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Every once in a while, it’s a smart idea to take a few minutes to see ourselves through the eyes of people we hope will hire us.

That may sound very elementary and obvious but many – in fact most – of our clients are surprised and fascinated when we research and describe their current online presence to them at the start of a project. It’s not the market data or sharing trends that catch their attention, it’s the basic stuff anyone can recognize by simply searching for your company like your customer would.

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So do that. If you think most of your customers are going to find you on Facebook, search Facebook and follow the path you think they will follow. If it’s Twitter they’ll find you on, search there. But make sure your search includes a Google search because that is still the #1 way the world discovers new things online.

Community or Promo?

Two things that matter most for you to look for are:

1. Do you find a community? Are OTHER people talking about you, sharing your stuff and saying nice things about your business or are search results finding only your own corporate marketing materials? Other people validate our existence and our value online and provide the tentacles into the social world where we want to be. This is called social proof, specifically the ‘multiple source effect’.

2. Is it obvious how people can contact you and do business with you? You need to know what you want people to do when they find you and make sure they can easily do that. Contacting you is an obvious list topper.

Checking In Is Important

There’s a lot of advice available to fix what you find when you do a simple search like this but you need to start with these periodic checks. Your online profile changes over time depending on how people interact with your content, interact with your competitors content, and even in how they look for you. Check in occasionally so you know.

Next week: do the same search for your competitors.

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Facebook does not drive direct sales, contrary to the hopes and ambitions of businesses everywhere. It is primarily a marketing tool, and the sooner your company realizes this, the sooner your strategy for engagement will put Facebook in its rightful place.

Facebook is useful for 3 things

1. Branding

Facebook is primarily a tool meant to keep relationships healthy and positive in a social world. Because so many use Facebook and, to some, Facebook IS the internet, just being available on Facebook is a simple step that makes sense.

As a branding tool, Facebook, like every other social media platform, allows you to influence your reputation by sharing content you would like to be associated with and by earning commentary and engagement that influences the sentiment around your brand. As the famous video asks, do you like what people are saying about your brand?

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2. Marketing

If you’re willing to pay for it, Facebook advertising can help you reach new potential community members (customers and clients, if the stars align). It’s advertising and analytics platform is so robust and powerful that you can be very specific about who you want to reach with your posts.

And paying for it is the ONLY way to reach new people on Facebook anymore. It used to be that if you had 1000 people like your brand page, 1000 people would see what you post. Not anymore.

Facebook was not built for when things get noisy – with 1 billion+ people on Facebook, the average user would see over 1500 items in their news feed every hour if Facebook didn’t filter it for you. So if you want people to see your stuff, you need to pay Facebook.

Of course, good marketing drives sales. Otherwise, why engage in it? Retail businesses, especially, report significant sales growth from effective Facebook use. But marketing is primarily about generating awareness and demand for what you sell, not selling it on the spot. Because people don’t go to Facebook with buying in mind, calling on people to buy on Facebook isn’t super effective.

3. Building relationships

As far away as most businesses are from understanding that building relationships with customers is THE great gift that social media has introduced to modern communications, it is. And Facebook is a great tool for liking people’s stuff, commenting on it, and generally participating in the lives of others. If you’re not doing this, you should ask yourself what is social about your media strategy.

Facebook is a relationship and reputation building tool, primarily for consumer-focused businesses. In most cases, Facebook isn’t a lead generating platform (Pinterest and Linkedin are) and it is limited in how effective it is at helping new people discover you (Google+ and Twitter are).

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Facebook is now the great social forum where businesses can get to know their communities and build a social reputation. Budgets and expectations should be built around this understanding.

How social is your business on Facebook?

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What is sharability? It’s the “X factor” of a piece of content that makes people what to share it. Sharability is the ingredient that must exist in every piece of content you share or you are wasting your time/investment.

In the olden days of traditional advertising in a newspaper or on a billboard, it was all about broadcasting your message. People selling ad placements would get you to play the numbers game. If their readership was 100,000 people, maybe 1,000 people would notice your ad, maybe 100 would care and maybe 10 would call. So if advertising in that paper will get you 10 leads, advertising in 2 more similar papers would get you 30. (I’m making these ratios up just to make my point).

Back then, exposure was the key. It was about broadcasting and it was as good as it got.

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Social Business Is Niche and Targeted

In a social media world, if people don’t share your content, no new people see your content [tweet this]. It just sits there and you either:

  1. pay someone like Facebook to show it to more people, or
  2. people who see it share it with their networks.

Those are your two options for exposure.

But when that sharing occurs, it should resonate. If the first few people were compelled to share it, chances are a few of the people who they shared it to will also consider it share-worthy  (and so on and so on…)

We want to know: In your business, do you know what kind of content your target audience likes to share?

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I, personally, love brands. I can feel them the way I can feel a person and they make me happy.

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We feel a brand when we encounter a “thing” – an organization or grouping of people. We have opinion and emotion that we attach to every brand we encounter, the same way we do with every person we encounter, like it or not.

Try this: imagine your most significant other. What is your opinion of them, in your own private words? How do you feel when you think of them?

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Now think of the company that built your car or the church you went to when you were 12 years old or the french class you took at the community college 7 years ago. You have an opinion of each of those and you feel a unique way about each one. Right?

They are brands. They are how you mark and label your life’s memories both in your head and in your heart. They are not cold, faceless corporations.

They are collections of people that do things just like individual people do.

Why You Should Love Brands Too

That’s how I see brands and I love them because they are important. The Catholic Church was an ever present brand in the early part of my life. I definitely have unique thoughts and feelings about the church that are mine but are influenced by my experiences with the church. The same is true for my high school, each of my employers and projects I’ve been part of.

 

 

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You already love brands – and you probably hate some of them too. But without them you have no labels to apply to yourself.

So here’s what I think this means for your business:

How people think and feel about your brand belongs to them. The only thing you can do is make sure every experience they have with your brand is the best you can give.

How do you think most people experience your brand?

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Do you remember how you felt when, as a kid, your teacher would wheel the TV trolley into the classroom to show you a video? That was exciting! A change of pace, a new voice, and a story told in a medium we were in love with.

And it was a shared experience. It turns out that storytelling, especially through a visual, “moving picture” medium like video, TV, or film is how we see things in our minds so they speak to us in our most natural language (see video below).

Enter the Storytelling Experts

That’s what we are going to talk about with Learn members on Wednesday night in a live online conversation between our November Mentor On-Call Greg Hemmings, and acclaimed (and TIFF award-winning) movie producer, director, and writer Gia Milani (short bio below).

Based on the Learn lesson Moving Pictures: Storytelling and the Power of Video, Greg and Gia will discuss what makes a great story and how they can be discovered in what we think are the most routine activities of our lives.

And since we’re talking about storytelling for businesses, we’re going to make this very relevant:

  • What can make a story – any story – interesting and engaging.
  • What makes a story worth talking about and sharing.
  • What makes a story sharable?
  • What to avoid when telling a great story.
  • Why every brand has great stories to tell and big budgets aren’t necessary to tell them.

Sign up to join in the event . If you’re not a Learn member, become one and request to join the private Learn community on Google+. We’ll make sure you are reminded before the event. And if you have never joined a hangout before, you’ll be able to watch the hangout live, just like Strombo :)

About Gia Milani

Gia Milani is an acclaimed moviemaker/storyteller from New Brunswick who loves to support other artists at home and abroad when she can. To better tell her story, here are a few stories others have told about her:

Why Your Brand Stories Are Best Told Through Video

The most recent blog post that Greg has written for Learn members can be found here. It’s a great perspective on storytelling and it’s told through his observations as an attendee of two awards galas this past month. Check it out.

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Great content that companies create, often at significant expense of either time or money or both, is meant to be shared, celebrated, and attractive to people the business wants in their brand community. Two of those three hopes – having the content shared and celebrated – are tied to the sharing strategy.

So how the content is shared determines the ROI of the content more than the content itself and should be considered before the content is even created. Please let me explain.

1. Brand content is meant to be shared.hootsuite-funnel-makes-it-easy-to-track-leads

Companies should always be curating content that they hope their target clients will love. But the content that a company creates and owns is the powerful stuff that pulls the consumer into the brand’s website and hopefully into their lead generation funnel. The only way to reach new people who will care about this great nugget of value that you have created for them is for it to be shared by your supporters with new people.

So how do make sure your content gets shared? You need to create content they will love and you need to share it on the social channels that they use, when they use it, and in a way that earns their interest in short order.

You can’t make anyone share your content – or at least you certainly shouldn’t. So your only alternative is to share content they’ll care about and in a way they’ll feel compelled to pass it on. That is how you’ll reach new people.

Before you make a video, draw an infographic, or write an article you need to know where, when, how, and by whom it will be shared with the world so you can make sure the content you create fits the channels, characters, and style that people will associate with it. How you share and what you share go hand in hand.

2. Brand content should be good enough to celebrate.

By celebrate I mean that it earns the attention and care of others to the point that it gets them to think, talk, and like it publicly. If you post a piece of content and it just makes me smile inside and move onto the next post in my feed, that’s not much of a celebration.

But if I read it, like it, +1 it and tell the world what I think of it in a comment I am celebrating that piece of content and grabbing the attention of people in my personal network as my expressions light up their news feeds. You want the people in your brand community to do that.

By now,  any business  that isn’t  building  a community  is likely  starting to wonder  how to reach & keep their  customers.

3. Brand content should be attractive to the people you hope to attract.

A great strategy can’t have a great outcome if the content it’s based on is uninteresting to the target audience. For example, Louis CK is an incredibly talented and beloved comedian, but a Louis CK video is simply not going to be shared and loved by people who are easily offended.

Know your target audience and dazzle them with stuff they’ll love. But don’t underestimate how important it is to plan how you will reach the people you hope to reach to bring them into your brand community and eventually, hopefully buy what you sell.

How you share your content is as important as the content itself.

Do you have a sharing strategy for the content you invest in?

Top Photo: Walt Disney shows Disneyland plans to Orange County officials, Dec. 1954. Disney was a legend in the world of content strategy decades ago.

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Greg Hemmings is a beloved and respected filmmaker, photographer, musician and storyteller who takes the stories that every business has to tell and turns them into beautiful, powerful, sharable visual content. And for the month of November he is also the Learn by Sociallogical™ ”Mentor On-Call” writing weekly blog posts for our private network and answering any questions our members have for him.

Hemmings House branded content

Through social media, a business can reach customers and clients through sharing content that they care about. But what matters more than likes and followers is sharing content that people care enough to share. Without sharing there is no reach and no growth of your brand community.

And the best content a business can share is their own stories. If a client cares about what you sell, they will care about the stories you have to tell. But how the story is told and shared matters a great and there are a variety of ways that can be done with both large budgets and no budgets and Greg is a master of them all.

Greg’s Bio

Greg’s passion for filmmaking, branded entertainment and content marketing has taken him to all corners of the globe. He has told compelling stories in the arctic, the Americas, Europe and Asia. He owns a television Production Company called Hemmings Films, which has produced and sold content to more than 65 countries around the globe.

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His commercial photography and film production company Hemmings House Pictures has helped brands, corporations and community organizations tell their stories to the world.

Greg is also a dad, a husband, a musician, a snowboarder and a standup paddle surfer and now he is a social business mentor, sharing his storytelling expertise with Learn members.

Add Greg as a Friend on so you can talk to him about telling your own brand stories. You can find him in Learn by Sociallogical™ at http://learn.sociallogical.com/members/greghemmings/

 

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Buzzwords and jargon are found in every field and around almost any topic and they are created and employed by people who wish to demonstrate that they know what they’re talking about and often to show that they know more than you do. How do you think that makes people feel who you consider valuable members of your brand community?

Buzzwords are like passwords that make people feel like they are locked out if they don’t fully understand their meaning. Customers, clients, and supporters will feel like they are on the outside of your community if this is how they are made to feel and that’s the exact opposite outcome any business who cares about nurturing loyalty and affection for their brand should want.

Bullshit Baffles Brains

Another great saying I got from my dad many years ago is “bullshit baffles brains”. And nothing conveys bullshit better than tossing around jargon and insider speak.

We all know people who indicate that they are no longer speaking confidently on a subject matter that they know well as soon as they start throwing around buzzwords. Their hope is that they are using the right “passwords” and fooling you into thinking they are in the club on this topic, especially if you are as much on the outside as they are. They wish to elevate their standing on the subject at your expense. Their in, you’re out.

>> Read David Hayward’s new blog post in Learn by Sociallogical™: Zero Tolerance for Bullying If Any Community Is Going to Thrive

Let the sudden onslaught of jargon, freshly introduced in an ongoing conversation, be an indicator to you that you are no longer talking to a confident person.

The Jargon of My Industry

The jargon I hate most in my field is the overuse of the term “social media”. I hope it dies soon and this is why: social media is modern media in our current age and it is often used to baffle brains and conjure the complexities and fears that people feel who see it as an ever changing technological landscape that they can’t catch up to, let alone wrestle to the ground.

My wife tells me even my overuse of the word “community” in a business context can be confusing to some people. I can understand that as businesses have rarely seen the collection of customers, employees, supporters, and fans as a community with shared values, ideas, and desires. So there you go, that’s my explanation of that term.

Bring People In

Concepts and ideas are what define a community, not the lingo that emerges from it.BLUE-influence-check-sq

But the fact is that every industry or topic eventually develops an efficient shorthand of acronyms, buzzwords and phrases that spread among the insiders. The difference between those who care about their supporters and those who don’t is that the community builders will take the time to explain their jargon and bring the outsiders in.

Contrary to using jargon to exclude people, take the time to explain the lingo to those who care to know it because it is a great way to welcome people in and to be part of your ongoing discussion and an informed, evolving point of view.

If you need to use jargon, explain it with respect. Use it only as a shorthand to a more complex idea and make sure your listener knows what that bigger idea is all about.

Use your words to bring people in, welcome them to your community, and gain the confidence to participate in your dialogue with their own thoughts and ideas on a subject that may have locked them out before. That’s what community builders do.

What are the buzzwords and jargon you wish would go away in your field?

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The following post is a continuation from yesterday’s Is Your Intern Or Your CEO the Most Influential Person in Your Company?

Once you Find out who is influencing your company’s brand you can build relationships with them. If the leaders of your company are not among them, they need to be and here are a few steps you can take to figure out who they should be and how you can increase their influence.

1. Choose your leader influencers.

Who are you proud to put out there, to say the things you want to be said for the good of your company? Identify who in your company has the

  • insight,
  • subject-matter authority (who knows what they are talking about the most on a particular topic),
  • communication skills, and
  • presence that best suit the brand positioning you want right now.

2. Get your leaders trained.

Make sure they understand social business and see your company as one of them. They need to understand the social platforms and how to use them and they need to appreciate how social impacts the company’s growth. They need to know the role they can play and how to play it.

3. Build great profiles for your people.

Having a great online profile is the prerequisite to getting to know people and having them get to know you. And this matters because no one will pay attention to you if they can’t get to know you a little bit.

"The only way to influence the numbers is through influential people."

4. Create an ongoing mentorship plan.

Mentor them and keep them close to your communication strategy and schedule. Help them decide on what to communicate and how they should be doing it, how to distribute it, and how to get the engagement you are looking for. This doesn’t come naturally for most people and mentorship is extremely important in the social business era. There is a lot of art and a lot of science in social communications and having mentors and collaborators that your leadership team can can rely on is a big help. This is also important for anyone in your business who is playing a role in supporting your brand online.

5. Create and curate great content for them.

Helping people express themselves, decide on what ideas, questions, insights and honest revelations about themselves they should reveal, and selecting their views on their own expertise that should get out there will be necessary on an ongoing basis. The content they create and the content they find to share needs to align with and influence your company’s brand according to your goals and your business leaders will often need help with this so they can continue to spend most of their time running your company.

6. Measure and adjust.

Measure what matters. What are they sharing that is getting reshared, talked about and having the influence you hoped for? Do more of that and stop sharing what people don’t seem to care about. Measuring and adjusting is necessary to ensure your investment isn’t a waste of time and money.

If your CEO and other leaders of your company are not influencing your brand on line, who is? Make sure that the people with the least skin in the game are not the ones writing the script for your business in the social space. [tweet this]

We’ll talk more about these six steps tonight on our Hangout with David Hayward titled Being Human and Being a brand. Subscribe to Learn and join us.

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Whoever has the strongest personal brand in any company is the person or people who have the greatest influence on the brand itself. Who are those people in your company?

I am willing to bet that for most companies, the person with the strongest brand is more often the intern than the CEO. What I mean is that the people who are sharing, talking about, and influencing your business content and messages that you hope will spread on Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ and the rest are seldom the people who are running the company. If your leaders are not at the centre of your brand community, who is?82-Percent-Trust-Social-CEOs1

Investing in your brand without investing in who is going to influence it the most is kind of crazy. And since “social media” is so obviously about people, it’s important to understand how important the personal brands of your people are on social channels.

"The only way to influence the numbers is through influential people."

Change What We Understand About Influence

In the beginning, not many people understood that social was about people and most business people still don’t see it that way. They think it’s about followers and likes and measurable numbers.

But the only way to influence the numbers is through influential people [tweet this]. If the people in charge of your business aren’t the ones influencing it’s brand, how is it going to become what your leaders determine it should be? Who is steering your ship?

>>Find out who is influencing your company’s brand because nothing else is more important to the long term health of your company’s reputation. Do you like what you see? Do you like who is influencing your brand and with what content? If not, you’re going to have to change it.

6 Steps To Turn Your Business Leaders Into Brand Influencers

There are six steps that you can take to make your business leaders into brand influencers and at the core of your brand community.

I’ll list them for you tomorrow…(this link is live, view it here)

Team

Jeff Roach

Jeff is our founder who is obsessed with culture change and connecting the people inside our client companies. Always learning and always teaching, lights turn on in Jeff’s mind when they turn on in others. And when that leads to growing businesses, that’s magic!

Chris London

Chris is our Sociallogical Learn leader and our Mentor of Mentors. As our first Community Manager Mentor (CMM), Chris leads the way in helping our clients and their teams understand and master the big shifts in business culture and supports our growing CMM Team.

Greg Fleet

Prior to joining the University of New Brunswick, Greg worked for over 14 years at Bell Northern Research (Nortel) in Ottawa as Senior User Experience Engineer within Design Interpretive.

Kelly Lawson

Kelly makes sure you are open for connections. Starting relationships is about being approachable, welcoming, and a potential friend. Online, that’s a communication skill and with amazing photography and personal brand expertise, Kelly is your man.

Matt Reed

Web developer / enthusiast.

Sean McGrath

Web developer and Wordpress ninja.