I can’t believe it, but it’s already December, and the holidays are bearing down on us.
While you’re undoubtedly busy planning your personal social schedule with family and friends, now is also a perfect time to be planning your social media activity for the coming weeks. Planning can be critical to ensure you’ve got your ducks in a row for when you inevitably take a bit of time off to enjoy the season, and to sustain activity and engagement with your audience during this time.
In the interest of avoiding over-used clichés and long-winded rambling, let’s get into it:
Plan your content calendars
This is an obvious one, but certainly worth noting. Be sure that you not only have your December content calendar ready to publish (which you should already have), but that you have your January calendar ready to go as well. If you work with a team on content creation, or require any approvals from management, clients, legal, or anyone else, they aren’t likely to be around during the latter part of the month to accommodate your requests. Therefore, be sure to have your January calendar prepped and ready for approvals well in advance of people taking off for the holiday.
Spend a few extra minutes thinking about your holiday-specific content
If Christmas, Boxing Day, or New Years Eve have any relevance to your business, brand or audience, which they likely do, then it might be worthwhile spending a bit of extra time thinking of how to create special content for those days. Sure, you can keep things simple and wish everyone a safe and happy holiday, but you could also embrace these days as a creative opportunity with your content.
Have a monitoring schedule in place
It would be easy to forget about your social media communities during the holidays, but the reality is that you should really try to keep an eye on any activity that might be going on during this busy time of year. Keep it simple by setting a schedule for yourself to login, quickly monitor and moderate, and then get back to enjoying some time off.
Reflect on the year that is largely behind us
There is a tremendous amount to be learned by reviewing past performance, amazing successes, and dramatic failures. Take some time before the craziness of the holidays to reflect on how things have gone for you and your business in 2013 on social media. You might be able to identify helpful trends, reinforce activity to avoid or not replicate, think about new ideas that haven’t been explored, or more. Without a doubt, dedicating some time to reflect will be revealing, and of great benefit.
Set goals for the coming year
New Years Day represents a fresh beginning, and opportune time to enact resolutions and find ways to build upon successes of years past, and the same holds true for businesses, many of which have a fiscal year that mirrors the calendar year. While having a personal resolution to lay off fried food, or visit the gym more frequently are easy to identify and put into action, business resolutions – or goals to be more direct about it – should be more thoughtful and strategic, and thus, require more time to think about. So, if you haven’t been thinking about your social media and content marketing goals for 2014, now is a perfect time to start.
Take some time for yourself
Taking time away from social media can be reinvigorating, energizing, and save you from being made fun of by your family and friends for your unhealthy obsession with checking Twitter and Pinterest. Remember to take some time for yourself and to not stress about the craziness of social media and content marketing; you deserve it. It’s the holidays, and you really should be spending some quality time with the people who matter most to you.
What are your tips and tricks for prepping for the holidays?
If you have anything to add it would be great to hear from you in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Determining the ROI of social media marketing activity is a convoluted and complicated challenge that many – if not most – businesses and brands struggle with.
In an effort to better measure the value of social media marketing, a recent Business Insider article reports that, ‘many brands are moving away from metrics that purport to measure ROI on social media’.
This indicates that even many of those businesses and brands that thought they had a formula for placing a monetary value on their social media marketing activity have since reevaluated their methods and abandoned them as a result. This is likely due to a realization that their own valuation criteria were fraught with issues.
The article continued, ‘They’ve realized that social media isn’t a transactional engine or sales machine, so they’re dropping half-baked indicators that gauge secondary effects, such as financial return. Instead, the new metrics evaluate social media strategies in terms of audience-building, brand awareness, and customer relations’.
For most businesses, correlating social media activity directly to sales is a difficult task due to the non-linearity and complexity of many consumers’ purchase paths.
What I find most interesting about this is why an organization would attempt to make this direct correlation in the first place. After all, there are many factors that contribute to making a sale, some of which include brand awareness, brand affinity, price, distribution, shelf placement, availability, seasonality, economic conditions, customer support, loyalty, prior brand experience, brand trust, perceived referral value, and many, many more.
There are a huge number of factors that contribute to consumers making a purchase decision.
Measuring sales as a return on social media activity is equivalent to measuring the sum of all influencing factors for those sales, many of which can be directly impacted by social media.
So, to accurately measure the activity required to influence a purchase – in this case social media activity – you actually need to measure the various influences to that purchase – brand awareness, affinity, loyalty, and on.
Perhaps the problem many of us have with determining the ROI of social media isn’t with how to measure ROI, but is instead with how we define ‘return’.
If we stop thinking about the ‘return’ of ROI as end sales, and start thinking about ‘return’ as a sum of the value of all of the relevant aforementioned factors – which ultimately lead to sales – then calculating an ROI of social media can be much more achievable; not simple, but achievable.
In the cases of the businesses represented by the Business Insider article, I actually don’t see them abandoning their ROI calculations so much as I see them taking the beginning steps in redefining how they see a ‘return’, which is a step in the right direction.
How do you measure the business success of your social media marketing activity?
What ‘returns’ do you look for from your social media marketing efforts?
It would be great to chat with you about this further in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Google defines best practices as being, ‘commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective’.
In the world of social media and content marketing, we spend a fair deal of time talking about best practices. We write blog posts about best practices to help others, and we updated our social streams with endless amounts of content to do with best practices.
This is great. It’s awesome to have such an amazing collection of content on social media best practices. If you’re unsure about how to tackle a certain challenge, conducting a quick search for best practices in that area can be a lifesaver. If you want to validate your thinking, benchmarking against best practices can provide a great deal of relief and help you proceed with confidence.
Best practices can be supremely helpful to study, understand and follow.
But best practices should come with a major caveat.
By their nature, best practices tend to be generalizations. Typically, they don’t specifically address your unique situation, opportunities and challenges. And getting too caught up in following best practices can affect your comfort and willingness to take a chance and do something amazing that may be contrary to conventions.
Best practices should be a starting point.
If you’re learning about a specific social media platform, strategic approach, technique or tactic, study best practices to get a handle on what works for most people. Then, think about these best practices in the context of your business, brand, consumers, competition, opportunities and challenges. This context should be applied to what you actually execute, and what you execute will be more effective as a result.
Create your own best practices.
After you’ve studied best practices, start thinking about a methodology to follow to create your own best practices. Figure out how you are going to monitor and measure your social media and content marketing efforts so that you can benchmark certain actions against others and see what works best for you and your audience.
AB testing is a great way to do this, and over time can help you to fine tune your social media and content marketing strategies for maximum effectiveness. In time, you’ll have your own best practices, and you’ll have developed a resilience to falling into a trap of feeling too comfortable about what you’re doing, which can be hugely detrimental to doing anything really special, which leads nicely into my next point…
Learn to fear comfort.
Best practices and ‘proven’ strategies and tactics can be your worst enemy. The validation that you’re following best practices can be comforting. You’re following what works. You’re doing things correctly. You’re doing what the experts do.
But what you’re not doing is anything different. If you’re not doing anything differently, then you’re doing things exactly the same as everyone else, including your competition. If you’re not doing anything different than your competition, then what effect do you really think you’ll be able to have on your audience? Do you think you’ll be able to more effectively convert them to consumers? Do you think you’ll be able to build a stronger more loyal audience? Do you think your activity will convert audience members to becoming evangelists?
Not a chance!
If everyone did everything the same, the world would be a pretty dull place, and the same holds true on social media.
Defy best practices.
I’m not suggesting you just disregard best practices, and the strategies and tactics that have proven to yield success for you and your business, but find opportunities to take a chance. Try something different. Try something new that you’ve never seen anyone do before. Try something similar to what others might have even failed at, but build on the idea and make a few changes for the better. Defy best practices and do something a little less comfortable every now and again.
Then, monitor and measure what you’ve done. It’s not going to be a success every single time, but when it is successful, you’ll have hit on something that is fresh and new, and that none of your competitors have done. You’ll be a leader, and your audience will take notice.
And for all of your failed efforts, nobody’s going to chastise you for trying something new and having it fail. After all, you’ll probably be able to recognize that the new thing you’ve attempted is a failure well before anyone else even takes notice.
So, there you go. Best practices can be incredibly valuable to study and execute against, but don’t get so comfortable that you never try anything new. Getting too comfortable can be your worst enemy, not just on social media, but more broadly in business as well.
Keep pushing yourself to be better, and to think about things differently. If you’re not willing to do this, your competition, or someone you don’t even know exists yet, surely will. And by then, it’ll be too late.
What’s the last thing you did on social media that was a risk?
How do you keep your business on its toes, trying new things, innovating?
It would be awesome to chat with you more about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
For some organizations, continually generating killer ideas for content creation can be a challenge.
I think it’s probably safe to say that at some point or another we’ve all run into the issue of having a difficult time thinking of great ideas for future content.
Have you ever encountered this block?
Fortunately, if you know where to look and who to talk to, there is a great deal of inspiration to be found for content creation, and it’s probably sitting right in front of you.
Here are 5 places to find inspiration for content ideas to keep things fresh and valuable for your targeted audience:
Have a chat with customer service to see if you can find some inspiration from them. Ask if there are any particular questions that are frequently asked, or common concerns that your customers have. If there are, you’re in luck. Create content to answer these questions or concerns, and as a side benefit, you might even save your customer service team some future calls.
By the nature of their job, your sales team likely spends a significant amount of time speaking with current and prospective customers. Perhaps there is interesting insight or stories that you can glean from them that will inspire your content. Alternatively, think about opportunities to capitalize on their frequent interfacing with customers to learn more about how they use your product, their favourite features, or pain points. All of these things can be crafted into meaningful content.
You’re probably already tightly connected to your marketing team, but do your best to stay as connected as possible. Find opportunities for content creation through the integration of social media and content in your marketing team’s broader communication platforms and the various initiatives that they pursue.
In most organizations, senior leadership serves as the compass of your organization. They have a unique perspective on your business, where it is going, and many other facets that a typical employee won’t have visibility to. Also, they frequently serve as the figureheads of your organization and carry some clout with admiring consumers. Sit them down for an interview, or ask them for some insight that will be of interest to your audience.
This one is simple; speak with your customers. And ask them about what content they’d like to see from your organization. The best part is that you can do this right on your various social media channels.
These are of course just a few ideas for where to find inspiration for original content, and depending on the structure of your organization, there are likely to be many more.
As a content creator, spend some time away from your desk talking to the people around you in search of content ideas and think about what will be meaningful to your audience. Even if these people don’t give you ideas directly, spend some time speaking with them anyway and try to extrapolate ideas from their daily experiences.
How do you tap your organization for content inspiration?
Where do you find the most ideas for original content?
Do you have any additional suggestions to share?
It would be great to hear your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial