Recently Neal Schaffer was our guest on our Digital Marketing Excellence Show. Neal has been a Forbes Magazine Top 50 Social Media Influencer for two years running, is an internationally-known keynote speaker on social media strategies, and is the author of several popular social media marketing books, including his most recent Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success.
In the hour-long interview conducted by Stone Temple Consulting CEO Eric Enge, Neal Schaffer shared a wealth of useful information about how various social media platforms are evolving, how to form a social media strategy for your business, the new LinkedIn Publisher platform, how to build engagement and a valuable following, and managing multiple social platforms.
Below are some highlights from the show, and after that the complete video of the interview which you can watch to go deeper into Neal’s unique wisdom and experience.
Social Media is a Continual Experiment
Social Media is always changing and always will be [Tweet This!]. Who is using it, the platforms, and how the platforms work is in constant flux. It’s an ongoing experiment. How do you manage an experiment? Neal uses the Deming Cycle: Plan-Do-Act-Adjust. If you’re measuring and optimizing, you’ll be ready to move with the changes.
Next you should examine the different channels. If you’re only on Facebook, YouTube & Twitter, you’re years behind. It’s easy to get stuck in doing things the same way. You can’t rely anymore on “everyone’s on Facebook.”
Neal’s next book will be a “Good to Great” type look at successful social media brands. One example is Taco Bell. They’ve pioneered brand presence on Snapchat. That makes sense because their demographic is on Snapchat.
Why did Facebook buy WhatsApp? One of Neal’s predicted trends for 2014 is “mobile-personal.” [Tweet This!] People just want simple ways to connect with friends without all the other stuff in the way. Apps that do that are already very big in Asia. In that market, they are very “pay to play” for brands.
The various social media platforms face a real dilemma. They have to put users first. Too many ads drive users away, but they need the ads for revenue. This will be one of the biggest challenges for social media networks as more and more of them go public and face pressure to be profitable. At the same time, brands have to find new ways not to get lost in the onslaught of social media options and content.
You need to pay attention to the demographics and data for each platform. Every decision has to be made on the basis of data. Take your personal feelings and preferences out of the equation. You might hate Facebook, but you still might need to be there. It’s best to have one or two anchor platforms, experiment with them, and then branch out from there.
Experiments in social media are campaigns. Every month you should start an experiment on a new platform to see what it might do for you. Try giving an audience a unique call to action with some kind of reward. Until you call your tribe to action, you never understand the power you have (or don’t have). [Tweet This!]
LinkedIn wants to move from being just a social network to being a publishing platform. They already have more users in the US than the paper subscribers of the NY Times. They need more content to build the ad revenue. They started with just a small group of influencers. Dave Kerpin of Likeable Media became a LinkedIn influencer and says it brought him a 7-figure income. Now they are slowly opening the platform to everyone.
Your posts are pushed out to followers and to targeted users via LinkedIn Pulse. LinkedIn Publisher is going to be the primary way to gain influence on LI. It will be a mistake to just copy and paste content there. What you publish there needs to be unique to add value. The more you show LI you’re using their platform, the more they will show you to others. Think in terms of creating compelling content there that builds your reputation, rather than about driving traffic to your site. (Stone Temple Consulting’s Mark Traphagen was one of the first to get the new wave of LinkedIn Publisher accounts. See his posts here.)
It’s a thought leader play. Brands aren’t allowed in. This means you have to be willing to identify and make use of thought leaders in your company. [Tweet This!]
Engagement Builds Authority
There is one real secret to social media: you have to engage to be found. Platforms are watching not only how you engage but how much reciprocal engagement goes on, how much value you’re building to the network.
That’s just as important on Google+ as on LinkedIn: it’s not about just piling up “social signals” such as +1′s and likes on LinkedIn posts, but how much reciprocal engagement you’re getting and from whom. The platforms want to see what value you’re adding to the network and what kind of network strength you’re building. [Tweet This!]
Start by helping other people on the networks. Remember that social media was built for people, not companies.
Why would you be on Instagram or Snapchat where you can’t get a link? Because you’ve got to be working at the top of the funnel for brand awareness. Ask yourself: how do we change from becoming a brand to being a friend?
Another coming trend is O2O (Online to Offline), which the Japanese are pioneering. O2O means tying real world activity and experience to online engagement and action. A great example is Barney’s Beanery, a popular Los Angeles eatery. They reward Instagram sharing done by patrons in the restaurant. Barney’s also has an in-house DJ who plays requests diners make on Twitter.
Social media is the great equalizer. Small-to-medium businesses can get wins that larger companies miss out on. They can be more nimble and respond faster. [Tweet This!]
Social media is one half science and one half art. You need the data, but creatives can really excel too!
What about sharing to multiple networks at once using automation? Don’t get fixated on the tools. Concentrate on your content and engagement. Stay to the core of why you’re on social in the first place.
When producing a content piece, also think about the best way to share it for each of your platforms.
- Make rational decisions based on business objectives and where your audience is.
- Measure and experiment.
- Realize the landscape will always be changing.
- Don’t forget the importance of visual.
Complete Video Interview with Neal Schaffer
Here’s the video of the interview from which the notes above were drawn:
Photo credit: Deming Cycle image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PDCA_Process.png used according to a Creative Commons 3.0 license.