Twitter is the best platform for B2B marketing. It serves several marketing purposes including brand awareness, public relations, listening, content curation, and relationship building.
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Brand awareness is high-level, less-tangible, and difficult to measure. It’s almost a word-association game. I say “tissue;” you say “Kleenex.” I say “photocopy;” you say “Xerox.” You want your brand to be able to be associated with your purpose. Recognition of the logo on Twitter because of your presence is a great way for a small business to compete with the bigger operations. The big guys rarely invest in social media.
You have news. People want to know it. Share Promotions, sales, new ventures, employees that join in, partnerships, case studies, etc. Write on your WordPress blog everything relevant to your audience and publish it on Twitter. Every brand has the ability to publish and gain influence and audience.
Listening is the most powerful thing you can do with Twitter. It’s so important to understand who you audience is and what they want, need, and how they think. This allows you to become a better communicator — meaning, you’re communicating in a way that resonates with them.
Once you’ve built your lists you now have the tool in place to curate content. People often ask me what tools I use to curate content. I tell them that I’m a People Curator — a People Broker, I say. I curate content by curating people. It really is that simple.
All business happens because of referrals and word of mouth. Think of the last time you had a new client. How did you acquire them? Think of the last time you found a new service. Did you search for them online? Google? Yelp? Almost no one does business with a total stranger. Use Twitter to build relationships. You won’t regret it.
Branding has an allusive attraction — like a magic word a SEO professional will use that you know is important but don’t fully understand.
Not having a MBA in Marketing myself, I had often pondered this question as well.
What is branding?
Branding is listening to a thirty-year old Michael Jackson song on the radio and recognizing the Eddie Van Halen guitar solo.
Branding is making a decision between using a restroom at a gas station or the restroom at a Starbucks.
Branding is being reminded of your beloved uncle when you smell pipe tobacco with a hint of cherry.
Is Branding A Logo?
Yes and no.
In many ways, branding is the connection of your sensual experiences. When I see a Diet Coke can, I become thirsty. Why? I remember the feel of a cold can in my hands, the sound the can makes when it pops open, the tickle down my throat, and the taste afterward. All of those memories are tied into the Diet Coke logo.
Human history is full of seals, rings, flags, coats of arms, and crests used to distinguish families, tribes, and nations. The human condition is curious; as much as we long for group acceptance, we still desire to be distinct and recognized.
Although the etymology of branding is varied, we can all imagine a rancher using a hot iron to brand his livestock. Each ranch had a distinct logo that made a permanent impression. Though originally intended to distinguish ownership, the logo reflected on the rancher, whether good or bad.
A Logo is Your Behavior
Your behavior as a company will be associated with your logo. In this regard, the branding is the logo and the logo is the brand.
In my presentation, “You Are What You Tweet,” I gave the example that the Caltrop logo had no meaning to me until I met one of their employees, Mark DeSio.
In our day, branding makes a permanent impression, too. These impressions are based upon a person’s experience interacting with your company (brand) and there’s only so much of it you can control. With the introduction of social media, individual impressions gain a much greater audience.
Case in point. Twenty years ago I went to a pancake restaurant and there were cockroaches crawling on the table. Regardless of how many coupons they offer, how many all-you-can-eat pancake events they hold, I will never go to any of their restaurants again. That one experience made a lasting impression. Their advertising (branding) is no longer effective with me. My experience at their store made a permanent impression (branding).
Big brands, like Diet Coke, are often used as an example because we all recognize them, making the lesson relatable to a diverse audience.
How is online behavior branding?
The question always is: how will that translate for me and my business on social media?
It’s simple. Behave online the way you would want to be perceived. If you want people to think that you’re professional, behave professionally. If you want people to believe you do quality work, produce quality content.
*Adapted from an article I wrote while working at Riggins Construction and published here.
Getting leads from social media activity is always the barrier — mentally — for people to accept social media marketing as a legitimate part of their marketing tool belt.
Twitter, my favorite of the social media networks, allows you to do so much of your marketing ask: brand awareness, customer engagement, customer service, promotion, discovery and validation, and, of course, sales.
And with sales, I say this. Stop expecting first-click leads.
I say never, but it’s probably an exaggeration. Asking social media to solve your lead-generation problem is short sighted at best.
First of all, it will fail — miserably. Secondly, your focus on leads will cause you to consciously or even subconsciously make decisions out of fear and desperation. Those are almost never good decisions.
Pardon a crude example but to put it bluntly, getting leads without effort is like hiring a prostitute for sex. You may solve your immediate needs but you’ve built no relationship, have poor client expectations, and will only have favors for money. That’s not a realistic view of social media marketing or a good way to build a reputation.
If someone asks me about ROI one more time, why I’ll …
No seriously. When people ask about return from investment (ROI), I think they don’t get it. Because they don’t.
But I’ll break down relationship marketing into three main areas: affinity, discovery, and validation. These principles can be applied to nearly any social network, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll talk about Twitter.
Use hashtags like you would search in the yellow pages to be more successful on Twitter. I suggest geolocation (like #OrangeCounty) and categories like #automotive or #plumber. This allows people to find you — we call that discovery.
Validation is the process by which people check you out after discovering you. This may be an introduction at a Meetup or after they hear you present at a Chamber of Commerce.
People will search for your name and see what comes up. Have you done a search? What are the results?
When a customer discovers you, you are on the path to getting leads from social media. This is part of their journey. The journey to a lead begins with a thousand Google searches. Well, maybe five. You get the point.
How do you optimize the validation process?
You can optimize the validation process by publishing good content that matters to you and your audience.
I shouldn’t post about real estate. Why? Because I’m not a real estate professional or a mortgage broker and I don’t do social media for that industry. Real Estate isn’t bad; it’s not relevant to me.
What is relevant is social media strategy, tips, and WordPress community posts.
Where are these things published? I publish on my blog, I post on Facebook, I tweet, I write posts on Medium.com, I am a guest author for friends, I appear on podcasts and shows, I participate in my industry.
It’s great to be a strategist. Heck, it’s a higher paying job. But it’s dangerous to be too far away from tactics — especially since they change so often in tech. To be better at the work, you have to do the work.
A coder can’t understand overall strategy without an intimacy with the code he’s proficient in, or better yet, understanding trends in codebases. A mechanic would not be able to shape and evolve his business if he doesn’t understand how much time an oil change should take.
Most small businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs are also practitioners. It’s not degrading to your role to do the work. So why do I hear myself saying this so often?
Do the Work.
Jason Knill and I shape organic and paid advertising at Give along with my traditional content marketing goals like blog posts and email marketing. We look at trends, we talk about insights from in-person meetings, Meetups, Twitter, WordCamps, and other people’s news. We bring a “mental rigor and curiosity,” as he calls it, to our work with Give.
Lately, we’ve been having a conversation around craft. Why do so many people in our industry enjoy making craft beer? Why are people in tech turning to knitting, gardening, or even fishing?
It’s about short-term satisfaction and accomplishment.
So often our work has long term results. It’s no different with strategy. To craft a strategy and then wait for results takes faith — faith in the process, faith in the forecasting, faith in the tactics.
So why do so many people shy away from tactics and stick with strategy?
The only reason I can come up with is job protection.
Protecting The Boundaries of Your Job Title
Being a Marketing Manager means thinking strategically. That’s a closely-guarded job title. I’ve had friends say they won’t do “x, y, or z” because it devalues their job title. I’ve also been told that I’m acting like a “Social Media Manager” as if it’s more degrading than a “Marketing Manager.”
Hey, I get it. In this world, regardless of how far we’ve come, a woman usually only gains salary increases by switching jobs. It’s sad from the point of diversity, feminism, and, I hate to say it, company culture.
“If two people with the same experience and education are hired as peers, are their titles and pay equal? Because people of color and women are often underpaid, even when moving companies or switching roles, they lose out of money based on salary history. Assuring that rank and pay are fair helps keep people of color and women from being under-leveled and underpaid.” Bärí A. Williams
Consequences of Status Protection
Before I digress too far away from my point of “doing the work,” there is something we should think about in this vein.
If “it’s not my job” prevails any company culture, what you’ll have is an employee who is looking to transition to any good offer that presents itself. This will happen either consciously or subconsciously.
What you’ve lost is bigger than the time you’ve invested in said employee.
You’ve lost loyalty.
A loss in loyalty affects the entire company culture. People watch how Employee X is treated. They will pick up on cognitive dissonance. They will come to the conclusion that if Employee X isn’t valued, maybe they’re not either.
But I digress. The point is that no matter the reason you think you should protect the boundaries of your job title, being too far away from tactics affects strategy.
What is the difference between strategy and tactics?
Strategy is tied to goals. Where do you want to be? What would you like to achieve in a certain timeframe.
Strategy is the plan — 30 days, 120 days, 1 year.
Think of it in terms we may be more familiar with: war. Strategy is about winning the war. Tactics are how you do it. The great generals of time understand the landscape, their enemy, their enemy’s tactics, and the strengths and weaknesses of their own army.
Don’t like war? How about sports? No football team goes against another team without spending time on the field in practice. The strategy of the game never changes: outscore the opposing team by running the ball in the end zone.
The tactics to achieve that strategy vary depending upon the team you’re playing. Coaches and leadership — maybe even the team — will spend hours watching tape of the opposing team — studying their every move. The strategy of studying the opposition helps you find their strengths and weaknesses. It helps shape the tactics used in order to accomplish the overall goals.
Coaches and generals apply strategy to achieve their goals, but in war and football, the tactics and tools don’t evolve as quickly as the digital world. This is why it’s important to do the work.
If you’ve ever listened to Gary Vaynerchuk, then you’ve heard him say, “be a practitioner.” He talks about having his head in the clouds and his feet in the dirt.
For him, clouds represent strategy and tactics the dirt.
In this video he says,
“I believe that engagement on Twitter makes sense. I also then do it.”
Do the Work.
Once you write your strategy and start implementing it, you may see results that surprise you — in any direction. Do you stop to ask yourself why?
Why are those ads converting? What is your time on site? What are the voids your brand can fill in your industry? Where can you show your value? How can you increase loyalty? Why is your open rate so low? Is it just your company or is it the service?
Questions are important. Questions drive you to answers.
Doing the work gives you familiarity. Sure, Vayner Media has over 800 employees. But what’s amazing about Gary Vaynerchuk is that he always does the work. That’s why his agency has won in so many areas.
“Here’s the thing: if you’re not constantly working on your craft—if you get too romantic about doing things how they’ve “always been done”—you’re going to lose. You need to be a practitioner.” Gary Vaynerchuk
Tactical shifts — especially in media — can alter the effectiveness of your strategy. If you distance yourself too far from implementation, you will not be able to create or alter a strategy that creates results.
The cost of a social media manager sometimes triggers sticker shock in people. But in order to evaluate cost, of any type, you need context. I talked about what a social media manager should cost and my experience of only making $9 and hour previously. Here’s a higher-level update.
Buffer is one of the remote workforces that is completely transparent with their salaries. Happiness Hero average around $70,000.
If you were an employer, you’d have to add at least 20% to those salaries to account for labor burden — maybe even 50% if you pay for health insurance and things like 401(k), etc.. Let’s take the BLS number of 30% employee burden.
“Overall, compensation costs among private industry employers in the United States averaged $33.26 per hour worked in June 2017. Wages and salaries, at $23.15 per hour, accounted for 69.6 percent of these costs, while benefits, at $10.11, made up the remaining 30.4 percent.”Bureau of Labor and Statistics
Here are some charts I created for the visual folks.
Shifting the Labor Burden
Labor burden is a problem for companies. I get it. I spent a good time in office management and accounting. I completely understand the cost of an employee.
One of the benefits of outsourcing to a freelancer (1099 contractor) is shifting that labor burden from your company to theirs.
Let’s take a small diversion into what it means to be a freelancer. They take the burden of self-employment tax (20%) in addition to their own costs (expenses) which include health insurance, office equipment, utilities (like internet), office lease or co-working expenses, and more.
To my freelancer and small agency friends, I take a short diversion.
In this presentation by Samantha Zehngut, she gives a compelling example. What do you think you really make when you charge $100/hour? Would you be surprised that it’s only $16?
Is $20 an hour $20 an hour is $20 an hour?
The short answer is no.
You have options. Sure. You can outsource outside of the country. That is your prerogative as a business owner. Maybe some things can be automated, some outsourced in another country to help their economy, and some in-sourced.
It’s good to have options. As a business owner, you have your own budgets to reconcile with your goals.
There are options and tools. If you’re willing to bring social media in-house, you should. That’s the option that many of my colleagues recommend including Robert Nissembaum of Tactical Social Media. It’s your brand and your voice. You know it best.
“As a small business owner you ARE the face of your business. The more you are personal and the more of yourself you bring into your content, the more opportunity you provide for others to connect. The more opportunity you have to create, develop and grow relationships. The more opportunity to develop a friendship.” Tactical Social Media
So, how do you evaluate a Social Media Freelancer?
Cost is good but it’s not everything. Look at their reputation. Look at their Twitter profile. Are they full of promises but can’t produce results? No one believes in first-click leads, but we still want results.
The people I respect produce results. You should want that, too.
My Twitter Pro Package is currently priced at $1,000 a month. I know, as a person who believes passionately in accurately representing a brand that I spend a minimum of 28 hours a month on each client’s Twitter account. Though I don’t charge hourly, let’s use that as a basis for comparison and context.
By my calculations, I’m a bit more expensive than a Happiness Hero at Buffer but still less expensive than an in-house Marketing Manager at the low salary spectrum — without taking into account the labor burden.
You blog. But do you know your audience? Do you use Twitter analytics? Do you know how long should your content be? What should the grade level be? Is your well-crafted persona even correct? Let’s look at Twitter’s Analytics to see what kind of information is there.
Influencers need an audience. Businesses need an audience. The truth is that we all have audiences. We all influence someone. With the age of social media, we’re all publishers now. But who is that audience — exactly?
Do you find your audience and write for them or write and then find your audience? Which came first: the chicken or the egg?
I test the way I cook — it’s an experiment. It’s not formal. If someone likes it, I continue. If I hate it, I fix it. You can A/B test without heavily relying upon data.
I know what you’re thinking — that a post about analytics should be data centric. But what is data? Without context it means nothing. You can waste hours in Google Analytics or Twitter Analytics studying the wrong thing.
For example, 57% of my audience is interested in “fresh & healthy” lifestyle. That means I could experiment with writing about how I started using the Asana Rebel Yoga App and posting some of my Yoga photos from Instagram.
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How will I know if it worked?
Traffic. Comments. (For example, after I started using Postmatic for email delivery and commenting, I’ve gotten a lot more comments. The comments encourage me to write more.) Comments also help give me ideas on what to write about.
You also might see those posts performing well in the Top Tweets of your Twitter Analytics.
How often should I look at Twitter’s Analytics?
I need gimmicks. So first, you need self-awareness. Then you need routine. I have Maintenance Mondays at my house. So I look at Twitter’s Analytics every Monday. For clients, I record data monthly in a Google Sheet. For myself, I go on intuition.
Start. What are you waiting for. You might be surprised.
Since October of 2016, when I was asked to speak at WordCamp Cincinnati I have traveled to quite a few camps. In the last 12 months, I’ve grown professionally and personally. To me, this deserved an epic recap.
Yes. That’s ten WordCamps in 12 months. For the balance of 2017, I will also be going to Seattle, Rochester, and US in Nashville.
Let’s get to what I learned.
Lesson 1: You have friends everywhere.
Yes. These people are your friends. Connect on social media. Meet in person. Or meet in person and connect on social media. Either way, meeting people, having great conversations, and keeping that relationship going is good for your mental health and for referring people. We all live off of referrals.
Take selfies. Follow people on Twitter. Stay connected. People matter the most. I promise.
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Lesson 2: Bars have the best burgers.
Honestly, before attending WordCamps, I never hung out at a bar. Ever. So, thanks for making me feel comfortable in a bar, WordPress. (This lesson is debated whether it’s a good thing but for the purpose of this blog post we’ll say yes.)
If the bar has craft beer, the food is even better. If they brew their own, they may even have their own root beer!
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Lesson 3: I learned to travel on my own.
From March when I had to fly and Uber and check into the AirBNB by myself to going on my first international fight — alone — to Paris — I learned that I can baby step my way into confidence. That was huge. And I knew, that if anything happened, I had a whole community of people who would have helped me.
This is a big one for me. I didn’t ever want to order something and not like it and then go hungry. Traveling to WordCamps has helped me realize that a) I can try something; and b) I can order something else if I need to.
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Lesson 8: Go to talks above your skill level or from a different discipline.
We forget about the value of exposure. No, I can’t write in PHP or work with an API or even use ACF. But I understand some of the concepts now. That helps me understand my job and, more importantly, have empathy with my friends and co-workers.
You’ll be surprised from what you do learn. I promise.
I felt bad I had to cancel speaking at WordCamp Sacramento but was glad for a few things. Namely, Matt Cromwell was able to speak for me and I was staying in a great hotel. Room service is the best when you’re sick. And Jen Miller brought me a tea. The thing is we have a team for a reason. It worked out wonderfully.
If you have a business, you should have a Facebook Page and a Public Twitter Account. Optionally, you can share posts on Pinterest and Google Plus as well as your LinkedIn Company Page or personal profile.
Sharing your content is good but you should also share content from your audience. We call this content curation.
No one likes a person who only shares their own stuff. It’s like a person at a party who only talks about themselves.
So, You’re Blogging — Now What?
It’s very important to not just blog but to share you blog post on your social networking sites. People aren’t magically going to know that you wrote a new post. Unless, of course, you have people already subscribing to your RSS feed or email marketing program.
What should I blog about?
You should blog about your business, your passion, and the things that make you — well, you. No one wants a hard sell. If you’re a realtor, you may also play golf. If you’re a website developer, you may also attend Trivia Nights at your pub. Regardless, talk about your business and your hobbies.