• One simple way to increase your Facebook followers

    One simple way to increase your Facebook followers

    Accept the invitation.

    Have you ever engaged with a Facebook page’s content only to later get a notification to say you’ve been ‘invited’ to like that page?

    Ever wonder how that works?

    It’s a pretty straightforward process that just takes a little bit of hard work. No tech knowledge required.

    So, if you’re interested in grabbing a few new solid likes for your page, read on.

    More page likes

    Now, while engagement really the main metric you should be concerned with when it comes to Facebook, having a high number of page likes is reassuring. It can make your brand seem more professional, more legit and, heck, it’s just nice to see that number growing when you check in on how your page is doing.

    So, how do you invite people to like your page?

    The good news is, it’s very simple — if requiring a little elbow grease.

    Scroll back through your previous posts and open one. Click on the ‘react’ icon with the number of reactions your post has received (i.e. the thumbs up, hearts, laugh etc icons.). This will bring up a dialogue box with a list of people who reacted to your post. To the right of their name will be a box that either says Liked, Invited or Invite.

    If that box says ‘Invite’, you’re in luck. That means that someone has engaged with one of your posts but hasn’t yet liked your page.

    Click on Invite and that person will receive an invitation from your page that says, “Your Brand has invited you to Like their page.”

    (Note: thus far it doesn’t appear you can invite people who have shared your post; privacy settings often won’t even give you data on who has shared your content. It’s the same with comments. Just reactions. But those are more than enough.)

    Hard yakka

    If you’re a business that has had some success with great content — particularly video because the Facebook algorithm currently favours it — you might benefit greatly from this. For example, a post that had a high number of likes/reactions and comments will often have contributions from people who currently don’t follow your page.

    You’re especially in luck if you’re a brand that’s been around for a while and have been on Facebook for many years. You’ll be able to scroll back through very old posts and invite people who liked your content from before Facebook had this feature.

    (Another benefit of going back to older posts is that Facebook used to give brands a lot more organic reach and thus engagement. You will often find more engagement on older posts.)

    You can do this now after every post. Give it a few days until the piece of content has run its organic course — or in the case of a boosted post, wait until the campaign is over. Then look through the reactions and see how many new Likes you can invite.

    Going through this process on one of the pages we manage recently, I was able to get 62 new likes in one day. Another page received 28, which is another great result considering that brand’s lower overall page likes. All this was accomplished by reaching out to people who we know had at least some interest in our content, since they had already engaged with it. They just needed that nudge over the line to give the page a Like.

    It’s the ‘Would you like fries with that?’ of social media.

    (Note: This feature is only available for pages with fewer than 100,000 likes. In that case, your option is to friend people who have liked your page and then, through the ‘invite a friend’ feature, invite them through your page’s ‘Community’ tab.

    But this article is for small brands and businesses that are still growing their social media presence. If you’ve already got 100K likes — and they’re all legit — you’re probably already doing something right.)

    Genuine fans

    Now, it’s not the quickest way to accomplish the task of getting page likes — currently, you can’t ‘batch invite’ people to like your page — but this is a feature, not a bug.

    Since you have to manually go through your previous posts and individually click ‘Invite’, if that converts into a Like, you can be sure it’s a real person on the other end.

    All you’re doing, after all, is encouraging people who have previously engaged with your content to take the next step and click Like. And sometimes that’s all it takes, just that extra call to action.

    Unlike some other schemes that less-scrupulous businesses use, this one is basically guaranteed to be a genuine, organic like.

    And all it takes is a little bit of time and some old fashioned hard work.

    Yes, I would like fries with that.

    If you would like help with your social media, get in touch today.

    Photo: Pexels
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  • 4 simple way to improve your social media posts

    4 simple way to improve your social media posts

    Small things to work on that can add up to make a big difference.

    Recently, I saw a post in a social media marketing group on LinkedIn where someone asked a question about how to get more followers. The responses kind of surprised me; numerous people suggested posting three to five times a day — every day.

    Now, we can argue about whether that would work (research suggests it doesn’t) but my thought was: where are you getting the content to post that much?

    Too much

    If you’re posting external links to your website all the time, Facebook isn’t going to like that and will de-emphasise those posts. It wants you to stay on the platform, after all.

    So you can do that once a day, maybe. But you won’t get much action. What about your other two or three posts that day? You could write a blog. Cool, what’s next? Video is worth more than a single image — but it can’t be a YouTube link.

    See how difficult it can get? It’s not impossible but for many brands, it’s just not practical without repeating yourself multiple times — another thing Facebook (not to mention your followers) doesn’t like.

    So if you’re able to make 20+ individual pieces of content every week, Mazel tov!

    For the majority of us, though, we have to pick our moments — and think harder about what we’re posting.

    Not enough

    Then there’s the opposite problem: brands not posting enough to make any impact.

    One issue we sometimes run into to is getting clients to understand that one piece of content is just one piece of content. Sometimes it’s hard to convince people that you need a whole content plan and a brand’s whole existence doesn’t have to exist in one single piece of content.

    And yes, one piece of content can mean lot (shout out Gary Vee) but once that one video you worked on for hours is gone, what’s next? What’s coming down the pipeline tomorrow?

    You need to strike a balance between frequency and quality. Post often enough that your followers know you’re there — but give them enough quality that they’re not bothered by your posts and continue to be a fan.

    There are a few simple things that can help with this.

    4 (very) simple ways to improve your social posts:

    Work on your post text

    This is a big one a lot of brands get wrong straight out of the gate. Aside from the basics — spelling, grammar, inappropriate content — is your post too wordy? If you’re linking to an outside website through a bit.ly link, is your link appearing under the fold (or the ‘read more’) because the post text is too long? Is there a more succinct way to get across what you want to say? You might need less text than you think, especially if your video, graphic or link headline is enticing enough.

    Work on your messaging

    If you’re trying to inform your followers, is the message of the post clear — or are you meandering on the way to your point? Is your post clear about what it wants from your fans? Is there a call to action? You’d be surprised how often I’m not sure what a brand’s post is trying to promote, even when it should be obvious. If you have a graphic, is the graphic simple enough to understand if someone is just scrolling through — or eye-catching enough to make people stop and look at it?

    Work on your interaction.

    Engagement works both ways, so maybe sure you’re involved in the commenting as well. Are you replying to comments on your posts? This is particularly important when you’ve invited interactions with your post. And if you’re not — why not?

    Work on your variety

    Make sure you have variety in the type of post you’re doing.

    Video is more valued by the Facebook algorithm but you’ll soon burn through all your video content unless it’s all done in an on-the-fly style — and if that’s the style you’re going for, more power to you. Changing things up takes the pressure off somewhat.
    Variety also goes not just for variety of media (video, images, blogs etc.) but variety in the format of posts. For example, motivational posts, promotional posts, polls and educational content.

    All of which boils down to:

    Work on your content

    Not every single piece of content needs to be a masterpiece — but it does have to have a consistent level of quality to keep your followers, fans and customers subscribed. Think about what would be useful or entertaining for your fans and work backwards from that.

    It’s really hard to be a brand on social media these days. Things that used to work don’t anymore (remember ‘tag a mate’?) and it can be a constant struggle to keep up with all the changes. But one thing that will always put you in good stead is having good content that people want to see from you and will engage with.

    If you want help improving your social media content, get in touch today.

    Image: Unsplash
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  • Finding an avenue: Seek out your opportunities to succeed

    Finding an avenue: Seek out your opportunities to succeed

    What your business can learn from the teen Microsoft Excel champion.

    CNN recently covered the story of Kevin Dimaculangan, a 15-year-old who has just become the world’s Microsoft Excel champion.

    How does one become a Microsoft Excel champion?

    Well, firstly, there has to be a competition to enter. And there is one: the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championships, held in Kevin’s home state of Florida in the US.

    (By the way, what a great bit of marketing for Microsoft to set up a competition to crown champions at using their software.)

    Then a kid like Kevin has to be interested (or, sure, pushed) to excel in, well, Excel. In Kevin’s case, it’s because his teacher offered prizes to high achievers. In fact, he says he didn’t even know the program until that class.

    All this is to say that in order to be great at something, there needs to be an avenue for that skill to flourish.

    Avenues

    Nobody became the best at the piano until the piano had been invented. Then we had piano prodigies.

    Nobody knew how heavy someone could deadlift until someone set up a competition to test it.

    After that happened, there was a number to beat and people do it consistently.

    For myself, I know that when I’m writing a short story, knowing I can submit it to a journal or story competition gives me a word limit, a deadline and a goal to work towards. Maybe I’d write a story anyway, maybe I wouldn’t.

    Another example: When I started at Hook Media, I really wasn’t familiar with video editing. But because that’s one of the major things we do, I was provided an avenue to learn and now I edit some portion of the video work we do for our clients.

    So, what’s this got to do with business?

    For one, keeping your eye out for opportunities that you might succeed at could be a boon for your business. Entering your work in a competition, going to a corporate function you usually wouldn’t attend, taking on some pro bono work — any of these could be the chance you need to take things to the next level.

    For two? Not being put off by the constant stream of new platforms and services that are constantly cropping up.

    For some businesses, it’s been nothing but a hassle entering the digital sphere. Some might even wish things would return to a simpler time, before social media, maybe even before websites. But there’s no getting that genie back in the bottle.

    Adapting

    Like the print media before it, many small business were slow to adapt to the promise that digital and social offered.

    But the smart ones saw it was a new avenue. And therein lay opportunities.

    Even for businesses like ours, built around harnessing the power of the digital for businesses, we too can get overwhelmed at the sheer number of new platforms and services.

    But we give them a go and often they flourish.

    For you, this might mean simply putting yourself out there. Take on a client that’s in an unfamiliar industry. Offer a service that you’re good at but would like to get better at.

    Try Instagram Stories. Try boosting your social media posts. Heck, try actually managing your social media if you’re not already (of course, there are places that can help you out with that, hint hint.) Engage that content agency and see what they can do for you.

    On the flipside, if you’re a potential client, take a chance on an unsolicited email or cold call. Take that meeting. You never know when the right avenue will open itself up.

    Takeaway

    When you have a reason to do something, you might surprise yourself as to what you can achieve.

    So seek out the avenues that will help you succeed (or at least have the potential for you to succeed.)

    And if you know what you want and no avenue exists yet — create one. (My former colleague Ali Adey is doing great things at the moment with her SheMentors events, for example.)

    Give yourself the opportunities that might allow you to succeed. That allow you to, well, excel.

    If you want to find new avenues for your business, get in touch today.

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  • Communication is key: get the basics right

    Communication is key: get the basics right

    If you want communication from leads, be contactable. If you don’t want to be contacted, don’t offer a way to do it.

    Have you ever wanted to contact a business and not been able to do it?

    I remember years ago wanting to contact Channel Nine to complain about their coverage of the Academy Awards. (Long story short, they cut out many categories, seemingly arbitrarily. This was cause enough to inspire my anger in 2009.)

    But when I looked for an email to reach someone at the network, their website was no help.

    These days everyone has a social media presence but back then, a message to an official Facebook account was not guaranteed to get a reply. So, did I give up? No. Pedant that I was, I wrote a formal letter, printed it out and mailed it.

    Unfortunately, unlike the supposed policy of the ABC, Channel Nine has no obligation to reply to complaints. And, to be fair, my complaint was very tongue in cheek. (Judging by their current website, it seems they still have no email contact.)

    But you know what? Fair play to Channel Nine. They didn’t want me to contact them and didn’t provide me an avenue. (What that implies about their respect for their viewers is another matter.)

    I much prefer this kind of stonewalling to the alternative: contacting a business through one of their provided channels and receiving no response whatsoever.

    Potential business

    Recently, I came across this when trying to get in contact with a company about potential business.

    It went something like this:

    The company has a ‘Contact’ tab on their website, where I have the choice to fill in a form or email directly an address, usually info@ or contact@. I filled out the contact form and waited a week or so. (We have the same thing on our own website.)

    No response.

    I then went for the other option, and emailed. No response.

    I then took to Facebook and direct-messaged one of their many social accounts. Finally, I got a response from someone managing their social. They gave me a new email to contact a particular person. A week later, still no response.

    What happened?

    Why would this happen? Why would a business allow this to happen? I could be a potential lead.

    Now, maybe I’m a very annoying — though persistent — person and I’m being deliberately ignored through all these channels.

    I can understand that. I’ve worked as a magazine editor where I would receive unsolicited emails and phone calls left, right and centre. And sometimes I would have to ignore these just for sanity’s sake.

    But I daresay this company isn’t getting that much correspondence.

    So maybe I’m not getting a response because their business model doesn’t require them to get back to potential leads and opportunities. This makes complete sense. What doesn’t make sense is giving new potential business a way to contact you — and then not replying.

    Besides, it’s not hard to set up an auto-reply, just to let people know your message has actually come through and not become lost in the internet ether.

    I would, in fact, hazard a guess that nobody is monitoring these incoming messages. And thus, this company is potentially losing business because they don’t know what they’re missing out on.

    They might hate what I’ve offered but because of their unmonitored email, they haven’t had the chance to even make the decision to reject me.

    This is comms

    Having a communications strategy actually does involve basic communication like email. If you offer one, monitor it. If nobody’s going to be able to reply for a few days, set up an out of office or an auto-reply.

    It’s unbecoming of your business to not reply to potential clients or leads. In fact, it’s rude.

    If you’re serious about communication, be serious about it. Reply to enquiries, comment on your social media pages and invite conversation. And if your business doesn’t need that — though I would argue that it almost certainly does — remove contact details from your website.

    It’s simple: Don’t want to be contacted? Don’t provide contact details. It worked for Channel Nine.

    If your business needs help with communication, get in touch today.

    Image: Pexels

     

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  • Why an engaged audience beats a big following

    Why an engaged audience beats a big following

    How social media engagement can beat a big following.

    Sunday night’s Logie Awards were apparently the least watched ceremony since the current ratings system was implemented. Fitting, then, that media outlets have similarly expressed confusion that two underdog winners in particular took home gongs.

    Grant Denyer’s Gold Logie win was considered a ‘shock’, not only because his Family Feud has been cancelled but because the field of people he was up against were perceived as being more popular.

    Even more of a ‘shock’ was Most Popular New Talent winner Dilruk Jayasinha. Jayasinha, up against Bachelor alum Sam Frost and Matthew ‘Mattie J’ Johnson, was similarly considered the underdog.

    And yet he — and Denyer — won. Why?

    Engagement over numbers

    Some news outlets have been confused that someone with fewer followers could have beaten others with many more. There’s a few reasons for this. However, the main one? ENGAGEMENT.

    Dil’s fans were engaged to support him and vote in the Logies campaign. Having a smaller but committed fanbase always will win against pretty people with a million casual followers.

    News.com.au said: “This year’s new talent Logie winner was decided by a public vote, making Jayasinha’s win even more miraculous given the fanbase of other nominees.”

    But is it really?

    The Murdoch-owned website took pains to point out that Dil won DESPITE only having 7000 Instagram followers, whereas Mattie J has 224,000 and released his own slickly produced campaign video.

    But follower numbers only get you so far.

    Dil has been on TV, yes, but he’s made his name largely on the standup circuit and other, smaller outlets such as Australian comedy podcasts (especially the Little Dum Dum Club, who have a massively mobilized audience).

    The other performers in the ‘Best New Talent’ category were all primarily TV personalities. Their audiences are only as loyal as they are to the TV show they’re on.

    Dil’s audience is used to having to do a bit of work to see him: going to a live comedy show, downloading a podcast. He interacts directly with his ‘small’ fanbase. He replies to comments, thanks people for their support and shows up to support his fellow comedians and performers.

    With all due respect, Mattie J’s audience is used to just turning on the TV and seeing him. They’ve never had to work — maybe never even wanted to work — to find him. He’s just there.

    Mobilise your audience

    Your audience size only matters as much as you can motivate them to act.

    Denyer had a story: axed show, underdog, a long losing streak (22 nominations without a win).

    Dilruk also had the underdog story. He came to Australia from Sri Lanka as a teenager to become an accountant, later abandoning that for the much less-lucrative career path of comedy.

    So story definitely helps  — and coupled with a rabidly motivated audience, they both had more on their side than it might have appeared.

    Comedian Tom Gleeson had campaigned hard on behalf of Denyer, precisely because his show had been axed. As Junkee reported, “Gleeson’s campaign — #Denyer4Gold — clearly mobilised a large voting public.” But it’s more than that.

    It might have started as a joke, but Gleeson gave people a reason to vote for Denyer. He engaged fans who might otherwise not bothered.

    And Dil’s community of fans, boosted by weekly podcasts like the Little Dum Dum Club, made it a point to vote for him. The Little Dum Dum Club’s Facebook page and associated group fiercely campaigned for Dil, mobilising a group of people who wouldn’t usually bother to vote in the Logies.

    (There’s also some speculation that the Logie voting form making you vote for all categories helped boost Denyer, who has also appeared on the podcast.)

    Lesson for social media

    All this is to say that, when it comes to social media, it’s not so much about the number of fans or followers you have. Sure, it’s nice to have half a million of them. But how many could you call on to vote for you?

    Follower numbers don’t matter when you have an engaged audience. We are often reminding clients to focus on the reach and engagement levels rather than the raw numbers.

    Sure, Logie voting numbers might have been down overall this year, but in a popularity contest, you need to activate your fans. They have to be motivated to get out the vote.

    And if you can mobilise your audience to get them to vote, maybe you can even get them to click through to your online store and buy something. Now you’re using use social media to help drive sales.

    And you didn’t need half a million followers to do it.

    If you want help getting your followers engaged, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    Pic credit: @dilrukj
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  • The bigger picture: Why one piece of content is just one piece of the puzzle

    The bigger picture: Why one piece of content is just one piece of the puzzle

    Don’t be so hard on yourself, marketers and content creators. One piece of content is just one piece of content.

    Have you ever agonised over the final edit of a short video? Or drafted and redrafted to craft the best words for the text of a post? Or pulled your hair out over which hashtags you use for your motivational image?

    If you work in marketing or content creation at all, you have. We’ve all thought we could have executed something better and we imagine that if only a few small things got tweaked, the outcome would have been greater.

    But it’s (mostly) nonsense.

    Why?

    In many ways, social media is a numbers game. No, not data, though that can be useful too. The number I’m thinking of is about posts, of individual videos, photos, website links and articles. The number of discrete pieces of content that make up your brand’s strategy.

    Think about it: There is so much content going out every day across all the platforms, filling our screens. And there will be more coming tomorrow. Getting too wound up about any one individual piece is misguided. You’re missing the bigger picture if you’re only focused on one brushstroke.

    Social media content is about getting the attention of your followers, fans and potential customers. (As Gary Vee says, attention is the asset.)

    What will hold their attention and keep them coming back for more is consistent content. Not one great video every second month — unless that’s your model (see below) — but daily pieces of content that will engage and entertain your audience.

    Remember, the algorithms these days mean that many of your followers won’t even see some of the stuff you post. Which is why it’s important to keep posting. You never know which post will hit big, after all.

    And as long as you’re not annoying them, your audience will be thankful for the diversity of content — and of the consistency of your output.

    But, but, but…

    I should add this caveat: sometimes it is the right strategy to focus on only a few high-quality pieces of content.

    Large companies used to a more traditional marketing roll-out strategy will usually cycle their social media posts around a current campaign. And that’s fine — if that’s their strategy.

    But for a smaller business that’s more agile and able to take advantage of social media, it’s less about any one piece of content and more about the overall branding impression.

    Quality control

    None of this is to say you should abandon quality. Not at all. You should strive for a high level of quality not matter what you do.

    Nor am I suggesting you don’t need to put money behind your content so it can reach more people.

    On the contrary, you should be boosting posts and creating ad campaigns both to gain followers and to sell your products and services.

    What I am suggesting is that when you try to craft one piece of content to be the solution to your marketing problem, you’re not thinking about it the right way.

    Individual pieces of social media content are like buses. There’s always another one coming down the line.

    So don’t be so hard on yourself. Be consistent, do great work — but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

    If you want help with social media content creation, get in touch with us today.

    Photo: Pexels
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  • How do you deal with your client’s bad ideas?

    How do you deal with your client’s bad ideas?

    Dealing with the curse of client suggestion.

    Have you ever found yourself in this situation?

    A client suggests to you, their social media or marketing manager, an idea for a post or strategy that is, frankly, terrible.

    Sometimes the idea will be something that goes completely against the strategy you’ve both agreed upon.

    For example, let’s say you manage the social accounts for a brand that has a very structured social media strategy. Videos must have a high-production quality, photos professionally shot and the order in which you post content is on a specific cycle.

    But then your client asks you to quickly post something one of their customers or sales people has done on their phone. You know what comes next: a blurry photo, a vertically shot video with terrible sound, etc. Not an ideal representation of the client’s brand.

    So, what do you do?

    Use it because, after all, they’re the client — even if their brand is being damaged by such shoddy content? Do you try to have a polite conversation about how this piece of content goes against the client’s own strategy? There usually isn’t time for that. Or do you flat-out refuse, potential causing tension between you and your client?

    Navigating

    So, how do you navigate the tricky waters of bad client suggestions? A few pointers might help when this situation comes up:

    • Try to communicate why their idea is not good for their brand. A lot of the time, this will work. We’ve had clients that just want to hear an explanation and understand we have a reason for what we’re doing. Once we’ve explained it, they’ll go, ‘Cool, just wanted to understand.’ Putting it in terms of how it might affect their brand or business will help them to understand that you’re both on the same side and you want to act in your client’s best interest.
    • Advocate for your point of view. How forceful should you be when presenting your argument for why something is good or bad? Be polite but steady in your opinion, and reiterate that it’s something that has guided your strategy in the past. And if it’s something you and the client have discussed in the past, remind them of that fact. Sometimes it’s just a case of reminding them; other times they might not grasp the strategy.
    • If you get pushback, cool. It’s on them. If they don’t relent but come back to you in a few months saying such and such doesn’t work, you can point to this moment when they rejected your advice and remind them about it. From then, maybe they’ll come around and maybe they won’t. As long as you’ve done your due diligence and tried to express why you believe this or that is bad for your client, it’s up to them whether they take your advice.
    • You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Social media management is about devising a strategy with a client and executing it. At the end of the day, it’s up to the client to decide whether they want to abide by it or not. It’s their business, after all, not yours. If the client doesn’t let you execute the strategy, more fool them.
    • Be open to the idea that you might be wrong. Maybe your strategy does need some flexibility. Be open to your client’s needs for their own customers and clients. They are, after all, paying your bills. For example, we had a client that we had developed a very particular Instagram strategy with (order of posts etc). However, we realised it was better to be a little more reactive on Instagram so that we can repost fans and do live updates at events, which our previous strategy would not let us do. A more elastic approach to strategy might benefit your clients— and it might be how they prefer to work. It can be the best of both worlds: you get a strategy you can follow and plan ahead for — but also the ability to be ‘in the moment’ and responsive on a platform that suits that kind of content.
    Takeaway

    Client management might seem like a hurdle on the way to doing the job. But it actually is the job, to a large extent. Having clear and open lines of communication between you and your clients is the best way to keep them on the books. And the best way to continue to do great work that enriches both your businesses.

    If you need social media, content or communications solutions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

     

    Image by Pexels

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  • Heavy metal, Ghost and the power of branding

    Heavy metal, Ghost and the power of branding

    What can we learn from the smart branding and marketing of the band Ghost?

    You know who’s really good at branding? Metal bands.

    Maybe you didn’t see that coming. Hear me out.

    From the iconic logos of Metallica and Slayer to the corpsepaint of Norwegian black metal— not to mention Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie — heavy heavy metal has always had identifiable branding.

    And these days, it’s the Swedish band Ghost that has taken heavy metal branding to the next level.

    So, who?

    Ghost is a band from Linköping, Sweden, formed in 2006. Ghost is also is a miracle of branding and marketing. This is not to say that the music’s not good — it is, I like it a lot and you should listen to it. (Their new album, Prequelle, comes out June 1.)

    But it’s hard to deny Ghost has built itself up on the back of very clever marketing, which they have used to generate engagement and wonder.

    First, the aesthetic. Ghost is fronted by a singer who has, album by album, been known by different monikers: Papa Emeritus, Papa Emeritus II, Papa Emeritus III and, most recently, Cardinal Copia. In the mythology of the band, each of these is actually a different person, complete with elaborate coronation ceremonies. (More on this later.)

    Each name change comes with a different costume — the Papa-era costume was essentially a papal outfit — as if the singer was the Pope of the Church of Satan. Indeed, the concept of Ghost is that the band exists in an occult horror movie.

    The backing band is made up of ‘Nameless Ghouls’, who, as the name suggests, wear matching masks to hide their faces and identities. The overall aesthetic is somewhere between 1930s horror and 1970s experimental film.

    That’s just the visuals. The lyrics of the songs mostly reference Satan as a living figure, pledging allegiance and fealty to him as a Catholic Cardinal prays to Holy Trinity.

    But here’s where it gets brilliant: although the lyrics seem straight out of a death or black metal band, the music is more in the vein of Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult or, dare I say it, Kiss. That is to say, traditional heavy metal or hard rock. And it’s VERY catchy.

    It’s a triumph of aesthetic over musical genre; that is, branding over content.

    Organic growth

    If the aesthetic is quite 1970s, the way Ghost uses branding and marketing is thoroughly 21st century.

    This combination of factors — the Satanic aesthetic, the catchy songs, the ‘transgressive’ lyrics and the sheer theatre of it all — has garnered Ghost a highly engaged, dedicated set of fans.

    People were ‘in the know’ if the a) knew who the band was and b) knew it was an act. It was like a secret club to understand this band on these different levels.

    (If there’s any question the whole thing is a loving gimmick, the band has covered an ABBA song.)

    The way that the band creates mystique and builds anticipation around the unveiling of the ‘new’ frontman is a stellar marketing move.

    The heavy metal media will cover the changing of the character — even though everyone knows that it’s the same person, Tobias Forge — as if it were a true band member being replaced.

    The fact that Ghost can pretend to get a new singer for each album — and generate social media frenzy about ‘who’ the new singer will be — builds excitement around almost nothing but a puff of smoke.

    Accompanying these unveilings are a series of videos, the most recent involving the storyline of the then-current singer Papa Emeritus III being whisked offstage and replaced by an elderly Italian man dressed again in Papal robes. We later learn this is Papa Emeritus Nil.

    After this live stunt, the official Ghost channels released a series of short films where we learn Papa Zero is too old and unwell to perform and must instead be replaced by Cardinal Copia.

    Basically, this is all content marketing for Ghost’s new album.

    Expanding the audience

    If Ghost’s aesthetic was always tongue in cheek, for this latest album cycle it’s downright campy. Yet the band have negotiated this tricky path with aplomb, managing to bring their original fans along with them.

    On a sonic level, with their latest shedding of their lead singer from the handsome Papa Emeritus III to the more Mafioso Cardinal Copia, the band is expanding its sound into even more hooky pop rock. This is placing them very well to leverage the dedicated fanbase and expand their audience.

    If this all sounds convoluted and complicated, that’s fine. Many things that engage people on an intense level — comic books, Star Wars, football — usually have some element of ‘gatekeeping’, of being difficult to get into at first, of keeping it a ‘cool club’. All you need to know if that this is how one band is engaging and growing its fanbase — and a lot of it is outside the music.

    In a genre known to place importance on branding (while of course insisting it doesn’t care about branding), Ghost have used it to great advantage to promote their music. The fact that their music is barely ‘heavy metal’ in the 21st century definition is almost beside the point. Ghost used heavy metal aesthetic, lyrics and mysticism — and the media — to organically create hype and a loyal, ‘with it’ following.

    And it doesn’t hurt that they make really good music too.

    Takeaways

    I said earlier that Ghost was a triumph of branding over content. It’s more accurate to say it’s branding BEFORE content. The content is a MUST. The branding and marketing bring that content to the audience.

    So, to reiterate:

    1. Ghost marketed itself as extreme metal band but the music is more in the vein of Kiss, Blue Oyster Cult or Black Sabbath. Scary image and lyrics only reinforced this.
    2. This built up a ‘cool’ elite group of fans. People were ‘in the know’ if they liked Ghost.
    3. This feeling was reinforced by the fans knowing the whole thing was a shtick.
    4. Each album cycle comes with a ‘new’ lead singer, builds excitement out of almost nothing
    5. Now band are expanding their sound and their audience but have held onto the diehards
    6. They have the content (great songs) but it wouldn’t have been as impressive or as successful without the branding and marketing.

    The lesson here for brands should be obvious: your main content does have to be good but it can be promoted and distributed with clever and engaging marketing.

    If you need help with your content, branding or marketing, why not get in touch with us today?

    Pic credit: Enric Martinez
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  • Why your thing has to be good first

    Why your thing has to be good first

    If you want people to pay in the future, your free thing has to be really good: LinkedIn, Spotify and the freemium model.

     You know what I find strange? That the freemium model of business — that is, you get a base level of something for free and you can pay for a better version of it — seems to be built around the idea that ads are terrible and nobody wants them.

    So, on Spotify’s free service, you’ll get barraged with ads in between songs, including in-house ads that say things like ‘Isn’t life so much better without ads?’ Yes, I agree Spotify, it is.

    But don’t the clients for these ad-supported services get annoyed that their audiences are constantly being told to upgrade so they don’t have to endure ads? You have to wonder.

    Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that, in the freemium model, the free version in general is deliberately hobbled in some way.

    After all, while ads are the way many freemium services pay for the ‘free’ part, sometimes it’s additional features are the lure.

    This is the case with LinkedIn.

    Now, I have to assume that part of LinkedIn’s strategy is to make its base model functionality really annoying so you upgrade. However, at $55 per month, I’m not yet in a financial position to find out if that’s the case, so I’m just speculating.

    (By the way, are they kidding with that price? That’s what you pay for Adobe CC.)

    Considering Facebook is free and LinkedIn isn’t, let’s do a little comparison in terms of UX.

    Free LinkedIn vs. Free Facebook

    Despite being free, there are basic things that Facebook gets right that LinkedIn doesn’t seem able to. For example:

    • Notifications opening in a new page, instead of a floating panel. This means that if you want to check your notifications, you have to leave your place in the newsfeed or open them up in a new tab.
    • Tagging. Uniformly, tagging sucks on LinkedIn. Nine times out of ten, if I type @ and then the name of the company or individual I want, it either won’t provide me a list of the correct accounts or nothing will happen at all.
    • Data on sharing. Did you know you can share posts on LinkedIn, just like on Facebook? Have you ever been notified directly of this? Probably not. It’s even worse if you have a business account.
    • The way articles display. That is, not at all. Wouldn’t it be great if all the articles (formerly ‘Pulses’) that LinkedIn’s users create existed on an easy-to-find main page, much like Medium’s home page? You’d be able to see which articles are getting people talking, what’s been recently published and it would give less-popular users a platform to generate some reach outside of our own networks. This would be one big way LinkedIn could really differentiate itself from other social networks, beyond just it being ‘the Facebook for professionals’.
    • Groups are even worse. On Facebook, posts from your groups will show up in your feed, so you can see what the conversations are. On LinkedIn, good luck even finding where your groups live. Discussions from them don’t appear in your timeline, meaning there’s little engagement with posts and you rarely get notified about them beyond a weekly email.

    So, are these just bugs or has LinkedIn made the platform worse for free users?

    Make your free thing good

    The irony is, if I was sure of a better service/UX with an upgrade, I might consider it. None of this is to denigrate LinkedIn. On the contrary, I enjoy LinkedIn for its business insights, connections and general no-nonsense communication (at least compared to Facebook, people are relatively polite). It’s just that when they can’t seem to get the basics of a social network right — or how people actually use social networks these days (i.e. mobile-first) — it doesn’t inspire confidence in me to upgrade.

    This brings me, in a roundabout way, to my actual point: if you want people to pay for something later, you have to make the free thing really good first.

    The reason, perhaps, we’ll put up with ads on free Spotify is that the base model is actually a really good and valuable service if you’re a big music fan. And if you do upgrade, you’ve likely done so because you recognise that Spotify Premium is what you already like but better.

    Similarly, whether you choose to upgrade on LinkedIn or not depends to some extent on how good the base platform is (you know I love you, LinkedIn, I’m just foolin’).

    All this applies to social media marketing too. If all you give your followers for free is sales-speak and ads, they’re not going to want to click through to your website. Or buy your product. Or sign up for your newsletter. They’re not going to want to join your premium closed group that costs $10 a month — Unless you’ve shown them value in what you’re giving away.

    This is where content creation — good content creation — beyond just advertising and marketing can really help your business. This isn’t a new idea either. It goes all the way back to pre-digital media.

    Adding value, adding customers

    My publishing hero is William M. Gaines, who published Mad Magazine without ads for 44 years. And when he finally had to succumb to market forces and put ads in the magazine in 2001, people largely accepted it because the audience knew that Mad Magazine had great content.

    So don’t think of a great thing, then deliberately make it less good just to charge money. That’s just gross — not to mention uncreative. Plus, it most likely won’t work. At least not in the long term.

    You have to demonstrate that you can deliver what you’re offering by making your free offering great. Then find a way to augment and add value to it so that your built-in audience of fans and followers will want to pay for that access, that product or that service. (Podcasts do this really well, by the way.)

    If you can show people through quality free content why your business is worth investing in, before long you’ll have some very loyal customers.

    If you want help with your social media content creation and management, get in touch today.

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  • Does your brand need social media anyway?

    Does your brand need social media anyway?

    What would your business be like if you didn’t use social media?

    Big brands such as Tesla, Playboy, Mozilla and Sonos recently left Facebook amid the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. Theoretically, these companies made a moral choice about Facebook’s misuse of data and the potential exploitation of the platform.

    But maybe they just realised they don’t actually need social media all that much.

    This is something to consider: maybe social media isn’t for you. Or your business. It’s right for a lot of businesses, but not all. Some businesses don’t require it, so be honest with yourself: What would your business be like if you didn’t use social media?

    Social media can be a great tool for small businesses and single traders who are in a position to really connect with their fans in a content-directed way. However, larger companies that have no desire or use for creative content might not need it at all.

    After all, a lot of big brands’ social media accounts only exist to have some online presence and to field a deluge of complaints every day. It must be a relief for these #deletefacebook companies to not have to deal with that anymore.

    And since Facebook decided in December 2017 that it was reverting to a more friend-focused model, maybe the Cambridge Analytica scandal could not have come at a better time for brands finding their reach and engagement levels way down.

    Harkening back

    So, some brands can get away with removing Facebook altogether — and maybe their other social accounts too. That’s still a little drastic for most companies though. But it does provide a good launching pad for thinking about other avenues that brands can be too blinded by social to consider.

    With Facebook’s recent changes to how business accounts to operate, we’re seeing a move to an older form of internet marketing, more linking back to owned assets like websites and direct marketing in the form of email newsletters, still one of the more reliable formats in terms of conversions.

    At one point, Facebook was great for levelling the playing field between the big guys and the little guys. For better or worse, it flattened everything out, gave every company a clean design. It made it hard to tell who was a big player and who was just a pretender. It gave even the smallest of businesses a modicum of professionalism.

    However, now that the only way to get much benefit out of your business page is to pay for reach, all that hard work building an organic community or people for naught, some brands are deciding that it’s time to pack up and move things back to where you own everything and have control: your website, your email newsletter, events, your other social networks. Social as publishing

    Marketing beyond social

    Back in the days before social media, brands would actually have a marketing strategy other than Facebook. They had magazine ads — to its dying day, still a better branding tool than it was given credit for. They had outdoor advertising. They had event signage and point-of-sale. They had TVCs that were actually on TV. Then came social media, which people saw as a way to save lots of money and abandon all other marketing.

    At Hook Media, we’ve always thought about social media as just one channel to spread your business message and treated the actual content as the key what defines how your brand represents and defines itself. With a background in publishing, we like to think of it as another kind of publication, albeit one with content all broken up rather than combined in one package, like a magazine.

    So if one platform isn’t working anymore, that’s not the end of the world. That’s just a new opportunity to change tactics and come at it from a different angle. It’s the brands who are still trying to play the same old numbers game that will suffer.

    The recent upheavals with Mark Zuckerberg’s platform just serve to illustrate once again that it’s still a good idea to have a media strategy aside from social.

    Social media isn’t dead — there are other options besides Facebook, after all. But you might not need to place as much importance on it. It’s just one weapon in your arsenal.

    It’s just too bad everyone already abandoned the magazines.

    If you need communications advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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