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How to become purposeful with your social media content

Your purposeful content should reflect who you are, what you do, and what you want to be known for. The next step once you've realized these three areas is to take your purposeful goals into the content you're creating. You should be creating social media content that reflects your values and speaks to exactly what you want to be known for.

While this may sound basic, it can become more intricate as you ask yourself:

  • How am I fulfilling the values I've set for my business?

  • How can I better fulfill the brand promise of [insert value] that my business is making?

  • What do people need to know in order to understand [insert value] better?

Purposeful Social Media Content Serves Three Goals

It lets people know what you stand for

Your brand should shout who you are and what you stand for from the rooftops. A picture says a thousand words and all of them should be in alignment or offering additional depth to the image you want to build. You should get to the point where people look at what you post or read your caption and say they know exactly who posted it.

This is a mixture of recognition and consistency. People know what to expect from you, down to the colors you use and the way you introduce yourself, so they begin to remember you. One of your largest goals with marketing is awareness (they know you exist!) followed by being top of mind (they remember you exist!) and lastly they are considering you as an option (they like you and you make sense!).

It uses imagery that creates emotion

Social media posts without an image don't do so well. It's why Facebook has allowed people to create post backgrounds when you have short text - people don't respond as much to regular updates without photos.

According to HubSpot:

Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images. 

Live videos on Facebook have an engagement rate of 4.3% compared to 2.2% for non-live videos.

85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound.

While you're content may be great, you still need to entice people with imagery that lets them know what you're all about. It should create an emotional response. That doesn't mean people cry at every photo, but it does mean that they should build an emotional connection or respond with what you intend whether it's happiness, excitement, anger, etc. 

It makes sharing easy

People should want to share what you have to say. The more valuable your content, the more likely it is that people will want to share it. When you're creating your content, keep the shareability in mind like:

  • Tag or watermark your photos so people can find your original content

  • Make what you have to say or tell valuable enough to share

  • What it means for the people sharing and what it does for their image (people like to share Harvard Business Review for this reason)

These are the three things that you should be striving for as you develop content. Likes are nice, comments are better, but shares are best.

Once you have your content structure and purpose in mind, it makes tailoring it to each platform that much easier. The pre-work you do to make sure posts, captions, and images align with your values creates a cohesive and consistent online message supported by everything your consumer can see.

Let's get real

I know this can sound difficult or even get you to the point of nit-picking. I am that person. I scan through stock images until one is perfect in color, feel, and purpose. It has to suit each social platform as well (I would never post the same image on Instagram as I do on LinkedIn because I'm serving my audiences in two different ways).

Look at the two images below. One was a "Yes!" for me and my business because it supported my values of fun, simplicity, and boldness. You want to take a guess which one?


(In case you’re wondering, I picked the first one. I never use yellow in my images and loved the simplicity of the image on the right.)

I did the same thing for one of my recent clients. She wanted to be seen as organized, professional, and approachable but with a more down-to-earth vibe (no marble flatlays in anything of hers!) I showed her all the stock images I pulled, before explaining why I chose the first one. The first one had the right colors, sent the right message of organization, and filled in the site with added value.

How are you creating purposeful content?

Best practices for social media engagement

I know, social media can seem like a pain. But it's meant to drive engagement between you and other people.

Since the true purpose of social media is to drive connection, you're not leveraging social channels to the fullest extent if you're not engaging on an individual level.

Why is engagement on social media so important?

1. Because if you're not connecting and engaging with others then you're missing out.

You're not actually meeting the people that social media let's you get in touch with. No matter the country or time zone or interests, you can cross so many barriers easily and fluidly with a single post.

2. Algorithms want to see engagement.

If you're screaming, "ME ME ME" from the corner by only posting about yourself, for yourself, and by yourself, then you're not really on social media for the right things. You should be engaging so that no matter the channel you're on - Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter - people see you as someone looking to be social.

And the algorithms love it. I conducted my own social experiment: I continued posting to my work Instagram account and stopped engaging altogether (no liking, commenting, etc. on other people's posts) and watched my own posts decline by half. That's just how important engaging is.

So, you've scheduled all your posts in advance. What do you do next to jumpstart your social media engagement?

Scheduling your posts out allows you to take the pressure off of posting or devising new content everyday and puts you in the headspace to engage with people who engage with you first or who may be of interest to your business.

1. Comment on people's posts.

Spend your time writing comments that mean something. I "That's nice" or a "You're awesome" or "Follow me back" don't count for much in the game of comments.

Side note: Do not have a robot do this portion for you. Robots are not good at pretending to be human - their comments often don't make any sense - but by having generic comments you're showing people that you're not interested enough to be specific.

General Goal: 10 before 10.

I heard this in one of my accountability groups and loved it! 10 before 10 is an easy way remember to engage on social media. It means that you leave 10 comments before 10AM - you knock out your engagement before the day has even started.

2. Like other people's posts and videos is like being a good neighbor.

Genuinely engage with content you enjoy so that you can see more of it and so people know that you appreciate them. Especially if they're also putting in the time and effort, reward them with the likes and kudos you would want for yourself.

General Goal: Spend 10 minutes engaging per day.

That may sound like a lot, but if you spend your time starting conversations and not just scrolling, you'll be surprised what you can do in just 10 minutes! Or 5 minutes. Whatever your schedule allows, it's worth spending time relating to others.

3. Start a messenger conversation

Really love what someone has done? Send them a private message.

Really want to dig deeper into a post? Send them an individual message.

People love that you thought of them and want to speak further. It's like a handwritten note in a sea of emails.

4. Respond to people engaging with you.

If someone leave you a great Google Review, Facebook Review, or comment - thank them! It's not too time consuming and people will remember that you spent time engaging with them specifically - it makes them feel heard and appreciated.

Especially if your content is being shared or people are generating a lot of their own content and tagging your business or checking in to your location, this is a perfect opportunity to connect in another way.

5. Get involved with Groups.

Facebook and LinkedIn Groups can be invaluably to generating a following or traffic to your page. Whether you've created a group and are managing it, or have joined a group that has your target audience, both do wonders for your social media presence.

Keep in mind that in the group you're there to add value first, connect with others second. And a very distant third is to promote yourself directly and only in the manner approved by the group so you don't come across as "spammy."

What if I have a lot of social media channels that I need to engage with?

If you have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, Twitch, and the list goes on and on then I would divide your time on what matters most and how you can be most effective.

If you comment best online, then block out time for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Youtube to tackle all at once. If you comment best on mobile, then block time for Instagram and Twitter.

I would recommend splitting your time between them so you're not only active on one. I love time blocking as well so you don't fall down the rabbit hole and engage for 8 hours (when you could be working on your business).

Does all of this even work anyway?

The biggest complaint I hear about social media is that, "It's all for show and I don't get any business anyway."

My response is that you will get a response where you show your effort. If you aren't spending your time and effort in social media, it's unlikely to reap any rewards. However, if you are cultivating true relationships and engaging you are much more likely to connect with people who can help you grow and may even be customers.

The power of partnership: collaboration over competition

I love working with other businesses! It's a great way to get to know someone and to help lift each other up. Every business and business owner has different strengths, so by working together in a complementary way you can create synergies between your businesses (and maybe create something that you may not have attempted on your own).

I have been partnering a lot recently on different projects as a way to:

- Increase visibility: Jessica Modad and I have partnered for our InstaBrand series.

This way people that they know get to know you too! 

- Create things together: Laura Cheek and I partnered for a series on social media marketing.

Sometimes it's hard to get outside of yourself and get feedback on your own business or how to improve. Business besties and connection can open doors you've never thought of! 

- Celebrate collaboration: J Franco and I will be creating a Live video about hiring a marketing expert.

By working together, you're promoting collaboration over competition (and may accomplish some pretty nifty things).

Ways to partner with other entrepreneurs

1. Go Live together

2. Interview each other

3. Have coffee 1 on 1

4. Promote sharing of each other's social posts

5. Use as referral partners

6. Develop a co-offering

7. Create a video series together

8. Leverage a partnership network (instead of doing everything)

9. Share or pool resources

10. Ask for referrals or recommendations

11. Keep in touch

12. Co-creation of articles and content

All of these different ways can help you create a deeper business community and create an offering with greater depth to meet customer needs.

How else do you partner with other entrepreneurs?

How you can incorporate the most important thing (hint:yourself) into your social media

Why should you do this?

People need to know you’re a real person.

On the internet, people have the opportunity to craft amazing profile which may or may not be real. By showing your face and giving a face behind an organization, you are literally showing people that their is a real person behind your presence.

Familiarity builds liking. Liking builds trust. We do business with people we like and trust.

If people never see you or get to know you, how can they be expected to purchase from you? Without incorporating your personality into your posts, they will never get a sense of who you really are and why you are the right person to do business with.

Think of it like owning a physical location - wouldn't it be weird if you never met anyone helping you?

Can you imagine going into a store to buy a new outfit and hearing a voice over the PA answering your questions? Would you feel comfortable not knowing who's behind all of the words and messages?

Probably not. Stand behind what you're saying and help your customers understand who you are so you don't end up with a Wizard of Oz situation.

Incorporating yourself into your social media is especially important when you own your own business or YOU are your business.

You are not a corporation, you should have a human side.

People want to meet the owners and people behind the scenes. That way they understand who you are, why you do what you do, and why they should be excited to work with you. No one wants the dry or boring copy. Or the answering service that hangs up on you. They want a human side to a company.

Big business is trying to humanize themselves, so it should be something easier for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Humanizing brands and businesses is a way to get customers to care more about what you have to offer. You can read more about how you can be successful humanizing here.

Ways to infuse your personality and presence into your social media

Your brand palette

This should be a fun way to incorporate and show who you are with color and visuals.

Positioning statement

Your positioning statement summarizes what you're all about. It should be part of your Instagram bio and make people think, "This is the kind of person I want to interact with.

Photos of yourself

It doesn't need to be every photo, but incorporating pictures of yourself and your employees shows people (literally) who you are.

Write how you speak

Don't speak like a drone, actually write posts how you would speak so people can get a true hint of your personality.

Have days just for fun - share something

Not everything should be about selling on your social media. Spend some time getting to know your followers and sharing fun information about you.

Be yourself

Always be yourself! This is the quickest and surest way to make sure the people who get in touch with you will be the right match.

Share what’s really going on

Not everything has to be sunny days and endless mimosas. Be real with your audience about life, they will appreciate the honesty.

For more tips about infusing your personality, you can read on here.

Top Instagram apps, tools, and resources

Social media is a beast to tackle. There is so much going on, things are always changing, and it's hard to know what to use to get started with the multitude of apps out there.

In response to the confusion I've seen online and in person, I've put together a list of my top resources to have an amazing social media presence.

TOOLS FOR CREATING CONTENT

Canva

My number 1 tool for creating social media content. Use it on the desktop or mobile app to put together social media templates for any platform. Template sizes for social media posts come built in so you don't need to figure out individual photo pixels.

Motion Stills (only available for iOS)

Great app for creating boomerangs from Apple Live photos.

Video crop

For iOS
For Android

With this app, you can crop videos to fit in the Instagram frame.

Instagrids

For iOS
For Android

If you are trying to create a grid out of one photo, this app will automatically divide the photo into the sizes you need.

WordSwag

If you haven't heard of WordSwag, you need to! WordSwag is great for putting together text and photos without needing to worry about resizing or restructuring you content. You just type in the text you want, choose a photo, and choose your text style. The app automatically generates the photo for you!

PicFlow (iOS only)

Put together photos with music for a slideshow. You can make a slideshow of just about anything, and add in some music off of your phone. They also include standard tracks in case you don't have music on your device.

Boomerang

For iOS
For Android

Turn small movements into a GIF! I love boomerang for adding a fun touch to my Instagram feed.

Pic Collage

For iOS
For Android

Want to make a grid of photos? Use this app to turn any collection into a collage.

Places to find stock photos

When putting together templates for your social media posts, try to use your own pictures. For industries that lack photos, or are working on collecting some, I've gathered a few stock photography websites together.

Stock photos should not have any copyright restrictions in place when you are using them for your account. These are my top sites for finding free stock photos that have a creative commons license.

I love using stock photos since marketing can be under an NDA or clients don't want you to release ongoing projects. Check out how I've incorporated stock photos into my Instagram:

TOOLS FOR SCHEDULING OR POSTING CONTENT

Repost for Instagram

For iOS
For Android

Allows you to re-post content from other people's pages. Make sure you get their permission before re-posting any of their content!

Later

App and site to schedule Instagram posts. If you are pressed for time, this will prompt you when to post and let you see what your grid will look like if you post in a any given order.

TOOLS FOR INCREASING ENGAGEMENT

Hashtags.

One app I like to use for hashtags is Tagomatic. For more about hashtags, read my complete guide to hashtags.

Tagomatic

Allows you to find and save hashtags for the account you are working on. It also recommends additional hashtags to use based on your search.

Followers

The app will let you see who is following yo back, who has unfollowed you, and who is following you that you are not following back.

I hope this list of recommended tools has helped you jumpstart your social media strategy! What other apps do you love to use?

Want to read more about Instagram?

How to Gain Instagram Followers

Tips on Defining your Brand on Instagram

How to drive social media engagement

21 ways to increase your site traffic

"How do I increase my site traffic?"

I have heard this question several times in the past week and wanted to put something together to help small business owners to increase their site traffic.

Site traffic is important since online sales can be a numbers game.

Online conversion rates are incredibly low, around 2.95%, so increasing the amount of people coming to your site is key.

Here are 21 ways to increase your site traffic

1. Guest blogging

While this is no guarantee of traffic, it can help increase it if you are posting in place where:

  • Your target customer hangs out

  • The blog owner actively promotes their content on social media

  • The blog following is engaged with new posts

  • The content is related to what you do

  • The site receives a significant amount of traffic (if you want to check it out, see Similar Web.)

Guest blog posting can be a lot of fun, but does require time and commitment to see results from.

Suggestion: Try getting one guest blog post per month with the above parameters in mind.

2. Social media marketing

Use the power of social media to direct people to your site! You can use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn. Before choosing which ones to concentrate on, ask yourself:

  • Which ones make the most sense for my business?

  • Which ones are my ideal clients on?

  • Which ones best showcase what I have to offer?

Suggestion: Try a couple out and see which ones offer the best results. For social media to work though, you need to do more of this.

3. Content marketing

Blogging on topics that are of interest to your target market can help them stumble upon your site. By answering their questions, before they need to reach out and ask you directly, you are showing that you are knowledge, interested, and concerned with the customer's point of view. It can also help you since people also search for their problem, not necessarily the name of your business as their solution.

Suggestion: Include blog posts on your site that give in-depth answers to some of the concerns you've received from customers.

4. Advertise online

Placing advertisements in social media or as part of a search engine can increase the number of people coming to your site. Keep in mind that conversion rates are very low for advertisements, and that people may bounce out of your site if what they land on isn't what they expect.

Suggestion: Test out advertising on different platforms and see which one is offering real conversions for you.

5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Make sure your site includes your industry, product, and any additional keywords involved in purchasing your product or service. This can be done on-page for your website. However, for increased SEO results, you may want to look into hiring an SEO expert.

Suggestion: Make sure your website includes the keywords related to your industry so people can find you. Targeting long-tail keywords is a good idea.

Some additional changes you can make to increase your site traffic:

6. Include your website link in your email footer

7. Include your website link on your business card

8. Direct potential clients or customers to purchase from your website

9. Ask people to share your content on social media that has a link to your site

10. Email your friends and family about your business and ask them to share it with others (include a link)

11. Create a subscriber list for your blog or services and email market to your followers

12. Get listed in online directories (Google My Business, Yelp, Whitepages, etc.)
13. Invite others to blog on your site or be featured and then ask them to share the post

14. Incorporate video into your site (Google loves and prioritizes sites that include videos)

15. Get your name out locally or in your industry with speaking gigs or networking events

16. Share your blog posts or advice in social media groups and conversations (Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, Twitter Chats, etc.)

17. Be a guest on or start your own podcast

18. Find other people in your industry who can act as a referral for you, and you for them

19. Comment on blogs that your target customer would be interested in

20. Reach out to social media influencers to post about your product or service

21. Do something worth talking about

Here are my top 3 tips for turning your side hustle into your full-time gig

This year is huge for all the people side hustling and turning it into a full time business. First of all:

Congratulations on taking the leap!

And it is a leap. It can be hard to start committing to something full time, especially after it being relegated to an "after work" activity or on the back burner. Bringing your focus to your side hustle, especially enough to turn it full time, is amazing.

Bu the hard work is just starting.

Unfortunately, the hard work is just beginning. I'm sure you're feeling it now: the pressure to MAKE IT ALL WORK. The feeling that turning your hobby into a full time activity means you're doing a bunch of things you may not want to be doing, but that comes with the business owning territory.

Your new year is full of new and exciting things like:

  • Bookkeeping and keeping track of income

  • Managing a client pipeline and schedule

  • Creating unique messaging and reaching new people online and in person

While some of this is what gets you excited, sometimes you feel like there's just too many things going on. Suddenly, you're always busy. There doesn't seem to be any time for the work you actually want to be doing (your side hustle) or you're having a hard time actually DOING THE WORK instead of WORKING THE BUSINESS.

Based on my own experience, here are my top three tips for taking your side hustle to full time.

Cultivate focus.

Turning your side hustle into full time is just one way you've started doing this. However, now you need to be extra mindful of how you're spending your time and money. You need to focus on what is "worth it" for your business, which should be where you're generating your revenue.

Create a vision.

Understand where you want your full time business to go and what you want to spend your time doing. Have an idea of how many clients that means you need, or how many t-shirts you need to sell. Have a vision for what your work includes and meaningful goals that you're working towards.

Remember it's all going to come together.

If you're working toward your goals, seeing progress, and still freaking out and feeling like the rug is being pulled out from under you - tell yourself, "It's all going to come together." It may not be today, or tomorrow. But you never know when your next tactic or meeting brings it all together for you and your business!

Find Your Focus Worksheet.jpg
Starting a business? Here's how you can beat stress and overwhelm

Something they didn't tell you: starting a business is hard. It can look easy from the outside when you hear about the "overnight success" and "$100,000 program launch." Unfortunately, sometimes these "overnight successes" are 10 years in the making.

People slogged for a lot of years to make their businesses happen. They worked through kids play dates. They spent the weekend building out their first prototype. They took a day off of work to go pitch someone their idea or land a new client.

Starting a business and feeling overwhelmed?

All business pursuits require a lot of thought, time, and effort. But can be hindered by overwhelm and stress.

However, I'm sure you're feeling the overwhelm in the background (and a lot in the forefront of their mind). I know I was thinking and feeling things like:

  • What if I should pursue my other idea instead?
  • What if my customers aren't interested?
  • What if I can't make any money at this?

You can find yourself stuck - mired in self-doubt and overthinking your options. You spend all of your time thinking about what color a button should be instead of doing what is going to make their business succeed.

You might find yourself:

  • Not returning client phone calls
  • Filling orders late
  • Sitting and thinking about what you business could be, but not selling it to people

Why does this happen? Sometimes you don't really know what to do next. You have an amazing idea and then marvel at it. You're not sure how to tie the beast down and ride it to success.

When you're feeling overwhelmed, aren't sure what to do moving forward, and feel the frazzle building up around you, there's one thing you need to remember. Do you know what that one thing is?

 
 

Focus.

In order for entrepreneurs to put in their time, thought, and effort they know what they need to do and work toward. Having a goal in sight or in mind is what helps entrepreneurs create the company and product they've been dreaming of.

With focus, you can:

  • Calmly meet your goals because you've been preparing for them.
  • Hustle toward your goals because you know what you're striving for.
  • Prioritize your ideas because you know what is important for you to accomplish.

Looking to find more focus in your business because your fighting the frazzle and stress of overwhelm? Check out the worksheet I've put together.

Find Your Focus Worksheet.jpg

Need a hand with finding and honing your focus for 2018? Check out my course here.

7 steps to finding and reaching people where they are

Now that you have an idea of what your target audience is experiencing, you need to figure out where they are.

With these seven steps, you can know where to find your ideal customers and select how to reach them.

1. Know your ideal customers.

Know who's shopping in your stores or browsing on your site. Know their demographic information (location, age, gender, income range) so that you can start to get a handle on the psychographic profile. Start with:

  • Google Analytics - This tool is wonderful for understanding who is browsing your site. Maybe all purchases are from women 24-35? That will help you begin to identify just where they might be located.

  • Facebook and Instagram Insights - See who is following you on these platforms to add additional insights to your ones from Google.

Find out:

Are you attracting two different audiences? And are the people engaging with your content different than the ones that are buying?

If the people buying are different than the ones following, start to adjust your content and targeting to shift your audience. Target one more likely to convert.

Do you have multiple audiences?

Find out if you're having different customers for different items. If all women purchase your purses, but all men are buying your scarves then you will have two audiences to contend with.

2. Find psychographic information

Both Google Analytics and Facebook will provide psychographic information in their insights.

Google will show you:

  • What people were searching for

  • How many people from social media were interested in your content

  • The general trends in what people were searching for and interested in when they found your site

Facebook will show you:

  • Which types of content are receiving more engagement

  • Use Facebook Graph Search to see the general content that people who are interested in your niche also like

Supplement the additional information by talking to your customers and potential surveys.

3. Talk to potential customers

The best thing you can do is to always talk to your customers. There's no getting around the fact that they are can be a great source or starting point for information. Maybe they say they always read the Sunday paper. Maybe they're addicted to Facebook. Maybe they subscribe to a certain news program.

All of these insights can help you choose a way to reach them. Take into account:

4. Narrow to your target market.

If you're reaching too broadly, narrow to the market that is converting. This may be based on a psychographic or demographic, determine which one it is to begin catering to that interest.

For example, you notice that one audience in converting more frequently and they are interested in swimming pool repair. Then develop more content around swimming pool repair for social media and your website to help them find your information.

5. Look at your competitors

They may have a good handle on where their own customers are. If they are investing heavily in print of Instagram ads or Facebook, see if that opportunity fits with your own demographic. If not, you may have a slightly different market and can reach people in a space you can own.

6. Investigate the demographic following of different mediums.

Some psychographic segmentation can make media choices easier. You may know that people buy motorcycles and have said they read Motorcycle Weekly. Then you already have a place to start, content to work from, and a place to start reaching customers.

For more vague psychographic information, like knowing someone is interested in sports, it can be much harder to narrow down where to meet your customers (simply because of the plethora of options).

Prioritize and systematize your search by:

  • Limiting yourself to the forms of communication that your target audience would be interested in. If they won't touch a computer, than skip the process of identifying website or online ad placement.

  • Starting with psychographic options. For example, if your customers are interested in sports and only like online mediums, find and read the media kits for prospective media buys in online sports news and magazines.

  • Comparing your media kits to your demographic information. Maybe these people are all interested in sports, but only a couple have a large female audience that you want to target. Focus on the options that match your psychographic and demographic profile.

  • Prioritizing each type of buy based on reach and price. Do a little math to determine what you would be paying per customer reached.

7. Choose a combination of mediums, across different media, to create a portfolio of ways to reach people.

Don't rely on just one method to reach customers.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. You want to have a variety of ways to reach people so you can adjust your marketing across these different channels.

Vary your messaging to reach people at different stages of awareness.

Some people have heard of you, others haven't. Some are aware of the problem you're addressing, other's aren't. Educate and help your audience understand the problem you solve before selling them on the solution.

Use appropriate messaging on each medium.

A message should be crafted differently for Facebook vs. Instagram. Choose your words wisely so that you have the best chance to convert.

Brands are getting political

It's hard to not "get political" for brands over the past few weeks. There have been terror attacks in Spain and the incident in Charlottesville that killed Heather Heyer. Civil and national unrest has prompted brands to respond with their own campaigns or strategy shifts.

Brands have varied in how they have responded to these types of crises. Some have already removed their advertisements from controversial sites, while others have created an active comment, policy, or campaign.

Brands are getting involved

The events at Charlottesville have caused more brands to get political, but brands started sharing their views before then. The immigration ban also prompted brands to become more involved to connect with consumers about topics they care about. While this can be done well, some brands did misstep (Pepsi). 

Uber, Lyft, Starbucks, and Airbnb have taken the opportunity to speak out in accordance with their values.

Honesty is the foundation of any relationship. As is being true to who you are, standing up for what you think is right.
— Saul Bedmead, chief strategy officer at Y&R Europe

Removing themselves from controversial content

Digiday covered brands pulling advertisements from sites deemed "too controversial." With media companies under fire for how advertisements are being placed, and the secrecy around their processes, brands are taking placement into their own hands. They don't want their ads shown next to political or controversial content they don't agree with. 

Companies working with agencies have "blacklisted" certain sites for their content. Sites include FoxNews.com, Breitbart, and Infowars. Some brands have singled out news sites like CNN and New York Times.

An anonymous exec commented, "Advertisers may just be using Fox News as a symbol of rejecting offensive content or ideas... [It’s] a pretty political move for a brand to publicly reject a publisher, but the calculation is likely to be ‘better safe than sorry.’"

Uber's response denounced hate

After the event's in Charlottesville, I received the below email from Uber. While Uber has not had the best PR lately, the made a point to denounce the events in Charlottesville and address how they are helping the Uber community.

The email reads, 

"Dear Sophie,

We were horrified by the neo-Nazi demonstration that took place in Charlottesville, which resulted in the loss of life of a young woman as well as two Virginia State Troopers responding to the protest. There is simply no place for this type of bigotry, discrimination, and hate.

As the country braces for more white supremacist demonstrations, we wanted to let you know what we are doing for the Uber community: 

We will act swiftly and decisively to uphold our Community Guidelines, including our policy against discrimination of any kind—this includes banning people from the app.

24/7 in-app support is available to answer questions and address concerns. You always have the right to end your trip if you feel uncomfortable or disrespected.

Now more than ever we must stand together against hatred and violence. Thank you for making our community one that we can all be proud of. 

On behalf of all of us at Uber, 

Meghan Verena Joyce 

Regional General Manager, US & Canada Cities"

Online discussion about what to do

In one Facebook group I'm in, there was an active discussion about how a brand can comment on tragedy or events like Charlottesville. It was interesting to listen to small business owners discuss why they wanted to make a statement, how they had already made one, and how to do so in an appropriate way.

Some decided to donate a percentage of their proceeds toward charitable organizations. Others posted signs on their stores. Some posted on social media. Each one took a unique approach to responding to political events.

What can brands do to lead with their values?

When a brand's mission comes in direct opposition to the beliefs or acts demonstrated, brands have to opportunity to comment and show their perspective. This doesn't have to be done in a large way, but something like donating proceeds is a way to put your money where your beliefs are. Voting with dollars shows customers and prospective customers your commitment to your vision.

 
 

Some ways brands can respond include:

  • Making a statement. It can be online on in-store. A statement regarding the business's beliefs and mission can reaffirm what the brand stands for.
  • Donate to a cause. Show people what you stand for by donating to a mission that is complementary to your own.
  • Open up a discussion. Speak to people around you and open up a meaningful dialogue about events.
Selling with transparency

An ad is still selling you something. That's it's primary goal. But being open and honest about the product facts, minimizing puffery, and staying true to a core message make selling more transparent.

Around 50% of people trust advertising.

Ever read an ad that starts with the hard sell? Something like, "You need this product now! It will change your life! See how it changed Mary's life!"

I picture a lot of exclamation points, maybe a before and after photo, along with a "BUY NOW" in large text. While these types of advertisements must be working somewhere (it does beg the question of just how often these work), they still are bombarding the consumer.

The first thing a consumer thinks is, "That's not true." Once they identify an advertisement for what it is, they are ready to argue with it.

63% of global respondents trust or somewhat trust TV advertisements.
— Nielsen

TV was the highest of the categories. Most of traditional advertising fell closer to 50% and mobile advertisements ranged from 36-48% trust. That means:

Around half of the people seeing your advertisement don't trust its message.

Advertising on its own is not well-trusted. That's why the added effort to be transparent or to craft a well-written ad like the one above is so important. Overcoming consumers' predisposition for skepticism can be done by disarming them.

Disarm distrust by being transparent, persuading with honesty, and doing the unexpected.

Being transparent.

Acknowledging that an advertisement is trying to sell you is one way for someone to leave their skepticism behind. They are ready for you to say exactly what they expect. Something like, "My product is the best because..." Stop that conversation and puffery to start opening up the consumer to being persuaded.

An ad that admits it's an ad (when it's done right) is able to be transparent while still managing to sell you on an idea. In that vein, I wanted to share this advertisement from Bill Bernbach:

Bill Bernbach ad.jpg

I enjoy ads that are self-deprecating or self-aware. They acknowledge what they are and what they are trying to accomplish. Not all advertisements are created equal, some are better than others at prompting action, telling a story, and selling by showing.

 
dISTRust.png
 

Persuade with honesty.

Honesty sells. People want their advertising to tell them the truth, not have a hovering asterisk over every claim. VW does it well by selling an "ugly" car. Or advertising without advertising.

Volkswagen-advertisement-print-7.jpg

Do the unexpected.

Tell people that your car is ugly. Tell them you hate being sold to as well. Tell them you're trying to sell them something. 

By doing the unexpected and telling the truth, minimizing "sales language", and building a connection with the customer, you are building a foundation for someone to accept your message.

Knowledge sharing builds trust

Sharing knowledge and transparency isn't simply a way to sell, it's a way to demonstrate your expertise. By giving back to the community through your knowledge, you can create additional trust with your customers and future customers. You can share knowledge through your own blog, videos, guest blogging, social media... the options are endless!

Sharing your knowledge:

  • Demonstrates your expertise
  • Builds a deeper bond with your audience
  • Can show individuals how your reputation, knowledge base, and approach is built (a look behind the curtain)

Share your personal journey

I wanted to share my own knowledge regarding unemployment, hustling for roles, and lay offs so I wrote a guest piece of content for Toronto FuckUp Nights. My goal was to shed light on failure, what it can do for you, and take some of the stigma away from failing.

Failure is embraced by entrepreneurs and small businesses. It lets you know when a product is doing well or when it needs tweaks. It lets you know what strategies are working and when you need to pivot. It can become a powerful tool for change.

Going into it, I was trying to share my own journey. I wasn't sure if it would resonate with others or what impact it had. I simply wanted to share what I had gone through and then realized.

I wasn't even sure that people would find my piece valuable. Through sharing, I helped humanize the situation and hope to bring light to the struggles of other young professionals.

Sharing your professional knowledge

Sharing your expertise doesn't have to be limited to shining a light behind the curtain. It can be demonstrating your knowledge on a subject you enjoy and work on. I also did a guest post for another blogger talking about melding your brand experience together.

I enjoyed getting to write it and it continues sharing in the marketing realm.

When you choose to share:

  • Choose a format you enjoy using. If you don't like writing, don't write. If you don't like being recorded, avoid video and podcasting. Unless your audience is explicitly demanding it, share on the format you're most likely to continue using.
  • Curate what you share. You don't need to share everything you've ever thought about to create a worthwhile blogging experience. Select specific topics and information you want to share (maybe even putting it in a content calendar).
  • Be personal. People want to read something that's written in your own voice! Don't drift into complicated techno-speak for the sake of sounding smart. Speak the way you would to a friend or colleague.