Quick tip: Improving link shares on Facebook

facebook.jpg

THE TIP:

When sharing content, use Facebook's auto-generated link format and not the plain-text web address in your update.

 

EXPLAINED:

When you share something on Facebook, you probably want to:

  1. "Drive engagement" by getting comments, likes, and shares.
  2. Get people to click a link you're posting

Here's a little thing you can do to improve the second goal.

When you share a link, that text either appears in the status update (as it has for years), or more recently it can appear in the text that is automatically generated from the site you're linking to.

Facebook recently made some changes to their algorithm, including one that favors the second and newer way of link-sharing:

"We’ve found that people often prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post), rather than links that are buried in photo captions (Lance: ... and status updates). The link format ... makes it easier for someone to decide if they want to click through. This format also makes it easier for someone to click through on mobile devices...

With this update, we will prioritize showing links in the link-format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates."

In other words, if you want more people to see your stuff, share like the picture of the map below, not like the picture of the man:

Yep.

Yep.

Nope 

Nope 

Lastly, since we're talking about Facebook, visit the page for Osborne Strategies, LLC here. A "like" would sure be appreciated, too!

Photo by Kevin Krejci / CC BY / Original

How Costco sells an 8-foot-tall bear

Fun product? Check.
Cute kid and catchy song? Check.
Great videography? Check.

But what makes this video a stand-out is the story. It's not just another commercial.

Your audience expects more out of your products and your brand than descriptions and dollar amounts. When you tell a great story, you're much more likely to remembered when your customer is ready to work with you.

Holy missed opportunity!

When a local gym chain posted this message, they were simply spreading news about their new hire. And that's great: it's a simple message, a relevant update, and a good way to bring in Bruce's friends. 

But - come on - a killer opportunity is staring them in the face!

What if they had gotten a little creative? It wouldn't take much effort to turn this basic announcement into something people would naturally smile at and talk about.

How about these fun, buzzworthy alternatives?

MEET OUR NEW TRAINER
BRUCE WAYNE
(WE'RE NOT KIDDING)

WHY SO FLABBY?
MEET OUR NEW TRAINER
BRUCE WAYNE

OLD HOME: BATCAVE
NEW HOME: STAY FIT 24
OUR NEW TRAINER: BRUCE WAYNE

Whether or not Bruce is tired of the Batman jokes (sorry Bruce!), he would surely enjoy the extra clients he and Stay Fit 24 could get from a little more word-of-mouth attention.

Whatever marketing you've got going on, take a step back and ask yourself if you're missing an opportunity. It may not take much effort to go from plain to BAM! POW! ZAP! 

 

Header photo by Andrew Brannan / CC BY-ND / Original

Casting a (volleyball) net

You never know what's going to get someone to come through your door.

A neighbor of mine mentioned his family had checked out a few churches recently, and specifically noted only one, a local Presbyterian church.

It stood out: They have a volleyball net out front, clearly visible from the road. And the church-goers actually use it - not just the kids either. 

This one thing attracted my neighbor. He could tell the people there are obviously fun and outgoing, and probably easier to get to know. Let's face it: if you're looking for a 'church family,' this stuff is important. And the Pres folks show this off, probably unintentionally, just by having a volleyball net in their front yard.

What is it that gets new folks to check you out when they otherwise might not?

Or - worse - check you out then forget about you? 

If you don't have something like this, don't run out and get something quirky "just because." I know of a local car lot that once displayed a huge fiberglass pink elephant as a conversation piece. While it was a bit of an icon, I wouldn't guarantee it brought in new customers.

Whether you run a church, a car lot, or an online business, think about your proverbial volleyball net and consider: 

  • Is it obvious to new customers?
  • Is it welcoming?
  • Does it help tell the story of your work or your team's culture and character?

If you need any help coming up with a great idea, or you want to improve your existing pink elephant, we'd love to help.

On authenticity and going viral

This little letter recently hit my LinkedIn news feed.

Then I saw it on Twitter.

And Reddit.

It's everywhere. Check it out for yourself.

This is virality in all its glory.

The dealer - Reiman's Harley-Davidson in Kewanee, Illinois - seems like the real deal, and I highly doubt they expected this to take off the way it has. Really, I'd imagine they're the kind of people that might be a little embarrassed by all the attention. But because of their big hearts - and nothing more (no silly attempt to go viral) - they're in the spotlight and the public loves 'em.

I've been asked by businesses before, "can you help us go viral?" The answer is this: of course there are some things you should do to help your work become more likely to catch on. And obviously you want your work to be "sticky" - you want folks to be comfortable talking about and sharing what you're up to.

But I hope no one out there is buying a promise of virality. For the most part, the days of producing content just so it will get a billion hits are gone. You simply can't fake it - not anymore. We're in a new era, one where authenticity wins every time. Little things like this letter and this company's approach are the big things.

So, to companies big and small, my viral advice is this: treat every customer experience as though millions are watching. Whether or not they are is beside the point. If you're extraordinary when people aren't paying attention, you'll be ready when they are.

(Note: I redacted the recipient's address for privacy reasons.) 

Why you must market your work

"Ugh. Marketing."

Cringing at the idea of having to market your work? 

Chances are you would rather focus on doing what you know and what you’re great at: doctors want to help patients, chefs want to cook, and mechanics want to fix cars. I get that.

But just like every car needs maintenance to keep on rollin’, your business needs maintenance to keep it running smoothly. Things like bookkeeping, sweeping the floors, and - yes - marketing.

(Captain Obvious reporting in: Marketing should do more than just let your business maintain. If done right, it will help you grow by leaps and bounds.)

Let's face it: spreading the word about what you do is a must.

  1. Sometimes there's competition to worry about. With the right approach, marketing helps you establish that what you have to offer is better than anyone else.
  2. Moreover, good marketing builds a customer's familiarity and trust in a brand. The good news about the competition is that they're probably not marketing effectively, paving the way for you and your awesome strategic marketing plan to steal the show. 
  3. You have to make sure your customers don't forget about you. There's so much noise out there - people are more distracted than ever. But if you market yourself the correct way, you'll show your current and future customers that you and your products and services matter and add value.
  4. I could go on...

So whether you make the marketing happen yourself, or you decide you want someone with experience to come alongside you (perhaps someone like the writer of this post), accept this reality: it's time devise a plan and start spreading the word that you do awesome work and you're looking for more awesome customers.

If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.
— Laurence J. Peter

The best inspiration

Picking up from where "The first post" left off...

So, let's start with this video of Steve Jobs from 1997. Apple - the behemoth that it is - is obviously not the Apple that he discusses here, but you can tell that Jobs's determination and vision is what took it from "good" to being the biggest company in the world. 

It's all great (listen to him adore Nike), but from a marketing angle, your biggest takeaway might be improving your brand's clarity in marketing: 

To me, marketing's about values. This is a very complicated world - it's a very noisy world - and we're not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. And so we have to be very clear about what we want them to know about us.

Pssssst - being crystal clear to your audience about who your company is won't just happen overnight. It takes a plan.

The first post

As always, there's just one ground rule for a new blog from Lance: No promises on frequency.

I'll write and share when I can - I won't write to a schedule just for the sake of the schedule. In other words, if I care enough to put something here, I believe it's worth your time. Now let's get to it...

 

 

Very often I'll just put my head down and do the work.

As a father of four, I'm pretty used to tuning out distractions when necessary. And I'm not just talking about funny cat pictures online - I believe even "good" things can be distractions.

If you're not careful, you could fill 24 hours a day with things that inspire you - blogs, books, videos, great Twitter accounts, events, etc. But when would you have time to actually get stuff done? The stuff that matters?

So when you're ready to let something stoke your creative fire, be choosy.

For me, over the years, when it comes to letting something enter my brain and carving out some time to really think on it, I have cut back the noise and instead focused on just the best of the best. The goal here is that the work I do - influenced by this inspiration - will be way above average. 

The blog here for Osborne Strategies, LLC will be made up of one part status update - letting you know what I'm working on and why it matters.

It will also be one part inspiration-sharing. There are probably thousands of different heroes and strangers that have positively influenced my approach to helping businesses and brands grow.

Starting today, I'll open up the door on a few of the ideas and leaders that are really making an impact on me...