Kathy Klotz-Guest, Gary Ware and I discuss how to harness improv and brainstorming to create better content marketing!
My hair is conveniently too long for this interview with author of the #1 Amazon best selling book Welcome to the Funnel: Proven Tactics to Turn Your Social and Content Marketing Up to 11, Jason Miller… Jason leads global content marketing efforts at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. He’s also an avid rock n roll photo journalist.
We talked about:
- Jason’s Rock N Roll Story And Why He Got Out Of The Music Biz
- Why You Need To Be A “Hybrid Marketer” and what the heck that is
- Philosophy Vs Science Of Marketing
- Big Rock Content
- What Leftover Turkey Can Do For Your Content Marketing
- 5 Content Marketing Lessons From Gun N Roses
- The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide To Linkedin
- Creating Standout B2b Marketing Content
- Marketing Automation
REVIEWED & UPDATED March 28, 2017- None of the previous tips expired in value or relevance. I’ve added a few new bonus tips at the end for 2016.
This post was originally written in June 2015. And some of these tips have been true since I started teaching Facebook marketing in 2011. I wrote this list a few months back for a keynote talk and have kept them up to date.
The tips are divided into 3 groups
- Overall Facebook Marketing
- Facebook Posting
- Facebook Advertising
Note that Facebook marketing is a stepwise, funneled process- so, though not every tip is focused on the last step of the funnel, each tip is trying to increase your results down the funnel.
16 Tips That Apply to All of Facebook Marketing
1. Check out Facebook Audience Insights for your type of customer. This tool is located in the Ad Manager. Learn who your fans, prospects and customers really are. I’ll bet at least one thing surprises you. If you don’t have enough fans to see other likes, choose your biggest competitor, or an interest in your niche instead.
2. Don’t bring up a bad thing unless your offering fixes THAT problem. Or unless your specific audience likes warnings (e.g. bad weather) or being negative. In which case, your bad posts will get a LOT of likes. If they don’t, you don’t have that kind of audience. However, empathizing with your customer can be really powerful. Some of our most powerful case studies come from this.
3. Use happy positive faces that are close-up enough for us to read their expressions. 🙂
4. Avoid bland stock photography. Even if you have to take your own photos, find something authentic. If you do use shutterstock, find something exceptional.
5. Animals work. Even people who hate kids love animals. Yes, you can definitely make an animal relevant to your brand and yes people will love it. Yes, even in B2B. They’re still human beings. Open your mind and try it.
6. Cute works. Kids, animals, Ann Handley, etc.
7. Dogs always win. Pugs and labs are some of people’s favorites. This is the cutest dog on the planet.
8. Try something w/e/i/r/d. At the very least you’ll STAND out. Like that joke about my Grandma. You haven’t heard that? You need to watch my keynote videos.
9. Write content about mistakes people make in your niche- if you want to boost conversions.
10. Be brief, simple and clear. Try Hemingwayapp.
11. Test everything. Test posts, ads, images, cover photos and landing pages. I even split-test my blog post titles.
12. Capitalize on the big winner. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Learn from what did and didn’t work, and come up with new ideas that are more like what worked and less like what didn’t.
13. Learn from what your customers like. What they like is in Audience Insights and how they respond to your posts and ads.
14. Keep testing new ideas. Don’t give up. Don’t settle for what’s the best right now.
15. Shorten your funnel. Try to take out a step or two. Make it easier for your customers. It’ll boost your conversions and profits.
16. Think about whether your customers public and private faces are different. Serve the public one with public posts. Try segmented ads, private videos and segmented email lists for the private ones.
8 Facebook Posting Tips
17. Test multiple ways to say the same thing. Try more than one way to express it. Use science to test diverse language.
18. Include links in posts to get website traffic. (But when it comes to ads, this is not the most affordable way to get website traffic- read this).
19. Include a call to action to get them to do something. Like, “Hey, subscribe to my podcast, it’ll make you a better marketer, better business person, and you’ll smell better too!”
20. Track which Facebook posts work and don’t work. Figure out why you think they work or don’t. Develop your theories and test them with your next set of posts. This is one reason not to create a whole month of FB posts at one time. First, it doesn’t give you time to learn from the current month before scheduling new posts, and second you’ll get smarter every week, but your posts will be up to 4 weeks dumber than you are now.
21. Create coaching and cheerleading posts. Motivate people, and echo their values, beliefs and likes.
22. Find famous and motivational quotes.
23. Use universally revered people for images and quotes. Einstein and Maya Angelou are good. Thomas Edison is not.
24. Follow the 6 do’s and 4 dont’s from my Contagious Content ebook.
9 Facebook Advertising Tips
25. Always choose website conversion ads if you can (rather than just clicks to website), and use a conversion pixel. Even if you aren’t going for leads or sales, try putting the conversion code on a deeper valuable page your best visitors would check out.
26. Modify your targeting with behaviors like people who use Facebook payments (tells you with more certainty they have money to spend and/or might be a good ecommerce prospect) or lines of credit or other financial info.
27. Test granular creative to granular targets. Did you find 3-4 main demographic personas from Audience Insights? Are you testing personalized advertising to these personas?
28. Try widening your targeting and making your copy more specific. You can “target” by using the ad text to tell them who should click and who shouldn’t.
29. Test retargeting, custom audiences and lookalike audiences. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. But they must be tested.
30. Test using the brand name in headlines vs. not. You could also call them out by job title or interest.
31. Test superlatives. Are you or your product the most/best/cheapest/biggest/etc?
32. Test images featuring the product vs. not. You could also show a representation of their dream aspiration, or their current nightmare.
33. Show a preview of a lead magnet- or use an image in the ad that’s also on the landing page. Then they’ll know they’re in the right place when they land.
34. You can do lead gen ads now in two ways- via website conversion ads, or the new “lead ads.” The latter have a few weaknesses right now. #1, they have been more expensive in our tests. #2 You have to remember to log in and download the emails regularly from Facebook, then manually email people. It’s easier to use LeadPages or ClickFunnels tied to Aweber or MailChimp set up with automatic welcome messages or an autoresponder series. I suppose you could weekly download them, upload those to a system like GetResponse that lets you upload emails, have an autoresponder there, but after a week they’re cold. You’d need to download and upload the emails daily. Some companies are working on a solution to this, but right now it’s a mess. We still recommend website conversion ads combined with a landing page split-testing solution like LeadPages, ClickFunnels, Unbounce, etc.
35. One of the biggest problems we see with clients are when they create their own landing page or lead gen process. Custom programming can create problems, inflexibility, or interfere with tracking. If your website can’t split-test, you should use an industry-standard landing page solution like LeadPages, ClickFunnels or Unbounce. They can be customized to fit your brand and often can be made to look like they’re hosted on your main website or a similar one. Branding can be fixed. A lack of split-testing or the inability to track conversions cannot be fixed as easily.
That’s it- start with a few, and add some more of these tips to your practices every week!
Interview with professor James Barry (who I like to call Jimmy Mneumonic) on the topic of humor and content marketing.
I don’t mean the B.S. you’re probably thinking of. But it’s kind of the same thing. I’ll come back to that.
I mean: What’s your Brain Storm number? As in…
How many things do you brainstorm when you’re creating?
If you’re thinking up new blog post ideas, how many topics do you write out? And then for each of those topics, how many possible blog post titles do you write?
For a lot of people, it’s just one. And I’ve done this, too- here’s what it’s like:
- “Ooh! I came up with a blog post idea.”
- Then they write it.
- “Ooh! This would be a good title for it.”
- Then they hit publish.
Maybe readers see that and share it based on the title. Maybe readers get your point. Maybe they’re excited… or maybe they don’t share it and they don’t get it and they aren’t excited. Maybe it helps you get more business… maybe it doesn’t.
This is a pretty random, unfocused approach.
It’s easier, sure, but it’s not the more profitable way to go.
A Better Way To Create Content
What if you did it this way:
- Brainstorm 10 blog post ideas
- Choose the best one
- Write it
- Brainstorm 10 possible blog post title ideas for it
- Choose your favorite.
More steps? Yes. But much bigger results, guaranteed.
What happens that’s different is this:
- You have a better chance of coming up with an idea that’s 10x more awesome.
- You don’t lose objectivity and get attached to one idea that might not be so good.
- You give yourself some perspective.
So, this blog of mine has a bunch of posts in DRAFT status that only have a title. And that title is just the one sentence idea for the post.
I will never write all of them, because they aren’t all worthy of my time. And not all your content ideas are worth your time either.
How do I do #2 and #5 above… how do I choose which of my ideas to write?
The Scientific Way To Choose What To Write
First, I write down all the topic ideas. Then I put three columns next to it, which I’m going to rate from 1-5:
- My Interest: How into this topic am I personally?
- Biz Dev: Can I see how the readers of this post are more likely to hire me?
- Buzzy: How much is this title like things that get shared a lot? How buzzfeedy is it? How much emotion and curiosity does it arouse?
Then I multiply those numbers together to get a score.
Then you look at your scores and write the ones with the highest scores.
You may never write them all, because you keep adding to your list with new ideas, and rating them, and re-sorting by score, and some of them will stay too low to ever write.
You can improve their scores if you want:
- If there are any where your interest is high but the other two scores aren’t, see if you can reformulate the idea to make it more relevant to your business and if you can rewrite the title to make it more emotional and mysterious.
- If your interest is low but the other two columns are more promising, how can you make it more interesting for yourself? What would make you want to write it? Just asking those questions may give you your answer.
Now I can’t let you go without telling you: brainstorming is hard.
I do some creative work where I have to come up with 30 things, and I often get stuck at 15 and 25 and want to go lay down and sleep or stare out the window.
You have to push through it. Read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Switch tasks and come back. But you have to keep pushing. It’s a creative muscle you need to strengthen.
This is what you have to do if you want to do brilliant work that gets amazing results.
Well, to be more accurate, it should be “Without this, your content is wasted.”
But I’ll tell you why I titled the blog post that way: sometimes, when people are thinking about creating content, they forget a really important part of marketing.
They may not forget about persuading people. Or knowing their audience part. Or utility. Or entertainment.
But they forget about that pesky distribution and visibility thing!
I ask them:
HOW are enough people going to SEE your new content?
Here are some weak responses to that question and why they’re weak responses. Afterwards we’ll talk about how you can do better.
“We email our content out.”
- So your current email list reaches every prospect you want to see it? You don’t need to reach more prospects?
- Are you taking into account that only 15-30% of people open emails? And only 2-3% of them click the links? In other words, do you have 40 times as many email subscribers as the number of people you want to go to the website?
- (Don’t forget that not every website visitor becomes a customer… you’ll need 50-100 people to go to your website to get a new customer. So, you need 2,000 to 4,000 people on your email list for every new customer you want. Depressing!)
If you answered yes to all of those, congrats! Chances are, you didn’t, though. 🙂
“We post it on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.”
- So given that all the data shows that most Facebook pages’ posts are seen by only about 10% of fans, and only about 1% of those who see a post click on its link, meaning that only about one out of a thousand fans will click on your link, do you have 1,000 times as many Facebook fans as you want to visit your website?
- And given that at most at any one time, only about 7% of your Twitter fans will be active when you tweet, and that roughly 1% will click on your link, do you have 1,400 times as many Twitter followers as you want to visit your website? Or even if you tweet that link 14 times a day (which would be excessive for just one link), do you have 100 times as many Twitter fans as you want to go to your website?
- On LinkedIn, only 13% of LinkedIn users interact with the site daily. People don’t spend a ton of time on LinkedIn, and when they do, it’s usually not looking at their news feed. My estimate is that maybe 1% of your connections might see any of your posts in their news feed, so do you have 10,000 times as many LinkedIn connections as you want to visit to your website?
All you really need to do to be convinced is look at your website analytics and see how little monthly traffic you’re getting from these three sites… and divide that by 100- that’s how many customers you can expect from them per month. Got 1,000? Great, you might get 10 customers from that, if they’re quality prospects.
(There are certainly exceptions to some of my numbers if your website is exceptionally effective and your post are dramatically more effective than average- but to get to those places, you’d need to be an accomplished Internet marketer or already have worked extensively with on.)
[SOURCES: Twitter CTR stats, Twitter CTR stats for huge accounts, an older Twitter CTR anecdote for reference, 3 years ago when 17% of fans saw Facebook page posts, around the same time, Techcruch said 12%, more coverage of declining visibility in 2014, comparison of FB ads and LI ads for post promotion, Pew Research on frequency of social site usage.]
“We have good SEO.”
That sounds A LOT like the lazy and dangerous Build It And They Will Come myth, but let’s inquire further:
- How quickly are your new blog posts ranking in the top 10 for their keywords? Although you may have great rankings and traffic from older pages and posts, how quickly does that work with new content? Can you afford to wait 3-6 months for that traffic?
- How are you getting new links from other websites to your new traffic? Twitter is one strategy for this, but again, how many see your tweet and retweet it? Is this enough links to improve your rankings?
- How big is the keyword search demand for the keywords you’re using in your new blog posts? Keep in mind that you won’t get all of that traffic. If a keyword gets 1,000 searches a month, the #1 organic listing might get 30-55% of the traffic. The ads are usually getting from 1-3% each. The first page altogether gets about 70%. If you get a first page ranking, you can expect an average of 7% of that keyword demand, which would be 70 visits per month. Not 1,000; but 70.
So… how are enough people going to find your content?
If your findings above aren’t satisfactory, then…
The upshot is, you have to use ads to get the numbers you want, and Facebook ads are the most profitable way.
However, promoting posts can be a danger zone, getting you more engagement than website clicks. When you calculate the cost per click for this method, it can easily be $1-2 per click. You must use the ad manager and choose the website traffic or website conversion ad type, and then you can easily get clicks for less than $1 each.
Also, the website conversion ads do convert better, so they lower your cost per lead and cost per new customer.
So, combine content creation with Facebook ads!
Guests Tamsen Webster, Felicia Slattery and Kathy Klotz-Guest discuss with Brian: how smart people sometimes screw up effective communication with jargon and other errors, and how they can communicate more effectively.
People will knee-jerk share a Buzzfeed/Upworthy sensationalistic headline. But people aren’t necessarily reading the articles or watching the whole video!
“WE’VE FOUND EFFECTIVELY NO CORRELATION BETWEEN SOCIAL SHARES AND PEOPLE ACTUALLY READING.” (source)
There are two reasons people share content:
- “Ooh! This looks like it will be good.” – didn’t read it
- “Ooh! This actually is good.” – did read it
Buzzfeed and Upworthy are very good at number 1. The Atlantic is good at number 2.
Takeaway: Go for quality, long-form content. Actually inform or entertain or solve someone’s problems. Then your shares will lead to reads and even purchases.
Why isn’t this longform? I didn’t have time. But it definitely isn’t sensationalistic, so I got it half right! 🙂
Content Marketing is The Big Thing right now. Everybody wants to write a book about it. Companies want to spend millions on it.
Just like previous marketing tsunamis – SEO, digital advertising and social media – content marketing has a “marketing must-do.”
As companies begin to adopt content marketing, they run into a few common obstacles:
- The Red-Headed Stepchild: “Why are people ignoring our content?”
- The Big Chill: “Why isn’t our content getting more engagement and shares?”
- The Content Treadmill: “How do we create enough content to stay in front of people frequently?”
- Curationophobia: “If we curate content, we lose traffic to other websites!”
But the biggest problem is one that most of them are not yet thinking about.
The Revenue Black Hole: “Why isn’t this content creating sales?”
I’ve been in the content creation game since 1999. And I’ve created content for all kinds of goals: awareness, traffic, leads and sales.
What I’ve found is that it is immensely tempting to try to create content that gets buzz and traffic and shares.
You see other LinkedIn posts with 20,000 views- you want that too. You see Buzzfeed getting 20,000 shares on a post- you get buzz envy.
Buzz-Envy: “How can we go viral like they did?”
Buzzy viral content does not necessarily create sales. The most viral content is funny or weird or tear-jerking; but it doesn’t make you more likely to buy something.
Yes, there are exceptions. There are a handful of examples that contradict this, like Blendtech or Old Spice (but you’ll find they are not only viral- they also make a strong point about the product).
If you take a look at the most shared types of blog posts (for example, a “Where Should You Actually Live?” quiz) and try to think about how you’d create one for your business (for example, a “When Should You Actually File Your Taxes” quiz), you’ll see that your content doesn’t fit the buzz formula, and it’s just a distraction…
The most SHARED posts in the least year, according to BuzzSumo:
- 20 Reasons Why Your Big Sister Is The Greatest Gift Your Parents Gave You (2.3 million shares)
- The 46 Most Brilliant Life Hacks Every Human Being Needs To Make Life Easier (2.0 million shares)
- Is Drinking Wine Better Than Going To The Gym? According To Scientists, Yes! (1.8 million shares)
- Do You ACTUALLY Know The Lyrics To The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? (1.8 million shares)
- Can You Pass The Psychopath Test? (1.7 million shares)
Are any of those relevant to what you ACTUALLY sell? Unlikely.
(Are they relevant to anything anybody sells? Maybe a wine company could use #3… assuming they wouldn’t get sued by somebody for taking that position. If that’s not a risk there, then I would go for it- because you don’t have to say no to shares if it’s also going to help you sell.)
Those are fine posts for Buzzfeed and Playbuzz, who make money on display ads. But not for most other businesses.
One of my most popular blog posts in the last year was “The 20 Most Viral Posts on the Internet And Yes They’re Shocking.” It was buzzfeedy. It brought in some email signups, but no business inquiries.
And although I can’t track it currently, I would bet those email subscribers are some of the least likely ones to buy from me.
Why? Because that blog post topic does nothing to QUALIFY someone as my buyer or to PERSUADE them to buy. I sell audits and advertising management and content creation. We do help people with Facebook posting and getting more shares, but that’s as close as that post comes to our services, and not even one of our most popular services (it turns out most companies don’t realize how much of a problem they have with their posts- or how much better their results could be- so it’s not a pain point currently).
Ironically, within a year of posting “The 20 Most Viral Posts on the Internet And Yes They’re Shocking,” I’m teaching that the most viral posts may be the least profitable.
I got sucked into two TRAPS:
- Traffic-for-traffic’s sake, and
- “Look at my big share numbers!”
I made a decision a couple months back to only write posts I thought might make people buy from me.
Compare “The 20 Most Viral Posts on the Internet And Yes They’re Shocking” to my more recent posts:
- 5 Social Media Tips for Meeting & Event Planners: This provides value to one of my prospect audiences… people who can make the decision to hire me as a speaker, or at least get me into the consideration set. This post is an excuse to get in front of that audience. In exchange for their attention, I’m helping them get better results with their events.
- 11 Reasons Your Site Redesigns Steal Your Traffic – And How To Prevent That: This establishes or solidifies me (depending on how well the reader knows my SEO background) as an SEO expert, and plays on fear of loss. Now when a business moves toward a redesign they may recall my warnings and hire me to consult during the process.
- 5 Sales Funnel Mistakes That Are Killing Your Business: Similarly, this alerts the brain that if revenue or profits aren’t ideal, maybe they’re making one of these mistakes. People HAVE to know what those mistakes are and then feel confident they aren’t making any. If they are, they may hire me to help out.
With those last three blog posts, there’s a PLAUSIBLE REASON they might lead to sales.
I’m not writing about wine or psychopaths just to get page views and sell ads. I’m selling valuable consulting services, keynotes and trainings, so my content needs to reflect that.
Before you create anymore content, ask yourself questions like:
- How does this TOPIC relate to what we actually SELL?
- Why do we think this will make someone more likely to BUY?
- Does it position us better? Does it establish us as the authority? Does it increase trust in our brand?
And post stuff that makes people more likely to buy from you!
There’s nothing wrong with getting shares and going viral. Just make sure you go viral with something that makes people more likely to buy from you.