Byron: Welcome back everyone. I’m here with Neal. Neal, welcome.
Neal: Hey, pleasure to be here.
Byron: Right on. We’re excited to have a discussion with you today and learn some of your wisdom from your book ‘Maximize Your Social’. Let’s dive in and ask you the first quick question. You wrote this book a couple of years ago and it got some rave reviews…By the way I was just reading a review by Arnie that’s featured in the book, my pal Arnie, who also like you, will be speaking at Content Marketing Conference. I got some people that really stood behind your book here man, and gave you the virtual high five. Congratulations to that!
Neal: Thank you very much.
Byron: The social space is a difficult, turbulent one that we’re all trying to figure out. What is your thought, Neal, on what’s changed with social in the last couple of years since you wrote the book?
Neal: Great question. Maximize Your Social is the third book I’ve written. My first two books were about LinkedIn. I learned very early on that user interfaces change, but the concepts don’t. Maximize Your Social is all about building a strategic framework, a strategic plan to help you measure and optimize your social media activity so that really hasn’t changed. The way that I would answer that though is, if there is one chapter that I would rewrite it would be the one on visual social because obviously over the last two years, we’ve seen the emergence of not only Pinterest and Snapchat…Instagram right now is probably the second largest social network after Facebook in terms of active monthly users. I think companies…and you know this from the content marketing side as well, companies over the last two years have had to go on a lot more visual about their marketing activities in social.
Byron: You’ve really done an incredible job in the book, and by the way also in your speaking engagements, and talking with people about strategy and how easy it is to overlook and how critical it is to nail. Don’t you think we are wasting millions of dollars by not thinking through what we’re doing and how we’re doing it with social, and how’s the book going to help us change are thoughts on that?
Neal: Absolutely. In fact, the book was published two years ago as we just talked about, and I’ve been focusing over the last two years of doing a lot more speaking. I haven’t written a lot of content on it, but as concept of social media operations. I believe in content marketing it’s the same. A lot of people are spending a lot of money. They’re [0:02:34 inaudible] better optimized but specially in social and there is a need. The status of marketing spent right now, 12% of it or so, is on social. That number’s going to go up to 20% in the next five years. It’s a lot of money. If you can optimize that by 1%, 2%, 3%, that’s incredible; either savings or additional revenue, or what have you. The book, like I said, focuses on that framework to help you build the strategy, and part of that framework is not only your objectives and what KPIs you’re going to create, but how do you measure and optimize those over time and it really has to be just like anything else. In marketing, there has to be a data-driven exercise and social’s no different. The great thing is there’s more and more tools out there that help us measure that social part even better.
Byron: On that very subject, tracking ROI is difficult if not impossible as you look through the conversion path as a whole. Can you tell us how things have changed and how we might be able to solve that problem?
Neal: Well, part of what’s happened is especially with the advertising platforms, and I’m speaking specifically of Facebook and Twitter of giving us the ability to create this custom audiences, so we get a better idea as to what touch social has had in any conversion, or if our customers or people that are consuming our content coming from a specific source or Facebook user, if they act differently or if they have attribution than our other visitors that aren’t coming from social or have a Facebook account for instance. There’s a lot of new ways in which we can now slice and dice that content, and I believe a lot of it is based on that cookie technology which also helps us track things better. It helps us track if we were to curate content and share that either through HubSpot or Oktopost, and we have the tracking code in our website, we can now really gage the whole customer journey from that curated tweets all the way to our website and conversion, and that’s for curated contents. That’s how easy it’s become to really measure that ROI or how social…what it contributes to the ROI.
Byron: I was reading about the value of posts in the social sphere from the perspective of advertisers that are dying to unite and align with the influencers of the world out there. I was reading that supermodels for example, that will often have over a million followers particularly on Instagram, can make between $100,000 and $250,000 paid by an advertiser for a single post, can you imagine?
Byron: That’s happening out there. Our audience is often defining our value proposition. Do you think that trend is going to continue and how do you possibly develop strategy around paying such exorbitant fees to align yourself with influencers? Is that real? Is that happening Neal?
Neal: Well, influencer marketing as a tactic by companies to reach out to trusted communities is real and it’s only going to grow. I still think it’s extremely underutilized actually and it should be an integral part of how companies market themselves. If you think about it, you have a lot of ways of spending your marketing budget and it comes down to paid advertising. How are social ads going to be compared to your traditional paper collective is where you first start. Then if I use that same amount of money and I can work with X number of influencers that can get me X number impressions which is comparable to what my CPM is, what is that going to look like, especially if it’s very, very targeted and highly influential person. When I talk about influence, it’s not just number of followers, but it’s actually people that are engaging, and someone that has authority, and therefore when people engage with that authority, you have a higher chance that they’re going to click through and actually convert. When an influencer calls them to action, they’re going to act; otherwise that person has no influence. That’s going to continue.
The other interesting thing about Instagram as well is the data shows us it is the most engaging platform. You might only get 1% of people to see your feed on any given Facebook post that you publish on a page; but on Instagram we know that the engagement rate is extremely high, like I’ve seen people with 1,000 friends on Instagram and they’ll put something up that might get a hundred or two hundred likes which is an incredible engagement rate. From an advertiser’s perspective, sure...If this person has a million and I can get 100,000 - 200,000 people that directly engage with that which is sort of like a click through, that’s incredible potential brand awareness. Now, where do you measure that? Is that a 100,000; 200,000; 20,000? I don’t know. But just like with anything else on social media, you apply what you can do in social to your traditional KPI and then you do the measurement. I think that measurement as I just described might make a lot of sense even at that high price.
Byron: Do you think that there’s…we’re going to get to a point where there’s just too much curation and too much publishing going on and not enough value seen from everyone jumping into the game and trying to compete with everyone orbiting in high speed? Are we going to saturate ourselves with too much content eventually?
Neal: Yeah, I think we already have and…
Byron: I do too.
Neal: A few years ago, you have a great idea for a blog post and you do a search, it’s like, “Why has no one created this blog post?” But now, I think for most businesses and most industries even niche B2B industries, whatever blog post you’re going to create, there’s probably already a few out there that already exist, that probably already went high on Google, and they’ve been around for a while so it’s going to be hard to compete with them. Yeah. The content has become a commodity. It’s a commodity that you need. But really to be seen, obviously I think that content should be of higher value. It’s less about the frequency and more about what are you giving to the community, how is that content going to help you deliver on whatever objective you have for your content marketing program. So I do believe it is more of a go big or go home approach that is going to be more successful going forward and that’s the approach that I recommend all my clients as well.
Byron: I come from a world of trying to craft content plans and strategy rooted in analytics for costumers. Before starting WriterAccess, we were a full service content marketing agency, and there’s a lot of data crunching that went on to develop, to try to answer questions for costumers like, “How much content do we need?” “How good does it need to be?” “What channel should we be publishing in?” “By the way, what ROI would I get from all of that investment?” Have you seen any changes…In your massive research for the book, is that getting easier to answer those questions? Can we develop strategy these days in a much easier way by certainly looking around the competition and digging around at what they’re doing and seeing how you stack up? But is it getting easier with tools, and technology, and even methodology?
Neal: It’s getting easier without a doubt. The challenge is still that there’s a lot of information in our competition for instance we can gather, but the one bit of information that I’d really love to get that none of us can get is the click-through. Sometimes you go to Facebook pages, you see all these posts with very few likes. I’ve had the experience where I’ve had very few likes but gotten a click-throughs on that content, and no one is ever going to see those. That’s the one bit of content…We know what other contents others are creating. We can measure now what content seems to be most successful in social media in terms of shares per social network and we have tools like [0:10:40 Basooma] that teaches that. We can see how things rate in Google in terms of keyword, but at the end of the day we’ll never know how well that converts or how well our competitors are converting. In fact, we’re never going to know how well our content converts until we actually do it.
When I wrote my book about social media strategy, Maximize Your Social…I’d like to think of social media as one big experiment and I think there’s a lot of experiment… A/B testing is a type of experiment. If you think about it that way, the only way to really get better at all the stuff and measure better and optimize and convert more, is to get out there and test it, and experiment. The same is true for social in general as it is for content. We can only go so far. The data might tell us 50%, 60%, 70% of the story. The other part is going to come down to our experimentation and measurement as well as just the relevance with our community. Not everybody wants to consume the same type of content or the same nature of content. Even within our own community, within our own customer base, we have customers that are at different cycles in the buyer’s journey that probably need different types of content. I think we need to get a lot more granular if we want to improve upon our content marketing and think more about those things and the experimental process rather than just relying on what we can see about our competition.
Byron: We had some challenges at WriterAccess with our writers getting to know our customers. Remember, we’re like this online market place that is connecting customers with the writers, and sometimes clients come in and are blind, and customers, they want a ghost writer, and they don’t want them to even know who they are. Can you tell us a little bit about your challenges that you’ve experienced in tracking along your book on content creation and how difficult that is to do particularly when you’re working at a vacuum like a lot of writers? But do you have any hints, or ideas, or thoughts on content creation from their perspective?
Neal: Well, I’m also a WriterAccess customer, happy customer, so I can share my own personal experience in working with some of your writers, and that is really the challenge, and that the best content comes from when you actually represent the brand. Now there’s types of content that could be…the type of work that I do at WriterAccess is there’s a lot of research I want to put. I like to have data in my post, and I can outsource…I can ghost write to a certain extent, but I end up re-voicing that content at the end, probably adding additional data points and what have you. I think there’s only so far you can go.
All that you can expect a writer to be able to do is to be able to research, understand as much about your company as possible, as much about your competition as possible, and as much about the subject as possible. You really can’t go beyond that, and I think that challenge will continue to remain. It’s sort of like my own social media consulting. Unless you tell me more about you, I can’t diagnose what the solution should be. If you come to me saying, “Well, I just want better social media” it’s like going to the doctor and just saying, “I just want to feel better.” “Well, what’s wrong with you” right? “Let’s do an examination.” Unfortunately, when I do a consulting engagement, I have the chance to do an audit and do that. When you work with your clients, when your writers work with your clients, they don’t have the ability to do that and that’s quite challenging. I don’t think there’s any way around that unless they can get more information.
I think your customers need to realize as well that the more information they give the higher quality content they’re going to get. Maybe that’s where it starts of flipping the funnel so to speak and putting the responsibility more on the clients in their onboarding saying, “We really need to know more about you so our writers can create better content for you.”
Byron: Fantastic. And yes, thanks for that interesting note that...What about onboarding writers? Do you have a prescription that you use for that? Do you show them samples? You’re of course familiar with the creative brief that we put together that’s inside the order form, do you think those are valuable tools and have you ever used the voice recording message which is quite interesting?
Neal: I haven’t. I think that the tool is interesting, but I think also that the onboarding screen can be quite complex and overwhelming. I like the idea that you have a lot of checkboxes, a lot of areas where you can sort of customize your requirement and customize your brand voice, what have you, but I also think sometimes it comes down to keeping things simple. When I work with writers, these three blog posts are most representative of my voice in terms of tone, in terms of the type of writing I do. Maybe mine are more list-based or I want to base it on five concepts like I do in this blog post. That to me seems…I’m all about putting things in very, very practical, and rational and actionable terms. In order to do that, the simpler those instructions are, the more actionable they become, and therefore that’s what I tend to do, and would be my recommendation.
Byron: How diligent are you with getting feedback to writers and how important do you think that is for the overall process particularly when you’re talking about creating content for social media, the focus of your book? Can you get that personality back to them? Do you feel obligated to give them feedback and show them how you revise something?
Neal: If there’s a writer that I want to continue working with…I usually work with teams and therefore…It really is the best practice to give the feedback back. It’s only going to help…It helps you better understand your content requirement for the future, and obviously pays it forward to that writer who may become your writer in the future as well. But I really think the best type of feedback you can give is a before-after, “This is the post you wrote for me. This is what I ended up publishing.” I almost think that with a few points to make, but I almost think that that would speak louder than just, “Hey, this is my general feedback.” It would give you…If you can compare the red line…I think if you’re a writer, that would give you a lot of aha moments, and maybe writers should be asking for it more because I know from a business perspective after…You put a new order for content, after you get it, you’re off to the next process, you want to get it published, you want to do a final edit, get it published. You have an editorial calendar deadline, you sometimes don’t spend enough time giving that feedback because of that. Maybe that’s one way to prompt the feedback is for the writer to say, “Hey, what did the end product end up looking like, and can you explain some of the differences very briefly?”
Byron: I want to go back to voice for a second, and ask you a question about voice and actually real voice, and your comments on the following: I was on an interview, a podcast a couple years ago with a life coach actually that wrote a book about life coaching and it was very interesting to talk with her. She was telling me much like you are that there’s a big difference between…You can’t really prescribe until you diagnose, so the diagnostic is a critical part of life coaching. She said something to me that stood out. It was actually an inspiration for us launching the voice messaging service, and that was that within a minute or two of hearing somebody talk about their lives, and where they are and what their concerns are, it almost immediately helps her with a fast diagnosis of where somebody is in a state of their mind as they think about and talk about their problems in life. This might be too heavy, but don’t you think that the way you’re talking right now about your brand and your product, if writers that you work with were able to hear that from you, like what you wanted, and hear the tone of your voice, and how succinct you are, and clear and concise with what you don’t want, wouldn’t that help a writer create content for you as if they’re trying to create it in your voice?
Neal: I agree 100%. I honesty did not know about that new functionality that you have. I need to check that out. But it’s funny because for me…And this might not be every client that you have, but because I’m also a speaker, I prefer voice as a medium. I have my own podcast just like WriterAccess and you have your podcast as well. Often if I get an interview request, I’ll say, “Can I record my interview via audio?” because I believe that I think best when I’m speaking, and I use my podcast actually as the first initial step at repurposing content for a lot of different forms, all of the ideas I generate speaking off the cuff in a podcast. That would tell me…I’m assuming the listener also gets to find out lot about me as well. But I know with my potential clients as well, just having a 30-second, one-minute phone call, I get a real good sense as to who they are, where they are, what they want, and sometimes there’s a lot more…You can convey a lot more than just in text because you get the nuance. I think it’s a great idea and I agree 100% and I’ll definitely…Now, that they have that functionality, in the future, I actually prefer to give orders for writing in that way than through text, so yeah that’s brilliant.
Byron: Yeah. I can’t wait to get your feedback on that. Let’s go through some of the social channels which you are a clear expert in, and have you tell us what’s new and what tactics you have for some of these strategies. Let’s talk about Google+ for a second. Is it dead, is it falling off the cliff, or do you think there’s some life left into it and Google+ might still be a benefit to tracking along?
Neal: Well, Google+ is both a community and a social layer. The way that you get your company’s digital verification with Google is through Google+. From a technology layer perspective, it has not gone away. Google authorship and there are things that have come and gone, but I think the concept that verified digital identities will show up higher in search results over time is still a true one, and therefore I recommend that every client has a minimal presence. Now, is it a ghost town, there’s not a lot of users, there’s definitely a very, very passionate community of Google+ users which is going to be more relevant for some brands, some industries than others. If you’re already sharing in other networks, why would you not share that content with the Google+ community is really the question that I ask. If you try it out for one month, two months, three months, and you find that you’re really not getting the value out of it that you get in other networks, that’s where you sort of pullback and that’s where…In Maximize Your Social, I tall about how to monitor the measurements and I look at all these different social networks, it’s almost like levers on a mixing board in the recording studio. So maybe next month let’s pull down on Google+, let’s raise the volume on Facebook or whatever it might be. I think that’s the best way to look at it. But you don’t just completely ignore Google+ because of that social layer aspect. You want to have a minimal presence on it, even today despite how small that community might be right now.
Byron: Do you think we need to publish the same content in multiple channels perpetually?
Neal: Well ideally, even if you published the same content, you don’t want to publish it using the same wording in every social network because each of these social networks is like its own country of…very, very different community of different history, different way of communicating, and what have you. I don’t think you have to publish on all the networks. I don’t recommend publishing blog post on Instagram for instance. You don’t have to do it on every platform. But I think the main platform…We are a fragmented society in terms of how we use social media. Someone over there might be on Facebook all day, someone over there might be on Twitter all day, and yet, someone else is on LinkedIn all day. Unless you publish on all three of them, you’re never going to be able to potentially be seen by all three of them. I think that’s when it comes down to where is community and does it make sense to publish there. I don’t know if people are publishing blog post on Snapchat yet. It’s not something I’d recommend either, but I’m sure that’ll change over time. I talk about it in the book. But social is always changing. How we use it, who’s using it, and the functionality being provided, is always going to be in flux. That’s my answer to it right now. My answer might change in a few months.
Byron: Let’s go to the Instagram, your thoughts on that. Are images really the driver of Instagram and if you’re not a photographer, you’re not somebody that is an image connoisseur do you think you should stay away from that platform or you just think you have to force yourself into it?
Neal: Well, companies require what I call visual voice. When we talked about voice, we were talking about throwing in content, but companies also need to visually represent themselves. Even if you’re a B2B company that does not have a consumer facing product…We’ve seen companies like Intel and others…Maersk Shipping Line is one of my favorites…of creating this visual voice, this visual content strategy which even if you just want to stick to LinkedIn or Twitter, it’s going to help you be seen more prominently in the newsfeed, with the visual. We know that as human animals we are visual and we engage with visual contents to a much greater degree, much faster, and much deeper than we do with text. There’s a need for every company of visual strategy.
Now, the second question is in choice of channels or social networks, does Instagram make sense for your business? If you’re a consumer facing brand, especially targeting the younger demographic, although the demographic is changing all the time, Instagram obviously is a platform that you really can’t ignore, and you don’t need to be a professional photographer. Disneyland is an example of a brand that curates 100% of their content. They said they just could not compete with the quality and the variety of prospective that their fans have of how they engage with Disneyland. In the same aspect, social media was made for people, not for brands. The more you become a person in your social media, more humanize your brand becomes, the better engagement you actually get for your brand. If you have staff that take photos of their iPhone, that’s great. I think that’s a starting point until you see the ROI for actually hiring a photographer. It’s funny, I worked with a large consumer brand that was not having a lot of success on Instagram because their ad department was pushing visuals on them, and these are the same sorts of visuals you would see literally in magazine ads or display ads. They realized that there was a gap between the visual voice they needed in social and the visual they were currently using. They found that when just their staff made a very, very simple “photo studio” on their desk and took a frame photo, it got much better engagement; two to three engagement that those static photos from the ad department got. You don’t need to be fancy. It’s really about creating something authentic, transparent, that represents your brand that is engaging with your community, and that’s an art. Everyone listening to this conversation is going to have to figure that out for themselves in all honesty.
Byron: How much time do you think we should be spending on social? Let me footnote that by saying that social can be used so many different ways by companies and individuals. It’s overwhelming to even think it through ranging from customer support, or surfing for jobs, or connecting with people, and serving your community, and surfacing ideas. But in general, what is your take on the amount of time that should be spent on social?
Neal: Wow, that is such a difficult question to ask.
Byron: Exactly, yeah. I don’t want to be you answering that question, let me just tell you that.
Neal: Well, that’s okay. I get asked everything and when I finish my speaking, I’ll ask the audience, “Do you have any unanswered questions on social media?” I will not leave until I see no hands up. I enjoy that. Challenge accepted as in How I Met Your Mother. It really comes down to understanding that social is part of a corporate infrastructure. You have a website now that you didn’t have 30 years ago. You have a social media presence. A social media presence at a minimum, you have a presence, but obviously, it’s more dynamic than having a website. You need to be on it daily and the more you’re on it the more you’re going to get out of it. That being said, you don’t have to be on it all the time. I think it comes down to…And I basically handhold you through the process in my book, but what are your objectives for being on social, what are you trying to get out of it, what are you currently doing and are you getting as much out of it as you could be, are you not getting as much out of it you could be? If you’re getting more than you expected out of it, you should be spending more time there. If you’re not getting what you expected out of it which a lot of companies that are frustrated with social, they’re in that boat, you need to detail what you’re doing in social, where are you spending your time, what are you doing. The people that do social for you, inhouse or your agency, what exactly are they doing, how are they spending their time, how are they spending your precious budget money? Only in there do you think, “You know what…” and I have the same thing. I have a marketing automation…It’s a social media marketing automation tool, which I’m probably not going to subscribe to next year. Number one, it’s quite expensive as a tool. But number two, it requires me every day to literally spend about an hour segmenting do I want to put these potential leads I find in social into the funnel. Now, there’s an ROI that I get for the money I’m spending, but you know what, I don’t think it’s enough, so I’d rather grow my list lower more organically without using that tool; and if I want to spend the same amount of money, I can just do paid social and it’ll be a lot quicker. There’s a lot of different ways to measure your ROI in social and how much time you spend and what you’re doing, but that’s really where it starts; what are you trying to achieve, what are you doing, and do you want to do more or less.
Byron: I’m dying to know what the tool is. It sounds fascinating.
Neal: It’s a great tool. But well, for the purposes of this podcast, I’ll… You have to come to the Content Marketing Conference to hear all the details.
Byron: I love it. Perfect. That’s great.
Neal: It is a great tool and it’s the first of its kind I found in social media marketing automation. If you’re a larger company with larger resources, it’s very, very cost effective. For a smaller business like me, it may not be, it still might be. I haven’t made my final decision. But yes, at the Content Marketing Conference as you can hear, I try to stay very practical and I deem that the co-founder of the social tools summit are obviously going to be introducing some tools along the way that I found that will make everyone’s life a lot easier.
Byron: Great stuff. Let’s talk about some of the goals and different goals that people have, and let’s rate and rank them. For example, how hard in your mind and how important is it in your mind to run customer service with something as simple as Twitter, and do you feel that that’s an important element to always have somebody manning the deck, no pun intended, with the product called TweetDeck of say social?
Neal: I guess if you’re a smaller company, that’s probably where you’d start out is just twitter.com. But over time, it gets very difficult to search keywords and create columns of keywords that you can in Hootsuite, which is why you move over to Hootsuite, but then internally, your social customer service probably works differently than your community management team would work, and therefore you end up moving to a dedicated social media for customer service to like a help social, or converse social, or one of those. I see a progression depending on how much your company requires social media for customer service. But yes, if you’re a large brand, there’s data that shows that customer service over social is actually more efficient, costs less, has a lot of benefits to it. I think a lot of brands are happily making sure that they’re so…Maybe it’s an outside agency and they have a TRIAD system in place but 24/7 or maybe on their bio, a lot of banks and other…Microsoft and other companies will say, “Hey, we’re here nine to five Monday through Friday, pacific standard time, anything after that, we’ll get back to you on Monday” and I think that’s perfectly acceptable as well. But yes, I do think it’s important because anytime someone sends out a complaint about a brand, it’s going out to their followers. It’s searchable. Like I said, the complaint they may have may be a solution. It may fix a problem. If other people have the same complaints and they respond to it once, others may see it, and therefore get their questions answered faster. Because of all that, I think it makes a lot more sense to do it and I think that’s why a lot more brands are establishing real-time customer support on Twitter and other social media channels.
Byron: Tell us a little about some other goals. Just give us a punch list of goals if you could with how people are using social and what goals they should have for those things that they’re using social for.
Neal: Wow. I like to break it down by corporate department. I believe that there’s no department that social leaves untouched, and obviously, we just talked about customer support or customer service so that’s one thing right there. HR, you have social recruiting. You also have employee engagement, employee advocacy, one of the big key words or buzz words of social media marketing in 2015 that is going to involve HR as well, along with recruiting obviously. Legal has to stay on top of social. Their goal is going to be very, very different especially if you’re in a regulated industry or you have client issues. Product development…Early on in my career, I got an offer to work at Procter & Gamble as a brand marketer and I realized, and this is before the internet as what it is today, but a lot of the ways in which they spent their budget was basically user focus groups, “Let’s get a user focus group together and find out how they would use this type of product.” But now, social media is one huge user group. It’s not necessarily focused, but you can find any data you want. As a listening mechanism, it’s really unparalleled. I do believe that product development, R&D groups…I know that they’re already making use of social media data or big social data to help them make better product decisions, so that’s R&D. Sales; we know social selling especially for B2B sales. Marketing; any marketing activity you want can probably done through social or social can help. Public relations; I think that’s another no-brainer. Really, as I go through…Now, there are some like finance and I just did a…I taught an eight-hour social business course in Cork, Ireland last week and I had a few from finance in the room. At the end of the day if social’s taking up 20% of your marketing budget, someone has to be measuring the ROI of that. Finance may have a play in that and lend a helping hand. IT; there were some folks in the room…I encourage large organizations to create their own tools. They can tap directly into social APIs. They could be doing things a lot faster that startups with much fewer resources are creating because they’re focused on the issue. IT can be involved, and IT should also be involved in auditing any tool that marketing wants to bring in. Obviously, another thing with IT is you update analysis. There’s so much more data analysis that has to be done with all the data coming from social and marketing. There’s a role that IT can probably play there in crunching and offering a better internal analytics to the marketing team. Those are just examples. Obviously, if we were to look at marketing or sales specifically, there’s 20-30 different goals. We can look at anything from website traffic generation to increasing loyalty, brand awareness is obviously a big one, conversions, subscriptions to our newsletter, downloads of a white paper, or joining the webinar, whatever it might be, share a voice, a lot of different things we can look at.
Byron: Just a couple of final questions for you to make this as tight as we can so it’s gets as popular as it can be. If it’s too long, people get discouraged. But man, this is good stuff. One question for you is where’s all this great content going to come from, from social? What’s your take on that with the amount and volume of content that it’s going to take to really build a great communication with the community however you’re using social?
Neal: I think it comes with understanding your customer, understanding the community, and I talk about it in my book throughout it. But the better you understand your customer, the better and more relevant content you’re going to be able to create for them. I also think that you need to have great writers. Writers that are proficient in not only in the English language itself, but about being able to express ideas in many, many different ways. I think having something that’s very creative is going to help differentiate you as well. Creativity, writing with emotion, I think is also going to help differentiate brands and their content in the future as well. But at the end of the day, it comes down to people, the person that’s doing the writing and the person that’s part of your community or your customer base, and what makes them tick.
Often when I talk about blogging, I often tell people I have a slide, what the blog, and especially if you’re a niche B2B industry, it’s hard for you to think like what’s going to excite my community, and I like to show a picture…I say the ideal thing to blog, I show a picture of Steve Jobs holding an iPhone. I said, “Look, Steve Jobs knew that we needed the iPhone before we knew we needed it. Now, it’s indispensable” and that’s the ideal content you want to create. It’s not what your customers want to know more about which is the traditional way of looking at it, but what do they want to know about it that they don’t know yet that you already know and that’s the…
Neal: …that’s the best advice I can give to anyone listening to this podcast.
Byron: And the brilliance of Steve Jobs I might add.
Neal: Indeed, indeed.
Byron: Neal, this has been great. Two final questions for you. Who do you want to get a hold of you and how can they get a hold of you?
Neal: It’s funny. When I wrote my first book back in 2009 and it was called ‘Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging and Maximizing LinkedIn.’ I am very social and what that means is I understand that by networking with a lot of people in my profession, it provides value to everybody including myself. I don’t choose who wants to get a hold of me. If you find interest in what I say, if you’d like to network, if you like my professional advice, feel free to reach out to me.
If we’re talking about clients, I really enjoy speaking obviously whether it is at a conference like the upcoming Content Marketing Conference or it is a corporate training. I teach at Rutgers University and the Irish Management Institute so I teach at universities as well. I consider myself an educator and I’d love to help educate your company on everything social.
Outside of that, I also am the co-founder of the Social Tool Summit. If you have a tool that you’d like feedback on or you need some help on, I’d love to hear from you as well. I’ll stop there. [0:38:25 inaudible]. I have four different brands. Maximize Your Social is the name of my book. That’s my personal brand where I do my podcast. I have speaking and consulting information so that’s one place you should check. My media side is called Maximize Social Business, where including myself I have about 20 or so bloggers that contribute unique content monthly. I have the Social Tools Summit which you should check out as well, and I’m going to be launching a new community for social media professionals and others that want to up their social media game called the Social Media Center of Excellence, socialmediacoe.com. But everywhere else, I’m Neal Schaffer so whether it’s Twitter, or Facebook, or Snapchat, or even Skype. I was able to get Neal Schaffer…Even Gmail, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can find out how to spell my name, you can find me anywhere in social.
Byron: Everyone’s going to see it on the site and also as a speaker in our show, so great having you today, Neal. Really fabulous stuff.
Neal: Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure and an honor. I’m a happy WriterAccess customer. I’m looking forward speaking at the Content Marketing Conference. Being able to do this podcast was really great for me and hopefully a lot of people here listen, and come up, and hopefully shake my hand after I speak at the Content Marketing Conference saying, “I first heard you from this podcast and that convinced me to go see you speak.”
Byron: We look forward to being there in the future and staying in touch and helping you in any way we can as well. You’re a great addition to our community and thanks again for tuning in.
Neal: Thank you so much.
Byron: Indeed. Thanks everyone for listening. We’ll see you next week.