Monday, May 5, 2014

Why Your Blog Is More Important Than Facebook

There's a lot to be covered here, much of which you've seen if you're a brand marketer or someone who likes seeing your personal Facebook updates read by most of your followers.  I'm not going to repeat things that have been posted all over the Interwebz in the last couple of months, you can see some of those stories at the bottom of this post.  But I am going to give you some solutions to a problem you MUST address is you've been using Facebook as one of your prime online outreach methods.

Here's the problem.  Facebook is now a public company with lots of shareholders who want a big ROI.  How can they increase revenue?  By charging for things they used to give away.  That means Facebook (and soon Instagram) is decreasing reach on free posts from brands and even personal accounts in hopes you'll pay them to promote your posts and get them seen by lots more people.  Want proof?  Just look at this graph, courtesy of the 4129 Agency.  It clearly shows engagement dropping in a big way between 2012 and 2013, and we're seeing the organic (read: free) engagement continue to nosedive in 2014.

Facebook is throttling engagement in the name of selling advertising, and that's not a good thing for all the brands and small businesses who have started saying "Find Us On Facebook" instead of "Visit Our Website".  Here's why.

There used to be three kinds of online media in the minds of most marketers, Owned (like websites and apps), Earned (like news or blog coverage), and Bought (like search engine or Facebook ads).  Now, I argue there's a FOURTH kind of online media, BORROWED.  That's the media you put your great content on and hope the owners will share it with their users, also known as your customers and prospects.

Many marketers have relied far too heavily on Borrowed Media in the last few years because, well, it was free and lots of people went there.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, the list goes on and on.  And now most of those companies have had their IPO's and suddenly realize they need to make money at the hands of the users who have been, rightly or wrongly, taking advantage of the "free ride" for so long.  Facebook is clearly leading the pack in this, making it next to impossible for some posts to be seen without the advertiser coughing up some money.

Let's go back to the chart above and dig deeper into the findings the 4129 Agency published. These are statistics for September, 2013, and most people agree the situation is not getting better, it's getting worse for reach.

  • Organic reach of photos starts to decline after the page gains 10,000 fans
  • Beyond 1 million likes organic reach of photos drops below four percent
  • Organic reach of video posts drops below 4.5 percent after 150,000 fans
  • Status updates have high organic reach. Status updates from pages with 300,000 to half a million fans are seen by 41 percent of the fans
  • Organic reach of links for pages with one million fans or more has organic reach below 3.5 percent
  • The company also found that page engagement does not affect the organic reach of posts on Facebook.
If you were using an agency to give you results like that, you'd fire them in a heartbeat.  But Facebook is doing this to you if you're not paying them to feature your content.  And all the "Find Us On Facebook" mentions in the world mean little if people will hardly ever, maybe NEVER, see your posts once they like you.

So what do you do as a brand, business, or individual?  Concentrate on the media you OWN, like your blog.  Don't completely blow off Facebook and Twitter, but use them to move people to your own media like your website and blog so you can control what they see, give them reasons to come back, and grow a valuable e-mail database of your fans and followers that YOU own, not the highly leveraged companies you're borrowing space from.  You remember your blog, it's either your entire website or part of your website and chances are you haven't updated it in months or longer because you're putting pithy comments and photos on all those networks that aren't letting your fans see them.

Almost everything you have been doing on Facebook can be done on your website.  Updates on your blog, contests, trapping information about your visitors, coupons and deals, and much more.   And it's YOUR real estate, so YOU own the data you gather, YOU decide what you want to know from your visitors, YOU have supreme analytic power to slice it and dice it any way you want, and with a little work, you can turn ALL of that into an effective e-mail database that will speak to your audience directly, know what they do and don't want to hear about, and can be tested a dozen different ways to see what works.  Nothing you can own, earn, buy, or even borrow is more valuable to your brand than a well curated e mail list, and you need to have one to make up for not being able to borrow other people's platforms without paying.

We'll talk about using e mail in excruciating detail in a future blog post, but in the meantime, think of this. Would you rather spend your time posting things to social networks that won't pass them along to your fans or would you rather hire a good Digital Manager or agency and let them grow your website, bring people back to it often, and keep in touch with those people through a coordinated e mail campaign that may be 40 times more effective at making sales than social media posts?

Thinking time is up.  Being taken advantage of time is up.  It's time to reinvest in your website, blog, and e-mail so you can satisfy your current customers and attract new ones.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, March 21, 2014


I was recently interviewed for an article on about Facebook Optimization for mobile platforms, something I'm very passionate about.  One of the things I said was:
Mark Edwards, Managing General Partner at Mark Edwards Worldwide concurs, “I believe in testing, and then testing again, so what I do for most of my Facebook posts is post them so that I can only see them before they go live for the public. Then I look at them on a laptop computer, desktop, Android phone, iPhone, iPad, and two Android tablets. If I can’t see the post the way I want it to look on all those devices, I fix it and go through the same proof. If it looks right, I delete the test post and let the real post go when its time to go live. Nothing beats testing, and while this takes a little time, it makes for the best quality posts possible.”
I live by that mantra because nothing is worse for a marketer than working like crazy on a campaign and then having people not be able to see it.  Just this morning, I found a perfect example of that problem.  I got a well produced e-mail from The Cheesecake Factory saying I could win up to $250 in gift cards in their "Cheesecake Madness" promotion on Facebook.  Now, I'm not one to turn down free cheesecake (although I personally prefer Eli's Cheesecake from Chicago) so I gave the link in the e-mail a click and found myself on the contest page.  And this is what I saw for about five minutes.
THE EVIL SPINNING "LOADING" CIRCLE.  I use Chrome as my main browser, and for whatever reason, this contest page doesn't play well with Chrome.  The kids on the Interwebz call that a FAIL.

I don't know if the good people at the Cheesecake Factory or Socialtyze (who is credited with designing the page) did the right amount of testing, if my browser is somehow blocking the contest page (which it shouldn't as I have it set to let just about everything short of a virus or launch code load) or what the problem was. All I know is that as a consumer, I couldn't play the game and I'm kind of bummed.

Was this a testing problem?  Maybe.  Was it avoidable? Probably.  Would very thorough testing on different browsers, platforms, OS's, and devices have prevented the user experience I had?  Most likely.

I'll say what those who work with Mark Edwards Worldwide have heard me say over and over, TEST AND TEST AGAIN.  It's well worth the time to make sure what you post, especially on platforms you don't control like Facebook, render and work the way you want them to.

By the way, I just checked the page in the screenshot above.  The little "loading" circle is still spinning.  Ugh.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, February 24, 2014

Radio Continues To Have A "Missing Link" To Listeners

I spend a lot of time listening to the radio. All kinds of radio, from AM and FM
stations to Pandora, Stitcher, Beats Audio, and a plethora of other streaming services.  And to be clear, if it's sound coming our of a speaker, it's radio.  Period. After having spent more than three decades programming radio stations, it's hard not to have sound in the background.  I also spend a lot of time on the Internet, sometimes looking at stations' websites and Social Media outposts.  What I see online frightens me because most of the terrestrial radio stations, and even some of the streaming services, have a disconnect between their audio product and their online presence, what I call THE MISSING LINK.

In other words, most audio content providers don't think about how people USE their product, what else they're doing when they're listening, or most importantly, how they can take the product that comes out of the speakers to a computer or smartphone screen.  Because every day there are less audio delivery devices like the one above and more like this.

Of course, there are still a lot of audio delivery devices that aren't smartphones, but mobile is becoming king and smartphones are the King of Mobile, so let's think of the smartphone as the new radio.  And that includes phones with the FM chip that many broadcasters think is their ticket to mobile parity.  Which it isn't.  Not because having an FM radio in a phone isn't good for free listening or emergencies, but because if there's THE MISSING LINK between the audio and the online component of the radio station, there a decent chance listeners will figure out that the radio station, any radio station, isn't talking to them and doesn't know what their life is all about.

I'm not going to share some of the most glaring examples of THE MISSING LINK, but I've got some great ones saved. There is no shortage of posts that are meaningless, wacky DJ jokes online that don't work if you're reading them and not hearing them, or tweets that are too long, posted by some kind of automation, and either cut off in the middle or edited to being unreadable without a secret decoder ring.

So what's a content creator to do?  First, stop thinking that the only way people can hear your content other from your bone crushing transmitter is with one of these in an office.  It isn't 2003. Yes, there is still listening on computers, but remember, the world is going mobile and the smartphone is the King of Mobile. Second, start thinking about how your online activities can compliment, contribute to, and complete whatever comes out of the speakers. Have talent and promos send listeners to someplace online and get more information about an important local event. Use your online assets to drive listeners to the station at a certain time for something really special, not just the "Top 9 At 9". Talk to the people who aren't in the programming or marketing departments and find out how they use the audio you put out.  You'd be surprised.  And probably a little sickened, because in the world of the Millennials and younger people, you're not doing it the way they want it.

And here's the one thing you can do that will improve your online reputation, and therefore your "cred" with your listeners, no matter what format you are, terrestrial or online, and what market size you're in. Look like you care about your online presence.  That means update your Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages regularly, use only good pictures, not some bad, blurry phone photo just to slap something up online, and write different posts for different platforms. Anyone with a shred of knowledge about Social Media knows when they're seeing a tweet with lots of @'s and #'s simply reposted on Facebook and they know the person who posted is either unaware of how to tailor posts for each platform, letting automation run wild, or just plain ignorant.  Each platform online now demands a unique voice, and you need to take the time to create posts in all the right voices and post them when people might actually see them, not when it's convenient for the intern to put them up.

There's one last thing to think about when it comes to relating to your listeners.  Your website is the only piece of the Interwebz you completely control.
Don't force your listeners to look at something like this, it only makes you look foolish.  Listeners know what today's great websites look like, and far too many radio station websites are mired in the past because of benign neglect, not enough updates in the onerous barter contract you signed for "website development" or the fact that someone thinks neon colors and DJ pictures are what people come to your site to see. Guess what, that's not the case.  You can fix the ugly, uninformative website, and sometimes it's the biggest MISSING LINK.

If you're creating content, any content for that matter, are you providing the full 360 degree experience to your users or is there a MISSING LINK?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, February 10, 2014

The New Website Is Here! The New Website Is Here!

With all due respect, copyright acknowledgement, and thanks to Steve Martin from "The Jerk", this is kind of how I feel today.  The All New Mark Edwards Worldwide Website is here!  Not right HERE, but HERE at

After helping get clients' websites and online presence all set up, I decided to design a new website from the ground up.  You'll find information about Mark Edwards Worldwide's services, links to many wondrous things on the Interwebz, multiple ways to contact me, and much more.

Please drop on by, leave a comment if you like, and let your friends and associates know that if they want to shine online, Mark Edwards Worldwide is ready to help them!

My whole family thanks you.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

When Marketing Automation ISN'T Useful

Those who know me and have worked with me know that I'm a fan of using marketing automation to schedule some messaging.  Not all messages, but some, especially on Twitter and text messages.  But I'm also a big fan of thinking about the audience and what the message will mean to them.  I ran across a case in point this morning and wanted to share it.  I'm not picking on the business that I'll talk about, I really love them, but this incident shows that they probably scheduled a text message and didn't account for how their database would be affected by it.

I'm in St. Louis, as is this business.  We're having snow today, many schools are closed, and the ones that aren't will most likely be sending students home early because the heaviest of the snow will be coming starting around noon.  The Missouri Department Of Transportation has issued a "stay off the roads" alert so they can get to the snow and keep people safe.  So it's fair to say this isn't the day to be going out unless you really have to.

Even with all that happening, I got this text message at 8:40 this morning.
I've got to believe this was a scheduled message, if for no other reason that any reasonable person would know not to ask their customers to come out during the time the snow is supposed to be falling hard and the state wants everyone off the roads.

So what happened here?  My hope is that the message was scheduled in advance and the person in charge of marketing for this restaurant either wasn't up yet to assess the weather or just forgot that the message was in the queue.  At least I hope that's what happened.

There's an important lesson here.  Taking advantage of marketing automation is usually a good thing, but if you do, you need to be able to stop pre-scheduled messages from going out and be able to do it fast.  In this case, it's because the weather stinks and asking people to come out in a snowstorm might not reflect best on the business. But scheduled messages could need to be stopped for any number of reasons, a news event that might take people's attention and make the business look crass, the death of a famous person, or even a public relations problem for other outlets of the same chain or the parent company.

Sometimes "radio silence" or rescheduling a small promotion is the least helpful to your business, yet safest way to act.  But you've got to know when your messaging is going out and be able to stop it, especially because your reputation, if not your sales, will benefit from an abundance of caution.

Related articles
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, January 12, 2014

In Praise Of The Under Appreciated HR Director

This post was originally published on Mark Edwards Uncensored on January 10, 2014

Here's a question for business owners and managers. When was the last time you hugged your HR department?

It occurs to me that the human resource manager, human resource assistants, recruiters or whatever you call the people in your HR department are the unsung heroes of business in 2014. They have to find the right people, train the people, and then retain the people for it as long as possible. With all the talent available these days, that's a very very tall order.

Yes, the government says that the unemployment rate dropped to 6.7% today. Theoretically, that's good news, especially if you ignore the low number of jobs created in December. But it also means that a lot of people have just stopped looking for jobs and left the work force. And that might make the HR department's job a little harder because some of those people could be diamonds in the rough for your company. Perhaps their skill set doesn't exactly line up with what you're looking for, maybe they are over 40 and have had jobs in industries that don't exactly match yours, or maybe they just were honest about how much money they wanted to make when they filled out applications. For whatever reason, they've climbed out of the talent pool and therefore can't be used as human capital.

How important is finding and keeping talent? Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, opened the 2013 event in Davos by asking "Is talentism the new capitalism?". He talked about the importance of talent and how having the right people can provide a huge competitive advantage for any organization. Everyone has the same computer programs, analytic tools, and syndicated data to work with, but the key to making all those things work right is having the right talent to use them, interpret them, and put them to work for your business. And in most companies, finding that talent falls squarely on the shoulders of the overworked and undervalued human resource department.

Many businesses try to help their HR department with this daunting task by
getting them applicant tracking software so they don't have to spend as much time looking at every application that comes in for every opening no matter how big or small it is. We all know how the software works, whether it's Taleo or Kenexa or another vendor's system. The HR person puts in the parameters they are looking for, adds the keywords, presses the button, and the job is posted for all to see. Then the system scans the applications, looks for the best matches, and puts them in a file. The applicants who don't match the qualifications set by the HR department sometimes get a nice rejection letter but tend to go into another file never to be seen again.

Technology is good, and having been a hiring manager I know that often times most of the people applying for a job simply aren't qualified. That's why applicant tracking software was invented, to weed those people out so that the overworked HR department or recruiter can concentrate on the best people based on their keywords. 

But technology has its limits. In an ever-changing world where so many people are trying to reinvent themselves or enter a new industry, applicant tracking systems don't see how the skills these candidates bring to the table can match the keywords for the open positions. It's no one's fault, it's just the way computers work and the applicant tracking system is doing the best job you can based on the information it was given. So is the recruiter really getting the very best person for the job? According to the applicant tracking software, they are. But in reality they may not be. And if that perfect person ends up getting noticed by your competitor, your company has lost the opportunity to acquire a valuable piece of human capital. Sometimes, and probably more often than that, the real best person for the job doesn't make it over one of the benchmarks in the ATS and they get thrown out, leaving the company with no idea that they're missing out on a potential superstar. 

To try to show this theory in a real world experiment, I applied for a job that I am well-qualified for yesterday after 5 PM. The application was through an applicant tracking system which was nice enough to send me an automated response saying they had gotten my stuff and would consider me for the job. At a little after 11 PM last night, six hours after making the application and most likely while the HR department at this company was far from their desks, I received a rejection letter for the job I just applied for. I can't prove this, but I can bet that my application was never seen by the retina of any human eye. It didn't match the keywords or got bounced for some other reason and the recruiter or HR director at this company will never know that I applied for the job. They lost the chance to at least investigate the acquisition of good human capital. And if I get a similar job at their competition, they lose the never ending battle of having the best people in their company.

I don't envy the role of a recruiter or HR director in this day and age. Too many tasks, too little time, and not enough help makes the job one of the most challenging in any firm. But companies who don't invest in finding the best human capital and looking beyond the applicant tracking systems are likely missing the opportunity to grow a world-class organization. Not having the human touch in the recruiting process could theoretically make the difference between success and failure for a project or an entire company. Setting one parameter unwisely in the ATS can rob a business of the person they need to move forward without them even knowing it because the HR Director or hiring manager will never see the application.

I worked for a decade at Viacom, and the chairman of the company, Sumner Redstone, was well known for saying that his most valuable assets go down the elevator at the end of the day. He knew that it was the people that worked for him that made his brands great. He also knew it was the people that did the work that generated the profits that he and his stockholders enjoyed. Even the strongest brand has to be powered by human capital.

So I go back to the question I opened this post with. When was the last time you
hugged your HR department? What have you done for them to make their jobs a little easier, a lot more productive, and help contribute more to the acquisition of the very best human capital out there? In 2014, it's about the people working in the companies that will decide success or failure. Think about that when you're looking at your HR budget or when you walk past that department in your company. Those people need a hug, and a whole lot more.

Mercer released a report about the importance of human capital. You can find a link to download the Executive Summary here. If you're in HR, you might want to print it and leave it on your boss's chair. 
Enhanced by Zemanta