• Five years of Hook

    Five years of Hook

    As a handful of congratulatory LinkedIn messages came my way in the last week — thanks to those who sent them — it was time to acknowledge that Hook Media had just turned five.

    They say that if you make it to two years running your own business, you’re set. We’ve made it to five and I still don’t feel comfortable. But I guess as long as we get to six, seven and so on — and I am very confident of that — it doesn’t really matter how I feel. You’ve made it as long as you keep going.

    To be perfectly honest, my vision for what Hook was going to look like in the future was always flexible, partly because the industry is changing so much, partly because people’s needs for the types of services we offer is changing a lot, and also partly because I didn’t know if where we were heading was what I really set out to achieve, for the business and myself in the early going.

    I wanted to remain open to all possibilities, for the sake of the business and for me. That has been a good and bad thing. It’s good because being open-minded has meant that we have moved into areas I didn’t expect and those have been really beneficial experiences. It’s been bad because I’ve really struggled with a sense of identity and a sense of who we really are.

    The focus has certainly narrowed in the past 12 months. We’ve done a rebrand in that time, courtesy of my great friend Peter Trigar at CC&Co. That has helped me with that process quite a lot, and has served as a springboard into new territories and new strategies.

    With this change, I’ve realised that the essence of what we do has always remained solid — we do content that is meant to be seen and consumed. How we package that is what has been the important component for business growth.

    In 2018, the types and variety of content that people want is different, and the ways that stories are being told is different and that’s been a massive adjustment, to both the day-to-day and also my career objectives. I remember chewing the ear off the then Managing Director of Fremantle Media years ago at a lunch and he said that there’ll always be a need for content. If you’re making it, you’ll have a future. If you’re selling it, or distributing it, your future is not as certain. We kinda do both, thus is the challenge.

    Working out the kinds of content that people want to consume and also how to turn that into an earning when people expect to be entertained and informed for free, has always been something that has weighed on my mind.

    These are challenges we’ll continue to figure out as we grow as a business and a big part of that is listening to what our clients are telling us, listening to what the audiences are telling us, but also using our story-telling experience and ever-developing skills to take risks.

    Currently, Hook Media is a four-person strong team of myself, Jeremy Manson, Andrew Darrington and Daniel Hedger. We each bring something unique to the table and we’re doing great work. I’d like to see that team grow in the very near future, but I want to thank those guys on being an integral part of our recent growth.

    There have been other names who have done great work for us in the past — such as Brooke Giacomin, Sean O’Kane and Nick Barber — people whose work still makes appearances in examples and proposals to this day.

    We’ve made many great working relationships over a long time, who are major reasons why we’re still in business. People like Christian Gamble, Richard Turner and Andrew Funke have seen value in what we do and have been and continue to be strong supporters of Hook over the years.

    There are those who we’ve worked with that have enabled us to merge business and common interests and passions, and they have either been or continue to be great supporters of our work, and there have been some who have served also as the lighters of under-arse fires, such as Shane Howard from CCR.

    Some of the great highlights include following Dante Exum around with a camera for Bleacher Report, heading over to my first Mr Olympia with Josh Lenartowicz and producing what I think is a great little web series, shooting some incredible action at the many Warrior’s Way muay thai events for Mark Castagnini, managing livestream basketball events with Luke Sunderland and giving young basketballers a shot at their US College dreams (I’ll never forget the moment a kid was pulled from the court and offered a scholarship on the spot over the phone), the countless bodybuilding shoots with Nick Jones and the Gen-Tec Nutrition team, publishing Muscular Development and getting back into print, albeit briefly, and stepping on the golf course with Damian Shutie and working collaboratively with a genuine media talent.

    I also want to make a special mention of the involvement and work of my former business partner and friend Ryan Mobilia. His career has gone from strength-to-strength in the last two years. He’s a leader in this space and the three years he spent at Hook helped to form the foundations upon which we stand.

    I feel like we’re just getting started in many ways and although I do want to feel like we have ‘made it’ at some point, I never want to feel complacent. Innovation is certainly a buzz word, but if we’re always thinking in that way — of chasing the change — then our work will always feel new. There is so much opportunity out there for what we do, and we’re going to keep finding it.

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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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  • The low cost of social advertising will be short lived

    The low cost of social advertising will be short lived

    There’s this pervasive belief that social media has been and should remain a free platform for people to promote their businesses, as well as a space to share with friends, family and followers. For many, paying for this service is simply out of the question.

    I get where people are coming from. As a content creator, I took pride in achieving great organic reach for my clients, by producing good quality content in the form of blogs, video and strategy. It was a cornerstone of my business.

    With Facebook’s recent changes, which made organic reach even harder — near impossible — to achieve on the same level, marketers and business people, myself included, felt betrayed by the Zuck, many deciding to move away from the platform, exclaiming that Instagram and LinkedIn would be their focus. I have no issue with either of those platforms. In fact, businesses should definitely be playing there. We are.

    But Facebook’s move was not about shutting out marketers specifically. It was about ensuring that they keep people on the platform, and keep winning new users. It was critical for their business that they did not see people leaving their platform in droves, as a result of newsfeeds being filled with people posting advertorial type material constantly. Instead, they want companies to pay for it. They want people to see what their friends are doing first, and what Nike is doing second (unless Nike pay a lot of money to be there constantly).

    Something that really struck me recently, having worked in the print industry earlier in my career was how much investment companies would make on print advertising for access to a potential audience, and they’d do it without a second thought. Not only would they drop tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes hundreds of thousands on this medium annually, they’d also spend huge amounts on creative, strategy, execution, without really knowing what impact it was having other than the bottom line down the road, than the numbers they were being fed by the publishing companies themselves.

    Fast-forward ten years, and these same companies refuse to spend a fraction of that money on social media advertising, even though they are getting more of a guarantee on who is seeing it, where they live, what their interests are, how old they are, what gender they are and for how long they are engaging with it. And further to that, they are getting information about what actions these people are taking after seeing your ad. They are refusing to do so, I believe, because of this idea that social media should be free for all, but also, this belief that social media probably doesn’t work for them.

    Something I’ve had to adjust to is the idea that the same content, or even better content that we are creating now, needs dollars behind it to reach people on Facebook. Yes, there’s still organic value on Instagram, but in addition to the other main inhibitors of the Instagram platform, namely that you can only post a video that runs for 60 seconds, it’s less copy based so you have to nail your messaging in different ways and that it’s a mobile platform rather than a desktop one, Instagram is also owned by Facebook. As marketers and businesses flood Instagram with content, changes to that platform akin to the recent Facebook changes, are merely a matter of time. Both LinkedIn and Instagram are going to have to go through a similar process as Facebook if they intend to keep eyeballs on their feeds into the future.

    The point is, the situation isn’t going to get better for you to promote your business on social media, and it certainly isn’t going to get cheaper. Quite simply, now is the time to be on these platforms and paying money for the reach, while it’s still dirt cheap — and it is dirt cheap.

    Ultimately, advertisers go where the people are, and more importantly, where people’s attention is. The big companies of the world will work out eventually that people’s eyeballs are on their phones and on social, and your newsfeeds will be chock full of ads by the usual culprits that own the TV and billboard space currently. Because the competition for this space will heat up, so will the cost of entry, pushing the little guys out and back to square one.

    That hasn’t happened yet. Don’t let this opportunity pass your business by.

    If you’re looking for a business that knows how to manage your next paid campaign, contact Hook Media at info@hookmedia.com.au.

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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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  • Why cycling your content ‘philosophy’ can help you to grow

    Why cycling your content ‘philosophy’ can help you to grow

    Keep your audiences guessing — and your business growing — by cycling your content.

    My time working in bodybuilding media made me see many parallels between the pursuit of a more muscular physique and many aspects of life, media and business. Many are obvious, such as consistency, focus and planning, but there’s one that has really stuck with me that I see as being of increasing relevance as we move to a more digital future, for marketers, story tellers and communications professionals.

    It’s the idea of cycling, or periodising your training.

    Bodybuilders and fitness junkies talk a lot about ‘keeping your body guessing’. What that means is, from a training standpoint, mix it up. Maybe your strategy right now is to use low rep ranges — like maxing out at four reps — and subsequently lifting higher weights. Then after about six weeks, you flip it. You lower the weight, increase the reps in your working sets to maybe 12 or 15, and also the number of sets you do. Then, a couple of months down the road, flip it again. Maybe this time you train multiple body parts per session, so that each body part is getting attacked multiple times each week.

    What this does is prevent your body from getting comfortable with a certain type of stimulus. Once your body is comfortable with what you’re doing to it, it no longer has a reason to change.

    People don’t want to change

    What I noticed however is that despite this approach being well-known and scientifically backed, people are very resistant to the idea of changing your training approach continually.

    People will continue to ask: do you train for strength or hypertrophy? Do you train heavy or do you train high-rep? Deep down they know that they should probably be doing all of these things but people want to marry themselves to one philosophy. They want to wear a badge that says, ‘I do things this way’. People want to have that ‘aha’ moment, like they’ve worked it all out, and then they can just execute that forever and keep watching the results roll in.

    The same is true in the digital marketing space.

    We know that sticking to one philosophy is suicide in 2018 because what works in the digital space changes constantly.

    But more than that, it’s because for the same reason that your muscles won’t grow, if you keep giving your audience the same stimuli, the same content, the same old stories, they won’t grow either.

    By dishing out the same stuff, your followers will get comfortable with the knowledge that they’ve seen all your tricks before and they’re not expecting anything new.

    So the next post they see from you, they’ll just assume it’s another motivational video, or it’s another reason why I should use certain hashtags, or it’s a another promise of a six figure passive income per month, and they’ll just ignore it.

    Periodised content

    So what’s the solution? Well, like bodybuilding, the answer is NOT to have a random, haphazard approach either.

    Just because you change up your program, doesn’t mean that each strategy is without rules or concepts. In the marketing and comms space, you have plenty of variables to play with.

    What are the different aspects of your business? Maybe focus on producing content about one aspect this month and then switch it to another.

    Maybe it’s about emphasising your blog for a while and then shifting gears and putting out some great audio content. Then maybe it’s video. Maybe for the next few weeks it’s instructional, then it’s more philosophical.

    Plan your content strategy like you would plan your workouts. Pick a method, attack it for a while — and then flip it. A good way to know when to flip it and whether a particular strategy is working? Adopt another bodybuilding principle: measure everything. The numbers will tell you whether the current approach is working or not.

    But remember, when the growth and the engagement is starting to plateau, the time to switch it up was yesterday. Beat the curve, surprise people and keep putting out great content.

    If you need help creating great content, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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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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  • 3 (very) basic tips to make your social media videos better

    3 (very) basic tips to make your social media videos better

    Make your social media videos exponentially better with these quick fixes.

    Getting the basics of video right isn’t as complicated as it used to be, so there should be no excuse for some of the horrible video content you seen on social media.

    In your pocket right now is a device with more processing power than the old supercomputers that used to take up entire rooms. It’s so much easier than it was even a decade ago to shoot great video. Your smartphone has a camera that can, in a pinch, shoot really great high-quality video content — feature films have even been shot with this device — if you keep a few simple things in mind.

    Note: these are very basic tips but a lot of small businesses on social media get them wrong.

    1) No vertical videos

    This is probably the biggest mistake we see made on social media. Notice how your eyes sit horizontally across your face? That’s how we see things. There’s no surer sign of an amateur than vertical video. Tilt that phone and, congratulations, you’ve automatically become 50 per cent more professional than half of the small businesses on social media.

    2) Learn to edit — but don’t go overboard

    If you can get things done in one take, great (see below for our performance tips). However, there are cheap (and even free) editing programs and apps that are relatively simple to learn to give your videos punch. A word of caution though: unless you’re a designer, don’t get too fancy with graphics and transitions. Simple is better.

    (And once you reach a certain level, there are businesses — hint, hint —who can help you out with the higher-end content.)

    3) Focus on performance

    For the person in the video doing a talk-to-camera, it’s worth keeping in mind a few things:

    a) Keep your voice clear and your demeanour upbeat. There’s nothing more likely to turn someone off than a low-energy performance. You’re also probably speaking faster than you think you are. Slow it down.

    b) Scripting vs. off the cuff. If you’re good at talking off the top of your head and staying on-topic, great. If not, you might want to think about scripting something out — not the whole thing necessarily but jotting down key ideas in dot point form can keep you on track.

    c) As always, keep it short and snappy. Not only will this get your fans further into your videos, breaking your content into smaller chunks means you have more pieces of video content to work with overall. Try to limit each video to one or two key pieces of information per video.

    Takeaway message

    Sure, these are simple but you would be amazed at how many small businesses on social media get this stuff wrong.

    The good news is, if you’re getting these three things right, you’re well on your way to creating better and better video content for your business.

    If you need more help with your video content, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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