Truths and Myths About Going Viral

Every company dreams of “going viral.”

The ability to create a single piece of content (e.g. a YouTube video) and to simply wait until millions of people begin watching it and talking about it, saving thousands in paid media while gaining unprecedented publicity and interest for your company, seems almost too good to be true. Well, read on to learn some of the truths and myths about “going viral.”

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Truth: No one can promise you viral content.

The fact is, nobody can promise you viral content. If your marketing company is being honest, they won’t claim that they can make you “go viral.”

Why is that?

 

Myth: The common belief that “If you build it, they will come.”

It might be tempting to believe that with the right amount of effort, time, knowledge and creativity (and, maybe even money), you will produce the latest meme. Going viral requires serendipity. It’s less of a formula and more of an ever-changing, imperfect recipe. It’s a recipe with far too many variables to control.

There is a lot of amazing content out there that most people never hear or talk about. Even if you’ve made the perfect piece of content for your audience and made it completely accessible and visible, luck still has a very important role to play.

 

Truth: It’s crucial to make great content that is not about you.

Before you can even entertain the possibility of creating viral content, make sure whatever you create is about more than your company. People have more media choices now than even before, so don’t abuse and toss away the privilege of their attention once you’ve got it.

Your target audience simply wants to experience things that interest them, and not feel bombarded by a clumsy brand message. Find out what their interests are, and deliver them in a way that will engage them.

 

Truth: Viral content takes insight.

Lots of deep insight. When you learn about what your audience is interested in, don’t just stop there. Viral content takes both great insight and a great idea; so, continue digging until you find something you can truly use to anchor a great idea that will cause people to take notice.

 

Truth: Becoming a go-to resource for great content will increase your odds.

Develop great content frequently so that you become known for it. It should be content that your target audience is not only interested in but will seek out. Nurturing an online brand for qualitative and relevant material will generate a larger audience, increasing the potential for one of your pieces to go viral.

 

In conclusion, “going viral” is a gamble, there are many things you can do to increase your odds, but you cannot predict whether you will succeed or not.

However, irrespective of your desire to go viral, never stop striving to make and share great content.

Social Media Marketing – How Much Time Per Day?

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One of the most common questions I get from SMB owners and managers is: How much time per day should my business be on social media? Note that I am talking about the business side and not the personal side, although there is (and should be) some crossover between each.

As a business with an online identity, you should have social media accounts representing your business brand. Social media is a great way to achieve awareness, introduce personality behind your logo, and engage with an audience. It can also serve as a focal point to indirectly draw people to your website. This brings us to the definition of social media marketing using social media as a platform to guide your audience to a specific action. As with any business tactic there must be strategy behind your efforts; in terms of what you are trying to accomplish and what steps should be taken to get you there.

Every business will be a bit different but ideally you should be using social media to talk to your ideal customers. Most customers access more than one social media channel, so your business should be represented on several at least for maximum reach. Regardless of your choice of channels, this is where you are challenged for time and resources:

Number of Posts Per Day

The number of posts per day varies somewhat based on the social media channel. Twitter, for instance, is a channel best suited to many posts throughout the day. Facebook and Google+, on the other hand, are better suited to a smaller number of posts per day, with top brands averaging one post per day. LinkedIn themselves suggest one post per weekday, but businesses can be effective with as little as several posts per week. The guideline for LinkedIn company pages is to post as many times as your content supports. This social media frequency guide from Buffer is an excellent resource.

Audience Engagement Time Per Day

This may be the most important time a business can spend on social media. When you post something of value you are looking for acknowledgement back from your audience; comments, questions, added value. You have started a conversation, basically. When someone picks up on the conversation you want to continue it. This is what develops relationships, which are the roots of all business. This engagement is absolutely vital in establishing relevance, trust, and authority in whatever your business is built upon.

Consuming and Curating Content

Most SMBs do not have a full time resource for content generation. Creating and hosting your own content is the ideal to strive for in online marketing efforts. The difference between social media marketing and content marketing is independence, although social media will always be an important part of supporting your own generated content. The way to start is to read a lot of other content on similar topics, digest the information and add value in the form of curation (commentary) and reposting. This is an easy way to follow the old 80/20 rule (80% curation, 20% original content), and not to appear too spammy on social media.

Connecting Profiles and Pages

Here is the crossover where you and your employees connect your personal social media profiles to your business social media pages. The benefit for the business is to identify the real people behind your brand and the benefit for the employees is the professional reputation they build by associating themselves with a business. They are going to dip in to their personal social media accounts throughout their workday, anyway. Why not encourage them to cross post from your business page and contribute to the engagement streams? Your employees can be vital particpants in any number of business conversations and represent you by their association to your business. Personal social media profiles will always get more engagement than business pages, so do not dismiss them as part of your overall company brand. Connect the dots!

Social media marketing should be a chunk of your marketing plan with a budget allocated and an expected ROI. It involves consistent attention to be effective, anything less will lead to failure. Crunch the numbers for the time and cost per day versus the ROI per measurable success (such the number of new subscribers/leads, and average revenue per subscriber) and budget accordingly. Here’s a tip; a pinch of automation and a sprinkle of marketing expertise can make a big difference.

Online Communities: How Do You Decide with Who You Want to Be Friends?

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Do you remember your first day of school, standing on your own in the playground? Or the first time you walked in to the high school cafeteria and had to decide where to sit? In life, there are many groups of people offering us different kinds of communities. Social media is the same.

In the social world, you have many groups of people that share interactions, interests and information. They will each use different platforms that offer its members different advantages.

When creating your online community, it is important to think about your customers: What do they want? Knowledge? Advice? A quick sale? A quick laugh? A connection?

Here are five online community types that you can keep in mind when building or improving your community:

1. Its all about business!

Promoting your business it probably one of most popular reasons for starting an online community. Nowadays, every marketing strategy includes a social platform. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, an online presence for your business is a crucial key to your success.

If this fits your intentions then use your SEO opportunities wisely. Know your keywords and maximize their usage in your content. Put forth your products and promotions and interact with your audience about product and services. Get their feedback and be available to answer their questions.

2. I want to be entertained!

Pinterest and YouTube are top online social communities for entertainment. If your goal is to help your audience relax and tune-out, use this fact to your advantage and create a community around people’s down time. Add video to your blog posts, or comment on a popular TV series, movie franchise or book to launch your community. If entertainment and/or leisure describe your online community type, post consistently and several times a day. Any excuse is a good excuse to be distracted!

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3. I want to improve!

Who doesn’t want to improve! Online coaching, self-help videos and ebooks are all over the web. Everyone wants to be happy and feel good about themselves. If you can help your customers, community members or colleagues reach that goal, then why not? Whether you are sharing leadership advice, life coaching tips or entrepreneurship opportunities, make your page friendly, welcoming and warm…just like a good hug! Think about offering ebooks and online video sessions to interact with your online community. Post quotes of the day or advice that is accessible and useful.

4. Let’s make a connection!

You have customers online and in real life. The main reason for your customers to seek you online is to share their feedback, ask questions, give a review or show you appreciation. This type of community could be useful if you are a scholar, a researcher, or a company wanting to regroup a number of people from your industry into one forum. Use hashtags on Twitter to host chats and host a forum, if that fits best.

5. I have a problem and need a solution!

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How many times have you went on Google to look for a solution to your problem? The Internet has become our easy-fix, our reliable solution finder, our mom with her crazy tips, or the replacement for that manual that we lost or threw out when we got our dishwasher. If you want to establish yourself as a reference in your field or a page to look-up when your client has a problem, then create an accessible online community that provides knowledge. Position yourself as an expert or create a question and answer forum for similar issues – washing and cleaning tips, travel and vacation ideas, health or nutrition related issues, real estate, dry cleaning or home brewing tips…the possibilities are endless!

No matter what, remember to have fun! Social media is all about interacting and getting to know your audience better. Remember to be one of your members and not just that mystery person behind the curtain answering their questions!

7 Common Dangers of Social Media Illiteracy to Your Business

Most people can agree that social media is a large part of modern culture. So much so, that it can be easy to make the mistake of thinking that (aside from the very young, old, or the counterculture) most people know everything they need to about social media.

While most people use social media on a regular basis, you may be surprised to find out how many people are, in fact social media illiterate.

Social Media Illiterate (def.): Individuals who may or may not use social media often, but do not understand all of the important nuances and subtleties that can make the difference between appearing either intelligent and clever or, thoughtless and idiotic.

Here’s the terrifying reality: These people WORK IN YOUR COMPANY.

So, here are seven common dangers of social media illiteracy to look out for in your business.

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1) Most 20 year-olds aren’t the social media experts you think they are.

Be wary that most 20-somethings aren’t sufficiently well-equipped to build and safeguard brands. Conduct online research on your potential new employee before giving him or her this important title.

Even so-called social media specialists, whom you may have hired to helm your social media campaign, have been known to screw up on a very public scale due to negligence.

The importance of hiring someone who is fully social media literate cannot be over-emphasized.

2) Failing to realize that employees represent themselves AND you and your company.

Never underestimate the power of an employee to unwittingly take down your brand. This might seem utterly ridiculous, but humour me for a moment:

You know that a brand is a carefully curated perception based on what your company represents. It can take a good deal of time and effort to build it and should be safeguarded at all costs.

Both you and your employees (from the top executives to the most junior interns) need to be educated on the ins and outs of social media. Much of this can be accomplished by relaying researched best practices to employees but the remaining gaps should be filled by experts in inbound marketing who can teach the necessary skills and knowledge to avoid costly mistakes.

3) Failing to reread your tweet/post/blog before you publish it.

Once you write a post tailored to each of your buyer personas or target audiences, be sure to put yourself in their shoes and re-read your post. Consider how they would interpret it and how it would appeal to them or possibly turn them off.

The truth is that a bad social media post can spread like wildfire. Even if you manage to delete a terrible post once you realize your mistake, it may already be too late. Think of what a parent tells their kids (‘Look both way before you cross the street!’ – this is almost the modern equivalent). Once it’s posted to the Internet, it’s there.

The power of screenshots is significant. They take less than a second and allow a mistake of yours to become immortalized on any computer or smartphone without your consent, knowledge, or control. And unfortunately, the screenshot is here to stay.

If your followers are very influential in their social media circles and a lot of people begin sharing or retweeting your post-gone-wrong – you or your employee can single-handedly, potentially irreparably, damage your brand.

4) This goes for spelling, too. STAHP MSPLLING THIINGS. DONT UZED POUR GRAMRR.

No matter who you are or what you represent, it simply does not reflect well. That is not to say you can’t use everyday, casual language (if it fits the context and the brand). Whether you like it or not, you WILL be judged, so be aware.

Of course, sometimes mistakes happen. Having someone on your side who is social media literate will minimize such accidents, and will ensure they are quickly and thoroughly cleaned up if they do arise.

5) Failing to apologize when you make a mistake (and to fully recognize and publicly acknowledge it when you have).

When making a post that you notice begins to garner negative feedback, here is exactly what not to do:

• Delete negative comments

• Ban loyal fans from your company’s social media pages, accounts, and online groups

• Tell those with negative feedback be quiet or leave

• Ignore desperate appeals from broken-hearted, loyal customers

Don’t be one of those companies who continues to dig themselves deeper and deeper. Be sure to admit your mistake as soon as you realize it. Ignore this warning at your peril.

This brings me to my next point.

6) Failing to listen to good advice and forgetting to stay humble.

Continue to research and listen: read blogs on the subject (clearly, you’re off to a good start), discuss grey-area topics with other industry professionals, subscribe to blogs, Twitter feeds, and LinkedIn groups with people who know more than you about social media.

Never forget to stay humble, we can all learn more and improve, and we never know when or where that education may come from. Pride too often creates crucial blind spots that can hurt your company’s edge, perceived intelligence and adaptability.

7) Failing to have an active presence on social media (A.K.A. giving your competition a leg up).

This is one of the biggest mistakes your company can make. Your competitors are getting an edge on you by *deep breath in* gathering intelligence on the industry and their customers; making important connections with other industry leaders, customers, and prospects; reading and analysing the market at large; establishing a presence to simply say “we’re here, we’re current, we matter”; giving customers that extra level of value-added service to make them feel that they matter; and generating leads and new business for their company – *PHEW*. There’s a lot you’d be missing out on without a good, consistent social media presence.

That’s the power of social media literacy.

Top 4 Tips When Doing Your First Social Media Audit

SM_Strategy_PROSARYou are all set!

You have an online strategy that might include some advertising, keyword searches and inbound marketing tactics, but what about social media?

Often, you want to develop a social media strategy but don’t know where to start.

What channels should you include?

Which one is best?

And what about your current presence?

How can you improve it?

Are you doing ok?

To have a first glimpse at your own presence and to better evaluate your own needs when you first meet with a social media expert at PROSAR, here is a look at what you should be considering!

I have to say, I love this infographic because the 3 main tips explained here are my own starting steps when first developping a social media strategy for a new client.

Step 1: What is the competition doing?

If you don’t know where to start, look at your competition. What are they doing online? Do they have a Facebookpage? A Twitter account? A YouTube channel? A blog? And what are they posting? What direction does it go? Are they trying to position themselves as an expert in your field? Are they just trying to be fun and entertaining? Are they offering discounts?

You can consider the number of likes or followers that they have but also consider their size when making this assumption. If the company is global and you are local, it will be easier for them to gain a more substantial fan base. The same goes for their time on social media. If your competition has been there already for a few years and post daily, they will tend to seem more popular than you. It takes time to buid a readership and solid fan base.

Step 2: What works?

Social media is all about being unique and standing out. This said, success stories and proven strategies should not be ignored. When following the progress of your competition, see if any tactics stand out. Are there any successes that you can notice? A tutorial that went viral? A contest that had many participants? A tweeted event or hashtag that flooded news feeds?

Become a fan or a follower of your competition’s pages, keep an eye out for their blogs and see if any trends seem to be more popular than others.

Step 3: What is best for me?

There is no science to this next step. You are the expert of your own industry and know your clients best. According to your needs and your competition, you should be able to choose a channel where you want to establish your presence. Social media is there to compliment your marketing strategy and help you implement some parts of your plan. Use it with this in mind.

Step 4 (My own personal recommendation): And now what?

If I can make one personal recommendation, it is to seek help. You will notice when doing your own personal social media audit that what works best is a constant presence in different mediums. You are an expert in your field but with a bit of help, you can assure that your strategy will work in social media as well. Read up on more social media tips from the PROSAR blog, and give us a shout to build the best possible marketing strategy for your business!

For the whole infographic from Awareness, see below!

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