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241: Trends in Social Media – Where Should You Focus Your Energy?

Social Media Trends – Where Should You Focus Your Energy

In our last episode I covered seven trends in social media and blogging. In today’s episode I want to discuss where you should focus your energy as a blogger.

There’s so much we could do.but what should we do?

Don’t become overwhelmed and perplexed. Instead, be inspired about where to put your effort.

Should you focus on:

  • live video?
  • bots and messenger marketing?
  • Facebook advertising?
  • long-form video?
  • Instagram stories?
  • blog?
  • all of the above?

And how do you decide?

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) there’s no right answer. The ‘best spot’ will be different for everyone. Just don’t be pressured into doing what everyone else is doing.

Consider your style, topic, audience, and objectives and goals. Get in touch with who you are and what makes you shine.

Focus on conversions.

Don’t give up something that’s already working just to start something new. Nine times out of ten it won’y be any better. Instead, focus on good SEO practices.

Stay in control, and focus on building your own platform and assets rather than building on other people’s.
Use your own to host a podcast or blog.

Save some time and effort for new ways to  build your audience, brand, and engagement. Be cautious, but also be willing to pivot and diversify.

And don’t feel as if  you have to do it all. Focus on being great at just one or two trends.

What are you going to try?

Links and Resources for Trends in Social Media – Where Should You Focus Your Energy?:

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Hi there and welcome to Episode 241 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and the courses all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your audience, to create great content, to build engagement around your blog, and ultimately to build profit around your blog. I should say profit can be money but it can be other outcomes as well. However you define it, we hope to help you along that journey. You can learn more about ProBlogger at problogger.com.

Today’s podcast is brought to you by our brand new course, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog which is launching around now. We’ve already opened it up to a small group of beta testers. I think there’s actually about a hundred bloggers so far who have signed up and are working through that course. It’s closed off at the moment but if you are interested in joining that beta testing group, please go to problogger.com/31days.

It’s a course designed to help you over a month to give you a burst of love, bring a burst of love to your blog, to give some really intentional love and care to your blog to write some new content, to think about your editorial strategy, to think about how you can build engagement with your blog, to do some things to help you to get some new readers, and to begin to think about monetization. We don’t focus a lot on monetization in this course, it’s more about getting the foundations right that will help you to monetize but we touch on it towards the end.

You can learn more about it at problogger.com/31days. We will be opening it up for a wider audience in the coming weeks. If you don’t get it on that beta test, you just signup there. We’ll let you know when it does open up.

In today’s episode, I wanna talk about working out where to put your energy. This is really a follow up to the last episode, in 240. Back in that last episode, I identified seven trends in social media and blogging that I noticed at Social Media Marketing World this year in San Diego. If you haven’t listened to that episode yet, it might be worth doing so. In it I talked about Facebook, all the changes that have been happening with Facebook. I talked about Facebook live, bots, Messenger marketing, video content, Instagram stories, a lot of these newer trends that have been going on and that I’m now beginning to see people really go all in on.

If you listened to that episode, you’ll know that I finished off by asking the question where should we be going all in as bloggers? There’s so much we could do, there’s so much out there that we could be focusing our energy on but how do we work out what we should put our focus upon? That’s what today’s episode is all about. I really wanna help you to begin to wrestle with where should you be putting your effort? Should you be putting your effort into somebody’s new things or should you be putting your effort into some older things, some other things as well. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/241.

Where should we be going all in as bloggers? After Social Media Marketing World this year, I spoke to a number of attendees who are feeling simultaneously inspired by the teaching that they’d heard but also overwhelmed and perplexed by where they should be putting their effort in. I had one conversation, within about 30 seconds they asked me, “Should I go all in with live video? Should I be going in with bots and Messenger marketing? Should I be going in with Facebook advertising? Should I be doing a long form video? Should I be doing Instagram stories or should I be doing it all?”

I posted some further questions, should you actually be focusing more upon your blog at the moment? Maybe you need to get into podcasting, maybe you should do long form content, maybe you should be posting daily or weekly. The decisions that we need to make as bloggers go on and on. I’ve asked all of these questions at the Social Media Marketing World as well. There were certainly some really big trends being talked about at the conference this year but the reality is we just can’t do all of those things unless we’ve got a massive team.

I do know some people who’ve got big teams and they are going all in on all of these things that I’ve mentioned. If you’re like me and you’ve got a small team or maybe your team is you, you’re gonna have to make some decisions about where you can go all in. The question is how do you make that decision? I wanna give you today, I think it’s five main points to help you make that decision. I hope that somewhere in the midst of these will be a few threads of, I guess, conversations that you might wanna pick up on and a few things that will resonate with you.

The first thing I wanna say is that there is no right answer here, there’s no one thing that we should all be focusing most of our efforts on. Obviously, we’re all in very different situations, we’re in different stages of our blog, we’re writing about different topics, we have different audiences, we’ve got different styles and personalities. The best spot for each of us will be very different.

I guess I wanna start with that because I don’t want you to feel that just because everyone else seems to be doing live video, or everyone else seems to be experimenting with Messenger bots, or everyone else is doing anything at the moment, you don’t need to feel that pressure. I wanna take that pressure off you.

I can relate to that feeling that everyone seems to be doing certain things, I look around at many of the bloggers in my space and they all seem to be building these amazing live video studios and spending tens of thousands of dollars on their studios. I felt that pressure, I feel like, “Maybe I need to buy a studio, maybe I need to spend all that money.” I don’t know if that’s right for me right now. Don’t feel that pressure, I wanna say that right up front. It’s probably better for you just to choose one thing to do really well than try to do it all.

You will look around it and it does seem that everyone else is doing everything, they’re not. Everyone is making strategic choices about these as well. I guess I wanna start with that. Don’t feel the pressure that you have to do it all, don’t feel the pressure that you have to do any one thing either. It really does need to come down to what’s going on for you at the moment, what can you do that’s gonna suit your situation.

The other thing I’ll say in this first point is it’s probably better to just choose one thing to do really well than to try and do everything okay. You probably wanna just go all in on one thing and become known in your industry, the person who does that one thing brilliantly better than anyone else, than trying to do four or five different things okay because you’ll never gonna become known as anyone doing anything exceptional if you’re doing everything okay. Be the person who’s doing that one thing brilliantly and your audience will notice and other people will notice as well. Take the pressure off yourself, think about who you are and what is gonna suit your situation best.

That’s the first thing that I wanna say which leads me to my next point. When you’re making that decision and considering your situation, what do you need to think through? I wanna suggest a few things to help you to think that through. Firstly, think about your style. For example, some of you are really good on camera. You think on your feet, you present well, you’re very clear, you do one take content and maybe that is gonna give you a bit of a hint about what you should be doing. Maybe you should be doing live video if you’re great on camera and you think on your feet and you’re fast paced, that is probably a good format for you. Your style is going to help you.

Some of you are much better if you are able to plan and really think through your content and design your content. If that’s the case, maybe something that’s not live is gonna be better for you. I actually like live video, I like presenting but I do a lot of work before my live videos, particularly from presenting on a topic. I actually find that I’m probably better in this format that we’re talking now, something that I can record ahead of time and edit it and shape the content in some way, maybe a little bit more of a slow paced thinker, that’s certainly me.

Maybe live video is not as good for you, maybe more episodic video which I talked about in the last episode, it might be better for you. Maybe Instagram stories is better for you because you’re able plan those things out ahead of time than at live. Maybe you’re a bit more of a geeky person and you like designing systems and strategies and that type of thing. Maybe that is a hint to you that maybe something like bots might be worth playing with. It’s something that is a little bit more geeky, it’s more about designing a system and thinking strategically about how to engage with people.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is try and be in touch with who you are and your style. As you think about the different options, what makes you light up? What makes you excited as you look at them and what puts you off? If you hear the word live video and you freak out and you start sweating, maybe that’s a signal that maybe it’s not right for you. It could also be just for you getting in the way of you doing the thing that is right for you, you wanna test these things out. Even as you test them, pay attention to the energy levels that you get as well.

Your style is part of it, your topic is another thing to consider and the topic that you create, content on shooting, form your choices. For example on my photography blog, the obvious choice there is to focus more upon mediums that celebrate the visual, I’m talking about photography. Bots might not be as useful as Instagram stories in that case. Instagram story is very visual, you can use video, you can use still images. You can probably weave those things in using a bot as well but I think in terms of topic, anything visual is gonna lend itself well to the topic that I’m writing about. Your topic will be different. Maybe some of the different mediums in the options in front of you will help to relate better in that type of topic.

Another thing to consider is your audience, understanding who’s on the other side of your content needs to inform your choices about the type of content that you create. Some of your audiences are gonna be very suspicious towards bots, for example. Maybe you’ve got an audience that really is suspicious to anything that’s gonna interrupt them in some ways. They’re not gonna respond well to bots.

Maybe your audience is like my audience in my photography blog and again they’re very visual, they’re more creative, more artistic. That might give you a hint as to the medium that you should use as well. I’m thinking about my photography blog, my audience, they’re more of a creative, they’re more into the aesthetics, they’re more artistic. Instagram stories might be something that we could experiment with there because it’s a more creative, playful medium. That will inform your choices as well.

The other thing to take into consideration as you’re thinking about your situation is where are you at the moment? What are your current goals and objectives and what stage are you at? This two can give you some hints as to what you should be focusing your time on.

If you are a brand new blogger, maybe you’ve just gone through a starter blog course, you’re in a different stage to someone who’s been blogging for ten years. Someone who’s been blogging for ten years probably already has an audience and their goal might be more around engagement, how do I engage and deepen the relationship with my audience?

Using a medium like live video might be really suitable particularly on Facebook live where you’ve probably already got a bit of an audience on Facebook. It’s about waking up that audience, engaging with them. Using something like live video might be really good if you’ve been around for a while. If you’re a first month blogger, you probably don’t already have an audience on Facebook, Facebook live may not be the best strategy for you. Maybe some of the other networks might be a place where you can grow your audience a little bit more.

I know a number of people who’ve been growing their audience on Instagram, for example. They’ve been really learning about hashtags and doing a lot of outreach, commenting. They found that they would get more exposure on that platform. Back in the day when Periscope first started out, I remember a number of bloggers who really went all in on Periscope because it was a network at that time that was enabling them to find new audience member. By being new, maybe that will inform your decision as well.

What are your goals at the moment? Are your goals about building engagement? Are they about just building your audience? There’s a variety of different things that you might wanna focus on there. I guess what I’m trying to say here is one, there’s no right answer, two, really think about your situation, your style, your topic, your audience and your current objectives and goals.

The third thing I wanna talk about is focusing upon what is already converting for you and for others. This might seem like a strange thing to say but over the years, I’ve seen so many people give up what’s already working for them because there’s something new there. People gravitate towards the new sexy thing even though they’ve already got something that’s already working for them. They’re giving up something that they’ve built and that could carry them into the future to focus upon something new.

New isn’t always better. In fact, I would say new is rarely better because many of the new things in our space don’t end up actually going anywhere at all. I can think back over the years to numerous times where I’ve come across people who have given up blogging to get into something new. I remember back when Twitter first came out, having a huge debate with one blogger in particular who’d spent several years building up a reasonably good following on their blog. They decided to give up that blog because this Twitter thing was coming and they went all in on Twitter. They gave up their blog to go all in on Twitter.

Similarly, I’ve seen people give up successful blogs to get onto Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, all of these channels. Ultimately, I’m not in a position to really say whether that was the right decision or not. None of those decisions were wrong, I don’t think blogging is the perfect fit for everyone. Maybe some of these people did do better things on these platforms. In numerous cases, as I think about these discussions I’ve had with people over the years, there’s been numerous times where I’ve heard in hindsight that person who made the switch wishes they didn’t because they realized they already had a good thing with their blog.

Perhaps, instead of giving up blogging to get into these things, maybe they should’ve done both or maybe they should’ve just stuck with blogging. Really think very carefully about your situation. This does tap in a little bit too what I was talking about earlier, it does depend upon the stage of your blog. If you’ve already been at blogging for a while, you’ve probably already got some things that are working for you. Maybe you should be putting more time into the things that are working a bit for you already to grow those things than getting to something new.

As I think about my situation and my business over the last few years, I can see that there are some things that worked for me that I need to bend down or I need to double down on these things rather than pick up something new. That’s the stage that I’m at but I think a lot of you out there would probably relate to this. As I look at my own business, the things that worked for me were blogging and podcasting. I’ve heard over the years blogging itself is dying, everyone keeps saying blogging is dead, blogging is dead.

But as I said in my last episode, blogging seems to be back at the moment. It is where most of my business really centers around, the blog and the podcast. Blogging is not dead; it is changed, it’s certainly not dead. It is so important in my business. If I was to track the sales of my product and the income from my products, almost every dollar that I make, actually there’s been a touch point with my blog beforehand. Yeah I could get on the Facebook, yeah I could get onto Twitter, yeah I could do all the Instagram thing, I could do all of those other things and not blog at all but I suspect that that would really hurt my business in the long run.

Podcasting is another part of that. I don’t get as many people listen to this podcast as read the blog, I get a lot more people touching the blog than the podcast but I know that my podcast listeners are so much more engaged than anyone else. I would suspect that anyone listening to this podcast is much more likely to do our brand new course, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, or to come to one of our events.

You gotta think about what’s already working for you not just in terms of traffic but also engagements and some of these other things as well. Blogging and podcasting are a bit old fashioned, they’ve been around for years and years and years now. Their path is not as sexy and new as live video or Instagram stories or those types of things but you know what, they work. They work for me and they’ve been working for tens of thousands of other people as well. To be honest, the jury is still out on Instagram stories and some of these newer technologies. I would say, do consider that.

The other thing that works for me is search. The biggest source of traffic to my blog is Google, around 50% of my traffic comes from Google. Most full time bloggers I know have similar splits in their traffic. I know there are exceptions to this, I know a few bloggers who get most of their traffic from Pinterest or most of their traffic from Facebook. In most cases, bloggers who make it full time actually get most of their traffic from search and yet how much time do we spend on search? How much time do we spend on Search Engine Optimization?

SEO is something that is well worth putting your energy into learning about and focusing your energy upon. It’s not something to obsess about but I actually think that a lot of people would do better to spend the time learning about SEO than they would about some of these other newer things.

Another thing that I’ll put in that category is email. By far the biggest source of sales for me is email. It doesn’t drive as much traffic for me as Google but I’d estimate around 90% of my sales comes from email. That’s another area that if you aren’t doing at the moment, I would say that’s something that you need to pay attention to. It is working for most full time bloggers that I know. It’s perhaps not as effective as it was five years ago, maybe it’s going to continue to decline but it’s certainly not something to ignore.

Blogging, search, email, these are all things that are gold for me. Perhaps they’re not as new, perhaps they’re not as sexy but I think these are things that we should be continuing to pay attention to.

Every time I go to a conference like Social Media Marketing World, I have this internal struggle within me. Yes it’s exciting to explore on these new things but don’t give up on the things that are already working for our industry to go all in on these new things because in doing so maybe you’re actually ignore the things that has the potential to bring so much life to your business as well. What’s already working for you but also what is already working for our industry, don’t give up on those things to do the new thing.

I’ve talked about there’s no right answer, I’ve talked about thinking about your situation to decide what you should do, I’ve talked about focusing upon what is already converting for you and our industry.

Another thing that I really think is important here, this is my fourth point, is to focus upon what you have control over. This is the big one for me. Almost all of the new things that I heard being talked about at Social Media Marketing World this year give you very little actual control. In most cases, the things that invite us to give us our focus are things where we’re actually not building our own asset, we’re building other people’s assets. This is so important to hear.

Yes, Instagram stories is great but you don’t own Instagram. I’m sorry to say that but you don’t own that, you don’t own the connection that you have with your Instagram followers. Facebook live is great, it’s very powerful but you don’t own Facebook, you don’t own that connection that you have with your followers there. This is the reason I had that big fight with my friend who gave up blogging years ago to get onto Twitter, he gave up building his own asset to build Twitter’s asset. The same is true for all of these new things.

Going all in on Instagram stories or Facebook live or any of these things comes with risk. They can change the rules and the algorithms at any point. This is why we’re having this big Facebook armageddon at the moment. Twitter just changed the rules, you can’t tweet the same thing over and over again. And now, a lot of the tools like MeetEdgar are changing what they allow you to do. I had spent years building up my archive of tweets on MeetEdgar and then I logged in three days ago and they said, “You can’t retweet the same thing over and over again.”

Even though I wasn’t doing it more than once every six months, I can’t do that anymore. They changed the rules, Twitter changed the rules. I spent a lot of time building up a system that isn’t gonna work for me anymore now. They may not last the distance, we’ve seen social networks come and go over the years. They may change their technology and what they focus upon. Facebook, at the moment, is giving live video a bit of prominence, they’re giving groups prominence but that may not last. They may come up with something new and by you investing going all in on that technology can actually end up being a bit of a waste of time for you as well.

They may decide that you don’t belong on their platform anymore, maybe they changed their rules and they see you then breaking their rules because they changed the rules and maybe they kick you out. You don’t have control in these places, there’s risk associated with it. Consider that as you think about where you should be going all in on.

I think there’s a place to go into all of these new things. I’ll talk about that in a moment. I’m a big believer in putting most of your focus into building your asset, that’s why I keep coming back to have your own blog, have your own podcast, collect email addresses, have your own domain, have your own server, have your own platform. It’s so important to put most of your energy into that. As you consider all of these new things, keep in the back of your mind you’re building someone else’s asset.

My fifth and last point that I wanna make is a balance to that last one that I made. Put most of your effort into building your own asset but none of these that I’ve talked about means that you cannot get into the new stuff. You might be thinking Darren saying, “Don’t go do live, don’t do Instagram stories.” I actually think you should be doing some of it for some of your time.

I actually think the new stuff is important because it is going to help you to build your audience, it is going to help you to build engagement, it’s gonna help you to build your brand, it will help you to monetize your blog and it’s also gonna show your audience that you’re up to date as well, it’s gonna keep you current. All these things are important. It is going to help you to build your own asset but the key is to approach the new stuff with a bit of caution, don’t do it at the expense of building your own asset. That’s the first thing.

Experiment with the new stuff but don’t do it at the expense of building your own asset. Use the new stuff to leverage and to build your asset. Use Facebook live to get people over to your blog, use Facebook live to get people on your email list, use Facebook live to get people to your events, to buy your product. Use the new thing to build your asset.

The other thing I would say is to diversify your focus where you can. This is hard because you don’t wanna spread yourself too thin, I said this at the top of the show. Maybe it’s better to do one thing than all of the things. It is important where you do have the time to diversify your focus a little bit. Maybe spend 90% of your time building your blog and doing SEO and email and those things that you own. With your other 10%, maybe choose a couple of things to experiment with.

Another thing to keep in mind is to be ready to pivot. Opportunities like these new things don’t last forever. I said before that I came across a number of bloggers who built their brand and built their audience on Periscope when it first came out. Periscope was brilliant for getting exposure when it first came out. A lot of people are on it, they’re watching videos and enabled you to get yourself in front of new people. That wave of opportunity didn’t last forever.

Periscope is still around and I know a few people are still on it but most of the people who were riding that wave on Periscope today aren’t doing that anything because the opportunity isn’t there, they pivoted to something else. Most of them are now experimenting with Facebook live instead. They took their audience with them, they built that asset, they built that brand and now they pivoted. Be really ready to pivot in any of these new things.

One of the people I love who’ve been really riding the waves really well is Gary Vaynerchuk. I know Gary gets talked about a lot but he has jumped on so many emerging platforms over the years. He jumps on the new thing, he learns about it, he leverages it, he makes it work for him and then he moves on. He has adopted all of these new technologies, he’s worked at how they work, he’s leveraged them while they work and then he moves on to the next thing all the while building his own assets.

If you’ll look at what he’s doing at the moment, he’s engaging in all these places but he’s trying to get everyone across to what he calls first in line. He’s a messenger community. If you go and have a look at that, you’ll see that he grabs you emails address, he grabs your phone number, he is trying to build his own asset from all the platforms that he’s engaging on. I signed up for it the other day. Since I did, I’ve been getting emails from him, I’ve been getting text messages from him. He now owns the communication platform between me and him.

He doesn’t have to rely upon Facebook’s algorithm anymore, he’s got a direct contact point with me. I think this is really important. He’s leveraging the new things to build his asset, he is riding the waves while they last but then jumping onto the new thing. He’s diversifying what he’s doing as well.

That’s so important as you think about these new things, don’t put all your efforts into those. Continue to build that blog, continue to build that podcast, continue to build SEO and email. Do the things that are already converting for you. The time that you do spend in the new stuff, make sure you leverage it to build your asset, make sure you diversify where you have time to do that and make sure you’re ready to pivot. I think it’s so important to do that.

I hope somewhere in the midst of what I’ve talked about today is some advice that is helpful for you. I really hesitated to do my last episode, episode 240, sharing those trends, those seven trends that I noticed at the moment. I love that type of information but I also always hesitate to share it because I know it causes confusion and I know the temptation is to feel like you need to do it all. I really want you to take home that message that I started out with today. There is no right answer here, you don’t have to do it all.

Everyone else around you is making the same decisions. The people who seem to do best are the ones that are focusing on one or two of the things and don’t feel the pressure that they have to do it all. Really do consider your own situation to make this decision, focus upon what is already converting for you, don’t give up something that’s already working to be able to do the new thing. Focus upon where you have control and be ready in those new things to pivot along the way and to use them to build your asset.

That’s the advice that I wanna give you. I would love to hear your feedback. Where are you gonna put your attention at the moment? Are you gonna try something new? If so, what? I would love to hear that. Are you gonna double down on something that’s already working for you? Maybe you’ve already got some little glamour of things that are working that you’re gonna put even more energy into. I would love to hear your feedback on that. You can do so over in our Facebook group, just do a search for ProBlogger Community on Facebook. Let us know what you’re gonna double down on at the moment.

You can do that also in our show notes at problogger.com/podcast/241 where there’s comments there. There’s also a full transcript of today’s show. You can reach out to me social, if you are on Twitter, I’m at @problogger or you can find me on Facebook and Instagram at @darrenrowse as well. I love to hear from you this week. Let me know what you’re doubling down on at the moment and how you came to that decision as well. If you got any question, I’m more than happy to tackle them as well. I look forward to chatting with you next week on the podcast in Episode 242.

If you’ve got a moment or two, I would love to get you to rate and review our show on whatever app you’re on. I get the emails every week. It’s my favorite part of the week, getting those emails from people from services that let me know when a new review has been left. I read them all and do appreciate them all. There’s been some really nice ones over the last few days which have given me a lot of energy. Thank you for that. I’ll talk to you next week. Thanks.

You’ve been listening to ProBlogger. If you’d like to comment on any of today’s topics, or subscribe to the series, find us at problogger.com/podcast. Tweet us at @problogger. Find us at facebook.com/problogger or search ProBlogger on iTunes.

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241: Trends in Social Media – Where Should You Focus Your Energy?

Social Media Trends – Where Should You Focus Your Energy

In our last episode I covered seven trends in social media and blogging. In today’s episode I want to discuss where you should focus your energy as a blogger.

There’s so much we could do.but what should we do?

Don’t become overwhelmed and perplexed. Instead, be inspired about where to put your effort.

Should you focus on:

  • live video?
  • bots and messenger marketing?
  • Facebook advertising?
  • long-form video?
  • Instagram stories?
  • blog?
  • all of the above?

And how do you decide?

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) there’s no right answer. The ‘best spot’ will be different for everyone. Just don’t be pressured into doing what everyone else is doing.

Consider your style, topic, audience, and objectives and goals. Get in touch with who you are and what makes you shine.

Focus on conversions.

Don’t give up something that’s already working just to start something new. Nine times out of ten it won’y be any better. Instead, focus on good SEO practices.

Stay in control, and focus on building your own platform and assets rather than building on other people’s.
Use your own to host a podcast or blog.

Save some time and effort for new ways to  build your audience, brand, and engagement. Be cautious, but also be willing to pivot and diversify.

And don’t feel as if  you have to do it all. Focus on being great at just one or two trends.

What are you going to try?

Links and Resources for Trends in Social Media – Where Should You Focus Your Energy?:

Further Listening

Courses

Join our Facebook group

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Hi there and welcome to Episode 241 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and the courses all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your audience, to create great content, to build engagement around your blog, and ultimately to build profit around your blog. I should say profit can be money but it can be other outcomes as well. However you define it, we hope to help you along that journey. You can learn more about ProBlogger at problogger.com.

Today’s podcast is brought to you by our brand new course, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog which is launching around now. We’ve already opened it up to a small group of beta testers. I think there’s actually about a hundred bloggers so far who have signed up and are working through that course. It’s closed off at the moment but if you are interested in joining that beta testing group, please go to problogger.com/31days.

It’s a course designed to help you over a month to give you a burst of love, bring a burst of love to your blog, to give some really intentional love and care to your blog to write some new content, to think about your editorial strategy, to think about how you can build engagement with your blog, to do some things to help you to get some new readers, and to begin to think about monetization. We don’t focus a lot on monetization in this course, it’s more about getting the foundations right that will help you to monetize but we touch on it towards the end.

You can learn more about it at problogger.com/31days. We will be opening it up for a wider audience in the coming weeks. If you don’t get it on that beta test, you just signup there. We’ll let you know when it does open up.

In today’s episode, I wanna talk about working out where to put your energy. This is really a follow up to the last episode, in 240. Back in that last episode, I identified seven trends in social media and blogging that I noticed at Social Media Marketing World this year in San Diego. If you haven’t listened to that episode yet, it might be worth doing so. In it I talked about Facebook, all the changes that have been happening with Facebook. I talked about Facebook live, bots, Messenger marketing, video content, Instagram stories, a lot of these newer trends that have been going on and that I’m now beginning to see people really go all in on.

If you listened to that episode, you’ll know that I finished off by asking the question where should we be going all in as bloggers? There’s so much we could do, there’s so much out there that we could be focusing our energy on but how do we work out what we should put our focus upon? That’s what today’s episode is all about. I really wanna help you to begin to wrestle with where should you be putting your effort? Should you be putting your effort into somebody’s new things or should you be putting your effort into some older things, some other things as well. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/241.

Where should we be going all in as bloggers? After Social Media Marketing World this year, I spoke to a number of attendees who are feeling simultaneously inspired by the teaching that they’d heard but also overwhelmed and perplexed by where they should be putting their effort in. I had one conversation, within about 30 seconds they asked me, “Should I go all in with live video? Should I be going in with bots and Messenger marketing? Should I be going in with Facebook advertising? Should I be doing a long form video? Should I be doing Instagram stories or should I be doing it all?”

I posted some further questions, should you actually be focusing more upon your blog at the moment? Maybe you need to get into podcasting, maybe you should do long form content, maybe you should be posting daily or weekly. The decisions that we need to make as bloggers go on and on. I’ve asked all of these questions at the Social Media Marketing World as well. There were certainly some really big trends being talked about at the conference this year but the reality is we just can’t do all of those things unless we’ve got a massive team.

I do know some people who’ve got big teams and they are going all in on all of these things that I’ve mentioned. If you’re like me and you’ve got a small team or maybe your team is you, you’re gonna have to make some decisions about where you can go all in. The question is how do you make that decision? I wanna give you today, I think it’s five main points to help you make that decision. I hope that somewhere in the midst of these will be a few threads of, I guess, conversations that you might wanna pick up on and a few things that will resonate with you.

The first thing I wanna say is that there is no right answer here, there’s no one thing that we should all be focusing most of our efforts on. Obviously, we’re all in very different situations, we’re in different stages of our blog, we’re writing about different topics, we have different audiences, we’ve got different styles and personalities. The best spot for each of us will be very different.

I guess I wanna start with that because I don’t want you to feel that just because everyone else seems to be doing live video, or everyone else seems to be experimenting with Messenger bots, or everyone else is doing anything at the moment, you don’t need to feel that pressure. I wanna take that pressure off you.

I can relate to that feeling that everyone seems to be doing certain things, I look around at many of the bloggers in my space and they all seem to be building these amazing live video studios and spending tens of thousands of dollars on their studios. I felt that pressure, I feel like, “Maybe I need to buy a studio, maybe I need to spend all that money.” I don’t know if that’s right for me right now. Don’t feel that pressure, I wanna say that right up front. It’s probably better for you just to choose one thing to do really well than try to do it all.

You will look around it and it does seem that everyone else is doing everything, they’re not. Everyone is making strategic choices about these as well. I guess I wanna start with that. Don’t feel the pressure that you have to do it all, don’t feel the pressure that you have to do any one thing either. It really does need to come down to what’s going on for you at the moment, what can you do that’s gonna suit your situation.

The other thing I’ll say in this first point is it’s probably better to just choose one thing to do really well than to try and do everything okay. You probably wanna just go all in on one thing and become known in your industry, the person who does that one thing brilliantly better than anyone else, than trying to do four or five different things okay because you’ll never gonna become known as anyone doing anything exceptional if you’re doing everything okay. Be the person who’s doing that one thing brilliantly and your audience will notice and other people will notice as well. Take the pressure off yourself, think about who you are and what is gonna suit your situation best.

That’s the first thing that I wanna say which leads me to my next point. When you’re making that decision and considering your situation, what do you need to think through? I wanna suggest a few things to help you to think that through. Firstly, think about your style. For example, some of you are really good on camera. You think on your feet, you present well, you’re very clear, you do one take content and maybe that is gonna give you a bit of a hint about what you should be doing. Maybe you should be doing live video if you’re great on camera and you think on your feet and you’re fast paced, that is probably a good format for you. Your style is going to help you.

Some of you are much better if you are able to plan and really think through your content and design your content. If that’s the case, maybe something that’s not live is gonna be better for you. I actually like live video, I like presenting but I do a lot of work before my live videos, particularly from presenting on a topic. I actually find that I’m probably better in this format that we’re talking now, something that I can record ahead of time and edit it and shape the content in some way, maybe a little bit more of a slow paced thinker, that’s certainly me.

Maybe live video is not as good for you, maybe more episodic video which I talked about in the last episode, it might be better for you. Maybe Instagram stories is better for you because you’re able plan those things out ahead of time than at live. Maybe you’re a bit more of a geeky person and you like designing systems and strategies and that type of thing. Maybe that is a hint to you that maybe something like bots might be worth playing with. It’s something that is a little bit more geeky, it’s more about designing a system and thinking strategically about how to engage with people.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is try and be in touch with who you are and your style. As you think about the different options, what makes you light up? What makes you excited as you look at them and what puts you off? If you hear the word live video and you freak out and you start sweating, maybe that’s a signal that maybe it’s not right for you. It could also be just for you getting in the way of you doing the thing that is right for you, you wanna test these things out. Even as you test them, pay attention to the energy levels that you get as well.

Your style is part of it, your topic is another thing to consider and the topic that you create, content on shooting, form your choices. For example on my photography blog, the obvious choice there is to focus more upon mediums that celebrate the visual, I’m talking about photography. Bots might not be as useful as Instagram stories in that case. Instagram story is very visual, you can use video, you can use still images. You can probably weave those things in using a bot as well but I think in terms of topic, anything visual is gonna lend itself well to the topic that I’m writing about. Your topic will be different. Maybe some of the different mediums in the options in front of you will help to relate better in that type of topic.

Another thing to consider is your audience, understanding who’s on the other side of your content needs to inform your choices about the type of content that you create. Some of your audiences are gonna be very suspicious towards bots, for example. Maybe you’ve got an audience that really is suspicious to anything that’s gonna interrupt them in some ways. They’re not gonna respond well to bots.

Maybe your audience is like my audience in my photography blog and again they’re very visual, they’re more creative, more artistic. That might give you a hint as to the medium that you should use as well. I’m thinking about my photography blog, my audience, they’re more of a creative, they’re more into the aesthetics, they’re more artistic. Instagram stories might be something that we could experiment with there because it’s a more creative, playful medium. That will inform your choices as well.

The other thing to take into consideration as you’re thinking about your situation is where are you at the moment? What are your current goals and objectives and what stage are you at? This two can give you some hints as to what you should be focusing your time on.

If you are a brand new blogger, maybe you’ve just gone through a starter blog course, you’re in a different stage to someone who’s been blogging for ten years. Someone who’s been blogging for ten years probably already has an audience and their goal might be more around engagement, how do I engage and deepen the relationship with my audience?

Using a medium like live video might be really suitable particularly on Facebook live where you’ve probably already got a bit of an audience on Facebook. It’s about waking up that audience, engaging with them. Using something like live video might be really good if you’ve been around for a while. If you’re a first month blogger, you probably don’t already have an audience on Facebook, Facebook live may not be the best strategy for you. Maybe some of the other networks might be a place where you can grow your audience a little bit more.

I know a number of people who’ve been growing their audience on Instagram, for example. They’ve been really learning about hashtags and doing a lot of outreach, commenting. They found that they would get more exposure on that platform. Back in the day when Periscope first started out, I remember a number of bloggers who really went all in on Periscope because it was a network at that time that was enabling them to find new audience member. By being new, maybe that will inform your decision as well.

What are your goals at the moment? Are your goals about building engagement? Are they about just building your audience? There’s a variety of different things that you might wanna focus on there. I guess what I’m trying to say here is one, there’s no right answer, two, really think about your situation, your style, your topic, your audience and your current objectives and goals.

The third thing I wanna talk about is focusing upon what is already converting for you and for others. This might seem like a strange thing to say but over the years, I’ve seen so many people give up what’s already working for them because there’s something new there. People gravitate towards the new sexy thing even though they’ve already got something that’s already working for them. They’re giving up something that they’ve built and that could carry them into the future to focus upon something new.

New isn’t always better. In fact, I would say new is rarely better because many of the new things in our space don’t end up actually going anywhere at all. I can think back over the years to numerous times where I’ve come across people who have given up blogging to get into something new. I remember back when Twitter first came out, having a huge debate with one blogger in particular who’d spent several years building up a reasonably good following on their blog. They decided to give up that blog because this Twitter thing was coming and they went all in on Twitter. They gave up their blog to go all in on Twitter.

Similarly, I’ve seen people give up successful blogs to get onto Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, all of these channels. Ultimately, I’m not in a position to really say whether that was the right decision or not. None of those decisions were wrong, I don’t think blogging is the perfect fit for everyone. Maybe some of these people did do better things on these platforms. In numerous cases, as I think about these discussions I’ve had with people over the years, there’s been numerous times where I’ve heard in hindsight that person who made the switch wishes they didn’t because they realized they already had a good thing with their blog.

Perhaps, instead of giving up blogging to get into these things, maybe they should’ve done both or maybe they should’ve just stuck with blogging. Really think very carefully about your situation. This does tap in a little bit too what I was talking about earlier, it does depend upon the stage of your blog. If you’ve already been at blogging for a while, you’ve probably already got some things that are working for you. Maybe you should be putting more time into the things that are working a bit for you already to grow those things than getting to something new.

As I think about my situation and my business over the last few years, I can see that there are some things that worked for me that I need to bend down or I need to double down on these things rather than pick up something new. That’s the stage that I’m at but I think a lot of you out there would probably relate to this. As I look at my own business, the things that worked for me were blogging and podcasting. I’ve heard over the years blogging itself is dying, everyone keeps saying blogging is dead, blogging is dead.

But as I said in my last episode, blogging seems to be back at the moment. It is where most of my business really centers around, the blog and the podcast. Blogging is not dead; it is changed, it’s certainly not dead. It is so important in my business. If I was to track the sales of my product and the income from my products, almost every dollar that I make, actually there’s been a touch point with my blog beforehand. Yeah I could get on the Facebook, yeah I could get onto Twitter, yeah I could do all the Instagram thing, I could do all of those other things and not blog at all but I suspect that that would really hurt my business in the long run.

Podcasting is another part of that. I don’t get as many people listen to this podcast as read the blog, I get a lot more people touching the blog than the podcast but I know that my podcast listeners are so much more engaged than anyone else. I would suspect that anyone listening to this podcast is much more likely to do our brand new course, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, or to come to one of our events.

You gotta think about what’s already working for you not just in terms of traffic but also engagements and some of these other things as well. Blogging and podcasting are a bit old fashioned, they’ve been around for years and years and years now. Their path is not as sexy and new as live video or Instagram stories or those types of things but you know what, they work. They work for me and they’ve been working for tens of thousands of other people as well. To be honest, the jury is still out on Instagram stories and some of these newer technologies. I would say, do consider that.

The other thing that works for me is search. The biggest source of traffic to my blog is Google, around 50% of my traffic comes from Google. Most full time bloggers I know have similar splits in their traffic. I know there are exceptions to this, I know a few bloggers who get most of their traffic from Pinterest or most of their traffic from Facebook. In most cases, bloggers who make it full time actually get most of their traffic from search and yet how much time do we spend on search? How much time do we spend on Search Engine Optimization?

SEO is something that is well worth putting your energy into learning about and focusing your energy upon. It’s not something to obsess about but I actually think that a lot of people would do better to spend the time learning about SEO than they would about some of these other newer things.

Another thing that I’ll put in that category is email. By far the biggest source of sales for me is email. It doesn’t drive as much traffic for me as Google but I’d estimate around 90% of my sales comes from email. That’s another area that if you aren’t doing at the moment, I would say that’s something that you need to pay attention to. It is working for most full time bloggers that I know. It’s perhaps not as effective as it was five years ago, maybe it’s going to continue to decline but it’s certainly not something to ignore.

Blogging, search, email, these are all things that are gold for me. Perhaps they’re not as new, perhaps they’re not as sexy but I think these are things that we should be continuing to pay attention to.

Every time I go to a conference like Social Media Marketing World, I have this internal struggle within me. Yes it’s exciting to explore on these new things but don’t give up on the things that are already working for our industry to go all in on these new things because in doing so maybe you’re actually ignore the things that has the potential to bring so much life to your business as well. What’s already working for you but also what is already working for our industry, don’t give up on those things to do the new thing.

I’ve talked about there’s no right answer, I’ve talked about thinking about your situation to decide what you should do, I’ve talked about focusing upon what is already converting for you and our industry.

Another thing that I really think is important here, this is my fourth point, is to focus upon what you have control over. This is the big one for me. Almost all of the new things that I heard being talked about at Social Media Marketing World this year give you very little actual control. In most cases, the things that invite us to give us our focus are things where we’re actually not building our own asset, we’re building other people’s assets. This is so important to hear.

Yes, Instagram stories is great but you don’t own Instagram. I’m sorry to say that but you don’t own that, you don’t own the connection that you have with your Instagram followers. Facebook live is great, it’s very powerful but you don’t own Facebook, you don’t own that connection that you have with your followers there. This is the reason I had that big fight with my friend who gave up blogging years ago to get onto Twitter, he gave up building his own asset to build Twitter’s asset. The same is true for all of these new things.

Going all in on Instagram stories or Facebook live or any of these things comes with risk. They can change the rules and the algorithms at any point. This is why we’re having this big Facebook armageddon at the moment. Twitter just changed the rules, you can’t tweet the same thing over and over again. And now, a lot of the tools like MeetEdgar are changing what they allow you to do. I had spent years building up my archive of tweets on MeetEdgar and then I logged in three days ago and they said, “You can’t retweet the same thing over and over again.”

Even though I wasn’t doing it more than once every six months, I can’t do that anymore. They changed the rules, Twitter changed the rules. I spent a lot of time building up a system that isn’t gonna work for me anymore now. They may not last the distance, we’ve seen social networks come and go over the years. They may change their technology and what they focus upon. Facebook, at the moment, is giving live video a bit of prominence, they’re giving groups prominence but that may not last. They may come up with something new and by you investing going all in on that technology can actually end up being a bit of a waste of time for you as well.

They may decide that you don’t belong on their platform anymore, maybe they changed their rules and they see you then breaking their rules because they changed the rules and maybe they kick you out. You don’t have control in these places, there’s risk associated with it. Consider that as you think about where you should be going all in on.

I think there’s a place to go into all of these new things. I’ll talk about that in a moment. I’m a big believer in putting most of your focus into building your asset, that’s why I keep coming back to have your own blog, have your own podcast, collect email addresses, have your own domain, have your own server, have your own platform. It’s so important to put most of your energy into that. As you consider all of these new things, keep in the back of your mind you’re building someone else’s asset.

My fifth and last point that I wanna make is a balance to that last one that I made. Put most of your effort into building your own asset but none of these that I’ve talked about means that you cannot get into the new stuff. You might be thinking Darren saying, “Don’t go do live, don’t do Instagram stories.” I actually think you should be doing some of it for some of your time.

I actually think the new stuff is important because it is going to help you to build your audience, it is going to help you to build engagement, it’s gonna help you to build your brand, it will help you to monetize your blog and it’s also gonna show your audience that you’re up to date as well, it’s gonna keep you current. All these things are important. It is going to help you to build your own asset but the key is to approach the new stuff with a bit of caution, don’t do it at the expense of building your own asset. That’s the first thing.

Experiment with the new stuff but don’t do it at the expense of building your own asset. Use the new stuff to leverage and to build your asset. Use Facebook live to get people over to your blog, use Facebook live to get people on your email list, use Facebook live to get people to your events, to buy your product. Use the new thing to build your asset.

The other thing I would say is to diversify your focus where you can. This is hard because you don’t wanna spread yourself too thin, I said this at the top of the show. Maybe it’s better to do one thing than all of the things. It is important where you do have the time to diversify your focus a little bit. Maybe spend 90% of your time building your blog and doing SEO and email and those things that you own. With your other 10%, maybe choose a couple of things to experiment with.

Another thing to keep in mind is to be ready to pivot. Opportunities like these new things don’t last forever. I said before that I came across a number of bloggers who built their brand and built their audience on Periscope when it first came out. Periscope was brilliant for getting exposure when it first came out. A lot of people are on it, they’re watching videos and enabled you to get yourself in front of new people. That wave of opportunity didn’t last forever.

Periscope is still around and I know a few people are still on it but most of the people who were riding that wave on Periscope today aren’t doing that anything because the opportunity isn’t there, they pivoted to something else. Most of them are now experimenting with Facebook live instead. They took their audience with them, they built that asset, they built that brand and now they pivoted. Be really ready to pivot in any of these new things.

One of the people I love who’ve been really riding the waves really well is Gary Vaynerchuk. I know Gary gets talked about a lot but he has jumped on so many emerging platforms over the years. He jumps on the new thing, he learns about it, he leverages it, he makes it work for him and then he moves on. He has adopted all of these new technologies, he’s worked at how they work, he’s leveraged them while they work and then he moves on to the next thing all the while building his own assets.

If you’ll look at what he’s doing at the moment, he’s engaging in all these places but he’s trying to get everyone across to what he calls first in line. He’s a messenger community. If you go and have a look at that, you’ll see that he grabs you emails address, he grabs your phone number, he is trying to build his own asset from all the platforms that he’s engaging on. I signed up for it the other day. Since I did, I’ve been getting emails from him, I’ve been getting text messages from him. He now owns the communication platform between me and him.

He doesn’t have to rely upon Facebook’s algorithm anymore, he’s got a direct contact point with me. I think this is really important. He’s leveraging the new things to build his asset, he is riding the waves while they last but then jumping onto the new thing. He’s diversifying what he’s doing as well.

That’s so important as you think about these new things, don’t put all your efforts into those. Continue to build that blog, continue to build that podcast, continue to build SEO and email. Do the things that are already converting for you. The time that you do spend in the new stuff, make sure you leverage it to build your asset, make sure you diversify where you have time to do that and make sure you’re ready to pivot. I think it’s so important to do that.

I hope somewhere in the midst of what I’ve talked about today is some advice that is helpful for you. I really hesitated to do my last episode, episode 240, sharing those trends, those seven trends that I noticed at the moment. I love that type of information but I also always hesitate to share it because I know it causes confusion and I know the temptation is to feel like you need to do it all. I really want you to take home that message that I started out with today. There is no right answer here, you don’t have to do it all.

Everyone else around you is making the same decisions. The people who seem to do best are the ones that are focusing on one or two of the things and don’t feel the pressure that they have to do it all. Really do consider your own situation to make this decision, focus upon what is already converting for you, don’t give up something that’s already working to be able to do the new thing. Focus upon where you have control and be ready in those new things to pivot along the way and to use them to build your asset.

That’s the advice that I wanna give you. I would love to hear your feedback. Where are you gonna put your attention at the moment? Are you gonna try something new? If so, what? I would love to hear that. Are you gonna double down on something that’s already working for you? Maybe you’ve already got some little glamour of things that are working that you’re gonna put even more energy into. I would love to hear your feedback on that. You can do so over in our Facebook group, just do a search for ProBlogger Community on Facebook. Let us know what you’re gonna double down on at the moment.

You can do that also in our show notes at problogger.com/podcast/241 where there’s comments there. There’s also a full transcript of today’s show. You can reach out to me social, if you are on Twitter, I’m at @problogger or you can find me on Facebook and Instagram at @darrenrowse as well. I love to hear from you this week. Let me know what you’re doubling down on at the moment and how you came to that decision as well. If you got any question, I’m more than happy to tackle them as well. I look forward to chatting with you next week on the podcast in Episode 242.

If you’ve got a moment or two, I would love to get you to rate and review our show on whatever app you’re on. I get the emails every week. It’s my favorite part of the week, getting those emails from people from services that let me know when a new review has been left. I read them all and do appreciate them all. There’s been some really nice ones over the last few days which have given me a lot of energy. Thank you for that. I’ll talk to you next week. Thanks.

You’ve been listening to ProBlogger. If you’d like to comment on any of today’s topics, or subscribe to the series, find us at problogger.com/podcast. Tweet us at @problogger. Find us at facebook.com/problogger or search ProBlogger on iTunes.

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The post 241: Trends in Social Media – Where Should You Focus Your Energy? appeared first on ProBlogger.

240: 7 Social Media Trends I Noticed at Social Media Marketing World

Key Themes and Trends from the Social Media Marketing World Conference

In today’s episode, I want to share seven trends people were talking about at the Social Media Marketing World mega-conference recently held in San Diego.

Social Media Marketing World is probably one of the biggest social media conferences in the world. 

Seven main themes came about from the conference:

  1. Facebook Armageddon: Changes have shaken up things.
  2. Be Human: It’s time for you to be real. Ask questions, and respond personally.
  3. Going Live: There are more platforms to choose from now. 
  4. Episodic Video: These are stories on steroids. 
  5. Stories Style Content: Design sequences that take your audience on a journey, and stories that provide background or behind-the-scenes action.
  6. Bots and Messenger Marketing: Bots may not be real, but they can be useful in blogging to notify people of new information and to ask them questions. 
  7. Blogging is Back: People know written content is not going away.

Should you do bots, go live, or create episodic content? Or blog, vlog, or do a podcast? Which social network should you focus on? Whatever you decide, make sure you don’t build your entire business around a specific social network.

Links and Resources for 7 Social Media Trends I Noticed at Social Media Marketing World:

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Examples of Trends in Social Media

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hello my friends and welcome to episode 240 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger—a blog, podcast, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to start an amazing blog, to create content that changes your audience’s life, to grow that audience, and to build a profit around your blog. You can learn more about that at problogger.com.

Today’s podcast is brought to you by a brand new course, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, which is launching around this time, and I’m a bit vague about that because we are allowing people into it gradually. We want to test it out with a smaller group of people before we release it into the world. You can head over to problogger.com/31days and sign-up to be notified when we’re ready to welcome you into that community.

We do look forward to having you involved in that because it’s a product that has lived as an ebook for many years, and has helped tens of thousands of bloggers over that time. Since back in 2009, I first did that ebook and we’ve had a couple of versions of that. Now we want to release it as a course because we think it will help you to move through the full 31 days. An ebook sometimes can be a little bit hard to do that, so a course with a few emails along the way to prompt you to keep moving through we hope will be a positive experience for you.

For those who do join in that beta, we have a special offer for you as well. It’s a paid course but we’re keeping it as affordable as possible. Again problogger.com/31days to register your interest and we’ll let you know when it’s ready for more people.

In today’s episode I want to share with you seven key themes and trends that I saw talked about at Social Media Marketing World a few weeks ago in San Diego. Over the last few weeks in this podcast, I’ve been sharing parts of my talk from Social Media Marketing World. I’m not sure whether I actually told you that there were parts of my talk, but episode 237 I talked about collaborations, episode 238 I talked about maintaining your archives, and episode 239 I talked about building a more engaged audience.

They were three of about nine things that I had in my talk from Social Media Marketing World this year, but today what I want to do is to report back on some of the things I heard other people talking about at the conference this year, both from the stage but also more importantly to me from conversations that I had with people in the halls outside of sessions.

For those of you who don’t know, Social Media Marketing World is probably one of the biggest social media conferences in the world. It happened in San Diego over the end of February start of March of this year and it’s a conference I’ve been to. I think this is my fourth or fifth time going and it’s one of those conferences that I go to, to pick up on the trends and to get a sense from what people are doing. You hear about the new stuff but you also hear about the stuff that people are actually taking and applying. Sometimes you hear about all the new things that have been happening, but then you go back the next year and you hear how people have applied those things and for me that’s when I particularly pay attention. If something was mentioned the last year as something new, I kind of watch it. But when I go back the second year and I see that people have taken that new thing and done something really powerful with it and really interesting with it, that’s when my ears really perk up and I take on some of those things.

Today in this episode I want to talk about seven of the main themes that came about from the conference, particularly these things coming out of what people were calling Facebook Armageddon, and that is the first thing that I do want to talk about. Facebook made a lot of changes in the last month or so and they have rocked the world of social media marketing. A lot of what I want to talk about today ripples out from that and how people are responding to that.

If you want to pick up on the latest trends of social media marketing, this episode is for you. I will say next week’s episode I’m going to build upon these seven things and talk about how you work out which of the things you should be doing, which is something that I know many people are wondering as well because there’s always new stuff, there’s always new things that you could focus your time and how do you make that decision. That’s next week’s episode.

Alright, let’s get into the seven themes I noticed at Social Media Marketing World this year. The things I want to talk about today, some of them are trends or emerging trends and some of them are just conversations that were happening in the halls. The first one really is more of a conversation that was happening and it was a theme that came up again, and again, and again. Almost every session I went to mentioned Facebook Armageddon. Now, not everyone used that exact term but there was a sense that people’s worlds have been rocked particularly in the last couple of months, although it goes back the last couple of years really about some of the changes that Facebook is continuing to make in their algorithm.

This is not new. This is something that has been rocking our world as social media marketers for years now. As more and more people are trying to use Facebook for marketing purposes, there’s more and more messages going in, Facebook having to deal with that. A couple of months ago now, they announced that they’re going to reduce the messages getting through organically even more than previously from pages in particular. They’re going to elevate more real-life conversations which is something I want to talk a little bit about later.

This was something that really is impacting a lot of people. I talked to a number of people in the halls who feel like their whole business has been decimated over the last year or so over these changes and some people, their reaction to this is like, “This is the nail in the coffin for my business unless I find some new way to drive traffic, to build engagement, and to support my business.”

People seem really split on Facebook’s changes. There were some who were really despondent, confused, hurt, and angry that Facebook have made these changes, and there were others who were more philosophical about it. One of the things I heard from a number of people is that, as hard as it is, it actually was needed. Facebook needed to make some changes because Facebook is being overtaken by marketers and their messages. This will hurt Facebook. It will hurt the average day user who uses Facebook to connect with their friends. If all they’re seeing is pages manipulating the algorithm and presenting content that really isn’t personal to them, then if people aren’t having a positive experience on Facebook, then they’re not going to go back, which in the long run hurts the marketers.

Some people were quite philosophical that this is a needed thing and that I guess really we need to change our focus as marketers. This is the big takeaway that I think both groups of people—those who were angry and those who were philosophical—everyone has really come to the same point that we need to change our approach. A lot of what I want to talk about in the other six or so things that I want to talk about today really comes out of that people are attempting to move their efforts away from focusing purely upon Facebook or doing what they were doing on Facebook in the same way.

Some people are still trying to get the organic reach and I’m going to talk about one way that you can do that a little later, but a lot of people are now focusing their effort on other platforms and upon blogging itself, which is something I’ll talk a little about later. This is I guess the big message is that we just can’t keep doing what we’ve always done on Facebook and really this is something you would have heard me talking about previously. We can’t build our whole business around any social network because we don’t control if we don’t own it, they can change the rules, we need to build our own asset, and we need to leverage these social networks as long as they last for us. That’s something we’ll talk about in next week’s episode as well. Number one theme was Facebook Armageddon.

Number two theme was a really massive theme at this conference. It’s a response to Facebook Armageddon in many ways. It was from the opening keynote right through almost every session I heard. I heard speakers talking about being real, the need to be human, the need to focus upon engagement. This is something I talked about in my session quite extensively and I talked about in last week’s episode as well.

There were two main reasons that people were arguing to be more real on social media. Firstly, it stands out. There’s so much noise, there’s so much automation, there’s so much repurposing of content, there’s so many tools now that are creating content and they’re not even human beings. Really, what is standing out in this very noisy impersonal space of social media, what stands out is people being people, people being vulnerable, people being truly interested in engagement and relationship.

This is why I did last week’s episode of the podcast, I wanted to really encourage you to show up, to show up predictably, to show up mentally, and to show up randomly. Those three things that I taught last week are really important. It’s not enough anymore just to be broadcasting—using tools—your messages. You need to show up, you need to be present and really take an approach and return to the roots of social media.

Brian Solis gave a great keynote on this particular topic, he looked back to the roots of social media and really a lot of what happened back in the day when I started out in blogging and in social media was people talking to people, it was a very conversational space, and this is why it was called social media because it was incredibly social. People responded to comments, people left comments on blogs, people shared other people’s work, people built upon other people’s ideas, there was this collaborative kind of feel about social media back then.

People were using social media to have conversations, to listen as much as they talked. Things have come and changed. Social media has become more of a megaphone-type experience. People shouting at each other and not really creating space to listen. One of the reasons that engagement is so important at the moment is that it does stand out in the midst of all the bots and all the automations and all the every three minutes a new tweet coming out of many accounts these days. What stands out is people actually engaging, asking questions, responding in personal ways.

That’s the first reason that this theme is there but the second reason is purely from a strategic point of view. Conversation is cutting through the algorithms and Facebook has told us in their latest updates that they are prioritizing engagement, they’re prioritizing conversation. If you want organic cut-through from Facebook today–I still want some, I’m not going to focus all my energy upon Facebook anymore but I still would appreciate any traffic that Facebook can give me, any cut-through that I can get–if you want that cut-through, Facebook is prioritizing conversations. They’ve told us that if you get long-form comments on your posts, on your Facebook page, it’s much more likely to be seen by other people. If you get people sharing your post with other people, that’s much more likely to be getting you extra reach. If Facebook sees on your posts people talking to each other–not just leaving a long-form comment but responding to other people’s comments–this gets more reach as well.

You can see there they’ve already told us numerous times that people talking to people is what it’s all about. On your Facebook page, you want to persist with Facebook pages, then what I encourage you to do is focus as much of your attention upon getting conversations going and getting people talking not just to you but talking to each other as much as possible.

I tested this on my Facebook Live a couple of weeks ago. I started off my live with a question. I said right from the front I asked the question. The question was designed to get people to leave a longer comment. Now this is a bit of a switch in focus. A couple of years ago, you just wanted people to leave any comment and there was a kind of a technique that many of us used back in the day where we would ask people to respond with one word to answer a question. We wanted people to answer with anything at all because that was getting more cut-through back then.

That’s not good enough anymore. If people want to leave a one-word comment it’s not really a signal to Facebook that people are engaging with you. Ask more detailed questions, ask people questions that are designed to get them to leave a few sentences, a paragraph or two. The deeper the conversation, the better. Ask questions that are designed not just to leave a question responding to you but talking to each other in some ways. Getting your readers to help one another, getting your readers to tag each other, to share with each other. This is something I’ve been trying to do more on my Facebook page over the last week or so and I’ve noticed that it does work a little bit more. I’m encouraging my readers to share the content with each other.

Now you can’t say the word ‘share’ so you got to be a bit creative about this. For example, there was a post a couple of weeks ago in my photography site where I said, “Everyone knows someone who needs to read this.” That’s a very round-about way of saying share it and what I notice is a lot more people were sharing that and tagging each other in that way.

Anything you can do to kind of build the conversation into your updates, anything you can do to build that sort of share this type of feel to it without getting explicit. You don’t want to say, “Leave a comment.” You don’t want to say, “Please share this.” Those are signals to Facebook that you’re trying to manipulate their algorithm so you kind of be a little backward in the way you do that and imply those types of things. But asking questions that will get a deeper engagement is worth putting your time into.

It’s also worth noting that Facebook have told us that this approach is going to be the emphasis of all of their products. It’s not just Facebook Pages where this is happening. This is going to be rolled out, and it probably already has been into Groups, into Facebook Live, into Facebook Stories, and—if it hasn’t already come, and some people believe it has—over onto Instagram as well. So if you’re getting those longer-form comments, if you’re getting people replying to each other in comments, these are signals to Instagram as well that are going to get you more reach too.

It’s a great way to stand out being human, being real, being engaging, but it’s also purely from an algorithmic point of view, a strategic point of view, it’s well worth of doing as well. Being human, being real was the number two trend that I’d say and I kind of feel weird saying that because we’ve been teaching on ProBlogger since 2004. It’s all about engagement. It’s one of the pillars of ProBlogging that we’ve been teaching for years, the importance of building engagement, of building community. It’s so much better than just getting empty eyeballs to your site. Do make it an emphasis going forward for yourself.

The number three thing that was a trend, and it was a trend that built upon last year’s conference, is live video. There was a big focus again this year on it. It isn’t a new thing. It certainly has been the theme over the last couple of Social Media Marketing Worlds but one of the big trends this year is that we’re now beginning to see more and more people create shows instead of just going live randomly.

One of the things that I heard taught again and again is that you need a weekly show or a daily show or you need some kind of a regular show, some people know that you’re going to show up at a certain time. It’s build into what I taught in last week’s episode about engaging predictably. You want to build that into your editorial calendar, but on top of that start throwing the random shows as well, the random lives.

Luria from Live Streaming Pros is a big believer in this. You’ve got your show but you also want to go live from time to time to share some of the back story, to share what’s happening. The combination of the regular show and the random kind of going live is a really powerful type thing. We saw more and more people actually talking about the studios that they’ve got now, so we’re seeing more and more people at the higher end setup purpose-built studios, that’s probably beyond some people, but we’re certainly seeing the emphasis upon the quality of video production going up. More and more people buying purpose-built lights, better cameras, and using systems that are very powerful to run their studios as well.

There’s also a focus this year upon not just Facebook Live but also more focus upon YouTube Live, which seems to be growing as well. The beauty of going live on YouTube is that your video then becomes a part of your video library on YouTube. Videos on YouTube do seem to have a longer life. If you go live on Facebook today, you get people viewing that video for the next day or two, and then Facebook doesn’t show it to anyone after that. People have to go digging looking for the video. But on YouTube, if you do a live video today, it will continue to get traffic to it indefinitely if it’s a good video, if it’s ranking well. YouTube is more of a search engine so people are actually going to YouTube searching for the videos. There’s perhaps less cut-through when you are going live on YouTube, but more evergreen kind of long tail views of your video as well.

Also there was a bit of an emphasis this year on Instagram Live as well. That is a platform that seems to be growing for some people as well. Since the conference, I noticed a number of my friends are using it.

It was really great to meet the team from Ecamm Live at this year’s conference. They had a booth there. I’m so impressed with this platform. If you’re on a Mac, for me it’s one of the lowest barrier to entry tools that you can use. It’s US$39.95 and it gets you a tool that is like having a little television studio in your computer. It allows you to screen share, it allows you to create overlays with comments so you can promote a comment and put it up on your screen, you can drag videos in, you can drag images in, you can interview people now in split screen using their Skype Call Recorder. It’s a great tool and I’m really impressed with that.

I’m really impressed also by where they’re going as well with their product down the track. They shared a little about where they’re going, and I don’t think they would mind me saying in they’re going to be building a YouTube Live as well, and that to me really is going to make it even better. It’s brilliant and they’re developing it really fast. Ecamm Live is that tool. Again $39.95 and that’s a one-off fee. You don’t have to pay that on a monthly or a yearly kind of subscription. Once you got it, you got it. I just cannot believe it’s so cheap.

Keeping mind with the live video that Facebook Live’s perhaps aren’t getting as much cut-through as they were a year ago. When they first released Facebook Live they were prioritizing it in their feed a lot more. To get prioritized in the feed you still need to build in that conversational element that I was talking about before. It still is powerful, not quite as powerful as it once was because there’s more people doing it today.

The fourth trend I noticed this year is something that I guess building some ways upon the idea of video and that is episodic video. This is something that Mike Stelzner talked about in his opening keynote. Many of you will know Mike, he’s been on the podcast before, he is from Social Media Examiner and in the lead up to this year’s Social Media Marketing World conference, they created a series of videos called The Journey.

In many ways the idea is that they created these episodic videos. Once a week, they released the new episode in the series. I think they’re probably about 10 minutes each, and that was designed to be watched either each week or binged upon. This is kind of the idea that they’ve taken.

Really it was the telling of the story of the creation of their conference. They talked about the ups and downs of running a conference. There were some weeks when Mike was really vulnerable with people and talked about how things had stuffed up and how things weren’t going well with ticket sales. Then there were other weeks where they took you on to the highs of it, and “Oh this week we tried this and it brought in a lot more sales.”

A lot of people this year were at the conference who attended the conference because they’ve been watching this series and have been taken on this journey which is what it was called. I do recommend you check out The Journey and I’ll link to it in today’s show notes. I talked to a number of people who said they watched that journey series with their kids like a television show and they binged upon it. They watched three or four hours in a row of these episodes. It’s kind of pretty amazing to see the results of that case study.

They’re not the first people to use video in this way. Gary Vaynechuk has been doing this type of thing for a year or two, showing behind-the-scenes of his life and the talks that he does. But what Social Media Examiner did with The Journey was really almost create a television show that people are now binging upon. It’s great for story-telling, great for building credibility, great for helping people to know you and humanizing your brand. It is a higher investment though and they actually hired a videographer to do it. So it’s possibly a little bit out of range for people like myself. I’m not in a position to hire someone to follow me around. I don’t think I’ve got an interesting enough life to have someone follow me around but there are ways to create episodic content.

And that leads me to the fifth thing I want to talk about, and that is the rise in stories, story-style content. We saw probably two years, three years ago at Social Media Marketing World the rise of SnapChat. Everyone was on SnapChat. Everyone was talking about their Snaps. I never really got it myself. I only really begun to get these idea of story content once it came to Instagram. Last year’s conference, there was a major focus on Instagram Stories versus SnapChat and people saying, “Oh, Instagram stole the idea from SnapChat,” and possibly they did, but there was a debate whether SnapChat would survive this or not.

This year there was a real feel at the conference that SnapChat’s perhaps is on the way out. I think one of the Kardashians declared it dead and knocked its stock price right down but certainly we saw this year the rise in people talking about Instagram Stories, and to a lesser degree, Facebook Stories as well. I lost count of the amount of people who told me that they’re getting great results from Instagram Stories, particularly those who were using it to drive traffic to things that they were doing in their business.

I think once you have 10,000 followers on Instagram and if you have a business account, I think that’s the qualification you can use, the swipe up feature which allows you to put a link in so people could go and check out what you’re doing. It’s pretty much the only way to get people to visit your blog or to visit your sales page from Instagram except from using your profile link. A lot of people now are using stories to call people to action. We’re talking about how they were designing and crafting sequences of stories to take their audience on a journey. So it’s not just people saying, “This is what I’m doing,” or, “this is what I’m eating,” or, “this is what my cat did,” anymore. It’s actually people designing and crafting an experience for their followers, to not just tell the backstory of their life but to actually present information and take their readers on a journey in some way.

In some ways it’s what Mike was talking about with episodic content but it’s something we’ve all got in our phones that we can do in other easy way and people getting really, really creative with their stories. The other thing that people are telling me is that more and more people now are familiar with the stories. Probably a year ago people saw the stories little circles in Instagram account and didn’t know what they were, didn’t know how to use them but now it’s being adopted and I suspected there are some people who are using the stories more than they are using anything else on Instagram, so big area of growth.

Of course we’ve also seen Facebook now introducing stories as well and I’m told in the last few days by people that now Facebook pages can potentially do stories as well. Hopefully we’ll see that continue to mature as a platform too.

The sixth thing I want to talk about are bots and messenger marketing. This is something that came up many times at the conference this year. It was talked about from the keynote stage. There was a whole stream of content pretty much on bots. Now I’m not talking about Twitter bots, Russian Twitter bots. I’m talking about bots that are used in messaging apps, particularly in Facebook Messenger, I think WhatsApp perhaps as well. This is something that has really been on the rise since last year’s conference. It was talked about last year but this year a lot more people have taken it and have run with it.

This what I was talking about before. I go to this conference to hear about what’s coming, the new emerging trends. I don’t tend to jump on in the first year. I tend to wait and see what people have done with them and jump on about a year later. That puts me slightly behind the curve in some ways and perhaps it’s a disadvantage but one of the things I’ve learned is there’s always a new trend coming and not all of them take off, and not all of them are going to suit my business. So I tend to hang back for a year and then wait a see what people are doing and then implement after that.

This is one of the things I think now is maturing and there’s opportunities that are definitely there for bloggers. It almost flies a little in the face though of one of the things I talked about earlier, and that is focusing upon being real and being human. Some people would argue–and I’ve heard people argue–that bots are the opposite of that. How can a bot be real? How can a bot be human? How can a bot be truly engaging?

There’s a few things I’d say about that. One, the bots are actually getting pretty good at being engaging and some of the technologies are amazing but I guess the main thing I would say is that I see the place of a bot as being getting people to the engagement. If you use it in small ways to drive people to real engagement, that’s a very powerful thing.

For example, a really small example, last week in my Facebook Live I set up a bot using a tool called ManyChat. If anyone left a comment and the comment I think the word was “alert me,” if anyone said “alert me” in the comments of that Facebook Live, this bot sent them a message inviting them to be alerted of anytime I would go live on Facebook. So anytime I go live on Facebook anyone who used the word “alert me” back then is going to get a message in their Messenger saying “Darren’s about to go live.”

That is a bot driving people to real life engagement. I think that type of use of a bot is one way you can actually drive people to those engaging experiences, drive people to the things they actually want. I think the best way to use a bot is to solve a problem. One of the problems I was solving there is that people tell me every time I go live, “Ah I didn’t realize you were going live today,” and, “Facebook didn’t really alert me like I ask them to,” or, “they alerted me too late.” Actually solving a problem with the bot in some way.

I can see bloggers using bots in a variety of ways. You could set up a bot to notify people when you publish content, when a live event is happening, when a podcast is released. You could set up a bot to introduce new readers to your old content. You could setup a bot to help people keep on track when running a challenge.

The key I think is to get people on the same page as you, as to what to expect from the bot. So when you invite people to subscribe to your bot, don’t just say, “Hey subscribe to my bot,” and then not telling them what’s going to happen. Tell them, “If you subscribe to this bot I’ll let you know when I go live,” or “you will be alerted when I have a new podcast,” or “you will get a sequence of messages from me that will walk you through this type of content.” You want to be really clear.

In many ways the bot I see it is very similar to an email list, really. You can use an email list to send broadcast, you can use an email list to send people through a sequence of emails to an autoresponder, and you can do the same type of things with bots. You probably don’t just want one bot that is going to do it all because that is just going to annoy everyone if you start doing all those things to everyone who subscribes. You probably want to set up bots that tag people with their particular interest, so you only interrupt them in Messenger when you’ve got something relevant to say to them and to their needs.

If you want to check out who’s doing some good stuff with bots as far as I can see is Gary Vaynechuk–I’ve mentioned him twice today. Gary has been pushing really hard on this at the moment. He set up a Facebook Messenger community which he calls First In Line. If you do a Google for that, you’ll find it. It’s really to help his followers, and his followers, his fans are crazy, they’re rabid, they’re enthusiastic but it’s to give them the information that they want.

I can link to the sign-up page for this in the show notes today but you’ll see he asks for a lot of information. He asks for their name, he ask for their phone number, he asks for the things they’re interested in and what I suspect he’s doing there is tagging people who follow his bot with what they want to hear. So he says are you interested in my books? Are you interested in my speaking? My events? Are you interested in my sneakers? Because he’s got a sneaker line now. I suspect what I’m going to get from following him from that bot is information that I’ve tagged as I’m interested in. I think to me that’s a really smart way of setting up a bot.

This is the space that I think will develop a lot in the next year or so. The tools that I’ve used so far, ManyChat that’s the main one. A number of my friends are using what’s called ChatFuel. I can link to those in the show notes today.

The seventh thing that I want to talk about is kind surprising to me and I didn’t go expecting to hear much about this or to see that this is a theme, but I was really pleased to hear it and you’ll know why when I tell it to you. The seventh theme is that blogging is back. I don’t think that it really went away but this year I saw a renewed interest in blogging and I think one of the reasons for this is Facebook Armageddon.

People are realizing finally the power of having your own blog. Having something set up on your own domain, on your own servers, where you control the rules, where you can do what you want, where you are not filtered by algorithms. I am so glad that people are finally getting this message. I have more people coming to my session this year than in previous years. I had so many people come up to me and say, “I’m getting back into blogging,” “I’m bringing my old blog back to life,” or “I’m starting a new blog.”

People want to control their destiny. They’re feeling scattered across the internet. They are on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and podcast, and they’re all in these different places. They want a home base for all their stuff. They want to build their own asset and people are realizing that a blog is a great thing to have. People are realizing that with the rise of video content, that written content isn’t going away as well. We’re actually not just seeing the rise of blogging and vlogging or podcast blogs but we’re also seeing the return I think to written content as well, which I’m so excited about because it’s my first love as well.

There are the seven big trends I noticed this year. Number one was Facebook Armageddon. Number two was the return and the rise of being real, transparent, vulnerable, and human. Number three was the rise of live video and the continuing rise and the maturing of that platform. Number four is episodic video which is something that’s perhaps a little bit more high-end but is a powerful thing. Bouncing off the back of that, the rise of stories, styled content in Instagram and Facebook. Number six is bots and messenger marketing, and using those to support your business. And then number seven was that blogging is back.

Now, as I said at the top of this week’s show, next week’s episode, episode 241, I want to answer some questions that I know many of you probably are asking right now, and I heard many people asking at the end of Social Media Marketing World, and that is, “What should I focus my time on?” You just heard seven things that you could be focusing your time on. Should you be creating episodic content? Should you be doing Insta-stories or blogging or podcasting or vlogging or—

And there’s all the other social networks I haven’t mentioned. There are sessions on Pinterest, there are sessions on YouTube, there are sessions on a variety of different platforms. What you should be focusing upon? That’s what I want to talk about in next week’s episode. I want to give you some thoughts on how I make that kind of decision for my business and how I recommend to other people to do that as well.

So please make sure you’re subscribed. If you are listening to the podcast for the first time, there’s 239 other episodes you can dig back and listen to. Also if you would please take a moment or two just to rate and review this podcast in iTunes or whatever app you use to subscribe as well. You can also leave a comment on the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/240 where we have a full transcript of the show today and I link to all the things that I’ve mentioned as well.

Lastly, if you got a moment and you know someone who might be helped by this podcast episode or the whole podcast, please consider sharing it as well. I’ve just given you 10 calls to action which breaks every rule that I’ve got but if you have a moment or two to take any of those actions, I would greatly appreciate it. I really mainly look forward to chatting with you next week in episode 241. Thanks for listening. Chat with you then.

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240: 7 Social Media Trends I Noticed at Social Media Marketing World

Key Themes and Trends from the Social Media Marketing World Conference

In today’s episode, I want to share seven trends people were talking about at the Social Media Marketing World mega-conference recently held in San Diego.

Social Media Marketing World is probably one of the biggest social media conferences in the world. 

Seven main themes came about from the conference:

  1. Facebook Armageddon: Changes have shaken up things.
  2. Be Human: It’s time for you to be real. Ask questions, and respond personally.
  3. Going Live: There are more platforms to choose from now. 
  4. Episodic Video: These are stories on steroids. 
  5. Stories Style Content: Design sequences that take your audience on a journey, and stories that provide background or behind-the-scenes action.
  6. Bots and Messenger Marketing: Bots may not be real, but they can be useful in blogging to notify people of new information and to ask them questions. 
  7. Blogging is Back: People know written content is not going away.

Should you do bots, go live, or create episodic content? Or blog, vlog, or do a podcast? Which social network should you focus on? Whatever you decide, make sure you don’t build your entire business around a specific social network.

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hello my friends and welcome to episode 240 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger—a blog, podcast, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to start an amazing blog, to create content that changes your audience’s life, to grow that audience, and to build a profit around your blog. You can learn more about that at problogger.com.

Today’s podcast is brought to you by a brand new course, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, which is launching around this time, and I’m a bit vague about that because we are allowing people into it gradually. We want to test it out with a smaller group of people before we release it into the world. You can head over to problogger.com/31days and sign-up to be notified when we’re ready to welcome you into that community.

We do look forward to having you involved in that because it’s a product that has lived as an ebook for many years, and has helped tens of thousands of bloggers over that time. Since back in 2009, I first did that ebook and we’ve had a couple of versions of that. Now we want to release it as a course because we think it will help you to move through the full 31 days. An ebook sometimes can be a little bit hard to do that, so a course with a few emails along the way to prompt you to keep moving through we hope will be a positive experience for you.

For those who do join in that beta, we have a special offer for you as well. It’s a paid course but we’re keeping it as affordable as possible. Again problogger.com/31days to register your interest and we’ll let you know when it’s ready for more people.

In today’s episode I want to share with you seven key themes and trends that I saw talked about at Social Media Marketing World a few weeks ago in San Diego. Over the last few weeks in this podcast, I’ve been sharing parts of my talk from Social Media Marketing World. I’m not sure whether I actually told you that there were parts of my talk, but episode 237 I talked about collaborations, episode 238 I talked about maintaining your archives, and episode 239 I talked about building a more engaged audience.

They were three of about nine things that I had in my talk from Social Media Marketing World this year, but today what I want to do is to report back on some of the things I heard other people talking about at the conference this year, both from the stage but also more importantly to me from conversations that I had with people in the halls outside of sessions.

For those of you who don’t know, Social Media Marketing World is probably one of the biggest social media conferences in the world. It happened in San Diego over the end of February start of March of this year and it’s a conference I’ve been to. I think this is my fourth or fifth time going and it’s one of those conferences that I go to, to pick up on the trends and to get a sense from what people are doing. You hear about the new stuff but you also hear about the stuff that people are actually taking and applying. Sometimes you hear about all the new things that have been happening, but then you go back the next year and you hear how people have applied those things and for me that’s when I particularly pay attention. If something was mentioned the last year as something new, I kind of watch it. But when I go back the second year and I see that people have taken that new thing and done something really powerful with it and really interesting with it, that’s when my ears really perk up and I take on some of those things.

Today in this episode I want to talk about seven of the main themes that came about from the conference, particularly these things coming out of what people were calling Facebook Armageddon, and that is the first thing that I do want to talk about. Facebook made a lot of changes in the last month or so and they have rocked the world of social media marketing. A lot of what I want to talk about today ripples out from that and how people are responding to that.

If you want to pick up on the latest trends of social media marketing, this episode is for you. I will say next week’s episode I’m going to build upon these seven things and talk about how you work out which of the things you should be doing, which is something that I know many people are wondering as well because there’s always new stuff, there’s always new things that you could focus your time and how do you make that decision. That’s next week’s episode.

Alright, let’s get into the seven themes I noticed at Social Media Marketing World this year. The things I want to talk about today, some of them are trends or emerging trends and some of them are just conversations that were happening in the halls. The first one really is more of a conversation that was happening and it was a theme that came up again, and again, and again. Almost every session I went to mentioned Facebook Armageddon. Now, not everyone used that exact term but there was a sense that people’s worlds have been rocked particularly in the last couple of months, although it goes back the last couple of years really about some of the changes that Facebook is continuing to make in their algorithm.

This is not new. This is something that has been rocking our world as social media marketers for years now. As more and more people are trying to use Facebook for marketing purposes, there’s more and more messages going in, Facebook having to deal with that. A couple of months ago now, they announced that they’re going to reduce the messages getting through organically even more than previously from pages in particular. They’re going to elevate more real-life conversations which is something I want to talk a little bit about later.

This was something that really is impacting a lot of people. I talked to a number of people in the halls who feel like their whole business has been decimated over the last year or so over these changes and some people, their reaction to this is like, “This is the nail in the coffin for my business unless I find some new way to drive traffic, to build engagement, and to support my business.”

People seem really split on Facebook’s changes. There were some who were really despondent, confused, hurt, and angry that Facebook have made these changes, and there were others who were more philosophical about it. One of the things I heard from a number of people is that, as hard as it is, it actually was needed. Facebook needed to make some changes because Facebook is being overtaken by marketers and their messages. This will hurt Facebook. It will hurt the average day user who uses Facebook to connect with their friends. If all they’re seeing is pages manipulating the algorithm and presenting content that really isn’t personal to them, then if people aren’t having a positive experience on Facebook, then they’re not going to go back, which in the long run hurts the marketers.

Some people were quite philosophical that this is a needed thing and that I guess really we need to change our focus as marketers. This is the big takeaway that I think both groups of people—those who were angry and those who were philosophical—everyone has really come to the same point that we need to change our approach. A lot of what I want to talk about in the other six or so things that I want to talk about today really comes out of that people are attempting to move their efforts away from focusing purely upon Facebook or doing what they were doing on Facebook in the same way.

Some people are still trying to get the organic reach and I’m going to talk about one way that you can do that a little later, but a lot of people are now focusing their effort on other platforms and upon blogging itself, which is something I’ll talk a little about later. This is I guess the big message is that we just can’t keep doing what we’ve always done on Facebook and really this is something you would have heard me talking about previously. We can’t build our whole business around any social network because we don’t control if we don’t own it, they can change the rules, we need to build our own asset, and we need to leverage these social networks as long as they last for us. That’s something we’ll talk about in next week’s episode as well. Number one theme was Facebook Armageddon.

Number two theme was a really massive theme at this conference. It’s a response to Facebook Armageddon in many ways. It was from the opening keynote right through almost every session I heard. I heard speakers talking about being real, the need to be human, the need to focus upon engagement. This is something I talked about in my session quite extensively and I talked about in last week’s episode as well.

There were two main reasons that people were arguing to be more real on social media. Firstly, it stands out. There’s so much noise, there’s so much automation, there’s so much repurposing of content, there’s so many tools now that are creating content and they’re not even human beings. Really, what is standing out in this very noisy impersonal space of social media, what stands out is people being people, people being vulnerable, people being truly interested in engagement and relationship.

This is why I did last week’s episode of the podcast, I wanted to really encourage you to show up, to show up predictably, to show up mentally, and to show up randomly. Those three things that I taught last week are really important. It’s not enough anymore just to be broadcasting—using tools—your messages. You need to show up, you need to be present and really take an approach and return to the roots of social media.

Brian Solis gave a great keynote on this particular topic, he looked back to the roots of social media and really a lot of what happened back in the day when I started out in blogging and in social media was people talking to people, it was a very conversational space, and this is why it was called social media because it was incredibly social. People responded to comments, people left comments on blogs, people shared other people’s work, people built upon other people’s ideas, there was this collaborative kind of feel about social media back then.

People were using social media to have conversations, to listen as much as they talked. Things have come and changed. Social media has become more of a megaphone-type experience. People shouting at each other and not really creating space to listen. One of the reasons that engagement is so important at the moment is that it does stand out in the midst of all the bots and all the automations and all the every three minutes a new tweet coming out of many accounts these days. What stands out is people actually engaging, asking questions, responding in personal ways.

That’s the first reason that this theme is there but the second reason is purely from a strategic point of view. Conversation is cutting through the algorithms and Facebook has told us in their latest updates that they are prioritizing engagement, they’re prioritizing conversation. If you want organic cut-through from Facebook today–I still want some, I’m not going to focus all my energy upon Facebook anymore but I still would appreciate any traffic that Facebook can give me, any cut-through that I can get–if you want that cut-through, Facebook is prioritizing conversations. They’ve told us that if you get long-form comments on your posts, on your Facebook page, it’s much more likely to be seen by other people. If you get people sharing your post with other people, that’s much more likely to be getting you extra reach. If Facebook sees on your posts people talking to each other–not just leaving a long-form comment but responding to other people’s comments–this gets more reach as well.

You can see there they’ve already told us numerous times that people talking to people is what it’s all about. On your Facebook page, you want to persist with Facebook pages, then what I encourage you to do is focus as much of your attention upon getting conversations going and getting people talking not just to you but talking to each other as much as possible.

I tested this on my Facebook Live a couple of weeks ago. I started off my live with a question. I said right from the front I asked the question. The question was designed to get people to leave a longer comment. Now this is a bit of a switch in focus. A couple of years ago, you just wanted people to leave any comment and there was a kind of a technique that many of us used back in the day where we would ask people to respond with one word to answer a question. We wanted people to answer with anything at all because that was getting more cut-through back then.

That’s not good enough anymore. If people want to leave a one-word comment it’s not really a signal to Facebook that people are engaging with you. Ask more detailed questions, ask people questions that are designed to get them to leave a few sentences, a paragraph or two. The deeper the conversation, the better. Ask questions that are designed not just to leave a question responding to you but talking to each other in some ways. Getting your readers to help one another, getting your readers to tag each other, to share with each other. This is something I’ve been trying to do more on my Facebook page over the last week or so and I’ve noticed that it does work a little bit more. I’m encouraging my readers to share the content with each other.

Now you can’t say the word ‘share’ so you got to be a bit creative about this. For example, there was a post a couple of weeks ago in my photography site where I said, “Everyone knows someone who needs to read this.” That’s a very round-about way of saying share it and what I notice is a lot more people were sharing that and tagging each other in that way.

Anything you can do to kind of build the conversation into your updates, anything you can do to build that sort of share this type of feel to it without getting explicit. You don’t want to say, “Leave a comment.” You don’t want to say, “Please share this.” Those are signals to Facebook that you’re trying to manipulate their algorithm so you kind of be a little backward in the way you do that and imply those types of things. But asking questions that will get a deeper engagement is worth putting your time into.

It’s also worth noting that Facebook have told us that this approach is going to be the emphasis of all of their products. It’s not just Facebook Pages where this is happening. This is going to be rolled out, and it probably already has been into Groups, into Facebook Live, into Facebook Stories, and—if it hasn’t already come, and some people believe it has—over onto Instagram as well. So if you’re getting those longer-form comments, if you’re getting people replying to each other in comments, these are signals to Instagram as well that are going to get you more reach too.

It’s a great way to stand out being human, being real, being engaging, but it’s also purely from an algorithmic point of view, a strategic point of view, it’s well worth of doing as well. Being human, being real was the number two trend that I’d say and I kind of feel weird saying that because we’ve been teaching on ProBlogger since 2004. It’s all about engagement. It’s one of the pillars of ProBlogging that we’ve been teaching for years, the importance of building engagement, of building community. It’s so much better than just getting empty eyeballs to your site. Do make it an emphasis going forward for yourself.

The number three thing that was a trend, and it was a trend that built upon last year’s conference, is live video. There was a big focus again this year on it. It isn’t a new thing. It certainly has been the theme over the last couple of Social Media Marketing Worlds but one of the big trends this year is that we’re now beginning to see more and more people create shows instead of just going live randomly.

One of the things that I heard taught again and again is that you need a weekly show or a daily show or you need some kind of a regular show, some people know that you’re going to show up at a certain time. It’s build into what I taught in last week’s episode about engaging predictably. You want to build that into your editorial calendar, but on top of that start throwing the random shows as well, the random lives.

Luria from Live Streaming Pros is a big believer in this. You’ve got your show but you also want to go live from time to time to share some of the back story, to share what’s happening. The combination of the regular show and the random kind of going live is a really powerful type thing. We saw more and more people actually talking about the studios that they’ve got now, so we’re seeing more and more people at the higher end setup purpose-built studios, that’s probably beyond some people, but we’re certainly seeing the emphasis upon the quality of video production going up. More and more people buying purpose-built lights, better cameras, and using systems that are very powerful to run their studios as well.

There’s also a focus this year upon not just Facebook Live but also more focus upon YouTube Live, which seems to be growing as well. The beauty of going live on YouTube is that your video then becomes a part of your video library on YouTube. Videos on YouTube do seem to have a longer life. If you go live on Facebook today, you get people viewing that video for the next day or two, and then Facebook doesn’t show it to anyone after that. People have to go digging looking for the video. But on YouTube, if you do a live video today, it will continue to get traffic to it indefinitely if it’s a good video, if it’s ranking well. YouTube is more of a search engine so people are actually going to YouTube searching for the videos. There’s perhaps less cut-through when you are going live on YouTube, but more evergreen kind of long tail views of your video as well.

Also there was a bit of an emphasis this year on Instagram Live as well. That is a platform that seems to be growing for some people as well. Since the conference, I noticed a number of my friends are using it.

It was really great to meet the team from Ecamm Live at this year’s conference. They had a booth there. I’m so impressed with this platform. If you’re on a Mac, for me it’s one of the lowest barrier to entry tools that you can use. It’s US$39.95 and it gets you a tool that is like having a little television studio in your computer. It allows you to screen share, it allows you to create overlays with comments so you can promote a comment and put it up on your screen, you can drag videos in, you can drag images in, you can interview people now in split screen using their Skype Call Recorder. It’s a great tool and I’m really impressed with that.

I’m really impressed also by where they’re going as well with their product down the track. They shared a little about where they’re going, and I don’t think they would mind me saying in they’re going to be building a YouTube Live as well, and that to me really is going to make it even better. It’s brilliant and they’re developing it really fast. Ecamm Live is that tool. Again $39.95 and that’s a one-off fee. You don’t have to pay that on a monthly or a yearly kind of subscription. Once you got it, you got it. I just cannot believe it’s so cheap.

Keeping mind with the live video that Facebook Live’s perhaps aren’t getting as much cut-through as they were a year ago. When they first released Facebook Live they were prioritizing it in their feed a lot more. To get prioritized in the feed you still need to build in that conversational element that I was talking about before. It still is powerful, not quite as powerful as it once was because there’s more people doing it today.

The fourth trend I noticed this year is something that I guess building some ways upon the idea of video and that is episodic video. This is something that Mike Stelzner talked about in his opening keynote. Many of you will know Mike, he’s been on the podcast before, he is from Social Media Examiner and in the lead up to this year’s Social Media Marketing World conference, they created a series of videos called The Journey.

In many ways the idea is that they created these episodic videos. Once a week, they released the new episode in the series. I think they’re probably about 10 minutes each, and that was designed to be watched either each week or binged upon. This is kind of the idea that they’ve taken.

Really it was the telling of the story of the creation of their conference. They talked about the ups and downs of running a conference. There were some weeks when Mike was really vulnerable with people and talked about how things had stuffed up and how things weren’t going well with ticket sales. Then there were other weeks where they took you on to the highs of it, and “Oh this week we tried this and it brought in a lot more sales.”

A lot of people this year were at the conference who attended the conference because they’ve been watching this series and have been taken on this journey which is what it was called. I do recommend you check out The Journey and I’ll link to it in today’s show notes. I talked to a number of people who said they watched that journey series with their kids like a television show and they binged upon it. They watched three or four hours in a row of these episodes. It’s kind of pretty amazing to see the results of that case study.

They’re not the first people to use video in this way. Gary Vaynechuk has been doing this type of thing for a year or two, showing behind-the-scenes of his life and the talks that he does. But what Social Media Examiner did with The Journey was really almost create a television show that people are now binging upon. It’s great for story-telling, great for building credibility, great for helping people to know you and humanizing your brand. It is a higher investment though and they actually hired a videographer to do it. So it’s possibly a little bit out of range for people like myself. I’m not in a position to hire someone to follow me around. I don’t think I’ve got an interesting enough life to have someone follow me around but there are ways to create episodic content.

And that leads me to the fifth thing I want to talk about, and that is the rise in stories, story-style content. We saw probably two years, three years ago at Social Media Marketing World the rise of SnapChat. Everyone was on SnapChat. Everyone was talking about their Snaps. I never really got it myself. I only really begun to get these idea of story content once it came to Instagram. Last year’s conference, there was a major focus on Instagram Stories versus SnapChat and people saying, “Oh, Instagram stole the idea from SnapChat,” and possibly they did, but there was a debate whether SnapChat would survive this or not.

This year there was a real feel at the conference that SnapChat’s perhaps is on the way out. I think one of the Kardashians declared it dead and knocked its stock price right down but certainly we saw this year the rise in people talking about Instagram Stories, and to a lesser degree, Facebook Stories as well. I lost count of the amount of people who told me that they’re getting great results from Instagram Stories, particularly those who were using it to drive traffic to things that they were doing in their business.

I think once you have 10,000 followers on Instagram and if you have a business account, I think that’s the qualification you can use, the swipe up feature which allows you to put a link in so people could go and check out what you’re doing. It’s pretty much the only way to get people to visit your blog or to visit your sales page from Instagram except from using your profile link. A lot of people now are using stories to call people to action. We’re talking about how they were designing and crafting sequences of stories to take their audience on a journey. So it’s not just people saying, “This is what I’m doing,” or, “this is what I’m eating,” or, “this is what my cat did,” anymore. It’s actually people designing and crafting an experience for their followers, to not just tell the backstory of their life but to actually present information and take their readers on a journey in some way.

In some ways it’s what Mike was talking about with episodic content but it’s something we’ve all got in our phones that we can do in other easy way and people getting really, really creative with their stories. The other thing that people are telling me is that more and more people now are familiar with the stories. Probably a year ago people saw the stories little circles in Instagram account and didn’t know what they were, didn’t know how to use them but now it’s being adopted and I suspected there are some people who are using the stories more than they are using anything else on Instagram, so big area of growth.

Of course we’ve also seen Facebook now introducing stories as well and I’m told in the last few days by people that now Facebook pages can potentially do stories as well. Hopefully we’ll see that continue to mature as a platform too.

The sixth thing I want to talk about are bots and messenger marketing. This is something that came up many times at the conference this year. It was talked about from the keynote stage. There was a whole stream of content pretty much on bots. Now I’m not talking about Twitter bots, Russian Twitter bots. I’m talking about bots that are used in messaging apps, particularly in Facebook Messenger, I think WhatsApp perhaps as well. This is something that has really been on the rise since last year’s conference. It was talked about last year but this year a lot more people have taken it and have run with it.

This what I was talking about before. I go to this conference to hear about what’s coming, the new emerging trends. I don’t tend to jump on in the first year. I tend to wait and see what people have done with them and jump on about a year later. That puts me slightly behind the curve in some ways and perhaps it’s a disadvantage but one of the things I’ve learned is there’s always a new trend coming and not all of them take off, and not all of them are going to suit my business. So I tend to hang back for a year and then wait a see what people are doing and then implement after that.

This is one of the things I think now is maturing and there’s opportunities that are definitely there for bloggers. It almost flies a little in the face though of one of the things I talked about earlier, and that is focusing upon being real and being human. Some people would argue–and I’ve heard people argue–that bots are the opposite of that. How can a bot be real? How can a bot be human? How can a bot be truly engaging?

There’s a few things I’d say about that. One, the bots are actually getting pretty good at being engaging and some of the technologies are amazing but I guess the main thing I would say is that I see the place of a bot as being getting people to the engagement. If you use it in small ways to drive people to real engagement, that’s a very powerful thing.

For example, a really small example, last week in my Facebook Live I set up a bot using a tool called ManyChat. If anyone left a comment and the comment I think the word was “alert me,” if anyone said “alert me” in the comments of that Facebook Live, this bot sent them a message inviting them to be alerted of anytime I would go live on Facebook. So anytime I go live on Facebook anyone who used the word “alert me” back then is going to get a message in their Messenger saying “Darren’s about to go live.”

That is a bot driving people to real life engagement. I think that type of use of a bot is one way you can actually drive people to those engaging experiences, drive people to the things they actually want. I think the best way to use a bot is to solve a problem. One of the problems I was solving there is that people tell me every time I go live, “Ah I didn’t realize you were going live today,” and, “Facebook didn’t really alert me like I ask them to,” or, “they alerted me too late.” Actually solving a problem with the bot in some way.

I can see bloggers using bots in a variety of ways. You could set up a bot to notify people when you publish content, when a live event is happening, when a podcast is released. You could set up a bot to introduce new readers to your old content. You could setup a bot to help people keep on track when running a challenge.

The key I think is to get people on the same page as you, as to what to expect from the bot. So when you invite people to subscribe to your bot, don’t just say, “Hey subscribe to my bot,” and then not telling them what’s going to happen. Tell them, “If you subscribe to this bot I’ll let you know when I go live,” or “you will be alerted when I have a new podcast,” or “you will get a sequence of messages from me that will walk you through this type of content.” You want to be really clear.

In many ways the bot I see it is very similar to an email list, really. You can use an email list to send broadcast, you can use an email list to send people through a sequence of emails to an autoresponder, and you can do the same type of things with bots. You probably don’t just want one bot that is going to do it all because that is just going to annoy everyone if you start doing all those things to everyone who subscribes. You probably want to set up bots that tag people with their particular interest, so you only interrupt them in Messenger when you’ve got something relevant to say to them and to their needs.

If you want to check out who’s doing some good stuff with bots as far as I can see is Gary Vaynechuk–I’ve mentioned him twice today. Gary has been pushing really hard on this at the moment. He set up a Facebook Messenger community which he calls First In Line. If you do a Google for that, you’ll find it. It’s really to help his followers, and his followers, his fans are crazy, they’re rabid, they’re enthusiastic but it’s to give them the information that they want.

I can link to the sign-up page for this in the show notes today but you’ll see he asks for a lot of information. He asks for their name, he ask for their phone number, he asks for the things they’re interested in and what I suspect he’s doing there is tagging people who follow his bot with what they want to hear. So he says are you interested in my books? Are you interested in my speaking? My events? Are you interested in my sneakers? Because he’s got a sneaker line now. I suspect what I’m going to get from following him from that bot is information that I’ve tagged as I’m interested in. I think to me that’s a really smart way of setting up a bot.

This is the space that I think will develop a lot in the next year or so. The tools that I’ve used so far, ManyChat that’s the main one. A number of my friends are using what’s called ChatFuel. I can link to those in the show notes today.

The seventh thing that I want to talk about is kind surprising to me and I didn’t go expecting to hear much about this or to see that this is a theme, but I was really pleased to hear it and you’ll know why when I tell it to you. The seventh theme is that blogging is back. I don’t think that it really went away but this year I saw a renewed interest in blogging and I think one of the reasons for this is Facebook Armageddon.

People are realizing finally the power of having your own blog. Having something set up on your own domain, on your own servers, where you control the rules, where you can do what you want, where you are not filtered by algorithms. I am so glad that people are finally getting this message. I have more people coming to my session this year than in previous years. I had so many people come up to me and say, “I’m getting back into blogging,” “I’m bringing my old blog back to life,” or “I’m starting a new blog.”

People want to control their destiny. They’re feeling scattered across the internet. They are on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and podcast, and they’re all in these different places. They want a home base for all their stuff. They want to build their own asset and people are realizing that a blog is a great thing to have. People are realizing that with the rise of video content, that written content isn’t going away as well. We’re actually not just seeing the rise of blogging and vlogging or podcast blogs but we’re also seeing the return I think to written content as well, which I’m so excited about because it’s my first love as well.

There are the seven big trends I noticed this year. Number one was Facebook Armageddon. Number two was the return and the rise of being real, transparent, vulnerable, and human. Number three was the rise of live video and the continuing rise and the maturing of that platform. Number four is episodic video which is something that’s perhaps a little bit more high-end but is a powerful thing. Bouncing off the back of that, the rise of stories, styled content in Instagram and Facebook. Number six is bots and messenger marketing, and using those to support your business. And then number seven was that blogging is back.

Now, as I said at the top of this week’s show, next week’s episode, episode 241, I want to answer some questions that I know many of you probably are asking right now, and I heard many people asking at the end of Social Media Marketing World, and that is, “What should I focus my time on?” You just heard seven things that you could be focusing your time on. Should you be creating episodic content? Should you be doing Insta-stories or blogging or podcasting or vlogging or—

And there’s all the other social networks I haven’t mentioned. There are sessions on Pinterest, there are sessions on YouTube, there are sessions on a variety of different platforms. What you should be focusing upon? That’s what I want to talk about in next week’s episode. I want to give you some thoughts on how I make that kind of decision for my business and how I recommend to other people to do that as well.

So please make sure you’re subscribed. If you are listening to the podcast for the first time, there’s 239 other episodes you can dig back and listen to. Also if you would please take a moment or two just to rate and review this podcast in iTunes or whatever app you use to subscribe as well. You can also leave a comment on the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/240 where we have a full transcript of the show today and I link to all the things that I’ve mentioned as well.

Lastly, if you got a moment and you know someone who might be helped by this podcast episode or the whole podcast, please consider sharing it as well. I’ve just given you 10 calls to action which breaks every rule that I’ve got but if you have a moment or two to take any of those actions, I would greatly appreciate it. I really mainly look forward to chatting with you next week in episode 241. Thanks for listening. Chat with you then.

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5 Ways Marketers Can Improve Engagement in Social Media

5 Ways Marketers Can Improve Engagement in Social Media

It should be abundantly clear by now that unless they offer great content, organizations are not going to be able to engage with clients through social media. Recently, we saw that content engagement across social media had dropped by 50 percent in the past three years according to recent research from Buzzsuma. Julianne Coyne, SEO

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