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For many social media is a mystery. How does it work? How do I get more customers with it?
How much time does it take? Is it worth it in the long run? How do I participate?
We know how you feel, several of our clients came on with the same concerns.
When a new outlet for growth comes along, there are always a lot of questions, and we would
like to answer these questions for you. This is our FAQ to Social media for Small Businesses and Marketers.
Why Social Media?
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn make it easy for people to connect with other people. People from all over the world, in your metro area, your
state, or your country.
What Does it Have to do with Business?
As people connect with each other, they share experiences, problems (for you to solve), and
they mention brands and companies.
Once companies realized there was a potential to reach these people already talking about
them and their industries, they started pages and profiles to represent themselves. What
began as a way to connect, quickly became a way for small businesses to interaction with
Why do Businesses want to be present?
At first businesses wanted to be able to stand up for themselves, take care of issues before
they became publicity problems, or provide a level of customer service where their consumers
were already present.
After a short while participating in social media, businesses realized they were able to do
much more than protect their names.
They could also benefit from:
• Searching for consumers who were looking to buy
• Helping consumers research a solution to their problems
• Recommending their products to consumers with related problems
• Better describing the benefits of their products to consumers
• Participating in public chats about their industry
• Following competitors
• Sharing sales with their followers
• Connecting with competitors’ followers
• Building relationships with related businesses
• Nurturing trust and loyalty in consumers
• Allowing fans to share about their company while overseeing the comments
• Working with brand enthusiasts who basically market the brand for free
• Harnessing the vast amount of traffic on social media and bring it to their website
Explanation of the Relationship Aspect
A recent study showed that consumers use social media for relationships with friends, family
and companies. As opposed to traditional advertising methods that bombard consumers.
Social media gives them an opportunity to build a relationship with someone in your company
(or representing your company). They want to trust you, and your abilities to provide the
service or product they need. By building this trust with them, they are up to 80x more likely to
purchase through you.
How did we get here?
As consumers have become increasingly suspicious of traditional marketing efforts, the
internet has spread in popularity and has given consumers the tools to share their thoughts.
Consumers have historically trusted friends and family compared to marketing pieces. Now
they have the opportunity to turn to those relationships before making a purchase, and by
becoming one of those relationships you become an expert they turn to.
The first step in participating is starting accounts on the platforms that are most often used by
your consumer market. At this time (Summer 2012) you will find Facebook and Twitter to be
the most effective platforms.
You can start free accounts on both sites, but you will want a fan page created for Facebook,
in addition to your personal account. If you need assistance with this, feel free to contact us to
set these accounts up for you.
Benefit of Paid Setup:
• Optimization for keyword searches
• Optimization of how to use platform, profile, and bio sections, based on experience
• Save time from setting it up yourself
Components of Successful Social Media Marketing?
Consistency in being active! When you do not login and participate on a daily basis you are
missing the opportunity to:
• Converse with followers
• Answer questions on other fan pages
• Provide links to your solutions (products, services)
• Know what is changing in your industry
• Know what your competitors are doing
• Share authority information with followers
• Entertain visitors
• Participate on community pages
Relationships– building relationships with your consumers encourages them to trust you,
when they trust you, they trust your recommendations, recommendations to your products,
services, tools, etc.
Networking has always been a big part of business, and it is alive and well in social media.
In addition to finding consumers, social media can be used to connect with other people in
your industry, and using these connections to further each of your businesses.
On Facebook you can interact with other fan pages, on LinkedIn connect with other in a
group, and with Twitter, converse with professionals of all industries as long as they have
Conversation- On the public areas of social media, such as groups, in Twitter, and public
updates, anyone can participate in conversations with others. In fact you can go so far as to
monitor these public conversations, and then participate in them.
Compare this to walking by a room of people interested in your industry, and walking in to
chat with them, when you have a few minutes each day.
Benefits of conversation:
• Viral traffic to your profiles & pages
• New followers discovering you in their friends’ conversation
• New connections for business
• New awareness for your brand
Strategy- As with any marketing campaign, if you have no strategy for what to do with people once they come to you, it will not be successful. Consider the thought: Failing to plan is planning to fail!
Once visitors connect with you through social media, what do you want them to do next? How
can you bring them further along the path to purchasing?
Do you have a sales funnel in place? If you aren’t sure, we can help you set this up. Contact us and tell us what you need.
Blogging- The most simple way to profit from social media to your website is through sharing blog posts, and specific links to answer their questions, and help them make the decision to purchase.
A weekly blog post will you the database you need to always have an answer to their
questions, and always have a place to send them to learn more about your business.
Place a call to action in each blog post. Consumers often need to know what to do next, make
it easy for them, ask them to sign up for your newsletter, download a free gift, like you on
another platform, call you, be creative, but make sure you ask, this will definitely increase
Benefits of Social Media Participation?
• Market research
• Loyal fans
• Business Partnerships
• Decreased marketing costs
While getting in on the conversation and presenting a consistent presence is the place to start
in being active in social media, engagement is the next step, and is a very important one at
Engagement is the activity of getting your fans to react to what you post. On Facebook this
means getting them to like, share, comment. On Twitter it is retweet, respond, etc. Every
platform has some kind of response you would want to see. The more people who respond, the better.
Why Do You Want A Response?
In both Edgerank and Klout your effectiveness in social media is measured by how often you
update and the kind of response you get.
On Facebook, engagement is even more important, if you aren’t able to get a response from
your followers, you lose your space in their newsfeed.
To make sure you engage them, you want to provide updates they will respond to. Pictures
and videos they will like, or stating opinions they will agree or disagree with are good ways to
get a response.
On Twitter you want a response from people who will start conversations, or to have your
message shared with your follower’s followers (aka the Retweet).
How Much Time?
The time invested in social media will directly effect how useful it is to your business. There is literally no cap on the amount of time to be invested, with enough man power your company could respond to every industry related update available, it depends largely on your commitment and availability.
Realize that in the Social Media Examiner report, marketers surveyed shared that the more time they invested (over 6 hours per week), the more profit they saw from social media.
Providing the posts we’ve discussed can take as little as a few hours per week but, there is a lot more that can be done:
• Sharing from your newsfeed
• Retweeting posts
• Following new companies
• Providing feedback on posts
• Responding to your visitors
• Having social media parties
• Running contests and giveaways
• Using additional social sites
Social media can be difficult, be sure to check with several websites, research tips and strategies, and ask around if you have questions. we’d be glad to help if you ever have a question, we just like to help.
Marketing teams need to be innovative, quick-thinking, service-oriented, and committed to the company brand. That’s a tall order for anyone, but the reality is that marketers must be on their toes all the time.
As a marketing manager, how do you keep the company’s most creative team performing at their best?
Here are a few tips from years of experience making marketing departments hum.
1. A Solid Marketing Plan
Early in the fiscal year, develop a marketing plan that is tied to the strategic plan, and ensure that every team member understands his or her responsibilities for helping to complete the marketing plan.
Use your plan as a road map to prioritize projects and make sure that your team is not frequently sidetracked by out-of-the-blue assignments that don’t link to core strategies.
2. Brainstorming Sessions
Naming a product? Need to come up with a new theme for the gala? Stuck on how to please a client? Call together a department-wide brainstorming session where everyone—from the vice-president to the admin assistant—participates.
The rules are simple: The person with the marketing challenge explains the situation; all ideas go up on a whiteboard; naysaying is frowned upon, but it’s OK to discuss which ideas the team likes best.
Put a time limit on your session. At the end, the person with the challenge takes back all the ideas generated. It’s not necessary to commit to any particular idea after the session. What’s necessary is to have tapped the team’s creativity.
3. Project Tracking
With many projects underway, project tracking is one of the most difficult things to do, but it’s critical for a busy marketing department.
Visually tracking projects on a whiteboard works for some teams. Others rely on a project management program. Find the system that works best for your team and make sure everyone sticks to it.
As everyone knows, dropped projects or overloaded team members make for mass dissatisfaction. You’ve got to keep your team creative but also focused.
4. Personal Goals
There’s always something new to learn in marketing. At the beginning of the year, add a personal growth component to your employees’ list of annual goals.
That goal does not have to be directly related to the work that team members do; it can be a skill that they would like to learn for professional growth. For example, a copywriter may want to learn video, or a graphic artist may want to learn business strategy.
Find an appropriate mentor to help the employee reach that goal and make sure you determine how attainment of the goal can be demonstrated—either through an education session for the team or completion of a special project.
Adding a personal goal shows that you are interested in your team’s long-term success in the field of marketing.
5. Client Satisfaction Surveys
Treat every project as a learning opportunity. At a project’s completion, ask your team to send a survey to internal and external clients. Ask for honest feedback, and review the survey with your team members once it is completed.
Don’t make it a competition for the best client satisfaction scores, but do make sure that areas of client dissatisfaction are addressed. And encourage your team members to learn from the comments they receive.
6. Weekly Huddles
With so many projects underway, team members can easily hunker down into their own work and forget to communicate with others. Make sure that everyone is well-informed about all the work being done by holding 30-minutes huddles once a week
These sessions are for sharing information on projects, clarifying priorities and goals, and helping one another solve problems. The secret to great huddles is to make sure everyone has an opportunity to speak, and those who need assistance receive it.
Keep topics short and at the end of the huddle provide an opportunity for team members to offer thanks or kudos to others.
7. Goodwill Days
Marketers tend to take a global view of their world and want to make a difference in it. Help nurture that sense of social responsibility by taking one day each quarter to volunteer as a group. It’s great for making work more purposeful as well as bonding with your team.
Some very satisfying conversations can be had chopping onions while preparing a meal at a homeless shelter. Equally important, you may inspire team members to continue getting involved in their community.
Are you wondering what 2015 might look like for social media marketing?
If the changes in 2014 are an indicator, there will be a lot more changes in 2015.
To get a grip on what the near future may look like, we tapped the knowledge of 28 social media pros.
#1: Video Becomes the Content of Choice
In 2015, video will dominate as the social media content format of choice. Further, regular video segments, like podcasts and blog posts, will come into their own as a form of content that drives social engagement and other marketing goals.
Let’s look closer. In August 2014, Facebook surpassed YouTube in the number of video views via desktop according to It’s important to note that YouTube still has more views across all devices. As of September 2014, Facebook attracted a billion video views per day, a roughly 30-fold increase since July.
#2: Information Density Creates Hurdles
To me, there is one mega-trend that is like an enormous hammer forging nearly every idea and innovation in our marketing world today: Fighting through information density.
By 2020, the amount of information on the web is expected to increase by 600% (and some believe that number is low!). The challenge of cutting through the content shock and earning a share of the limited customer attention span is the marketing challenge for the foreseeable future.
This reality is behind important shifts occurring in the next year:
Business migration away from Facebook. The drop in organic reach has been apocalyptic for many businesses. Why? There’s too much content on Facebook and the company is forced to ratchet down the reach. We’ll have to either spend a lot more money on Hollywood-quality content, a lot more money on advertising or both. This will force some businesses to reconsider Facebook as a viable channel and enable a migration to less noisy venues.
Emergence of new content forms. As the web adapts to and adopts these new realities, it will drive innovations that help businesses stand out. I predict that we’ll see some interesting new content forms develop in 2015. A couple of areas ripe for innovation are interactive video and new types of short-form visual content.
Fighting through filters. New apps and filters are emerging to help consumers make better content choices. One example is Zite, which filters content for you as it learns about your preferences. As more people turn to these apps to sort the clutter, the marketer’s attention will turn toward the new challenge of getting messages through these new filters.
These are just a few of the many implications of this trend. The conversation on the web will turn from “content” to “ignition”—how do we get our message to cut through and compete?
#3: SlideShare Becomes the YouTube for Business
Instagram is to Facebook as SlideShare is to LinkedIn. In other words, look for SlideShare to emerge as the key social network for business professionals to find and share bite-sized pieces of content while on the go in 2015.
SlideShare is currently where you create, distribute and consume presentations, and it’s a great tool for B2B marketers to do content marketing for their target audience. Good presentations drive page views, leads, SEO juice and often long-lasting evergreen content. In 2014, SlideShare added video capabilities for LinkedIn influencers. In 2015, SlideShare will extend video to their entire audience. Watch for SlideShare video to become YouTube for business.
#4: YouTube Declines as Social Networks Embrace Hosted Video
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will show preferential treatment to video content that is hosted on their own platform. This means that marketers will be uploading original video content to each social network (and not just short videos).
The social networks will give extra exposure to uploaded videos because they keep users on the platform longer and provide unique advertising opportunities. This distribution of video will radically transform the way marketers work with video.
#5: Social Conversions Become Easier
Social micro-conversions will become an active and successful strategy with every business in 2015.
Currently, businesses look to promote on social media, direct traffic back to their site, introduce a call to action and then drive the visitor through the conversion. The needed behavior is rife with trouble, because it requires the consumer or prospective business to take many steps.
I believe we’re going to see a lot more methods across social media that provide direct action through engagement. It may be a purchase through a tweet, mobile click to call, a Facebook registration or a Pinterest purchase, which bypasses the funnel and drives the social user directly to a conversion.
#6: Paid Ads Become Unavoidable
In 2015, social networks will continue to find ways to push businesses into their advertising programs.
We already know that Facebook plans to stifle organic promotional posts in the news feed starting in January 2015, and that Twitter hasn’t ruled out implementing a Facebook-like algorithm for their news feed. Instagram is still busy expanding their advertising platform, and since they’re owned by Facebook, an algorithm that limits organic posts from businesses and brands could easily be added into the mix.
Hence, social media marketers who might have avoided social advertising in 2014 will be forced to embrace it in 2015.
#7: Local Search Expands Google+
The rise of Google+, through Google Local Search results, will be a phenomenon in 2015.
Google has created the infrastructure to enable businesses to easily appear in Google search, and so many businesses still haven’t claimed their listings.
Once they have five reviews, the stars will be shown. The ‘star game’ will start to play out in 2015: authentic reviews will rise to the top and small businesses will have the chance to shine.
#8: Tech Innovations Change Marketing
I don’t think we’ll recognize the future of social media! It’s hard to know what will have a greater influence on social media in the future—hardware design or software innovation?
With hardware innovation like Oculus Rift and D-Wave’s Quantum Computer popping up seemingly overnight, there’s no telling how hardware will affect the way we interact on social. And it most certainly will affect it, making engagement more intuitive, more in-time and more realistic than ever. Imagine what fully experiential quantum data integration will do to social interaction. The most active post on my Facebook page right now is a raging debate over having chips implanted like they’re doing in Sweden.
#9: Silos Break Down
In 2014, there was still a massive disconnect between brands and consumers due to a misuse of social media as a communication tool at the brand level and a misunderstanding of who the customer actually is.
This will be the year brands wake up to the reality that social media is a relationship-builder and not a one-way bullhorn. They will embrace the conversation, knowing that in order to establish meaningful connections, they must break down the social media silo they have created.
Brands will also recognize that the continued humanization of the brand is essential. As digital marketers, we talked about this at length in 2014. However, I continue to see brands speaking at consumers rather than with them. The mental shift to “tell a story,” not simply push a message, will happen.
#10: Campaign Focus Shifts to Experience
In the information-driven and consumer-empowered world, relationship capital is the only business metric that stands the test of time. Brand love and customer advocacy is what takes care of the business bottom-line. To truly earn the trust and loyalty of educated, tech- and social-savvy, global, connected millennial consumers, it isn’t enough to distract them with short-term dazzle campaigns. To ignite and keep customer advocacy long-term, companies need to show that they care by repeatedly enabling meaningful experiences.
#11: Paid Media Becomes Necessary
In 2014, we witnessed several changes in the way businesses are forced to approach Facebook marketing—first with the drop in organic reach, then the death of the like-gate and now the announcement of how Facebook plans to reduce the amount of promotional content coming from brands in the news feed. We should not be surprised if other networks eventually follow the same path.
In 2015, we’ll see the rise of paid media. Small businesses will have to get more educated about how to accelerate the distribution of different types of content at different stages of the sales funnel if they want to survive.
#12: Republishing Grows Reach
Facebook spent 2014 tightening the noose on social marketers, and with an algorithm change taking effect in January, shows no signs of stopping in the new year. On top of that, other networks like Twitter continue to grow more crowded, which means getting noticed in a feed or a timeline gets harder and harder all the time. Therefore, reach for individual posts is dropping.
Anyone with a Facebook page can tell you that reach has plummeted, and the reach on any given post is a fraction of what it would have been a year or two ago. That’s why in 2015, marketers will focus on getting cumulative reach by republishing their updates multiple times. Instead of posting an update once and hoping for the best, they’ll post an update again and again. Instead of trying to take out one large slice of pie, they’ll take multiple smaller pieces that add up.
Republishing updates like this may improve reach in more ways than one, because it can afford marketers more time for one-on-one engagement. By spending less time writing unique updates that may or may not hit their targets, marketers will be able to dedicate more time to interacting live with their fans and followers, encouraging the type of engagement that Facebook values and rewards with more consistent organic reach.
#13: Campaigns Become Platform-Agnostic
We’re going to see marketers shift their focus back to “platform-agnostic marketing.” Savvy marketers are realizing that the social space is becoming increasingly fragmented, and creating unique campaigns for each channel is difficult and expensive. For the last few years, you could create a campaign just for Facebook and get good results. But now your audience is everywhere—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and others—each with different reach and engagement.
Along with increased fragmentation, marketers are seeing increased costs to just to have their messages seen. There isn’t a free ride anymore. To get the most from your marketing dollars, you’ll have to be in more places at the same time.
The best bet is to have one clear goal (increased engagement, sales, data collection, etc.), and then be “everywhere.” In 2015, marketers will create centralized platform-agnostic campaigns that achieve these goals, regardless of where the audience comes from.
#14: Fans Demand Personal Interaction
Next year will see increased demand for personal interaction with fans and followers. This means that fans today want to get to know the people behind the logo or brand and want to see who it is they’re engaging with.
Companies that have already grasped this concept are not only seeing a lot more interaction on their content, but also building up a higher level of trust. This approach lets their fans know there’s a real person behind the company who cares about what they have to say and is there to respond.
#15: Social Media Goes Niche
In 2015, I foresee the rise of a smaller, more personal social media trend that focuses on niche groups and specific, shared qualities or interests.
We’ve always shared with specific people or to small groups through “dark” channels like email or text messaging right alongside our broader social media sharing. In the coming year, I predict that this type of sharing will begin to get more notice from marketers and app developers.
#16: All Social Networks Offer Paid Visibility
The majority of the social networks will copy Facebook’s model for displaying information to their users. That means other social networks will begin filtering what posts your friends or followers see.
Why? Because there is a lot of noise on these social sites, which causes users to decrease their engagement. Sure, as a user, you can unfollow or unfriend certain people. However, if the majority of their posts are great, you still want to see what they have to say. You just don’t want to see the junk.
In addition to improving user experience, this model can help these social sites generate extra income. For example, any additional revenue that publicly traded companies can squeeze from their users means higher stock prices.
Although most people or companies won’t pay to guarantee all of their posts are seen by others, larger companies will. Paying for the visibility of their content will ensure they are getting traffic and the brand exposure they’re looking for.
If you want all of your content to be seen without having to spend any money, share high-quality content or updates on a regular basis. Also make sure the majority of your followers are interacting with your content. For example, if you don’t know half of your friends on Facebook, you can’t expect them to be as engaged as your real friends would be. For this reason, you may be better off unfriending those users. Having interested followers will produce higher engagement rates, which will prompt the social network to show your content to more people.
#17: Marketing Requires a Combination Approach
No longer will there be social media marketers who focus on only one network. They will be extinct!
Integrated social media marketing will become a “must” for implementation. For too long marketers have been doing “Facebook marketing” and “Twitter marketing” plus other marketing in isolated silos. As we’ve seen in 2014 with Facebook reach, if a business focuses on only one social platform, changes to that platform can be disastrous. Therefore, the importance of integrated marketing will headline 2015.
#18: Visual Content Ups Its Game
Visuals, visuals, visuals! This will be the year we see marketers take images and videos to the next level. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram skyrocket in popularity. Plus, more recently, videos have become more popular on Facebook.
We’ve also seen tools come on the scene that make creating awesome visuals super-easy and fun to do. Canva has made image creation a breeze and mobile apps such as PicStitch and Wordswag put the power of creating interesting images and videos for Instagram right in our pockets.
No longer are great images limited to businesses with huge budgets for professional photographers and graphic designers. Now, businesses with the smallest budgets can create images for their content. This is a good thing because consumers will expect higher-quality images. In the early days of Pinterest and on Instagram almost anything could get attention with repins or likes. Now there’s so much competition on these platforms, not just any image will do.
Great visuals also go a long way in helping people establish trust with your online presence. Have you ever been to a doctor’s office with outdated furniture and old magazines in the racks? Unless you’ve been seeing that doctor for a long time, you might question his or her professionalism. Not using images in your content or using bad outdated ones can reflect negatively on your business. People could think of your business as less professional or less reputable.
On the flipside, when it comes to videos, I predict that we’ll see them become less produced and more relaxed and natural. There’ll no longer be a need to set up a studio with a production crew for every video you create. Social media audiences will find the spur-of-the-moment videos created on a smartphone more relatable and engaging.
#19: Marketers Take Control of Content
We are tribal by nature. As such, I believe there’ll be a continual move toward common-interest communities that fuel our innate need to tell stories and communicate as a group. This includes Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, group boards on Pinterest and Google+ communities. Hashtags will also continue to shine on Instagram and Twitter as a way to stake our claim to a topic or niche and build community by curating content around that topic.
When you establish a group on any of these platforms, both the founders/admins and the people who join the group actually want to find each other. They are looking for conversations about mutual interests. They want to see your content in a place where they’re not distracted by main news feeds.
It’s not surprising that many businesses are reporting the benefits of establishing a Facebook group separate from their Facebook page. As pay-to-play becomes more of a necessity for having your content seen on Facebook, the popularity of groups brings a degree of control over what content we share and how we communicate with each other.
#20: Hashtags Build Collaborative Communities
This will be the year of the collaborative community. On- and offline there is an opportunity to build relationships and expand our sphere of influence from communities outside our own. We should become more relaxed about sharing what we do and who we know. I call it “lead with giving.” In this evolution of how to do business, everyone wins.
The hashtag is the anchor of the social media revolution. A single hashtag connects a conversation across Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. From these conversations, a community can quickly be formed; people with common interests are united. These conversations are also the place where businesses conduct their most powerful market research.
Today, even when you can’t physically be at an event, you can still join the conversation, thanks to the hashtag. Be a part of the conversation before, during and after the event to get the total experience!
#21: Paid Media Becomes the Norm
Paid media isn’t going away. In fact, budgeting for paid media will be more important than ever, as it will be more integrated with earned and owned media.
This year, we saw social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram introduce ads to a number of businesses as they strove towards monetization. Next year, we can definitely expect them to make a worldwide rollout.
The use of social media will only continue to rise as the number of people who join these social media channels climbs. We can expect organic reach to continue to decline as the volume of content on these networks increases.
To make up for the decrease in organic reach and to get content across, businesses will need to pay to play or watch their content wash away. Soon the idea of free attention will vanish and paid media will be the norm.
I believe this is a natural progression, since there are only a number of things we can see at any single time.
The increasing competition to get content across will in turn evolve paid media into another level, as businesses try to satisfy consumers’ thirst for good content. Native advertising and sponsored posts garnered a lot attention from businesses this year. We can expect better integration and coherence with its platforms moving forward.
While most people might find this disturbing, I think if paid media continues to evolve, we might just get good actual content.
#22: Visual Marketing Explodes on SlideShare
The recent upgrades to SlideShare put it in place to be the hottest social platform in 2015. LinkedIn owns SlideShare.
LinkedIn started delivering solid traffic to blogs in 2014, as well as on-platform publishing. SlideShare will seal the deal as a viable social platform, proving that LinkedIn is no longer just for finding a job.
SlideShare offers an easy way to create an enhanced version of a blog post or repurpose a presentation. Building your visual brand across the web has proven to be a powerful piece of the branding puzzle. A great SlideShare can help showcase your expertise and build thought leadership.
Solid features of the upgraded SlideShare:
Upload infographics to SlideShare
- Download leads from views of your SlideShares
- Keynote author status for select accounts, offering special features and wider exposure
- Customizable profile page
- Clickable links at the end of the presentation, which direct traffic to your website
- Integration with Haiku Deck, so you can create a presentation directly in SlideShare
A fun way to showcase a SlideShare is to make a GIF of your presentation using GIF Deck. Embedding a SlideShare into your blog post or post published on LinkedIn is a snap with the provided embed codes. You can also add them into your next email blast. And they look great on mobile!
With its versatility, link-building opportunities and lead gathering, it’s hard to deny SlideShare’s value to your content marketing bottom line. Add SlideShare to your content marketing plan and see how it can boost your visual marketing in 2015!
#23: Social Marketers Become Selective
Social media is becoming increasingly competitive and complex. If it was possible to be a social media expert three years ago, it’s definitely impossible today. And it becomes even worse as we enter 2015.
Specialization is unavoidable. No one can be a Facebook expert, Twitter expert, Instagram expert and Pinterest expert all at once. On top of that, the advertising options offered by each of these platforms are becoming so complex that mastering them requires an enormous amount of testing, experimenting and learning.
#24: Direct Buying Becomes Mainstream
In 2015, both Twitter and Facebook will introduce the Buy button and we’ll see significant sales happening through these platforms. I don’t imagine that you’ll be buying products for a few hundred dollars, but you will hand over micro-payments. For example, it makes perfect sense for authors launching a book to offer it for sale directly on Twitter and Facebook.
We know that Twitter and Facebook are already testing this out. I think that they both will partner with Stripe to do all the payment processing.
LinkedIn will follow with a similar payment system, but I don’t see this happening until 2016.
#25: Social Media Marketers Rebrand
The popularity of the search term “content marketing” is gradually catching up with “social media marketing,” and service providers will react by broadening their services and repositioning their brands.
This trend started with SEO companies a few years ago when content marketing emerged as the most sustainable (and safest) way to improve search rankings. But as demand for content marketing services grows, social media marketers will be next to jump on the bandwagon.
#26: Businesses Embrace Owned Digital Assets
In 2015, I believe there’ll be a renewed focus on building and growing owned digital assets such as websites, blogs and communities. Social media has offered tremendous content distribution and engagement opportunities over the past few years, but it’s become much more noisy, expensive and difficult to reach your audience. Additionally we don’t own our space or our connections on social networks, and the rules are changing constantly.
#27: Video Creates Engaging Experiences
As humans, we each define a positive experience differently. When we have experiences that go above and beyond expectation, we want to share them and engage our friends and followers. To benefit from this innate behavior, companies need to think through and create world-class shareable experiences for their audience.
Since videos are likely the easiest ways to share a moment, video marketing will take off in 2015 in ways we’ve never seen before.
Video gives us the most context around people, companies and things over any other online medium. Start thinking about video as experiential. This is where 3D glasses and video start to give us the ability to play with video and experience stories, shopping and interactions in new ways. (Remember that Facebook bought a 3D company in 2014.)
It seems like loyalty and its definition have changed overnight. Customers who want different things will expect and deserve a personal experience in 2015. So give them unique, engaging experiences. And use video and creativity to do it.
#28: More Apps Support Anonymity
The web has gone back and forth on anonymity. In the early days, everything you did online was anonymous. But that eventually moved to you having to use your real name because of hate messages, bullying and even crimes. If you weren’t going to say what you had to say using your real name, the web decided you probably shouldn’t be saying it at all.
In 2014, anonymous social media apps such as Whisper, Secret, YikYak and Facebook Rooms emerged and gained popularity fairly quickly. Once again, we can air our grievances with little risk of real-life consequences.
Like it or not, many business professionals are judged on the quality of their presentation skills. I wrote an article earlier this year about a giant tech company that scores its senior managers and leaders on customer-facing presentations. Higher scores translate into opportunities to advance within the company’s leadership ranks. Presentations matter and they matter a lot.
Here are five resolutions that—if you make and keep—will significantly improve the quality and impact of your presentations in 2015.
Resolution #1. “I will tell more stories.” In order to reach a person’s head you must touch their heart first. The easiest way to engage the heart is through the stories you tell. Stories inform, illuminate, and inspire. In my research on the best TED talks of all time, I found that stories make up anywhere from 65 to 72 percent of the presentation content. Most business presentations are heavy on facts, figures, and statistics, and light on stories. The stories that work best are personal ones, but stories about other people or brands (case studies) work well, too.
One of my favorite storytellers is civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson. In his now famous TED talk, he tells three stories of events and experiences from his life and ties each one back to his central theme.
Resolution #2. “I will not include more words on a slide than are absolutely necessary.” I once read that the average PowerPoint slide has 40 words. That’s easy for me to believe because I’ve seen many slides with 50 to 100 words, or more. Wordy slides aren’t slides. They are word documents masquerading as PowerPoint slides. Here’s a guideline I call the ’10-40’ rule for slide design. It’s quite simple. In your next presentation the first ten slides should have no more than 40 words total. This exercise forces you to think through the story behind your product, service, cause, or idea. Remember, slides do not tell the story.
Resolution #3. “I will add more pictures to my slide deck.” It’s well established in the neuroscience literature than when it comes to memory and cognitive processing, a combination of pictures and text work better than text alone. If you’re forced to write only 40 words in your first ten slides you will, by default, use more visuals to tell your story. Keep in mind that when I suggest adding more pictures to a presentation, I don’t mean add pictures to a slide already cluttered with words. In the past few weeks I’ve received samples from readers who may be misinterpreting “picture superiority.” They send me before and after slides. The “before” slides contain dozens of words in small font, impossible for the audience to read in the first place. The “after” slide is the same slide—only with a picture. No, picture superiority means just what it says: pictures are superior. Replace words with pictures whenever possible.
Resolution #4. “I will practice my presentation at least 10 times.”Make no mistake. The greatest presenters make public speaking look effortless because they’ve rehearsed their presentation many, many times over. I once spoke to a TED speaker who told me that she had practiced her presentation 200 times. I realize most people don’t have months to prepare for a one-shot presentation, but if your presentation is mission critical, you owe it to yourself and your audience to practice what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it for every slide. Practice also has the added benefit of reducing your nervous energy and boosting your confidence for show time.
Resolution #5. “I will keep my business pitch to under 18 minutes.”I feel as though it’s important to reinforce since so few business professionals seem to follow it. Scientists are studying “cognitive backlog,” which measures how much information people retain and how long they can process information before getting bored or frustrated. The ideal range appears to be anywhere from 10 to 18 minutes. If you must speak for a longer period, use “soft breaks” such as video clips, stories, a demo, or alternate with another speaker. Soft breaks re-engage the audiences’ attention and you can build in soft breaks every 10 minutes.
These five simple rules will differentiate your presentation from the millions of presentations given on any single day around the world. The business world is changing rapidly, and it’s difficult to stand out in a sea of noise and distractions.