Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Content Marketing

Content Marketing Takeaways from Social Media Success Summit 2014Today’s Social Media Success Summit sessions were all about content marketing and presented by some excellent instructors: Joe Pulizzi, Lee Odden, and Todd Wheatland. Are you asking yourself, “what exactly is content marketing?” That’s okay! According to our old friend Wikipedia, it’s “any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers.” I take that to mean that content marketing is pretty much all the work we do as social media marketers — and our medium of publication is on the social platforms.

With that said, let’s dive into the golden nuggets of content marketing knowledge dropped on us today:

  • Know your core audience
  • Understand your buyer’s journey:
    • How does he or she discover your content?
    • How does he or she consume it?
    • How does he or she act upon it?
  • Four types of content
    • Curated – stats, quotes, tips, news lists
    • Co-created – leveraging assistance from subject matter experts, employees, industry influences, customers, partners
    • Evergreen – in-depth guides, how-to articles, tutorials, stats collections, FAQs
    • Repurposed – blog posts, infographics, social shares
  • SlideShare is owned by LinkedIn — I honestly did not know this
  • SlideShare has analytics; check it out now while it’s all still free
  • Connect your LinkedIn and SlideShare profiles
  • SlideShare formatting: unless your content is an infographic, use the landscape/presentation format
  • Check out Canva for visual content creation (again with the Canva!)

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s sessions on Instagram. Being new to using Instagram for business, I need all the help I can get!


Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Week 3

I’ve done my best to boil down the tips and tricks from last week’s sessions — I hope you find them helpful. As always, you’re going to want to listen to the recordings for yourself to get the most out of what Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Success Summit has to offer.

Day 1 – Blogging with sessions by Stan Smith, Leslie Samuel, and Mana Ionescu

3 Takeaways from Week 3 of the Social Media Success SummitSince Rachel and I started this blog a few months ago, I’ve been eager to learn as much as I can about the art of blogging. In these sessions I found that there was an overwhelming amount of helpful information, so I’m giving you the highlights. If you’re a blogger you are definitely going to want to check out the recordings!

  • Offer solutions to problems with your blog articles
  • Write posts as part of a series to keep people coming back
  • Get testimonials from your customers and promote them through your blog
  • The blog subscription CTA should be front and center
  • If you advertise on your blog, place the ads within content
  • Use your blog to build your email list
  • Ask your readers what they want via a short survey
  • Always have others edit your work
  • Keep it simple and clean (less is more) → STOP once you’ve made your point
  • Mention at least one influencer per post

Day 2 – Pinterest Marketing with sessions by Cynthia Sanchez, Michael Bepko, and Donna Moritz

I’m not heavily into Pinterest. Personally, I use it to search out knitting/crocheting ideas for crafts I make for my daughter. Professionally, I use it to build SEO for a B2B software company. I went in to these sessions thinking that I wouldn’t get much out of them due to my limited use, but I was wrong. I learned a surprising amount of tips and tricks.

  • Pinterest is turning into a search tool
    • Optimize your pins with keywords in the names and descriptions
  • Pinterest now has messages; you can contact people, ask them questions, engage, etc.
  • Pinterest has analytics: — I had no idea this was a thing!
  • Visual content is extremely important
    • Try creating a series of original images (10-20 in a batch) — they can be quotes, motivational, tips, etc. — use a tool like Buffer to schedule them out.

Day 3 – Podcasting with sessions by Cliff Ravenscraft, John Lee Dumas, Michael Stelzner, Pat Flynn, and Lewis Howes

I’m going to be honest here. I don’t think I’m cut out for podcasts. I was tempted to skip these sessions, but then I thought it’s best to hear it all out, especially since I paid for it! Much of it didn’t resonate with me because I don’t see podcasting in my near future. That said, these guys definitely know their stuff; and if you are even toying with the idea of podcasting, you really need to take advantage of the recordings.

  • Why podcast?
    • Because there is no screen time, you have a captive audience
    • People can listen while working out, commuting in the car, travelling, etc.
  • Grow your audience
    • Leverage directories
    • Participate in Webinars and demonstrate thought leadership
    • Leverage “New and Noteworthy” in iTunes
    • Do interviews!
      • Broaden your audience, make connections, etc.

Day 4 – Video Marketing with sessions by Caleb Wojcik, Ronnie Bincer, and Gideon Shalwick

I have a brief background in video production from college and my previous job. At my current job we’re lucky enough to have a staff videographer. I was still interested in hearing about videos from a social media standpoint since I have very little experience in it. It’s really amazing what people can produce for free with their smartphones that back-in-the-day would take a crew and a ton of equipment!

  • Try doing an “unboxing” — a video review of what receiving and using a brand new product looks like. It’s basically what people are interested in before they buy something anyway.
  • Create a repeatable video process (always do the same thing to save time and resources)
  • Use your video scripts later on as transcripts, blog posts, etc.
  • Create shorter videos that branch off of your longer ones
  • Try Camtasia for editing
  • Take advantage of Google Hangouts on Air which has no limit on how many people can watch (and it’s free live-streaming video)
  • Experiment with advertising on YouTube

Hope you guys enjoyed last week’s sessions as much as I did! Be sure to check out my other recaps of past SMSS14 sessions so you don’t miss a thing.

Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Week 2

Last week was a doozy! Being sequestered in training for 5 straight days meant that I had to use every free moment to catch up on the Social Media Success Summit sessions. I won’t waste any more time, let’s get down to business.

Day 1 – Google + with sessions by Martin Shervington, Lynette Young, Rebekah Radice, and Ryan Hanley

4 Takeaways from the Social Media Success Summit 2014 - Week 2Honestly, Google+ is not my favorite form of social media. I’m on it, but I sure don’t use it very much, and definitely not to it’s fullest potential. These sessions got me really thinking about how much more I should be doing, especially since Google+ posts have such SEO power. Of the many tips that were given, here’s what I took away to try to implement in the immediate future (baby steps):

  • Create circles and engage with them
  • Start a Community, and work intimately with them as they will be your advocates
  • Use hashtags
  • Add your own images/graphics (don’t settle for the defaults)
  • *Bold headlines* ← I had no idea it did this!
  • Post your events to Google+ → They can be inserted into Google Calendars which may increase attendance

Day 2 – Facebook with sessions by Amy Porterfield, Jon Loomer, and Andrea Vahl

Personally, I use Facebook to post pictures of my daughter and “like” pictures of my friends’ kids. I use it in a limited way for business since I work for a B2B software company and don’t have a personal “Facebooky” connection with my audience. That being said, there were tips in this session that will be valuable moving forward:

  • Make the posts about your audience, not you
  • Write in a conversational way, as if talking to a friend
  • Don’t use Facebook to sell stuff, use it to build a community and grow an email list; nurture the email list so that you have prospects that can become customers
  • Use Facebook Insights! Andrea Vahl provided a handy schedule to implement:
    • Daily → Look at your Engagement
    • Weekly → Look at Reach and Competitors
    • Monthly → Take a deep-dive into Likes, Like Sources, Post Types, and Negative Feedback

Day 3 – LinkedIn with sessions by Viveka Von Rosen, Stephanie Sammons, and Melonie Dodaro

I use LinkedIn heavily for work; I manage a group and company page. Where I really fall short is managing my own profile. I learned through these sessions that there is a ton that you can do to attract people to your profile page. I’ve always treated mine as a resume, only updating it when I get a new job. Here are the handy tips that rose to the top for me:

  • Unify your branding between your personal profile, group, and company page
  • Use keywords in your profile experience, summary, and interests to attract more visitors
  • Make your profile personal, don’t be afraid to share details to attract like-minded people
  • Be yourself
  • Engage strategically; it’s not about marketing, it’s about building influence
  • Ask for recommendations and reciprocate

Day 4 – Twitter with sessions by Erik Fisher, Amy Schmittauer, and Jessica Northey

Twitter is hands down my favorite form of social media, so I was very excited for Twitter-themed Thursday! Here are the takeaways I found most valuable:

  • If you’re having trouble creating new content, curate it.
    • Try a tool like Buffer. I just started Buffer, and I’m really enjoying it!
  • Enable Twitter Cards
    • Add a bit of code to your website, and you can tweet links containing rich media which saves more of those 140 characters for relevant text.
  • Build relationships by treating Twitter like a cocktail party; mingle, engage, be human, be giving
  • Share only content that you want to be known for
  • Quotes and resources are great things to share; large retweet factor
  • Never be boring!

Here’s to an awesome week two. Today’s sessions on blogging were incredibly insightful — look for a recap soon!

Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Day 3

As much as I’m enjoying these sessions, I’m sure glad we’re through with week one. I’m definitely going to need the weekend to let all of this amazing content marinate into my brain before week two starts up! Now let’s skip the chit-chat, and get down to business.

How to Take Control of Your Social Body Language to Maximize Your Social Brand, Bryan Kramer

3 Takeaways from Day 3 of SMSS14Bryan started his presentation with the stat that 93% of communication is based on nonverbal body language. So when you’re communicating on social media, that’s A LOT of posts you need to write in order to get people to know who you are. His main point is to be human (#H2H), and in his words, “fakers suck” because “authenticity is the most important factor to gaining credibility in social.” This is proving itself more and more true as I wade through the world of social media. Just be yourself and the rest will fall into place. And being funny doesn’t hurt either.

How to Streamline Your Social Media Activities with Proven Tools, Ian Cleary

The first thing Ian asked us was, “Do you dream of being on top of it all?” I think my eyes filled with tears as I shouted, “You bet your sweet @$$ I do!” at my laptop. Ian recommended loads of tools to help yourself get organized. Tools to auto-release your content, help you find content options to share, find websites to link to your site, and so much more. I have to say, I was shocked at the amount of tools he provided in 35 minutes. I felt overwhelmed and far from “on top of it all.” The thought of new tools, new passwords, more things to log in to totally freaked me out. But as with most things, trying new stuff is scary, and same goes for this. When social media is your career, you can’t settle into a rut or you will be as obsolete as Friendster. When you’re presented with a list of tools like Ian gave us, I recommend you pick one or two that address your pain points and give them a try. That’s the advice I’m giving myself and anyone else who came out of this session feeling as I did.

How to Find Out Where Your Ideal Audience Is Using Social Media, Neal Schaffer

Neal started his presentation by talking a little bit about social strategy and how important it is to understand your customer. By knowing what they are interested in, how old they are, and where they are located, you can target them on social platforms. He narrowed down the playing field by limiting the search to four of the twelve most visited websites in the U.S.: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Something new I learned is that you can sign up for the advertising function on these platforms and utilize it to locate your demographics. Did you know that when you sign up for advertising on Facebook and Twitter that you get access to a snippet of code that you can paste into your  website’s tag manager and find who on Facebook and Twitter are visiting your site? Facebook and Twitter also have the ability to upload an email list and they will match the emails up with accounts on their platforms. Stuff that sounds both cool and creepy, but let’s face it, the internet can be creepy.

If you didn’t get a chance to listen to these sessions, I highly recommend you do so before next week. Thanks goodness for the recordings. I have a heck of a meeting schedule next week, so I’ll probably be listening to most sessions on demand. Daily recaps will probably turn into weekly recaps!

This post comes paired with polenta with sausage and mushroom sauce. #noms.

Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Day 2

Day 2 of the Social Media Success Summit is in the books. I have to say, for such brief sessions, they sure pack them with information! Here’s a run-down of what I was able to absorb.

Unlocking Your Perfect Social Media Strategy, Mark Schaefer

3 Takeaways from SMSS14 - Day 2Long story short — you need a social media strategy. And unlike traditional marketing strategies, social media strategies are alive and need to be adjusted as technologies and trends change. Mark went on to offer a 6-question methodology for creating your strategy. It’s all those important questions you need to ask yourself, for example: what do you have to offer that no one else does? Once you have that answered, you have something to work off of and you’re on your way to formulating a solid strategy! I will be setting time aside soon to go through all of the questions and create a strategy of my own. I can see myself putting it off as just keeping up with the day-to-day work can be challenging enough, but in the end it will definitely be worth it!

How to Build Powerful Relationships on Facebook and Beyond, Mari Smith

Mari’s focus was on Facebook, which for me is not a platform I use very often, but her session was very interesting. I was surprised to hear that only about 6% of your Facebook fans ever see your content. So if you’re not getting user interaction, such as likes and shares, on your posts there is even less of a chance of someone seeing the content. She offered many tips for increasing reach: post outside of business hours, mix up the frequency, and even try posting less — gasp!

How to Grow Your Blog’s Traffic and Revenue, Syed Balkhi

I’m going to be honest, my brain is still spinning from Syed’s session, and I mean that in a good way! He offered a ton of tips for optimizing blogs through online tools and WordPress plugins. What I found particularly insightful was his suggestion to re-use old content. He offered many ways this can be done:

  • Tweet old posts to maximize your potential reach and get new followers
  • Change content format on your blog — bring old articles to the front with “Tip of the Week” or “Popular Posts” sections
  • Turn your posts into a “round-up” to get more leverage from the content
  • Build an eBook from your posts and offer it as incentive to sign up for your email list

There was oh-so-much more, but you’ll just have to go track down the recordings to get the rest! And don’t forget to check out my summary of the Social Media Success Summit – Day 1 when you have a chance.

This post comes paired with octopus shaped hot dogs, cucumber salad, and homemade applesauce. Give me a break, I have a small child to entertain!

Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Day 1

I’m super excited to be attending the Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Success Summit. It’s been many years since I’ve attended a user conference and been on the receiving end of the learning. This conference is different than any I’ve attended before. Why? Because it is 100% online, which is cool because it made it much more cost effective (cheap, I’ll just say cheap), and as a bonus, I don’t have to spend time away from my adorable toddler. The downside is that it’s 100% online, which means in my situation a significant amount of time sequestered from distractions at work (and the inbox is piling up!). Day one went well, but I already see many scheduling conflicts in the not-so-distant future, so good thing they record them for later viewing. Although, I have to say it’s fun to Twitter chat and see ideas pop up in real time. Does anyone agree there should be a hashtag for those of us talking about it in off hours (perhaps #SMSS14afterdark?) If the reference is lost on you, I have no words.

Let’s get down to the meat of it. What did I learn today?

Social Media Success Summit Day 1The first keynote was “Drip Feed Marketing,” by Mike Stelzner. It’s about regularly delivering free content to an audience who will find value in it. The key message I took away from this was to ask your audience what content they want. Why guess when you can set up a quick poll and ask? Also, my favorite quote was in reference to creating content: “Relevance trumps pizzazz every time.” I take this to mean that content is still king!

The second keynote was “How to Use Visual Content to Drive Massive Social Media Engagement,” by Kim Garst. She stressed the importance of being visual; apparently you only have about six seconds to impress visitors to your website. They will judge your company based on how snazzy your website is. I can’t say I disagree; I recently selected a new dog groomer based on its website. Kim also provided many tools and tips on creating sharable content; she gave a big ‘ol bump to Canva. You may remember them from my previous post about free webinars. But I digress …

Finally, Andy Crestodina finished it up with “How Examining Two Numbers in Your Analytics Will Make You a Better Blogger.”  He had some very cool things to show us on finding your star content in analytics  and how to improve it. He shared a formula for giving an SEO boost to old content by indicating relevance by using keywords:

  • in the beginning of the title tag
  • once in the H1
  • four to six times in the body
  • within links to the page from other pages on your site (link from your old stuff to your new stuff)

While doing this is totally on the up-and-up with Google and other search engines, I found this statement to be a good reminder, “Don’t compromise your content so much that you can’t recognize it. That’s spam.”

There ya go — the Social Media Success Summit Day 1 in a nutshell, a small digestible nutshell. So far, this conference is packed with a ton of great content; you should see the amount of notes I took today!

I will be posting more articles about my learnings from the event, but let’s be honest, I probably won’t get to writing one every day of the conference. But I’ll do my best to share the tips I discover with you!

This post comes paired with sopes. Delicious sopes from Palapa in Santa Barbara, CA.

Score Big on Your First Email with 4 Simple Ingredients

The story my husband loves to tell at parties is how I adamantly said “No, thanks” when he very nervously asked me out (and as usual, he’s not exaggerating). But, after I messaged 20 of my closest friends and was called an “idiot” by every single one of them, I gave him a chance. In my defense I had a good reason, but that is neither here nor there. The other story we both like to tell is how our first date was horribly awkward. Like how-about-them-Dodgers bad. But another date followed, and another, and the rest is a five-year history filled with laughter, adventures and wedded bliss.

Where am I going with this? The first date can be either the gateway to a life-long relationship; or it can end tragically before it even begins. There are four key ingredients to making a first date successful, whether it’s with a stranger or a longtime friend. And, the best part is, these rules are just as relevant to email marketing. I just hit you with a double-advice blog post whammy! It’s just as nerve wracking hitting that send button to 25,000 people, whether it’s to prospects or longtime customers, as it is asking someone out for the first time. And we’ve probably all been there right? Relevant life experience analogy? Check!

The Perfect Email Recipe
























1. The Subject Line and Sender

There is only one first impression, and in a list of unread emails that look identically bold at 8 a.m., you really need to razzle dazzle.

  • Be familiar. Using a real person as the sender name, rather than some unknown group of yahoos like “marketing,” can elicit an emotional response. It might make someone say, “Hey, Judy sent me an email and needs my help! I’ll open it.”
  • Be simple, clear, and relevant. Segment your audience and focus your subject line on specific solutions to popular pain points. Make people think about what amazing info they might miss out on if they don’t give your email a chance.  I have an example of this in action at the end of this post.
  • Don’t be too clever. More than a just a handful of recipients need to understand the witty reference. Below is an example of one subject line that was meant to be clever (I assume) but I was very hesitant to open at first.

Orbitz Example


  • Be brief. The shorter the subject line the better (6-10 words, 50 characters or less) because it may get cut off, or you might lose the point if you say too much.
  • Don’t say anything insulting. Some words should be avoided in any instance. Don’t use these spam trigger words.
  • Show your fun side. Symbols in subject lines are OK in some instances, like a heart icon in a fun newsletter. But use sparingly as they are not always supported. Nothing is more annoying than a tiny empty box where an emoji once lived.

2. Design

A schleppy mess does not impress. The old adage “never judge a book by its cover” is basically crap when marketing to prospects. The look of your email is just as important as the words within it.

  • Be color conscious. In a recent Litmus Webinar, I learned that yellow can cause anxiety and urgency, which might improve your CTRs; blue conveys trust; green might suggest to go, act now. This is a good article on color psychology, which actually suggests to avoid yellow. The point is you should perform A/B testing to find out what your audience reacts to the best because colors can play a huge role in your email’s success.
  • Look dapper. Slapping some random, ill-sized images here and there does not an aesthetically pleasing email make. At least look like you tried even if you put the email together in five minutes. This is where professionally designed, easy-to-replicate templates come in handy.
  • Make eye contact. Use images of real people looking in the direction of your CTA. According to the folks over at Emma Marketing, it works!
  • Take risks. Do you remember the last beige email you received? Exactly. Try bold color combinations and an interesting style. Just don’t stray too far from the authentic you. It might be a shock the next time if you look completely different; consistency is important.

3. Copy and Tone

The most important part of any email is keeping your audience interested. Getting your email opened is the hard part. Now it’s all about the conversation. Otherwise, it’s “check please!” before you even get to the good part.

  • Don’t talk about yourself the whole time. It’s not all about you. Remember WIIFM: What’s in it for me? Ask questions. Be interested in the other. What can you offer that no other email can?
  • Don’t use complicated jargon. Unless you speak the same technical language, keep it clear and simple. You don’t want to confuse your audience or make them feel less knowledgeable, even if they do think the capital of California is Los Angeles. (If that’s the case, maybe they aren’t the right prospect for you anyway.)
  • Be personal. Know your audience and segment based on customer type, geography, and interests. Personalize the email with first name (but always check the data first for potential data entry errors). People like being constantly reminded that you know their name.
  • Don’t push. You don’t want to intimidate someone right off the bat. This is just the first email; you don’t have to put everything out there yet. Verbal diarrhea is usually a major turn off. So is the word diarrhea. Sorry.

4. Call to Action

The email is coming to an end. Your ultimate goal is to get your audience to extend a hand to you for a future engagement and to make them want to see more from you.

  • Be clear. Only use one main call to action. Make sure you end on the same page with a clear next step. Will you call them? Will they contact you?
  • Sleep on it. Avoid intimidating language like “Buy Now.” People need time to consider things, so make sure to nurture them and kindly follow up after an appropriate waiting period. But also don’t keep people waiting and wondering! Will you respond in five minutes or one to three business days? Set expectations.

I clearly established in an earlier post that I have a borderline-obsessive crush on Litmus. So you can imagine my excitement when I received an email from them the other day. It’s like Christmas morning when I see one of those clean, crisp messages in my inbox. I know something exciting is about to happen! Squee!

I wanted to share this as an example of an email that definitely includes the four key ingredients (and a couple of the insights in this post came from their 8 Second Challenge Webinar). Excellent timing with my post.

Litmus Email Example

The subject line instantly has my attention. I have 8 seconds until what? The message self destructs? The aliens arrive? I want to know more!

And is a casual and approachable sender email address. Everyone knows it’s from marketing, but they are subtle about it.

Some other reasons I think this is a great email:

  • The H1 copy immediately answers the question “I have 8 seconds for what?”
  • “Better” is used in a non-offensive way. They aren’t insulting your emails, rather suggesting that everyone wants better emails. Because who doesn’t?
  • The image is simple but eye catching.
  • The body copy is under 100 words.
  • An easy-to-digest number is used in both the subject line and the body copy.
  • The copy gives you just enough information on what you can expect from the Webinar.
  • The name of the Webinar is appealing and inviting you to be involved.
  • In this case, the determining factors on if I can attend (date and time) are up front. I’d rather know now than find out after wasting valuable time that I can’t attend.
  • CTA: “Save your seat” is less forward and more personable than “Register Now.”

Isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it lovely? Isn’t it wonderful? Ok, enough of the love fest. Next time you are crafting an email, think of the ingredients that make a successful first date and you might just score big time. In open rates and click-thrus, of course.

This post was paired with some cauliflower stir fry. I didn’t notice that I was drooling into it as I dissected this email. Still delicious!