• 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Stick to what you do best: the business lesson of Gibson

    Stick to what you do best: the business lesson of Gibson

    Gibson has filed for bankruptcy. Is it a dark day for the music industry or the beginning of much-need course-correction?

    The iconic guitar brand Gibson, maker of the Les Paul, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday, May 1. The company had debts between $100m and $500m.

    Why has this happened? There are a few possibilities to consider.

    One is the fall in popularity of guitar-based music in the wider music industry. Younger people, who drive a lot of new business for brands like Gibson, are increasingly interested in non-guitar-based music, with EDM and rap more in vogue than rock.

    And, sure, this will have some effect on any company that sells real live musical instruments.

    It’s true that the guitar industry in particular is in trouble. Fender is also in debt. In this sense, it’s not just a Gibson issue.

    But some things are particular to Gibson.

    A major reason for Gibson’s current situation is just plain bad business decisions by Chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz. This included purchasing the electronics brand Philips to make headphones and other consumer audio goods. This is the source of many of the company’s woes since the creation of the Gibson Innovations brand in 2014.

    At the time, getting into electronics might have seemed like a good idea, since so much music is now made with all the benefits of increasingly-cheaper technology including software, headphones, interfaces, synthesisers etc.

    However, there’s something to be said about doing what you do best and not letting that fall by the wayside. No matter what other bright and shiny industries you think you should diversify into.

    Because Gibson’s diversification took the focus off the core business: music and musicians.

    Isolating your core market

    Word from many musicians is that Gibson took its eye off what it was good at and didn’t listen to its fans and customers. The introduction of an electronic tuner, the G-Force, built into new guitars — which Gibson is currently being sued overenraged most everyone who played one.

    In addition, musicians have been criticising Gibson’s recent output as taking a big dip in quality.

    For example, when Gibson unveiled its 2017 Les Paul Standard (with a price tag at $4799 USD), it used a promo photo of a damaged guitar, calling into question its overall quality control.

    In 2016, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Gibson’s credit rating to a ‘negative outlook’ because of its growing debt, which might explain some of this corner-cutting.

    But moreover, it seems the corporate culture at Gibson has become toxic and that’s affected every aspect of the business.

    Bad reputation

    The support Gibson once had for brand ambassadors started to disappear. They started to get a bad reputation among musicians — not a great look for a guitar company.

    Soon enough, artists left Gibson and got contracts with other gear companies that would support them — or start their own companies.

    One high-profile Gibson ambassador was former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde, who left the company to start his own guitar line in 2015.

    In 2017, Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher ended his endorsement deal with Gibson in favour of ESP. (Metallica’s James Hetfield jumped from Gibson to ESP himself many years ago.)

    Kelliher’s flat assessment? “They treat their artists like shit, basically.”

    “All the guys I worked with over there – the A&R guys were getting fired left and right and the company just seemed to be falling apart to me,” Kelliher told Ultimate Guitar. “There were new guys who would come in and they didn’t know shit.”

    He cited massive dysfunction and bad communication within Gibson, including manufacturing his signature guitar line incorrectly.

    “Kids would get my guitar in the mail and ask me how to tune it because it wasn’t tuned and then I would tell them how to tune it and they would say it still doesn’t sound right and it’s because they’re not putting my gauge strings on there.”

    What’s next?

    Gibson’s declaration of bankruptcy will eliminate the Gibson Innovations electronics division and restructure around its ‘core brands’. Gibson hopes this will save the Gibson brand with a new company so that it can have a renewed focus on guitars. (Indeed, Gibson apparently has agreements with the holders of 69 per cent of its debt so that it can continue to operate.)

    In a statement, Juszkiewicz, who appears to be sticking around, said:

    “The decision to re-focus on our core business, musical instruments, combined with the significant support from our noteholders, we believe will assure the company’s long-term stability and financial health.”

    Could this be a sign of course-correction? Only time will tell. One at least hopes Gibson has learnt its lesson about trying to be a tech company.

    Diversifying is fine but losing sight of what you do best can be a business killer. Calvin Klein makes many varieties of clothing but it makes sure that its most famous, popular product — underwear — is still its cornerstone.

    Not everyone needs to be in tech. Lonely Planet still make most of their money from selling those big print travel guides. They’ve kept a toe in the digital space but they know which side their bread is buttered on.

    As Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler said: “What really pleases me is that Lonely Planet is still going very well. It hasn’t made a complete shift into the digital world, but then there’s a lot of the digital world that doesn’t make money.”

    Do what you do best and don’t lose sight of it. Otherwise you soon might not have anything to sell at all.

    If you want help communicating what your business does best, get in touch.

    Image credit: Pexels
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  • 6 times high-profile people lost sponsors because of social media posts

    6 times high-profile people lost sponsors because of social media posts

    Smart sportspeople can get the upper hand with sponsors — but some will always misuse social media and face the consequences.

    The entire country seems to be only just recovering from the news that people who hit a ball around for a living might not be emblems of moral fibre (shocked, shocked!). I am, of course, talking about the ball-tampering scandal that has seen three members of the Australian cricket team suspended, including captain Steve Smith, who has resigned in disgrace. And the response from the brands associated with cricket has been swift.

    This despite the scandal being far from the worst thing Australian sportsmen have ever done — not by a long shot. For some reason this has hit Australia right in the patriotismSmith was dropped by Sanitarium (maker of Weet-Bix), David Warner was dropped by LG; Warner and Cameron Bancroft were both dropped by Asics.

    In addition, Magellan has terminated its deal with Cricket Australia while sponsor Qantas’ Allan Joyce publicly said he was very disappointed about the incident. (Almost a disappointing as Qantas not paying any tax in 2017.)

    But you know what’s quite interesting? This has all happened without social media really getting involved. Usually, for sponsors to drop high-profile athletes, it takes a monumental stuff-up on a social platform or a groundswell of social media pressure on a brand. In this case, it seems brands took it upon themselves to be moral arbiters.

    People have (mostly) learnt how to use social media

    Now, it’s true, this doesn’t happen as much as it used to, at least not with sportspeople. Athletes of previous generations were a lot less savvy and social media was much younger; its power wasn’t quite as understood. (However, there are still some dum-dums, as we’ll see below.)

    These days, it’s just as likely to be a sponsored athlete taking a brand to task.

    More and more we’re seeing athletes taking it upon themselves to call our their sponsors when a brand representative — or CEO — says or does something not in line with the sportsperson’s ethics or beliefs. Both Steph Curry and Misty Copeland were vocal about disagreeing with their sponsor Under Armour’s CEO Kevin Plank when he publicly supported President Trump.

    This makes sense. After all, companies these days are using an athlete’s own brand for leverage even more than they used to. Sports people and influencers are their own businesses and through social media are potentially more powerful than their sponsors. Indeed, the pressure by Copeland and Curry resulted in Under Armour releasing a statement ‘clarifying’ the CEO’s remarks.

    However, it still bears repeating that all social media is publishing and people will see it — especially if you’re a high-profile person. So here are six times high-profile people lost sponsors — or worse — because of their social media posts.

    Content warning: LOTS of homophobia (though I won’t directly quote any).

    1. Israel Folau

    This one is hot off the press, so no sponsor has made a move just yet — but I’ve got my fingers crossed. Rugby jackass Israel Folau recently made homophobic statements on Instagram and Wallabies sponsor Qantas is now said to be reconsidering its sponsorship of the team. Folau has not made any attempt as an apology. On the contrary, he’s now posting cherry-picked bible verses on social media, digging his heels in to the controversy. Hot tip, mate: you’re a rich and famous sports star, not a persecuted victim. Persecuted actually describes the people you said would burn in hell.

    2. Stephanie Rice

    Speaking of the Wallabies and massive idiots, who could forget Olympic swimmer Stephanie Rice’s infamous tweet when the Wallabies won the rugby against South Africa? It was the heady days of 2010, where a famous gold medallist with a huge social media following felt comfortable to tweet the f-word for gay out into the world wide web. Jaguar, her sponsor, promptly dropped her, despite reading from the classic Aussie Sports Apology playbook: ‘I’m sorry if I offended anyone’.

    3. Rashard Mendenhall

    Rashard Mendenhall, running back for American football team the Pittsburgh Steelers, was dropped by sportswear brand Champion after tweets that were interpreted at the time as being sympathetic to Osama Bin Laden. The news story had just broken about Bin Laden’s death and Mendenhall, ambivalent about celebrating, tweeted, “What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side…” Throw in another tweet about 9/11 being a conspiracy and Mendenhall was toast.

    4. Andre Grey

    Steph Rice wasn’t the only one being a homophobic pest on Twitter in the early 2010s. In 2012, British footballer Andre Grey took to Twitter to spout violently homophobic nonsense. The tweet was live for, oh, only four years before his team Burnley found out. His punishment? Suspended for four months. Doesn’t quite seem right, does it? Maybe this list should be of people who got off rather lightly considering…

    5. Anthony Weiner, various other politicians

    US Democratic politician Anthony Weiner’s social media scandals are so extensive they have their own Wikipedia page. The most famous was in 2011, when he ‘accidentally’ tweeted a photo of his private parts out to his followers, later claiming he meant to send it privately to a 21-year-old college student. Uh, yeah, that didn’t make it sound any better. The immediate fallout was Weiner resigning from Congress but Weiner (yes, everyone noticed the joke too) just couldn’t help himself. Sexting scandals followed in 2013 and 2016. He currently resides in Federal Medical Center, a prison for people with mental health issues.

    Mark Thornton, a potential candidate for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party (turn around three times and spit), was in some hot water last year. In front of Senator Hanson herself, Thornton was asked at a press conference about a sex shop he owned and very questionable social media posts from its account. His penalty? He actually didn’t get kicked out because, you know, One Nation.

    (Oh but Canadian politician Jad Crnogorac from the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives was kicked out of her party for several social media posts that were racist and made fun of rape.)

    6. Nate Diaz

    In 2013, then-up and coming lightweight UFC fighter Nate Diaz took to Twitter after…look, it doesn’t matter what it was about. He said something homophobic (notice a pattern here?). The UFC suspended him for 90 days and fined him $20,000 for breaking its code of conduct. Has Nate learnt his lesson about running his fingers on Twitter? Eh, not really.

    These days, there’s no reason smart athletes and high-profile people can’t get leverage with their sponsors — but there will always be those who just don’t get it.

    Need help with your social media? Let us know.   

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  • Walking the walk: How (not) to be taken seriously on social media

    Walking the walk: How (not) to be taken seriously on social media

    How are you coming across on social media?

    In my previous career as a magazine editor, I would often come across a strange phenomenon. Contacting athletes for a feature or interview, I was often struck by how many did not match what they put out through their social media channels.

    I’m not talking about Photoshopped images and Instagram filters. This was more about how they would choose to interact with the world. Athletes who preach focus, consistency and dedication barely put in the effort to use proper punctuation in message. Posts that castigated others for being lazy came from people who couldn’t be bothered to fill out a Q&A. Those who spoke of respect and ‘getting it done’ every day took weeks to reply to an email.

    And often those who tried to motivate people with platitudes like ‘if you want something, you just have to hustle’ would lose their motivation when our media outlet would try to engage with these athletes, be it setting up a meeting, asking for some content, an image or anything that might help their brand out — suddenly they weren’t very motivated. So much for hustle.

    Obviously in the fitness industry these kinds of posts mostly refer to fitness. Still, it struck me that these athletes who presumably wanted exposure and potential business would not apply their successful philosophies in one area (fitness) to how they dealt with the rest of the world (media, business, etc.).

    (Indeed, it’s no coincidence that those who manage to apply one discipline to another are often very successful.)

    Helpful hints

    However, it is possible that some people do not realise that this is how they are coming across. In fact, I’m sure most of the people I’m thinking of would be horrified to know. In that spirit, here are a few helpful hints to being taken seriously outside of the social media world (aka the real world):

    • Don’t preach consistency and attention to detail when there are spelling errors all through your social posts.

    • Don’t bang on about hard work when you can’t be bothered getting back to people in a timely manner.

    • Check each post before it goes out and evaluate it for what you’re actually communicating. Is it something that fits with how you genuinely see the world or have you jumped on a bandwagon?

    • Don’t go on about staying humble and having respect in your social posts when you’re rude to people who want to contact you.

    • Understand that when somebody gets in touch, they are a potential client, customer or contact. If you are truly too busy, send a quick reply acknowledging that you received their message and you’ll endeavor to get back to them when you can.

    These obviously don’t only apply for those in the fitness industry. Anyone who uses social media to engage with clients, customers or fans should be aware of how their non-social media behaviour can impact their perception and reputation.

    Takeaway message

    If you’re a social media personality trying to inspire your followers to do ANYTHING — buy your product, become your client, follow your page, whatever it might be — don’t go against what you’re saying in your posts in your dealings with your fans, the media and, by extension, the world in general.

    Sure, we all have personas online. Our social media presence does not equal the sum of our value as a person. That said, if you’ve decided to have a social media presence, what you put out there better be at least somewhat representative of you as a person.

    And who knows? Maybe you’ll even become more successful as a result.

    If you’re an athlete or business that needs help with their social media strategy, get in touch with us at Hook Media.

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