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how you post and share content matters

If you listen to me long enough and you’ll know I am more focused on social networking and being engaged than creating content. I’ll keep saying it too….

 

Your content is designed to play a supporting role.

 

People do business with people. They build relationships. They act on those relationships. When they choose to act is when your content matters. It is at that point they will read (or read again). It is at that point they will decide if, aside from having that relationship with you, they trust you are the right person or business to hire.

Content isn’t the most important thing…. what you post and more importantly, HOW you write, post or share content IS critical.

Your content MUST have a purpose

Your content MUST serve a purpose. It must help build relationships, must be authoritative and/or must drive action.Click To Tweet

Not every post needs to do all of it, and the best content will hit multiple points. If your content doesn’t hit on at least one of those points, you’re wasting your time posting it. PERIOD

I adore Rhonda over at Fat Dog Creatives. She’s a fantastic graphic designer and her process is incredible. She’s also a big proponent of me (yes, I have an ego).

She shared one of my Facebook posts about the value of engagement  to her business page. I immediately thanked her (as Tactical Social Media, though I could have as myself.) and as quickly as I did, I scolded her. Love that she shared it, hate that while it was good for me, it did nothing for her!

She already decided to share my content. She gave me something, so why not leverage it to truly nurture the relationship, to establish her own authority, drive some action and share a little bit of herself? She should use it further help herself.

 

Blindly posting or sharing content provides little value to YOU. Make what you post count for you AND your audience.Click To Tweet

How you create your post matters

How the share first appeared…..

How you post and share content matters

Here’s the edited version…..

How you post and share content matters if you want to see results

The difference?

She leveraged my content to help build her authority. She continues to nurture our relationship (more than simply sharing my content, she acknowledges she is learning from me – that ego thing again) and she is making it personal and herself more relatable to her clients.

 

The bonus… Rhonda will get some HUGE additional visibility:

*  She tagged me (with permission – do not ever tag a person in a business post without permission. It is rude and a relationship killer) placing her post on my timeline. Her brand was promoted to my personal network.And since I was tagged personally, I responded personally. That adds further reach.

*  She has real content that could be found later when someone uses Facebook’s search function (and trust me, they do!).

 

While I will continue to preach that content is less important than social engagement, there is no doubt content is vital. It’s not about how much content you post, how often or when.

 

It is about WHAT you post and HOW you post and share content that matters.

No Engagement On Your Posts? Who Cares!

One of the challenges for small brands on social media is simply getting engagement.  We stress over writing and posting good content our readers want at the perfect time only to find it doesn’t get seen or worse – it does – and still there is no engagement! Rather than tell you why and how to get that engagement (I’ll save that for a later post), I’m going to throw this out there and tell you to:

Stop worrying about how many likes, comments, and shares you’re getting. You do NOT need engagement on your social media posts for your efforts to be successful.

For the record, your efforts should be focused on creating engagement but not seeing good levels of does not mean your efforts were worthless and social media as a failure as a result. I stress this point because it is possible, no matter what efforts you undertake, you may never actually get good levels of engagement.

 

Maybe it’s your product or service?

If you’re a fertility doctor, a divorce attorney or therapist, there’s a good chance not only won’t someone want to like or comment on your posts, they may not even want to like your page. The same may be true for lawyers, financial planners, and doctors. On the off-chance, someone they know will see that activity is enough of a reason to not engage.

Some just prefer to lurk.

Some people don’t like to comment. They may like the page and lurk on purpose. They want the information, not the conversation. They’re learning, researching and making a determination of what they need or want and if they’ll buy from you. Unless they have a specific question, you won’t likely hear from them until they’re ready to buy. Even then, contact is likely to be them emailing, calling or stopping by, not social engagement.

 

Stop stressing over post-level engagement

It isn’t necessary to drive sales

A  very compelling CTA in radio spot or print ad may get your customer’s attention and trigger that ‘buy response’ but by the time they get home or take few minutes to think about it, they can find all kinds of reasons not to buy. The moment passes and it’s forgotten.

The big value for smaller brands using social media is the direct connection and interaction it enables. You can talk to your customer, ask questions and work to move them to action in real-time on a piece of content. This direct, immediate communication makes it much easier to work through customer objections.

But what if you don’t get the engagement? Those compelling CTAs in a radio or print ad still work. Not every customer will have or create obstacles. The same holds true for CTAs in social content. Even though social media’s value is predominantly its inbound capability, it still can be successful as an outbound tool. A post with a great CTA doesn’t need engagement to convert.

A word of advice here. Leveraging social media in this way over the long-term is not a good practice. What you may gain with this approach will be far less than otherwise possible using social media as a relationship tool. I am merely pointing out it’s possible for social media to generate revenue as an outbound tool when the inbound aspect isn’t working.

 

It isn’t necessary to drive website traffic

This is another area where engagement simply isn’t needed to convert. A great intro which makes the reader want to click throughOptimized link content for a Facebook post - title, meta description and featured image + source and Facebook Authorship and an optimized link (think visually appealing featured image a great meta description and title) is enough.

In fact, a post which doesn’t see a like or comment but drives traffic may result in even better engagement later. Once on your site, there is an opportunity to capture email or other lead generation information allowing you to provide more tailored content and to engage with a prospective client when you want, rather than waiting for them to take action.

Focusing on writing content which drives web traffic is a great tactic for those whose businesses, like those mentioned above, tend not to get post-level engagement.

 

It isn’t necessary to build relationships

How do you build relationships and connect with your audience if you’re getting limited or no engagement?

Limited: With the exception of Facebook (it’s not as easy but still possible – why you need to leverage your personal profile for business) you can see who liked or +1’d your content and privately or publicly thank them, even ask them a question to drive further interaction  They still may not reply with more than a like, but they are aware you noticed them and took the time to acknowledge them. That is a simple gesture which goes a long way.

None: Even with lurkers on your profiles, you can still create relationships.

 

If you cannot build relationships through conversation, build it through your content.

 

Original Content.  I urge my clients to be more personal on their business profiles. Bring some of yourself into your brand. If you’re a small business owner or solopreneur, it’s already there. You just need to showcase it and put it out in the open. Bonds form over commonalities and shared interests. They form when there are natural connections.

This is one of the primary reasons knowing your audience is so important. Knowing their likes, wants, desires and interests, their buyer persona, allows you to create content which speaks to them. Posting stories which appeal to your audience on a personal level as part of your content mix is a simple way of connecting without the actual conversation.

 

Shared Content.  Sharing content is a terrific way to reduce your time commitment while still showing authority but it is also one of the best ways to create relationships through content. Consider HOW you post the content you are sharing.

 

You do not need to engage with your audience to form a connection or bond if you’re creating content which resonates with them.

 

The Bottom Line

Without question, you want the engagement. You want likes, comments, and shares. You want to write content to drive them, but knowing you may never get that engagement, make sure your content needs to ‘speak’ directly to your audience, to make them connect with you and your brand.

Stop Worrying About SEO And Start Writing.

I found this article on writing SEO content by my colleague Timothy Hands to be a good read and on target with my thought process:

I loathe how it’s made out to be a complicated, non-understandable concept that allows others to overcharge customers for work, that in many cases, is not necessary.

 

I firmly believe if you stop focusing on SEO, regularly write good content on a consistent basis providing answers to your customer’s questions, it will come naturally.

 

Granted there are some aspects of SEO which must be addressed at the time your site is built and others that should be looked at periodically, BUT if you take care of the basics as you add content to your site:

  • Adding metadata at the right length
  • Create a good SEO title
  • Use image tags for all media

 

and pay attention to a few guidelines when you write:

  • Avoid intentional keyword stuffing
  • keep articles to 300+ words
  • Put some effort into sharing what you’ve written
  • Write consistently (even if that is only twice per month)
  • Write in a natural, conversational style (it doesn’t have to be textbook perfect and you’re trying to connect with the reader)

 

SEO does and will, over time, take care of itself.

 

I’ve used this approach for Tactical Social Media (as well as my previous business). Having never done keyword research for myself, I still rank well in SERPs for many high value terms (seems as I keep writing on social and SEO topics, those keywords naturally appear in my content and create site-wide density), others are finding and linking back to my content naturally and the quality and consistency of my content lead to my blog being syndicated. The result – a domain authority score of 21 for a brand and website that did not exist 11 months ago.

Is that the BEST option? Maybe not. For the small business owner, the solopreneur who is already buried under tasks and still needs to figure out how to consistently blog (not to mention being active on social sites) it’s a good one.  There’s only so much one can do. At some point, we need to consider the ‘diminishing returns’ factor.

 

At what point does the time, effort and stress of trying to consistently craft the perfect SEO optimized content outweigh the value received? At what point does trying lead to you simply NOT doing it at all?

 

Stop worrying about SEO!

Stress less, write more. It may take more time to get there, but as they say, it’s the journey that matters. Better to be happy and enjoy the ride.

 

This post was adapted from my LinkedIn article on 19 November 2015.

Should You ‘Regram’

using apps to share Instagram posts by others? Having one account under Tactical Social Media and another under me (with minimal overlap) there is an advantage to sharing my own content.

From their own Terms of Service (the short version): “Post only your own photos and videos… Given this statement and no native share option, it would seem ‘regramming’ is not permitted.

What has set Instagram apart from the other big social media sites is original content.

There is a bit of conflicting info here if you look at the long version: “….don’t post anything you’ve copied or collected from the Internet that you don’t have the right to post.” While they’re telling us to only post our own content, they seem to have left the door open to sharing when you have permission.

I have been sitting on the fence on this one.

 

Should you Regram?

I’ve read a few articles discussing what counts as permission. One even stated you may have the rights to share content which someone else posted featuring you or your brand. Personally, even if your brand is featured in my content, unless I give you explicit permission to use it, you cannot. It’s still my content.  This can be a real issue when it comes to user-generated content, not just on Instagram but on other social media sites as well.

Apps like Regram, Repost, Instarepost (I purposely haven’t included links to these apps) and a few others I have found make it possible to share Instagram posts and do include a watermark attributing the image to the original account. This, however, doesn’t count as permission.

 

Do you Regram?

If you do, what are you sharing?

  • Is it your own content across your profiles?
  • Is it someone else’s content.
  • Do you have permission to regram a particular piece of content if you’re sharing from others?
  • What about when someone tags you or your brand in a post? Should you regram it? Do the right to do so?

A final thought.

The short of it – Instagram has made it ambiguous in its TOS but the lack of a native share option leads me to think the practice is not acceptable. The fact that third-party apps exist doesn’t change what is or isn’t allowed.

There is a small window here where the practice may actually be used legitimately. It’s possible Instagram’s TOS was designed to foster personal, original content and allow sharing of it (as opposed to posting content found elsewhere. The lack of a native sharing option may have been to remove their potential liability for content theft rather than prevent the practice in its entirety. In this case, regram apps, which are designed to allow sharing from within the social site would OK.

I’ll leave you with this related post for as additional food for thought – Instagram Etiquette // Is Regramming OK?

For now, I don’t regram and my professional advice has been not to do it, but is the practice acceptable? Should I reconsider my stance?

 

Thoughts from Justine Pretorius: To Regram or Not To Regram

And if you’re still working on figuring out Instagram for your brand: Questioning How To Make Instagram Work For You?

 

Facebook Is Still A Viable For Lead Generation!

Updated July, 7, 2016:Facebook is a viable social channel for B2B

 

The original article below provides an excellent example of a Facebook post directly responsible for a lead.  To show this is not an isolated example, I caught (through social monitoring) a post I wrote and published for the same client on March 29th of 2016 generate a lead more than 3 months later!

 

What makes this example an even better testament to the value of Facebook:

  1. The link shared was NOT from my client’s website.
  2. The original post was not ‘boosted’ or part of a paid ad.
  3. The original post had very poor initial reach.

Facebook works.

 

Original article:

Yesterday I posted an article to Facebook for a B2B consulting client, Darling Geomatics. Do You Need Proof That Facebook Is Still Viable #PTFISV

It included a quick snippet, a link to an article run by the Sierra Vista Herald written about a particular project they recently completed and a thank you.  The post itself was completely non-promotiona.  No CTA. No “how could this help you?” Just a simple informational post.

After allowing the post to ‘run its course’ for a few hours, it was strategically (and inexpensively) boosted through targeting.  Just 20 hours later it has:

  • 44 likes
  • 2 shares
  • 5 comments
  • An organic reach of 404
  • A paid reach of 2851
  • Has generated 2 new likes

AND…….

  • It resulted in a request for services:

Do You Need Proof That Facebook Is Still Viable? #PTFISV. Facebook is still a viable channel for lead generation.

 

Keep in mind that this is for a local business with only 355 Likes prior to the post!

 

Why did this post work?

That’s hard to assess and on quite honestly know why. I’m not sure I could even duplicate it on purpose. It could simply have
been the right post, the right targeting, and some dumb luck.  The point though – social and specifically Facebook – can and do still generate direct leads and sales when used properly.

Without question Darling Geomatics’ approach to how they use Facebook  creates the foundation for such successes:

  • The strategy for the page (and all of their social profiles) is branding and to be informational and educational around their services, not promotional.
  • The content is quality.  Consistency and regularity may be critical but quality content still trumps both if you have a loyal following.
  • Following: It’s not bought. It’s been earned through what they post and their reputation. Page growth is primarily driven by offline channels.
  • Paid advertising (boosting) is limited and strategic.
  • Tactical engagement (how and when they engage)
  • It was posted based on the optimal time according to their insights and my experience monitoring when they see their best engagement, NOT at a time the ‘experts’ say is optimal.

 

Does Facebook generate leads for you?

Most overlook the platform, though, based on the notion it’s not where the decision maker is active.  There are 2 issues with the thought process.

First – you’re focused solely on the decision maker. Ever wonder who influences the decision maker? It could be a lower level manager, the office manager or even his or her spouse. Back in the day, to get in the door, I ‘sold’ the office manager. I let them sell the person controlling the checkbook. I focused on the influencer.

Second – Facebook, more so than any other platform, is a social destination. It’s where people go to hang out, keep up with friends and family and look for referrals/advice. Small business owners are present on the social media site. They’re employees certainly are.

 

A few final notes

  • Make sure you have a monitoring system in place or having a reputable firm doing it. Once a lead comes in, your timing in how it’s handled can make the difference between getting and losing the sale.  In this case, the comment was initially acknowledged and responded to within 38 minutes.  That allows time for a follow-up later without the client thinking they were ignored.
    .
  • While you should not look to social channels as a sales tool and not every post will perform this well, a good strategy, smart posting tactics (that do not revolve around ‘expert’ generalizations) and monitoring works.

Do You Need Proof That Facebook Is Still Viable #PTFISV #BeTactical

Content Monitoring vs Brand Monitoring

A few weeks back I published an article on LinkedIn (updated here last week) asking people to stop monitoring for brand mentions.  Clearly, I don’t want you to stop.  You need to pay attention to what others are saying about you, when they’re saying it and where.  More importantly, you need to be aware that conversations are taking place about you and your brand yet many of them never mention your name.  Brand monitoring is only one aspect of your brand reputation management efforts.  If you aren’t monitoring for content mentions, you’re missing a critical component.

In my LinkedIn post, I pointed out the need for monitoring your content as a tool to catch theft and plagiarism.  I routinely monitor for phrases, keywords and article titles as well as my name, ‘Tactical Social Media’ and my branded hashtag #BeTactical. As a result, I caught an outright case of unauthorized use of my content and was able to take down the blog post and shares on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  Since neither I nor my brand was mentioned in the post, content monitoring was the ONLY way I could have found it.

Content monitoring goes a step further, however than just catching theft.

Why You Should Be Monitoring For Content in Social Media

Content Monitoring – Insights and Opportunities

Insights:  If you’re content monitoring, you gain valuable insights into what content is being shared. Content monitoring, combined with Google Analytics and social sharing metrics, provides a very clear picture of what content is best received, where it’s shared from (I contribute to a number of sites), where it’s being shared to, what’s driving viewers back and what other’s are saying about it.

With content monitoring, I know exactly what content to write on for future articles (though I still like to write as much on what I feel is important), what points to explore further and even if I need to rethink some of my ideas.  Insights gained help me tailor what I write based on the audience of a particular site or social channel.

Opportunities:  As I said earlier, not everyone will mention or tag you or your brand when sharing your articles.  Content monitoring prevents lost opportunities.  The fact that someone is shared your content is important.  They read it and liked what you had to say enough to pass it into their audience.  You want to leverage that fact.  You already have their attention.  You want to keep it. One of the best ways to do that is simply acknowledging them.  That’s hard to do if you don’t know they’ve shared or interacted with it in the first place.

While I would have caught shares of my article this morning even if I wasn’t content monitoring.  (It did hit for my brand as well as the blog title (‘Leveraging Facebook Authorship‘), the only reason for that happening was due to an anomaly.  For this article, I included the brand name as part of the title for SEO purposes.  I normally do not as character length is limited.  What I would have lost missing this?

My article was initially shared twice on Twitter, once by Jose Javier Garde and once by Personal Branding, then reshared 5 more times.   In the end, the first share by Jose Javier Garde was favorited 12 times and ReTweeted 6 times.  That’s great exposure for my content.

#BeTactical: Start content monitoring! Not everyone will mention or tag you when sharing content.

I was able to favorite each of the initial shares and Tweet out a couple of ‘thank yous’.  While not saying ‘thank you’ isn’t necessarily being unsocial or unappreciative – the fact is most don’t – doing so makes you stand out.  Jose knows I appreciated his sharing my content.  That makes him more likely to follow my blog, get on my mailing list, follow my social profiles and share my content in the future.  That’s a huge relationship building opportunity as well as future visibility.

That simple thank you to Jose, however, actually generated some great exposure of its own.  It was favorited 9 times and ReTweeted 4 times!  Content monitoring generated some phenomenal visibility and huge relationship building opportunities.

#BeTactical: Start content monitoring! Not everyone will mention or tag you when sharing content. Without content monitoring, you'll miss valuable opportunities.

The Take-Away

In this case, and in several others I catch daily, while there is a huge upside to knowing my content had been reshared, not knowing wouldn’t have hurt me…at least financially. But what if the content shared was preceded by something negative? What if someone had tweeted a link to my content and stated the ‘author clearly doesn’t get social media’?

While I firmly believe you should respond to all interactions on your content (if they took the time to interact, the least you can do is acknowledge it), not responding to negative posts/reviews leaves your reputation at risk.

If you’re not content monitoring, why not?  

 

Facebook Authorship

UPDATED 21 Oct 2017: It seems Facebook has removed the authorship tag from social shares as reported by Social Media Today.

 

A special shout out to Mike Allton who does a phenomenal job of explaining Facebook Authorship and how to set it up.  I had a chance to chat with him about it and his help and insight were invaluable.  I highly recommend you read his article Facebook Adds Authorship. Bloggers Take Note!

Authorship was designed for journalists as a way to further connect with readers who engage with their content.  This provides the author a larger audience and an incentive to further share content to Facebook. With 44% of users getting their news via social media (according to a 2014 study by American Press Institute) Facebook is clearly looking to capitalize and keep readers in-house.

But I’m A Small Business Owner, Not A Journalist

#BeTactical, Facebook Authorship for Publishers and Journalists

The beauty of Facebook Authorship is that it can’t discriminate.  Anyone can take advantage of it and small business owners and freelance bloggers SHOULD!  Authorship provides a valuable tool in the form or personal branding and great tool for driving exposure for your business profiles (on any social platform).

Personal branding often gets overlooked.  We focus so much on building our business’s branding we forget about ourselves.  That can be a major issue if you sell your business, change careers, jobs or in the case of Realtors and other professionals, if you change brokers, brands or distributors.  If your following is tied to the brand or business, when it goes, so does the audience.  (Back in July I closed a business, changed industries and moved halfway across the country.  It was a conscious personal branding effort over the years that enabled me to smoothly make the transition and build a following for Tactical Social Media.  I didn’t have to start from scratch.)

Never selling your business or changing your brand?  Social media is a valuable networking tool.  When you meet someone, how do you introduce yourself?  I’m guessing you introduce yourself as, well, YOU and not your brand or business.  It can often be easier to build a personal following than one for a brand.  As with journalists, it allows you to connect on a deeper level with customers and clients.  Once in place, you’ll have opportunities to leverage that following for your business.  In this case, the “Other People’s Audience” you’re leveraging is actually your own personal audience!

Leveraging Facebook Authorship and Other People’s Audiences

Driving traffic To Brand Pages

While you can directly share content from our blog or website and you can always post new content on your personal profile, it won’t drive eyes to your brand page.  The best advice still remains to post new content to your brand page, then share publicly from that page to your profile.  Those shares will pull attribution in the form of the ‘via tag’ (just make sure you aren’t using the ‘Share Now (public)’ option)….

#BeTactical: Facebook Authorship 2015 attribution tag.

This attribution will not only provide exposure for, but also a link to, your brand page for those following you personally.  You’ll also have posted content on the page itself for fans.

The added benefit to Facebook Authorship is the ability to leverage your personal following, grown within Facebook, to build your brand, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn or other social channels by sharing content from those pages.

Want to drive exposure for multiple pages at the same time?  Consider sharing content from your profile on another social channel to your Facebook page.  Then share it to your personal profile.  The initial content will provide the link to your of social channels while shares within Facebook will promote your brand page.

If you do choose to open up your personal profile, one simple recommendation – look at some of the content you have already shared.  For anything you’d deem safe for public consumption, change the visibility of that particular content.  Why?  When someone does choose to follow you, there will already be some content in place.  There’s nothing worse than showing up somewhere and finding it a ghost town.

A Word of Caution

A greater risk of being unfriended and negative feedback:  If the goal is to leverage your new following to grow your business, it could backfire.  Leveraging authorship means posting more business content and doing so publicly which limits control over targeting content.

Most of my friends are actually business colleagues, acquaintances and in some cases, people I don’t know but accepted as a friend.  This might seem odd but Facebook has always been more a business tool for me than personal (I’ve been using Facebook for my businesses since 2006 and started using it solely for business).  Facebook, through lists, also provides great control over who can see what I post.  I have lists for specific locations, business professionals, targeted interests and personal friends (I do actually have a few!).

The point to the lists – I have long taken advantage of my personal profile and brand to drive visibility to my business content.  What I’m careful to do, is limit what and how much I post and who sees it.  The idea is to not inundate the friends I do have with business content they likely don’t want or care to see.  With most people on Facebook to keep up with friends and family, posting too much business content can get you unfriended.  Worse, they could click on the content shared and choose to hide all content from your page. That negative feedback has an impact on post visibility and organic reach.  When I share business content, I control the audience for that post using the lists I have created.  When I choose to post publicly (content my followers can also see and engage with), it’s done very tactically in terms of the content, timing, and frequency so I don’t offend anyone and risk the negative feedback.

Facebook’s own rules:  Another concern with Facebook Authorship – “It’s against the Facebook Terms to use your personal account to represent something other than yourself (ex: your business). If you’re using your account to represent something other than yourself, you could permanently lose access to your account….”.  Journalists might be able to rest easy since their providing news and information, not selling or promoting but business owners and bloggers could create a headache for themselves For businesses, Facebook could take action if you’re posting too much business content or being overly promotional on your personal profile.

The huge value in Facebook Authorship is still personal branding and using it as a relationship building tool.  If you’re solely using it in this regard, posting predominantly social or personal content, adding in the occasional commercial post won’t send up red flags.

So Now What If Don’t Want To Use My Personal Profile?

The Public Figure Option:  While mine was set up as a business tool and still used for networking, over the years I have added more friends and made my profile more personal.  To allow for personal branding, I set up a public figure page under Robert C Nissenbaum years ago.  Since it is a business page, I can easily cross share business content for Tactical Social Media and more personal content.  It’s actually the URL I have used under my user name for this blog.  It does provide the same authorship link as a personal profile within the shared post.

#BeTactical: Robert C Nissenbaum's public figure page URL used for Facebook Authorship attribution, Facebook Authorship 2015 by Tactical Social Media

The one piece lost – the follow button.  As Mike pointed out in a conversation it makes sense since you cannot follow pages.  You can still mouse over the link and “Like” the page.   You’ll get the added benefit of being of having your Call To Action button clickable as well as the Save feature.  According to Facebook, you should see the larger ‘Like’ button triggered when you return to Facebook after following the link.

#BeTactical: Robert C Nissenbaum public figure page URL used for Facebook Authorship attribution with links to Like, CTA and Save feature, Facebook Authorship 2015 by Tactical Social Media

Of course, if you don’t already have a public figure page in place you’ll have the daunting task of building and maintaining more than one page at a time.  If you already have a Public Figure page or can handle the second page, this is my recommendation for how best to leverage Facebook Authorship.

The Business Page Option:  You can always opt to use the actual URL for your business page for the authorship attribute if you don’t have a public figure page.  The only downsides here – it does look funny having the author show as a business, you eliminate the personal branding option.

The External Link Option:  Thinking outside the box, there is the possibility that one can use any link in the Facebook URL field.  This would allow you to add the link to your LinkedIn profile (very tactical idea), your Google+ profile or any other site.  For the purpose of this post I’ve updated my Facebook URL to my LinkedIn profile for testing.  

UPDATE – After publishing this post and sharing it to Facebook using LinkedIn URL, no authorship link was included.  Changing back to my public figure page URL and updating the post did not reinstate the link.  Hence, until further testing – it would appear that Facebook Authorship attribution won’t allow using a link outside Facebook.

UPDATE – About 24 hours after changing the URL back to my public figure page on Facebook, the authorship attribution showed in the post.
– Robert Nissenbaum, Tactical Social Media 

Rethinking My Own Instagram Strategy

While being on every social media platform isn’t right for every business (I’ll leave that discussion for later), for us that isn’t necessarily an option.  If we’re going to advise a client on how to leverage a platform, I’d better be active, engaged and building a following.  That can be easier said than done.  Instagram, of all of the big platforms, has been our Achilles heel.

 

The Challenge

With original content being a critical part of Instagram, that adds to the challenge for many.  That was part of our own struggle – until I decided to approach things from a new angle.

While you can post to Instagram at any time, it was designed to be, well, instant.  Snap a picture, add a catchy phrase and a dozen or so hashtags (it seems that 11 is the magic number).  While the latter 2 are no problem, I’m not and have never been big on taking photos.  I’d rather be experiencing than stopping to document.

Yes, that means nothing to pull out and look back on later, but even with hundreds of old photos, it’s rare that I ever look at them (unless it’s to use for a post).  The memories are in my head.  It’s the experiences I value most and how I perceived them, not the photo.

I realize I’m not in the norm here but I suspect there are others like me.  All of this, of course, leads to an issue.  If I’m not taking images, how do I leverage Instagram?  Then add in the complication that, with Instagram being a visual channel like Pinterest, how do I leverage that for a business that has little visual impact?

I could upload images from my blog posts (and might very well in the future – Instagram has the ability, like any other social site to drive traffic) but that’s only one image type.  A good content strategy requires more than just one content source.  Let’s face it.  No one would follow Tactical Social Media (and those who did certainly wouldn’t engage) if that was all I posted.  Hence the need for a more tactical plan for my Instagram strategy.

I needed something that would provide me an incentive to stop and take pictures (I’m already doing that more in taking daily photos of my daughter – for her benefit later more than mine) and an idea of WHAT to photograph.

We all fall into the trap of posting all business all of the time.  Even if your content isn’t promotional, you’re likely posting too much advice, too much news and too little about YOU.

I’m often asked by clients, “How do I connect with people?  How do I get my personality to come through in my content? That’s simple.  Be personal.  (If you’re not sure how to accomplish this for your business or you need a plan for how to be social – yes, it seems to be an issue for some.)

My New Instagram Strategy

Unlike the rest of the Tactical Social Media social channels, which are geared to driving traffic and being informative with our social side filtered in, the Instagram page will predominantly be focused on the personal side.  I want to get back to what social media was originally about – being social.

Rather than focus on ‘business’ images, I plan to focus on who we are from family to travel, from our personal interests, likes, and desires to our community.  I’ll continue the #signs and #marketing posts but I will predominately be posting more personal content, (#OurSocialSide, #BeSocial) first and  business second.  I want to use it to get to better know our followers and for them to better know me/us. I’m excited and hope you’ll follow my new and improved Instagram channel.

What’s your Instagram strategy?  

Is it working for you?

Getting More Organic Reach From Your Facebook Posts

Organic reach for Facebook brand pages is down.  Gone are the days of post and they will come.  It’s is one of the biggest social media frustrations I run into when talking with small business owners.

I’ve been seeing a number of posts in our personal feed lately requesting people to like, comment and share as a way to make sure “our posts show in your feed”.  It may help, but it’s a bandage.  It’s not a long-term strategy.

The Pay to Play Mentality

There is no need to pay for reach.  This “pay for play mentality” is actually a hindrance to your efforts.  Ads and boosting posts are a great way to drive reach, increasing page likes and drive traffic to your website.  Used correctly it’s an excellent tool, but it’s not required.

The following images from a client’s Facebook Insights clearly shows plenty of organic reach.

Facebook page insights showing significant organic reach for a small page.

Clearly great reach for a small page.  If you’re not seeing results like these, it’s not a lack of payment. Your content is at fault.   Crafting and posting good content starts with understanding why what you are posting now isn’t working.

Why has organic reach dropped?

According to Brian Boland, VP Ads Product Marketing at Facebook in his 5 June 2014 article on Declining Organic Reach on Facebook, it comes down to 2 simple points:

  • Too much content. We’re at a point that so much content is being created by individuals and businesses now that space in the news feed is at a premium.  There’s only so much you can see, especially if you have a few friends who post incessantly.  Facebook simply decided to filter what users see.

Before you get on the “I should be able to see every post” bandwagon, consider the fact that Twitter doesn’t filter your stream.  Following just shy of 2000 people, we amassed 186 new Tweets in a 5 minute period.  That’s 1.62 Tweets per second!  On a Friday afternoon!  What would it have been being peak Tweeting time?

The point?  Even if Facebook allowed every post to find its way to your feed, you’d probably still not see every most posts and that means your page posts aren’t being seen by others.

The idea of not showing posts may seem unfair, but as a business, unfair can be good for you.

Update: The latest Facebook algorithm change (April 2015) has made significant changes to what content appears within the news feed.  Much of what appears below is still has an effect on what is seen.

  • How the news feed works. This is where what we see from the overabundance of posts and why we see certain content gets cloudy.  The short answer from Brian: “To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.”

So Facebook narrows down what you see based on 1000s of factors relative to each person.  If you read this like we did, it appears Facebook is behaving like Google.

When you perform a search for a keyword, phrase or full question, what Google returns in its results is based on factors including location, who it sees as your influencers, previous search history, an attempt to understand the meaning in your search query and likely your email content – all in an effort to return results best designed for you.  It’s effectively a personalized search result.  (You can always log out and run the same search to see a completely different set of results.)

Facebook, it appears, is factoring in your interests (those movies, shows you watched, the books you’ve read) what you like and comment on, what you share and who you engage with to determine what you are shown.

Added into this mix is the quality content factor. Facebook is working to show more high quality content.  According to Varun Kacholia high quality content is defined as:

  • Timely and relevant
  • From trusted sources
  • Genuine (think not overly promotional, click bait)

Facebook also takes into account how users might feel about the content.  Is it something shareable, something that could be seen as spammy, something others might complain about or hide?

The 3 bullet points are easy to work with, while the last 3 are subjective, if you hit on the other items, you’ll likely avoid any news feed blacklist issues.

There is little doubt Facebook’s news feed weighs far heavier to personal content than business content.  We can’t fault them either.  Facebook is still predominately a tool for keeping in touch with family and friends.  While users do support business and do searches for businesses within Facebook, it’s a secondary role.  Facebook, in skewing feed stories to friend’s posts shows they are aware of and protecting the user’s main interest.

What this leaves in an already concerned feed is even less space for business posts.  Add in paid posts and we wind up with a game of extreme musical chairs.  Think 25 people playing but instead of a scramble for 24 chairs when the music stops, there’s only one.  Rather than only one being excluded, only one gets included.

If you’re not seeing good organic reach, your content likely isn’t relevant, timely, trustworthy or less genuine than Facebook would like (no pun intended).  I’ll add content type and when and how often you post will affect organic reach, but will leave those for a later discussion.  Why?  The organic reach above was derived from 3 or fewer posts per week and primarily relies on links.

Footnote: knowing a better mix of post type drives even more organic reach, especially when using native video, we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg.  Ramping up our client’s content strategy should mean even better organic reach.

Getting More Organic Reach From Your Facebook Posts: Why organic reach has dropped & how to craft your Facebook posts for better organic reach in 2015.

Crafting Your Content for Better Organic Reach

Now that you know what Facebook is doing (as well as anyone can outside of Facebook) and where your current posts are missing the mark, you can design that more effective content strategy.

So where do you start? Facebook made part of your job easy.  They told us content should be timely, relevant, come from trusted sources and not be overly promotional.

Timely and relevant – If you tend to write and schedule posts weeks in advance, you’re doing yourself a disservice.  Scheduling out is a great tool for your general content but you need to keep up and be able and willing to post ‘on the fly’.  If a news story breaks and it affects your business, you need address it, post it and reschedule your next few posts.  This not only applies to the news but also trending topics within Facebook and those items your fans deem important to them (the relevant part).

Facebook-page-analytics-showing-it-is-possible-to -still-get-significant-organic-reach.

The last 2 updates our clients posted See  where highly successful.  One was written leveraging a trending topic (#TheDress) tailored to their audience and message.  The other involved sharing a trending viral ad.  A post written about a controversial Super Bowl Ad just before the big game was so successful organic reach was 1357!

At Tactical Social Media we use a number of scheduling tools, but we don’t rely on them.  We are actively engaged daily in each platform and maintain a daily pulse on the news to catch the trending topic or story.  You need to do the same.  If you have or are looking to hire, a social media marketing agency to manage your account, they need to be able to monitor for news and other relevant content, creating new posts as necessary.  If they simply schedule content for you and can’t or aren’t willing to monitor and react in real-time (reasonable time), consider another firm.  

Trusted sources – Facebook now puts far more weight on links over images.  While Facebook’s desire to keep users within the platform was a major reason links were poorly weighted in the past, it also boiled down to where those links took users.  The current algorithm resolves the issue as Facebook can determine via domain authority which sites are trusted, better controlling what is seen.  Make sure the article you share, if found on multiple sources, is linked to the most trusted source.

#BeTactical: We check the domain authority of each source our client uses when sharing links. 

Genuine – make sure your posts aren’t promotional.  The more they’re geared to advice, information and helping others, the more likely they’ll make the cut.  This isn’t to say you can’t promote, just that it should be done sparingly if you want posts seen.  We already know Facebook is cracking down on click baiting and overly promotional content.

Most experts insist all of your content should have a Call-To-Action (CTA).  Since a CTA is actually promotional, though not as blatant as “Buy Now”, CTAs in too many posts could negatively affect organic reach.  Our recommendation – limit the number of posts with a CTA.  Your mix should be only 20 – 30% promotional. Save the CTAs for that content.

#BeTactical: Our client only posts promotional content once every week or two.  CTAs are limited.

While fans will follow for content about your business, there is only so much they want to hear about your widgets.  If they hide your content or unlike your page, No one said you needed to only post business content. As a matter of fact you might just be better off posting less about what you do and even business in general.  Consider being more social.  More shareable.  More personal.  Have fun. Post about what peaks your fans’ interests.  If they love coffee, take advantage of that fact.

Remember, this is social media, not direct marketing.  You need to connect with your fans on a personal level.  Social media, when used correctly, builds relationships and brand awareness (yes, direct sales too).  That awareness and those relationships, that turns prospects to leads when the decision to purchase is made.

This will take some work, but the rewards are worth it.  You need to find out what appeals to your fan base and post that content.  Facebook provides some of the demographics data on your fans.  The rest requires a little strategy to obtain.

Takeaway

If you want organic reach, your posts need to play by the rules.  Focus on crafting content that is timely, relevant and genuine.  Limit the promotions and the CTAs.  It will take some work but figure out what your fans want to read.  What peaks their interests.  What content they’ll most likely share (without asking).  This will require some time and effort but you will be rewarded.

Your Turn

Are you still seeing good organic reach?  What have you tried that worked?  That didn’t?

I’d love your hear your thoughts.  You can comment below or you can find this discussion and comment on Google+Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook or simply Tweet your thoughts!

If you’re at your wit’s end and need help creating Facebook posts that generate good organic reach,  contact us today to schedule a consultation.  If you’re in the Tacoma or South Sound Area, we’d love to buy you a good cup of coffee.

If you like what you’ve read, share it and get yourself on our mailing list for more valuable content.

The Value Behind Content Curation

Content is king.  Whether for a blog post or social media channel, and regardless of the SEO effect, without regularly updated quality content, you’re providing no value.  Potential customers have no reason to return to your site.  No reason to return means not building a following and little chance of turning your visitors into prospects and leads.   The issue for many is creating a content strategy that delivers the quality material their audience wants without overwhelming themselves.

We recently met with a client struggling with this exact problem.  He was continually trying to create original content for Facebook and his blog.  The time involved was removing him from other areas that needed his attention.  We was frustrated and, quite understandably, burnt out.

We laid out a plan that would reduce the demand for original content, allow him to shift his focus while still retaining a consistent posting schedule.  We created a schedule for posting involving a mix of original material, curated content and leveraged content.   In addition to reduced stress levels, this strategy provides several tactical advantages.

5 Reasons You Need A Content Curation Strategy

#BeTactical: The Content Curation Strategy: Is content curation missing from your strategy? by Robert Nissenbaum, Tactical Social Media (image by Jeremy Karelsen Photography)

The ‘Go To’ Resource

People spend a great deal of time online looking for information.  Over time they gravitate towards sites that provide them the most useful information possible on the topics they’re researching.  It’s smart. Less time finding sources means more time getting answers.  How many sites have you bookmarked for reference because they had plenty of content you needed?  We’ll bet you’re not even aware how much of the information on those sites was original versus curated.

People search to find solutions.  When they have a problem, who provides the answer is more important than whose answer it is.

Why not make your blog, Facebook or Google+ page that site?  Why not provide the best content someone would need to make a buying decision regarding your industry, your product or your service?  Your page becomes the trusted source.  YOUR page becomes the ‘go to’ resource.  Over time this will increase your fan base, reach and ultimately your revenue.

The ‘Expanded Reach’ Factor

Content curation requires acknowledging the source.  Whether it’s a backlink in a blog post, a website link or tagging in a social media post you’re alerting the author.

If you tag us in a post, we’ll make it a point to thank you.  That interaction is an excellent means of increasing exposure and reach.  If the content shared was from an influential source, it can also put you on their radar.

The ‘Credibility’ Factor

Being the expert in your industry doesn’t mean you know everything or you’re the only expert.  It also doesn’t mean you have all of the answers.  Sharing curated content acknowledges that fact.  You become more credible by sharing the work of others (especially that of a competitor).

The ‘Expert’ Factor

This tactical use of content curation, the “leveraged content” we mentioned in our strategy.  Sharing the work of others makes you a great resource, it provides you content when there isn’t time to create your own and it increases your visibility but it’s WHAT you do with that content can and will define you as the expert.  Don’t simply share what you’ve curated.  Add value to it!

Look at the content from another angle.  Build on the work already done.  Add additional points, especially if the content is a list.  Maybe your experience can fill in gaps.  Even the experts see content differently.  We are always learning ourselves.

A great example of this strategy was how we used content curation in sharing a recent Google+ post by Mandy Edwards.

We built upon her original list, adding value to the reader.  The approach allowed us to create ‘original’ content without starting from scratch, provided (targeted) reach and overall exposure.  It added credibility by validating someone we recognize as a true social media expert and provided the opportunity for collaboration on a future article on the topic (see the comments).

The Customer Service Via Social Media Necessity is a good example of how to leverage content for a blog post.

The ‘Collaboration’ Factor

Sharing content from more influential sources (and even competitors) provides a great opportunity for collaboration (especially if you follow the advice in The ‘Expert’ Factor above on how to tactically use Content curation).  When you share another business’s or individual’s content, they will (or should) know.  While they may not actually engage on that particular piece of content, you may just grab their attention.

The primary role for your content is prospecting tool.  It’s designed to find potential clients / customers (the upper level of the marketing funnel).  At the same time, that content serves the role of prospecting for collaboration and partnerships (as it did in our post – see the comment string).   If you can grab the attention of a leading industry expert and if your content resonates with them, you’ve created the prospect for a working relationship.  Those relationships, especially if with another industry influencers, are priceless in terms of exposure, credibility and learning.  The right project could catapult you or your brand to the next level.

One added benefit our client received – the reduced time creating daily content not only meant time to focus on other pressing matters, but allowed him to create more in-depth articles.  His content mix now includes short, original content, shared quality content, value added leveraged content and in-depth articles providing more detailed solutions.

While this customer needed a means of reducing reliance on original content, tactical use of curated and leverage content is a recommended strategy for any business.

Value Add Versus Aggregation

The Museum Correlation

While many feel content curation has little value without your own voice (good article by The Social Masters), it’s not our stance.  Without question content curation should focus on adding value, there is a place (and value) for simply creating a collection of quality content as part of your mix.

Consider any of the Natural History Museums.  They curate pieces from hundreds of sources.   This pieces may be displayed as individual specimens or as a collection of like items such as “Sue” (‘…the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found.’)…

The world-famous fossil known as “Sue” is the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found, Chicago Field Museum

Image courtesy of the Chicago Field Museum

 

…or be arranged to create a ‘scene’ providing a more detailed look into the past.  In some cases these scenes may involve the combining of pieces from multiple sources.

Display of wildlife survival in the vast area of Africa, Las Vegas Natural History Museum

Image courtesy of the Las Vegas Natural History Museum

The latter is the valued added exhibit.  The former simply a re-posting if you will.  The value in a curated display with no value added in the form of Sue being placed on display?  It’s a ‘high draw’ item.  It’s the content that will bring in visitors who will then likely check out the rest of the exhibits.

Simply curating high quality, timely content on your blog or social sites has the same potential effect.  The key is to not abuse it.

Our advice:  #BeTactical.  Make sure your content curation strategy is balanced.  

Your Turn

Is curated content missing from your strategy?  If it’s included, are you simply sharing or do you add value?

I’d love your hear your thoughts.  You can comment below or you can find this discussion and comment on Google+Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook or simply Tweet your thoughts!

If you like what you’ve read, share it and get yourself on our mailing list for more valuable content.

If you don’t have a content marketing strategy in place, if you have no idea how to find content or if you have a plan but could use some help to #BeTactical in leveraging it, we need to talk.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.  If you’re in the Greater Seattle  or South Sound Areas, we’d love to buy you a good cup of coffee.