Category Archives: content creation

What’s Your Story? Making Your Brand Come Alive

Moths To A FlameI am a storyteller. I tell stories to connect with other people and create memorable interactions. It seems that most people like a good story, as proven by the wildly successful not-for-profit organization, The Moth, where people tell true stories to live audiences all around the country. I participate in these experiences in the Boston area, as a listener and as a performer.

So, why are so many brand stories so dry and uninteresting. How can we tell compelling stories, the kind that people gather around to hear? First, we need to understand what makes a good story. A good story connects us through our commonalities – of our humanness and all that entails. If you Google “elements of a good story”, you will find that dozens of sources claim there are somewhere between 3 and 10 elements to a good story. Memorable, impactful stories often have good guys, bad guys, disaster narrowly averted, surprises, even lives lost and saved. These elements boil down to:
1) An inciting action
2) Conflict
3) Resolution
4) An antagonist
5) A protagonist

While a B2C story is commonly considered easier to tell, I think the B2B story can be as easy if you can get the business lingo out of the way and share information person to person. Does corporate communications share stories about enterprise-wide, best-in-class peer-to-peer something or another, or does one of your top engineers (protagonist, real character) share how he has created software (resolution) that addresses a security threat (inciting action), created by old technology (antagonist) and will save IT managers headaches from system down time (conflict).

If you aren’t sure about your company story, it might be a good time to consider a retelling. Can you find these five elements in your story? Now, tell it in an honest, simple and meaningful way and see the moths gather to your flame.

Trim & Focus: Keep Content Lean and Keep Your Audience

Courtesy of Contentshortcuts.com

Courtesy of Contentshortcuts.com

Information overload is a significant issue for everyone. Of the 200+ emails I receive each day, I delete half without reading. I opted to receive most of them, but I rarely have time to get past the subjects lines. I dedicate a few hours per month to unsubscribe to lists that over-communicate or share frivolous content. In the same vein, I am actively removing Twitter accounts for the same reason. It is my dream to have an efficient and relevant content feed, worthy of the time I allot to reading it.

Isn’t that what we all want?

As marketers, isn’t that our job, to know our audience and deliver the content that will help them, in the appropriate intervals? Through my PR training, I learned to write a press release knowing that a journalist might only get to the headline. Furthermore, sending one release to a specifically targeted journalist will matter far more than blanketing everyone. The same guidelines should be considered for the general public. A few good leads that result in sales are better than hundreds of unqualified ones.

This concern is #1 on Julia McCoy’s list of priorities in The 2014 Social Media Guide, which she wrote for Social Media Today.

There are many more interesting ideas in her article, which, I might add, are nearly all relevant to me, a social media marketing consultant. I will be keeping them in my Twitter feed (@socialmedia2day).

Top 10 Reasons Why I Don’t Like Top 10 Lists

It all started in the 1960′s with Dick Clark and American Bandstand. Every Saturday morning, he would count down the top 10 songs of the week. Then in 1985, Late Night with David Letterman started making fun of People Magazine’s top 10 lists. I have always enjoyed both because they were relevant and, in the case of Letterman, funny.

Top Ten Lists on TwitterList content was created to be easily digested and everyone wanted to know what the top song was, or the the top thing that “almost rhymes with peas”, in the case of Late Night. There was a time when these lists got your attention and maybe they still do, but I have recently come across so many that I have soured. Are you itching to know what my #1 reason I don’t like Top Ten Lists?

I don’t have 10, only 3. Read On.

Drum roll, please. The top 3 reasons I have soured on 10 lists:

#3 10 is too many. Who has that kind of attention span anymore?

#2 The entertainment value of lists has gone way down. I will take quality entertainment over quantity any day of the week.

And the #1 Reason I have soured on Top 10 lists is…

#1 Overuse. When a marketing device becomes so common that it makes a marketer cringe, well then, it’s time for something else.

See today’s recent tweets at the right for some examples. You get what I mean, right?

High Fructose Media: Going on an Information Diet

The information dietAt this time of year, many are thinking about going on a diet. So it seems apropos that I heard an interview on the Bob Edwards Radio Hour with Clay A. Johnson about his new book The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption. I was intrigued with his analogy that our information consumption is like our junk food consumption. We are barraged with information, but so much of it is junk, crafted with bias for Google search results, clicks and advertisers and requires an educated consumer to know what to ingest and how much.

Johnson was one of the architects of the much noted social media campaign for President Obama’s first election and has the likes of Bill O’Reilly and others on an information diet. He does more than tell you about the problem, but how to stop ingesting empty information calories.

While I have not read this book, I plan to in the coming month.  I look forward to learning how to craft my own information diet and would love to hear from others who have adopted thoughtful information strategies.

 

Awkward Silence: Recovering From a Social Media Content Lull

Okay, so it happened. Our blog has been silent for six-months, and despite what we tell our clients about planning and teamwork and the importance of keeping momentum, we blew it. It took a potential client who decided not to talk to us because our social media had “flat-lined” to be hit over the head with it.

If a social media marketing firm can’t keep it going, then who can?  Our reasons (excuses) are the same you might have- lack of resources, clients come first, and always a lack of time. We have no shortage of ideas, and we have always had a sustainable content strategy, but we lost our way.

When we started this blog in 2008, we posted twice/week, then went down to once/week, and finally, maybe more like once/month. I assigned writers from the internal team, I found guest bloggers occasionally, but in the end, it fell to me, the face and voice of the company, to get it done. Today, when I heard that the prospect passed on us, I was truly humbled. Our ability to keep their content going for the long-term is brought into question.  I could only agree with their decision to pass.

Now that I have confessed,  what can I do about it? How can we redeem ourselves and build trust for new clients to see? The only way I know how: own it and make good on it.

So, as I drove back to the office to write this post, I decided to use this learning experience for a series of posts that help marketing professionals keep on track.

I plan to address the following:

  • How can I make sure this doesn’t happen again?
  • What have other companies done and have they regained their position?
  • What are realistic goals for small shops?
  • Why you MUST get back on the horse.

If you have a story to share, contact me. I’d love to hear it.

Now, finally, I am going to push the publish button and finally get back on the horse.

An Explanation of Recent Facebook Enhancements

Whether you use Facebook for personal reasons or as a business tool, you have probably noticed a lot of changes on the site since last Thursday, when founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled them. (NOTES and WARNING: This is 1 hour and 40 minutes long. Fast forward to minute 7.5 if you want to avoid the stand up comedian pretending to be Zuckerberg).

There has been an uproar from some users, but there always is. Change is hard for some, but it is inevitable, especially if Facebook wants to remain in the top spot as a social networking destination.

User complaints abound.

“Too cluttered and overwhelming”
“Stop trying to keep up with/be like Twitter and Google+”
“Don’t try to tell me what I like”
“I liked it the way it was, stop changing.”

Facebook tells us that the changes to personal pages are so you don’t miss recent news that is important to you and that you may have missed since you last logged in as well as flexibility to hide news you don’t want to see using filters.

Upates include:
Real Time News Ticker (think Twitter) at the top right of the page
Bigger photos on your wall
Friend filters
Subscribe Button
(Mashable’s article gives all of the details and video)

THE IMPACT ON YOUR BRAND
So, What does that mean for your brand on Facebook?

SUBSCRIBE is like FOLLOWING on Twitter: Individuals can now follow other individuals (Facebook says “subscribe”) so any public content on a personal Facebook  can be in your news feed. This means that your CEO or other thought leaders within your company can share their ideas (blog posts, links to articles) with their subscribers. Getting subscribers is like getting followers on Twitter- the more of your friends that follow someone, the more of their friends might. Building a following on Facebook can reach a more mainstream audience in a more consumer/personal forum.

FILTERS make it easier for users to qualify the content they receive, making it easier to unsubscribe (while still being a friend), moving their content to more visible or hiding it all together. This means that organizations must be ever more conscious what they are posting to their subscribers so they don’t lose them. Use a litmus of 1) is it helpful? 2) is it informative? or is it 3) sales?  If you or your thought leaders provide subscribers with helpful industry information, you will gain more.  If you sell to them, you will lose your audience.

More updates are coming in a few weeks including:

  • A completely redesigned Profile page
  • A Timeline (think: this is your life flashing before your eyes)
  • Integration with Music and other Media (rumors about about a partnership with Netflix, for instance) using Open Graph

Last words
While many of the new changes are making your experience more custom and allow users to hide what they don’t want to see,  we know that these updates are motivated by the compelling  functionality that Twitter and Google+ provide.  While they currently have smaller audiences, they had the luxury of learning from Facebook before they launched their networks.  Google has launched a fully open Google+, which provides flexibility and simplicity and, having learned what Facebook did not offer, at least initially, it offers much, much more. Read this for the details. Therefore, many things have been bolted on to the Facebook experience that weren’t even a glimmer in Mr. Zuckerberg’s eye when he created the original Harvard-centric tool.

Content for People, Not Robots (well, mostly)

Search Engine RobotDianna Huff, DH Communications, presented content marketing at the SEMNE meeting on Wednesday. Her presentation focused on why SEO firms should think like marketers and helping clients create content. See her presentation here.

I was excited to hear another marketing consultant expound on this important issue. The challenge for any business, large or small, with making social media succcessful and keeping it on track is to have a content strategy and have a regular stream of valuable content that speaks to your audience. Some SEO practitioners may be optimizing content, but not actually helping them produce it, when of course, SEO is not just about optimized content, but the continued publishing of optimized content that will actually be useful to your audience. It’s not just about the robots that index your website, it’s about the actual PEOPLE who read it!

We at Weber Media Partners recognized this as the main challenge for SMBs to contend with when they consider doing a social media work- from blogs to twitter to Facebook, if you want to stay in front of you customer, don’t annoy them and don’t be invisible- be helpful and interesting. Companies have the same issues when launching SEO and PPC campaigns.  So, having said this, Dianna gave some great tips, which I agree whole heartedly with: Continue reading