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InteractionsWhen I started writing Think Like a Rock Star, I began to research how it is that rock stars can so easily create and cultivate fans.  I wanted to know how they do it, but more importantly, I wanted to know if they had a system or methodology that could be applied by brands to create passionate customers and fans.

The above graph shows the exact steps that need to happen, and in order, to create brand advocates.  The problem is that most brands have little to no interactions with customers in order to start the process.

And to be fair, most customers don’t want to talk to most brands anyway.

But we know that we can’t understand our customers if we aren’t interacting with them and learning from them.  Which also gives them the chance to learn from and understand us.

So how do you learn from customers that don’t care to learn about you?  If customers won’t engage with you, you can at least listen to them.  You can be aware of the online conversation happening about and around your brand.

That will give you a chance to engage with customers that are discussing your brand and the greater context that it plays in.  Which means you can interact with these customers with a higher level of understanding about the customers you are engaging with.  Who they are, what they want.

The more you interact with your customers and they with you, the more willing they are to lower their guard and interact more with you and on a deeper level.  And if you communicate to them that you are willing to go deeper, they will lower their guard even further.

It’s about being committed to learning about your customers.  Not just learning how to sell to them, but learning who they are so you can understand how they want to be sold to.

It requires you communicating to your customers that you care enough about them to take the first step:

PearlTweetI’m an Alabama fan so I am required to hate all things Auburn.  But I love how Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl has embraced Auburn’s fans since being hired a few months ago.  Bruce has especially gone out of his way to reach out to Auburn’s students.  Pearl knows that it’s vital to the program’s success that he has buy-in from the students.  They will be the most passionate fans at the home games and will bring the most energy.  So he goes out of his way to engage the students, doing everything from handing out t-shirts on campus before games, to buying them lunch.  Call it bribery all you want, but what Pearl is doing is communicating to the students that he appreciates them and understands how valuable they are.  Trust me, a lot of basketball coaches do not do this, and Auburn’s students love Pearl.

Why can’t your company do the same thing?  Why not bring in 10 of your customers to spend the day with you at your headquarters?  Get to know them and let them get to know you.  The insights you’ll gain directly from these customers will more than pay for the travel and associated costs.

Another key takeaway I had from studying how rock stars create and cultivate fans is that rock stars go out of their way to communicate two very important messages to their fans:

1 – I appreciate you.

2 – I love you.

In other words, they don’t have fans because they are rock stars, this is a huge misconception about rock stars.  Rock stars don’t have fans because of who they are, they have fans because of what they do.

Your company has to want fans to have them.  And you definitely want them.

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SocialMEdiaSmallLet’s say you are the CMO at your company, and the CEO is demanding that sales for Product A increase by 10% above your projections for the next fiscal year.  He also says that you can only make one change to the marketing mix.

 

Would you:

A – Move billboard placements in Product A’s Top 10 markets from the interstate to downtown locations?

B – Launch a company blog designed to better explain the features, qualities and benefits of Product A?

C – Divert budget to more television ads designed to show why Product A is a better fit for customers than the competitor’s Product B?

D – Move all grocery end-cap displays in Wal-Mart up to the front registers?

 

In Marketing 101 class we learned about the AIDA model of consumer behavior.

A = Awareness

I = Interest

D = Desire

A = Action

 

Awareness leads to Interest leads to Desire leads to Action.  Note that the purchasing happens at the Action portion of this model.  So if we are looking at the individual components of a marketing plan, how do you define the ROI of tactics that comprise the Awareness portion of your plan?  In theory, you cannot, because customers aren’t ready to buy at this stage of their purchase journey.  This is why you create a comprehensive marketing plan that makes customers Aware of your product, that builds Interest in the product, then a Desire to Act.

When the smoke clears, you have a marketing plan that you can judge the ROI of.  But it doesn’t make sense to judge the individual tactics of a comprehensive plan from a ROI perspective.  No matter how much it wants to, your billboard on Highway 23 can’t close a sale for you.  At best, it can make your customers Aware of your product and make them Interested and increase their Desire to buy, but it can’t convert on the Action of buying.

So what does that mean for you, the social media manager at your company that is trying to explain and perhaps even defend why your company should be using social media to connect with customers?

It starts with having an honest discussion about what social media can and cannot do for your business.  First, social media has never worked well as a channel to facilitate direct sales.  Social media works best as an interaction channel, as a way for people to engage each other and be social.  Direct sales isn’t an activity that functions well in the middle of social conversations online anymore than pitching strangers chatting on the front porch on Sunday afternoon does.

So if social media works well as a channel for people to have interactions and discussions and to share content, then your business needs to find its value within those functions of the channel.  You want to be aware of how your current and potential customers prefer to use these tools, and work within those constraints.

What type of interactions do they prefer?  And with who?  With your brand, or with fellow customers?

What type of content are they creating?

What type of content are they sharing?

The idea is that you want to use social media in a way to connect with your customers and create value for them.  You create value for your customers by enhancing their experience via social media tools.  By giving them the type of high-quality content they are looking for and need.  By helping to facilitate the type of interactions they want and need (Hint: They don’t want to be sold to, they do want help dealing with a problem setting up your new laptop they just bought).

The best way to achieve your goals for social media is to help customers achieve their goals for social media.  Understand why your customers are on social and you will understand how you can create value for them via these channels.  That value will enhance your overall marketing results, which will lead to an increase in marketing ROI.

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I could not be more excited to be holding this book!  Badass: Making Users Awesome is the best business book you can buy in 2015.

Period.

Badass starts with a simple challenge: Create a bestselling product.  Without marketing, without competing on price.  The book challenges you to think about what makes a successful product?  Why did this social media book become a New York Times Bestseller and this one did not?  Why did this software suite from Adobe sell a million copies while this one from Roxio was a bomb?  What makes Product A successful while Product B (that has the same or very similar features, and pricing) is not?

The key attributes of sustained success don’t live in the product.  The key attributes live in the user.” (page 21)

Bam! It’s not about making a better product, it’s about making a better user of your product!  It’s about making your users and customers be Badass, and Kathy teaches you exactly how.  Not only does she teach you how to create badass users, she shows you why so many companies fail to create badass users.  She shows you how the new user becomes the badass user.  How they change along the way, how the way they use your product changes, and how they view that product and your brand changes.

Perhaps the biggest marketing takeaway from this book is the difference between how most companies market their product versus how most customers want to use your product.  Most marketing is focused on the product, or tool.  But most customers are more interested in what the tool allows them to do.  It’s not about the DSLR camera, it’s about me being able to take amazing pictures.  It’s not about the chemical composition of the carnauba wax, it’s about me being able to give my red car that gorgeous ‘wet’ wax look.  The best marketing isn’t about your products, it’s about the larger context that your products lives in, that I am passionate about.

That passion is what can drive me to be Badass.  And if your company is creating Badass users, it’s ensuring its long-term success.

Now, a word about the actually book itself: This is a simply gorgeous book.  First, it’s printed on very slick and high-quality paper, which feels far superior to the standard newsprint-y paper stock that most business books use.  Second, the book has literally hundreds of visuals, graphs and charts that enhance learning, and add to the value of the book.  Here’s an example:

DSCN1686-1024x768
So colorful and a very welcome break from the walls of text you see in too many books.  And for fans of Kathy’s Creating Passionate Users blog, these graphs and visuals are right in line with what we’ve come to expect from Kathy.

As you know from reading this blog, I was thrilled to have Kathy agree to write the foreword for my first book, Think Like a Rock Star.  What you may not know is that Kathy co-created the Head First series of programming books, published by O’Reilly.  This series has been so successful that Kathy’s books have sold over one million copies.  Yeah.  A big reason why these books have been so successful is because of how Kathy organizes the information in her books to help facilitate learning.  It even includes worksheets and spaces for you to create your own formula for who your ideal Badass user would be, what they would be able to accomplish if they were Badass, etc. She was kind enough to help me greatly with the structure of Think Like a Rock Star in this regard, but of course she did a much better job with her own book :)  Which is one reason why Badass is going to be a hit.  The bottom line is if you bought and enjoyed Think Like a Rock Star, you absolutely will love Badass, probably moreso.

“You have the chance to help people become more badass not only at using your tool within a meaningful context, but badass at life.” (page 282)

Word. Badass:Making Users Awesome is the best $20 you can invest in your business this year.  Buy it right now at Amazon.

(Disclosure: Kathy is a friend and so are you.  I believe in helping my friends be awesome so that’s why I want you to buy this book.  Now, go!)

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I am constantly preaching the need for bloggers to have Google Analytics on their blog during #Blogchat.  A big reason why is so you can track changes in your blog, good and bad, so that you can understand why the change happened.

Yesterday this blog had 2,235 visitors, which is about 90 more than the previous high for one day.  What I want to do is walk you through the stats in Google Analytics to figure out why this happened, and also give you some insights into how you can do the same for your posts.

One thing I do every day is a comparison between the current day’s traffic and the traffic from one week ago.  For example, today I’ll track the current day’s traffic (Thursday) and also compare the hourly traffic against last Thursday’s traffic.  This gives me an easy way to see if traffic is doing better or worse than it was a week ago.  Here’s what that comparison looked like for yesterday compared to a week earlier:

HourlyGAtraffic
 That’s a really strong graph as it shows that traffic for yesterday (blue) was higher than the previous Wednesday during every hour yesterday except for the final one of the day.  This is what you want to see, because it indicates that traffic is growing week to week.

But the traffic last Wednesday was 1,785, whereas yesterday it was 2,235.  That’s a 25% increase, and while I’m thrilled with that jump, I want to figure out why it happened.

So let’s put on our cyber detective hats and dive deeper into the blog’s stats.  The first place I’ll start is by taking the above data (yesterday’s traffic vs the previous Wednesday’s) and segment that traffic into channels.  You can find this in Google Analytics by clicking Acquisition>All Traffic>Channels:

ChannelTraffic1

Three things immediately jump off this graph to me:

1 – Note that there was a BIG jump in search traffic.

2 – While the number of visitors that arrived at the blog from an organic search increased, the percentage of overall traffic that came from search actually went DOWN.

3 – There was a BIG jump in traffic from Social.

 

Now, the big jump in search along with the big jump in social is interesting to me.  It increased by 14% week to week, which is much higher than it normally does.  I want to play a hunch and check out the sources of the Social traffic.  So I click on Social and it will show me which social sites drove traffic to my blog yesterday and a week ago yesterday:

SocialTrafficA-ha! So almost all of the surge in Social traffic yesterday vs a week ago was actually coming from just Twitter.  This is my suspicion: As people were sharing my content yesterday on Twitter, it was leading to more links to my content being seeded higher in search results on Google. So the better my content did on Twitter yesterday, it resulted in it also doing better in search results on Google.  That would explain why search traffic spiked because overall the two traffic sources that accounted for almost all of the overall traffic bump yesterday were Google and Twitter.  Perhaps this is a result of Google indexing tweets into search results?

But I still don’t know if any content in particular was driving the increase in traffic.  That’s what I really want to know.  So back to Google Analytics, I click Behavior>Site Content>All Pages:

PostsGA
Double A-Ha! The 4th and 5th most viewed posts yesterday were both new posts I wrote this week.  And a big chunk of the overall growth in traffic can be tied back to these 2 posts (288 new visitors).

This also gives me important insights into the type of content that resonates with my readers.  And since I’ve already looked at the channel data, I know that most of the increase probably came from Twitter, so really I know that these two topics likely resonate with my followers on Twitter.

And the beauty of this is I can come back tomorrow and do the same analysis on this post, and compare how it does today vs how the above two posts from earlier this week did.  BTW, a big reason why I wanted to write this post is because I have been doing these type of analysis for a while now, and I know that posts that do a deep-dive into actual numbers are popular with readers here.  Another advantage to knowing your blog’s stats!

The point in all this is to invest time in understanding your blog’s stats so you can improve your blogging efforts and efficiency.  If I hadn’t looked at my blog’s stats I would have little idea that yesterday was a record-setting traffic day or more importantly why it was a record-setting traffic day.  Now I know, and that knowledge will help me improve my blogging efforts moving forward.  Just as it will for you if in you invest the time in understanding your blog’s stats.

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Surprise! Facebook Has Changed the Rules Again For Brands

February 18, 2015
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Facebook has once again tweaked its News Feed algorithm and the change will alter how often content from brands appears in News Feeds from people that have Liked that brand’s page.  This post seems to write itself 2-3 times a year, doesn’t it? The newest changes, which rolled out last month and were announced last November, […]

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Google is Now Indexing Tweets in Search Results, What it Means For You

February 17, 2015
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Google’s love affair with Twitter is back on.  Previously, Google had indexed tweets from Twitter in its search results, but that deal ended in 2011.  Here’s a post I wrote back in 2011 that examined how this process worked.  Earlier this month it was reported that Google would begin adding tweets back to search results […]

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The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show Episode 15: Sometimes the Customer is Wrong

February 11, 2015
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Hey y’all!  Welcome to the 15th episode of The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show! In this episode we will delve into the idea that ‘The Customer is Always Right’, and look at two examples when this might not be the case.    If you enjoy this episode then please subscribe on iTunes! Show Notes: 1:00 – Why […]

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The Best Marketing Isn’t Focused on Your Product, its Focused on My Passions

February 10, 2015
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Did you notice something about the commercials for this year’s Super Bowl?  Besides the fact that this was a pretty weak crop of ads, the few that did stand out had something in common.  These spots weren’t really about a product as much as they were about passions and beliefs. Self-image, especially among young girls. […]

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My Blog Traffic and Podcast Audience Results For January

February 5, 2015
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Hey y’all!  So last month I mentioned that I had set specific monthly goals for growing both my traffic here, and the number of downloads to my podcast.  What I’m going to do is every month this year I will give you an update letting you know if I hit my goals for the previous […]

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The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show Episode 14: Segmenting Your Fans to Better Engage Them

February 4, 2015
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Welcome to the 14th episode of #FanDamnShow! Today’s episode is how to stabilize or build your social media engagement by segmenting your fans online to better engage with them. If you enjoy this episode then please subscribe on iTunes! Show Notes 0:50 How engagement around social media content seems to be falling 3:00 Our behavior […]

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An Update on My Speaking Schedule for 2015

January 30, 2015
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First, some housekeeping.  As I talked about at the start of the month, this year I have set monthly goals for growing this blog’s readership as well as the audience for my #FanDamnShow podcast.  I will update everyone on if I hit my goals for January in a post next week.  Right now it’s looking […]

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