The Six Rules of Outstanding Content for Social Media
In today’s digital-focused world its hard to find someone who isn’t on social media – whether it be your grandfather using Facebook to check in on the grandkids or your teenage niece posting every chance she gets. As of 2017, 81% of the population had at least one social media profile, so leveraging these channels is a must for every business’ marketing plan.
Social media is a fast communications channel that may be overwhelming to marketers trying to grab attention. Gary Vaynerchuck, author of the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How To Tell Your Story In a Noisy Social World, argues that even if marketers are posting a constant stream of fresh content, they need to think that the social media equation requires both quantity and quality. Brands need to look relevant, engaged and authentic in order to attract their target audience and stand out from the crowd. Vaynerchuck cautions about boring content, noting that only outstanding content can break through the noise.
Vaynerchuck identifies 6 rules the make great content and compelling stories for social media:
1) It’s Native – Native content amps up your story’s power and seamlessly blends in any social media platform. Native content can range from sharing a quote, a picture, an idea, a song, a spoof, or something else – there’s not exact formula, but just have to be something that is relatable to your brand without looking like a straight up advertisement to sell. Native content is crafted to mimic everything that makes a platform attractive and valuable to a consumer, and also offers the same value as other content that people consume on the platform. This content has to engage the consumer at an emotional level. Native content has been compared to infomercials, but isn’t as cheesy when done correctly. Native content should hit the consumer’s emotional center and make them take that next step and share with other users, thus extending your reach.
2) It Doesn’t Interrupt – Ads and marketing are supposed to evoke emotion and make consumers act on that feeling. For content marketing in social media, it should positively effect, or augment, your consumer’s experience. People have no patience anymore, and social media content has to ensure it is providing value, as well as engagement. They might not buy anything today, but will far be likely to buy from a brand that understands them.
3) It Doesn’t Make Demands – Often – Companies need to be engaging and find shared interests with their audience so that their social media content doesn’t always come with a “sell” message. A makeup company can offer makeup and grooming tips so that its audience sees them as an industry resource and establishes trust. Then, when a sales message is pushed out it feels more like a recommendation from a friend than a sales call. Bottom line: Provide content that is not only relevant to your brand, but also interesting to your audience so that you keep their attention.
4) It Leverages Pop Culture – Take a minute and think about the brands that are constantly noted for excelling at social media. What do they have in common? Leveraging popular and timely events/news/music in a creative and fun way that still manages to tie back to their brand. Personify your brands by leveraging pop culture and showing your audience that you’re just like them. For example, Bud Light used a native post on Facebook with a bottle of Bud Light that says, “Summer is coming.” This was a clear nod to the popular HBO show, Game of Thrones, highlighting the fact that Bud Light understood that many of their consumers were anticipating the show.
5) It’s Micro – Social media content should be really considered “micro-content” – tiny unique nuggets of information, humor, commentary or inspiration that you reimagine everyday, as you respond to today’s conversations in real time. Vaynerchuck uses the example of a blackout during the 2013 Super Bowl, where Oreo responded with a simple tweet “Power Out? No Problem” with a photo of a lone cookie in the dark that said, “you can still dunk in the dark.” This was a reminder that Oreo is a fun brand and a cookie for all occasions. Oreo wasn’t overtly selling, but responded in a timely manner with original micro content, which made the brand seem almost human. Social media is 24/7 and should be talking all the time.
6) It’s Consistent and Self Aware – Though your micro-content will vary every day, it must consistently answer the question, “Who are we?” Your core story must remain constant, as well as your personality and brand identity. When you know your message, it’s simple to keep it consistent in every setting. Creating micro-content is simply a way to adapt to the circumstances of your audience and is one of your brand’s best chances of being noticed.
These characteristics of great content should be used when building a social media strategy and will help ensure that you get noticed.
By Patrick Reilly
A great way to promote your brand is by leveraging popular trends. Through a few well-managed steps you can create a strong link between your product and a popular trend, giving you an extra boost from the association. One notable example is the recent AR/mobile hit Pokémon GO. The game itself garnered massive amounts of media attention and numerous marketing capitalization articles to follow. In light of such a successful launch, I want to detail how you can successfully capitalize on the next big trend when it gets here.
In baseball, if you swing a second too late then you’ve missed the ball. The same applies to the launch of a PR or marketing campaign. Timing is important because there will be a surplus of companies and individuals racing to produce content surrounding any trend that beings to grow in popularity.
Pokémon GO launched in mid-July last year. If you hadn’t introduced your marketing idea by at least the first week of the launch, you were already edging on late. Joining the party a month in? You missed your chance. Trends move quickly in the digital age and it’s always better to be one step ahead of the game than even a millisecond behind.
When planning a trend-based PR or marketing campaign, make sure to carefully monitor the news for any pre-buildup of the trend and make sure to launch as close as possible with the actual hype of it. This way you ensure that you can be one of the first thought leaders commenting on the trend or one of the first brands to interact with it.
Focus on the Right Trends
Everyone loves a one hit wonder, but hits like that won’t have enough traction to sustain your PR and marketing efforts. What made Pokémon GO such a great trend to promote was the longevity of the brand and the multigenerational fan base. The first whisperings of this project had both adults who grew up in the ‘90s and young fans of today jumping with excitement to see their favorite characters come to life before their eyes. Buzz for this game started well before the release, and the hype kept growing the closer we got to the game’s release date.
If you are going to use marketing efforts in line with a popular trend, make sure it’s a trend that will last for a while. Even though Pokémon GO has had a decrease in users, it’s still popular and, more importantly, successful. It might be some time before we see another trend as popular as Pokémon GO, but it’s important to keep your eye out for the next trend that will have a potent presence in the media.
Find the Connection
Anyone can associate themselves with a trend, but the more meaningful the association, the more successful the campaign will be. To ensure people are paying attention to your brand amidst the hype of the trend, you need to make sure that your brand has a logical and meaningful connection to the trend. Don’t just talk about a trend for the sake of talking about it. Talk about it because it is relevant and you have something to add to the conversation. In any media or marketing relationship, you are looking to provide each other with relevant and useful information.
So, if you are trying to promote your brand in association with a big trend like Pokémon GO, find the logical connection before you promote. If you are a floral shop, a marketing idea could be creating Pokémon-themed floral arrangements that you give away to local stores with Pokéstops, an integral feature in the game. This type of “trend ride” is relevant, fun, and helpful for others, which is a great recipe for receiving positive media praise.
Overall, trend-based campaigns are an exciting and creative way to help promote your brand. With the correct attention to detail, you can create an interactive campaign that helps form a meaningful bond to a trend and successfully promote your brand. Pokémon GO may have had its time to shine, but will you see next year’s hit trend before it’s here? And, more importantly, will you catch it in time to capitalize on it?
By: Jaimie Yakaboski
Video as a Rising Social Medium
According to Cisco, video will account for 69% of all consumer traffic by 2017. Both current statistics and trend predictions like this one indicate video’s rapid rise as a social medium. It’s clear that marketers need to include it in their content strategy in order to provide maximum exposure for their businesses.
What Does Video Bring to a Content Marketing Strategy?
- Maximized engagement
- Cross-device targeting
- Brand authenticity and communication on a human level
- Cross-promotion with digital marketing initiatives
Even Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses Can Leverage Video Marketing
One of the factors fueling video’s growing popularity is the decrease in production costs. With the advent of video cameras on mobile phones and desktops, wearable cameras like GoPros, and single-camera, documentary-style footage, great videos can be made at a fraction of budgets deemed necessary just 5 years ago.
With a lowered barrier to entry, video isn’t just for enterprise businesses with enterprise budgets. In fact, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg stated that over 1.5 million small businesses posted video on Facebook in the month of September alone in 2015.
When the opportunity for relevant video content presents itself, companies of all sizes should seize it. Here’s an example of how Zer0 to 5ive recently helped a client take advantage of such an opportunity to create a compelling video series.
Carnegie Mellon University: The Spotlight Series
Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science (CMU SCS) wished to showcase their innovative programs and visionary research to attract the world’s top undergraduates, graduates and faculty. CMU SCS faculty is teaching the next generation of computer scientists, working with industry leaders, developing new forms of AI, and building care-giving robots to best learn how to help people in need. In highlighting these impressive endeavors, the Spotlight Series was born.
Tips on How to Promote and Cross-Promote Video Content
After post-production, how can a marketer best promote and cross-promote video content online? Author Andrew Macarthy provides the following tips in his bestseller, 500 Social Media Marketing Tips.
Tips for Facebook
- Because videos auto-play on silent, hook viewers with a striking visual within the first 3 seconds
- Upload SRT caption files with your video to broadcast your message even while muted
- Keep your video to approximately 30 seconds for optimum viewer engagement
- Upload video to Facebook natively, as opposed to sharing it from YouTube, in order to increase reach
- Via the Video tab, organize your videos into playlists, tag people, and add descriptive labels
Tips for YouTube
- Keep your video to approximately 3 minutes for optimum viewer engagement
- Include keywords at the front of your video title and branding at the end
- Tag your video with keywords and keyword phrases in quotations
- Take advantage of YouTube’s interactive cards, the evolution of annotations
- If you have a series of videos, add all of them to a dedicated playlist so they run continuously and indicate the series name in the title of each video
Tips for Cross-Promotion
- Embed video in blog posts
- Embed a YouTube Subscribe channel widget on your website, which is also a way to advertise your video content and YouTube activity
- Tweet about your video with relevant hashtags, making sure to include “Video:” before the title
- Comment on other videos your audience is watching to increase your brand awareness
Now may be a great time for you to start considering video if you haven’t already. The benefits will continue to grow as demand rapidly increases, so why not take the leap now? You can start small and build up to a more robust content plan as your skills improve and as you get feedback from your prospects and customers.
We’re all guilty of jumping on the bandwagon once or twice in our lives (maybe more?), whether it was pairing socks with your Birkenstocks, bleaching your hair so you could be more like Eminem, or jumping into Snapchat without a clue. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s what it is to be human. In business though, joining the latest trend without considering all of the elements and possible effects can be costly or, even worse, damage your brand.
In the book 500 Social Media Marketing Tips, author Andrew Macarthy discusses the one big mistake that many businesses make with social media: joining social media sites just because everyone else is doing so. When businesses join these sites without understanding what they are doing or why, it can lead to unrealistic goal-setting, poor results, wasted time and squandered resources.
To avoid such consequences, here are five key considerations your business should make before using social media:
- Decide which social networks suit your brand: The social media sites that work best for your business will be those where your target audience already hangs out. For example, if you are a B2B company, your target audience will most likely be present on LinkedIn and Twitter, as opposed to platforms like Instagram or Pinterest.
- Define and evaluate your goals: Before posting content on your social media platforms, identify the goals you would like to reach using the SMART technique. With this method, you will determine the Specific goals you want to reach, as well as how your goals are Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time specific.
- Shape your content strategy: Before you begin your social media marketing, take the time to perform an audit, identifying your audience along with what problems you can help solve, what questions you can answer, what type of content they prefer (i.e. text, photo, graphics, video) and when they are most likely to be around to see it. You should also use this time to determine what your competition is doing on social media.
- Plan content in advance: Developing a social media content calendar allows you to plan your social media for weeks and even months in advance. For example, you can plan to promote blog posts on Monday, ask your audience questions on Tuesdays, share relevant infographics on Wednesdays, etc. Planning ahead will also allow you to incorporate relevant holidays, awareness days, and important company events and milestones. However, be sure to leave room for spontaneous posts too.
- Understand that social media requires a lot of time: In order for social media marketing to be successful, it will require a significant investment of time over the long haul. Typically, at least 12-15 hours per week should be spent planning, creating, and scheduling content, as well as measuring results and engaging customers. Hence the importance of selecting your platforms wisely and not spreading yourself too thin!
These five considerations will help you begin to understand what kind of approach to social media works for your business. Whether you need to boost brand recognition, connect with new customers or increase traffic to your website, social media can be a cost-effective way to achieve your goals. Although it takes a lot of time and effort, social media can be well worth it when it’s done right.
By Maggie Markert
2013 turned out to be a big year for social media (SM) events. From Twitter going public, to new social media networks popping up, such as Vine and Snapchat, to PR executive Justine Sacco being fired for a racist and inappropriate Tweet. While SM certainly had it ups and downs this year, one thing is for sure – companies must have a solid SM strategy in order to be successful.
SM news website, Top Ten Social Media, listed the best SM Marketing books of 2013, including “The Zen of Social Media Marketing” by Shama Kabani. The book provides a nice overview of the difference between traditional online marketing and SM marketing. Kabani describes online marketing as the art and science of leveraging the Internet to get your message across, so that you can move people to action. A successful online marketing plan should, attract, convert and transform. Social media marketing is the act of leveraging SM platforms (places where people connect and communicate) to promote a product or a service to increase sales.
The #1 reason people fail at SM marketing is due to the fact that they don’t have a solid foundation of understanding their brand or know what differentiates them from their competition. SM is the ultimate amplifier. If you have a good product or service, it be will be intensified until it is perceived as great.
SM marketing works best as a tool for attracting traffic and attention. It’s not optimal for converting strangers into clients. It’s better suited for converting strangers into consumers (i.e., people who subscribe to your blog or newsletter).
SM platforms are a great way to showcase past and present success stories as well. By allowing customers to speak for themselves via SM platforms, you can then leverage the social proof to attract more prospects and engage with them.
SM marketing is a good idea for the following reasons:
- SM sites are where the people are – they’re already there, so why not target them
- Trust in advertising continues to erode – people trust their friends more than an ad they may see on TV
- People are already talking about you – talking is inevitable and now you have a way to join the conversation
SM marketing principles:
- Respect people’s “virtual space” – don’t bombard users/followers
- Efforts to control and manipulate will backfire – i.e., don’t pretend to be a customer
- Don’t chase every new SM platform under the sun – not every vertical will be right for your company/brand
- Traffic is good, but should not be the only goal for SM marketing – you want to share, listen & cultivate relationships
- It’s a good best practice to use your real name – people want to connect with others like themselves
- You must be proactive – respond to comments, update with content regularly, etc.
SM marketing checklist:
- Be sure to have a good BOD – you must have a keen understanding of your Brand, Outcomes (results you get for your client) and Differentiators
- A website – your website must educate, market and sell
- Content – however you choose to do so (i.e. a blog or newsletter), you must update your site regularly with fresh content
- Capturing email addresses – you must have a way to collect email addresses, so that you can send subscribers/followers content
In the book, Kabani focuses on the three “major” SM platforms; Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Compared to other SM platforms, FB is more lenient and therefore allows you to be more engaging. FB is a good place to showcase your desire for a real relationship with users
- FB is a good place to gain consumers
- FB has a lot more freedom (video, pictures, lengthy statuses or stories), so have fun with it
- Twitter is where you should bring people back to your site
- Post links to interesting content on your site, such as blog posts, company news, etc.
- Encourage people to comment on your blog and share your content via Twitter
- Use LinkedIn Groups to connect with others who might be a good referral source or potential partner
- Get recommendations from contacts on LinkedIn
- Showcase your expertise as a company via LinkedIn
The Zen of Social Media Marketing provides a nice overview of the necessary groundwork that is needed to begin implementing a SM strategy. Do you think Kabani missed anything important? Let us know in the comment section below!
Post by Lindsay Hull
Zer0 to 5ive Sr. Strategist
Now more than ever, having an active presence on Twitter is vital to giving your brand a voice and interacting with those in your industry. Whatever (positive) news is happening within your company, your Twitter followers should know about it.
You can no longer rely on folks reading your press release, reading your HTML emails or visiting your website to get the latest information. Why? The reason is pure and simple – time. Time is money, and folks just don’t have enough of it.
However, if you’re going to spend time spreading the word through the Twittersphere, you also need to work on building up your follower list. After all, you can have the most interesting tweets out there, but if you have 20 followers, then why spend the time?
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about the Top Ten Technology Tweeters. However, anyone that actively engages in social media knows that a “Top 10” list won’t even begin to cover influencers in any category – let alone technology!
Every day, I click “Follow” on insightful, interesting, funny and resourceful tweeters so, without further ado, I give you: Top Ten Technology Tweeters: Part II:
@GuyKawasaki: Guy Kawasaki is a former Apple employee and current co-founder of Alltop. Somehow, in between his busy work schedule, he manages to share concise, often hilarious articles to over one million followers. What I like most about Guy’s feed though, is that it is highly visual, full of infographics and videos.
@Scobleizer: Robert Scoble, the blogger behind http://scobleizer.com/, has a unique way of incorporating his personal experiences as a current Rackspace employee, and former Microsoft employee and Fast Company blogger into the day’s most relevant news. His tweets are highly engaging and humorous.
@jonahlupton: Jonah Lupton has founded more companies than I can name, but his latest tweets are largely focused on his coverage of other entrepreneurs. There’s nothing more interesting than a good dark horse story and many tech entrepreneurs and start-up founders provide just that!
@kheussner: There are a lot of serial tweeters from @gigaOM, but I prefer Ki Mae because she tweets out only the most interesting and relevant stories, with little to no nonsense in between. Also, I just saw her on a PCNY panel and she was informative, engaging and concise – just like her Twitter feed.
@pkafka: PR folks know Peter Kafka as one of the most coveted tech reporters in the business, but in between trying to get an exclusive for my clients with him, I rely on his Twitter feed for a streamlined view of the day’s “must-know” stories. Importantly, Peter tweets news from a variety of sources, not just links to his own stories.
@alexia: Alexia Tsotsis is the co-editor of, arguably, the most influential tech news site there is: TechCrunch. But don’t let that fool you; her Twitter feed is so much more. Daily anecdotes, pictures and re-tweets from other influencers round out her feed, and her humor and realism make it a must-read.
@Gartenberg: Michael Gartenberg is an analyst at Gartner. For the most part, though, Gartenberg leaves the analysis off of his Twitter account, and what we’re left with are hilarious quips on tech news and witty conversations with other major players in the Twittersphere.
@peretti: Jonah Peretti is known for co-founding @HuffingtonPost:, but I tend to follow his tweets for the latest from his more recent endeavor, @buzzfeed. Jonah’s tweets are full of parody, top 25 lists, memes and hilarious, sometimes heartwarming, imagery from around the globe. Buzzfeed doesn’t exclusively cover technology – in fact, it’s not even a main focus – but Jonah’s industry experience and influence shine through in his own tweets.
@loic: Loic Le Meur and his wife, Geraldine, are the masterminds behind the highly influential Le Web (@leweb) technology conference in Europe. With over 100K followers, you can count on Loic to deliver the latest tech, start-up and breaking news, alongside updates on the latest Le Web event.
As my Google Reader grows and my “Following” list gets larger, I’m sure this list will continue to expand, so look out for the next, next top 10 list of Twitter accounts to follow!
Post by Kristen Everett
Zer0 to 5ive Senior Strategist
Pegged by some as a passing fad in the realm of social media, Pinterest continues to prove skeptics wrong. This online “pinboard” website is no longer just a place for women to drool over designer wedding dresses and impractical DIY projects. With the amount of consumer traffic Pinterest gets every day, businesses are beginning to recognize the benefits this social media site could have for them as a free marketing tool. Pinterest has even recognized this trend and has created Pinterest for Business accounts to make it even easier. Below are a few ways your business can start using Pinterest:
Recently, the East Coast was hit by Superstorm Sandy. With 85 mph winds, rushing tides and overwhelming flooding, Sandy brought New York City’s power grid to a crashing halt. For nearly a week, major portions of the five boroughs were without power, including the entire southern third of Manhattan, with a stunning demarcation line at 39th street.
Naturally in a time of crisis, we all know the value of being “plugged in” to news reports and city press conferences for the current weather outlook, the state of the city, evacuation zones and what to do next. But what to do when the power goes out and you suddenly find your link to traditional news sources has been severed? You go mobile.
Without traditional information sources, such as television or wireless Internet, alternative media outlets and methods emerged throughout the storm and its aftermath. Fortunately, I own a smartphone and although I lost cable and Internet, cellular reception was spared in my neighborhood. So for information gathering, my first stop was a liveblog, a continuously updating blog generated by a local news site. The liveblog kept me up to date on various neighborhood flooding, fires and power failures, not to mention the status of the storm.
I also used Instagram, the ubiquitous mobile photo app for smartphones. Via its news feed and searchable Sandy tags, Instagram provided an amazing account of what thousands of eyes (and lenses) were witnessing firsthand across the city. Rising waters and candlelit apartments alike were given the vintage filter treatment for my consumption. Not only is Instagram updated in real-time, but it also allowed a unique and personal perspective beyond what an AP photographer or news crew might have provided.
Next was Facebook. While not typically the most trustworthy news source, it successfully acted as a community board for the status and wellbeing of friends, relatives and coworkers alike, when cellular reception faltered or failed. And to distract from storm-related stress, there was of course, the requisite chorus of complaints bemoaning Sandy.
During the later stages of Sandy and her aftermath, I took to Twitter for status updates and repair efforts. Though my cable and Internet had yet to be restored,@MTAInsider debunked premature rumors of reopening service and later announced that limited bus service would be available fare-free. Meanwhile,@ConEdison notified its followers about ongoing repairs and restored neighborhood networks.
So do these instances amid Sandy reflect a larger trend in the way we consume information? Are we really taking incremental steps away from traditional news sources or did desperate times call for desperate measures? It may be hard to say, but with Chetan Sharma Consulting recently reporting that half of Americans now own smartphones, alternative news-gathering may be the new normal, making diversified outreach options something every company needs to have at the ready.
Post by Sarah Fait
When it comes to Twitter, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the seemingly limitless number of folks tweeting about technology. In the world of PR and marketing, those Tweeters dolling out nuggets of wisdom, linking to articles and providing industry insights can be a major resource. But how do you know who’s worth following among the millions of techies tweeting their days away?
Here’s my list of the top 10 Twitter feeds. Take a look and do yourself a favor: click “Follow.”
@HuffPostTech: Everyone loves the Huffington Post, but the online newspaper’s technology Twitter handle provides a perfect mix of news, opinions and funny quips.
@DaveMorin: If you didn’t already know, Dave Morin co-founded the “personal network” app Path. His tweets cover news from big brands like Amazon, Facebook, and Apple – but his own brand of commentary is that which only a start-up founder can provide. Also his wife, Brit Morin (@brit), is the founder of the lifestyle brand by the same name. Her Twitter feed and website are chock full of products, tips and tricks for today’s digital generation.
@chr1sa: Like gadgets? Wired Editor-in-Chief, Chris Anderson will keep followers updated on the latest, greatest and weirdest gadgets out there.
@PeterShankman: As PR pros, checking Shankman’s HARO emails are a big part of our daily activity. But the CEO and angel investor is also a social media guru who tweets prolifically on technology and business.
@JennyDeluxe: It’s certainly worthwhile to check the feeds of all the New York Times’ tech reporters, but Jenna Wortham tops my list with a mix of consumer tech news, event coverage and juicy gossip from NYC’s emerging tech scene.
@Jack: As the co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Square, Jack Dorsey knows technology. However, as a frequent “re-tweeter,” his feed not only contains his own commentary on the latest tech news, but the valuable insights of other Tweeters as well.
@arrington: Michael Arrington’s Twitter feed highlights the latest technology news posted to TechCrunch – makes sense, he is the founder of the tech news staple site. Also, check out his personal blog Uncrunched, full of the viral videos, personal software and gadget reviews and detailed stories of his career in tech.
@mashable: Pete Cashmore, one of the top tech and social media bloggers around, tweets link after link of news from his highly popular tech news site,Mashable – which is no small feat – we’re talking dozens of stories a day. It’s a good thing Pete’s not hard to look at because you’ll be seeing his avatar all over your Twitter feed!
@sarahcuda: If you can’t make it to California anytime soon, you can count on Sarah Lacy, a former TechCrunch-er, to keep you posted on all things start-up and Silicon Valley through her Twitter feed and news site, PandoDaily.
@kevinrose: Kevin Rose founded Digg, arguably the best social news site around – you’d recognize their logo. More recently he’s been investing in start-ups with Google Ventures. Here’s the takeaway: Rose knows up-and-coming technology, Rose invests in up and coming technology. He’s not only smart and witty, but if you have an interest in tech, you can learn a lot from his musings on Twitter.
And one more for good measure…
@Zer0to5ive: We may not be serial tweeters, but when we tweet it’s relevant and informative. Also, we’re just a fun bunch!
Post by Kristen Everett
Zer0 to 5ive Senior Strategist