What Do Social Media Marketing and Weight Loss Have in Common?

Scams, lies and half-truths. They’re the staple of so-called gurus and a real problem for people trying to create tangible, measurable outcomes. Whether it’s losing weight or producing leads and sales, your success relies on ignoring tempting short cuts, forming better habits and not caving to everyday pressures. Believe it or not, tuning out advice that will not work is an easy task when it comes to social media marketing.

Scams, lies and half-truths. They’re the staple of so-called gurus and a real problem for people trying to create tangible, measurable outcomes. Whether it’s losing weight or producing leads and sales, your success relies on ignoring tempting short cuts, forming better habits and not caving to everyday pressures. Believe it or not, tuning out advice that will not work is an easy task when it comes to social media marketing.

Stop the Insanity!
“It’s official. It’s now impossible to keep up with the irrelevant data, false claims, illogical conclusions, and plain bad journalism associated with positive claims about social media,” says Robert Bacal, CEO of Bacal and Associates.

It’s hard to not feel just like Bacal. The din of misinformation is a major hurdle for our businesses. We’re constantly being told “do this, do that, but not like this, this way.” Then everything changes.

The mountain of contradictory advice emanating from the weight loss industry finally caused the iconic weight loss diva, Susan Powter, to yell “Stop the insanity!” Sure, Powter cashed in but that’s precisely the point. It was a stroke of marketing genius. Hers was the “anti-insanity” answer.

Step 1: Recognize Lies
Losing weight and making social media produce a lead or sale have a lot in common: Charlatans selling short cuts to people who need to create change in their lives. Trying to make Facebook, Twitter, blogging or YouTube produce a sale can feel just as hopeless as trying to lose weight. Think about the constant stream of contradictory advice you get in both cases.

First, we were told if you want to shag the extra baggage you’ve got to cut calories. Then, more recently, we were told calories have little to do with weight loss. Remember dietary cholesterol? First it caused heart disease, then it didn’t.

Just the same, we all know that being authentic on social platforms is key to convincing customer to trust us right? Wrong according to a SocialMediaToday blogger showing your true colors is a BAD idea. Huh? There’s a fox in the hen house or a bat in the belfry!

Step 2: Mix in Tough Love
The problem is we humans prefer to believe simple lies rather than slightly complicated truths. 19th Century philosopher and historian, Alexis Tocqueville was the first to formally make the observation about human behavior. But here’s the reality: If you are going to succeed at generating leads and sales with social media you’ll need to start tuning out the simple lies and investing time in the slightly complicated truth.

That is, making the sale with social media has requires foresight, planning and application of direct response principles that have been around for decades. But some tough love is in order too.

No, success is not as easy as investing a certain, optimal amount of time with social media each day.

No, success is not a factor of being perceived as “more human” by customers or expressing your culture on social media.

No, success is not tied to how many times you get re-tweeted on Twitter.

No, you will not be successful by drowning yourself in the sea of “top 5” or “top 10” social media tips articles.

Step 3: Choose What Not to Do
Where to start? It’s best to tune out the noise. Think about it. When it comes to social media marketing, there are plenty of opportunities to not invest time in trivial nonsense-to choose what not to do. There’s a huge amount of worthless noise out there posing as helpful tips and tricks.

Next time you see an overzealous list of facts about how awesomely huge, fast, or urgent the social web is, consider asking yourself how relevant that fact is to the task at hand, selling. If there’s very little (or nothing at all) to do with the information, simply tune it out.

Yes, Facebook is the size of a country. And? YouTube is the second largest search engine. And? Fifteen percent of bloggers spend 10 hours or more each week blogging. And? Twenty-five percent of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content. And? Twitter is adding 300,000 users a day. And?

If you can’t readily do anything with the information, just tune it out. The anecdote may be interesting, but ask yourself:

How is that fact relevant to our business?

Do I have time for enthusiastic or impressive anecdotes that don’t help me do things that plug into sales? Does our marketing team?

Becoming liberated (and you will feel liberated!) takes focus, patience, and a belief in your business instinct—that “doing less of some things” is the right thing to do.

Let me know if this helps!

Some Email Industry BS We Should All Be Wise to by Now

Quick! Which email service provider has the best delivery rate? Don’t know? Neither do I. Let’s try and find an answer. According to a list put out by ranking firm topseos, Pinpointe On-Demand has the best delivery rate of 10 email service providers it ranked for January. Let’s just cut to the real problem with Topseos’ rankings list—that it mentioned ESPs’ so-called “delivery rates” at all.

Quick! Which email service provider has the best delivery rate?

Don’t know? Neither do I. Let’s try and find an answer.

According to a list put out by ranking firm topseos, Pinpointe On-Demand—as topseos referred to it—has the best delivery rate of 10 email service providers it ranked for January.

The company name is actually just Pinpointe, but let’s not quibble.

No, let’s just cut to the real problem with Topseos’ rankings list—that it mentioned ESPs’ so-called “delivery rates” at all.

ESPs don’t have delivery rates. Or they shouldn’t anyway.

Why? Because every major lever that affects whether email gets delivered to people’s email boxes is under the list owner’s control.

Email inbox providers’ spam filters have traditionally relied on three major metrics to determine whether or not email coming from a specific sender is spam: the number of spam complaints, the number of bad addresses a mailer tries to reach and the number of spam traps they hit.

And these days, ISPs are reportedly increasingly looking at engagement metrics—clicks and opens, for example, or lack thereof—to weed out unwanted mail.

All of the above-mentioned metrics are directly attributable to the sender’s behavior, not the ESPs’.

Yet, some email service providers tout their so-called delivery rates in their sales pitches.

For example, Constant Contact claims its delivery rate is 97 percent. But when one reads why its delivery rate is so high, it becomes clear

“We hold our customers to high standards with good email marketing habits and practices,” says a headline on the page touting Constant Contact’s delivery rate.

There is nothing wrong with Constant Contact touting high standards.

And this isn’t to say an ESP has nothing at its disposal that can affect delivery rates. For example, an ESP can affect deliverability by throttling-or sending the messages at a slower rate—so ISPs are less likely to block them.

Also some ESPs have better support structures in place than others. As a result, delivery rates can reportedly vary from ESP to ESP. But it’s not the ESPs’ delivery rates we’re discussing here. It’s the senders’ delivery rates.

This may sound like a ridiculously minor quibble. But referring to email delivery rates as the ESPs’ shifts responsibility for behavior that helps ensure high delivery rates from where it belongs—the sender.

Senders of commercial email must continuously be made aware that the responsibility for ensuring high email delivery rates lies mostly with them and there’s not an ESP in the world that can magically overcome the deliverability consequences of sloppy email address acquisition practices and poor list hygiene.

The Real Problem with Facebook Advertising: Extreme Engagement

The real problem for marketers is that unequivocally all-consuming, immersive Facebook experience. The issue isn’t exclusive to Facebook, however. It’s any media placement where the site you choose turns out to be your biggest competitor. In other words, reach doesn’t equal impact.

What do you do when you go on Facebook? You’re probably checking out everyone else’s status updates, getting in some FarmVille playtime, liking or commenting on a post, chatting with a friend, writing a clever update for your own profile, watching a video, or maybe even tracking down an old friend. Facebook is a virtual amusement park with no shortage of options. It’s no wonder we spend an average of seven hours a month on the site.

In the midst of this pandemonium is the lone voice of your sponsored ad, app or brand page. Guess who wins?

The real problem for marketers is that unequivocally all-consuming, immersive Facebook experience. The issue isn’t exclusive to Facebook, however. It’s any media placement where the site you choose turns out to be your biggest competitor. In other words, reach doesn’t equal impact.

Too much focus on reaching the ‘right person’
We’ve all been collectively oohing and aahing over the cool (or creepy) technology that promises to find our target consumer wherever he or she roams. There’s no shortage of companies with proprietary algorithms and models at the ready to help you find her (and, in turn, further ruffle the feathers of the privacy police, but that’s for another post). In this scenario, the Facebooks of the media world will always turn up on top, because that’s where everyone is.

But by only focusing on reaching the “right person,” you’re underestimating the more qualitative and definitely more hairy problems of the “right message” and the “right time.”

It’s a matter of context
Of this marketing trifecta, the least talked about is the right time. Unlike the right person and right message aspects of the equation, this is the one where marketers have the least amount of control. It can turn into your biggest enemy.

The core issue is the inverse correlation between immersiveness of an experience and receptiveness to marketing messages. This finding has been confirmed across all media types, including television, websites and print.

One of the most interesting studies on the topic was related to Super Bowl advertising. The researchers compared ad recall among three groups: those supporting the winning team; those supporting the losing team; and those who didn’t have a favorite team. It turned out that ad recall was highest for those who were neutral and not emotionally involved in the game. It didn’t matter if your team was winning or losing, the fact that you had a team meant you were focused on the game and not the ads. However, those who were less immersed in the game were willing to listen to your pitch.

Sure, you can fish where the fish are, but there are no guarantees they’ll bite. So what’s a marketer to do?

Steer clear of competitors for mind share
Marketers don’t typically think of media placement as a form of competition. The rule of thumb had been the more engaging the site the better, when in fact the reverse is true. It’s counterintuitive, but as the Super Bowl example illustrates, you want your audience involved, but not too involved.

Your audience can be focused on a particular task, so long as the task isn’t all consuming. For example, if they’re quickly checking on the weather or a sports score — these are in-and-out activities — you can be there as they check out. I’ve seen a lot of success with campaigns on these quick-reference sites in the past.

Thinking beyond targeting and messaging
So, there you are with your exquisitely crafted message and flawlessly calculated targeting, but are you taking into account what the consumer is doing, thinking and feeling at that moment?

The problem of immersion isn’t limited to Facebook. It just happens to be the perfect embodiment of extreme engagement. The same issues would hold true for other high-involvement sites and channels such as video, in-game and mobile. Ultimately, this is all about knowing your audience. One man’s diversion is another’s obsession.