Don’t Downplay The Knowledge You Have to Share

If you are a brand or you manage one, you establish credibility and authority when you publish, share and amplify good content. So when I was considering a jump into the waters of social media marketing as a business, I struggled with the thought of, “What if what I have to say isn’t important?”

It took me a while, but I realized that in my own moment of doubt that I was downplaying the knowledge I had to share. Sometimes what others share on social really resonates with me and I experience that “A ha!” light bulb moment. At other times I but don’t really absorb the info at all. Not everyone is going to get you and what you have to say – and that’s okay.

Your Experience Can Be Applied to Other Markets

I draw my social media marketing experience from a very niche industry – the automotive aftermarket. It’s about knowing the difference between a gearhead and an enthusiast. Understanding the myriad of ways that people in the industry buy and sell their products. Being able to talk intelligently about the product without insulting the technical minded, but not talking over the head of the casual fan. You can’t bluff someone who is inquiring about your product for something they are an expert in. You simply admit you don’t know, but promise to get them the answer they are looking for.

Does that understanding of the industry and its customers apply to others? Absolutely. The social media marketer who focuses on the fitness industry or real estate knows what is acceptable in the market and know how to speak the language of that particular industry.

Share What You Know

You should never keep what you know to yourself. Challenge yourself and charge your employees and clients to share and teach what they know to others. But someone might take the idea you’ve based your success on and make it better. The fact of the matter is – someone is going to do it anyway. People who come out with new products or programs don’t reinvent the wheel. They take what already exists and make it better.

People who come out with new products or programs – take what already exists and make it better.

Find Opportunities to Share

Last Friday I was notified that I was selected to be a speaker at the Social Media Day Houston 2017 Conference on June 30. I am thrilled because it will be the first time that I will be able to share as an event speaker what was shared with me by Dennis Yu of Blitzmetrics.

Speaking opportunities is just one way to share. Content can come in all shapes and sizes. Consider publishing a book, making a ebook or white paper available on your website or offering a course. What you have to offer IS valuable.

 

Filter this! Just kidding – Keep Content Real

filter photo collage

Using a photo filter has a time and place. I admit that I like to explore the filters on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, but there is some lost authenticity when you rely on manipulating the image too much.

A few years ago, my friend Kirsten sent me a photo she had of us taken on her phone. My response was, “Wow, we look good!” She replied, “Never underestimate the power of a filter.” And that was my introduction to the photo filter.

The Evolution of the Filter

Mobile photo filtering has progressed beyond Instagram. Now you can filter quickly from your phone, and from every social media platform. Confess – Who hasn’t had fun with the SnapChat filters or even the new Facebook Messenger ones? But in honesty, even after scrolling through all of the filters, the majority of my posts are without.

filter photo collage
Who hasn’t had some fun with the Snapchat filters?

There is Such a Thing as Too Much

It came to my attention a few weeks ago that there is a certain brand using a filter for EVERY image post on their Instagram. I get the idea of continuity and wanting posts to have the same “vibe”, but there is some authenticity lost  by insisting on using a filter every time.

Cropping the image is okay, because you filter out noise when you want catch someone’s eye when they are scrolling through their feed. Consider the image you are posting. If the intent of your social media presence is to drive sales, can each image be directly related to the brand or product?

I submit to you that more important than making sure that your brand social media images look exactly the same, or posting photos of pretty sunsets and snow covered roads – focus on using relevant hashtags and tagging the right people.

Staged photos aren’t representative of real life. Life happens without filters, and so should the majority of your content.

 

 

 

 

Five Tips to Cover Motorsports Events on Social

When you are covering a motorsports event, social media can be fast, flexible and unforgiving. You need to be prepared for anything to happen on the track during the race. At the same time, you want to look for opportunities to get candid shots of driver and fan interaction.

Little girl autograph
Keep an eye out for fan and driver interaction.

1. Show them what they can’t see on TV

At any given motorsports event, there are a hundred things going on at one time. I approach brand or sponsor social media coverage as the opportunity to take your fans either beyond what they see on TV or to places they wouldn’t normally have access to.

Do a quick video or Boomerang of the drivers practicing their exchange, or the crew going through the pit stop execution. Take a quick tour of the team trailer. Better yet, borrow a golf cart and head out to where the die hard race fans are camping and tailgating. That could equal footage for days, but some might not be shareable to your fans.

IMSA tire inspection
Give the fans a behind the scenes view.

2. Plan an interview list.

Between the practices, warm ups, track walk and meet and greet in the paddock, there will be time to get a quick video.

Don’t limit yourself to the team, race officials, TV personalities and the flag guy are all great one minute videos. To make sure you make good use of everyone’s time, make sure you know ahead of time what one or two questions you want to cover, and be ready to film on the fly.

3. Each social media platform has a purpose

Do not, post the same thing on each platform by hitting the button and cross-posting!

Twitter is used while the race is going on. Be part of and follow the ongoing conversation between fans, the series, track and teams. If you have enough follower engagement, I’ve had Twitter meet ups and hashtag contests while on site.

Facebook has evolved with the Live feature, so some of those interviews could be live as well as post race coverage in the winner’s circle. If you secure an interview ahead of time, promote it before you go live. I also use Facebook for pre-event promotion especially if there will be brand activation on site with a call to action.

For example, I would make a video slideshow using team promo photos and other photos I may have taken at a previous race. Then I would boost that video via a Brand Awareness campaign, targeting an audience who follows the series. Targets are not limited to the type of car that is sponsored by my brand, but should also include others who race in the series. You can also target fans who like other sponsors of the series and teams.

Now that Instagram has introduced the carousel, you’re not limited to posting one picture from the event. Pick your top five and post them and include a video snippet.

kid with front fender
Each sponsor, race series, team and driver should be tagged here.

4. Follow and Hashtag appropriately

Before the motorsports event, make sure you are following the series, teams, drivers, manufacturers and sponsors. Take note of the official hashtags that each are using so when you post you include those to be part of the conversation.

If you’re going to promote your own hashtag, first make sure it isn’t already being used. I like to use Tagboard. Then promote it in your Call to Action and graphics prior to the event. If no one knows it exists, they won’t use it.

5. It’s okay to be a fan, but you’re there for the brand

Whether you’re a lifelong series fan, or it’s your first time covering a motorsports event, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the race.

It might sound obvious, but if you’re posting on brand social media platforms, you are expected to maintain their persona. Before you hit that post button, make double and even triple sure that you are posting as the page and not as yourself.

Regardless of what series you are covering, there is nothing like anticipation and the sound of the engines revving waiting to see the green flag drop. Showcase that energy through your social media coverage. And make the teams and drivers you are sponsoring  part of your brand’s persona through social media.

Follow and Follow Back

Social media is a reciprocal relationship of “Follow and Follow Back”. This applies to anyone who has a presence on social media.

Follow selectively

That doesn’t mean you need to follow every one. In fact, I’m a bit discriminating about who I will follow back. Especially if it seems like all I’m getting is a sales pitch.

What I want to do is build my network. In my opinion, building and maintaining a social media relationship is similar to going to a networking group or being part of a group online.

As I continue to build my personal brand and business, I want to be able to rely on my network for advice, opinion and input. And you never know when that relationship will come in handy!

Where others “miss the boat”

It’s cliche, but I see brands missing the proverbial boat when it comes to the Follow and Follow Back methodology.

If you are an established brand like Coca-Cola or BMW,  following back is not the necessity it is for smaller brands.

Brands who want brand awareness must be proactive in their engagement with others. This happens by being aware of hashtags, and following and tagging relevant brands, media and influencers in the industry.

Get found by others

Case in point. On Instagram, if you post a photo of a 1968 Fastback Mustang, then you should be including every Mustang hashtag that makes sense including #Ford and #FordMustang.

Use hashtags to find content
Include hashtags that allow your content to be found.

Don’t forget to include media tags to your favorite publications like #musclemustangsandfastfords. A saavy social media manager may pick up that you are an enthusiast, and could be a great brand ambassador or contributor.

 

Don’t just takeaway, give back

I attend digital marketing and social media workshops, conferences and seminars to learn in order to improve my skill set or expand my knowledge, and my expected takeaway is that I learned in order to achieve my goals.
I just returned from a Facebook marketing workshop hosted by Blitzmetrics. Led by founder and Chief Technology Officer Dennis Yu, the entire program is based on process and checklists. This methodology doesn’t stop with the program. It is also how Dennis trains his team ensuring accountability and results for both the business and clients.
Leading up to the workshop, each attendee has a project list in Basecamp. It is probably the most prep work I have to complete before attending an event. What initially seemed like a daunting check list, I made my way through each task and got all but one complete before arriving in Phoenix.
What is usually a week-long event, we accomplish in three intensive days. And it is impossible to explain the amount of information that we cover. I’m sure I’ll need a couple of days to decompress, and really grasp what I learned. Dennis and his team demonstrate their program works by showing us real time examples, and sharing step by step the how and why.
Dennis Yu kicking things off for the Blitzmetrics workshop.

What was your key takeaway?

 
As we drove to our the start of our final day this morning, the question was asked, “What is the key takeaway you got from attending this event?” Everyone had a different response. One said it meant validation of what they were already doing. Another said she had renewed motivation for her company.
My key takeaway was a little different. I’ve known Dennis for several years. I have sought Dennis’ counsel and the expertise of the Blitzmetrics team for social media campaign amplification and research and data for marketing presentations. Dennis has been suggesting for a few months that I should consider launching my personal brand. While I have never said “No” to Dennis, I also haven’t jumped into action either.

The kick in the butt I needed

For me the event is the kick in the butt I need to get myself moving forward. When it is all said and done, I believe I’m on the right path to achieve my goal. That goal is to help companies and brands in the automotive aftermarket build their own strong and successful social media program.
The third and final day was the most relevant to me. Isaac Irvine of GoDaddy spoke to us about the making of his “Why” video that we had viewed the day before. The end product was the result of several takes, editing, trimming, voice over and splicing. He talks about recording on the fly when he’s inspired with an idea for great content. As he spoke, I realize that his fears about making videos were the same as mine and others who were in the audience.

Be Willing to Teach

What I really connected with was Dennis Yu’s explanation of the Nine Triangles Framework. This put together everything we had been learning and implementing.
The most noteworthy triangle to me was Learn, Do, Teach (LDT). It isn’t enough to learn how to be a better social media marketer or knowledgeable about personal branding. So often we selfishly keep what we know to ourselves thinking that it is our “advantage.” Instead, it is our responsibility to pass on our knowledge on to others so that they may benefit and will teach others as well.
I was surrounded by amazing people with the same objectives, to learn more.
Beyond the wealth of information that I learned. I found myself surrounded by some of the most amazing people. All of us came from different industries, yet we have the commonality of wanting to know more. And that more was given to us by Dennis and his team. By the way, if Dennis believes in you, he never takes “No” for answer.

Personal Branding – What is your “Why”?

The making of the “Why” video.

Dennis Yu is my social media spirit animal.

Later today I’m off to Phoenix for three days of intensive training with Dennis Yu and the Blitzmetrics team. If you didn’t already know, Dennis is my social media/data spirit animal, and is helping me work my way though this personal branding journey.

It seems like I’ve been doing a ton of prep work to get ready for this event. Everything from establishing my business email and public figure page on Facebook, to setting up Google AdWord and Tag Manager accounts. The ultimate goal of all of this is to lay down the foundation and kick start my personal brand.

Part of the process is creating my “Why” video. As often as I have been on stage performing as a musician or in a community theater production, you would think I’m comfortable in front of a camera. I really don’t like the sound of my voice recorded and the old adage that the camera adds pounds to you is no joke! But in order to move this personal branding thing forward, I need to suck it up.

The “Why” video is – why me? The steps to building my why have been laid out very clearly by Blitzmetrics.

  • Start with a personal story that will connect your audience emotionally
  • Make my “I Believe” statement connecting to my Why
  • Who I am and what I do

This video concept sounds simple enough right? But how do I decide what experience I should connect myself to?

I narrowed my choices down to three:

  1. Adopted as an infant by a single American woman before it was cool to adopt children internationally.
  2. Went to an open call audition for performers to sing the National Anthem at PNC Park for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was selected.
  3. Was a stand in for Pocahontas at the mall.

When I post the video you’ll know which option I choose! Stay tuned! If you have an opinion about which one I should focus on, please leave a comment!

 

 

Social Media Marketing Is Only Valuable If You’re Doing It Right

“Thoughts on Social Media Marketing Is It a Fad?”  This was recently posted on an Automotive Aftermarket Networking page last week. It was no surprise that there were over 200 comments, and the overwhelming sentiment is that it is NOT a fad. Many respondents say that it has played a key role growing his or her business, and it is necessary for brand awareness. Others agree about the importance of social media marketing, but have issues with changing algorithms and organic reach.

There still seems to be a lot of confusion about what is the best way to approach social media marketing. While I didn’t comment to the post, it inspired me to write this blog post.

Changing Social Media Marketing Sentiment

Facebook business pages were launched in 2007 and was still a relatively new concept in 2009. At the time I was interviewing for a Communications Specialist position. I asked the VP of Marketing and Sales what he thought about social media. He quickly replied that he felt it was a fad.

I got the job, and in 2010, I had the opportunity to start the brand’s Facebook page. When I left the company in 2015,  the brand’s Facebook page had over 800,000 followers and social media platforms included Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.

You Must Still Pay to Play

It would be nice to think that all of the success was due to organic reach, but it wasn’t. With a minimal budget, we utilized social media marketing early on primarily to promote campaigns and contests. Via promoted posts and tweets we were able to target audiences that wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to our posts. It was fascinating to watch the insights and page likes go up.

While we had the support of the promotional posts to the page traffic, I then began to “train” our page fans to look for multiple posts a day. This approach would hopefully foster continued organic reach. Based on the traffic we were experiencing, Dennis Yu of Blitzmetrics recommended that I post 2-3 times a day. It seems like a lot, but if you think about the key times that people access their social media (morning, afternoon and evening), it makes sense that you are reaching different audiences with each post.

I was fortunate that the company offered a wide variety of products to B2B and B2C customers. That way, I ensured that every image I posted could be directly related to a product we sold.

Social Media Marketing Cannot Stand Alone

You social media marketing efforts cannot live outside of your overall Content Strategy. Instead, in this day and age of mobile and digital communication, it is one of the most important components.

If you look at the  Social Media Marketing Cycle illustrated below you start at the top with your goals. These goals should mirror your overall marketing goals. The next two parts of the cycle – Content and Target work hand in hand and could perhaps be switched in the cycle.

Social Media Marketing Cycle

Who are the personas you are targeting? More than likely you have more than one. So with each persona, what is the right content? You wouldn’t post the same content aimed at the gearhead and and use it to engage the minivan mom.

Then consider how are you going to amplify your content? You can spend your budget correctly by targeting, but also being flexible enough to re-target and optimize those posts. If you aren’t willing to analyze your targeting to ensure you’re getting the most traction from your spend, most likely you’re shouting your best qualities to an empty room.

Finally, keep an eye on your insights, and know how to explain them. Starting with a small social media budget that yields good results will give you leverage to ask for more the next quarter or fiscal year.

 

Are Marketing Conferences Really Valuable?

Name tags from past conferences.

Marketing conferences come in all shapes and sizes, and take place in great locations like San Diego, Las Vegas and Chicago. All of them offer you the same benefits more or less. You can network with other digitally like minded people. Rub elbows with “influencers”. Hear success stories from brands you’d either like to work for or model your brand after.

Don’t go to a marketing conference thinking that you can stick to any resemblance of a diet. If you’re not sitting and listening, you’re eating and drinking. The last conference I attended I actually packed some workout clothes. I ended up doing 30 minute tabata programs in my room each morning. My sad attempt to maintain some sort of balance.

One of the best conferences

One of my favorite conferences was Social Fresh East in Tampa, FL. Each attendee was assigned a group on the name tag when they arrived. This was the group that would collectively work on a social media marketing project for a local non-profit. The exercise was a great opportunity for networking and hands on collaboration with an end goal. After submitting pitches on deadline, the non-profit selected a winner.

Is Bigger Really Better?

One of the largest marketing conferences I have ever attended is the Adobe Summit. You can’t really go wrong having an event in Vegas at the end of March. Adobe boasted it was the largest Summit with 10,000 attendees from all over the globe.

Like all conferences, there are good and not-so-good presenters. All of the presenters at the Summit are Adobe clients which makes sense, because who better to champion the vast suite that you offer? The whole event is a high tech produced opportunity to introduce new Adobe products. While the key note speakers had star quality (Abby Womback and George Clooney), neither addressed how digital or social was important (or not) in their careers.

My colleague told me before I registered that I wouldn’t learn anything new at the conference from a digital marketing perspective. But if I wanted to experience a good party with networking opportunities it was the place to be. He wasn’t wrong. But the planning and execution of feeding 10,000 in a Vegas parking lot was truly impressive.

Set your own standards

I’m not saying that marketing conferences aren’t worthwhile, because they are. I believe that five and a half years in, the way I gain value from them has changed.

I select the sessions I attend (if that is an option) because I’m hoping to gain insight into a topic based on the title of the session. Then I attempt to answer these two questions in each one.

  • What are the top three takeaways from each session?
  • Can I relate those points to my work or my brand?

Do you go marketing conferences or any industry event to expand your network or absorb all you can? Is there a happy medium between both?

The Blogging Battle – Blogging isn’t as easy as it looks

I always thought blogging was simply writing out your thoughts, and posting it online. Then a few months ago, I decided to take the advice of my friend Dennis Yu of Blitzmetrics, and start the process of branding myself.

The Blogging Battle Begins

Following the steps outlined in the “Personal Branding Guide,” I set up everything that was suggested.

After you determine your goals for personal branding, you get the recommended “plumbing” in place. Then the third item on the checklist is to “Create blogs regularly posting across all social media channels”. I’m an English major, I should be able to write, right? Not so fast.

I find blogging to be a longer than 20 minutes a day process. In the whole four posts I’ve written to date, at least two completely changed focus direction the further I got into the post.

One step is to add the Yoast plugin to my website. Yoast and I have a tenuous relationship at best when it comes to blogging. I often find myself struggling to make sure all of the Yoast bases are covered. In turn, you become obsessed with the color of the Readability and SEO which are ideally supposed to be green.

Small Steps to Success

I’ve determined a process to blogging that might not work for everyone, but works for me.

  • Begin – Start with your initial topic. If you go off track in the writing process, and end up focusing on something else. Add the topic back to your list. You had it on there for a reason.
  • Write – Collapse the “Publish” section while writing so the words and ideas can just flow.
  • Review – Where do I stand from the Yoast perspective?
  • Clean up – Take out unnecessary words and make suggested changes until the Readability and SEO are green.
  • Una Vez Mas – I re-read the post and often times move content around so it flows better.
  • Let the Happy Dance commence!

happy-dance

 

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Networking

Why does networking matter? Have you ever thought why you build your professional network? When you meet someone at an industry event or conference, what do you do with the card you exchanged? Do you add it to the stack in your desk drawer, or do you immediately invite them to connect on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter?

Networking helps build new relationships and maintain established ones.

Regardless of how you met, the practice of active networking offers you a valuable opportunity to forge new relationships and maintain established ones.

Networking isn’t for everyone

I acknowledge that networking doesn’t come easily or naturally to every one. Some struggle with random introductions and are more comfortable as observers, while others seem to maneuver a room with ease. No need to conquer the world in one swoop. Start with the people you work with, or the companies you deal with on a regular basis.

Why do you need connections?

Why are connections important? These are contacts that you may need in the future for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you are looking for an introduction at another company. Maybe you would like an opinion about a project, or you are seeking a vendor recommendation. Your professional network doesn’t expect you to friend you on Facebook, but they do want to be considered if there’s a way they can earn your business.

You can maintain your relationship with your contacts in a variety of ways. It might be a simple gesture like commenting or sharing a person’s post on social media. I believe that when possible, it’s important to have “face time” with people in your network. I make a conscious effort to attend a couple industry events a year to re-connect with people. This might be an industry specific event or a social media/digital marketing conference.

This summer I attended an automotive aftermarket industry event in Austin. While there, I was asked to say a few words to members of the SEMA Young Executives Network.

I shared with them that networking is one of the most important career skills I’ve learned. Industry contacts are important, but so are out of market contacts. Don’t discount local chamber of commerce and other local, regional or online networking groups.

Online networking

Image result for linkedin vs facebook
Apparently some people can’t differentiate between personal and professional content.

My primary platform for maintaining those networking connections is LinkedIn, I also have a profile on brandedme.com. There has been some debate about where the line is drawn between what could be seen as personal posts vs. professional on LinkedIn. I suppose that’s why I’m a bit selective about who I accept to connect to. I’ve even unconnected with people I did not want to be associated with professionally.

We live in an age where tenure at one employer is less common. People change jobs and industries for a variety of reasons, so regardless of what industry you are in now, don’t underestimate the importance of networking. You never know when you might need that connection down the road.