Embroiled WeWork CEO Resigns as Reports of Drug Use and Bizarre Behavior Surface

The Demise of WeWork’s Adam Neumann

The writing was on the wall as a failed IPO, massive workforce layoff, and staggering company devaluation ($47 billion to $15 billion) all combined to catalyze the resignation of embattled Israeli co-founder and CEO, Adam Neumann. WeWork, the co-working conglomerate catering to hip freelancers and remote workers, has been on a dizzying slide the last few months, with deep market criticism of their planned IPO making headlines almost daily.

“While our business has never been stronger, in recent weeks, the scrutiny directed toward me has become a significant distraction, and I have decided that it is in the best interest of the company to step down as chief executive,” Neumann said in a statement.

Critics assert that WeWork is an office subleasing company masquerading as a tech giant; the entity acts as little more than a landlord and should be valued as such.

Scoffs at the very notion that WeWork should be considered and valued as anything besides a real estate business dealing almost exclusively in physical space grew boisterous recently as Neumann embarked on an eccentric, at times desperate, promo tour ahead of the failed IPO launch. Silicon Valley is no stranger to tech companies employing erratic chief execs, often embracing the bizarre behavior of the likes of Elon Musk. But Neumann was no Musk. He was not building electric cars. He was not building rockets. Hell, Neumann wasn’t creating anything. WeWork can try as they might to convince the Valley that they are a tech company, but they are simply a very sexy, very hip, office space landlord. With kombucha!

Neumann’s tragic fall was fast tracked when The Wall Street Journal ran an piece detailing some of the ex-CEO’s personal scandals. Specifically, the WSJ exposed an incident from last summer in which Neumann and friends smuggled a sizeable haul of weed aboard a private trans-Atlantic flight. The jet owner recalled the plane, and left Neumann and crew in Israel to find their own way back to New York City.

Still, WeWork and Neumann continued their eccentric roadshow in anticipation of a wildly overpriced IPO debut, and the company filed its IPO paperwork in August. WeWork’s plan to go public collapsed rapidly in the wake of the official filing after heated criticism and waning investor interest threatened the company’s capacity to raise the $3 billion necessary to access its $6 billion credit line.

Silicon Valley venture-capital market was reluctant to bite. Investors weren’t convinced WeWork was a tech company. And here’s the rub: The tried-and-true property industry wasn’t interested either, because WeWork had so thoroughly convinced enough people that it was a tech company that its price-tag had spiked too high.

Spiraling losses, increasingly bizarre behavior, and questionable corporate governance combined with an exodus of top staffers, including the departures of more than a dozen top officials, to seal Neumann’s fate. On August 15th, Morgan Stanley backed out of the IPO after losing the lead underwriter role in the deal. In late August, #WeWTF started trending online as an NYU professor demolished the company’s valuation. After some tumultuous talks with SoftBank, WeWork’s largest shareholder, the company halved the initial IPO valuation hoping to encourage investor interest, to no avail. The IPO was put on hold, and the board formally announced changes to company governance, including Neumann’s authority. Neumann’s voting power was slashed to 10 votes per share, and Neumann’s wife Rebekah was banned from the board.

On September 16th, Reuters reported that WeWork’s IPO was indefinitely delayed, and the company’s delayed plan to go public decimated bond prices. WeWork’s bonds fell as much as 7 cents on the dollar, the most since they were issued in April 2018. Finally, on September 24th, Neumann announced he was stepping down from his role as WeWork CEO. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Tuesday that Neumann would step down as WeWork CEO, but remain chairman of the We Company, with reports stating Sebastian Gunningham and Artie Minson, two current executives at the company, have been named co-chief executives.

More to come as this unfolds.

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Just Because You Can Buy An Email List, Doesn’t Mean You Should

A lot of my clients come to me asking how to quickly grow their email list, and want to know if they can buy an email list rather than build one from scratch. My answer? Yeah, you can buy an email list, but that doesn’t mean you should.

It’s an all too familiar feeling for marketers: maybe you’ve just started with a new company or closed a new freelance client; specifically, a company or client that is just starting to build an email list from the ground up. You’re faced with the daunting, uphill, and tedious task of growing said list from zero to hero. Oh, and they want it done, like, yesterday. No pressure.

Sometimes, desperation can motivate irrrational behavoir. Sometimes, you think, it’s okay to take a short cut to produce, at surface level, the results your client wants. Optics, baby. The short cut in question: can’t you just buy an email list, rather than grow it organically?

Yeah, you can buy an email list. You can specify key demographics and characteristics that the contacts on that list must meet, and you can select for psychographic information, too. But, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Here’s why.

Seven Reasons You Should Never Buy Your Email List

  1. You violate the rules of consent under The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Under this act, you must have explicit consent from your contacts to send them emails. Explicit, in this case, means the checkbox a person must click to opt in to an email subscription isn’t pre-checked when they see it on your website. And when you buy your email lists, the people on it haven’t been given this option — making you non-compliant with GDPR before you send your first email.
  2. Reputable email marketing services don’t let you send emails to lists you’ve bought. If you’re using email marketing software now or plan to in the future, you’ll find that reputable companies will insist that you use opt-in email lists. Why waste your time on sending out a campaign that won’t even get to your contacts’ inbox?
  3. Good email address lists aren’t for sale. Unless your company is in the middle of a merger or acquisition, you’re not going to come across a high-quality email list you can purchase. If it’s for sale, it means the email addresses on it have already been deemed non-responsive or unqualified for marketing outreach.
  4. People on a purchased or rented list don’t actually know you. Even if the opt-in process includes language like, “Opt in to receive information from us, or offers from other companies we think you might enjoy,” the fact is the recipient doesn’t recall having a prior relationship with you, specifically. This makes it highly likely for the recipients to mark you as “spam” when you arrive in their inboxes. Hey, if they don’t recognize you or remember opting in to communications from you … can you blame them?
  5. You’ll harm your email deliverability and IP reputation. If you purchase a list, you have no way of confirming how often those email addresses have been emailed, whether the email addresses on that list have been scrubbed for hard bounces to prevent identifying you as a spammer, or from where those email addresses originated. Are you really willing to risk not only your email deliverability, but also the reputation of your IP address and your company?
  6. You can come across as annoying. How do you like it when you get an email in your inbox from a company you’ve never heard of? I bet that’s not the kind of company you want to buy from or work for. Enough said.
  7. Your email service provider can penalize you. Buying email lists doesn’t just damage your deliverability and brand reputation — it can also put your email account at risk. Email clients like Gmail, Yahoo!, and Outlook don’t want to be associated with accounts that recipients repeatedly flag as spam.

Generating your own list of email contacts who have opted in to receive content from you doesn’t just comply with legal regulation and protect your brand reputation. It also presents you with opportunities to grow this list through genuine relationships with new customers.

The contacts on your email list have to be actively engaged with your content. They should be earnestly interested in that content, too. Your email list should be comprised of contacts that have opted in to receive content from you, because those are the contacts that have raised their hand and said “Tell me more!” Sharing targeted and thoughtful content with these high quality contacts will allow you to nurture a genuine relationship and increase the odds that those contacts might convert to customers.

Remember, content is king, but community should never be ignored. Create real relationships with real contacts, build a quality email list, and nurture that list as you would water a vegetable garden. Then, sit back and watch it grow.

We’ll be sharing some of our best practices for growing your opt-in email list, the right way, over the next few weeks. If this is a pain point for you, consider joining our updates list and get these articles delivered right to your inbox.

What are your best practices when building your email list?

How High Will Lyft Fly? Ride-Hailing App’s IPO Debut Pops 20% On Friday


The market has spoken, and the battle of the ride share apps has culminated in a runaway success for Lyft, as the company’s debut on the public market raised about $2.3 billion on Friday. The highly-anticipated initial public offering was fueled by a heavy appetite for the stock, exceeding analysts’ initial projections and selling over 32 million shares at $72 a piece. As trading began, stock prices briefly topped out at $87 a share, settling at around $80 a share by 2 p.m. EST.

The first of many “disruptive” tech companies anticipated to go public this year, Lyft beat competitor Uber to the punch despite filing for their IPO on the same December afternoon. Details released prior to the start of trading revealed lightning in a bottle for Lyft: its IPO prospectus revealed robust revenues despite posting big losses in 2018.

John Zimmer, Lyft’s co-founder and president, told CNBC on Friday morning that the company was excited, sharing “We’re ready to be held accountable. We’re excited … In our case, I think what we’ve seen in talking to investors [is] that more people are maybe surprised to see the numbers that we’re putting out and I think this is a great part of the process. For us this wasn’t the goal — this is a milestone along the way — but we feel like it helps us with additional access to capital.”

Still to be determined, though, is how the stock will perform when competitor Uber enters the public market in April. Similarly positioned disruptive tech companies also slated for the open market this year include Pinterest, Slack, and Postmates.

Lyft trades on the Nasdaq under the LYFT ticker symbol, and the lead underwriters for the debut are J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse and Jefferies.

Instagram Live Hack: Using IG Live To Create Webinar-Style Videos

Ah, Instagram. My happy place. We all know Instagram is a fantastic platform for sharing visual content and engaging with our target audience. It is a fantastic tool for small businesses who want to increase brand awareness and interact with their most likely customer base. So, let’s say that your brand has a great Instagram profile, a distinct IG Bio describing your business, and you are sharing a constant stream of high-quality content via your Posts and Stories. Sounds like your brand has conquered the ‘Gram, right? Wrong. Instagram Live is your next project.

There are always a few underutilized tools within most social media platforms, but I would be willing to bet that Instagram Live is perhaps the MOST underutilized tool for small brands and businesses. Last year, Instagram updated Instagram Live to be even more robust and useful; Instagram Live now allows you to invite a friend to join your Live Broadcast, and displays that second user in split-screen format, just like most webinar platforms. This allows you to create webinar-style content right within the Instagram platform and reach all of your existing followers with just a few clicks.

So, why is this a helpful tool for businesses on Instagram? Well, first and foremost, anyone who has looked into creating a webinar for their brand knows the cost associated with recording, hosting, sharing, and saving that webinar. Few platforms offer any free or free-mium pricing plans for webinars; the few that do are extremely limited in scope. As a substitute, your business can use Instagram Live to create a webinar-style experience, broadcast that content to people who are already interested in your brand and follow you, and co-host your broadcast with another user within the platform. Oh, and it’s free.

By adding another user to your Instagram Live broadcast, you are amplifying your existing reach and can gain exposure to their followers as well as your existing followers. This is incredibly valuable for smaller businesses looking to grow brand awareness and followers. Not to mention: it’s totally free, totally easy, and lives within the Instagram app that we already know, use, and love.

Want to go pro with this hack? Make sure to save your Instagram Live broadcast at the end, and then share that broadcast on your IGTV channel and as an IGTV preview on your posts and stories. This content will remain on your Profile until you remove it, right next to your highlights. New and existing followers can access that content on demand right from your Profile, and share it with others as they would a story or post. This amplifies the reach of your content and increases user engagement. Pretty cool, huh?

Still feel like a rookie when it comes to your Business Instagram Profile? Check out my last post about optimizing your Instagram Bio to learn everything you need to know about creating a recognizable and actionable bio on Instagram.

The Keys To Optimizing Your Instagram Business Profile: What Your Brand Is Doing Wrong, And How To Fix It

One of my primary roles in my digital marketing business is creating, implementing, and measuring social media campaigns for my clients. As marketers, we know that an authentic and engaging social media presence is a major pillar to successful lead generation for small businesses, as it creates a space where prospects can become aware of and engage with our brand on a platform where, frankly, they already spend much of their time.

As a business, you should have an Instagram profile page dedicated to your brand. With 500 million daily users and more than 80% of Instagram accounts following a business account, it’s tremendously important that your business prioritizes Instagram as part of their social media strategy. An optimized Instagram business page is critical to this strategy, but so many of my clients get this seemingly simple task wrong. Their Instagram profile pages are often incomplete, inconsistent, inappropriate in tone or content, or a combination of the three; these errors combine into a poor user experience when potential followers engage with your brand on Instagram and contribute to stagnant or negative growth.

To this end, one common request I get from new clients is to help increase their following on social media, with the majority of them wanting to grow the number of Instagram followers on their business page. They often come to me frustrated (and rightly so) because they find the task of gaining new followers tedious and complex, and don’t really understand how or why they are losing followers or remaining stagnant in growth. The reality is that Instagram tends to edit its own algorithm (the formula with which the platform decides which content is relevant and valuable enough to present to its users) quite often, and these constant changes can add to the complexity of successfully navigating the platform and achieving new growth.

An Instagram business page is essential to your brand identity and should be used to interact with your target demographic of potential and existing customers. The best Instagram business pages, or profiles, are branded consistently, easily identifiable, clear in what they are offering or representing, and have easy to find contact information including a link to your business’s website or landing page. Content-wise, your profile needs a recognizable profile picture, an informative and interesting bio, and a steady stream of posts and stories to capture the attention of your existing and new followers. Your goal is to have an Instagram Business Profile that tells your potential followers who you are, what you care about, and gives them a reason to follow and engage with you.

To break this down into actionable steps, your Instagram Business page should at a minimum contain the following basic elements:

An easily identifiable and searchable profile name.

This is not somewhere you need to reinvent the wheel. If you are a hair salon, your profile name should be the name of your salon. If you are a self-help author with a blog, your profile name should be the name of the blog or the name you use in your existing media. If your name is already taken, consider adding an underscore or period to the name, or add a modifier like the location or industry.

A clear, professional profile picture.

Depending on your industry or business, this can be the brand logo or a professional headshot. If possible, use the same branding across platforms, i.e. the same profile picture on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

An easily searchable Business Name

You’ll want to add your full Business Name to the “Name” section of your profile. This will appear under your profile picture when users search for your business or brand.

An informative and interesting bio.

Instagram allows you 150 characters to describe your business or brand in your “Bio” section. This description should be delightful, actionable, and informative. Be sure to include your personality here; this is one of the most prominent features of your Instagram business page, appearing directly under your Profile Picture and Business Name, and is an important place to capture the attention of your prospective followers.

Link in Bio

This is so incredibly important! The only place you can include a clickable link on your Instagram business page is in the “Website” section of your profile page. It is imperative that this link be functional, traceable, and directs your followers off of Instagram and onto your website or landing page. By including this link, you can easily encourage followers to move off of Instagram and onto your specific campaign. It is relatively friction-less from a user experience perspective and can be changed out frequently depending on where you want to direct your target traffic. You can use the phrase “Link In Bio” on posts and stories, giving users a specific and clear call-to-action with which they can further interact with your content.

Quality Photos

Instagram is a visual platform, and at all times your business page should reflect high-quality, relevant visual content. The user base on this platform, in particular, is attentive to the quality of your visual content, and your published posts should have a beautiful and relevant subject, a well-framed and well-shot photo, and a solid editing job.

Consistent Posts

Best practice on Instagram is to be consistent with publishing content. You want to create an expectation in your followers and then deliver on that expectation every single time. Content scheduling is a great tool for all businesses to use and something that I will dive in to in a separate post. Remember, although research shows there are “peak” hours to post, make sure you are tailoring your content to your user base (which you can find in the Insights section of your page).

The best times to post on Instagram are the times when your potential followers are most active on the platform! A good rule of thumb to get started is to publish towards the end of the workday in your time zone (for example, Mondays and Thursdays at 4 PM). Once you publish a few posts at times you think are most likely to be effective, make sure to look into your analytics via the Insights section of your page to determine what times are working and what times are not. Then, tweak your posting schedule as necessary to reflect those insights.

Engagement

One final thing: I cannot stress enough the importance of engaging consistently and authentically with your community on Instagram. Your social media team should be dedicating time every single day to interacting with your existing followers and potential new followers. It is critical that your brand appear active and authentic on Instagram. Every comment on a post should be liked and responded to by your brand, however brief.

You should be commenting on other posts as well — and not just with an emoji. Search a hashtag that you are currently using (more on that in an upcoming post) or an influencer that you want to emulate, and then engage with those posts by liking and commenting on them frequently. This technique is by far the most successful way of growing followers and increasing organic engagement on your own Instagram Business Page. Instagram is incredibly community-oriented; to win on this platform, you must engage authentically and consistently with the community.

Let’s Get Real: Do Marketers Really Need Twitter in 2019?

Honestly, Twitter is kind of a hot mess these days, right? Burdened by PR scandals galore, innumerable fake bot accounts, troublesome trolls, and nasty political battles, it certainly feels like more of a chore than a benefit to get involved with this particular social media platform. So, do you really need it? Does Twitter actually offer any unique value to marketers that can’t be found in equal or better quality elsewhere?

The answer is not all black and white, unfortunately. Twitter is in a league of its own when it comes to sharing news in real time; we’re talking minute-by-minute citizen journalism that, more often than not, beats any other traditional news outlet to the punch. The downside here, though, is that this rapid dissemination of current events doesn’t always lend itself to pristine accuracy, and the ubiquitous anonymity of the users that share these stories does little to promote accountability. We’re all getting a little sick of hearing about “Fake News,” right? Well, Twitter is the epitome of the little Fake News engine that could.

So, is there anything positive we can utilize Twitter for when it comes to our digital marketing strategy? Call me overly optimistic, but I actually think that, trolls and bots aside, Twitter is a fantastic platform to incorporate into your brand’s marketing stack. In my opinion, Twitter’s greatest value is in its reach and frequency; unlike Facebook or Instagram, in which users tend to get annoyed with brands that share too much and too frequently, Twitter users tend to expect, accept, and even appreciate persistent content. I have yet to find any statistic that indicates Twitter users favoring less frequent content. In fact, studies show that users have a positive view of brands that share more, not less.

Twitter is also a fantastic ecosystem to interact with your customer base meaningfully and transparently. One of the best uses of a branded Twitter account is customer service interactions. Social listening is key here, so make sure that your marketing team is checking Twitter multiple times a day for mentions of your brand, product, and service. By policing tweets that mention your business and responding directly to them (regardless of whether that tweet is positive, negative, or neutral), you create an invaluable customer service experience for that user. Moreover, the exchange between brand account and user account is likely to be shared if the outcome is positive, resolute, or informative. This is a fantastic way to answer common customer concerns, share pragmatic and practical expertise, and interact with your audience in a cheerful, delightful, and beneficial way. I absolutely consider Twitter an invaluable resource for your customer service strategy, contributing to your brand’s long term growth.

Consider that 85% of users expect businesses to provide customer service support on Twitter. Eighty. Five. Percent. That’s astronomical! If your business is not interacting with Twitter users for this purpose, you are making a huge mistake. Being responsive on Twitter creates transparency, trust, and confidence. Interacting authentically with users ensures your brand seems helpful and approachable. All of these qualities — transparent, trustworthy, reliable, helpful, approachable, responsive — are the qualities that your potential customer wants and expects from a business or brand in 2019. The opportunity to cultivate your brand’s image should not be missed, and Twitter is the ideal platform to execute on this goal.

Remember, people are in a discovery mindset when they’re on Twitter, and because of that mindset, your brand or business is likely to leave a lasting impression on users. Twitter is a “right now” platform, and the best brands exploit that sentiment with ease and authenticity. Brands come to Twitter to be what people are talking about right now: make sure they are talking about you.

My Secret To Great Content: Why ‘Chunking’ Is The Key To Successful Marketing For Your Small Business

We all know the golden rule of digital marketing: content is king. And because of this rule, we are constantly tasked with creating new, engaging, and innovative content for our small businesses. I want to share a secret of great content creators with you: content chunking. Sounds weird, I know, but trust me. Chunking is one of the most efficient ways I’ve found to easily create and curate valuable streams of content for your target audience.  If you aren’t naturally inclined to push out 700+ words for a blog article or create a visually compelling infographic for your next email campaign, then read on.

First, let’s start with the basics. For small businesses, our digital marketing strategy should always include a robust portfolio of content that meets our prospect’s needs and aligns with all stages of the buyer’s journey. Let’s say you own a hair salon and are trying to increase traffic to your website and appointments scheduled online. We know that our website should not just be our business card listing hours and location, but it should also serve as a resource for potential and existing customers. To be a resource, we must offer relevant and valuable content on our website designed to engage our target prospect. By establishing our brand as an authority in our industry, we cultivate trust. Trust is key! Prospects must trust your brand if you have any hope of converting them to leads and customers.

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

What is content ‘chunking’?

Enough of that lecture. Now onto the real lesson at hand: content chunking. Simply put, content chunking is a method of creating one large piece of content (an eBook, for example) and then breaking that large chunk into smaller pieces. Those smaller pieces become content assets in and of themselves, and you have done no extra work. In the eBook example, this could be as simple as taking each chapter of the book and creating a blog post from that chapter. From each blog post, you could pull three sentences to serve as an Instagram caption. From there, you could grab one short quote to serve as your next Twitter post, and so on. The idea is that once you have created the large piece of content, you can then whittle away pieces from the mother piece for use on different channels, which serve different stages of the buyer’s journey.

This method ensures two main things. First, it guarantees that your content campaign is cohesive and consistent. Because all of your content pieces are being driven by this one piece of mother content, you don’t have to worry that the messaging is inconsistent. Second, this method ensures that keywords are being used robustly across all platforms without resorting to keyword stuffing (which we know is a big No-No according to the Google Gods). The resulting content is chocked full of your intended keywords organically, which is a plus for SEO.

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

An Example of Content ‘Chunking’

Let’s examine another example just to make sure this idea is clear.

Tim is a professional organizer with a home organization business. He wants to attract new visitors to his website and convert those visitors to leads and customers. Tim uses social media, including Instagram and YouTube to share videos with tricks and techniques for his audience. He also shares before and after shots of current projects. Sounds like he’s doing all the right things.

Tim now wants to go full speed ahead with a content marketing campaign to increase brand awareness and present his business as the solution to his target audience’s problem: a messy, disorganized home but no time to fix it themselves! Video content is a great tool for this campaign. Tim could create one long YouTube video about the process he uses to organize a client’s space, including tips similar to what he already shares on social media. From that mother content, Tim can break out a few 60 second clips to use for Instagram and Facebook posts. Tim can also capture a transcript of the long video and turn it into an article (or multiple articles). He could also take a short clip of the video to include in his next email marketing effort, with a link to the longer content.

So from this one mother piece of content, Tim has derived multiple smaller forms of content that are appropriate for different platforms and different audiences. All of his content is keyword-rich without being keyword-stuffed, and is therefore doing well in search engines. Most importantly, the content features a consistent brand message and is a valuable resource for his target audience, allowing him to easily position his business as the solution to their home organization problems.

Makes sense, right? Read a little more about the impact that content has and the importance of creating your small business website to share content with your customers here. What do you think? Do you use this strategy?

Convinced Your Small Business is Too Small To Need A Website? Here’s Exactly Why You’re Wrong

In my web design and digital marketing business, I often encounter clients who are convinced that their brand is just too small to need a dedicated website. They use social media, like a Facebook Business Page, as their only digital storefront and are convinced that investing in a website or developing a digital marketing strategy is a wasted investment. These clients usually come to me with questions about generating more business from their social media sites or online ads. It is clear that these businesses are struggling to optimize their brand identity online, and they think acquiring new customer leads online comes down to pay-to-play advertising.

But we know that this is simply not true; brand awareness, lead conversion, and organic growth are all achievable without relying solely on your social media ads. Marketing your brand online, especially through informative, relevant content shared with new prospects from your brand website is a much more cost effective technique for consistent growth and customer acquisition. Remember, it takes on average 6-8 interactions, or touches, to create a qualified lead. In order to grow your business, you want to attract as many new prospects as possible and then convert those prospects to leads and clients.

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Most new prospects are simply aware that they have a problem: Bob knows he needs his car detailed, but is new to the area and is not sure which auto shop does quality work; Jenny and Tom just had their first child and need to find a reliable, experienced nanny in their city.  Bob, Jenny and Tom share the same problem: the know they have a problem and need to learn more. This stage is called the Awareness stage of the Buyer’s Journey, and it is integral that your business interact with as many of these awareness stage prospects as possible. These prospects have a problem, and need to understand that problem more to be guided forward towards considering a solution and deciding on a business (yours!) to provide that solution.

For those reasons, all small businesses, from 1 person to 100, need a unique website for their brand. Your branded website should be professional, functional, and easy to navigate. It should clearly establish your brand identity and explicitly demonstrate your value proposition. The website should feature content, like informative articles, tips, coupons and offers, ebooks, and videos. This content is key: it is the currency of inbound marketing and is the tool you should be using to convert new prospects to leads and customers. Don’t just think of a website as a business card or a contact form! A website, when done correctly, is an ever-ready, always open, self-regulating marketing entity; it is vital to your small business.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Social media business pages in no way should be considered a replacement for this website. In fact, your social media pages should be driving your leads off of the social media platform and on to your business website for any hope of true, optimized growth. Think of your social media pages as the cattle driver that drives your prospects home: if you can get your prospects to your unique website, you have control of how they experience your brand, interact with your content, understand your unique value proposition, and gain trust in your business as a consumer. Establishing this trust and authentic repor with website visitors is how we convert prospects into leads and customers, and customers to brand advocates. It is the single most important thing a brand, big or small, needs to do to guarantee success in 2019.

Think about it like this: if your friend Jill suggests a new hair stylist for you to try, but when you go to look up that stylist online they don’t have a website that demonstrates their competence or showcases their portfolio of happy clients. In fact, you are having trouble even verifying the salon’s name, location, and contact information! How likely are you to follow-through with Jill’s suggestion? Sure, you trust Jill, but you probably need more information to be convinced that this is really the stylist for you.

Now imagine the alternative: Jill suggests the stylist, and mentions her website. You grab your smart phone and look up the website. Google serves you the search results, and right at the top is the stylist’s business website. You click on the link, and land on an organized, stylish, and modern website showcasing happy clients, customer testimonials, available hours, and qualifications or certifications. There is a call-to-action button on the home page that allows you to download a coupon for new customers, and an opportunity to enter your email into a contest for a free haircut and blowdry. There is a blog that offers free tutorials to visitors on simple hair styling techniques, and clear contact information with a map showing you the location of the salon. You can make an appointment online, and there is a pricing menu that gives you an idea of the cost of various services. Finally, all of this valuable information is presented in a modern, easy to navigate package that functions exactly as it should and easily directs you to the information you are looking for.

Compare the two experience and honestly think, which would you prefer? Which would convince you right off the bat to call the salon and schedule an appointment with this stylist? The majority of consumers would chose the second scenario because the business’s website makes a positive impression on the visitor, provides clear answers to their question or problem, presents the business’s value to the customer in a clear manner, demonstrates objective authority in their industry, and is a frictionless user experience.

This is how you attract and convert cold prospects to real customers online. No amount of social media advertising will function as your website does. Every small business, from 1 person to 100, should have a dedicated, updated, functional website to showcase their brand and services and share valuable content designed to educate their target audience. The investment is nominal compared to the amount of business you will draw from your site, and to really grow your brand and customer base, the website is a necessary tool.  Your small business needs a modern, functional, content-based website to educate prospects, convey your brand’s unique value to these prospects, and offer a solution (your services!) to their question or problem.

The Big Three: Why Your Brand Should Be Sharing Video Content Across YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook

By the close of 2019, 74% of all internet traffic will come from video content. Increasingly, that content is coming directly from social media hubs like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. These social platforms offer brands the opportunity to engage authentically, honestly, and often, with their key target demographics. We know that in marketing, the best place to be is where your customers already are; this could not be more true in the case of video.

If you already have a robust following on Instagram, using newer forms of video content like Stories and IGTV can enhance your current connections, allowing your customers to see different perspectives of your brand. A lot of us advertise on Facebook, but using Facebook Live to create interactive, fresh video content allows brands to organically drive growth and awareness. Finally, some of you may consider YouTube the OG of video content, and you’d be right. But just because this behemoth platform is widespread and well-known, doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. In fact, YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world, right behind – you guessed it – Google.

Read on to learn some of the advantages of each particular platform and determine which might be best for your brand.

YouTube

Like I said, YouTube is one of the biggest and most popular networks in the world. We often fail to think of it when we think of social media, but this platform has incredible reach and immense possibilities when it comes to increasing brand awareness and engagement. People love coming to YouTube to watch videos every day from everywhere across the globe.

Consider that YouTube reaches more 18-49 year olds on mobile than any TV channel or cable TV network, and more 18-34 year olds in the US than any TV network. Your audience is already on YouTube and we know the golden role of marketing: go where your audience is already.

YouTube has its own unique challenges, of course. It can be more time consuming to create content for this platform, and creating video content here is less intuitive than on Instagram or Facebook. It is a great platform for longer, more informative content. YouTube is also well-suited for those leads at the top of our sales funnel: the platform is the perfect place to cultivate brand awareness and high-value content for an audience that is already searching for it. Educational and how-to videos thrive in this context.

Instagram

Instagram is your cool, hip friend who always knows the newest trends and the latest products. Every single brand, whether you are a dentist, a dogwalker, or a debutante, should have an Instagram Business Profile and share content designed for their target demographic. Instagram is a highly-visual platform and offers several options for sharing video content. Videos can be shared in Posts, Stories, or IGTV. Each has pros and cons to keep in mind. We’ll focus here on Posts versus Stories.

Instagram Posts

Your posts are the pictures and videos that you post to your Instagram profile. This is evergreen content that remains in your feed until deleted. Posts should be the backbone of building your brand image, and can showcase your products, services, industry, personnel, events, leaders, and more. Video content here should focus on brand awareness and brand storytelling to draw cold audiences to your content, further driving brand awareness and nurturing organic growth within your targeted demographic. This is content that tells your story and creates your image. It defines your unique value to the audience: it answers the question “Why should I follow this brand?”

Video content for posts could be serial, like weekly content delivered on a fixed schedule that shares a common theme. If you are a yoga studio, for example, you could post weekly “Wellness Wednesday” videos that explore different wellness subjects or ideas that your audience would be interested in. Serial content like this has two distinct advantages: first, it creates expectation so that your audience has something to look forward to, remember, enjoy, and share with friends; second, it is video content that can be easily planned, created, and executed ahead of time to compliment your other marketing campaigns, blog posts, events, or product launches. Video content for posts is currently limited to sixty seconds, and you should keep in mind that videos should only be as long as they need to be to be effective; don’t belabor your point to the extent that you risk losing a viewer’s attention. It is also helpful to know that Instagram Video Posts are automatically auto-played without sound.

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are a newer addition to the platform, and were created to mimic SnapChat videos by “disappearing” after 24 hours. Stories have proven to be wildly engaging and exceptionally popular, with 80% of users engaging with the feature on a daily basis. The best use of video on Stories is often behind-the-scenes, quirky, casual content. You can (and should) use stickers, emojis, geotags, GIFs, mentions, and hashtag capabilities to help your content stand out. Consider that stories need to be 15 seconds or less and are full-screen mobile-oriented content. And, as the name implies, you should use Stories to, well, tell stories! Break down a video into multiple chunks and use it to tell a cohesive story in smaller chunks. This gets your audience engaged in your content without risking attention loss. Stories is also a great place for user-generated content, like an authentic testimonial from one of your existing customers.

Facebook Live

Facebook Live is Facebook’s live streaming video service. It allows users to broadcast from their mobile devices straight to their Facebook News Feed. Facebook Live has exploded in popularity since its launch in 2016, and Live videos see 3X the engagement of traditional videos. This platform is a little more complicated to use than Instagram Posts or Stories, but is well worth the learning curve. For an explicit tutorial, check out this article from HubSpot.

Facebook Live videos tend to be best suited for longer content of at least ten minutes. These videos should be engaging and spontaneous. Because of the longer length, you should make it a point to reintroduce yourself or your brand throughout the video, and encourage viewers to like and share the video with their friends. This is a great forum for interactive seminars or Q&A’s, product launches, or live events.

There are hundreds of options these days for creating, editing, and sharing video content. Get started on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook with simple video content designed to engage with your audience. Video content should be a key part of your overall content marketing strategy, and is essential to all brands and businesses. Use video content to tell your brand’s story, engage with your audience, and nurture your existing following. Remember, always go where your customers already are!

Resources for Content Marketers: The 4 Holy Grail Online Platforms I Use Everyday (for FREE) For My Web Design & Marketing Business!

Canva

Canva is my go-to, everyday, ride-or-die graphic design virtual assistant. I can create visuals for my blog, social media posts, and newsletters to the exact dimensions best suited for each platform or use-case. Canva stores all of your creations within the platform and is cloud-based, so you can access templates remotely and create impactful, professional visuals on the go. I have even used Canva to create cover art for an E-Book– it’s that professional and that good.

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HubSpot

This is a big one. I would suggest HubSpot’s free resources to my grandmother, that’s how much I trust these marketing wizards. The absolute best tip I ever got was to take their FREE professional marketing certification course. Similar in style, pace, and difficulty to an online university course, HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification Track is a must for any aspiring content creator. Upon completion, you will have a firm grasp on content marketing from start to finish, including practical advice and resources to create, maintain, and promote your blog or website.

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Mailchimp

Mailchimp is self-described as a marketing system for small business. Best explained as an a tool to automate, manage, and track your email and content marketing efforts, I like to use Mailchimp to create and deploy emails to existing blog subscribers, track my click through rates on those emails, and segment my subscriber lists as needed. I also have used it to create simple and effective landing pages which automatically collect and add new email addresses to my subscriber list.

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Trello

I recently discovered Trello via a fantastic article singing its praises and describing optimal use cases. Trello is a simple and effective project management tool. Best described as a system of boards, lists, and cards, this platform works best for me as a digital whiteboard filled in with post-it notes. There are many features that I don’t ever use (checklists, calendar), but there is a lot of existing guidance on use cases for Trello that may benefit your brand or business. Most often, I use Trello to track my outstanding “To-Do” tasks, tasks in progress, and completed tasks.


Want to learn why visuals are so important to your blog? Check out this article!