What Yoga Can Teach Us About Social Media Marketing

Namaste!

Early last year, I discovered #yoga when I decided to tackle my usual “lose weight” New Year’s resolution in an unusual (for me!) way:  by committing to forty days straight of yoga.  HOT yoga, no less!

Forty days sped by and yoga practice quickly became an integral part of my life.  Even during the subsequent long stretches of time away from my mat later in the year, the principles and gifts of yoga stayed with me and manifested in some really unexpected ways throughout my life – including in my approach to and understanding of social media marketing.

The values and lessons of yoga can help make social media marketing a more zen-like experience.

The values and lessons of yoga can help make social media marketing a more zen-like experience.

Here are six ways in which yoga can positively influence your social media marketing – and your life:

1.  Be still and listen to the breath
Connecting to your breath through silent observation is one of the key tenets of yoga.  Similarly, one of the earliest and most impactful activities of the social media journey for any company is listening.  Before you set up snazzy social profiles, before you get caught up in the content marketing cycle, before you send a single Tweet – stop, be quiet, and listen.

Using keywords, your brand name, and other relevant / industry terms along with tools like Sprout Social (free to try / subscription), Mention.com (free to try / subscription)  or a host of others – and applying a bit of patience and analysis you can uncover a wealth of critical information.  Find out who’s talking about you, where the conversations are taking place, who in particular is having the most conversations- as well as the most influential conversations, based on the size of their own audience  – and what else is of interest to those who are talking about you.   Like the breath in yoga, the things you learn through social media listening are a guide: in this case,  to what you should say, to whom, and where – all very fundamental questions which need answering as part the foundation of any sound social media strategy.    This information is critical to getting a solid start on your social efforts – and seeing them lead to success.

2.  Set Your Intention
At the beginning of a yoga class or session, yogis are encouraged to set an intention for their practice.  Similarly, you must have goals for your social media activities.  These goals should be relevant to the key performance indicators (KPI’s) for your company in general, so that there is a meaningful way to measure the success of,  or the need to optimize your program.

Social goals should be specific, so they can be measured.  “Drive brand awareness” is a good goal, but difficult to measure due to lack of specificity.  However, when stated more concretely, such as “increase share of voice in social media by X percent (ensuring of course that “X” represents a challenging but achievable number) – that’s a target that can be aimed for and clearly hit.   “Provide better Customer Care” is better expressed in terms of goals as something along the lines of “increase our Customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores by X percent by increasing Customer Care activities in social media” =, as you can actually measure your success against that ideal.

3.  Be Authentic
In yoga, acceptance of yourself just as you are is an enduring theme.  Whether you’re struggling to hold a twisting pose or trying to stay steady in a handstand, where and who you are is exactly where or who you’re meant to be in that moment.  This allows you to simply be, and is profoundly liberating.

Similarly in social, knowing who you are (as a brand) and then remaining steadfast to the spirit of that voice is the path to social enlightenment.  Notice I said to the spirit of the voice.  The truth is, too much rigidity with regard to voice, while it may make for a certain desirable degree of consistency, can be stifling to meaningful interactions.  After all, no person or entity can truly be one way all the time.  Sometimes a more compassionate, or more humorous approach is demanded by circumstances – and is fine if thoughtfully and appropriately applied.

4.  Open Your Heart
Remember – everyone you deal with:  leads, existing Customers, returning Customers, angry Customers, happy Customers, influencers – they’re more than just the sum of their usefulness to you – they’re PEOPLE.

As such, they like to be made to laugh (when it’s appropriate); they appreciate it when offered truly useful content that will help them out, or even just make them look cool/smarter/funny/edgy/clever in front of their social friends; they want to be helped out when they’ve got a beef with you, and they want to be treated like PEOPLE.   So, make them laugh.  Write or find/share with them TRULY useful content – the kind you’d like to see from the brands you follow yourself.  Treat them well, with respect, kindness, and the highest regard at all times.

Remember the spirit of “namaste”  – which literally means, “I bow to you” – or, as is commonly expressed, “the light in me recognizes the light in you”.    Recognize the light in everyone you meet through your screen, and don’t be afraid to share just a bit of your heart with them as you do.  Not only does it enhance their social experience and bond them to your brand – it’s good for YOU, too.  Some of the most personally fulfilling points in my social media career to date have had little to do with engagement rates, number of shares or even sales driven; they came when I opened my heart to the person I was dealing with and made a true and lasting connection with them by sharing a laugh, or offering helpful tips, or working with them personally to resolve the issue they were having – and they expressed  a deeper affinity for the brand as a result.

5.  Live In Gratitude
One of the things I love about yoga is the recurring concept of gratitude.  Even if you missed several poses, or couldn’t get into your handstand, there’s no beating yourself up over it in yoga – you’re just grateful you made it to your mat and you resolve to try again the next time you find yourself there.

Gratitude plays into social marketing as well, particularly when you have the good fortune to enjoy the presence of strong brand evangelists in your social communities.   These wonderful folks – often former satisfied Customers, but sometimes just people who for whatever reason, like you – frequent your social feeds with their positive, supportive messages directed not just at you, but at others spending time in your communities as well.    Be sure to thank and celebrate them periodically with public callouts, freebies / small gifts if possible.  Not only do they deserve that appreciation, but doing so will encourage their feelings toward your brand to remain positive and the bond strong.

Additionally, even in the most painful moments in working in social media – whether it’s a crisis, or dealing with an especially tough customer on your Facebook page, etc. – there’s always something to be grateful for.  Either your skills are sharpened, or you learned something new – or hey – maybe you’re just grateful the experience is over and you’re still excited about your job in spite of it.

6.  Don’t forget to breathe
Anyone who’e ever done this job has felt the weight of its importance to the business we represent – after all, a company can spiral into major crisis if you tweet the wrong thing to the wrong person (as our friends at US Airways just learned).   And although working in social media can be filled with joy, it can also be crushing in its stress or volume of work at times.  

Yoga teaches us that it’s when we most want to hold our breath that we most need to breathe.  So when things get tough – take a breath.  Step away from the screen.  Stretch.  Walk around.  And breathe!

How about you – has yoga, or any other sort of discipline in your life imparted lessons that can be applied to working in social media?   Comment below and let us know. 

Namaste,
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#WellDoneWednesday: Earthegy’s Facebook Page

It’s #WellDoneWednesday time!  Here we review one social profile from a brand whose social media manager is #winning at growing and engaging an audience. 

#WellDoneWednesdayThis week, we present to you: Earthegy.  We found them recently while searching for jewelry with metaphysical properties to explore selling through the shop at Yoga Edge, Inspired Social’s sister business.

On a personal level, I had another interest in it, as well – I too used to be a jewelry designer (back in 2006 – here, one of the only remaining online relics of that business) with an emphasis in helping wearers invoke the healing power of gemstones.  Chrisy has beautifully built the business I had once, only she’d taken it to the heights I’d dreamed of but never achieved.  It would appear that social media has been a big part of their success, given how well they do it.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one who thinks they’re great at it:  Social Media Examiner named them one of the Top 10 Small Business Facebook Pages of 2012.   Since then, they’ve more than tripled their fan base on that network and are still enjoying a high degree of engagement despite recent organic engagement throttling by Facebook (though that may be a result of Facebook advertising on the brand’s part).

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Here’s a quick overview of what they’re doing right:

Lovely photo content combined with interesting facts about the stones and the products.  Even with images of the products themselves, the sales pitch here is still somehow light, yet effective.  Pricing is provided almost as an afterthought, which softens the pitch and keeps the content valuable to the reader.

Plentiful reviews supporting a high rating give new consumers confidence in Earthegy’s business and products – and the brand’s openness to comments by others on their Facebook page is not only a best practice but further reinforces this.  Whatever efforts Earthegy may have had to expend toward encouraging customers to leave feedback  has been very worthwhile indeed.

Though the sell is soft, products are readily available via good strategic use of tabs.   And advertising “Exclusive Sales” for newsletter signups right next to the online shop tab is s strong strategy to convert a casual browser into a buyer – everyone loves a sale, especially an exclusive one.

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They’re just flat out interesting!  Earthegy does a great job sharing fascinating information – along with a genuine enthusiasm for the subject matter.  Even in the face of a sell, regardless of how soft – this is critical to build a community of fans around a business.  Absent Chrisy’s knowledge of and excitement for gemstones and jewelry, Earthegy’s Facebook presence would not be nearly as substantial and successful as it is.  Her love of gems and jewels fuels her ability to create great content around her business.

Even the most adept social marketers always have room for improvement.  Earthegy would be well served to publish content of other types – links to content on their blog or on third-party sites, questions to their audience, upload interesting video content about gemstones (apps like Stellar on iOS make it easy and fun, even for the unskilled video producer).   Facebook would reward this variety with even more organic reach (to whatever extent that they do, anymore) and fans would likely enjoy the variety as well – testing would confirm or refute this by measuring overall engagement level before vs. after adding in other content types.

Overally, Earthegy sparkles with their Facebook presence.  Well done!

Do you know a brand who deserves to be recognized for their stellar community growth and engagement skills?  Comment below or tweet to us at @InspiredSocial_ (please include the #WellDoneWednesday hashtag!) and we’ll check them out.  

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#WellDoneWednesday: Growing Bolder’s Facebook Page

This blog is the first in a new series, #WellDoneWednesday.  Periodically, we’ll review one social profile from a brand whose social media manager is #winning at growing and engaging an audience.

#WellDoneWednesday

This week’s #WellDoneWednesday focuses on Growing Bolder, a multi-media company whose mission is to offer “hope, inspiration & possibility for the 45+ generation.”  Their Facebook presence delivers on that promise.

Bravo!
In addition to posting frequently (they post a minimum of three times per day most every day), Growing Bolder posts a good mix of original branded and curated content, including inspirational stories about the target demo (A45+) from both their own site and other sites, other human interest clips from outside the target demographic and really nicely done branded quote images which are among their most popular content from an engagement perspective.

This screencap from the Growing Bolder Facebook page illustrates how GB uses both targeted topics and more universal messages in its branding images to keep its audience highly engaged.

This screencap from the Growing Bolder Facebook page illustrates how GB uses both targeted topics and more universal messages in its branded quote images to keep its audience highly engaged – and, by the viral nature of these images, to expand their audience.

These branded images are impactful, inspirational and very, very viral.  Growing Bolder makes the most of the format by consistently using the same font on all of their images, which helps set their branded content apart from the masses and creates brand-specific visual cues for interested audience members to pick up on in their own newsfeed.  This likely contributes to the success of these images, which seem to average between 600 – 1500+ likes, with an equal volume of shares.

One of the first things you notice on their page is that their PTAT (People Talking About This) score exceeds their number of fans by nearly 10x.  This is an indicator of having shared extremely viral content.  Indeed, a check of their Page reveals a recent post which boasts nearly 1,800 likes and over 9,200 shares. The success of this post – which was a meme about Daylight Savings Time – proves that success in social marketing extends far beyond pushing your product / service and is really about connecting with people.  Therefore, appealing to common experiences, truths, pain points and other themes of universal appeal is an extremely effective way to bond with social audiences.  Smart brands always remember that social users are more than just “leads” or “target audiences” – they’e people   People relate to, connect with and bond with other people, so be real.  Include widely relevant topics in conversation whenever appropriate.

Room for Improvement
No matter how well a brand leverages any social media, there’s always room for improvement – and Growing Bolder is no exception.   They can likely boost their already impressive engagement rates higher by asking more questions of their audience.  Additionally,  they are fortunate to have a great many dedicated fans visiting their page and posting messages (not just replying to Getting Bolder’s posts) – yet their responses are inconsistent and somewhat shallow.   There’s a lot more opportunity for meaningful interactions with fans there, if they have the resources to foster it.

Growing Bolder’s Facebook page is a great example of successful content marketing and Community management.  Their inspirational and fun presence has something for everyone – of every age.  Well done, Growing Bolder!

Do you know a brand who deserves to be recognized for their stellar community growth and engagement skills?  Comment below or tweet to us at @InspiredSocial_ (please include the #WellDoneWednesday hashtag!) and we’ll check them out.  

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Three Quick Steps To Declutter Your Social Management Workflow

Three Easy Steps

Anyone who’s ever done it can tell you:  social media management can be a lot of work.   Whether taking care of Customers on social channels or utilizing social to build brand awareness or drive sales, there are many things that must be done on a daily (several of them, multiple times per day) – and we deal with things an array of things happening in real time as well.

We’re all very fortunate to have such a goldmine of information and so many handy tools (many of them free, no less!) readily available online to help us hone and utilize our expertise.  Of course the other edge of that sword  is a seemingly endless flow of blog posts, articles, white papers, case studies, infographics, apps, updates to apps – and countless reports from all of those tools and apps –  which often triggers a sense of information and task overload that can destroy true productivity and really suck some of the joy out of our work.

If you’re finding that your work time has become a frustrating cycle of lingering too long on some tasks, continually punting less desirable to-do’s from one day to the next, and the ever-popular falling down an internet rabbit hole or two – it’s time for a little early spring cleaning of your day to day processes.

Clutter

Photo by: Funny New Stuff (http://www.flickr.com/photos/23304245@N02/)

These three simple steps can help streamline your daily workflow and increase your productivity – letting you get more done in less time, so you can spend more time doing more of the things you love.

1.  Plan your day the day before
If you want to glide effortlessly into a productive morning, the last thing you do each day should be to plan the things you intend to do the next day.  This single step has had a profound impact on my own productivity.  Rather than trying to plan my day as the first item on my daily to-do list (in the midst of the interruptions and demands of a full inbox, backlogged Twitter and Facebook feeds, etc.), I’m now able to get to work immediately on my Top Five Things list I prepared the day before and enjoy a strong tide of forward momentum that usually carries me through the lunch hour.

2.  Focus on only key goals and metrics
Having the “true north” that goals offer is an excellent way to keep from getting caught up in time-consuming activities that may not be moving the needle for your business.  However, having too  many ambitions for  a social program – and the massive metrics list and data that can accompany them – isn’t the path to productivity and success, either.

Take a look at the top three goals for your company and come up with an equal number of clear but meaningful, reasonable and measurable goals for your social media efforts.   Then, choose the 1 – 3 of the most critical metrics that will illustrate your degree of success against those goals.   Then, spend an hour or two setting up a dashboard (your social media management tool of choice should facilitate that, or you can DIY it with the help of Google Analytics) to help you easily track the few but mission-critical metrics you’ve established, moving forward.

3.  Eliminate superfluous social networks – and the tools to track them
You don’t have to be on every social network in existence.  Nor do you have to become glued to every single hot new tool the experts tout.  Smart choices about which networks are well suited to reaching your audiences and which tools indeed save more time than is spent poring over them can go a long way toward freeing up your workflow – and your valuable time.

To narrow your target networks, you must assess where your brand is being actively discussed.  If you haven’t engaged in a meaningful listening campaign around your company or brand lately, do so.  Where are people talking about you the most?   If the only conversations you can ever find about yourself are on Facebook and Twitter – and you’re not trying to crack into a new market that dominates any particular niche network  – then pour your efforts into Facebook and Twitter.  Significant, strategic efforts on two or three strong or high-potential channels will yield far more dividends than  a more fragmented approach across more, but less targeted networks.

Similarly, if you have a mile-long list of social media tools you find yourself obsessively checking on a daily basis, take a good hard look at which tools are lending you insights that roll up to your achieving or exceeding your goals.  Anything that isn’t, ditch.  If it’s something important in building and maintaining your expertise, continue to use it, but in a more structured way (maybe check it weekly, vs. daily).

These three small but impactful changes are just a few ideas to help make your time working in social media less overwhelming and more efficient and effective.

What are some ways you’ve decluttered your own workflow?   Please share your tips with us in the comments.  Let’s light a spark!

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#SOInspired: Sometimes, You’ve Got To Hit ‘Em Where It Hurts

Here at Inspired Social we’re all about marketing that uplifts and inspires the audience, leaving them feeling better after the interaction.

Sometimes, though, you’ve got to share a bit of pain in marketing to truly get the point or essence of a message across.

Mashable recently profiled a brilliant social media campaign by Alzheimer Nederland (AN), called The Alzheimer’s Event, which is a beautiful illustration of that idea.

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Utilizing Facebook’s photo platform and tagging feature, the campaign allowed Facebook users to upload a photo of a friend with whom they wanted to share the experience.  The friend’s likeness was then digitally added to one of several photos from fake events (facilitated by several local organizations lending a hand with this effort) – events that they obviously not attended.  They were then tagged in the photo, which resulted it in being posted to their timeline.  Upon seeing the post and landing on the photo of themselves at an event they did not attend, they were greeted with the message, “Confusing, right? You’re now experiencing what it’s like to have Alzheimer’s disease.”

Unsettling, to say the least – and that’s exactly the point.  It’s not very likely those who were tagged and experienced the campaign will soon forget how it made them feel  – and although no figures have yet been published, we’ll bet there was a significant amount of sharing around this campaign even though by its very nature, sharing it would inflict a bit of pain upon the recipient.

As enamored as we are with this campaign, one unanswered question remains in our minds – what sort of hard results did this campaign actually drive for the organization?   In order to promote virality and mass appeal, AN did not require a “Like” to their page for users to partake in the experience.  Despite that, were they able to grow their Community as a result of this campaign?  Did anyone make donations to this non-profit?

It’s one thing to make an impact upon someone and quite another to accomplish the end goal of bringing people into the fold with longer-term engagement within an organization’s Community, and to successfully solicit donations to further the organization’s work.  AN’s challenge moving forward will be to continue to innovate with their messaging to activate newer Community members and to inspire the entire base to action.  Given this strong first step, we think they’re equal to the task and are excited to see what they come up with in the future.

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What do you think – would you resort to a campaign that might inflict a bit of pain to make the needed impression?   

How do you think you would respond to this sort of an experience online? 

#SoInspired: Let’s celebrate supportive marketing

We’re all about marketing which does more than just make a sale. Particularly when social media enters the mix, marketers are empowered with unparalleled access to audiences more vast and varied than ever. We believe that comes with an incredible opportunity to spread a positive message that uplifts and adds value to the lives of consumers.

It may seem like a lofty goal, but it’s highly doable – and very beneficial to a business.  In this article from Social Media Today author Martin Jones cites a 2010 study from the Wharton School of Business which confirms something we at Inspired Social have always known, despite the objections of the previous fear/greed/vanity driven marketing status quo:

“The study presented a number of key takeaways including the following:

  • Negative content tends to be less viral than positive content
  • Awe-inspiring content and content that surprises or is humorous is more likely to be shared
  • Content that causes sadness can become viral but is generally less likely to
  • Content that evokes anger is likely to be shared more. In fact, the study demonstrated that the strongest forecaster of virality is how much anger does the message evoke.

Interestingly, while conventional wisdom is that people will share negative news more than positive, the results of the study indicated that overall, positive news is actually more viral.”

Toward our goal to encourage and celebrate this type of marketing we’re launching the #SoInspired hashtag and blog series.

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Tweet about your favorite example(s) of positive, supportive marketing. We’ll be watching, and we’ll provide regular round-ups of inspired marketing rockstars.

Meanwhile – tell us – is there any marketing you’re developing which can be injected with some positive inspiration?  Need ideas?  Comment below and let us know.  Let’s light a spark!

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P.S.  The note from the article quote above about from anger-evoking content being the strongest indicator of virality is interesting.   The study did cite two specific examples of content (both articles about fraud/injustice in American economics) which suggests to us that anger-inducing content such as “What Red Ink? Wall Street Paid Hefty Bonuses” is shared as much out of a feeling of empowerment about spreading the word of those injustices as it is pure anger.  That is to say – we believe people share anger-inducing content in an attempt to bring about resolution of the injustice through public awareness which they themselves are facilitating.  Therefore, there is still a positive intention and end to sharing even the most anger-inducing content.  What do you think? 

From the Ground Up: Brushing Up on Blogging

The first in a series of posts chronicling the birth of my own business, in the hopes of inspiring yours.

As I start my own new business and eagerly look forward to working with you on yours, I’ve got to do all of the things for myself that I would ultimately like to do for you: create or implement a strongly branded design in setting up my site, blog and social profiles; create an SEO and content strategy and content calendar; curate and create content; set up automation where appropriate; build a paid marketing strategy, implement the ad creatives, run, analyze and optimize.

All of this of course has me feeling kind of….giddy.  This is SO much fun to me.  I live to create and grow business, to help drive the success of someone’s dream (in this case, my own).

As I’ve been diving into this work in the past week or so, it occurred to me that I should document this process in a series of blog posts.   The first of which you’re reading right now.  Welcome to the “From the Ground Up” series.

Step 1:  The blog

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“Blogging 101:PodCamp Pittsburgh 6” by Jonny Goldstein is licensed under CC by 2.0

Once I had a sense of who I wanted to be as a business, what my editorial voice would be and how my visual brand would be represented (stay tuned for posts on those exercises, later) it was time to start a blog.

While I’m a voracious reader of blogs, my own blogging history has been a bit irregular, and mostly private – something I’ll be turning around through regular blogging right here.  In blogging, as in most things in business, step one is to define your goals.   My primary goal for my blog is to create a resource for anyone who needs to do great social for their business – offering tips, tools, ideas and inspiration – to help them market in a meaningful way, a way that will deeply resonate with their Customers and add true value to their lives.

To make it as great as I want it to be, I’ve acknowledged that, hey –  I can use a little brushing up on blogging, myself.  As luck would have it, WordPress just kicked off their Zero To Hero: 30 Days To a Better Blog program  yesterday.  While I’m not quite a zero, thankyouverymuch  😉  I definitely want to be a hero – both my own as well as yours – so I’ll be working the program for the next month.  After a successful run at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this past November where I made amazing progress on my novel (coming in 2015!) I believe wholeheartedly in the value of these types of guided activities online, so I’m very excited to participate.  There’s always something new to learn!

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If you’d like to breathe a bit of new life into your blog, I hope you’ll join me and the rest of the WordPress Community in the sure to be rewarding exercise.  No time?  No worries –  in addition to sharing the posts which will be the fruits of this labor, I’ll also be blogging about the process, sharing key takeaways – so you don’t have to miss out.

If you are participating in Zero to Hero, please comment and let me know how it’s going for you – and tell me:  what’s your top goal for your blog in the new year? 

All the best,

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Lori Lewis
lori@inspired-social.com