We've been at this digital marketing thing for a while - just shy of two decades in fact.
Every day, we take a quick glance at our LinkedIn streams or Instagram feeds and we're inundated with "digital marketing experts".
For a marketing professional rising through the ranks, or a business manager trying to work out what your marketing team actually does, it's hard to know who to trust.
Do I listen to the Instagram guru, the SEO maven or the copywriting wunderkind?
Before you read one more extra-long educational Instagram caption, let's take a step back. What actually is digital marketing in 2019?
Digital marketing is about visibility
Getting your business, idea or initiative in front of more of the right people. And using digital tools to do it.
It's that simple.
Or is it?
Visibility also means really putting you in the picture. 'You' might mean actually you. Or it might mean your team. It might mean glimpses of the action behind the scenes. Things that really tap into why people should build a relationship with you - as a follower, then an email subscriber, and then as a customer.
We've recently updated our Digital Ecosystem model to reflect this. Personal branding - the thing that builds trust as people work with other people - needs to be in the picture. And it needs to be reflected across all channels.
If you're a business owner or executive, it means getting clear about your personal brand, and getting active online - from providing thought leadership on the company blog or in your email newsletter to getting active on LinkedIn.
If you're a marketing manager in a business, this means helping your executives and team build their personal brands, and understanding how these brands fit within the larger business brand. You need to consider how the business brand and different personal brands work in parallel to support and enhance each other. You're likely in your role because you know the most about digital - so it's your place to teach, assist and give guidance where you can.
Now that you've put yourself out there, it's time to build connection.
One one hand, that means putting the social back in social media, and expanding this to your email list, your website, or wherever else you live online.
We actually want to talk to real people and engage - technology is just a means to the end.
On the other hand, it means getting your systems working together.
and integration are our watchwords. Smarter systems for more seamless connection - which leaves you with time to do good stuff - like actually talking to real people.
But what do I actually do?
Here are some tactical things to bear in mind right now to help you build connection, be more visible, and leverage these for growth.
With screen time limits on people's phones and a real consciousness of advertising, people are doing much less mindless scrolling than they used to. This doesn't mean you should give up on Facebook. It just means that you, as a business, need to think hard about how your customers might like to interact with you there.
Groups are really where it's at right now. BUT they're not the place for a hard sell. Join groups related to your industry, or groups that your clients might be a part of. You need to be prepared to give real, genuine advice for free, and not expect a sale in return. Instead, bank on that fact that by being a great person (or people when this extends to your team) people will want to work with you, or buy from you
Facebook (and Instagram) advertising
Facebook ads are just about as expensive as they've ever been. Why? Because people are finally getting to know that Facebook is an awesome advertising platform!
If you're already advertising to very niche audiences, test broadening your targeting and let Facebook take the wheel a little. They're a massive database of all human interaction, and their algorithm is much smarter than we are. Remember, be patient before you change things and let Facebook finish its learning phase before you touch anything.
Don't lose focus on your funnel
. Don't try to convert a cold audience straight off the bat to an expensive product. Maybe try a simple conversion from a view to an email subscription or a glance at Instagram to a follow. The point of advertising is to get people into a place that you can build a relationship with them.
While consistency is key (speaking of clever algorithms - Instagram's annoys people to tears) it's no longer a 3x day platform for every single business. It's more about forging real connections using real-life photos. Kind of like what it was all those years ago when it first started.
The stories feature has removed some of the need for extreme polish, it has forced you to be visible (whether that's actually you speaking down the barrel of the camera or at least showing some behind-the-scenes shots of your office). It's also made two-way conversation more the norm (and the thing we all want).
Question stickers, polls, and the ability to share stories that you're tagged in are great ways to not only build real connections with others but show your audience or customers that you do really listen and that there are real people behind the brand. Don't be shy to start some conversations via DM's. Especially when you spy a new follower as a potential client - open the door and see where things go.
Also, comment bots need to go to sleep now. Real connection over bots!
LinkedIn continues to experience a massive resurgence. After releasing native video in 2017, LinkedIn has finally made the step into live video with LinkedIn Live. At the time of writing, it looks like this service will start as an invite-only feature to help drive LinkedIn’s role as a professional learning platform. But what it shows is that video matters.
Video post on Linkedin, like many other platforms, get 3x as many views as other types of posts. Gone are the days when LinkedIn is just an online resume, where you only connect with people you may have met IRL and want to stay in touch with. Connect with people in similar spheres - your peers and industry leaders. Connect with potential clients. And use your content to connect. Video is a great way to help people get to know - and trust - you.
Take steps to make your virtual contacts real life contacts. That’s why I’m such an advocate for LinkedIn local
. Social media is not a replacement for real-life connections, it’s just the conduit.
As always, pick the platforms that your audience will connect to you on.
Repurpose - within limits. Repurposing doesn't mean endless recycling tweets and facebook posts. Remember, we're after real connection and engagement and your audiences will notice.
Instead, reduce your workload by taking snippets from a blog post and create Instagram captions, Facebook posts or adapt parts into LinkedIn updates - the top half of this post started as Instagram captions, this second half will become Instagram captions in the near future. It is OK to repost content from each platform. If you know your followers well, you’ll know which groups are more likely to see content in each area.
We want to use content smarter to free up time to deliver greater quality content and really engage with people. Yep, the more time you have, the more you can talk to people (noticing a theme?).
Depending on your business, text-only emails are still going strong. This is because people want an email from a real person (this is really for a service-based business, if you're selling physical products your emails are likely to be more of a catalogue style in which case the more visually appealing, the better).
As a follow-up to this, they don't just want a million calls to action, but a real story. The story might lead to a theme, which leads to a collection of links of your latest posts, but keep it intentional, personal and focused on building...you guessed it...visibility and connection.
And make it relevant.
Use smart tagging to know who is interested in what. Maybe it's based on an action they've taken before (hey, you downloaded this last week - can we book a follow-up call to help you through it?) or a page they've visited on your site (e.g. sending the email about email marketing to the person that looked at the marketing page, and the email about Google Analytics to the person that looked at the Business Intelligence page).
Keeping up to date with digital marketing is almost a full-time job itself. I'm about to jet off to Social Media Marketing World for the second year and get a solid update, but for my money, visibility and connection is what everyone will be talking about.
I'll be hosting a range of in-person and webinar events on everything I learn at Social Media Marketing World in April.
To stay in the loop, like Summit School with Leanne O
on Facebook, or email me for more information at email@example.com
The Digital Ecosystem - revisited
For years, I've been preaching the importance of understanding your Digital Ecosystem, and using this four pillar model to build your digital strategy.
Like in nature, we need to find balance in our Digital Ecosystem to find digital success.
I always start with the Digital Ecosystem - do you?