30 March – Content is king, but engagement is queen

300316 700x400
Content is undoubtedly crucial for telling your brands story. The question is how do you encourage your audience to engage with it?

As Andy Hill, Social Media Marketing Manager, for Xerox states, ‘Different formats and templates resonate with different audiences.’ Even if you only have a niche market, it’s important to test different forms of engagement, such as blogs, infograghics, case studies, or even technical whitepapers, to see how your audience respond. This will inform your future decisions as to which content to produce. I would also recommend recycling your content and reusing it elsewhere, for example key stats from blog posts can be made into an infographic.

Make sure your content is displayed clearly and is easily digestible, to enable the reader to quickly find what they are looking for. You want to create it in a way where readers want to follow through to the end. Well that’s the goal anyway. Breaking up the content with headlines can be an effective way of achieving this.

This point is obvious, but ensure you invest in imagery which first of all relates to the topic you are talking about, but secondly is professional. Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without (Hubpost, 2015). This shows just how important they are.

The results? High audience engagement!
If you do your job properly, your content will be relevant and will attract your desired audience; your prospective buyers will read, and re-read and even share your news with their peers. Your content engagement will be high.

But what do you actually count as engagement? Is this your social media activity, such as the number of likes, mentions and shares a piece of content receives? And what about on your website, do you have trackable links to understand the visitor’s journey? Only by effectively measuring this can you determine whether your brands stories are being heard. This is key in order to strategize and understand what works, what doesn’t and how to improve.

A social automation platform can enable you to track this effectively on social media, by using trackable links to establish each posts engagement, and the customer’s journey. Pair this with Google analytics and you can track exactly how many lead to your website.

Encouraging audience engagement via closer integration with your own advocates
You may share the most interesting, useful content, but if no-one is seeing it, is it really benefiting your brand? For this reason it is highly important that you look to promote it for your audience to see and respond.

The way to do this? Get your content closer to your desired audience, by letting your brand advocates themselves use and share your content. This will guarantee that their own followers and contacts, which are your audience, can access your messages.

Here are the different types of advocates you should fully utilise:

Employees – They are your greatest fans, and their social media presence should be leveraged. As an example if you have 10,000 employees and you enable 20% of them to share your social media content, you will effectively create 2,000 more opportunities for your messages to be seen. Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey also states that 90% of buyers trust product/service recommendations from people they know, showing just how effective this could be for your brand in generating revenue.

Partners – If you sell indirectly to customers, your channel partners/ sales partners need to be engaged with you, their vendor. To enable this, you should provide them with your content to promote your offerings, as well as access to a social media collaboration platform. This way they can easily and efficiently post your content out to their social networks, saving them time and expense and enabling you to track engagement received. And you will be in ‘indirect’ contact with their own followers who will be able to see and read your content.

Influencers and Brand Ambassadors - This appears to be a huge trend this year, which I believe everyone should get behind. It involves encouraging your influencers and other brand advocates to promote your brand to their audience. The trick here is to keep them engaged and loyal to your brand. And with word of mouth marketing generating 2 times the sales of paid advertising (McKinsey), why would you not want to do this?

Customers – Nielsen reports that 68% trust online opinions from other consumers. For this reason you should really do all you can do encourage customer advocacy, whether that is in the form of leaving reviews on social media or sharing your content to their networks, these are all great ways to make you the favourable brand decision makers want to buy from. Keeping your customers happy is the first step and the fundamental one for achieving customer advocacy.

So yes content is king, but engagement is queen and as in life, the queen is just as important, so engagement should not be understated. And when paired together it is truly the perfect mix.

By Olivier Choron
CEO and Founder of purechannelapps
Find me on LinkedIn

14 March – What do these top industry experts use social media for?

Here industry leaders from Avalara, Xerox and social media expert Ian Moyse share their tips as to what they use social media for.

What is social used for?

Social listening
The likes of Will Frei, Social Media Manager at Avalara uses social media to inform business strategy, by determining which brand messages are receiving the most attention and by which audiences.

Using demographic information can help you to understand and improve your targeting strategy. Analysing device usage helps identify the type of content that would look most desirable for set devices, e.g. mobile users may favour visual content that is quick and easy to consume. Something as simple as this can drastically increase your click through rate.

Ian Moyse, leading Cloud Influencer on Social Media, believes, ‘It’s not about ticking boxes it’s about producing content with the client in mind.’

#Tip: Use social to measure which content is receiving the best engagement to further develop and improve your social and content strategy.

Appealing to a wider audience
Andy Hill, Social Media Marketing Manager, for Xerox states, ‘Different formats and templates resonate with different audiences.’ Social media enables Xerox to reach a wider market so it is key that they understand the type of content that will appeal to their audience. To achieve this Andy recommends re-inventing and using content in multiple forms, such as within infographics, pictures and bite size blog posts to appeal to all users.

#Tip: Reinvent and create content in a multiple of forms to appeal to a wider audience.

Forging greater relationships
Social is also a great way to leverage relationships, whether that be with your target audience directly or with key advocates, such as employees, channel partners, customers and influencers. By developing these relationships you are increasing your social sharing capabilities, brand presence, as well as maintaining brand loyalty.

#Tip: Use social media to leverage greater relationships with advocates and your audience.

Driving traffic to website
Use social to increase organic traffic to your website, thus improving your SEO level and the visibility of your brand. Will from Avalara uses social paid advertising as an introductory method to their brand. This is then followed up with a refined engagement approach such as targeting through LinkedIn (after they have evaluated their demographics) to further appeal to this audience. This will reduce the cost of advertising expenditure. For this reason paid and organic social should not be treated separately, and should be integrated together at every opportunity.

#Tip: Use cheaper advertising networks, such as Facebook to introduce audiences to your brand, imbedding clickable links within, to drive traffic to your website. Later you can deploy a refined targeted strategy once you have a better understanding of customer’s demographics and needs.

This content is taken from a recent social media advocacy webinar, so if you’re interested in hearing the full version, where industry leaders from Microsoft and social media expert Zoe Sands also share their tips please click here to watch the recording.

By Olivier Choron
CEO and Founder of purechannelapps
Find me on LinkedIn

08 March – Sharing social media secrets – partner, customer and channel advocacy

In a recent social media advocacy webinar, industry leaders from Microsoft, Avalara and Xerox, as well as social media experts Ian Moyse and Zoe Sands, delivered some rather fascinating insights. I would like to share just some of these with you.

It’s all about people… many people!

Although the brand itself is important, it’s the people within it that do the business. Zoe Sands, Principal Consultant, Zoe Sands & Co. Ltd states, ‘A good starting point is centering social media around people.’ The nature of your business will determine who this includes. These are the type of advocates you can take advantage of:

Partner advocacy

Microsoft realised the benefit of promoting their brand through their channel partners’ social media accounts. However from a survey they conducted with channel partners, they discovered that even though their partners recognised the importance of social media, they lacked the time or resource to perform this effectively. To overcome this Microsoft is now using socialondemand to facilitate the sharing of Microsoft’s content to their channel partners’ social media accounts.

Alex Beere, Consultant Social Media Manager, SMB and Partner, for Microsoft, stated, ‘Since using it, we have noticed a number of benefits from both a Microsoft and a partner perspective. Partners have become more socially digitally enabled, they’ve experienced growth in their social channels, and many partners have seen direct leads from the program.’

Employee advocacy

Your employees, especially your sales staff, are likely to be the individuals representing your brand.

As Will Frei, Social Media Manager at Avalara suggested, ‘An education piece for them to understand how social can benefit them is essential to get them on board with the program.’

Avalara, however, is performing the next generation of advocacy and enabling their employees to suggest content for Avalara to share, named ‘360 degree advocacy’. Will says, ‘This gives employees a sense of ownership, has also improved morale and employee culture as well as increasing the number of employees promoting us.’

Influencer Advocacy

Alex from Microsoft states, ‘Influencer advocacy should not be about just sending partners technology for them to write about it, it should be more about nurturing and integrating these relationships in a natural way for the long term.’

On social media it is clear to see who has paid to be influenced and who has a genuine preferred relationship with the brand. Ensure you get this right or it will not be a worthwhile expense for your brand.

Supporting advocates is necessary

You need to make your advocacy program feel human, supporting users with the right policy, and the right parameters. This is fundamental in order to get as many advocates on board as possible.

Alex suggests, ‘It’s not something you launch and walk away from. Make it as easy as possible for your advocates to be able to skill up and maintain a good level of usage.’

This could include conducting a robust training program that works for all capability levels. Certifications may be an option for more advanced advocates seeking gratification for their efforts, whereas less advanced advocates may favour a webinar, face to face, how to guides or video training to get them on board. Training advocates to create blogs for you could also be highly beneficial in enabling you to produce a range of content, however leave this to your advanced advocates.

Incentivising advocates to share your content

The big question is, should brands incentivise advocates to share their content?

Andy Hill, Social Media Marketing Manager, for Xerox, states that they do not normally need to provide incentives. ‘For partners they are already looking at each other’s social media accounts, so we do not need to incentivise them, they are already competing against one another every single day.’

Microsoft however does sometimes see the value in incentivising, for example to encourage some content to be pushed over others, prizes may be awarded. Microsoft has also implemented a digital leader board for employees to see who is receiving the most engagement on social media. So the incentive is to try and get to the top.

As Ian leading Cloud Influencer on Social Media says, ‘Engagement and validation can be the reward, for example, by mentioning them on Twitter and sharing their content.’ It’s about understanding your advocates and finding out what works best for them.

I think you’ll agree that there is a lot to learn from this webinar. So much in fact that I couldn’t possibly write it all down. To hear a more detailed version, please click here to watch the recording. But for now I only hope this has reiterated the importance of utilising your advocates effectively. These experts do, so maybe it’s about time you did too.

By Olivier Choron
CEO and Founder of purechannelapps

Find me on LinkedIn