.
So there you go. Imposter syndrome. Maybe you didn’t have a name for it, but know the feeling. Maybe you already knew about it but didn’t realize how many others deal with it (and there are many, just ask DJ Waldow). Show that imposter who’s boss and keep being the kickass you that you are. Write that down. Right now.