Why Do Social Media & Community Building Actually Work?

The Ecommerce Times was recently writing article on social media community building and reached out to 15-year digital marketing expert and 10-year social marketing expert Brian Carter for an interview. ECT published some of his responses in this article, “5 Ways to Build Community Around Your Brand.”

If you liked that, here are Brian’s complete responses!

Q1. Why is it important to build social or community around a brand?

When we do social for clients, part of that is building engagement and awareness around a brand and its offerings.

 

In a time where a lot of digital experts have gravitated toward conversion optimization only, I understand that, because I grew up doing that with SEO focused on conversions, Google AdWords focused on revenue and ROI, Google Analytics, Omniture and split-testing.

I’m a data guy, a test-discover-learn guy… basically a geek!

So it took me a long time to believe that engagement really had a hard quantitative value beyond all the soft feel-good stuff people seemed to like about it.

Starting in 2010 when I founded my agency, we ran fan growth and engagement ads for companies along with Facebook and Google ads for lead gen, ecommerce and other conversion-oriented campaigns, though I often was skeptical about whether the fans or likes were really helping them grow their customer base, drive sales, or improve profits.

The customer often wanted fans and engagement things, and we counseled them about it (“this isn’t the quickest way to get customers or profits”), but they may have wanted the fan numbers or the likes on their posts, and we took the challenge to get the best results we could there. We drove fans and engagement down to low costs and discovered how to get really high engagement rates.

But I was still skeptical about the business value of fans and social media engagement.

And it’s hard to overcome that skepticism, a skepticism many people have, because:

a. Multi-touchpoint analytics are spotty (not every company has them)
b. The analytics for multi-touchpoint seems complicated or out of the way (not every company wants to dive into this just to examine whether their bias is correct), and
c. Finding out the truth about your social media’s conversion value sometimes requires spending money or even third party studies of your analytics.

Not every company can or will do all of that 20% or so of clients we’ve had who did both engagement and conversions AND looked at their metrics, we’ve always seen big benefits to running engagement ads in addition to conversion campaigns:

  1. Engagement ads usually spike organic search traffic and sales: Increased brand awareness from social engagement ads increases search engine searches for your brand name (people notice you more and think, “Oh what was that thing? Oh yeah that company… Let me search for that now…”), which gets you additional organic traffic and sales. When you see an organic traffic and sales spike after starting a new social ad campaign and not changing anything else, you have to be honest: it might have been that social awareness. Sometimes you can track that, if the social ads led to traffic, but if they didn’t, your website analytics can’t even track that, unfortunately.
  2. Engagement ads can pay for themselves: Often you can look at the social engagement ads data and see specific revenue driven from that same ad spend- and often it pays for itself. It may not be a positive ROI, but its breakeven. That means you have to run other ads, of course, to drive profits, but the engagement ads aren’t necessarily a cost- they may pay for themselves. Now, to make that happen, there must be links in your posts… if you aren’t putting links and calls to action in your posts, that’s a whole nother topic- how to create effective engagement ads that also drive traffic…
  3. Engagement ads can improve conversion rates and profits: The brand familiarity you get from this (look up the “mere exposure” effect if you haven’t heard of it) lowers people’s resistance to buying from you, which increases conversion rates, which in turn lowers cost per sale and cost per customer, which of course, increases profits.

Q2. What are some of the most effective ways that e-commerce businesses can build this kind of social media or community? Why do these strategies work?

You have to run Facebook and Instagram ads, create a lot of posts and ads, and see how your customers respond to them.

It’s just like learning how to get along with a real person- you have to get to know them- and online the only way to get to know people is to either look at their data first, or put stuff out there and see how they respond.

Listen to the data- what do they like? What do they share? What do they click on? What don’t they respond to?

You need a repeatable process for constant improvement- we call ours F.I.T. First you find the Facts- that’s data about who are they- then you Invent things, and Test them (discover what works by looking at everything!).

Then look at the Facts again- how did they respond to what you Invented? By Inventing more stuff like what they liked, you create a better and better fit of your marketing materials with their likes. If your marketing fits your customers, they love you more, likability increases, and you know what excites them.

The RARE company’s research on loyalty showed that 86% of customers are loyal because they like the company. So how likable is your brand, and how likable is your marketing? What are you doing to increase that? What process do you use to ensure you win at likability?

This is critical to your survival, and to thriving, because when companies disrupt others, or entire industries, its always because they suddenly make your customers a lot happier than they have been. You can’t afford to just be good enough and maintain, because that’s what companies like Blockbuster and Borders and the Yellow Pages and Yellow Cab did before they got disrupted by Netflix, Amazon, Google and Uber.

Continually strive to become greater and make your customers happier. Make sure you have a process for that. We use F.I.T.

Q3. What are common mistakes that e-commerce businesses make when trying to build social engagement, and how can these mistakes be avoided?

The biggest mistakes companies make with engagement are about vanity, narcissism, self-centeredness. We’re talking about smart people who would never walk into a mixer and talk about themselves for 15 minutes straight. Hopefully… They’re smart enough to know that people like people who focus on them. Not on themselves. They ask others about their lives and family and hobbies, and they make a friend.

But somehow they have a blindspot when it comes to marketing their brand- and they get very narcissistic. They do self-centered things by showing their products a lot… even their “lifestyle” images are about their products, not truly about the customer’s lifestyle.

They don’t think about who the customer is- what their daily life is like, their pains, fears, worries, dreams, goals and obstacles. And when they do it’s only in terms of their products.

You have to go a level beyond your product into the customer’s life and emotions and live with them and talk about other things and have faith that this creates a relationship that makes them love you so much that of course they want to buy your products.

You can’t be afraid to NOT talk about the product for a while. You can’t be so afraid that if you go off topic, you’re wasting time.

Because the truth is: so much of friendship and relationship is about wasting time because you are together.

You have to just be with them- without selling- sometimes, or you’re not building a relationship… you’re just an annoying salesperson… and that’s not a likable approach.

NEW BLOG POST: Why “NEW” is Killing Your Business

HEY.

Words sell.

Some words grab your attention so hard they give you whiplash.

LOOK.

Certain words wipe your memory of what you were working on before. They reprioritize everything else. They take precedence.

NEW.

The ironic thing is: if you want profits, you need something old and proven.

But old is not sexy.

Profits should be sexy but they’re not. Cash is sexy, I guess.

NEW.

But somehow a new feature, a new platform, a new book, a new course hijacks your brain and kills everything else you were working on before.

NEW.

For example, email marketing and google ads have produced high ROI for 10 years.

CASH.

Great, right? They should get a lot of attention and people should do those things, right?

But how much TV air-time are email marketing and Google ads getting?

(zero)

Social is newer and cooler.

SNAPCHAT.

WOW!!!!!!!

So having been in the Internet marketing game since 2004 (doing SEO since 1999), I’ve seen a lot of…

  • new platforms
  • new features
  • new courses
  • new books
  • new tactics
  • new strategies
  • new techniques
  • new gurus
  • new conferences
  • new cetera…

And one thing I know for sure- the gurus and blogs that focus on NEW win.

It’s maddening- because I look for and create and teach repeatable systems that will efficiently deliver you results (like actual profits).

CASH.

Meantime, some people who focus on the bleeding edge get more attention and deliver little to no results.

Why would you listen to people who aren’t getting you results?

What is happening?

NEW is hijacking your brain.

Listen, I get it…

It makes sense that you should pay attention to NEW.

Because of Fear of Missing Out.

You’re afraid.

You don’t want to miss out on the latest greatest new powerful thing. You don’t want to miss any big new dangers.

It makes sense that we look at NEW.

I get it.

BUT it’s very inefficient, and it’s wasting a lot of your time and money.

If you are ADHD-pulled to every NEW thing, and you don’t FOCUS, you will not get as far.

  • You will get less done.
  • You will do things that get less results.
  • Your business will not go as far.

You could lose.

BUT IT’S FUN!!! IT’S REVOLUTIONARY!!! THIS IS THE FUTURE!!!

Really? Like Foursquare was the future? And Facebook tabs? And Meerkat? And Ello?

And shall I list 17 other failures people thought were the FUTURE?

NEW could kill your business…

Especially if your competitors are focusing on high-ROI tasks and you are not.

OLD is not good.

OLD is bad.

Except when OLD is proven and dependable and repeatable.

OLD is the NEW NEW.

That doesn’t make any sense.

But it should.

Do something OLD. It’s probably more proven and profitable.

Wouldn’t that be NEW, if everybody did OLD, proven, repeatable, profitable things, instead of NEW, fun, low-result, inefficient things?

So do something proven.

It’s probably not super NEW.

But it’s probably KINDA NEW, if it’s powerful.

If it’s too OLD it won’t work anymore or it will be so competitive it’ll be hard to succeed.

So do something KINDA NEW.

Like Facebook advertising, a Facebook Audit, or Social Marketing Profit System 😉

Another good example would be webinars. They’re not new. They’re old. But they’re proven.

TONS of people have made money with webinars.

Has anybody made money with Blab or Facebook Live? Maybe one person? Who?

But hundreds if not thousands of people have made money using platforms like GoToWebinar.

GoToWebinar is old and boring. But it makes people money. Maybe you have to do webinars in a new way to keep it fresh, but webinars are proven.

So do something old in a new way!

10 Dramatic Copywriting Formulas From The Super Bowl

Do you want your company, product or service to be taken more seriously?

TV writers are gifted at drama. We can learn from them to increase the gravitas around our products, services and brands.

FORMULA: “This hasn’t happened in ___ years.”

Is your product or company or event or crisis the first something in 10, 20 or 50 years?

EXAMPLE:

  • We haven’t had a new marketing tool as groundbreaking as Facebook ads in 15 years- since the advent of search ads. You could argue that due to their targeting and flexible formats, they are more revolutionary than search ads, and that we haven’t had anything this new and powerful since the invention of the TV ad in 1941.

FORMULA: “I’m so proud to be an ___.”

Are you proud to be something? Are your customers proud to be something? Or someone? Or part of a group? For bonus points- why are you proud?

EXAMPLES:

  • I’m proud to be a Facebook advertising expert- because we’re creating profit by discovering customer passions.
  • I’m proud to be a digital marketer- because we’re innovating how companies and customers discover one other.

FORMULA: “If you’ve ____ we’ll take care of you.”

What problem are your customers having that you rescue them from? What mishap has befallen them?

EXAMPLES:

  • If you’re having trouble with Facebook marketing, we’ll take care of you.
  • If your conversion rates are low or you can’t achieve profitability, we’ll take care of you.

FORMULA: “The best ___ in ___.”

Do you have the best something in any category? Is your company the best in any category? This is a good formula for your unique selling proposition, something I spend an entire lesson on in my Social Marketing Profit System.

EXAMPLE:

  • The Brian Carter Group is the best Facebook advertising consultancy in the world.

FORMULA: “___ is plotting to kill _______s.”

This was from a political ad that mentioned ISIS. Who is your enemy? Who is your customer’s enemy? If it’s not a person, what is the enemy? What trend or problem or fear or obstacle?

EXAMPLES:

  • Traditional media buyers are plotting to kill your profits!
  • Big ad agencies are plotting to plunder your budgets!

FORMULA: “We are facing a ____ crisis.”

Another political ad. What kind of crisis is your customer facing? What’s their biggest problem? How can you make it seem even bigger? Don’t minimize it. How large does it loom in their nightmares?

EXAMPLES:

  • We are facing a profitability crisis.
  • We are facing a digital marketing learning curve crisis.
  • We are facing a marketing effectiveness crisis.

COOL WORDS: Champions, Magnificent, Elite…

These are just some words we rarely think to apply outside of sports, but they’re powerful.

EXAMPLE:

  • Do you want to be an elite marketer? An elite Facebook advertiser? Those who study my Social Marketing Profit System emerge having become magnificent champions of profitability.

FORMULA: “To ____… It gives you chills just thinking about it.”

What’s the big deal in your arena? What do people aspire to? What’s the dream? This needs to be a singular thing- the biggest possible thing.

EXAMPLE:

  • To change a business and the fates of its owners by creating a profitable ad system for them… it gives me chills just thinking about it.

FORMULA: “If you want to ____ you have to ____.”

What is required? What do you require of your customers? What is required for them to succeed?

EXAMPLE:

  • If you want to profit online, you have to test a lot of ads.

FORMULA: “What separates the ____ from the ____ is…”

What’s the dichotomy in your arena between the successes and the failures? Between the good and bad?

EXAMPLE:

  • What separates the profitable from the unprofitable is open-mindedness, creativity, and diligent testing.

Your InfoProducts Empire: Copywriting and Infoproducts with Alyson Lex

A very pleasant and enlightening chat with Alyson Lex of Rock Your Marketing.

Alyson Lex got her start working for two of the highest-paid and most sought-after copywriters and strategists in the biz, Dan Kennedy and Bill Glazer. As the marketing manager for their company, Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle, Alyson got a first-class education in all things direct response, marketing and copy.

Recently, Alyson began working with coaches, consultants, speakers, authors, podcasters, bloggers, experts and info-marketers to create programs and products that SELL… copy and funnels that CONVERT… and kick-ass strategy to bring it all together into one Info-Empire.

We talked about:

  • Her work at Glazer and Kennedy (Bill Glazer & Dan Kennedy)
  • Her biggest takeaways from working with them
  • It seems like there’s a huge need and desire for infoproducts
  • What people struggle with the most in copywriting and infoproduct creation
  • The biggest mistakes people make
  • The first thing someone should do when they think, “Oh, I need an infoproduct.”
  • Where to start your Info Empire

Thank YOU For Preferring The Word Funnest

This post is just to thank you guys for loving most the headline that used the word FUNNEST. You’re my kind of people.

funnest

All three of those headlines are in an equal number of tweets on Twitter- one of them it roughly 6x more effective.

I am tempted to start a kickstarter campaign to get funnest made into a real approved of word by the superunfun grammarian snobs. snobarians. if that’s really a good idea let me know.

THE 5 UPSHOTS LESSONS TAKEAWAYS for you utilitarians, are:

  1. be unique.
  2. make up words. the coolest people do this. evidence: me.
  3. do things your own way.
  4. stand out from the crowd.
  5. embrace goofiness.
  6. bonus takeaway alert!: be funner.

Also in Facebook ad tests for a course I’m going to create- the title LEADSPLOSION won out the tests for the best lead gen course title. again, superthanks. I just love the idea of putting tons of time into something ridiculously named. And adding -splosion to the end of everything. CopywritingSPLOSION!

I guess that’s my thing overall with humor- do great things, strive for greatness, but make fun of it too because… life is short, don’t take yourself so seriously, none of us really matters that much (even though we all matter god bless us all every one and all that jazz), make plans and you make god or the universe laugh, if you don’t relax you’re going to have a heart attack and if you aren’t more fun no one will like you.

🙂

Signingly my post like a 68 year old who doesn’t know how to blogly,
Brian

P.S. I’m using KingSumo Headlines for these tests