I’m not shy when it comes to listing off my pet peeves in our industry. Up until this point, I’ve done a lot of writing or sounding off about the word “engagement,” but today I’m going to talk about what I like to call “the Golden Excuse.” The Golden Excuse is when mid-level social media and digital marketing professionals say something like “The C-Suite just doesn’t see the value, so…” It’s a convenient way to not argue for more spending and to be lazy about finally nailing social media ROI.
I’m not saying that the lack of knowledge in the C-Suite isn’t a valid point. After all, a recent survey by DHR International pointed out that 60% of executives would use social media more if they better understood its benefits. But c’mon, we’re marketers! It’s our job to take information and make it easily digestible by virtually anyone! The problem here isn’t that the C-Suite isn’t capable of understanding, the problem is that we’re not speaking their language.
So why do we have this constant struggle selling social to the C-Suite? I’d love to hear your answers below, but I’m going to throw out a few reasons in this blog post, along with some solutions.
Problem: You’re Not Tying Social Media Tactics to the Larger Strategy
If you’ve been in my audience at industry conferences, you’ve heard me say time and time again that social media channels in and of themselves are not strategies, they’re tactics. What you do in those channels needs to be tied to your big-picture strategic goals. If you do not have an editorial calendar, make one. Thoughtfully plan out your content, when to post, and what audience you’d like to reach. This isn’t 2009, where just having a Facebook page and saying “thanks” is considered social media strategy.
You cannot set about proving social media ROI until you have tied the social media initiatives to a bigger piece of the strategy.
Problem: You’re Not Sure How to Prove ROI
Once you’ve tied the social media tactics to the bigger picture, you can use data to prove your point. Numbers do not lie and the C-Suite loves numbers. Use Facebook Insights to find the stats that sell your point. Also remember that social media data isn’t the only data that sells. You MUST become intimately familiar with your website analytics software, not just your social analytics package. Here are some of my favorite data points that often translate well at the executive level:
- Traffic to the website – Use channel-specific UTM tags where needed in URLs to track which social channels provide the most referrals
- Time spent on site – Are visitors from social channels spending more time on site? Which site is best? For example, Google+ visitors to my personal website spend nearly 13x the amount of time as Facebook visitors, and G+ users visit more pages, too. What can you learn from those numbers?
- Social Goals – Google Analytics has a great way to track social conversions. Learn it. Use it. Love it.
- Negative Feedback Daily – This is a tab in Facebook Insights that shows how many people choose to “hide” one status update or “hide all” status updates. Look at what you posted on the highest-hiding days. Was it a marketing push message? Probably.
- Facebook Power Editor – Not sure there is an audience for your Facebook posts? FALSE. There is always an audience and you can target the hell out of them in Facebook with content syndication.
The data and the numbers exist – you just have to be willing to figure out what is meaningful for your brand and your business and start tracking it with laser focus. Don’t be afraid to use a CEO’s known ticks to your advantage. If she is all about traffic to the website, then make your data support how social drives traffic to your site. She likes a particular product on your e-comm site? Show how you’re promoting it via social channels and how much consumers love/hate it.
Problem: You Don’t Think Like a C-Suiter
You think like a marketer. Marketers love to talk. The C-Suite doesn’t have time for our drivel, so we need to stop communicating like marketers and start communicating like C-Suiters. Further, per the same study referenced above, 50% of executives would use social media more if they had a better experience with social tools, and 60% only use social media sites less than one hour per week.
What would you want to know if you only used social media 60 minutes or less per week or fewer than 10 minutes a day? Think about how you Tweet – make your case in 140 characters or less – “68% of our 10,000 Facebook Fans Want More Cowbell,” or whatever it is you’re selling. ”Victory: 175k New Visits to Our Website from this Facebook Post.”
Entice them. Make it easy. Give them nuggets that speak to your bottom line or your top three goals as a company this year. Simplify social and do the work for them. Just like your content marketing needs to grab customers, your social needs to grab the C-Suite’s attention. You might not get weekly visits in the president’s office immediately, but like any type of learning, the cycle starts with repeated exposure. Continually feed them reasons to take notice of you and your work and watch the magic happen.
A Solid Link Building Plan from Start to finish in 2013 Part V – Link Building Requests & Emails (Part 1)
Your research for link building tactics has more than likely turned up a few articles that simply say “go out and find sites related to your niche and ask them for a link request.” As I’ve stated over my recent posts, there’s many steps leading up to that point. Fortunately we’ve gone through all of those steps in the 2013 Solid Link Building Plan. We can now take the time to break down the final piece of the plan: writing and sending the actual link request email.
The Link Email Request Model
There’s an old saying that goes “High Risk, High Reward.” I’ll further break down and develop this concept by using the analogy of approaching women. If you’re a single man looking to approach a single woman with romantic intentions, there’s certainly many ways to go about it. You can get straight to the point by approaching her and simply asking her out. The risk for this is “high.” (Note: she’ll more than likely reject and/or ignore you.) The rejection may also be accompanied by negative comments, anger, disrespect, or maybe even a light physical sign like a slap or smack. However, the “high reward” is that maybe she’ll comply with your request. If you approach enough women with this direct, “high risk, high reward” concept, you’ll eventually convert based on the law of averages.
Alternatively, you can opt for the other end of the spectrum by going through the whole courtship process of developing a conversation, learning about her, requesting contact information, establishing future meetings, further bonding and conversation, etc. and you’ll drastically increase your chances of converting. However, this requires an investment of time and effort on your part. Furthermore, you risk not even converting after investing the time, energy, and effort to court the target of your romantic desires.
The same concept is applied to composing and sending link request emails. You could amass a basic, straightforward email template that simply asks for a link, and send it to hundreds or even thousands of sites. The risk is “high” in that your email will more than likely find its way into another user’s trash or spam folder. Yet, you might get a “high reward” and get a few links out of it.
You could then of course spend a lot of time evaluating the site, reading through articles and older blog posts, learning about the history of the site, and then compose a lengthy email request for a link. The result could very well be the same: your email lands in someone else’s trash folder.
Your goal should be to find a balance somewhere in between the two extremes. You cannot be too direct because you’ll more than likely find rejection. Yet, you don’t want to expend too much time and energy into a single request because you could also find rejection. Despite what any link builder will tell you, it is still a numbers game. However, like many attractive women, if it’s a quality site, then they’ve been approached by a lot of other link builders requesting links. You want to make the most efficient use of email request while targeting as many sites as possible.
A healthy balance for writing and sending link request emails follows this model:
1.) Evaluate the Site – Before you write your link request email, figure out what type of site you’re contacting. Is it a directory that accepts site submissions and listings? If so, then you don’t need to spend too much time in composing the email. A simple, straightforward email containing the information they require is all that’s necessary, assuming there isn’t a form for you to submit readily available. Contrarily, if you’re looking to contact a blogger, you’re going to want to make the email more personal before directly asking for the link.
2.) Identify the Decision Maker – This is an extremely critical step in composing the link request email. First and foremost, you must identify the decision maker in enlisting your ultimate request of placing a link. Sometimes it might be the webmaster, editor, lead editor, site owner, marketing director, or other stakeholder.
If it’s a webmaster that maintains the site content, then it is more than likely his or her job to merely maintain the site’s content. In that case, there’s no need to send them a lengthy or personal email. Simply get to the point and make your request.
However, if it’s an editor, you’re going to need to apply a personal touch. Editors typically are somewhere in between merely maintaining site content and actually having passion for the site they manage. So only a slight personal touch would be necessary.
If it’s the site owner, then you know that this is their site and/or company and they have a lot of passion, emotion, and investment into this site. If you’re going to interrupt their daily activities with your request of adding your link to their site, you need to show that you share their passion and can add to it with your link request.
There are a number of different decision makers, content managers, and positions in maintaining a site. Keep this mindset when identifying who you’re going to contact and how you communicate with them.
3.) Introduction – Take the women approach for example. By first introducing yourself, you’re increasing the chances of her opening up to the idea of listening to what you have to say. The same idea when emailing a site. Most site owners have the natural inclination to ensure that it isn’t some sort of sales letter, spam request, or any other aspect that isn’t useful to their website, business, or personal agenda. By first introducing yourself, you open the site owner’s mind to reading your email. If you’re an agency, let them know that you’re working with a client. If you’re a company or brand, let them know (*If you happen to be a large or recognizable brand, this can often be an advantage since the site owner will take you more seriously if you represent such a known brand).
Letting them know who you are ahead of time can drastically increase the chance of conversion.
4.) Personal Touch – If you find yourself contacting a site that requires a more personal touch, then after the introduction is where you perform this task. If it’s a blog, then you may want to find a recent blog post and mention it in the email. If it’s a company site, look in their media or press section and find something to praise them about. By applying the personal touch, you show that you’re not just another link builder looking for the same thing. The personal touch reveals that you share the passion for their site or blog. And if you can’t find anything to talk about, ask yourself why you are contacting them.
5.) The Link Request – After the formalities, let them know why you’re sending the email. Are you looking to write an article? Are you looking to buy an advertisement? Are you looking for just a link on the sidebar or the resources section? Be transparent about what you’re looking for. In doing so, you speed up the link building process. You can quickly know whether or not they can accommodate your request. If they can’t, you’ll more than likely get a response letting you know that (since you applied the personal touch). It’ll allow you to go ahead and start working on your next link request email.
A well-balanced, healthy link building request model will greatly increase your email’s chance of conversion. Nevertheless, link building is still a numbers game. Like approaching women, the chances are that your email will not convert. Even after all the time and preparation, chances are against it working out in your favor. By applying a successful model and plan, you use a system that can be replicated to acquire links. Stay tuned for the second part in the link building request email, and I’ll show some examples of how to write these types of emails!
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking to the attendees of Digital Summit, which took place here in my home area of Atlanta. One of the joys of presenting my ideas at various places is reading all of audience feedback on Twitter afterward. Every audience is different and every time I speak, I make a valiant attempt to cater to their specific needs. Yet I am never sure just what will resonate the most. In this case, there were dozens of tweets of me saying “Social media is not 100% of one person’s job. It’s 1% of everyone’s job.”
There are several reasons I like to talk about this concept within the context of creating more conversations between your audience and your brand. Social media is a very sexy space for businesses. As such, it’s not uncommon for different departments to fight over where it should live within the organization. I’ve seen marketing teams throw down against communications teams and it’s like watching a toddler having his favorite toy stolen out of the sandbox. This kind of mentality stunts your social media growth and creates silos that keep you from creating original and thoughtful content.
The reason I feel compelled to discuss this point is that as a social media marketer, I’ve become more than disenchanted with the various social media efforts from some of my favorite brands. The content doesn’t tell a story and does little to inspire me. Sometimes it’s far too repetitive in nature or a regurgitation of whatever the hot meme or topic is at the moment. It’s tiresome, and wouldn’t you rather be the business that sets the trends rather than the one that follows them?
While it might be important for one department to “own” the social media business, it is far more important that the department be invested in creating a welcoming and collaborative process that includes a variety of practice areas within your organization. After all, the success of your company isn’t due to the success of just one department – it’s the result of hard work and contributions from every department.
One of my suggestions is to create a social media work group with people from all areas of the company. Some of the best ideas I’ve ever heard come from customer service representatives (the original community managers!) and supply chain leaders. These aren’t groups that you’d typically tap for a Facebook post, but they have amazing ideas. There’s a reason we all had to struggle through group project assignments throughout our school days. Collaboration is valuable!
Have your work group meet once a month to talk about different ideas for the coming quarter. With a diverse group of people (who all happen to personally interact with a diverse portfolio of brands in social media), you’ll end up with a wealth of ideas and a sparkling new approach to content marketing, especially in social. Some of the best ideas I’ve seen in action?
- A HR rep on video talking about what it takes to work at one of my favorite companies and how to stand out as a candidate
- Videos and photos capitalizing on our curiosity to see how some of our favorite products are made, featuring the real-lift assembly line workers, not flashy on-camera people
- A customer service representative doing a live FAQ Hangout to explain why a solution takes a day to complete
- A video showcasing how the ingredients from a popular food product get from the farm to my table, with the head of the supply chain leading the way
- A landscaping professional at my favorite eco-brand giving gardening tips that save water and effort
- Get leadership involved – a video from the president of the company showing off the latest volunteer work completed by employees
- A “day in the life” snapshot of staff for things like “Nurses Appreciation Week” or other holidays that celebrate staff
This type of content works because it tells a story and creates a human connection to your brand. But to do it, you have to first be willing to create that same connection, sans all the competition, inside your own walls.