Why Facebook’s Growth Plateau is Good For Business

Facebook released it’s fourth quarter earning yesterday, raising a lot of questions for investors about what the changes of the News Feed might mean to it’s revenue moving forward. To catch you up, read this article from Quartz on it’s quarterly report.

What Hanna Kozlowska points out is that Facebook really is untouchable when it comes to social platforms. Although the reports might paint a different picture of their growth, which shows a slowdown in revenue growth and active users, the fact that there are still 2.20 billion active users means that there is a lot of opportunity for businesses to find their audiences and engage with them on a daily basis.

Changes to the news feed was a step in the right direction for the platform. As Zuckerburg continuously stresses that Facebook is about creating interactions among users, not users and businesses. Sure, you might miss more of your Tasty videos, but Facebook was originally built as a platform to stay connected to friends and family. The change means that those videos being harder to see directly from a business, but it doesn’t mean that your friends sharing them won’t give them exposure.

Changes like this create call-to-actions for content creators. It’s no different than what YouTube is doing to their platform by changing their partnership program. They are making sure that users are having the experience that the platform was created for, rather than allowing the content creators to manipulate that with average videos and posts that junk up feeds.

As a business, you need to take inventory of what videos you have been creating. The analytics that Facebook provides is a great first step to analyze what videos have had the most engagement with your audience. Figure out why those videos have had the most impact, and create a roadmap for future productions. What emotions were left on each video, and what did the comments say? If you aren’t analyzing these metrics now, you aren’t paying attention to your audience.

I also recommend looking at what videos haven’t done well, and makes notes on the content type, length, look, feel and timing of those videos. The data may point to the fact that the times you posted created engagement, rather than content. Timing could also refer to the frequency of your posts. Don’t overwhelm your audience with a lot of content all at once. Space it out so that users have time to view and share what you have posted, before posting the next piece of content.

Cycles of this analysis will tell the story of your Facebook audience, and it will create an opportunity to maximize your reach, engagement and share-ability of each post.

What is Branding?

I get asked this question a lot: What is branding?

The answer is different depending on who you ask, and I have a different answer than most. Some may say that branding is marketing and advertising, however, I think branding on it’s own can be a great concept to calculate the strength of your business to your customers.

Think of branding in a simple statement:

Repetition of your business in visual, messaging or social form to your audience.

What’s that mean? We all have different ways in how we represent our business to our audiences. It can be a logo: A simple graphic that is recognizable without words. Think Nike, Pepsi, Under Armour, etc. All recognizable without the label of text. Those companies have spent millions of dollars for that recognition. That doesn’t mean that your business has to have millions of dollars to achieve this, because over time customers that consume your product will become more familiar. The key is consistent repetition. The more times your logo is out there, or your message, the more your audience will automatically make that association with your business. The key is consistency. Don’t change colors or your messaging when you are in branding mode. Keep it simple enough that users don’t have to think.

If we are talking branding in social media form, we can neglect the fact that no two social platforms are the same. Even with the similarities of Instagram and Snapchat, the audiences that use them are vastly different, which means the content you produce has to be different.

Companies that are good at this have established a concept, visually or by way of messaging that is strictly followed. The “we are always this” and “never this” concept. In most visual identity guides it’s defined very clear, with a lot of support as to why.

Is it ok to rebrand ourselves?

Yes, rebranding is part of growth for a business. This doesn’t mean that you have to rebrand in a cycle, and for a lot of businesses, this is hard not to do. For some reason, there exists this idea that we have to change our message or look every so many years to stay fresh. Ever hear that saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”? Of course you have, and that is key to avoid leaving your audience confused.

If you are changing around your business model, products or services, then yes, rebranding might be a good option. I would approach this answering the following questions:

  • Why are we rebranding?
    What are you trying to achieve by changing your brand?
  • Who is impacted by this?
    Think about your audience, but don’t forget about the internal stakeholders that might be affected by changes. How will you communicate the changes to them. Think especially about your sales team, because they will be the ones that get the most questions.
  • What is impacted by this?
    All your marketing materials, print, stationary, business cards – a rebrand goes deep into business. Anywhere you see a logo or statement is a candidate for change. This is directly tied to dollars being spent, so include any budget implications because of your change.
  • What exactly is changing?
    Rebranding could be as simple as a logo change, and nothing else. With that in mind, cycle back through the above questions and keep in mind that you are only changing that. It changes the answer to a lot of those questions. If it is a full-scale name, logo, color scheme and message rebrand, you have a lot more to think about.

    Pro Tip: Do not be the company that says you are going to rebrand and “just use whatever is left up first and then start to use the new look” – this can kill your rebrand and cause more problems. If you are going to rebrand, discard the old look and go all in with the new.

The Bottom Line: Branding is highly effective to your marketing strategy. 

I compartmentalize branding, marketing and advertising as three different strategies to a business. Branding, at the highest level represents you in the simplest form. As long as you can distribute you brand as often as possible to your audience, you will achieve success with that strategy.

This is Marketing Podcast Support:

I talk about branding a lot in my Podcast, here are some listens that go more in depth with this blog:

  1. Branding Your Business

  2. Rebranding Your Business

  3. Email Marketing – Branding Your Emails – Daily Marketing Tip #28

  4. Personal Branding and Landing Clients

  5. How to Brand Your Business – Daily Marketing Tip #9

  6. Using Frontify for Brands, Style Guides and Startups

 

Augmented Reality Marketing

19 Crimes Augmented Reality Marketing

Augmented Reality may be the visual media boom for 2018.  For marketers, the question becomes how can we utilize augmented reality to reach potential customers? A better question is how can we do so in a non-intrusive way? The answer is simple: by creating branded content that users want to engage with in that space.

One of my favorite examples of Augmented Reality marketing is done by 19 Crimes wine with their interactive wine labels. You simple download the AR wine app, and then hold it up to the bottle and it comes to life. If you’ve never had 19 wines, each label features a criminal that has a story to tell. The app brings the label to life, and they tell their story.

It’s creative, and those that drink this wine now have a unique way to engage with this brand. I saw this for the first time at a party, if you don’t think the guests weren’t wowed by this, you are wrong. Not only that, but I know that most of them went and bought their own bottles for their next get-together.  Think of your own brand. What story do you have to tell? How can you do so with AR as an option? Content is still king – but now the delivery method is changing. Keep up, or miss out on potential brand opportunities.

To get my full take on this, listen to my Augmented Reality Marketing Podcast.

 

 

How to Make a Marketing Plan

Marketing plans aren’t essential for a business to be successful, but they are important for marketers to keep their quarterly and yearly goals in line. Making a marketing plan isn’t hard, but it can be a challenge to understand what you should put in a marketing plan in order to be successful in your marketing efforts.

Start simple. When I write a marketing plan, I start with the basic goals for our marketing strategy. What is it that we want to accomplish that we can measure against our budget spending? My first step is to make a list of all the known marketing expenditures we will have for the year. Over time, you should have a good understanding of what works for your business. My list starts with the basic channels: social media, traditional (print, outdoor, cable) and digital marketing (Google Adwords, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat). Don’t be confused that digital marketing lists social media channels, they are different when it comes to media spending. For example, what I budget for in content marketing creation is not the same as media spending on those channels. The creation of content – graphics, videos and management – all goes into my social media list. The amounts of monthly spending to promote that content is what goes into digital marketing. Keeping the two separate allows me to go back after we received analytic data to determine what type of content works, and what doesn’t.

Be fluid. If you told marketers 20 years ago that their budgets would be mostly spent online, they would have been confused and doubtful. The industry has changed dramatically over the years, and being fluid – even year to year – is extremely important for your overall marketing plan.

Don’t be complicated in your plan. The reason a lot of us have to create a marketing plan is to report up to our executives in the company. Keep the ideas of spending and why simple.

Example:
Digital Marketing
Facebook, Google Search, LinkedIn and Adroll will be the primary sources for the digital marketing spend. Digital marketing allows for us to build a targeted program based on audience demographic specifications. It is more cost effective and measurable than traditional marketing channels. The downside is that Google Search, in particular, has become a very competitive channel with a much higher cost per conversion. However, it plays an important role for building the AdRoll prospecting tool.

In this example, I am using specific channels that we are using, but also being descriptive as to why we are using these channels. This way, if I am presenting this marketing report to a group, I can answer any questions that they have about the spending.

Below is a full example of a marketing plan that I put together for promoting our MBA program at Youngstown State. In a business, you might do this per product, or for the overall business. I typically have multiple marketing plans for products, our overall brand, which allows me to be very niche but also provides me a guide that I can measure success against. If you build one plan for everything, you can lose sight of understanding that each product needs different promotion, aside from the business. Notice that in this example, I break down each channel, spending limits, time period and measurement. It shows that we are looking at the entire picture of our marketing plan, not just what we think we will do.

MBA Marketing Plan
May 2017

Overview

The Office of Marketing and Communications will provide design, production, contract coordination and placement for promotion of the MBA online and on-campus programs. This suggested marketing plan will consist of digital marketing and some print publication distribution. Marketing will also design and provide content writing for a digital brochure that will be incorporated to the MBA program pages online.

This campaign will run from May – July 31, 2017.

Audience Profile

Based on the initial meeting with the MBA department, the target audience for MBA program are individuals with 7 years of work experience, an average age starting at 30, and a minimum 3.5 GPA. For on-campus students, the typical travel time for night courses should be under an hour of drive time. This sets a radius around the Youngstown State campus of 20 – 30 miles.

Digital Marketing

Facebook, Google Search, LinkedIn and Adroll will be the primary sources for the digital marketing spend. Digital marketing allows for us to build a targeted program based on audience demographic specifications. It is more cost effective and measurable than traditional marketing channels. The downside is that Google Search, in particular, has become a very competitive channel with a much higher cost per conversion. However, it plays an important role for building the AdRoll prospecting tool.

The suggested cost per month spends below are to provide adequate impression values on each platform. This is the suggested spend, but it can be adjusted according the budget of the MBA department.  

Platform Details Suggested Cost Per Month
Facebook Targeting On-campus MBA within a 20 mile radius. Targeting Online MBA within a 50 – 75 mile radius. Will target education level, degree type, interests in business related publications and news, age (30+). $500

Projected Impressions:

2600 – 6800 Daily

Google Search Search will trigger within a set radius for both on-campus and online mba program searches. Specific keywords about areas of studies within MBA program, as well as MBA searches. $300

Projected Impressions:

213-260 Daily

LinkedIn Targeting on-campus and online MBA program. Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Canton, Akron, Cleveland. 25 – 45 age, business degree, 5+ years of experience $300

Projected Lifetime Impressions: 24,000

Adroll Adroll retargeting is activated when a user reaches the MBA program pages, or other specified areas, but does not submit to the Request for Information page or the application. This is a prospecting mechanism that builds itself on audience engagement over time. $400

Projected Impressions:

200 – 500 Daily

Total $1500 / month

Design Assets, Messaging and Conversion Funnel

Over the past year, we have developed a standardized brand look and feel to our advertising in the local and regional markets. This brand identity has helped us lift our overall brand recognition to our prospective audiences. We strongly suggest implementing the design features into the program marketing for the MBA program. The following mock-ups are not a final design, but include the brand elements and messaging that will be running in similar channels. Paralleling to our brand identity will increase the probability for conversion.  

Marketing to specific programs allows us to test messaging in real-time and create more effective ads. It was suggested in our initial meeting that MBA marketing as a general graduate degree is not as effective as marketing the concentrations of the curriculum. We will focus our advertising and content around the 4 concentrations within the program: Decision Making, Business Leadership, Managing and Strategic Thinking. This will be all encompassed by an umbrella brand promoting the MBA program offerings online and on campus.

Grow your career by developing your decision making, leadership, management and strategic thinking skills. Youngstown State’s MBA curriculum is designed on these areas of study so that you can focus your professional development path.
The jump from employee to manager takes more than just time, it takes the understanding of how projects, talent and processes impact the overall business. The Managing concentration of the MBA program at Youngstown State focuses on these areas to effectively provide you the skills to make that jump. Earn your MBA today!
Strategic Thinking is one of the concentrations of the MBA program at Youngstown State. Understanding how strategic marketing and management can take a business from small to large is part of our accredited curriculum. Learn about this and business analysis by earning your MBA today!
Your ability to manage and lead in your organization will grow through the Business Leadership concentration in the MBA program at Youngstown State. Our accredited program teaches skills of communication, ethics and social responsibility in the workplace. Take your career to the next level, earn your MBA today!
The decisions we make in business impact more than just our bottom line. The Decision Making concentration of the MBA program at Youngstown State ensures that your financial, economical and managerial decision skills become second nature. Take your career to the next level, earn your MBA today!

Conversion Funnel

All of the marketing materials for the MBA marketing plan will lead prospective students to www.ysu.edu/mba. This page will be a new landing page that includes more information about the MBA program. From here, users can click-through to MBA program page, or the MBA catalog entry. The landing page will include the AdRoll marketing pixels to activate the remarketing campaign, but so will the program page. If the user clicks to the request for information (RFI) and submits their information, it will deactivate the retargeting pixel for that user. Users that do not submit to the RFI will be retargeted for a given set of time, or until they do.

Analytics and Strategy Monitoring

As the digital marketing programs are run, we will continuously monitor the impressions, click through rate and conversion rates. As certain messaging and design assets out-perform others, adjustments will be made to the underperforming to improve the overall campaigns. Analytic data will be closely monitored and reports will be provided as requested.

All RFI data will be sent on a weekly basis to the MBA program coordinator and the distance education office. This data will be cross referenced to admitted and enrolled data at a later time to assess ROI.

What more? Listen to my Making a Marketing Plan Podcast.

How to Brand Yourself on Instagram

Are your social media posts kick-ass for your personal accounts? Do you have high engagement with your followers because of it? Then you can create a brand out of your personal account. Instagram is a platform that is constantly increasing as a place for affiliate marketing to occur.

Think of your favorite brands to purchase. How you use these products is great content for those brands to put money behind. As a parent and homeowner, I constantly review products and upload those videos to YouTube. Go look at my page, look at the views. I have received payments from both Google and Amazon because of the views I have on these products. You can too, but you can also get paid by the companies to review in the first place.

How to begin? First, get on a Instagram. Follow some people and topics you are interested in. Pay attention to their followers, comments, and posts. What are they doing that in creating the perfect Instagram brand? Then, create content and build your audience organically. What’s that mean? It means slow growth leads to better audiences. Even individuals that go viral on social media don’t always yield the highest engagement rates. Once you start to build your audience, you can start to reach out to companies that you are interested in to gauge their advertising interest in you. I’d recommend having at least 1500+ followers with over 500+ likes per post. Remember, it’s about engagement, not followers.

What to charge? No need in reinventing the wheel on this one, here is a great article about How Much to Charge for an Instagram Post. This is straight forward stuff.

Last piece of advice. Be you in all your posts. On my This is Marketing Podcast, I’m me, 100%. I’m not trying to be something I’m not, and I don’t try to talk about topics I know nothing about. I know marketing, so that’s what I talk about. Be authentic, it’s what audiences want out of their subscriptions to people. Do this, and you will win.

 

Six Words That Changed Everything

When it came to setting the wheels in motion to redesign our website it only took six words. Those six words didn’t just impact the next two years of my professional career, they changed everything about our marketing and brand strategy at Youngstown State University. At the eduWeb conference in Boston this year, I’ll talk about those six words. I’ll talk about how to successfully redesign a website from scratch, and use what you learn during that process to change your brand, and think rethink everything you thought you knew about your audiences. Six simple words.

Tuesday – 2:15-3 pm

Web/Mobile Design & Strategy Track:  A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Real-World Redesign
Ross Morrone, Director of Marketing – Youngstown State University
Jennie Salamoun, User Experience Architect – NewCity
America South Ballroom, 4th Floor 

5 Questions to Ask Your Digital Marketing Consultant Before You Fire Them

5 Questions to Ask Your Digital Marketing Consultant Before You Fire Them

How will you be individually targeting my audiences?

This question should really lead to a conversation about your audiences. It is just as much your responsibility as it is your digital marketing consultants to help define your target audiences. Think products, buying habits, income levels, gender, age – this list is long. Build user persona’s based on the type of users that buy from you. If you have analytics tied to your website or your eCommerce platform, it shouldn’t be hard for them to pull this information and build them. If they don’t understand your question or tell you that they are going to build a program that “encompasses everyone” – fire them.

During our once a week status updates, what benchmark information will you be tracking?

First, yes, you should be having once a week status updates during the duration of your marketing and advertising initiatives. You need to be updated with the successes, failures and adjustments being made to your campaigns. A great campaign is constantly being edited as it runs to ensure that you are reaching your audiences and converting on your goals. If status calls aren’t part of the management package – fire them.

What are the steps for our conversion funnel?

A conversion funnel is the path that a customer takes from engaging your ad all the way to seeing the thank you page after check out. There can be as many steps as necessary, but typically we like to keep this path as short as possible. The conversion funnel is so important because even if you have great ads that get the attention of your audience, they can get lost in the process of purchasing. Typically, we don’t build an advertising program without have a conversion funnel built. It doesn’t always have to be check out either, it can be whatever conversion or goal you are looking to achieve for your program. Maybe it’s a email sign-ups, or even to download a flyer – no matter what, it’s part of the funnel and your digital marketing consultant should have an answer on this. If not, you know what to do.

What are your management fees?

Managing your digital marketing strategy should never out price your actual spend. Expect 25 – 35% management fees on your total spend with your consultant. Anyone that is asking for more is ripping you off. However, if you have a smaller spend, you may have a minimum that they are going to work with because setup and design takes some initial work up front.

How will you be spending my budget?

It’s likely that the first question they will ask you is what your budget is going to be. With dollar signs in their eyes, make sure you go into this meeting with an idea of what you can spend. Please note: there is no minimum to spend on Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or any channels that I am missing. If someone tells you otherwise, they are lying. Now, with that being said, you have to understand that digital marketing is a crowded space these days and that you are in a supply and demand program. If you are marketing a product or service, there will be minimum recommendations by these platforms in order for you to get a good ranking or even reach your audience. For example, a lawyer may pay upwards of $40 – $50 per click in order to have first page rank. But, with a good website and better ad writing, you can still get good page placement, impressions and clicks for the $2 – $5 range.

Finding out how this budget is going to spend is important to understand what platforms work best for your business. If you have never done any digital marketing advertising before, I would recommend throwing budget at a bunch of different areas and seeing where your target audience engages with you the most. Maybe Facebook over anything else, or maybe Google Adwords works really well. You don’t know until you try.

Why these questions matter?

Your marketing money is typically profits being re-purposed to increase overall sales and revenue. It’s easy, very easy, to spend money on digital marketing campaigns and have engagement results. However, the conversion process is a lot harder to achieve when you are working online. From the start of working with your digital marketing consultant, asking these questions will ensure that you are on the right path to a better marketing plan, which in turn will save you money and increase leads.

Listen to my Podcast episode about How to Hire a Digital Marketing Consultant.

The Best Apps for Marketers – Daily Marketing Tips Week #8

Best Marketing Apps for Marketers – Google Suite – DMT#43
If you are in marketing, you have to be touching a Google product. AdWords, AdSense, Analytics, Data Studio or even webmaster told, something. The good news is Google is keeping up with their desktop platform updates by also updating their mobile apps. In today’s daily tip, I talk about the best marketing apps for Marketers and the Google suite.

Best Organization Apps for Marketers – Evernote and Any.do – DMT#42
Staying organized in our day-to-day madness as marketers isn’t always easy. The good news is that we are usually in-tune with the latest and greatest apps within all types of organizations. Two apps that are imperative to my organizational skills and staying on task are Evernote and Any.do. In today’s This is Marketing Daily Tip, I discuss both and why you should try them out.

Best Video Apps for Marketers – WeVideo and InShot – DMT#41
I never would have thought we would be editing videos right from our mobile devices, but once again, the Internet proved me wrong. In today’s daily tip from This is Marketing, I talk about my two favorite video editing apps, WeVideo and InShot. Both apps are easy to use and produce video edits for social media and YouTube.

The Best Apps for Marketers – Hashme – DMT#40
If you hate adding #hashtags to social media as much as I do, then Hashme is the perfect marketing app for your device. In this week’s Best Apps for Marketers on the This is Marketing Daily to post I talk about how this app is built to easily scan for relevant terms related to a keyword, Hashme saves time and produces relevant audience engagement. Hashme also has an amazing photo scanning software to it.

The Best Apps for Marketers – Buffer – DMT#39
All this week on the Daily Tip from This is Marketing, we will be talking about the best apps for marketers. To kick off the week, I’ll be talking about one of my favorite social media posting apps – Buffer. Buffer allows you to post to social media platforms, even at their free service level. Buffer makes it easy for marketers to schedule, edit, add images and gifs, plus review some analytics about all your social media posting in one

Redesigning Your Business Website – Daily Marketing Podcast Week #7

Redesigning Your Business Website – How Much Should it Cost – DMT#38
The number one question I get from businesses that are redesigning their website is how much should it cost. It’s not a one size fits all process, which means neither is the cost to redesign. In today’s This is Marketing Daily tip, I talk about coat variations depending on what type of site you have, and how to plan for it ahead of time.

Redesigning Your Business Website – The Launch – DMT#37
When you redesign your website, everything leads up to the website launch. Execution of the site launch is just as important as the months that led up to it. In today’s This is Marketing daily tip, I talk about considerations for the launch of your website and how to maximize your publicity.

Redesigning Your Business Website – Designing for the Customer – DMT#36
A lot of the data we look at during a website redesign surrounds our own content and pages, but a redesign project is the perfect time to analyze that data about your customers. What are they coming to your website to do, and how many steps does it take for them to accomplish that? In today’s This is Marketing Daily Tip, I discuss how to design for the customer.

Redesigning Your Business Website – Analytics for Content Strategy – DMT#35
When it comes to redesigning your business website, there is no better source of data to utilize than from your analytics data. In today’s This is Marketing daily tip, I talk about what to look for in your analytics when it comes to your existing website, or how you can set up your new website to start collecting data immediately.

Redesigning Your Business Website – Platforms – DMT#34
If you were a business that came online in the late 90’s or early 2000, you either have or should be redesigning your website for this decade. There are a lot of benefits to rethinking your website design, including more traffic, higher engagement and customer conversions. In today’s daily tip, and all this week, I will be talking about redesigning your business website.

Social Media Marketing Podcasts – Week #7

Social Media Marketing – How to Deal with Negative Feedback – DMT#33
Negative feedback happens, but how you deal with it can turn a negative into a positive. In today’s Daily Marketing Tip from This is Marketing, I talk about when to respond, and when to delete. Doing this right, can lead to a positive resolution, and complete customer satisfaction.

Social Media Strategy – The Cadence of Content – DMT#32
Creating content takes a lot more time than just construction a tweet, or talking about the weather. In today’s Daily Marketing Tip from This is Marketing, I talk about why it is important to create a content strategy and think about the ROI, the audience and the actual function of posting. There is a cadence in creating good content, and once you find it, it’s easier and easier to keep up with it.

Social Media Strategy – Gaining Followers – DMT#31
How can you build your social media audience the right way? In today’s Daily Marketing Tip from This is Marketing, I talk about how the gimmicks of gaining thousands of subscribers over night are just that – gimmicks. Slow building an audience that is genuinely interested in your content will lead to more interaction and conversions. Think about he long play, not the short satisfaction.

Social Media Strategy – Dark Social – DMT#30
Dark social media isn’t a reference to Star Wars, it’s a reference to communication and marketing that happens on the private channels of social media. The original dark social digital format was email, but now it’s used every day by apps like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and on and on.

Social Media Strategy – Snapchat Analytics – Daily Marketing Tip #29
Snapchat is a great platform to engage your audience on a daily basis. Knowing the how the platform works is one thing, but understanding the data and analytics behind it, and how to implement those numbers back into your Snapchat strategy is another. In today’s This is Marketing Daily Tip, I talk about how you can engage your audience more, build a daily strategy and use geofilter’s to expand your brands footprint.