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One Thing to NEVER Do When Relaunching Your Website

13 Feb

launching website

In the long checklist of critical items to execute when relaunching an organization’s website, there’s one that all CMOs and CIOs need to skip:  Do not make an announcement about the new website.

Relaunching your website is not news. It’s not a story. Don’t send out a press release or even write a Facebook or LinkedIn post. I’m sure building the new site was hard work and cost a great deal of money. You’re right to be proud of your new site. But I must tell you: no one else cares.
  
Your website is the place where you tell your story; it’s not a story that you have made changes to that place.

How Did We Get Here?

The traditional old media set a bad precedent. Newspapers regularly made big announcements to their readers about their own changes in format or style. Television is even worse. Every redesigned set on a morning show means a “behind-the-scenes-hey-aren’t-we-happening” moment for programs like the Today Show.

That’s fine if you have 5 hours of fluff to fill every morning on NBC. But your brand has only few seconds to grab a consumer’s attention online. Tell your story and don’t waste your shot by talking about the way you tell stories.

Take a Shakedown Cruise

Before you shine a spotlight on that new website, let your current customers and team take it on a shakedown cruise. If issues pop up, or some content is found to be inaccurate, you would rather work on a fix before too many eyeballs hit the site. Too many companies have wasted time, money, and credibility by driving consumers to a website that wasn’t ready for large numbers of visitors.

What Could You Announce?

Put your customers’ interests first. What does your news mean to them?

  • If you have new functionality on your website that a consumer might find compelling such as ecommerce, then it’s newsworthy.
  • If you have new video content or written articles that are relevant to your customers, then share it.
  • If you have news that affects your clients such as changing executives / contacts or new initiatives, then announce it.

What Teachers in Vegas Taught Me About Leadership

8 Feb

franchising gives back

 

Last week members of the International Franchise Association went to Richard J. Rundle Elementary School in Las Vegas for a day of painting, landscaping, and building. The Franchising Gives Back event is an annual day of service when IFA members help communities in the host city of their annual convention.

While our group has worked alongside many terrific organizations in many cities across the USA, we had never been taught lessons in leadership by teachers and students.

Here are a few ways the leaders from Rundle Elementary inspired us to share in their vision:

 

1. Make Others Feel Appreciated

As we approached the school, it was clear that a large crowd was waiting in front of the building. The cynic in me hoped we weren’t being picketed or protested. When the bus doors opened, I heard the applause. Over 100 students, parents, and teachers cheered as we exited the bus and made us feel like the Beatles touching down in America.

Paul Pickett of Wild Birds Unlimited has participated in the event for several years, but said, “being greeted by the teachers, students, and families at Richard J. Rundle Elementary School is a memory that I will never forget!”

I was a first-timer this year and had been unsure what the whole day was going to be like. But the warm welcome made me want to get to work.

franchising gives back

 

2. Share the Story and the Vision

Had we arrived to an empty school, we would have still done a sufficient amount of painting, planting, and building. But the school’s leaders told us about the school’s challenges, history, and even about the heroic child for whom the school was named. We became invested in the outcome.

Just as we were leaving at the end of the afternoon, I noticed part of a wall that needed one more coat of paint and went back to do it right. Without being engaged in the school’s story and needs, I would have ignored it. A little story telling gets a great deal of buy-in from your troops!

franchising gives back

 

3. Give Credit to Others While You Roll Up Your Own Sleeves

The school leaders made us feel like what we were doing was a single effort that made all the difference in the world.  But we were there for only one Saturday afternoon. Though we completed many projects, our efforts were nothing compared to the daily improvements the school’s staff and students are constantly doing.

And while we received all the credit, there were many parents who joined in as well. Desirae Franco of The Dwyer Group told me, “My favorite part was working with a father and son to help paint their team logo on the wall. The boy was so excited and it was contagious!”

Emphasizing – and perhaps over-emphasizing – our contribution made us take ownership of the improvements.

franchising gives back

 

4. Set Up Your Partners to Succeed

The projects were laid-out in a dummy-proof manner, so even a bunch of CEOs, marketing people, and sales people could dive in and make a dent. The instructions were clear and the tools were ready!

Having a project well-organized is critical when dealing with a group of non-specialists. Without specifics on how many people were needed on each task and directions on where to start, confusion would have derailed us early in the day.

 

5. A Hand-Written Note

In a world of email blasts and texts, I’m a big fan of standing out via the old style hand-written note. The students of Rundle Elementary wrote enough illustrated thank you notes for each of us and handed them to us as we boarded the bus to head back to our convention.

Deb Evans of Social Geek Radio and Deb Evans Consulting said, “We know we make a difference each year, but this year we were thanked with cheers, hugs, and handwritten notes!”

I received a lot of free giveaways and tchotchkes at the IFA Convention this year, but a student’s note was the thing I kept!

fullsizerender-note

Social Geek Radio in Top 20 Best Business Podcasts

6 Feb

social geek radio

 

Thanks Geeks!

Thanks to the Digital Marketing Geeks and the Social Media Geeks. And thanks to our guests from the business and franchise community…

Due to you, Social Geek Radio has been named to Emerge’s list of the 20 Best Business Podcasts for 2017!

Special thanks to Qiigo, Deb Evans Consulting, and The International Franchise Association for their continued support. 

 

 

What Happens In Vegas Stays On Facebook

25 Jan

#IFA2017 #qiiwords

 

A major theme for the International Franchise Association’s 2017 Convention is “Telling Your Franchise Story.”

I’ve been advocating and promoting ways to use social media at the IFA Convention each year since 2009. So, I am very excited about amount of content and programming dedicated to story-telling this year!

Here are five places where you can learn how other brands are telling their stories digitally during or before The IFA Convention:

1. Roundtable Discussion: “Digital Marketing for Franchise Development”

Monday, January 30, 9am
South Pacific Ballroom E – Mandalay Bay
(as part of the Digital Marketing and Tech Summit)

There are lots of great roundtables this year. If you’re interested in sharing your experiences and hearing some best practices from others, please join my table!

 

2. Panel: “Social Media: Today’s Secret Sauce for Telling Your Franchise Story”

Monday, January 30, 2:45 pm
Tradewinds E & F – Mandalay Bay

I am thrilled to be moderating this panel of marketing executives called “Social Media: Today’s Secret Sauce for Telling Your Franchise Story”

Here is IFA’s description:

Great brands rely on stories to define their brands. With the expansion of social media and consumers “24/7 mentality,” today’s brand journey must begin, build and extend onto social media. Whether you are looking to inspire, motivate or excite your customers and community, social media continues to play a key role. This session will include franchisors and franchisees who understand how to use this “secret sauce” effectively. We will also share how to use social media to tell the positive story of franchising because in today’s rapidly-moving market, we cannot simply raise awareness about our own brands, we need to seize the opportunity to educate consumers wherever and whenever we can about what franchising is and all the great contributions our businesses make. Come prepared to take away practical and tactical ideas from marketing pros that will make a real difference for your business.

Moderator: Jack Monson, Director of Digital Strategy, Qiigo

Alice O’Donnell, Vice President of Marketing, Massage Heights

Kathleen Kuhn, President, HouseMaster Home Inspection Services

Ali Rauch, Marketing Director, Chicken Salad Chick

 

3. Podcast: “Telling Your Franchise Story”

On last week’s episode of Social Geek Radio, we previewed the above session with panelist Ali Rauch of Chicken Salad Chick. Ali gave us the background on her brand’s “Every Chick Has a Story” social media marketing campaign.

http://socialgeekradio.com/2017/01/18/todays-secret-sauce-for-telling-your-franchise-story/

 

4. Podcast: “What’s Trending in Franchise Development”

This week on Social Geek Radio, we were joined by our good friend, Thomas Scott, for a preview of his IFA panel. Thomas shares ideas on how to tell your story and position your website to meet the needs of today’s franchise buyers.

http://socialgeekradio.com/2017/01/25/whats-trending-in-franchise-development/

 

5. Qiigo’s Contest: “What Happens in Vegas Stays on Facebook!”

My team at Qiigo is looking to have some fun sharing our cool new selfie sticks and giving away some cash and an Apple Watch! All you have to do is:

  • Grab a selfie stick at Qiigo’s booth and take a selfie
  • Post it on social media and tag it with #QiiWords
  • You’re automatically entered to win!

We’ll see you in the exhibit hall!

Qiigo #qiiqowords

 

Social Geek Radio in the 40 Best Small Business Podcasts

24 Jan

Best Small Business Blogs

 

Thanks Geeks!

Thanks to the Franchise Geeks, the Digital Marketing Geeks, and the Social Media Geeks. And thanks to our guests from the small business and franchise community.

All of you have helped Social Geek Radio get added to Proven’s list of the 40 Best Small Business Podcasts.

In addition, Social Geek Radio was just named to Emerge’s list of the 20 Best Business Podcasts for 2017.

We’ve received a few other awards before, but Deb Evans and I both have a real passion for entrepreneurship and growing small businesses, so both of these are real honors for us.

 

 

 

Deeper Political Divides in Social Media in 2017

18 Jan

facebook dislike

 

You think 2016 was rough? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Trump. Clinton. Bernie. Obamacare. Make America Great Again. Black Lives Matter. Email servers. Putin. Benghazi. Wikileaks. Fox News. CNN. Trumpists. Snowflakes.

If you’re paying attention on Facebook, you know your friends’ opinions on many of the above subjects.

Some may think that with the election behind us and the inauguration happening this week that the heated debates are done. I think it’s just warming up.

 

The New (Ab)Normal

Just a few years ago, the public sharing of so much political nastiness was simply not done. At least it was not done by adults and professionals. But after the past year of raw political argument, we have lost all filters.

The incoming President of the United States has forsaken all filters including media editors and his own spokespeople in favor of instant Facebook posts and real-time Tweets. Love him or hate him, we’re now all doing the same thing.

 

Swapping Positions 2009 to 2017

An interesting change between those on opposite ends of the political spectrum is happening in 2017, and I don’t mean the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. There’s a role reversal happening in the poli-social space.

In the US and much of Europe, Liberals are now taking over the role of opposition to the Conservative’s new position as the establishment.

For the past 8 years, Conservatives have played the role of the rebel alliance fighting the big-government empire. Think of that timeframe: for most of the lifespan of social media, or at least the lifespan of marketing and massive use on Facebook, Republicans have been on the offense in social media messages while Democrats have had to play defense. When President Barack Obama took office in January of 2009, the Democrats also had control of the US House and the US Senate. The Republicans used social media to attack that establishment. Eventually the tide turned back in their favor.

Now with the GOP in the White House, retaining the Senate, holding the House, and growing their lead across most state governments, it’s the Democrats’ turn to go on offense. This may lead to a great frenzy of counter-culture activity on social. We could be seeing the dawn of a new of 1960s style protest movement, although it’s a sterilized digital version where you don’t actually have to leave your phone to participate.

 

More #FakeNews

How do some respond to news that they just don’t like? Call it Fake News. Be prepared to see about half of the content shared on social media to be called fake news by someone. Caution: the more that label is used, the less of an impact it has.

I personally plan to save the fake news moniker for so-called established news sources that publish false news and ignoring the phony sources that pop up.

 

More Unfriending = An Opportunity for Marketers

On my own personal Facebook account was unfriended by just one friend, but unfollowed or hidden by an untold many due during the 2016 election. Once some people start trimming their friend lists, it’s easy to continue. This could be the start for many Facebook users to scale down their list of friends to their real friends, or more likely, those who share many beliefs.

Here’s where my marketing friends (the real and the Facebook kind!) can find an opportunity in this mess —

Friends’ posts in the newsfeed rank higher than anything from brands or publishers since a June 2016 Facebook update. More unfriending means more prime real estate for your brand’s content on a fan’s newsfeed! Don’t give up on organic Facebook posts quite yet. After a divisive year, there may be a lot of holes to fill!

For more discussion on social media trends we’re spotting for 2017, check out this recent episode of Social Geek Radio with my co-host Deb Evans and special guest, my Qiigo colleague Liane Caruso!

 

 

Just Facebook and Nothing Else?

3 Jan

Facebook on iphone

 

In the distant future … like 18 months from now … we may look back fondly on this year as the time when we went to places on the internet other than Facebook.

We may also get a sense of nostalgia about other apps on our phones that are not Facebook or owned by Facebook.

Will we need anything else? Maybe not. And perhaps we’re already closer than you may think to a Just Facebook world:

Facebook Entity:                                           What It’s Replaced / Replacing:

Facebook Messenger                                  Texting

Facebook’s What’s App                              Texting

Facebook Ads                                                   Advertising anywhere else

Facebook’s Instagram                                 Snapchat

Facebook’s Workplace                                Slack, Instant Messaging, Your intranet

Facebook Marketplace                                eBay

Facebook Live                                                   Periscope, YouTube

and most importantly:

Posts from your Business Page                Website for your brand

Posts from your Locations’ Pages             All web pages for your entire organization

 

Website? What’s a Website?

If you serve up the right content to your customers in their own Facebook newsfeed, the need for them to click through to your website is minimized.

Are you trying to build traffic to your website or traffic into your business? Too many marketers have focused on web traffic for the sake of web traffic and sidestepped the obvious need to also make the cash register ring.

Some people will still click through to your site or landing page to confirm, but that’s fine. They are going to call / order / stop in / purchase anyway, so let them do so in the manner which makes them most comfortable.

 

The One Page That Will Still Matter: Google SERP

A similar argument may be made to grab those potential customers who search for the services you offer. If your phone number, hours, food menu, and map to your storefront are all on the Google search engine results page, do they really need to go to your website?
 
I’m not at all suggesting that you pull the plug on your website or ignore the need to keep it relevant. I suggest the opposite; good, fresh content on your site is more essential than ever to ensure that you show up on Google in the first place and have a full online experience for those who want more than Just Facebook.

 

 

 

Making Twitter Great Again

13 Dec

trump twitter

 

Who has made Twitter great again? Or at least relevant?

Answer: @realDonaldTrump aka Donald J. Trump aka soon-to-be @POTUS

 

Just when Twitter was falling to 5th or 6th place on the list of social media channels most cherished by Americans, along came a massive disruption that put Twitter back in the spotlight in 2016. That disruption is called Trump.

When the president-elect has something to say, there’s no need to go through the filters and hurdles of reporters, editors, anchors, and deadlines. He Tweets it directly to the American people.

Whether it’s his pick for Secretary of State, his defense of a policy, or his rant about how much he doesn’t like SNL, there’s no need to go through reporters and hope they get the message right and don’t ask follow-up questions. Social media was the perfect tool for a populist candidate to speak directly to the people.

Obama pioneered politics in the social media space; Trump has settled the territory.

Traditional journalists and the old media for which they work are sinking faster than ever. Trump’s greatest victory in 2016 wasn’t over 16 Republicans and Hillary Clinton; it was over The Media. Or, in his words, The Dishonest Media. The panic is newsrooms isn’t only because most journalists disagree with his policy positions, but also because they are the middle-men that Trump is cutting out.

His campaign had very little paid advertising and a vast amount of negative earned media. Traditional media pundits said this was a recipe for a landslide loss. They were wrong. Trump had Facebook and Twitter.

My favorite lazy journalism moments, pioneered by CNN but now seen on all TV news channels, is when they just air a graphic of Trump’s latest Tweet. Wow, groundbreaking work, guys. Thanks for showing us what’s on Twitter. Perhaps it’s time to pull the plug on cable news!

 

The New Twitter

I’ve worked with several hundred brands regarding social media over ten years and the interest in Twitter has dropped dramatically for most of those brands. Facebook is the focus, with a still-growing interest in Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever else is on the horizon. Recently I’ve considered Twitter less of a communications channel and more of a library of searchable links.

But Candidate Trump saw an opportunity to reach the masses using the only non-filtered means available to him. All brands and organizations should take note: traditional media relations and PR may still have occasional value, but unfiltered messaging on social is a necessity every day.

 

Trump Is Broadcasting, Trump Is Not Engaging

Some political pundits had questioned the president-elect’s intentions of giving up Twitter upon taking the Oath of Office.  Are you kidding?!? That idea must have started with TV or newspaper hacks who know they are becoming less relevant every day. Even Trump’s harshest critics should want him to keep Tweeting – it’s an easy target for them to attack.

Don’t get me wrong – Mr. Trump is not engaging on Twitter at all in the way that we in the social marketing arena have been advising for the better part of a decade. He is broadcasting. If you consider communications to be a two-way street as I do, then he’s not even really communicating.

But his broadcast – or live billboard or balcony speech or whatever you consider it –  is working.

 

What Should YOU Promote on Instagram or Snapchat?

15 Nov

instagram

 

Just when brands got their arms wrapped around posting good content on Facebook and Twitter, some of their audience emigrated to Instagram and Snapchat. If your customer base fits the demographic of either of these channels, ignoring them is as irresponsible as not moving your brand into Facebook five years ago.

Although Instagram is looking more and more like Facebook, and Facebook is looking more and more like Snapchat, these channels are used very differently by consumers than Facebook.

 

Earned & Organic

Depending on your brand and strategy, you should explore spending on some Instagram ads. I’m less bullish on paid opportunities in Snapchat for most brands so far. So, let’s focus organic / earned content.

The good news is that 60% of 13 to 34 year-olds in the US use Snapchat. That’s approximately 50 million consumers.

The better news is they are not passive; they’re engaged!

The bad news is they’re engaged only with their friends and probably don’t want to engage with your brand.

So, let’s build on that. Get your current customers to post for you – in other words, be Snapworthy!

 

Be Snapworthy

Even the most prolific and obnoxious social sharers only have so many snaps or posts they can do in an hour. You have a limited opportunity for them to take a picture of something in your store or say something about your brand.

This goes well beyond social media marketing. This is a challenge for all store managers, franchisees / owners, and especially local staff. You must do something to make that customer feel compelled to pull out their phone and tell a story. This won’t be due to an offer, a discount, or a coupon. It will be due to the way you made them feel.

 

Using this tactic on Facebook too

If the customer posts a pic to Facebook, it’s even better. Even younger demos still have a much larger friend community there than anywhere else. And, with the algorithm changes Facebook made on June 30, a user’s friends’ posts now claim higher positions in his or her newsfeed than anything else — even from news publishers. That’s bad news for traditional media, but great news for you if your customers find you interesting enough to share something that includes you!

 

 

 

 

 

Reaching Franchise Candidates on LinkedIn

1 Nov

linkedin logo

 

More franchisors have asked me about using Social Media for franchise development in the past 6 weeks than in the previous 6 years.

At recent events including FranTech, Franchise Leadership and Development Conference, The Chicago Women’s Franchise Network, and Springboard, my conversations have focused on using Facebook for not only generating new leads from your consumer customer base, but also engaging with candidates further down your franchise development sales funnel using Facebook’s Custom Audience Targeting.

And often, the next question has been: “But what about LinkedIn?”

Franchisors at these events ask about improving their results in finding candidates on LinkedIn. Many tried LinkedIn early in their online marketing journey but got bad results and quickly moved on.

I suggest that LinkedIn may not be appropriate for engaging with some types of potential franchisees, just as Facebook or other channels may not work for other types of prospects.

Recommendation #1: Before jumping into any social media marketing for franchise development, look at who your candidates are and where they spend their time on social media.

 

Facebook LinkedIn Franchising

 

The Facebook Side

If your best franchise candidates are those folks who will be operating their own store or other franchise location day-to-day, Facebook is the best place to engage. They may be customers of a current franchisee who could visualize themselves running their own shop. They have an interest – and hopefully a passion – for your brand’s type of service, work, food, or culture!

At our FLDC panel discussion, Wild Birds Unlimited exemplified this type of brand. Chief Development Officer Paul Pickett shared how individuals on Facebook can engage with a brand that shares their passion and then picture themselves as owning their own store.  I would add that being a great storyteller and sharing appealing images and videos is key in developing these relationships! Facebook is the most important place to spend your development time as this is where such future owners are already spending their time.

 

The LinkedIn Side

If your best franchise candidates are looking for an investment or for their next franchise award, let’s look at LinkedIn. Those candidates are in “the business of business” and invest in a franchise based only on return. LinkedIn is an excellent place to share information about your franchise’s value.

On the same FLDC panel, LinkedIn success was represented by ZIPS Franchising. ZIPS Vice President Aaron Goldberg does a fantastic job communicating on LinkedIn with potential business partners who are multi-unit owners investing in franchises.

At my FranTech Roundtable on Social Media in October, many Franchisors shared with me that they burn through their LinkedIn ad budgets quickly. Unlike Facebook where your boosted posts are easy for the right prospects to consume, LinkedIn puts you in a very competitive position to get a franchise development ad viewed.

 

Recommendation #2: I’m currently recommending not initially buying ads on LinkedIn. Instead, use LinkedIn as the one-to-one communication tool that Twitter was meant to be. There’s no advertising cost to engage with a person as another person!

LinkedIn may not be a great place to generate a completely new lead, but it is the best place to communicate with potential business partners with whom you’re already engaged.

 

Recommendation #3: Use LinkedIn for franchise development via your personal profile, not your company LinkedIn page. People buy from people. The goldmine of LinkedIn for any brand is in its use by company representatives as individuals. Sure, your company page needs to be updated and appealing. But the heavy lifting needs to be done from you as a business leader.

 

Recommendation #4: Use these tactics every day to get to the next level with your franchise prospects on LinkedIn:

*Share relevant business articles and blog posts that would be of interest to your candidates.

*Reach out to them via LinkedIn messages and InMails. Both have a significantly higher response rate than emails.

And remember the most important thing when promoting a business to prospective buyers on social media: even when you’re not engaging with them, they’re watching you!

 

 

 

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