Everyone has their way of deciding who’s worth following on Twitter and why. Here are three ways to judge.
1. Ratios. These are wonderful ways to compare one aspect of a Twitter user to another. The most reliable ratio is “Followers” to “Following.” Divide the number of Followers by the number of people Followed. At a minimum, the number should be greater than “1″ and I prefer numbers closer to 2 or 3. Typically, the greater the number, the more influential the profile. Most news sites have higher scores. @abcnews follows 68 profiles (Jan 2010) yet has more than a million followers (14,700:1). TV news profiles get followers from widespread media exposure. Same with well-known authors, screen personalities and so on. Spammers will follow large numbers of profiles, knowing many of those profiles will follow back. Spammers almost always have low ratios of .985 or less because they are selling products and seminars. For them, the number of followers is all that counts — more followers = more sales. You can use ratios of 0.985 or less to gauge how likely you are to be “sold to.” Low numbers = more sales pitches; higher numbers, less sales. On average. Truly worthwhile “experts” will have ratios of 10 or more. That tells me they are getting lots of publicity through events, radio, seminars and are delivering outstanding value to their followers.
2. Quality of Followers. You’re about to pay $75 for Social Media traing when you decide to look at your speaker’s profile on Twitter. Do they have a large number of foreign followers? Particularly from India or Russia? This could be a sign they are paying sites to generate large numbers of “fake” followers — empty profiles used to pump up the numbers. Are a lot of the followers young, attractive women soliciting their companionship? Or are there lots of profiles selling vitamins and skin cream? Be wary of social media “experts” who excel at attracting spammers. Ask yourself, “how many of this profile’s followers are like me?” The more in common you have with the other followers, the more relevant the content will be for you.
3. Engagement. How often does a profile engage directly with their followers? I want to follow people who are reaching out to other people. I want to follow conversations. I want to see how people respond to content, and to each other. Some profiles have a policy of not following anyone, using their feed to strictly disseminate news. That might be fine for some, but it gives a profile an “old media” personality, the old-fashioned “one-to-many” model of so many newspapers. It’s like going to a cocktail party and having a guest just sit there and blather on and on about themselves. Isn’t the purpose of conversation to bounce ideas off of other real people?
How do you evaluate Twitter profiles? What tricks of the trade have you learned? Leave me a Comment to share what’s working for you.
An effective positioning statement includes four things:
- Your customers
- The problem you’re going to solve
- Why you’re different
- Your competition
A positioning statement is for internal use only. It is not a “mission statement,” a “tag line,” an “elevator pitch” or anything for selling purposes. Those materials require language intended for external audiences. This is for internal audiences only.
A positioning statement is used to provide guidance during a marketing campaign. Every company and every product will have its own positioning statement. It ensures everyone is working from the same page and toward the same goals.
A positioning statement must be credible. It is not hopeful thinking; it is grounded in truth.
Define Your Customer
Your ideal customer is the person who you can help best, and in return, will receive maximum benefit from your products or services. Who are you trying to serve with your business?
Define What Your Customer Wants or Needs
People will pay a fortune to solve an immediate problem, but will hardly invest a dollar to prevent a problem from happening. What is the urgent desire or pain point that your ideal customer is experiencing right now that you can make better immediately. What is the compelling reason that customers buy from you?
Define Your Product Category
Be clear about who you are—and who you are not. If you don’t, your customers will decide for you, and it may work against you!
Remember, the human mind will categorize things. Your customers will label you in their minds, and they can only remember one thing about you at a time.
Tell your customers how you want to be remembered. Make it something familiar and easy to remember. Otherwise they will reject your label and come up with their own substitution. Be strategic and simple.
Define Your Key Benefit
Make sure your key benefit addresses the true needs and desires of your target customer. Look beyond the obvious. What secret hopes, dreams, fears or frustrations are your customers really dealing with?
Define Your Competition
Who do your customers think of when they think about your product or service category? Who do you lose the most sales to? This might be a single entity, or an industry. If you’re a local provider, you might need to distinguish yourself from larger, more well-known brands. Be specific.
What Makes You Different?
Tell your customers what sets you apart, and make sure that reason resonates with the reasons they need or want your product or service.
Now, tie it all together. Finalize your positioning statement. Sit on it for a couple of days, then look at it again. Are you being clear about who your customers really are? Are you able to succinctly define your key benefit? Does the value you provide align to the needs and desires of your customers? Are you able to explain what makes you different from the competition.
Download my Product Positioning worksheet to help you through this process. Or, leave a comment below with your questions or suggestions.
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I was recently asked by a client where I thought the company’s mission and values statement should go on their Web site. A marketing agency should first consider how that content will support an overall Web content strategy.
Should You Publish Your Mission Statement?
You might have one and not even realize it! I say that because every business Web site has the same essential content goals — attract Web visitors and build relationships. Everything else, especially selling products, is secondary to those two things. Nothing else can happen, really, before those two things take place. So perhaps its more accurate to say that every Web site just has one goal: to build relationships with human beings.
Let’s look at an example for an e-commerce Web site. If, for example, you are trying to sell products, you won’t be able to sell anything people until you first draw customers to your Web site. Obvious, right? So how is your content attracting people? How are you explaining what your product is, what your product does and what your price point is? How are you collecting address and shipping information? The visual impact and style of this content forms your first impression and defines the beginning of your relationship with customers.
Once you accept the purpose of all Web content, you can begin to define your content strategy for your own particular Web site. A content strategy is simply a formal or informal document that identifies what type of information goes where and why. It ensures that every piece of information serves a clear purpose and that any non-essential information is left out. And what you leave out can sometimes say more about you than the information you publish! At Kinoshita Communications, we provide a complete, cohesive content strategy to every one of our content marketing clients. Request yours today!
Decide Content with the Reader in Mind (not your CEO!)
In developing your content strategy, remember that Web users will scan your pages quickly, making decisions about whether to stay in 5 seconds or less. Just because space on the Web is unlimited, the attention span of the reader is not. So how are you using that time effectively? Will publishing your mission and values statements help hold the Web visitor or lose them?
In this case, the client I mentioned at the beginning wanted their mission and values statements published because they wanted to distinguish themselves from the competition. The core values demonstrated –-to internal and external groups — their philosophy of service. In that way, the content became an important part of the company’s branding strategy.
However, each organization needs to evaluate whether it makes sense to publish strategic planning documents. Some believe the public nature keeps management and employees committed during periods of change. And, if a reader has shown interest in learning about you, then it definitely doesn’t hurt to include your mission and core values. But first make sure your content is tuned to the reader’s interest. In developing your Web content strategy, tell your reader what they need to know, but only at the time and place in which they need to know it. You may discover you need to move content from your landing page to a more suitable navigation area, or pull it out of the archives and feature more prominently.
Depending on your business, your customers probably aren’t hearing from you as often as they need to. Here is some marketing agency advice for getting the most out of your email marketing communications.
Remember, “out of sight is out of mind.” So remind your customers about the value you bring to their lives on a regular basis.
You wouldn’t go more than two weeks without talking to your good friend, so why go several weeks without talking to your best customers?
Ask your marketing agency partner for an editorial calendar that can help you do this on a regular basis.
Here are some more tips for what’s working best in e-mail marketing right now:
Send some type of communication every 10 to 14 days, as long as it makes sense for your business. If you sell mattresses, furniture or cars, monthly or quarterly communication will make more sense.
Remember, it’s not just your customers that you’re communicating to, but also their family and friends. So even if someone just bought a car from you it still makes sense to stay in touch, because soon that person will be talking about their purchase with their friends and colleagues.
Most businesses send their newsletters out monthly, but research shows you’ll get better results if your prospects hear from you more often. But be realistic about what you can sustain over time. You can brainstorm a list of topics to write about based on the content needs of your customers. Just remember, shorter is better. If you are feeling overwhelmed with information, then your customers are too!
The ideal mix is a blend of educational and branding content mixed in with a promotion to support sales (coupons, giveaways, sweepstakes, etc.). Your educational and branding information should outweigh promotional content by a ratio of 8:2 or 9:1.
Remember to include information about your upcoming events. Your ultimate goal is to inform and entertain (and in most cases people want to be entertained more than they want to be informed!) You can also include surveys or encourage customers to submit questions that you’ll answer in a future newsletter.
If you’re struggling for ideas about what to write about, keep a list of questions that many customers ask you about on a regular basis. Ask your staff about the most common topics customers ask about, or keep a manila folder nearby to drop ideas into when they come up during the day. If they have an interesting conversation, that could be a topic for the newsletter. Listen to your customers for ideas. You can also look in online forums and online discussion rooms about topics relating to your industry. LinkedIn Answers is a great resource for finding industry topics that people are talking about.
It’s okay to write your newsletter like a personal e-mail. Remember, value is not just useful content. People get value from being able to connect to other people on a personal and meaningful level. Especially in this technology age. People enjoy stories. Real value comes from learning who you and your company are as people. The personal connection becomes the most important element of “value”.
E-mail is a personal, one-to-one communications channel. Most newsletters focus too much on providing “value” but forget to add in the personal aspect. Make the personal aspect part of your unique brand.
The trend these days is away from long newsletters and toward shorter, more frequent blog posts. Are you suffering from information overload? Well, your customers are too! Instead of sending out monthly or quarterly newsletters with 1,500 words or more, consider if you could chunk your content down into shorter, more frequent e-mails instead. Or better yet, consider if your “newsletter” could be a short personal update with link to your latest blog article.
It’s good to have at least one picture to capture and draw interest in your content, just make sure your logo doesn’t dominate the entire e-mail preview pane window. Make sure your text at the top of your newsletter includes the name of your business and the first few lines of your content so that recipients can see your most valuable information first.
Text-only format works extremely well, too, and has been found to be the most compatible across all e-mail platforms.
“From” and “Subject” Line Fields:
The first two questions people ask themselves when they get any e-mail is: 1) Do I know this person? and 2) Do I care? Make sure your “from” and subject line fields answer both questions convincingly.
Use your real name and company name in your from line. Then, grab attention and tell your customers what the value will be in opening your message. “How to save 40% or more on your next installation.”
Just like anything else in your business, a little planning ahead will allow you to break larger concepts down into manageable tasks. That’s the secret behind putting together a killer content strategy for your website. Once you have your editorial calendar in place, you’ll have the added relief of not having to kick yourself when you miss an important event or milestone that your competitors have flawlessly executed. We all know that feeling.
So, how do Inbound Marketers use editorial calendars?
An editorial calendar is used by businesses and bloggers to control the publication of content across various media such as email, blogs, and social media. There are many different styles of creating an editorial calendar, but the main goal is create a content strategy ahead of time, allowing for stress free execution of stellar content.
What are the marketing benefits of editorial calendars?
By creating an editorial calendar, you are giving your marketing team the gift of time. Time to delegate tasks, time to photograph, time to edit, and time to go back and change things around. There’s nothing worse than being in a time crunch and feeling obligated to post something that isn’t your best.
An editorial calendar also gives your marketing team the benefit of a regular schedule, which not only benefits you and your business, but also lets your audience know how often you’ll be posting and when to come back. Cha-ching!
How do I create an editorial calendar?
Choose your platform. An editorial calendar is something that can be tweaked and adjusted as you see fit. Many companies use excel spreadsheets, while others use downloaded applications or software. Some even stay as simple as using an actual calendar – which is just fine. How you decide to set yours up is up to you.
Plan ahead. Many suggest looking 3 months ahead of time when planning an editorial calendar. Take cultural events and community milestones into consideration. What is your plan for New Year’s or Valentine’s Day? Is there another important event happening in your community or field in the next three months? For example, a bakery might want to know when National Cupcake Day is. If the bakery across the street is giving away free cupcakes, and you haven’t planned or promoted a thing, you may be feeling a little defeated that day. Don’t let that happen!
Gather your team. It’s important to meet with your team every month to discuss the current calendar month, along with topics and events for the following two months. This is also a great time to brainstorm different strategies, while determining various roles leading to final execution and deadline dates. When you have your team involved, no task seems too big.
Set goals, but be flexible. The whole point of creating an editorial calendar is so goals are set in place and are easy to accomplish. But don’t forget, it’s ok to be flexible. With time on your side, it’s ok to change things around if something isn’t working out. Find what works for you and your team, and stick to it. Challenges are great, but only if they’re beneficial and attainable.
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Kinoshita Communications is seeking an Account Administrator (1-3 years experience) to grow with our marketing agency.
We are looking for a dynamic professional who can consistently portray a positive "can-do" attitude and is highly committed to their career, clients and colleagues.
Applicants must be based on the Island of Hawaii. We are especially looking for applicants in the 96740, 96743, 96738, 96755, 96750, 96725, 96727 and 96719 zip codes.
What Will You Be Doing?
The primary role in this position will be as a meeting recorder for client meetings on Hawaii Island, and the timely preparation of detailed minutes immediately following each meeting.
This position requires travel by car 2-3x per month to North Kohala, Waikoloa and Waimea areas and attending meetings in the afternoon (2-5pm) and early evening (6-9pm).
You must attend, facilitate and assist others with the preparation and staffing for meetings on specific dates, which will be provided to you after you fill out the form below.
You will also need to support the preparation of three annual reports summarizing progress of the meetings and next steps. We will look to you to provide input and ideas toward strategies for successful outcomes.
The ideal candidate will enjoy working with diverse groups of people, be comfortable asking questions, and have experience with consensus-based decision-making. Grant-writing and/or technical writing experience is a huge plus (but not required) as is the ability to host and moderate community meetings and events.
You will need to show careful attention to detail, enjoy writing (a lot!) and be able to work with clients over the phone and via Web-based software. This is an ongoing Casual/On-Call position and you will be part of a virtual team. We work best with enthusiastic, positive and highly professional personalities.
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What do you do when you get an invitation from someone on LinkedIn that you don’t really know?
Perhaps its someone in the same industry, or a person connected to someone else that you might know quite well. Should you link with them?
I think this is a personal choice, but for LinkedIn I think there's rarely harm in connecting to people you don't know all that well, especially if you want to get to know them better!
If the person requesting a connection has high-quality, established relationships, it's usually to your advantage to accept. However, if the person is relatively young or inexperienced, or someone who may be overly agressive in outreach (such as a salesperson or job applicant), it may NOT be to your benefit. Here's why:
Linking to someone gives people the ability to see (and potentially prospect with) each other's contacts. They can request introductions or see detailed profile information. In most cases this will not present a problem, but sometimes it could put you in an awkward situation, especially if you don't know the person well. In general, I recommend "protecting" the quality of your professional network by connecting to people you generally believe to be worthwhile. You are who you associate with, in my opinion.
On the other hand, some people believe connecting to as many people as possible exponentially increases the number of opportunities for their business to be found online. Consider your goals. Increasing your network will expand your realm of possibilities, but it will also generate more "noise."
I almost always accept invites from people I know or who I've exchanged emails with. But when I get a request from a person I've never heard of, it makes me suspicious. Usually I can trace the invitation back to a group or common interest. But if we have nothing in common, it makes me think I'm being targeted for spam, or worse.
Don't forget that LinkedIn is not the only way people have for contacting you. Sometimes you might want to keep relationships to Twitter or your blog before you accept someone into your professional network on LinkedIn.
Treat your relationships on LinkedIn the way you treat relationships in real life, and you'll rarely run into problems.
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- by Laura Kinoshita
Don Bartholomew wrote a fantastic article that explains why Ad Equivalency Value is OUT. This notion that PR firms can total up column inches, research the equivalent advertising cost (based on the rack rate) and then multiply that number by whatever multiplier they think is fair (usually between 3 and 5) has been shown to be misleading at best and fraudulent at worst.
David Michaelson, member of the Institute for Public Relations’ Commission on PR Measurement & Evaluation, says the reason for this “lack of understanding by practitioners of best practices or fundamental research practices.” Michaelson and Dr. Don W. Stacks of the University of Miami Communications Department conducted a groundbreaking research project that found.
“No statistically significant difference between ad and editorial in an experiment focused on key measures of credibility, knowledge, interest and purchase intent.”
Thereby eliminating all justification for AVE in public relations!
Copyright (c) Don Bartholomew,
Instead, PR practitioners must focus on the total value their efforts contribute to an entire organization. Don developed the concept of the Total Value Cube to help visualize these benefits, which include brand and reputation, engagement, influence and action. It also looks at cost savings and cost avoidance.
If you are still measuring results at the output-level only, realize that in these cost-saving times you will soon be responsible for measuring and validating levels of engagement, influence and action (changes in behavior).
If you fail to do these three things well, expect to have your department downsized or cut altogether.
1. Define the problem
A "problem statement" begins as a "crisis" that must immediately be addressed, or a situation that may soon develop into a crisis. In proactive environments, a problem statement may describe a situation that could be improved. In writing a problem statement, describe the situation in specific and measurable terms. For example, what is the source of the problem and who is involved? How are they involved? Why is this problem a concern for the organization? Do not place blame or include solutions in your problem statement.
Often overlooked, research is the foundation for your marketing and public relations efforts. Be sure you understand the reserach questions and that your approaches increase your understanding of the situation. Don't overlook informal methods such as personal contacts, key informants and community forums.
3. Define Your Target Audiences
Know your publics. Create a customer avatar to accurately understand your constituencies problems, frustrations and top areas of concern. Your organization has multiple publics it must communicate with -- customers, employees, shareholders, investors, donors, etc. List out each audience and rank them by priority. Include all the people between the organization and teh customer who have an influence on the buying (or donating) process. Identify everyone who has the opportunity to provide credibility to the product, the market and the organization.
4. Identify Your Key Messages
Tailor your message to your unique audiences, interests, specific problems, communication preferences and news environment. A strategic message framework will help your team stay on the same page, with messages that support underlying business goals.
5. Have a Positioning Statement
Use a positioning statement to ensure you understand who you are talking to, what problems you solve and what makes you different. The positioning statement is not a document that is made public, but a way to align communication efforts and stay on task.
6. Use SMART Objectives
SMART objectives are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-based. If you are a budget manager for a PR firm, beware of vague objectives! Beware of objectives that focus on tactics, rather than outcomes. Useful objectives will focus on knowledge outcomes, opinion/attitude outcomes or behaviorial outcomes.
7. Plan Strategically
"We get paid for results, not planning." A dollar spent on research and planning is one less dollar for implementing tactical activities. However, this leads to counting activities, rather than counting results. When clients can't understand how tactics (Facebook fans or Twitter followers) directly link to business outcomes (knowledge/behavior/opinion) they grow weary of large monthly retainers. Having a strategic plan is your best defense. Planning also prepares you for contingencies if conditions unexpectedly change (new CEO).
It's not the number of activities you generate, but the outcomes those activities generate. Strong execution reinforces messages up and down the line using multiple techniques and channels. Tactics such as grand openings, events, press releases and social media each have their own purpose and place. Your marketing director needs to clearly understand which channels, media and techniques to use at different stages of a campaign, and how to mobilize those forces effectively and efficiently.
"You can't measure public relations." "You can't see the results of public relations." "It's intangible." Nonsense. Changes in behavior, knowledge, opinions and attitudes can be measured. There are many books, journal articles, national gatherings and guidelines all directed toward evaluation research. My experience is PR departments avoid evalation so they can avoid accountability. Budget 5% of your budget for evaluation, and build it into your plan from the beginning.
10. Prepare for Additional Concerns
Be prepared for overwhelming good and bad seasons. Crisis planning must be proactive. Plan now to avoid irreparable harm to your reputation in the future. Also, consider an employee relations program. Not communicating well with your employees can harbor ill will and resentment that will spill over into front-line relationships with customers. Not communicating well to your own employees can cause your company to loose large accounts.
What other tips can you share?
Write your tips below.