Double Down On Empathy
Post-pandemic, many people have a heightened sense of uncertainty, vigilance, and distrust. As marketers, empathy and transparency should be the foundation of all of our work. An honest and unexpected approach gains trust and shares an authentic version of ourselves and our businesses that consumers can connect with.
Strategy Is Significant
Many agencies offer the same services. So what sets them apart? It’s not just the social media or web content they create; it’s the content strategy. Anyone can create content, but a valuable agency partner communicates a consistent stream of meaningful information across all channels. Look for a strategy-first agency to ensure your marketing dollars are used most effectively.
Play The Long Game
Content marketing, done right, takes time. Sure, we can see an immediate impact from campaigns, but for a long-term, sustainable marketing program to be successful, a patient approach is needed. You need time to build an audience that knows, trusts and likes you and to see results that will move the needle.
Creating content that your audience connects with is not as simple as it seems. Gain an understanding of your customer rooted in data and insights—not just demographics, but how and why they buy, what they hope for, and even what they fear. Craft content in your sweet spot—the intersection of your expertise and what buyers need and want to know. Test your content with a small audience segment and revise the content strategy as needed based on their response.
Creating social media posts is really easy, creating effective social media posts that actually accomplish something isn’t.
What are you doing?
This is the question I have started asking myself with every post created for our company or our clients. This gives fundamental guidance, and it’s helping.
I also think of a post as a type of Mad Lib.
These are my questions:
I want to __________________ with this post?
- share something interesting
- share knowledge
- share a fact
- share point of view
- teach something
- promote our company or services
I’m writing it for people _____________.
- who already follow our company on social media
- who already know of our company
- people who are looking for information related to the services we provide
- people who may be looking for knowledge we are sharing
- people who are trying to learn about a topic
When a person reads it I hope they will ________________.
- be glad they took the time to read it
- learn something
- find it interesting enough to share
- remember it
If the goal is to get someone to complete an action make it easy for them, tell them what you’d like them to do:
- encourage them to respond with a comment
- give them a link to the intended destination
- give them relevant details for planning
- It’s important to remember the context of the platform…
- embedded links are always helpful
- if you want to provide links on Instagram, use LinkTree or Later as a means of providing multiple links not just a single profile link
- each social platform should have its own voice, tone, and purpose in your efforts
- know your followers, can you post the same content on each platform or is there so much overlap in followers that each platform has a unique place in your plans
Also, consider that, while most organizations undoubtedly publish more than one piece of content on a topic, a single post may be all one person sees. In creating a post, does it stand alone and provide enough information to be of value; it should. Organizations cannot, and should not, assume that people will see the entire body of work on a topic, nor that people should need to, to gain an understanding of your message.
Finally, we use Agora Pulse for all social media, it has definite advantages, but one of the biggest is that it works with Grammarly and lets us get two sets of eyes on every post. Agora or not, always have someone else look at your post if you can.These are my rules, and while they don’t have to be yours, it’s always good to have some in place to help everyone understand what your organization is trying to achieve with social media messaging.
Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN
To us “Social Distancing” means be physically apart but socially connected…our primary ally in that approach is Slack.
Staying in touch is one of the biggest issues for teams, learning to work apart but still needing to feel connected by purpose and personal exchange. We use Slack as our mainstay to address this. Many people are aware of Slack and live by it, yet many are not.
In its simplest form, we use Slack to facilitate day-to-day communication around the needs of our clients and our projects on their behalf. The company describes it as an alternative to a crowded inbox, a description that does not do it justice. It is an incredibly more efficient than email for our purposes it also allows us to aggregate data, files, and conversations into a single “channel,” as they call it.
We’ve also gone as far as using it to replicate office dynamics by creating a channel we call #watercooler, for jokes, office conversations, and miscellany.
If you have the professional version, once a channel is set up you can easily call all of the “members” with audio or video conferencing and screen sharing. It really is a no brainer. If you are unsure they have a great free version which we used for months before we upgraded; it’s about $7.00/month/person.
It integrates with many apps:
- Project Management
- Time Keeping
- Google Drive
This page probably gives the best overview https://slack.com/why/slack-vs-email
…and yes Micorosft has what they call “teams,” but it’s not as user friendly and after all it is Microsoft.
Working from home has been a learning experience for me from the beginning. A trial and error process where I am continuously finding new things that work and others that don’t. Let’s start with the latter.
When I first took on this role, we began working from home more than I was used to, I had to adapt quickly to the new work pace. I found myself so concerned with productivity that I wouldn’t leave my workspace for hours at a time. I would dive into work and not pick up my head until the late afternoon. While that may sound great, more than a day or two of it left me feeling burnt out. I was sick of looking at the same room and always desperate to get out of my house, but too exhausted to do so. Not the right fit for me.
The solution? A schedule that included valuable (and mandatory) breaks, healthy snacks, room changes, and exercise. I start work before breakfast. By the time 10:30 am rolls around I have gotten two hours of extremely productive work in and I am hungry! I take a break to make a quick breakfast, I change my environment and I start on my next work block of time. This block I let myself tell me when it’s time for a break. Sometimes it’s another two hours, other times it’s three. I use my lunch break to get in a quick workout and a small meal, allowing me to have the energy to finish the day strong. I then change rooms again and work until 4, and spend the rest of the work day taking stock of what I completed that day and plan for the next usually with my dog by my side and ready for a walk.
Dividing my day up into three sections makes me feel energized and accomplished at the end of the day. I am able to close my laptop, and have valuable hours of “me time” before it’s time to wake up and start again.
One constructive thing I’ve learned is that I need to set rules for my virtual workspace. If the strategy is to work productively, two items are more significant than others. Tactics for managing time, and boundaries for anything outside of work. Work needs to be separate from your television, games, and ideally social media for example. I believe the best way to implement these tactics is to set a timer for blocks of time, on your phone or on your computer.
Scheduling specific blocks of time manages focus, and gives a sense of urgency that may otherwise be lacking from your home environment. In a big way, it provides more freedom with structure. When structuring my day, I usually focus on two hour chunks at a time. If I know I’m working on a project, I’ll schedule for 4 hour blocks. No matter what, I’m loosely giving myself a deadline for what I want to accomplish. Once I’ve accomplished what I want, that’s where the boundaries come into play. If I do everything I set out to do within the timeframe I allot, or faster, I’ll allow myself a 20 minute break or so (until my next block of time) to do something I enjoy – taking a walk, reading a bit, video games, or fictional writing.
If using your computer to set a time, just type “timer” into a Google search, or find it here. The Google timer has a pretty unpleasant sound when the time expires, so you may want to go with your phone. Either way, the goal is to set those blocks of time to do a task or project. And be honest with yourself. We’re human, we’re going to get off track. So if you set a two hour block of time until you’re setting yourself a 20 minute break, but end up only working for an hour and a half, skip the break. Whenever possible, avoid deferring any unproductive work time to “after work hours.”
As countless memes have highlighted, those of us on the more, let’s say, hermit-like end of the spectrum, are less freaked out by social distancing and an abundance of home time.
I work well from home. I’ve done so for years, in some capacity or another. My home office is comfortable, it’s filled with natural light, my favorite books, my favorite records, and often a snoring dog. So I wasn’t too concerned about working from home full-time. What I didn’t account for was my wife also working from home full-time.
Ours is a small place with old walls. Sound absorption is not its strong suit, to say the least. After a couple of days haphazardly working from the couch, stumbling through the hours of the day, and taking video calls, we realized that getting back to some resemblance of a routine was important.
Now, as if it were a normal day (or world), we wake up, (sometimes) work out, shower, make coffee, have breakfast, and arrive at our laptops prepared to work at a normal work time. We’ve designated two separate workspaces that don’t involve the couch. My wife got the office this week and I set up shop in the dining room for now. To mitigate the noise, we’ve shared our work calendars with one another and we try to stagger video conferences.
We still ask one another about the day ahead over breakfast. We still meet up for lunch, it just happens to be in the kitchen instead of a local restaurant. We take an afternoon break to walk the dog. We make plans for dinner then try to create some separation between work and everything else. We’re doing what we can, and a smart work routine that somewhat resembles our pre-COVID19 daily lives helps.
Your target can be the same, but the variables required to hit the target may change. Any marksperson who participates in trapshooting knows that you can’t ignore the wind. For that matter, any sailor trying to reach land on a sailboat must acknowledge the same variable. Whether the target is a skeet, an island, or a person, variables will shift, and you have to be accepting of that. You still want to strive to hit the target, of course, your business depends on doing just that. It’s fine if it’s the same target every single time. Just don’t expect to be able to hit the same target in the same way when the wind changes.
What Should Happen?
Instagram should take the side of their users and intervene. There should be an opportunity for Advertisers to become verified and display that they have been vetted. As part of this, Instagram should create a standard that requires all verified advertising to adhere to all government regulations regarding claims of product performance or benefit.
The outlines for this process are already set forth by the FTC and the FDA. This brings Instagram into the general realm of compliance, where other publishers and media outlets live. It may not be a perfect step, but is it a step forward.
The real problem for Instagram: we are the product; they are selling access to our eyeballs and bank accounts. I’m by no means the first to float this assertion, but viewing the relationship this way makes it is easy to understand why the platform has little incentive to address this issue.
Space & Balance
Not too long ago, YouTube redesigned its logo, cleaning up the type slightly, but more obviously, incorporating the red tv shape aligned left as a new standalone mark instead of as part of the name. The new alignment gives the logo better balance, an updated look, and a more versatile design.
Improving space and balance doesn’t mean everything has to be symmetrical but it does mean considering all the ways and sizes your logo may be represented.