3 Types of Content You Need From Now On

Remember right about this time last year and the types of content you worried about?

Think back to a simpler time when all you really worried about as far as your content was your monthly blog, a newsletter, some links getting shared out by your profiles, and maybe an infographic every so often.

Those were the days, weren’t they? Livestreaming was mostly for people who attended conferences or worked for celebrities and political campaigns. Your SEO, paid social campaigns, and Google AdWords took care of your online traffic. Organic (unpaid) social media was really just window dressing.

Those were the days. | Really Social Blog

Times have changed.

Not only has livestreaming advanced at a breakneck pace in the last 12 months alone, but messaging apps like Snapchat (I mean, really like Snapchat) have completely blown up. New ways to connect with your customers have placed themselves in the landscape of social media, and now your brand must keep up to compete.

Going forward and for the foreseeable future, these are the three types of content your business needs to plan in your marketing and sales strategy.

Scheduled Content

Many types of content fall in the realm of what you can add to your social posting schedule.

First, there’s the home-grown content you create and publish yourself. Your business blog, newsletters, white papers, how-to videos, testimonial features, case studies, etc. These items may be time-sensitive or evergreen, but they live on your digital property and can be shared out to your audiences to entice them back to your website to complete valuable interactions.

Second, you have curated content to share. These are the articles, videos, infographics, and other news-like content created by other entities which you can also schedule and share. The key is to ensure the content meets three criteria:

  • It doesn’t sell a competitor’s product or service;
  • it does reinforce for your customers why your product or service is valuable to them;
  • it’s timely and credible.
Buffer queue (image) | Really Social Blog
Snapshot of Buffer queue of scheduled posts.

OK, that’s actually four criteria… glad you were paying attention! So will your audience when you routinely provide them with resource articles and knowledge that ultimately reminds them, “Hey, this article about X was shared out by Company Y. It’s about time I ask them about helping me with X, since that’s what they do.”

One last thing about scheduled content: it’s OK to post content if you’re not on that social platform right at that second. Just like sending out your newsletter at 9:30am every 1st Tuesday is OK even though you might not be sitting and looking at your Gmail tab right that second. Scheduling and a degree of automation is perfectly fine–IF your goal is to engage authentically with the results of that scheduled or automated content.

Which leads us to the next type of content…

Active Content

This is the part where you should be what you were born to be: human.

Social media is a long game of marketing. Trust and credibility build as you show your humanity in real-time on social media because, in the long run, it’s all about relationship.

Social really is like dating. If you seek a lifelong commitment and partnership with another being, your best bet is not to create ties after a hasty date when all the other person did was hand you a flyer describing why they’ll be valuable to you. There’s no proof in that pudding; instead, you’re taking it all on assumption and a heartless pitch.

Tom Hanks You've Got Mail GIF | Really Social Blog
With or without the dramatic preparation, you can BE on social.

However, if you take your time and learn about the other person through familiarity, faithfulness, and authenticity, ultimately you’re ready to commit because you’ve seen evidence of a great relationship on the horizon. Yet none of that walking-into-the-sunset can happen if you never really get a taste of how the other interacts in real-life.

And we’re back to how you need to be on social: BE on social. Read other people’s posts and like them. Share them if they’re relevant. Comment to get a dialogue going. Tag others to draw them into the chat. Discover a new article and share it while describing why it struck a chord.

You can’t schedule this type of content. You have to be present and actually live a bit on the platforms you’re using to draw attention to your business.

Did we say “live?” Well, since we’re on a roll, let’s tackle the last and newest type of content you need to use…

Live Video Content

Surely you saw this coming, right? Livestreaming, social video, live video marketing… it’s being whispered (and sometimes not so whispered) about everywhere as more brands take to their video apps each day.

And there’s no wondering why. Back in 2011, the average U.S. adult spent 21 minutes watching digital video. This year, that’s going up to one hour and 16 minutes of watching video on digital devices. Your customers’ eyeballs are lingering longer on video content, and each platform places live video at the top of their algorithms (a.k.a. formula for your feed).

Livestream video can’t live in the scheduled part of your content (aside from letting people know when you’ll go live) simply because pushing “Go” requires at least one person to be there and ready to host the livestream. It also needs its own category aside from the active content we mentioned earlier because it really is in its own ecosystem of content and engagement.

  • Live video is fully interactive, inviting real-time questions and comments by viewers.
  • Live video goes farther than typing or swiping words to another user through active social; your face, voice, and environment are transparently evident to all who watch it.
  • Live video is unproduced and uneditable; what you say is what they get. It’s the most real side of your business you can present, other than welcoming customers into your store.

If you’re stuck on how to get started with livestreaming content, check out our other blog post for some ideas. Here are just a few:

  • Introduce your team who works behind the scenes.
  • Demonstrate how to locate your place of business (like Google Maps with a tour guide).
  • Make important announcements with the added bonus of Q&A from the audience.

The anomaly of the bunch is…

Stories. These are the apps and features which have swept through Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Facebook itself, and even other apps like WhatsApp and Tango.

Stories (or, in Messenger’s case, Days) are a type of hybrid content between Active and Live Video. They are active in that you can’t schedule them to post or upload in the future; they have to be created in the moment. They are live video in that Instagram Stories has a live option, and you can actually get on a live video chat through private Snaps and Facebook Messenger. That, plus we’re all predicting it’s only a matter of time until each of these Stories-friendly apps adds livestreaming to their capabilities.

So that’s yet another type of content you need to consider, since your customers have them all in their hot little hands to use and watch during their average one-hour-16-minutes of digital video per day.

It’s all going to be OK.

This may sound incredibly daunting to a business leader or marketer for a brand who is wondering right now, “HOW in the world will I possibly get all of this content done?”

Chances are some changes need to be made. These digital types of content and ways to engage with your customers are incredibly effective. Even better, they are cost-efficient, time-saving, and humanizing for your brand. Whatever you’re doing now, there are likely ways we can build a new way forward as you bring these types of content to your customers.

4 Ways to Use Livestreaming in 2017

You may be thinking the last thing you’d want to do is get on a live video. I get it. Really, I do.

There are tons of reasons to not go live. You may not like your appearance. What will you say? What if you stutter or misspeak? What if no one watches? What if you start getting spammed by trolls? What if you think it went great, but the higher-ups don’t like what you did?

Fair enough. Those are all completely valid reasons not to go live. For 2016, those excuses worked just fine and held off the inevitable. But guess what?

It’s 2017. Time to livestream.

Your content is probably pretty good… maybe even great. Your audience and fans may have loved it thus far. But here are some hard facts about why video matters to you:

If you’re into anecdotes, I have one for you: regardless of what I’m broadcasting about, every single Facebook Live video from my Page has achieved at minimum 3x more reach and engagement than every other type of post.

In our weekly #LetsLivestream chat + broadcast, we welcomed nuggets of wisdom by Brian Fanzo, each of which reinforced why livestreaming is going to continue to be a big deal into this new year.

Now that you’re taking livestreaming seriously (begrudgingly or otherwise), let’s break this down: it doesn’t have to be hard to go live. No one is expecting you to take to the camera like a 30-year broadcasting veteran. In fact, the more authentically you livestream, the more your fans will want to interact.

To get you started, here are 4 ways you can easily plot your livestreams into your brand’s strategy in 2017:

Demonstrations & How-To’s

You’re the expert at your business, so naturally you understand how your products and services function. Remembering that your customers aren’t yet experts is important to how you perform your sales and service. Figuring out how to translate what’s in your brain into something they can use is always a challenge.

Livestreaming video can give you direct access to show your customers, in real time, how to use what your company provides. As you use live video to demonstrate, viewers can comment, ask questions, and even share the video with their friends and fellow customers.

YOUTUBE is a natural platform for videos which provide how-to instructions and demonstrations. As the 2nd largest search engine, next to Google, your branded and instructional livestreams can be watched and circulated repeatedly.

Issue your press release via a livestream video | Really Social Blog
Be.Live launched their livestream community site via Facebook Live press release.

Announce News

Not so many years ago, hiring a public relations expert or using a press release tool was the proper way to get the word out about your business or brand. You’d have it written up, complete with headline and eye-catching information, and issue it in the hopes that news outlets or journalists would find it interesting enough to “pick it up.”

Welcome to the future! Now companies can generate their own news by publishing announcements and deliver it to the masses through social media. By announcing your major updates via livestream, you can hold your own press conference to established brand fans and potential customers and connections. Take questions, provide links, and tag/mention any partners who collaborate with your company.

TWITTER is an outstanding choice for announcing news with its instant connection to journalists, news outlets, and just about everyone. You aren’t restricted by friends or connections on Twitter, and now you can #GoLive from within the Twitter app.

Broadcast Events

When your brand holds an event, you have a unique opportunity to give your customers a new level of access. Instead of reaching you via phone, email, or even social media, they can now shake hands with the staff who serves them and the masterminds behind manufacturing your products.

However, as with any event, you will inevitably have those who would like to attend yet can’t make it. You may also have customers on the fence about attending your events to partake in the activities. By livestreaming teasers and highlights of your company’s event, you can increase anticipation, promote attendance, and give access to your audience.

PERISCOPE is well-established as a platform for livestream events. With its connection to Twitter and the ability to go fully public to anyone online, start broadcasting your event and field comments, questions, and remind viewers to share to their circles so more can partake of the access.

Look to Your FAQs

Whether or not you have a list of frequently asked questions, you know the ones we’re talking about: you can recite the answers by heart because the queries happen so often. A FAQ is the perfect place to start for when you don’t know what to go live with.

Mine your reviews, online comments, customer service cases, and sales notes to learn what most customers ask as they discover your products and services. Once you go live with the question and answer, you’ll have a timeless resource—via video—to refer your customers to when they need answers.

FACEBOOK is a natural fit for engaging with just about anyone (since just about everyone uses it), and going live with the goal of explaining concepts about your brand will serve you well. You can go live from your Facebook Page, a Profile, a Group, or even an Event.


Still not convinced? That’s OK.

But do me a favor: will you at least lurk a bit in a place where we chat about live video and why it has tons of potential?

Watch on Twitter   Watch on Facebook   Watch on Periscope

5 Feelings to Give Your Audience in 2017

Goodbye, 2016!

We’ve reached the end of another year, and it was a doozy.  From the good (the return of The X-Files to television and the Denver Broncos winning Super Bowl 50) to the less-good (a roller-coaster presidential election and the Zika virus), we had it all and are about to move on.

For brands, you’re in planning mode for a new year. While you muscle through your future, your customers face their own challenges for 2017. How can you reach out your hand, take theirs, and step into the next year together?

Feelings. You can’t stop them!

Your year may have sucked. It might have gone rough for your customers, too. Here are 5 feelings, for you and your audience, going into the next year:

Hope

“A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” 

Do you tend to feel that hope carries with it a sense of optimism? You’re not alone. Hope is often used in the context of a good outcome… We “hope for the best.” The very first Star Wars movie was titled, “A New Hope,” which contextually suggested good changes were on the two-sun horizon. Martin Luther King, Jr. is quoted as saying, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

A new year is an opportunity to improve. Whether your customers hope to increase their value in their career (through promotions, education, or influence), to gain ground with personal goals (like weight loss or skills), or to make strides in personal and professional relationships, their next year can look brighter than the last one.

Your social media approach can help them get there! By offering seasonal specials or posting positive ideas, you give your audience feelings which can support them through the growth they wish to accomplish. Make sure to incorporate a tone of hope in your digital marketing messages and offerings.

Peace

“Freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.”

As much as we hope for the future, we each live in a reality which doesn’t always go as planned. Those times are when your audience most needs peace—mental and practical readiness in the face of the unknown. It’s just smart adulting! Not only that, but Google Trends shows that the keyword search “peace of mind” has steadily grown each year:

You can help your customers approach 2017 with peace of mind by alerting them to new trends, best practices, and hacks they can use for their own success. As the personal expert of your industry for your customers, provide them with helpful insights and insider strategies (just enough to remind them of your overall value) which they’ll use and share with their own circles. Don’t forget to present complex ideas through infographics or how-to videos!

Joy

“A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.”

Joy is one of the 5 feelings to bring to your customers for 2017 | Really Social Blog
Let there be joy!

If you’re any kind of smart branding person, giving joy is already your goal for your customers. When your product or service solves a problem, you create harmony where there was once discord. By relieving a pain point, you instead bring pleasure and peace of mind. You know how loudly a disappointed customer can rant about a complaint; a happy fan will rave about you to their friends and family.

Bringing joy to your fans, whether through excellent products or stellar service, happens when you start with that tried-and-true mantra, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” How would your customer service rep like to be treated? What sales methods work best for your top sales personnel? Which messages resonate the most with your own marketing staff?

Once your team remembers how joy feels when they receive it from a brand, they can in turn give it to your customers. Post uplifting videos, inspiring stories, and help your audience find the funny through caption contests and festive memes.

Love

“An intense feeling of deep affection.”

Bring the feeling of love to your customers. | Really Social Blog
Three words which live on in infamy.

Everyone has one: a moment in entertainment which depicts a love scene that simply makes you swoon. When Tom Cruise spoke those three unique words in Jerry Maguire, viewers collectively sighed and/or cried with emotion. This may not be your specific moment, but right now you’re thinking of the one which gets you every time.

The fact is, your customers do complete you. You didn’t create your brand to go nowhere and impact no one. Someone is meant to make use of what you provide, and that kind of relationship fosters deeper feelings than a simple money transaction. The fans who love you, and who feel loved by you, will let that feeling repeatedly lead them back for more.

Share the love with your fans by listening to their opinions, solving the pain points they share with you, and being selfless at key moments in their experience. A small gesture by you can make a huge difference to a customer, and you won’t know until you give it a try.

Promise

“A declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen.”

Keep your promise to your customers. | Really Social Blog
Be the Luke Cage of your industry.

You’ve arrived at the ultimate foundation for a great relationship with your customers going into a new year. You can give them all of the hope, peace, joy, and love in the hearts of your team, but unless you can assure them of your dependability and quality, the whole dynamic falls apart. Your audience wants—needs—your promise that you’ll be there for them.

You can make and keep promises to your customers by offering stellar start-to-finish customer service (from that first complaint to the final solution), providing protections and long-term warranties or support, and keeping impeccable customer notes so each contact with your brand isn’t the same old scramble we all hate when customer service can’t remember who we are. Do what it takes to keep the promises you make to your customers from that first touchpoint.

How do you feel about 2017?

Just days remain until we have to start writing a 7 instead of a 6… are you all set? Really Social is getting ready for the new year by offering a slew of training/consultation packages to help you and your customers have a fabulous 12 months ahead.

Click for the New Year

4 Ways to Socially Say Thanks to Customers

Thanksgiving often inspires visions of gravy boats, Black Friday deals, and racing between airline gates. In the midst of the mania, you can easily focus your efforts on helping customers increase their credit limits. After all, ’tis the season to be spending, right?

Thanks Requires Giving

Customers are used to brands taking their currency in exchange for goods and services, particularly in heavy shopping seasons like the swiftly approaching holidays. Wouldn’t it be amazing for your brand to flip a switch and give thanks to your patrons?

There’s no better time to remember the actual name of the next holiday, Thanksgiving, and do just that. Here are four ways you can give to your customers and stand out from your competitors during high spending seasons.

1. Invite Customers to a List or Group

VIP, Gold, Elite… so many words and acronyms describe groups of customers which are in some way special to a business. Status comes along with the perks, and you can accomplish this same effect by creating a unique gathering place for select clients.

Here are some ideas:

  • On Facebook, create an invitation-only Group focused around a specific product or service and welcome a smaller selection of customers to join and participate.
  • On Twitter, build a List of customers who have positively mentioned your brand. Get creative with the List name so they feel appreciated and acknowledged for their social messaging efforts.
  • On Pinterest, set up a Board where you share Pins from customers’ Boards (ones which don’t compete with your products & services, but which highlight your ideal patrons’ ideas and trends).
Hillary Clinton shimmy GIF (image)
It feels good when your post gets shared out.

2. Share and Retweet an Update

Social media is called that because we share what we want to show off. Your customers love to offer their opinions and experiences to the masses, so getting reshared or retweeted by other handles is worthy of a Hillary Clinton shimmy.

By lending your Klout score to a customer’s post or tweet, you can show them you care about their views as well as their social image. Before you add your brand to their message, however, make sure you do your due diligence by checking their social profiles for any red flags.

3. Publicize a Testimonial or Review

Online reviews are YUGE for your brand’s credibility. With over half of purchasers ages 18-34 trusting online reviews more than the opinions of friends and family, you want to show off your positive reviews and prompt customers for more.

An excellent way to accomplish both is to take a review farther by turning it into a testimonial story. Contact a positive reviewer for your brand and ask if you can get the bigger picture about why they sought out your service; usually you’ll encounter details which help the rest of your audience identify with the need which led to a purchase.

Your best customers are tremendous for your brand.

4. Treat Them Like They’re Tremendous

The term may be overused in the last several months of news cycles, but “tremendous” is a great way to think of your best customers. You know the ones: they come back for repeat business, they pay on time, and they talk you up through reviews and social media posts.

While the easiest reaction to a positive post by a great customer might be to give it a solid like and move on, you can go above and beyond. Once a quarter, take a deeper dive and find out what else that prize customer is sharing on social media. Are they going through a major life event? Celebrating a milestone? Preparing for a challenge?

If you recognize an opportunity to treat your customer to an unexpected benefit or message, take it! Send them an ecard, link them to a discount, or offer to share in their experience by giving from your generosity. There are so many ways to freely or affordably maximize on a great customer-brand relationship if you find the timely opening to do so.

‘Tis the Season…

These are just a few ways you can truly give in the realm of thanks this season. What are some ways your business or brand has looked beyond the currency of our times and capitalized on good, old-fashioned kindness?