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JayBaer-IRMA

Jay Baer presents at the 2012 IRMA Conference in Scottsdale.

A few months ago, renowned social media strategist, coach, and speaker Jay Baer spoke at the 2012 International Regional Magazine Association (IRMA) conference in Scottsdale. He professed that when marketing your business via social media, you should strive to be a YOUtility — “If you help someone, you make a customer for life,” Baer says. Or, put another way, “If you’re useful, your potential customers will keep you close.”

Marketing has changed significantly in the last five years or so because it no longer revolves around a one-way channel of communication. Customers are now asking questions constantly in the public realm, especially via social media. They’re constantly posting and tweeting, looking for answers. It’s imperative for companies — according to Baer — to address those questions and offer solutions.

He used the Twitter example of @HiltonSuggests. In their Twitter profile description, it states: “Exploring a new city & looking for insider tips? We’re here to help!” As an official Twitter account of the Hilton HHonors program, it obviously behooves them to offer advice to travelers, who might then stay at a Hilton property in the future if they aren’t in the first place.

Baer spoke about three types of awareness that businesses need to keep in mind to create a potential customer:

  1. Top of Mind Awareness — In 1977, the top TV show in America had a 30% rating. In 2011, the top TV show in America had a 12% rating. Consumers are, well, consumed with options these days. So this type of awareness is dwindling in our highly fractured media landscape.
  2. Frame of Mind Awareness — Also known as inbound marketing, this is the idea that when the customer is ready, they’ll find you, based on content and information you own that already exists. As Baer says, this does not create demand, it fulfills it.
  3. Friend of Mind Awareness — Personal and commercial relationships are changing. A company can earn a consumer’s trust by being a valuable resource. When the customer is ready to buy, they don’t have to seek you out. You’re already there, much like a friend.

The three types of awareness are explained in more detail on Baer’s company blog at convinceandconvert.com.

In that same blog, Baer speaks highly of Geek Squad, which has hundreds of instructional videos on its YouTube channel. At our conference, he focused on River Pools, which found a niche in the pool and spa industry by offering a useful series of blogs that helped boost business even in a down economy. In the regional magazine sector, he pointed out Cottage Life’s online Q&A function and Arizona Highways’ hiking reviews and guides. These businesses have found exceptional and innovative ways to be YOUtilities.

One phrase that stuck with me from Baer’s presentation was, “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.” Baer stressed the importance of content, saying to use social media first and foremost to promote content.

To request slides from Baer’s IRMA presentation, go here. Other helpful websites he mentioned were socialhabit.com and zeromomentoftruth.com, the latter from Google concerning the online decision-making moment.

My Analysis

As the editor of Nevada Magazine, I was happy to hear Baer’s emphasis on content because we (and other magazines) have plenty of it. However, my experience has shown that people tend to comment/react more to an intriguing image than they do a link to a story. I’ve tried to combine the two by posting a photo that relates to a story, then providing a link if our followers want to read more about the subject. Fans seem more likely to share an image as well with their respective networks.

As far as being a YOUtility goes, Nevada Magazine’s stories in and of themselves help tourists planning a Nevada vacation and residents of Nevada who plan to travel within the state. I’ve received numerous letters in my five years as editor in which readers/subscribers talk about how our magazine helps them (or urges them) to plan Nevada trips. The key is to extend this YOUtility factor to social media.

This is where I feel like Google+ and Twitter are more advantageous to businesses because you can more successfully search keywords and phrases, which allows you to find people who are having discussions along the lines of your business. In our case, we look to engage in discussions about Nevada travel. Or, simply find people who have traveled in Nevada and have an interesting story to share. For example, earlier this year I discovered an East Coast photographer named Bob Lussier, who had posted some spectacular photos from his Nevada travels on Google+. Two of his Austin photos from that trip were published in our July/August 2012 issue.

How is your business a YOUtility? How do you help consumers via social media? How do you promote your content in creative ways? More importantly, how do you get people talking about it and sharing it?

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Google recently rolled out a couple of exciting innovations to its platform that will improve both your social media measurement and overall experience with Google+.

The first has to do with Google Analytics, which on May 1 introduced Social Measurement, Content Tracking, Attribution, & New Sharing Tools. This was exciting for us at Nevada Magazine, because it offers a practical way to measure our social media efforts, which have been going strong now for three-plus years.

As the social media manager at Nevada Magazine, I always assumed that Facebook was the number-one generator of traffic to our website, but I had no idea just how much until I looked at the new information available in Google Analytics (the rest of this blog assumes you’re fairly familiar with and have a Google Analytics account. If you don’t, and you own a business and have a website, I highly recommend you start an account — it’s free!).

Google Analytics
I looked at Nevada Magazine’s year-to-date analytics (find the “Social” tab under “Traffic Sources” in Google Analytics). This year alone, Facebook has generated 3,001 visits to NevadaMagazine.com, which trumps the total number of visits for 2 through 10 (see above graphic) — COMBINED! This helps with our social media strategy, because it tells us that people are routinely clicking on our links and sharing them with others on Facebook. We’re noticing this increased attention, too, as people are commenting on our photos and stories more than ever before.

It should be noted, though, that we’ve had a presence on Facebook for much longer than our other social media channels, so it makes sense that this established platform is a great traffic driver to our site. What surprised me is the little amount of traffic that Pinterest has driven. We started a Pinterest profile this year, so the sample size is small, but much of what I’ve heard positive regarding Pinterest is how it’s such a great driver of traffic.

If you dig deeper, however, the average visit duration for Facebook (00:01:39) is far less than our Twitter (00:06:28), Blogger (00:05:23), and Pinterest (00:04:40) profiles. So what that tells me is that, even though we have fewer followers on social sites not called Facebook, we may have more dedicated and passionate fans/readers on those sites.

Perhaps the most interesting Social feature now provided by Google Analytics is the “Social Visitors Flow” chart. This illustrates precisely where users of various social media networks are clicking to your website. Granted, I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface with these new measuring features. That said, how do you use Google Analytics to track your social media success? What neat measuring tactics are you discovering? Have you created any goals?

The second exciting announcement via Google was that on May 7 it launched Hangouts On Air to Google+ users worldwide. Last year, Google introduced this feature to a limited number of broadcasters, enabling them to go live with friends and fans, for all the world to see. Here’s how Google explains the benefits:

  • Broadcast publicly. By checking “Enable Hangouts On Air,” you can broadcast your live hangout — from the Google+ stream, your YouTube channel or your website — to the entire world.
  • See how many viewers you’ve got. During your broadcast, you can look inside the hangout to see how many people are watching live.
  • Record and re-share. Once you’re off the air, we’ll upload a public recording to your YouTube channel, and to your original Google+ post. This way it’s easy to share and discuss your broadcast after it’s over.

Are you using Hangouts for business? I am, and it’s been fun to connect with people around the world, while getting the opportunity to promote Nevada Magazine and tell people about Nevada’s wonderful events. See how I’ve been doing this, in partnership with KRNV Channel 4 in Reno, here and here.

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