When I launched my first podcast in 2011, I created a Twitter account to help me promote episodes. Twitter was a pretty good platform to promote a podcast - if you knew how to generate interest in your copy.
It was not uncommon for me to see very generic and simple episode promotions from other shows. They would read something like this:
Our new episode is out now! Listen here!
Episode 233 is now live! Listen here!
We just dropped our latest show about cow-tipping. Get it here!
Okay, I made up the cow-tipping post, but it represents a limited explanation of an episode. You can insert any topic there.
I interviewed movie and television actors in my first podcast, and instead of "cow-tipping," I would highlight who I interviewed in each post.
I thought dropping names would be enough.
I was wrong.
For example, I interviewed Anthony Michael Hall, and we talked about his early success, John Hughes and modern comedy. It was an enjoyable discussion, and I was anxious to share it with everyone.
So, when the time came, I promoted it on Twitter. I can't remember what I wrote in the first Tweet, but it was something simple, like:
In the latest episode of the show, I talk with Anthony Michael Hall - (link)
I might have added another minor detail. Either way - engagement was extremely low.
I knew my copy needed something more. In a lot of ways, my post wasn't any different from saying, "Check this out! - (Link)"
So, I thought about the conversation.
What was one of the more intriguing questions and answers?
What was a question that I couldn't wait to ask?
Then it hit me - What was it like for a kid your age in 1985 (17 years old) to play Kelly LeBrock's love interest in Weird Science?
So I created a post that said something like:
"Anthony Michael Hall describes what it was like playing Kelly LeBrock's love interest as a teenager in Weird Science..."
It was true then, and it is still true today (especially with all of the other podcasts promoting episodes now) - Give people a reason to click.
"Check it out" and "New episode!" aren't the best examples.
Think about your audience.
Keep it simple, but be specific.
Finally, make it more appealing than a greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray.
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Can social media be a "gratifying" experience for your customers and prospects? History and current trends suggest that's up to the messenger.
As early as the 1960s, uses and gratifications theory (UGT) was focused on how the mediums of television and radio could satisfy an audience's needs. In the 1980s, D.L. Swanson expanded the study of UGT into understanding the role of messaging in media.
This expanded study led to further research into how media content can generate different forms of gratifications and lead to content consumption interests. Marketers are now trying to figure out how to achieve similar goals through social media and online content. Once again, the concept of UGT has to evolve.
A 2016 study called Social Media Engagement Behaviour: A Uses and Gratifications Perspective explored the concept of UGT in social media because it is designed explicitly for engagement through different types of content offerings. They broke up that content into four engagement content groups:
Information (resourceful and helpful information)
Entertainment (escapism, emotional release, hedonistic pleasure)
Remunerative (incentives, drawings, giveaways)
Relational (connections, friendships, relationships, support, friends, family)
They concluded that UGT in social media expands beyond traditional media ideas because customers were no longer passive but active participants.
In traditional media, marketers could count on a captive audience to consume their content, but that's not enough anymore. Now, the audience scours their feeds, skimming through posts and choosing content that has relevance to them.
Proposing Marriage Before Having Coffee
When marketers could make an instant sales pitch to a captive audience, it was expected and understandable. Doing this on social media is like proposing marriage before you even have coffee.
In other words, leading with "Will you marry me?" is similar to leading with, "Check out this great deal!" Appeals to "check out a deal" and other calls to action tend to result in lower engagement rates from consumers as they ignore the pleas. That's because they face multiple "marriage proposals" every time they go online - even though research shows that only 3% of buyers are ready to buy (or say "Yes").
According to Customer Engagement in Social Media: A Framework and Meta-Analysis, "Customer engagement is based on trust and commitment that then generate satisfaction and positive emotion."
So, the key to positive response is building trust and forming a relationship.
What's More Gratifying than Tacos?
I bet you were wondering when I was getting to the TACO part, right? You thought I got distracted by coffee talk. Don't worry, here come the tacos!
I don't know about you, but just writing the word "tacos" gets me hungry for them. With that in mind, maybe all a company like Taco Bell would need to do on Twitter is just write and share posts about tacos, right? The rest would take care of itself?
Taco Bell is a perfect example of recognizing the importance of engagement. They launched their social sites (like Twitter) and used them as an advertising tool.
The brand name alone was good enough to generate a "following," but they were significantly behind other brands. This is problematic in an industry that relies heavily on customer gratification and loyalty.
Nick Tran (their former Head of Social Media) said, "We were taking content and commercials from other channels and repurposing them for social media.”
When they completely revamped their strategy to focus on content, conversations, variety and engagement, they skyrocketed their following (three times that of Burger King).
They also became an industry standard in social media success.
A key driver to their change in strategy was also recognizing how many fans (mainly college millennials) were advocates and could be accents to their content. In other words:
They now have millions of loyal fans and online advocates because they evolved from an advertising bullhorn to a conversational companion.
You Don't Have to Offer Tacos to be Gratifying
If you have it in you to add tacos to your SAAS company or product, feel free. However, that's not really the takeaway here.
When you look at the exchange Taco Bell had with their audience, ask yourself:
What would be more gratifying experience with a brand - that example or one that just grabbed stuff and make it work on "social" media?
Just based on the presence of interactions on others, wouldn't you feel confident about asking a question and getting a human response?
Outside of the fast food world, can you visualize how communication instead of promotion) promotion builds relationships?
One of the reasons that building a relationship of trust is so gratifying is because so many other brands are still loading their feeds with self-serving content and demanding calls to action.
Start with meeting for coffee.
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According to Forbes, the growing interest in podcasts is not slowing down. Here is a quick list of stuff.
Why should you start a podcast for you business?
What mistakes should you avoid?
What steps should you definitely take?
How will you grow audience and generate business?
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As another holiday season appears in the rearview mirror and companies begin thinking about their marketing, messaging and branding strategies for 2022, I'm hopeful that a visit to 34th Street inspired a few people. The original 1947 film is always on my watch list during the season, but there are three important lessons brands can remember throughout the year.
Lesson 1: Customer Loyalty Was Earned Without a Sale
When kids shared what they wanted for Christmas, Santa was supposed to tell the parents how they could buy specific toys at Macy's. When Santa meets Peter, he tells Santa he wants a fire engine for Christmas, not just any toy fire engine - A fire truck like the big ones only smaller, with a real hose that squirts real water.
His mother tries to tell Santa it's impossible to get because nobody has them. So, when Peter is told he'll get one for Christmas, she's not too happy about it. When Santa tells her she can find those fire engines at Schoenfeld's on Lexington, that all changes.
The head of the toy department hears Santa tell her and others where they can buy toys - outside of Macy's.
Did they hire a Bad Santa?
Did they lose a chunk of revenue as Santa helped parents find the right store and price?
Indeed this madness had to stop, right?
That is until Peter's mom said putting the spirit of Christmas ahead of the commercial was wonderful, and she would now be a regular Macy's customer.
That was an even bigger shock to the manager, but should it have been?
If you took this quote and replaced "kids" with "customer," would you say that's your brand's philosophy? If so, what Santa did was completely logical.
The toy manager thought the only way for Santa to earn revenue and loyalty was to tell them what to buy. It's instant gratification - like knowing what's in a wrapped package before opening it.
Macy's didn't get an instant buy that day, but the purchases Peter's Mom will make as a loyal customer will more than make up for it.
Much of today's marketing and advertising continues to be rooted in a desperate attempt to get that instant gratification despite research that shows consumers don't want sales pitches and don't want to be told to buy on social media.
Lesson 2: The Customer Did Not Expect the Brand to Care
Peter's mom assumed (and rightfully so) that any employee or representative of Macy's would care about their own interests (in this case - sales) over the customer's needs. Remember, for Mr. Kringle to be a "good Santa," he was instructed to suggest overstocked toys to kids.
There is plenty of skepticism about the motivations of brands today. The difference is that in 2021, customers are in a much better position to demand companies act more like Santa and less like the toy manager.
What will you do in 2022 to communicate to customers that you have their best interests at heart?
Lesson 3: The Competition Took Notice
In his book, They Ask, You Answer, Marcus Sheridan talks about how CarMax shook up the car buying industry by saying they would differentiate themselves by addressing the typical customer's complaints about going to the dealership.
The car dealers didn't take them seriously. They knew they were the big dogs that had been around for years.
When people want a car - they go to them.
In their minds, nobody was going to change that - until they did. They changed the rules, and car dealers had to adjust.
Macy's nor Gimbel's would have come up with a holiday shopper strategy without Santa's customer-focused heart because they would assume it would hurt them (a company-focused mindset). However, once Macy's did something new, Gimbel's took notice and had to change their thinking (or hearts).
However, if you're a consumer, how does that look to you?
You have two brands with a lot in common in their industry - including their business, marketing and public relations strategy.
One brand does something TOTALLY DIFFERENT and blows the minds of customers. Suddenly, everyone's talking about it, and it's a game-changer for their company.
Then the other brand suddenly makes a significant effort to say, "Hey! US TOO! We believe in that too!"
Would you still be attached (maybe even more loyal) to the company that did it first?
It's not uncommon for competing brands to watch each other and do what the other one does - especially in marketing, branding and public relations.
The only differentiator is each brand is trying to tell customers that:
What good does that do?
As digital marketing consultant Mark Schaefer will tell you - If you're #2 in your industry, you can't be doing things the way #1 does things.
How will you differentiate yourself from your competition?
Bonus Lesson: Santa is Real
So be good to your prospects and customers.
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