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Making Events Profitable for Your Brand: A Case Study by Urban Southern

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Making Events Profitable for Your Brand A Case Study by Urban Southern

I had saved up $5 dollars. That was a lot of money for an Amish kid. (That’s right, I was born Amish, but we can talk more about that later.) The thing is, I had five whole dollars and I could spend it any way I wanted to.

I didn’t get to go to town very often and my mom didn’t go many places to get what she needed, so I had to think long and hard about WHERE I could get the MOST for my five bucks. Guys, I probably lost sleep over that decision.

Let’s start at the beginning. (The beginning of this particular story, anyway.)

Two years ago, my best friend and cousin Regina, began her own leather bag company with her husband, Jay, who is a third generation leather craftsman. Last fall, Regina and I joined forces to become the faces of Urban Southern with our unique story. We wanted to build a community around this lifestyle brand.

Urban Southern product sneak peak

The majority of our sales happen online, but we have also gained some incredible momentum from being at local events and most recently, New York Fashion Week!  

Being an adult (and no longer Amish) is not so different when it comes to figuring out where our money and energy are best invested as a new ecommerce business. By the time that we turned our hobbies into our passion, we had already put years and countless hours into honing our skills.

Imagine the keen disappointment we would have felt after walking away from a trade show or artisan event with nothing to show for all our hard work. Just like you, we didn’t want to be that business owner.

So how do you find events that are going to be profitable for your eCommerce business?

Honestly, it takes some old-fashioned learning through trial and error. We hope that you’ll get much closer to your bull’s eye with the things we’ve learned.

1. Know who your people are

In the beginning, you won’t know exactly who your audience is, but you will have a good idea of who you want it to be. As you attend events, you’ll learn more about who is actually drawn to your product or service. Then you’ll be able to tailor your approach.

Pro Tip: don’t be so attached to your initial ideal customer that you can’t evolve to fit the needs of your actual customers.

2. Know what your goal is for attending an event

What is your main focus? Is it brand awareness? Is it sales? Is it networking? Here’s what we’ll tell you: You should work all three of these goals into your plans, but making one of them the main focus will guide you as you move forward.

behind the scenes New York Fashion Week

There are a new wave of reinvented events like craft shows and other market events, like “Denver Flea”, “Made South” and others, that include drinks and fun activities. These events aren’t just for hipsters and celebrities. People of all ages are getting excited about these events, paying to enter and shopping to support the local artisans that have booths there.

Large events that have carried authority in years past, such as large home shows or large fashion events, may bring credibility to your brand, but they may be too big of a financial risk for you. You’re more likely to get lost in the shuffle of thousands of other vendors.

Choosing a local event to attend has been the most profitable approach for our business. Here’s what we’ve done.

  • We have stalked Instagram and Facebook to find great local events — what are our friends and locals talking about?

Pro Tip: A great time to attend local markets is during the Holiday Shopping season! If you’re trying to find an event during the first half of the year, rewind to posts from the most recent Holiday Season to find local markets that everyone was talking about. You should already be scouting the events you will plan to be part of this fall.

  • We learned to pay attention to the event organizers for our most successful events. You can learn so much about an event by paying attention to what the planners are doing on social media before and during their events. Pay attention to what kind of presence they have on social. Do they have a well established following? Are they engaging? Are they interesting? Do they offer value? How much do they promote their events and how much do they feature local businesses who are attending?
  • Research the audience of people who attend the event. Are these people your people?

4. Make connections before the event

The amazing thing about attending events with a great presence on social media is that you now have a curated, niche audience that you have some amount of access to.  Once you’ve chosen an event to attend with your business, you can start interacting with the people who follow this event.

You may create FB ads that target this audience with something of value that will interest them. Your goal should be to grow brand awareness so that your people will quickly recognize you when they see you at an event. You may spend time on Instagram interacting with the people that follow the event’s account on Instagram.

We love hearing comments such as, “Hey! I saw you on Instagram! I love your stuff, your story is so cool. Oh my gosh, is that the Market Tote? I’ve been wanting to see it!”

Urban Southern Instagram

Pro Tip: Don’t forget about the other makers and small businesses who are also attending the event. We like to give shoutouts to other makers who will be attending along with us. We have had other makers thank us profusely for mentioning them or sharing one of their posts.

Among small businesses, a rising tide truly lifts all boats. As we support each other and give each other shoutouts, we gain loyal followings amongst each other and as our platforms grow, we help each other grow.

Not everyone has this mindset, but you will find them!

5. Involve your existing audience as you get ready for the event

Talk about what you’re up to. Let them know about the event you’ll be attending. Link to the event on your Facebook Page. Even if your audience is your mom and her friends out of state, seeing you working your business will get them excited and they may proudly share with their friends what you’re up to.

You never know who is listening and watching!

When Derek found out that we were going to New York Fashion Week, he simply said, “Don’t be like those people who go to a tradeshow or event and come away with nothing. How are you going to make the most of Fashion Week?”

New York Fashion Week

At that point, we were a bit starstruck with the simple fact that we were going to New York Fashion Week. We hadn’t put a lot of thought into strategizing exactly how we would make the most of this opportunity.

We applied what we had learned from doing small events, such as getting to know the audience that attends Fashion Week and talking about it a LOT on our social media. We invited our followers into our planning process by showing them sneak peeks of designs. Everyone was excited!

6. The event!

Honestly, you should always start with just being a friend. Get to know people. A good rule of thumb is this: Don’t talk about yourself before you’ve found out what someone else is doing.

  • Grow brand awareness. Your booth should be in line with your brand. It should be visually appealing. This is where investing in beautiful branding will be worth every penny you’ve ever spent on it. Be brand-proud and make a statement!
  • Grow your online audience through this event. This is so important. At the event, make sure you constantly point people to your website and social media because you want folks to follow you. Make it easy for them to find you by having your social handles and website printed on a banner or poster.
  • Give away lots of creative business cards. We have created leather business cards from leather rectangles. We encourage people to use these as air fresheners for their cars. They love it! When your people feel like they are getting more than a business card — a free gift — they will feel valued and in turn they will value you.
  • Grow your email list! We host a giveaway at each artisan event that we attend for people to sign up to our mailing list and enter to win a leather bag.
  • The #EventHashtag is everything! During the event, you should interact with the event’s hashtag on social media as much as you can. Compliment others on their new purchases and thank those who have come by your booth. Be a friend.
  • Share regular updates. Folks love seeing what goes on behind the scenes of an event. Post clips and images to Instagram Stories. Show folks what your area looks like before and after you set up your booth. Tell people where you are and invite them to stop by your booth. Use Facebook Live during your event to share an update or a funny story about something that happened.

Again, remember your fellow small business owners. You’re at an event for more than just the people who attend. Often the other folks who have booths at an event are the MOST passionate about supporting other small businesses!

Some of our most loyal customers are owners of their own small business and we in turn have spent plenty of our own profits on goods and services from other small businesses. We believe this is one of the best ways to conduct business. It’s the mindset of “Community over Competition” and we love it.

7. Wrapping up a successful event

If you hosted a giveaway at the event, you’ll choose your winner and notify them. However, your winner shouldn’t be the only person you contact! You shouldn’t simply add your people to your mailing list and forget about them.

Create a segmented list for the event and thank those folks for entering your giveaway. Include a coupon code that they can use at anytime in your online shop or toward a service that you provide. Folks will remember your thoughtfulness!

Make the most of the connections you make. If your primary goal was to network at the event, make sure you keep track of each person you meet. Take the business cards you got and immediately take notes about each individual for future reference. I would recommend having a CRM to keep track of not only your sales, but your people.

A helpful note for the techies out there: If you have a wordpress website and a limited budget, I would recommend a free CRM called UkuuPeople.

ukuu people contacts in one place

With UkuuPeople, uou may sort people into different “tribes”, organizing them based on which event you’ve met them at. You can add “touchpoints” to individuals to track the emails or meetings you’ve had with them. You don’t want to contact someone having forgotten that you’ve already spoken with them or confusing them with someone else!

8. Rinse and Repeat!

One of my mentors, Jeanne Bessette, shared her incredible story as a successful artist who’s been on the cover of People Magazine. She was discovered through attending not just one, but multiple high end art events.

Jeanne’s advice for those who want to gain any type of traction at events is to show up again and again.

You may be familiar with a classic marketing rule known as “The Rule of Seven”. Most events have followings of people who attend multiple times. Seeing a brand repeatedly establishes credibility in their minds.

“Basically, it was founded on research that people need to interact with a brand or product about 7 times before making the decision to buy.” (Source)

We are very intuitive about who our audience is and that is helping us make the right decisions for the events we invest our time and resources into.

As valuable as New York Fashion Week was for us and our brand, we have learned that a certain southern artisan market, Made South, is the best fit for our brand so we’ve decided to attend all of their events the rest of this year.

We have the opportunity to attend more Fashion Week events across the world. If we wanted to gain traction in high end fashion, we would absolutely invest into those and show up again and again.

In summary….

We may not be able to measure a large or immediate ROI from attending events, but it’s been a vital part of gaining traction for our small business. The folks who meet us and see our leather bags in person have become some of our most loyal customers.

setting up event booth

Every time we are at an event, we have the opportunity to observe how people interact with our product. We’re always get new ideas for content through the questions people ask about leather and our process. We have adjusted our brand’s voice to meet the needs of our audience because we’ve gotten to know them personally.

The benefits of attending an event can be infinite for your brand if you make the most of them. So what is the biggest takeaway here? Do your research and find the events that will be the most beneficial to your growth. Prepare for the event both online and off. Last, follow up! Those are real people you connected with, and they may just be your next brand advocates.

With over 22 moves between New York and Tokyo, Meg Delagrange currently finds her home in the always-beautiful Denver, Colorado. Meg is the Marketing Director at Urban Southern where she is strategically building a strong brand presence both online and offline. She communicates the core values of the company's brand through both visual and written content that first and foremost meets the needs of their audience. After hours, you may find her painting in her studio or sharing heart to heart thoughts on Instagram.

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Content Marketing

How to Jack Attention from News & Trends

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the dos and donts of newsjacking

What is newsjacking?

Newsjacking is the process of following the topics and trends that are happening in industries relative to your business so that you can tap into audiences that are already interested in something that’s happening now.

One of the things we talk a lot about as marketers is “keywords.”

We all want to know what people are typing into that search bar on Google so that we can connect them first.

That’s what SEO and SEM is all about.

But what we don’t talk about as much are the topics and trends that are happening so fast that Google, SEMrush, BuzzSumo, Alexa, or whatever keyword tracking tool you may be using isn’t tracking on it.

They’ve already missed it.

That’s where newsjacking comes into play.

If you’re paying attention to what’s happening on the news—or trending on Google, Twitter and Facebook—there’s an opportunity here to grab attention that a keyword tracker won’t be quick enough to show you.

If your brand has a relevant stance or positioning on a specific topic or trend that’s happening right now and you can provide legit content around that topic, then you can tap into new audiences.

Audiences that would never find you if you hadn’t showed up in their search query about that topic or trend.

Newsjacking, or trendjacking as some call it, is a lot like influencer marketing.

The only difference is there’s not a third party involved.

The topic itself is the influencer.

The topic has that attention.

What you’re really doing is attention jacking.

But here’s the thing about newsjacking: It can work really great for bringing traffic to your business, but it can also go horribly wrong if you’re not careful.

There’s a lot of factors at play when you’re hopping on a trend, so you have to be wary of your timing, your message, and your context. There’s a fine line you have to walk for newsjacking to work for you.

I’m going to break this down for you with some do’s and don’t’s of newsjacking so you can understand where that line is.

Let’s get it.

DO Your Research

You have to keep in mind that trending topics, particularly ones in the news cycle, are always developing stories.

So when a story first breaks, that’s only a part of it.

Most of the time, it’s better to wait a bit until there’s more information out there before you write about a news topic.

do your research

Otherwise, if you’re too quick to publish, you could miss out on some critical information that drops later—information that could have been even more useful for your content had you known it before publishing.

Avoid “more later…as it develops” type of talk.

You really want to get as much information as possible before writing. In this day and age where everyone’s wary of fake news, it’s important to get your facts straight and to be as accurate as possible. Or else you risk losing credibility with your audience.

So spend some time browsing the news sites, the comments sections, and talk to other people about the topic. Sometimes people in your immediate circles have some insight on the topic you may not have thought about before.

DON’T Write Without Providing Context

If a topic isn’t relative to your industry and you write about it anyway, it’s really not going to make sense. Maybe you’re passionate about that topic and you have thoughts about it, but it’s not going to do you any favors within the context of your business.

Sorry, but your audience doesn’t care about news topics unless it affects them.

On the other side of the coin, you always have to keep in mind who you’re writing for (or speaking to, if it’s on video or audio). A topic you’re covering could be relevant to your industry, but if it’s not filtered into a context that makes sense for who you’re trying to sell to, it doesn’t make sense for your business.

Always keep your buyer persona in mind. Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering a news topic or trend to cover:

  • Is this relevant to my industry?
  • Could my buyer persona connect to this topic?
  • Can I bridge this topic directly to value that my business can provide?

DO Provide Value

Here’s the thing about trending topics: a lot of people have something to say about them.

That’s why they’re trending.

Your objective in newsjacking is finding a way to offer some new thoughts on the given topic. Something unique.

provide something unique

It can be difficult, particularly if there are already a flood of thoughts out there on the matter. But it comes easiest if a topic comes up that you find yourself passionate about. Chances are if you’re passionate about it, you have some value to offer on that topic.

You know we’re all about value over everything.

With newsjacking, it’s no different.

When you’re writing or speaking about a topic, your goal first and foremost needs to be to provide some sort of value.

DON’T Newsjack Just to be Heard

Look, consistency in producing content is important. And newsjacking may look like a shining opportunity to add to your growing archive of content, but if you’re just doing it to check off a box you’re not going to get the results you want.

Just like with any content you produce, it has to provide value. If your newsjacking just adds to the noise out there, you’re wasting your time and effort.

Plenty of people produce content to get attention. But nobody will be interested in your content if it’s lacking of substance. Give people a reason to read or watch or listen to your newsjacked content.

Ask yourself: Why would people want to read this as opposed to any other thoughts on this trend? What does it offer that other content doesn’t?

DO Captivate People

Some people are reluctant when it comes to newsjacking, particularly if there’s a political element to the given topic. But a lot of times, controversial topics are the ones that really grab people’s attention.

And you want that attention. You want to engage people and get them going. You want that discussion. And sometimes, a little controversy can be good.

You can go to far

As long as you can engage people in a relevant way that makes sense for your brand, that’s good attention.

However, be warned: You can go too far…

DON’T Be So Controversial that you Divide your Audience

Yes, engagement and discussion and attention are all good things.

But if you’re not careful about what you’re writing or saying, you can end up dividing your audience and losing attention.

With political topics especially, you have to be aware that people in your audience have hard set opinions. And if you challenge these opinions too much, your newsjacking efforts will backfire.

Be careful when you’re taking a stance on a certain topic. The more context you provide, the more viewpoints you can write or speak about in relation to the topic, the better your chance of not dividing people.

Or, don’t bring in any viewpoints and just use the topic as a jumping off point to talk about something more relevant to your brand.

So represent as many perspectives as possible, or represent none of them.

Don’t speak to divide, speak to unite around your brand value.

DO Make it Evergreen, If you Can

We talk a lot about evergreen content, and producing value that is useful months or even years into the future—not just right now. That can be difficult with newsjacked content since it’s specifically about a topic or trend that’s happening right now.

But if you can take that topic and create value around it that outlasts the relevancy of that topic, that content will still be useful after everyone’s forgot about the topic.
make evergreen content

That’s a powerful thing—being able to immortalize a topic by providing a context of evergreen value around it.

It’s not an easy thing to do by any means. You can still provide value with newsjacked content without making it evergreen, but it’s far more valuable if you do.

DON’T Wait Too Long to Publish your Content

Trends can be here today and gone tomorrow.

If you’re sitting on some content that you wrote on a particular trending topic and you’re waiting to see if any new information will come out about it, you could lose your window of relevancy.

It’s a tricky thing.

You don’t want to publish too soon and risk your credibility, but you also don’t want to publish too late and miss the relevancy of the trend altogether. That’s the point of newsjacking after all— to ride a brief but strong wave of relevancy.

So how do you know when the time is right to publish? When you feel like the trending topic has developed and you have enough information to provide some real contextual value, it’s time to publish.

The value comes from your brand, not from the topic. So publish it once you can provide real value from your brand!

DO Atomize, Break it Down, and Promote It

You want to get as many eyes on your content as possible while the newsjacked topic is still relevant. So like with any content, you have to optimize it for all your platforms.

If you write an article, you can take a quote from it and put it on top of an image for an Instagram post. You can also tweet that quote.

You can make a video about that article and just talk it out. Or if you do a video first, take notes from your video and turn it into an article.

promote your content while it's still relevant

There are tons of ways to break down your content and make it work for any given platform. But whatever you do, make sure you promote it while it’s still relevant. This is a good opportunity to justify some Facebook ad dollars!

DON’T Just Publish the Content and Move On

You may think after you’ve published your content, atomized it, and promoted it, that you’ve done all you can and it’s time to move onto the next piece of content.

Nope. It’s not over. Just because you’ve put your thoughts out there on the topic or trend doesn’t mean the discussion is over. You have to keep monitoring the discussions and engage with others on the topic.

You have made yourself a part of the conversation on that topic, now you need to engage in the conversation until it dies out to get the most out of that window of relevancy.

Make the most out of your content. Engage with others about it.

Conclusion

Newsjacking can be tricky. You have to be careful, and there’s not always a clear right answer to the what, the how, and the when of newsjacking. It can be hard to decide what trends or topics are relevant to your brand, how you’ll provide value in the context of a given trend or topic, and when to publish that content.

But the good news is that the who, the where, and the why are always clear with newsjacking.

Who you’re writing for is always your buyer persona. Where you’re publishing your content is all of your channels (in the format that makes the most sense for that platform). And why you’re newsjacking should always be to provide some unique value or insight from your brand voice.

One thing is for sure: newsjacking takes practice. The more comfortable you get with it, the better you will understand how to successfully newsjack.

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Content Marketing

Growth Hacking 101: How to Make People Take Action Using ‘Context’

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Growth Hacking 101- How to Make People Take Action Using Context

Guys, it’s no secret: we put out all our best information on The Modern Marketer.

We preach Value Over Everything because we truly believe in providing value above any business agenda. People can be suspicious of that and wonder how the heck we make any money if we’re giving away our value for free.

You may even wonder yourself how creating content could possibly benefit your business or brand.

I get it, it’s different. I come from a sales background and I understand that there’s no point in doing something if it’s not going to be profitable for your business.

And that’s exactly why I’m such a huge advocate for content creation. Not because it makes profit, but because it’s a vehicle for profit. A necessary tool.

I’m about to break down why creating all this content and distributing it for free leads to profitability. It all comes down to context…

Content vs Context

So you probably understand that content carries the ideas that we as business leaders and entrepreneurs stand behind. This is the substance with which we conduct our business.

Whether you’re a service-based business or you sell products, you have to put your best information out there to establish your credibility. But here’s where the difference comes in between content and context.

Your content can be very helpful, inspirational, even game-changing. But what you can’t give away is how that content applies directly into an individual’s life.

You put your best content out there to get people to pay for the context.

You can’t just put your best context out there. It’s impossible. Because context isn’t the same for any two individuals. People want context specific to their lives, for their story. And they will pay to be able to understand how your content is relevant to them.

Your audience has problems, your content has solutions, but they want to know how your solutions will solve their specific problems.

Once you understand that, it becomes a lot easier to identify who your content is for. When you distribute that content on social platforms, the people who reach out to your for that context are your buyer persona. Knowing that buyer persona will reinforce your content strategy.

But know this: while context is what pays the bills, it all starts with content. You simply cannot have context to sell people without first providing the content. Build the credibility, build the connections, then you can sell the context.

you can sell the context

The Best Calls-to-Action = Context

Ultimately when we write content for landing pages, we want people to be persuaded to take some sort of action towards the step of buying, right?

So many marketers publish content about the best words or phrases to use, the best sales copy, the best times to post, the best types of posts— as if there’s some universal answer to creating effective calls-to-action.

But the truth is there is no universal, one-size-fits-all solution for creating effective calls-to-action.

Every single person who will come across your content is an unique individual who is inspired and motivated by different things. Sure, there will be groups of people who are called to action by similar content, but you’ll never find a singular call-to-action to motivate everybody.

So what should you do to drive people to take action?

My advice to you is to treat your calls-to-action as if they’re normal interactions. It’s so easy to forget when we’re writing our content that we’re trying to persuade actual humans to take action.

Awhile back I ran into a guy at the supermarket who asked where I got my hat from (you all know I love my hats). We started chatting right there in the supermarket and ended up deciding to have coffee sometime to talk about entrepreneurship and business.

So we made a call-to-action for each other based on the interaction we just had in the supermarket. If there wasn’t any value there, no relevance— no context —it doesn’t matter which way I would have asked to have coffee because it wouldn’t have happened.

It’s the context that drives the action, and that context is created through connection. Had the guy not connected with me in the supermarket about my hat, there would be no connection, there would be no context.

This is why there’s no singular, universal solution to creating calls-to-action. People are called to action through context, through making an unique connection to your content.

people are called to action through context

Since there’s no way to create individual connections with every single person that fits your buyer persona, you have to constantly split test and refine your landing page content. 95% of my clients have extremely high clickthrough rates and conversions because I’m always split testing and refining.

It’s a process.

But there are plenty of tools out there to help you find what yields the best response from your audiences…

  • Unbounce – a landing page creation service with overlays that feature specifically targeted calls-to-action
  • Hotjar – a program that uses heat maps to visually represent users clicks, taps, and scrolling behavior, allowing you to understand what users want and care about on a page
  • Crazy Egg – similar to Hotjar, a program that uses heat maps to show user activity, and additionally shows where the users come from and what they click the most
  • ClickFunnels – a sales funnel creation service that streamlines the sales process online for users

It’s all about testing and adjusting until you can find the calls-to-action that resonate strongest with your audiences. Context is key.

Start thinking about your calls-to-action as attempts to make connections with people, rather than pushing someone to buy. Be patient with the process. Testing and refining your content takes time.

Doing Your Job AND Creating Content

So at this point you probably understand the important role that content plays in driving sales. It is a catalyst for context, an enzyme for connection.

Without content out there, you don’t have an out-stretched hand for a buyer to grab onto and make that connection. You don’t have that same opportunity to sell.

But how do you make the time to create content while doing your job? Growing your business means creating and distributing content, but how do you do that and serve your clients?

First you have to understand that creating content for content’s sake is not going to be helpful to you. You have to know why you’re creating content in the first place.

So before you begin to write, or record, or design, or edit, you have to be in the mindset of where you’re going rather than where you are. That’s an important piece of the puzzle.

There’s been many times where I’ve started to create content then stopped because I lost sight of why I was creating the content at all. It’s disheartening to get stuck like that, but it’s even more disheartening to put time and energy into creating content only for it to not be engaged with.

If you don’t know why you’re creating your content, if you don’t know the purpose behind it, your audience won’t know either.

I want to get to the point where 80% or more of my income is coming from writing and speaking. For me to do that, focusing on clients, to-do lists, working with employees and subcontractors, and expecting any result other than growing a client base is very naive.

The only way to grow your business from content creation is by intentionally scheduling time to make those things happen. There are times I will not accept new business, not have sales meetings, and not have execution time for clients, because I know I need to create content to get to where I’m going.

intentionally schedule time for content creation

The only way you’ll have time for both your job and creating content is by making the time.

But it doesn’t have to be as tedious as you might think. You don’t always have to create content from the ground up because already have content from your interactions with people.

Repurpose your interactions. As a marketer and a consultant, I’m always having interactions with people— casual conversations, email exchanges, strategizing, phone calls, etc. 95% of my posts are from interactions that I’ve had, repurposed to fit the context of the platform.

Skim through your emails. Look through your texts. Flip through your journal. You have content there already, you just need to put it all together.

Conclusion

On the surface level, creating content may seem futile. But once you begin to understand that content is the foundation on which to not only build your business but make connections with people, the benefit becomes more clear.

Always be forward-thinking with your content and remember that your content should always be evolving to produce unique contexts for each of the people it resonates with. You can put all your best information out there, because people will come to you for the context.

That context, the connection, is what will sell. Not your product, not your service, but the context you can build from connection.

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Marketing Strategy

4 Social Media Mindsets to Ditch in 2018

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4 social media mindsets to ditch in 2018

Content marketing is great. It gets your voice out there and demonstrates your authority and capacity for thought leadership in a given industry.

But the truth is that your content marketing means nothing if that content never makes an impact on people.

In this day and age, we can’t simply rely on Google to organically get our content in front of people. There are just too many players in the game for your content to be able to stand out. And at this point, even paying Google to get our content out there is highly competitive.

So what can we do?

Well, we have to get creative about distributing our content, and mechanically promoting it on social media isn’t enough. Treating social media as a means to an end is as about as useful as putting your car on cruise control but letting go of the steering wheel.

In order to get the most out of social media for your business, you must treat it as a culture to contribute to rather than a tool to get what you want out of it.

1. Social Distribution is About Native Value, Not Leveraging

Think about scrolling through your social media accounts. How often do you intentionally click on something to leave the platform you’re on and go to a completely different app or website? I bet it’s not very often.

So if you really want your target market to interact with your content, why would you try to leverage them off the platform?

According to a statistic by Social Media Today, an average person spends a total of 5 years and 4 months of their lifetime on social media— compared to only 3 years and 5 months of their lifetime eating and drinking.

Time spent on social media

If people spend more of their time on social, we marketers should be trying to capture that attention native to those social platforms rather than trying to take the attention away. People won’t go out of their way just to consume your content.

That’s why it’s imperative for you to change the way you think social media plays a role in your business, and start creating forward-facing content. In other words, you need to create content that doesn’t require any navigation away from a platform to consume.

We’re now in a realm of marketing where when you want to consume something, you’re going to a place where you can consume it without being disrupted. For example, if you’re scrolling through Facebook and want to watch a video, you don’t have to leave Facebook in order to watch it. It all happens right there.

Consider how you can make your content more forward-facing and consumable. If you find yourself using the phrase “go check out my _____” to promote your content and it requires the user to leave the platform, your content is not native enough.

So how do you know where to create native content?

2. The Right Social Platforms for you are Based on your Business Objectives, Not Trends

As I mentioned in my article about the Power 120 when it comes to social media marketing you just can’t use every single platform. You can’t just spray your content across multiple platforms and expect that to work.

In order to truly harness the attention that’s on social media, you need to invest deeply into one or two platforms.

We all know that in this digital era, audio and video are the most engaging media you can use. So no matter what your business objectives are, the execution of that objective should involve engaging people with interactive media.

Therefore the ideal platforms to choose are the ones that have the ability to use the most native interactive media. There are two platforms in 2018 that do this well: Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook has more than just textual posts— it has photos, videos, live video, gifs, and now it even has Facebook stories. Instagram has all those same features with a format that’s even more dedicated to visuals. Both platforms have so much potential value to offer simply for how interactive they are.

If a platform cannot support that level of value, it’s not right for you. YouTube, for example, is great but it has major limitations— it only does video. Pinterest is cool too, but it’s only really a catalog of ideas rather than an interactive platform.

At the end of the day, you need to be intentionally offering value where the attention is and sticking with it. Period.

offer value on social media

The great thing about being consistent and going deep on a platform is that it frees up your ability to create without any expectation of leverage. Because the second you think you need to leverage a call-to-action, the second it’s going to bottleneck your ability to distribute content.

Make it your mission to master the one or two platforms you’re on first, using all of the features and really getting creative with your content. Then and only then you can reverse engineer back to leveraging calls-to-action.

3. Social Distribution is About Positioning your Content, not About Reach

Inbound marketing experts have a tendency to make social media marketing seem like a strategy for making your brand voice louder. But everyone and their mothers (literally) are on social media now— so if you’re on it just to make your voice louder, it’s going to get lost in a lot of noise.

Social distribution is not a matter of numbers. It’s not about how many people you can reach, how many likes you get, or how many views you can rack up. It’s a matter of strategy and positioning your voice where it’s actually getting consumed.  

Social platforms are the same as any other marketing platform out there. Just like the traditional platforms— TV, radio, print —you can’t just put your message up there and expect to get customers when there are thousands of other brands out there just like yours.

You have to make your brand stand out for your content to be consumed.

So get creative on how you present your content. Find ways to position it that hasn’t been done before.

The Modern Marketer has found a way to do this by essentially turning our Instagram into a digital magazine. Our profile looks like a magazine with photosets of 3, 6, 9, or sometimes 12 making up a larger image, but when you click on each individual image it offers a post with value relevant to the image in the text.

Think about how you can position your brand and your voice in a unique way on your social platform. In the end, that uniqueness is what will cause your content to have impact— not how many people you can reach.

4. Creating a Culture of Value Will Prevent You from Being Disruptive

Of course, the entire reason for using social media as a business is so that you can ultimately access more customers.

But how do you avoid being disruptive when you’re trying to promote your products or services?

There’s no perfect balance between providing value and promoting products or services. There’s not some formula that will prevent you from ever being considered disruptive on social media.

However, if you have good intentions and create a precedent for always providing some value when you finally do ask for something from your audience it’s not going to be seen as disruptive. It comes down to providing enough value that people feel nurtured enough into engaging with your calls-to-action.

One specific way of doing this is tailoring your content for specific platforms. If you have a blog post, for example, that you feel is really valuable and want to promote it on your Instagram account. Instead of posting about it and telling people to go visit the link in your bio, post an image with a quote from the article and some further explanation in the text.

Repurpose your content.

Nurturing your audience native to the platform that they’re on is what will win them over in your calls-to-action. So be sure to upcycle, atomize, and repurpose the content that you already have to make the most out of it on the platforms you use.

nurture your audience on social media

Conclusion

Social distribution may seem like a logical and analytical concept, but if your mind is on distributing content for the sake of numbers you will not find success in social media marketing. Instead, your social distribution efforts need to revolve around the platforms that you’re using.

Create native and intentional content that people don’t have to go out of their way to interact with. The more you nurture your audience with value where their attention already is, the more willing they will be to buy from you.

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