Evolve CommunicationsSocial Media

Posts Categorized: Social Media

Cut through the Noise to Get Past Seed Stage

Cut Through the Noise

Well-known startup speaker and doer, Paul Singh, shared some interesting words of wisdom recently in a Washington Business Journal article. According to Singh, there are two reasons why startups have difficulty getting past the seed stage. The first is that there’s a lot of competition between companies to get the next round of funding. The second:

They get lost in the noise.

Quite simply, they don’t do a good enough job of grabbing–and holding–the attention of their potential customers. There are likely a lot of competitors out there, many with bigger budgets, who can drown out others in the field.

So, how does a startup cut through the noise so they can get to the next stage? The answer is one part ingenuity, one part elbow grease, and one part stick-to-itiveness.

Ingenuity

Terms like innovation and creativity get thrown around a lot (too much) in the business world, but we think a better term to focus on is ingenuity. Today’s marketing takes being a little clever as well as inventive. Not in a sneaky or under-handed way, but in a way that can quickly grab, hold and engage your audience for a good reason. Being clever in your marketing is important, but it also can apply to your product development (this is especially important as you iterate). Zig when others are zagging. Tell your story in a way that helps people feel the problem you’re trying to solve, so that they can feel the relief your product brings them. Think hard (see elbow grease below) about what makes your customers tick, what makes them pull the trigger, and find interesting and fun ways to get them to pull that trigger. Of course, you can burn those triggers out, but that’s o.k.  If you have a little ingenuity you will come up with something new when that happens.

Elbow Grease

Did your parents ever tell you when you were a kid to put some “elbow grease” into it? Ours sure did, especially when it came to household chores. Marketing and public relations is hard work. It takes a keen mind for both strategy and attention to detail. It often requires long hours, hunched over a computer, a spreadsheet, a media list. It takes constant vigilance of your social media accounts to make sure you respond to every tweet. But, as you may have found out when you were younger, the more work you put into something oftentimes the more rewarding it can be (unless, of course, that something is doing household chores). Take the time to do some market research. Take the time to hone your message. Take the time to get to know and interact with your customers.

Stick-to-itiveness

Like elbow grease, marketing and public relations takes an on-going and sustained effort. This is particularly challenging for startups who may not have the longest runway (gotta keep that burn rate under control!). And while we offer one-off, tactically-focused PR packages for startups, it’s not unusual for the results of these efforts to resemble blips on a radar that come and go. In other words, the results get out there, the company picks up some users (or 40,000 in one case), and then user growth and sales die as soon as the attention shifts away from their product.

So, if you’re a startup and you can’t afford to hire a PR or marketing firm, or even an intern to help you, here’s how you tackle stick-to-itiveness: Spend 15 minutes/day sending email introductions to reporters and editors in your industry. Spend another 15-30 minutes just scanning Twitter or other social platforms for relevant hashtags. And, perhaps most importantly, spend 15 minutes/day staring out into space (we know, this seems counter-intuitive, but trust us–this works wonders for your ingenuity).

Don’t be worried about failure or rejection (of course won’t–you’re an entrepreneur!). Stick to it, even when the clever thoughts aren’t coming or you feel like what you’re doing is hard. By committing these relatively small amounts of time, you’ll find after a few months, you’ll have actually achieved some results.


Cut Fake Fans to Boost Facebook Page Engagement

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There’s a lot of talk online about how to boost engagement on Facebook. Most of it boils down to the non-descript, non-useful mantra: Create Great Content.

But because of how Facebook works to  serve content to users, creating  compelling content isn’t the only thing you need to do. Maintaining a healthy audience that cares about your content in the first place is key to boosting page engagement.

Because of the way Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm works, it’s important to focus not only on creating great content (really—who on Earth has a strategy that focuses on creating mediocre or crappy content?), but also curating your fan base. And that means cutting out fake fans.

While having the numbers might seem appealing, not every like is worth having. That’s why cutting fake fans from your Facebook page can actually have a positive effect.

Take Evolve Communication’s Facebook page, for example. We have about 400 likes. A few months ago, however, we had almost 500. In recent weeks, we’ve gone through the people who have liked our page and cut a number of them. Don’t worry, these weren’t real fans.

What we found was, over time, our page had attracted what seemed like a large number of fake Facebook accounts. These were accounts that were overseas, in such far flung places as Pakistan or Vietnam. We don’t doubt the possibility that people in these countries to have real users; it’s just hard to imagine why they’d be interested in a company like Evolve, which focuses on serving U.S. startups and tech companies.

That’s not the only clue. We looked through many of these individuals’ pages and found that they hadn’t posted in many months (sometimes over a year), and that most of their posts were not even relevant to the type of content we are producing. While it might be a jump to consider that these people have a genuine interest in public relations and marketing for startups, none of these people had ever interacted on our page.

So, we cut them.

The result: The reach for our Facebook posts is now generally about 20 percent, and quite often more than 50 percent of our fanbase. That means that at least half of the people liking the Evolve page see our posts. And we have also seen a boost in our page engagement, with about half of our posts in recent months breaking the 10 percent mark on engaged users.

To put that in perspective, prior to these cuts, our page was only reaching about 10 percent of our fanbase and very few people were engaging.

The bottom line here is that, in order to boost your page engagement you have to have the right people liking your page. Not just Joe Schmo from down the street; or some random person from the other side of the world. It’s counter-intuitive, but cut those people out if you want to boost your page.


Finding Time to Manage Social Media

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One of the most common issues facing marketers—particularly at smaller organizations—is finding time to do everything that’s on their plate. This is particularly true of managing social media. Most organizations have at least a Facebook and Twitter account, which in and of themselves can be particularly time consuming.

Some clients come to Evolve Communications looking for a social media strategy. They want all the big ideas and all bells and whistles, and we’re happy to work with them to develop a solid action plan. Some want to execute the strategy themselves, but they often lack the resources to properly manage them. A common part of our planning now includes resource management.

Here are a few tips and tricks we have learned through the years that can help you be more efficient in your time.

Only do what you can

There’s no need to take on more than what you can handle. You don’t necessarily have to blog (we generally recommend blogs for organizations that want to document their progress). There’s also no need to have a presence on every single social network. There are just too many to keep up with!

Instead, choose the activities that will have the most impact. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised. Too often, organizations feel they need to be doing an activity just because their competitors are doing them. Evaluate each channel independently and determine if your audience is using those channels. For each channel, develop a rational and an independent objective (inform our audiences, engage new customers, etc.).

If you’re organization has a lot of people doing a wide variety of tasks, ask them on a regular basis to update you on what they’re working on and see if there’s anything that might be interesting. You might also take a moment to briefly highlight your coworkers on what’s been happening online. This might be on a weekly basis, or less frequent; experiment with what works and see if you can find a balance between helpful and annoying.

Once you do this, it’ll be much easier to see what’s worth your time and energy—and what isn’t.

Set up your sources

Social media is a long-term effort. Therefore, it’s essential to set up the sources for where you’ll get your content in advance. Do some Google news searches for relevant topics and set up Google alerts. Set up some preliminary Twitter lists and keyword searches and save them in your Twitter client of choice (ours is Hootsuite, by the way). Set up an RSS feed reader (Feedly is our weapon of choice here) and subscribe to the RSS feeds of all the relevant websites and blogs.

Carve out the time

There’s no way around this one. If you want to seriously use social media to advance your organization’s goals, then you need to carve out the time. Even when you have many, many other things on your to do list.

How much time? We often make the following recommendation for how to make sure you get what you need out of your time spent managing social media:

Monthly Social Media Management Implementation Schedule
Frequency Time Spent Activities
4x/week 15 minutes Post timely content from current events/newsfeeds/saved keyword searches; Engage 2 people with replies or RTs; Follow 1 new person; respond to any replies or comments;
1x/week 30 minutes Schedule weekly evergreen content; Engage 5 people; Follow 3 new people; send all-staff social media update
2x/month 45 minutes Review and update Twitter lists; Engage 10 people; Follow 10 new people
1x/month 60 minutes Review analytics; optimize content; source new content

Stay focused

It’s easy to lose focus when you’re doing social media. You go onto Facebook to post an update and you think, “I’ll just take a quick peak at what my friends are doing.” Next thing you know, you’ve been sucked into a vortex of likes, comments on other people’s statuses. It happens to the best of us.

Our recommendation here is a little old fashioned: Get an egg timer. Hold yourself to getting as much done in the 15, 30, 45 or 60 minute increments we mention above. You’ll be amazed at how much you will get done in these short bursts.

Of course, there are plenty of other things you can do to ensure that you keep your social media content fresh and your presences lively. If you need help thinking of things, we love to brainstorm. Feel free to reach out on our Facebook page or connect with us in any way you’d like.