• 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Plagiarism on social media: Why content theft is bad for your business

    Plagiarism on social media: Why content theft is bad for your business

    Newsflash: you shouldn’t steal stuff

    In the traditional media paradigm, content creators — though we used to be called writers, journalists, designers, photographers etc. — knew that plagiarism was a bad thing. It should be self-evident, right? If you didn’t make something yourself, don’t palm it off as your own creation.

    The digital media world has blurred some of these lines in the past decade or so. Many digital publications base their reporting on one source, often another website, and essentially rewrite the story line-by-line for their site, embedding the same images or videos. Even reputable mastheads have to use this kind of appropriation to up their clicks in order to fund more meaningful and serious work.

    (Related: This is why Buzzfeed has quizzes about which vegetables are trustworthy next to serious reportage about victory over ISIS in Mosul. When anyone tells you Buzzfeed is trash, they just haven’t been keeping up.)

    Considering this, it’s perhaps understandable why a person unfamiliar with the history of changes in the media landscape might not bat an eye at taking, say, a complete workout from a fitness website and publishing it as her own work, possibly even charging people to download a PDF version of it.

    Plagiarism in the fitness industry

    Last year, fitness blogger and personal trainer Sohee Lee described the plagiarism situation in the fitness industry like this:

    “There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other people on social media nowadays stealing others’ hard work. They’ll take images or writing that others have produced and act like it’s their own. Oftentimes, this flies under the radar, and they get away with it for a long time.”

    As a fitness magazine editor, I would sometimes come across instances of plagiarism from freelancers who must not have realised that we editors have access to Google and can search sentences that suddenly appear much better crafted than the surrounding paragraphs.

    To some degree, this is just a bug in the current system of having personal trainers writing articles. Someone not from a journalistic background might not even be aware that plagiarism comes in many forms, including ripping off what might seem like stock-standard instructions on how to do a lat pulldown.

    Some of this, however, cannot be put down to ‘didn’t know any better’. Lee goes on to describe one particular person who systematically stole her social media content and claimed it as her own:

    “I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when a post of hers popped up…A few lines in, I found myself raising my eyebrows because I quickly realized that actually, those were my exact words.”

    This kind of plagiarism is malicious and inexcusable. This is the kind of plagiarism where the perpetrators definitely know better. They are usually seeking to make money off other people’s hard work. Good social media content is hard to produce, after all. And there’s a generation of people for whom stuff on the internet has always been free. They will not think twice about ripping it off and claiming it as their own.

    The lesson for all businesses

    This is something people using social media for business — any business — need to be doubly aware of when posting. Whether it’s blogs on your website, what you share on Facebook and even the actual text in your Instagram posts, you can’t just steal stuff.

    You know that funny meme you saved as a photo and then posted without attribution or permission to your business page? Not your property. That infographic you wanted to use because it perfectly explained a concept? You’d better link to the source or seek permission (or, hey, graphic designers like getting paid too) before running with it.

    Now, you’re probably not going to get sued over one silly meme. But it’s a habit you don’t want to get into. The next instance mightn’t be so frivolous and you — or your staff — won’t know how to tell the difference.

    And aside from all that, those pieces of content are usually no good.

    The solution

    You need good, custom content and if you can’t afford a company to do it for you, you need to create that content yourself. Think of your brand and how much damage plagiarism does to it. Even if you’re not caught or called out (though you eventually will be), what does it say about your brand that someone else’s work can represent it?

    (As it happens, we at Hook have had our work stolen, which in one sense is a form of flattery. But in another, more accurate sense, it’s common theft and a big energy drainer.)

    In the end, it’s more rewarding to create things of value for your clients or customers. It’s also better for your business overall. Your SEO numbers will be much better at the very least.

    Plus, you won’t be tempted to post crappy memes.

    If you’re interested in good custom content or a social media plan to make it for yourself, get in touch with us.

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