5 Reasons Why Your Brand Should Have a Following

5 Reasons Why Your Brand Should Have a Following - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit Very Pixel

Have you ever noticed how so many major corporations produce commercials that focus more on their brand name rather than an actual product? At first, this might lead to some head-scratching—after all, isn’t the product what they’re selling?

Yes and no.

The reason you see so many of these branding efforts is because a recognizable brand with a following is an incredibly valuable asset. Consumers who trust and recognize a brand tend to stick with it and recommend the brand to their friends and family. Even in the digital age and highly competitive industries, word of mouth is still one of the most elusive-yet-powerful marketing channels available to any business owner.

If your organization hasn’t yet established a solid brand following, here’s a few reasons why you should start today:

#5 Your Customers Will Become Your Tribe

If you’ve heard of the concept of a “tribe” in business lingo, then you know that this refers to the behavior of your most loyal customers. This demographic are the ones which are most fiercely loyal and who will sing your praises to anyone who will listen—but without a strong brand identity, this won’t be possible. One of the main purposes of a brand identity is to answer the questions “who are you?” and, perhaps more importantly, “why are you better than the other guy?” Once you have a following, your tribe will answer these questions for you happily.

A good way of looking at it is how sports teams operate. Sports fans are incredibly loyal to their teams of choice. They wear team logos, discuss news about the sport, and follow their team’s games religiously—to the point of saying things like “we won.” Sports teams trade players and change administrations and coaches relatively frequently. As one stand up comedian put it, “you’re cheering for a jersey.” This is the power of a loyal brand following, and this kind of fervent dedication is possible for your business too.

#4 Customers Are More Likely to Engage With You Positively

Have you ever struggled with getting positive reviews or good word of mouth? Do your customers never send you referrals? A strong brand presence can inspire your customers to interact and engage with you more positively. Remember, your brand followers will be your strongest advocates, so when someone needs a recommendation for the kind of product or service you provide, they’ll be the ones out there providing you with “free” advertising.

A good way to gauge how strongly your customers feel about your brand is through a customer survey. If you don’t get positive results from the survey—or worse, few results at all—odds are you need to focus on explaining to your customer who you are and why they should choose to work with your brand—and only your brand.

#3 A Strong Brand Image Isn’t Just Good for Your Customers…

…It’s also good for your employees. When you have a strong brand image, your employees will likely feel more inspired about the work they’re doing. Feeling as though they’re part of something “bigger” and that they’re impacting some kind of positive change in the world—even if it’s just making the best hamburgers in town—can affect they way they think about their work in a relatively dramatic way.

When an employee is proud of the brand they help to create, they’re more likely to behave in such a way that promotes the success of the brand. As a result, you’ll have happier customers—and perhaps new customers too, since your employees will also provide a word of mouth advertising. And why wouldn’t they? They’re proud of where they work.

A strong brand image can inspire employees to stay with your company longer, and this can help to alleviate the high turnover rate that many businesses suffer from. If an employee knows that the brand they’re working for has a strong future—and possibilities for upward mobility in their own career paths—the likelihood that your employees will look for “greener pastures” will be significantly reduced.

#2 Strong Branding Generates Long Term Financial Value

Even if your company never offers an IPO, having long financial value is one of the most positive aspects of good brand recognition. A strong brand can practically guarantee future business and sales—even if the economy is currently in a downturn. A strong brand can also act as leverage in the event that you need a business loan or funding. The more your focus on presenting your brand in a positive light, the better the odds are that your business will have future value, whether that’s for financial leverage, to enter a merger, or to sell it later.

You’ll also find that having a strong brand will help you find potential business partners should you ever decide that you need them. Working in joint ventures can be a major asset to any business, but without a strong, recognizable brand it can be far more difficult to find partners of this kind. A strong brand can help you get the right people on board to work with—whether they become your partners or just other businesses that you work with. Neglecting your brand image reduces trust in these kinds of situations.

#1 Strong Brands Build Trust

This is the most important reason why you should focus on building your brand recognition. A strong brand promotes trust from everyone involved. Most importantly, of course, are your customers, but your employees will also find more motivation and will be more likely to stay loyal to your business for years to come. You’ll have trust from other companies with which you do business, you’ll have trust from potential lenders, and you’ll have trust from all involved financial parties concerning the future of your business and your brand.

Strengthening your brand and developing a loyal following isn’t just about making more sales—it’s about making a strong future for your company. These are the reasons why building a strong brand identity is more about just advertising a product or service, it’s about ensuring the future of your business.

Josh MacDonaldJosh MacDonald is an internet entrepreneur and software develop best known for his development of marketing automation software. Check him out on Twitter or his blog.

7 Ways to Get More Podcast Subscribers

7 WaysTo GetMorePodcastSubscribers

I’ve been podcasting now for over ten years and I still crave new subscribers. Now, don’t get me wrong, the benefits of podcasting for me are so strong I would do it even if no one subscribed, but exposure is one key reason to put in the time and effort (although it’s not that much time and effort) and getting more listeners can only help.

If you’re interested, you can find, listen, and subscribe to my long, long list of archives here.

The key to gaining more subscribers is to form a connection with your audience. Give them a sense of who you are and how you think and, not only will it drive traffic to your site, but it could also open up doors for customer growth and monetization.

If you are interested in the technical aspects of podcasting, here’s a show I did with John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneus on Fire where I sketch out exactly how I podcast.

Below you’ll find seven tactics to consider as you build your podcast following.

#1 Guest Selection

One of the best ways to drive traffic is to find and interview interesting people. It doesn’t hurt a bit if they are influencers in your niche. These folks most likely have a large audience and could drive traffic back to your site.

You shouldn’t expect your guests to promote their episode, but you should ask and make it easy to do if you want to gain from this form of exposure.

While promoting through social media channels is great, having guests send a link to your episode through email is definitely more effective. But this can be challenging since most people are protective over their email lists. One way around that is to suggest they add a “PS” to the bottom of an email that is already going out that week. Take it a step further and pre-write the email and social materials for them and add it to a follow-up email in link format. 

A final word here – your guests don’t have to be well-known experts, sometimes finding a guest with a smaller, fully engaged following in your industry is an excellent way to get exposure to the right group – in the end that’s what matters.

#2 Publish Often

If you’re new to podcasting, it’s probably a good idea to publish at least three times per week in the first eight weeks. iTunes’ gives you eight weeks from the day that you launch to be featured in the “New & Noteworthy” section. This is your best chance of being discovered organically.

Even if you’ve been podcasting for longer than two months, it’s still a good idea to post a recording more than once per week – even for a temporary period as a little “boost”. Breaking it down in terms of simple math: if your goal is to reach 100,000 subscribers. You would need to build your podcast up to 2,000 new subscribers per weekly episode for a year to reach your goal. Or you can reach this number by getting 500 subscribers per episode, with 5 episodes per week.  

#3 Topics & Titles

Like pretty much any form of content, ad, blog post, book – the title grabs attention – without that you stand little chance of standing out as people scan through RSS feeds, Tweets and directories.

Choose a title that makes people stop and think. Grab attention by making them feel some emotion just by reading the eight to ten words at the top of your post.

A podcast is a form of content, so copywriting rules apply

Many headline writers live by the headline rules of thumb called the 4u’s

  • Your headline should be unique.
  • Your headline should be ultra-specific.
  • Your headline should convey a sense of urgency.
  • Your headline should be useful.

Here are some tools that help you become a better headline writer

#4 Guest Hosting

Just as guest blogging is a nice way to gain exposure to someone else’s audience, guest hosting someone else’s podcast can be a great way to find new subscribers for your show.

Visit other podcasts and check to see if the host has published episodes with a guest host. See if they’d be interested in guest hosting your show or if they would want you to interview them on their show.

From there you can propose a host swap or guest host spot for their show.

Make sure you’ve listened to their show enough to know who their audience is and how they like to deliver value and then propose a topic or format that makes sense and fits in with what their listeners will certainly love.

#5 Increase Reviews

Reviews are a critical factor in podcasting rankings on iTunes. Positive reviews show social proof that others like and listen to your show, and that’s another important element in the review game. But reviews are not easy to get. Here are a few tips that might help:

But reviews are not always easy to come by. Here are a few tips that might help:

  • Post links on social, targeted to loyal listeners asking for reviews; tell them you’ve set a goal
  • Offer a gift like an eBook or free trial to a program.
  • Review other podcasters in your niche and often they will leave one back
  • Use BuzzSumo Alerts to notify you when someone reviews a podcast in your niche
  • Add a link to your email signature
  • Ask for reviews on LinkedIn
  • Write a blog post (or incorporate review link into one of a similar subject)
  • Use My Podcast Reviews: iTunes separates reviews by country, so if someone from Canada leaves a review, people in the US can’t view it. My Podcast Reviews offers a free solution that will make all of your iTunes reviews visible to everyone.

#6 Apps and Directories

Many people find shows they want to listen to by browsing through categories in podcast directories. You must submit your podcast to many of these directories to have any chance of being discovered by users of these directories and apps.

Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your RSS feed for your show, tags and artwork area all working and up to standards. Use FeedValidator.org and make sure it says “Your feed is valid” before submitting to any directory.

The Blubrry Podcasting Manual is a great resource for the most technical aspects of managing a podcast.

Below is a start on directories

  • iTunes Directory: the iTunes directory is a must – it’s so important you’ll want to read up on the right way to create and submit your podcast. Once you do that, the rest of the directories will be a piece of cake
  • Google Play Music – This directory is rapidly expanding, and it’s Google!
  • Stitcher – Stitcher is one of the best apps for podcast listening so make sure you submit there.
  • Soundcloud – Growing rapidly and offers lots of sharing options
  • PodcastPlaces.com is a good site for getting all the information you need for submitting your podcast to many podcast directories and apps

#7 Maximize Exposure on Social Media

Many podcast listeners and subscribers are also social media participants. Let’s face it; it’s much easier to attract people who already listen to podcasts than to start convincing people to listen.

  • One of the first keys to social sharing of your podcast is to have an image that grabs attention. Images can be used in your post, in iTunes (which will appear as your thumbnail and will be significant to browsers when choosing shows) and in social media. Include your logo or photo, a photo of your guest and a brief title.
  • Be careful not to add too much text to the image so you can boost the post on Facebook. Here’s more on Facebook guidelines here. When you boost it, define the criteria to target followers of your featured guest.
  • As I mentioned earlier, you should write up example social media posts for your guests to share. It will make the process easier, and they’re more likely to comply.
  • Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find what podcast episodes were shared the most and share those shows again with another tag to the featured guest. If you podcast once per week, do this monthly. If you’re recording daily, you can make this a weekly routine – or feature your “Top 5” on a monthly basis.
  • Turn your podcast into a YouTube video to leverage your content across multiple mediums.
  • Selectively post to groups specific to your topic or guest via LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+
  • Tweet episodes with SoundCloud link so people can listen via Twitter stream

It takes time and commitment to produce and publish a podcast but don’t forget to spend as much or more time promoting it!

The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement

The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Pixabay

As of 2016, there’s estimated to be 2.3 billion active social media users — nearly 1/3 of the global population.

While this eye-popping statistic presents obvious marketing potential, determining how your business can capitalize on it is decidedly less clear.

What every small business owner and marketing professional should know is that engagement is the engine that runs every successful social media campaign.

Do you want to improve your engagement and glean more benefits from social? This guide will point you in the right direction.

The Principles Behind Engaging Social Audiences

Before we consider what quality social engagement looks like, there are a few essential rules to keep in mind …

  • Be punctual — Respond to users in a timely fashion; schedule posts in a timely fashion and jump on trending topics that pertain to your core business/services.
  • Be personal — Ditch the formalities; your social audience wants to know they’re communicating with a person rather than an entity. Remember that social media is a free form conversation, leave room for spontaneity.
  • Be transparent — Be authentic and embrace your critics; responding to negative comments with a solution speaks volumes about your commitment to customer service, deleting it mutes the conversation.The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape Marketing

Making these principles standard practice ensures you have a strong foundation in place for your social media marketing efforts going forward.

Attracting Social Engagement

Why is it so difficult to captivate social audiences? The likely answer is you can’t fake it — static, uninspired, or one-dimensional postings are just adding noise.

Savvy social media marketers understand they need to provide their target audience with value — and consistently deliver it — in order to separate themselves from the crowd.

The rule of thumb: if people find it useful they will share it.

For example, a web developer might create a comprehensive list of sites that offer free tools if they believe it will resonate strongly with their audience.

The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Zion & Zion

Browse forums like Reddit and social channels and see what real people are asking — provide an instructional guide that provides a detailed response and demonstrates your company’s expertise.

The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape Marketing

RELATED: High-value social media content

Targeting Influencers

The people and companies that matter most in your industry are known as influencers and making them advocates of your brand can attract social users in droves.

The most powerful social proof in social media, influencers function like high-level testimonials. People are much more likely to engage with your brand when a third-party they implicitly trust is pointing them your direction.

RELATED: Finding and targeting influencers in your field

Fine-Tuning Your Social Engagement: Channel by Channel

Although engagement requires different levels of finesse across each social channel, one thing remains fundamentally the same: emphasizing quality over quantity. It’s not the volume of your posts that counts, it’s whether you’re connecting with your target audience.

Here’s a clear-cut profile on each of the major social channels and how to drive more engagement across the board …

Facebook

Classification: Top social sharing site specializing in all forms of content

Audience: Broad, all ages

Peak Engagement: 12-3 PM Weekday

Key Considerations: Facebook remains the top social media site in the world, a melting pot of opportunity with over 2 billion pieces of content shared daily. Given its active user base, it remains the focal point for social media engagement for many businesses.

Facebook users primarily visit the site to consume content, not to receive blatant advertisements. The businesses that succeed in this channel find ways to integrate dynamic, easily shareable content into their target audience’s newsfeeds that resonate with their interests and core values.

Tasty, a division of BuzzFeed, has recently mastered this technique — utilizing quick-cut recipe videos that dynamically play in a user’s newsfeed when shared. This type of content resonates because it disrupts a typical newsfeed, provides clear value, and encourages engagement.

 

RELATED: Tips on increasing Facebook engagement

Twitter

Classification: Microblogging site limited to 140 characters; real-time engagements

Audience: Broad, younger generations & older working professionals

Peak Engagement: 12-2 PM Weekday

Key Considerations: Twitter enjoys the second largest base, with over 500 million active users. The size of its user base presents some awesome engagement opportunities, making a channel impossible to ignore.

While Twitter has plans to eventually extend their character count, business owners are currently restricted to shorter blurbs of text. Here, the balance in terms of quality over quantity is essential to success.

Businesses that receive engagement here involve themselves in the real-time conversation — they observe trending topics or start a dialogue. You don’t need to be an influencer with thousands of followers to turn heads — involve yourself in their conversations as you build your own base.

 

The Clear-Cut Guide to Social Media Engagement - Duct Tape MarketingRELATED: Tips on increasing Twitter engagement

LinkedIn

Classification: Business-oriented social network

Audience: Niche, working professionals ranging from Millennials to older generations

Peak Engagement: 7-9 AM Weekday

Key Considerations: LinkedIn gives an opportunity for your audience to make a direct connection to your business. Highlighting your services is fair game as the majority of users who connect with you are considering your business in a professional capacity. Don’t forget to provide value — businesses that succeed on this platform provide great resources.

RELATED: Tips on increasing LinkedIn engagement

Google+

Classification: Dormant but growing network consisting of users and brands

Audience: Google users, predominantly older in age

Peak Engagement: 8-10 AM Weekday

Key Considerations: Due to its lower user base — hovering near 400 million — Google+ isn’t the first place you’d look for social engagement, but it does pack some benefits for businesses willing to go the extra mile. Brands that succeed in this channel understand the nuanced differences of Google+ audiences and supply a constant stream of value tailored to their needs.

RELATED: Tips on increasing Google+ engagement

Tying It All Together

Instead of looking it at engagement as a numbers game, prioritize the quality of the connections you’re making with your target audience — the shares, retweets and everything else will soon follow.

Tyler ThursbyTyler Thursby is a Senior SEO Analyst at Zion & Zion, a leading advertising agency based in Phoenix, AZ. He frequently writes on search engine optimization, social media, and content marketing. Follow him on Twitter at @tthursb.

Why Social Media Isn’t Working and What to Do About It

social media

Social media as a way of life is approaching ten.

Already there have been proclamations of its supreme awesomeness accompanied by more recent claims of its demise. But look, here’s the deal – social media isn’t dead – it’s just fed up with how it’s being abused.

I wrote this post – Why Social Media Doesn’t Matter Anymore – around six years ago at the height of the social media hype and today I would like to weigh in with a similar look at how this potent form of communication has evolved.

Social media, I observed some six years ago, isn’t a platform or channel so much as it is and remains a behavior.

Yes, of course, these are platforms, such as Facebook, that do serve as channels for some organizations, but more than anything it’s how people have come to depend on social media activity in their day to day lives that dictates how a business might benefit from its use.

But therein lies the issue we face today.

As more and more people bought into the usefulness or at least hype of the usefulness of social media, more and business decided this was the next great broadcast channel.

Now, few people figured out how to sell using social media, but awareness creation, audience building, and free traffic, now that was pure gold.,

A recent study by Social Fresh, called the Future of Social Media, showed that the primary goal of social media for 76% of those surveyed was to create awareness.

This is an oversimplification, but you can read that to mean broadcast channel – kind of another form of TV.

But the gap between how marketers use social media and how consumers consume social media content has turned into a vast and gaping chasm the likes of which many will not cross. (Yes that was a less than subtle nod to Geoffrey Moore.)

If you seek to take advantage of the awesome potential of social media you, have to do some work. This has always been true, but in the early days, you could afford some laziness if you were an early adopter. Today the sheer volume of noise in social media makes your signal much harder to hear. (Again, another not so subtle nod to one of the earliest blogs I read )

Today there are five practices for social media use that I’m am trying to embrace and that I am advising anyone that will listen to embrace. (I could also write the flip side piece as five social media bad habits you must break.)

Get smaller

There was a time when one of the primary goals of social media participation seemed to be growing large followings. In fact, we bought likes (how did that turn out), we gamed Twitter, we competed to add people who had no interest in our products and services to fan, follow and circle us.

This seemed logical, I mean everyone knew you needed a big email list, why not a big Twitter following. In fact, services like Klout attempted to use follower metrics to measure influence and thereby create scorecards for people building and seeking influencer status.

Well, it appears that Kevin Kelly’s proclamation to artists trying to stand out in the long tail digital world was both true and prophetic – when it comes to social media use for most small businesses the goal is to embrace and nurture 1,000 true fans or 100 true fans and not the shifting universe of Twitter devotees.

Stop following and start listening, sorting, engaging and conversing. Focus on the social streams of your customers and hottest prospects. Eliminate the noise from social media and get your streams to a place where they can be useful.

Here’s a useful post on 20 tools to help eliminate social media noise.

Find your 1000 true fans and try to ignore the rest and you’ll time spent via social media will pay off.

Tell stories

Stories have always been an important form of communication, but never more than now.

Stories help make the complex understandable, and they help people connect with emotion – the essential ingredient for attraction, loyalty, and referrals.

But, in the current state of social media clutter stories also help you stand out, they help people get what they turn to social media for most – to fight boredom, be entertained, and, what the heck, be social.

Here’s the thing about stories – they don’t have to relate to your product or service, they don’t even have to be about you – good stories simply have to help people enjoy or understand some aspect of who they are or aspire to be.

The storytelling palette in a focused social media initiative can include your ads as well as your posts and updates – in fact, it should.

The bloggers over at Social Media Examiner shared 5 Ways to Use Storytelling in Your Social Media. There are some great ideas in this post for any business wishing to embrace storytelling in social media.

Show your face

Social media has become increasingly visual.

The most engaging posts and updates today come with stunning visual content. Visual platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat continue to grow at a stunning pace. (As of this writing more images are shared on Snapchat than any other platform including Facebook.)

With the introduction of live streaming video platforms such as Periscope and Blab and the rollout of live video on Facebook, there’s never been a better time for people to meet and see the real you.

I know a lot of social media folks are jumping on these visual platforms as a way to create more buzz and more following as early adopters and thought leaders and that’s okay – but for the typical small business with a focused following, there’s still a great opportunity here.

Use the more visual platform to let people see behind the curtain, let them see you at play, let them see how the product is made, let them see a day in the life.

My friend Marcus Sheridan is currently shooting a boat load of video chronicling his travels and how he moves to balance work and play and family. He’s dedicated some resources to shooting and editing, but any business can create similar content that helps people connect and trust beyond the typical marketing speak.

Understand this isn’t “look at me, look how cool I am” content, this is perhaps just the opposite if it is to connect. This is “look at me, look how much I care, look how regular I am, look at why I might be the perfect person to guide you to the result you are seeking.”

Have conversations

This one might be the hardest of them all because now I am going to suggest that you put in the time and actually care about what you are doing. Yikes, I know, tall order.

Once you have your 1,000 true fans, it’s time to start having meaningful conversations with them about what they want, what they don’t have, what they fear, what brings them joy. (Of course, you can do this via email and at the next networking event as well.)

Here’s the trick though – a real conversation happens naturally – it doesn’t flow like a qualifying script.

Even if you only have ten minutes a day to dedicate to this activity start asking individuals – not followers – about things. Get very, very curious about helping people and, here’s one you might not have thought of, about how other people can help you.

Give people more reasons to talk to you, ask for feedback at every touchpoint, and don’t shy away from conversations that start on negative terms – those are how you learn, how you get better – and those are the only conversations you can’t fake

My friend Jay Baer wrote a book call – Hug You Haters – go read it now.

Make impact

My last point has to do with money – or perhaps more accurately – revenue.

When you follow points one through four, you start to realize that all this focus, storytelling, personality sharing, and conversing turns into something meaningful – a relationship or two.

And out of these relationships built on paying attention and being genuine, you can start to recognize ways that you can make a significant impact on someone’s life or business.

You’ll identify mutually beneficial opportunities that lead to customers and sales and if you keep at it, repeat sales and referrals.

Yes, I’m on record here to tell you that you can sell through social media if you take the time to help people.

So you see, social media isn’t dead, and it’s no different than any other sales channel – those who care, those who educate, those who provide utility – win.