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When it comes to social media marketing, the majority of the advice you’ll receive centers on publishing content - how often, when, to be consistent. Well, we should talk less and listen more.

Talk Less, Listen More

When it comes to social media marketing, the majority of the advice you’ll receive centers on publishing content – how often, when, to be consistent.

Yet there is the old saying that we have one mouth and two ears for a reason – to talk less and listen more.

So why is most marketing advice so focused on “talking”?

Social media marketing is unlike traditional marketing.

It’s set apart by its ability to allow customers and prospective customers to connect with you, to learn about you, to interact and communicate. It provides the perfect opportunity to listen and learn. Find out what your customers want and need, the problems they face. Social media platforms offer invaluable insight to those who chose to talk less and listen more.

Rather than focusing on how much you are publishing, consider engaging more.

Find out where your customers are active. Read what they are posting. Engage with them on their content and where they are active. Connect with them on what matters to them.

We are drawn to those who we connect with and those who take the time to listen to us. The more we feel someone is paying attention and cares, the greater the likelihood we’ll take the time to get to know them. This includes following your brand and/or subscribe to your newsletters. It’s about trust.

As a business, loyalty is everything. We need new customers, but repeat customers are our lifeblood. Over time they have a proven track record and no further (or limited) acquisition cost. They are also some of our best advocates. They refer us, promote us, drive down our acquisition costs for new customers.

This combination of learning and connecting drives your content.

One of the biggest issues for brands on social media is creating effective content. They struggle with what to post and how to write it. An interesting thing happens when you listen more. Your content struggles disappear.

The very act of listening and learning, allowing you a chance to “find out what your customers want and need, the problems they face,” means you have the basis for what to publish. There is no guess what you should write.

If you know your customers are facing “Problem A,” write about ways they can face, handle, deal with, or resolve “Problem A.”

Less time on content helps you create better content, or at least, more targeted content. It’s content which will resonate with the audience you’ve curated through that earlier engagement. As it is relevant to them, they’ll more likely see your post in their feeds and read it and more likely to open that email from you. (It’s not that email marketing is dying. It’s that we have no connection with the sender. It’s transactional.)

Relevant content drives engagement.

The second major issue faced by content publishers is getting engagement. When you start creating articles with a message on point with your audience’s needs and concerns, you’ll get better engagement.

If you address something of interest to me, more than simply reading it, I’ll likely contribute. That could be in the form of a like, a comment, or a share. Without getting into the type of engagement you ideally want, all of it has value.

Relevance is the main driver in Facebook’s algorithm and, to some degree, Google’s when it comes to search results (how relevant your content is to the search query at its most base level). The second big driver is engagement.

Content engagement drives visibility.

For Facebook, the algorithm was designed to show what is most relevant to the user, but unless that content is deemed ‘shareable’, no matter how relevant it is, it may not be seen. Facebook uses ‘shareability’ to further narrow what you see. The more engagement a post sees, the more it indicates the content has value – and the more ‘shareable’ it becomes. This is why content with increased engagement, even just likes, is more apt to show in your feed and to show more often. Each further piece of engagement amplifies this.

For Google, engagement matters, even if indirect. Content served up in search results must not only be relevant to the query (keywords, title, slug, meta description), the content must be valuable and authoritative. Blog comments and socials shares are a indirect indicator of value and can contribute to ranking. Increased visibility can/should lead to an increase in backlinks reinforcing the content value and improving your website’s overall ability to rank.

Visibility drives further engagement

It’s a natural cycle. And one created initially by you taking the time on social media to engage and interact, not publish and promote.

The best way to get others to listen when you speak?

Start by listening to them.


Robert is a brand, content and social media marketing consultant at TSO Media, a national speaker and the Lead Marketing Wrangler for WordCamp Seattle. Read more on his site.


The only way for you to succeed and grow your blogging business is to solidify your branding for your blog.

When A Thousand Words Aren’t Worth a Picture: The Importance of Branding for Bloggers

Why do bloggers need branding. It’s simple. You want readers. Audiences need someone to trust. Is that someone you?

Branding is Important.

“Branding is important not only because is it what makes a memorable impression on consumers but also because it allows your customers and clients to know what to expect from your company.” — Elizabeth Smithson, Branding Magazine

Branding is achieved through specific, deliberate, and consistent messaging in visual, verbal and non-verbal customer experiences. Branding communicates value and shapes perceptions about the company and its products or services. Poor branding breeds confusion and ultimately reduced value and sales. Effective branding breeds pride and loyalty. In other words, good branding can elevate while poor branding can destroy.

One great example that most people over 40 will remember is the fall of Beta Max. Some may argue that Beta Max was the superior product. “Sony kept Betamax proprietary, meaning that the market for VHS products quickly outpaced Betamax. Though Betamax was technically superior, VHS won out by simply being ubiquitous” writes Ben Gilbert, businessinsider.com. A quality product (superior or not) lost its foothold in the market altogether to its competitor that focused on making the technology widely available.

Similarly, Microsoft skyrocketed to the top because of its accessibility. It was a third or even a quarter of the price. Regardless of the glaring differences in performance and overall quality, Microsoft was the VHS of the late 80s and 90s. Microsoft began to dominate the corporate world and expanded personal computing to business applications. Apple re-gained market share when they clarified their position–a computer focused on high quality graphics and stability, which appeals to filmmakers and other creative artists.

“People don’t have relationships with products, they are loyal to brands.” — Scott Goodson, Forbes

The only way for you to succeed and grow your blogging business is to solidify your branding for your blog.

Why Bloggers Brand

Whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, it’s part of your brand. Whether you’re a business owner or a business employee, you’re a brand — like it or not. Selling services, products, or yourself, everything that surrounds an encounter and experience with you counts.

Without consistent and clear brand messaging, all of your hard work writing thousands of words for who-knows-how-many articles falls on deaf ears–ultimately going unread. Silence.

Then, what? What’s the value of your blog? What’s the point of writing it? While branding serves as the foundation and builds value greater than the sum of all of the parts for and of your business, there’s only so much of it you can control.

“Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.” — Marty Neumeier

It lies deeply within those experiencing it and how they’ve experienced it. That’s a bit distressing. Therefore, you need to be hyper-vigilant about protecting that which you can control.

How-To Identify Your Voice and Brand Your Blog

Way to Emulate

Look to Brands Doing It Well

Have you ever been watching TV or listening to the radio and immediately known what that commercial is for or whose produced it? I have.

Brands I know instantly because of their consistent voice/tone are:

  • Target
  • Old Navy
  • Subaru
  • Intel

Target and Old Navy are great examples of consistency across all media. Their choice of lighting, tonality, and overall style for photographs and video are always the same, even when the content of the message differs.

Make note to be mindful of the choice of images and video consistency amongst them and with the message.

Intel has used the same series of notes and chords for decades now (yes, more than one decade now). I don’t even have to see a blue logo to know. That sound conjures the Intel message into my mind without the benefit of additional visuals or experiences.

Make note to use a consistent key, phrase, chord, or series of chords if using sound for podcasts, videos, or other experiences.

Subaru, well… dogs. They’ve hit the jackpot with the serial dog commercials. But, that’s a marketing campaign. Yes, it’s consistent with their brand, but what about it is consistent across the brand without the marketing campaign concept? Safety. Outdoors. Their marketing stories incorporate these two brand pillars into every aspect of its brand, including marketing and sales. It’s more than that. There are photo/video style choices that remain consistent across all media and over the years. It all lies within their brand standards, which they live and breathe. The brand standards are the yardstick by which they evaluate consistency. You can count on Subaru to heavily emphasize safety and/or outdoor adventures in everything they do.

Make not to refer to your own brand’s keywords when reviewing everything prior to publishing or distributing—does it fit within those keywords or standards?

These are some pretty big brand names with some big bucks behind them. So, what’s a writer and blogger to do to brand himself/herself so solidly?

Look to your heroes who are doing it well.

Whose style is most like your own? Emulate them. A few great writers I like are:

  • Jeff Goins, goinswriter.com
  • Kevin Rogers, copychief.com
  • Marie Forleo, marieforleo.com

Emulate your heroes (don’t plagiarize). If you’re unsure of how to identify the writing style of others, Bright Hub Education list of characteristics below may help; there’s more info on the site.

Key aspects in styles of writing include:

  • sentence length, structure, variation, and position
  • the use of sensory details, figurative language, and other literary devices
  • the use of sound devices–alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhythm, repetition
  • the use of dialogue
  • word choice
  • tone
  • the use of local color
  • the use of irony

Categorize Words as Your Brand Foundation

It’s pretty easy to set standards so you can be consistent across all media. Distilling your own brand and personality into a few words helps to clarify what you’re all about and what is of the utmost importance.

Start by defining your own culture

What is your business, office, and work life culture? Forbes Coaches Council provides a good list of steps to define your culture. “Culture is shaped structurally through norms, processes, rituals,” it is important to define and establish what those will be. Below are  the most essential steps in the process for building a company culture.

  • Know Your ‘Why’
  • Start With Your Core Values
  • Reverse Engineer The Culture
  • Clarify Vision And Strategic Priorities
  • Design Organizational Purpose
  • Explore Behaviors
  • Align Culture With Employees
  • Be Transparent With Your Definition
  • Start With The Front Lobby and Website

Many bloggers and writers don’t have employees; at best, they have teams of contractors or subcontractors. That’s why I use this Core method adopted from Jose Ca

Quick-Start

Identify 5+ one-word descriptors of your company culture. Then, underline your top three. Then, highlight the most important or strongest word. While all words may remain appropriate, this word will be the keyword for your culture.

Example:

  • Growth-minded
  • Collaborative
  • Innovative
  • Compassionate

Identify your blogging voice

“Nobody is born with a style or a voice. We don’t come out of the womb knowing who we are. In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes. We learn by copying.” — Austin Kleon

While your blog is delivered from you and represents parts of you, it is not a living, breathing being. However, it “creates a feeling within your reader and personalizes what s/he is reading.
” (Jeff Goins, ProBlogger) Therefore, you’ll identify the common words within your industry and your own writing that describe the style of voice you have and/or want.

Quick-Start

Identify 5+ one-word descriptors of your blog voice. Underline your top three and highlight the most important or strongest word. While all words may remain appropriate, this word will be the keyword for your voice.

Example:

  • Snarky
  • Critical
  • Curious
  • Irreverent
  • Precise

What impact does your blog have on your readers?

This is the answer to what you’re solving for your readers—the inverse of the pain points. Your message needs to be clearest on what you solve for your readers or clients. (For more information read Pain Points: A Guide to Finding & Solving Your Customers’ Problems.)

Quick-Start

Identify 5+ one-word descriptors of your blog voice. Underline your top three and highlight the most important or strongest word. While all words may remain appropriate, this word will be the keyword for your voice.

Example:

  • Increase revenue
  • Reduce expenses
  • Increase productivity
  • Provide assurance

Your Framework for Visual, Verbal, and Non-Verbal Branding

With these words, you have the yardstick by which to measure the appropriateness for everything you do, say, write, create, etc.

  • Does _____ demonstrate ‘growth’?
  • Does _____ provide critical analysis?
  • Does _____ provide assurance?

Using your heroes’ work as templates, you can start to grow your own brand and voice and be far more effective with your blog.

It's one thing to build a community and another to build an engaged community. Blog comments do this very well.

Building Community Through Comments

It’s one thing to build a community and another to build an engaged community. Blog comments do this very well. So why don’t we take advantage of it?

We want our customers to engage with our brand. Ideally, our customers would be sharing our articles on Facebook and Twitter. Of course, we want our audience to like our stories on Facebook and Snapchat and Instagram. If we build a community, our brand will prosper, right?

However, one of the oldest forms of online community-building is being ignored by more and more companies.

Increasingly, bloggers with a large audience are turning off comments on their blog articles. I think that’s a grievous mistake – one that shuts the door on an opportunity to build real community.

Remember When Blogs Were Important?

Long before social media existed, blogs, RSS feeds, and comment sections were the places where you would build a following and a community.

Most of the well-known marketing brands of today were built using their comment sections to have a conversation with the author. That type of access seems increasingly rare.

What changed in the last 5 to 10 years?

Why are so many prolific bloggers no longer enabling comments on their new blog posts?

Turning Away From Blog Comments

Today, many bloggers are disabling blog comments because there are other means of building communities. Facebook groups, Slack channels, and private memberships have risen in popularity.

Blogs without comments enabled are simply one-way conversations.

However, if the first taste of your brand is an unreciprocated relationship, your would-be-community may not take the next step to gain access to you. There’s simply no incentive.

Why not make your website and your blog the central hub of your brand once more?

Nothing Happens Without a Conversation

By leaving comments enabled and replying to each and every comment that you get on your blog or YouTube channel, you tell people something very important about your brand. You show that you’re listening to your customers and your audience. You show that you’re willing to engage with them and have a conversation with them.

What could be more powerful than this?

By demonstrating that you care enough to listen and respond, you drive people into your tribe, telling them that they matter, and that their words do not go unheard.

When Too Much Success Is Harmful to Your Brand

Do some brands get to a point where they feel they are “successful enough?” Does attaining a certain number of followers give you the right to no longer acknowledge the people that helped build your company up to that point?

It’s tempting to fall into the trap of thinking you are “too busy” to respond to comments on your blog, social media, or YouTube. However, this week, I received a personal response on Twitter from Chris Do, who has 22k Twitter followers, and runs a YouTube channel with 230k subscribers. My friend Nathan Allotey recently made a video about how he got a personal email response from Seth Godin, one of the most famous marketers in the world.

The point is not to humblebrag about people who respond to another person’s comments. The point is to highlight that most of us can find the time to respond to comments and build a community – if we choose to do so.

Ignoring comments on our blog or on our social profiles, because we choose not to build a community — anyone can do that.

What is uncommon is when a brand responds to all the comments on their blog or YouTube channel. Very few “influencers” or even large brands are doing that in 2018. As Gary Vaynerchuk once said, by scaling the unscalable you stand out and draw people to you.

Own Your Community – Comments on Your Site

What I like about blog comments is that they keep everyone on your website. There is no fracturing of your channels. People can ask you a question directly from the source material. Responding to comments remains one of the most effective ways demonstrate your brand cares about their customers.

Postmatic and the GDPR

As a Postmatic customer you may be wondering how using our products affects the GDPR compliance of your site. The quick answer is that Postmatic was built from the ground up to respect privacy and user data, so we’re already way ahead of most email-related services.

We’ve put together a guide to what you need to know about ensuring your site meets GDPR compliance guidelines in respect to both Postmatic and Replyable.

What’s GDPR?

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) is a comprehensive data protection law that came into effect on May 25, 2018. It replaced existing EU Data Protection law to strengthen the protection of “personal data” and the rights of the individual. It’s a single set of rules which governs the processing and monitoring of EU data.

Does it affect me?

Yes, most likely. If you hold or process the data of an any person in the EU, the GDPR will apply to you, whether you’re based in the EU or not. This is especially true if you use either Postmatic or Replyable.

Find out more at our GDPR compliance page on gopostmatic.com.

The Geneva Shore Report uses Postmatic among their tools to gain subscribers and distribute content, successfully.

Journalism Use Case: Geneva Shore Report

Journalism captures the power of a story and the printed word. So how do we do this online? The Geneva Shore Report uses Postmatic among their tools to gain subscribers and distribute content, successfully.

We recently had a chat with journalist and editor Chuck Bartok of The Geneva Shore Report. He has seen success building up a community using Postmatic, among other tools, and was willing to chat with us.

The Geneva Shore Report is a local newspaper from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, that publishes every week — in print and online. It’s on the street every Wednesday morning.

“The Geneva Shore Report came into being, and continues to exist, for the purpose of building, assisting and continuing the efforts of those living or visiting a small geographic place on the planet called Geneva Lake. A deep belief in causality, entropy and entertainment theory are at the heart of the attempt by the paper’s ownership and staff to organize and illustrate what it means to truly care about how this small lake, and the people that surround it, proceed into a blissful future.” Geneva Shore Report

So how do they distribute online?

In addition to social media, The Geneva Shore Report Chuck uses a few tools to collect subscribers and to distribute content. He uses the free version of Sumo.me to generate signups. He has 200 subscribers with Postmatic. The publication also makes use of Aweber for a customized digest of the week’s publications.

“Our businesses have been built for 55 years with heavy customer service.” Chuck Bartok

Though Postmatic subscribers get email delivery first, Chuck uses Aweber to address those subscribers personally. They feel that maintaining both is the best for them at this time.

Why did they choose the service?

“I make choices based upon what I like,” Chuck Bartok said. “I liked that those people could get a synopsis once a week from the newspaper and take it from there.”

Commenting is open but they appreciate the distribution service rather than the commenting.

What impact does The Geneva Shore Report have?

The Geneva Shore Report has five reporters and do not sell ad space. They fell this keeps them impartial. They are quite proud of the campaign they had against the former mayor, exposing crime, and true journalistic effort.

The people who comment are a good mix of males and females generally over the age of 50. Their mission is to communicate the power of being involved locally and use reason to insight passion in one’s own community.

Publications and Postmatic

We also have a passion for publications and truth bearing in news. It warms our heart to see that we’re one of the tools Chuck has chosen for The Geneva Shore Report and hope to encourage other local papers to distribute their journalistic efforts as well.

The Current State of Blog Comments

We’ve been sharing our thoughts on where we see blog comments (or, as we prefer to call them, conversations) in the current business landscape over the past couple of years.

From posts about whether or not they offer any business value (both financial and insight), to posts about the long-term “survival” of comments themselves, it’s been interesting to see how these posts have been received.

While we firmly believe there is, and will remain, value in blog comments for more than “just” having something to say after a post, we know many people would say the opposite.

So here’s a little recap of what we’ve been discussing lately and some extra thoughts on the topic.

We’d love to hear your take after this post — in a comment, of course.

Blog Comments Add Business Value.

We’ve already shared success stories here about how our users are seeing a return on engagement when using Postmatic (not to mention monetary return), but how about comments in general?

How do we measure value, and for those with business goals for their blogs, gauge any financial outcome?

We looked at the first part of that question in our post Do Blog Comments Offer Any Business Value?

Value is much more than a dollar amount. Blog comments bring more to a business than adding to the bottom line. Insight into customer thinking, illuminating pain points, and how to better craft your content marketing can all be derived from comments. There’s much more to business value than money (although they’re not mutually exclusive).

For example:

  • A vibrant conversation can encourage brands to work with bloggers on sponsored posts/campaigns. You only need to Google “blog comments and influencer posts” to see how comments can encourage opportunities.
  • Businesses can get inside the minds of their customers through a blog comment (product defect, brand perception, buying signals, etc).

These are just two quick examples. You can also find advocates to share your blog, build up an affiliate network through regular commenters, and more.

Blog comments offer so much more value than just being an afterthought.Click To Tweet

And that’s not even diving into the loyalty aspect of responding and engaging in a conversation with your visitors.

Let’s Call Blog Comments Conversations

One of the topics we’ve been diving into a lot over the last few months is around the re-languaging the term “comments.” Reframing comments in the context of a conversation changes everything.

Blog comments are a conversations. Unless the content author ignores the comments and leaves his content as one-way thoughts, a comment is the start of a conversation; but that’s another discussion.

Public Relations Pro Gini Dietrich once stated (and we’re paraphrasing a little here), “You know you’ve built a great community when you no longer need to be there to nourish it.”

Gini’s takeaway is simple – a great community doesn’t need its “leader” to thrive. Conversations will continue normally, between other members of the community.

This ties in perfectly to our line of thinking and main goal. Building conversations and relationships through respectful, organic, and healthy dialogue.

Respectful, organic, and healthy dialogs are built through conversations which happen in blog comments.Click To Tweet

We took a look at our goal, and why we believe that comments should be renamed to conversations to remove the negative connotations around the words “blog comments” on our post Can We Stop Calling It Blog Commenting Now?

You Have to Give to Get

In our post, If You Want Better Comments, You Have to Care About Your Commenters, we discussed both protecting and nurturing your community of commenters. The comment area should be a safe place for conversations — it’s the blogger’s responsibility.

We shared an example of a leading content creator who’s left his comment area a hotbed of spammy and questionable links. Now, if you were a new visitor to his blog, and you saw all that crud in the comments, of course you wouldn’t comment. Why even bother?

Some bloggers think that they’re owed a comment, but that’s not true either. It takes work to build a community. Nurturing your audience is an act of hospitality, as commenter Peter alluded to in his comment on that post. .

“The difference is in lazy blogging and active blogging, there is also the long view and short view.

Too many bloggers expect people to comment because they posted and that is lazy. You don’t get that privilege until you are famous and a vast majority of people value your opinion (think Matt Mullenweg’s blog).

That is when it is okay to post and let your people chatter amongst themselves. When you aren’t famous, you’ve got to mingle and use that as an opportunity to lead, and position yourself as an expert on whatever it is you are writing about.

As you said, serving the wine and chatting people up.” Peter

You’d think this would be second nature, but it’s not the norm. You’d be surprised and possibly disappointed with how many content creators miss this simple yet vital fact.

Show the same respect your commenters give you by reading and responding.Click To Tweet

Want more comments? Start as you mean to go on and show the same respect your commenters give you by reading and commenting on your content, as opposed to someone else’s.

Slack’s Recognition of Comments

One of the internal communication tools we use at Postmatic, Slack, keeps teams together while working on projects.

Ironically, it was also hailed as “an email killer” which – given our product – might make you think we wouldn’t want anything to do with it. Not so fast! 🙂

They realized the value of true conversations, which is why they brought threaded comments to their platform, too.

Bloggers and content creators have utilized threaded comments for, oh, a long time now. So it’s cool to see newer tech catch up traditional human behavior.

Regardless of the tools we use in life, storytelling, or business, human behavior remains the same. We like threaded comments. We thrive on conversations. It comes through in music (think call and response), in live performances we want applause, in everything — we want a reaction and approval — or at least discussion. On websites, that happens in the comments section.

Comments & Conversations – We’re All One Happy Family

No matter how many times we hear people proclaim that “comments are dead,” we still see them, thriving, adding value, and sharing knowledge.

Comments may be dead to the marketers who do nothing but tweet all day or the bloggers who want to be a single voice versus a conversationalist. But for everybody else, us included, they’re a vibrant and collaborative piece of the content puzzle.

As you can see from the posts included above, they’re not going anywhere fast.

And that’s alright by us.

Happy 2018 from Postmatic

Hi there. Long time, no blog. Things have been quiet here due to the team working on other projects and that tendency life has to grab your ankles, shake you upside down and remind you that your plans are nothing, tiny human. We’ve made it through. We had a successful launch of Replyable in 2017 and Postmatic continues to see steady use and love from the WordPress community. We’re looking forward to 2018 with some new development, new faces, and fresh ideas.

Bridget Willard joins us as Director of Marketing

You may have noticed things have gotten busy lately on our Twitter feed. And soon, there will be a lot more blogging happening as well. That’s all thanks to Bridget Willard lending a hand. Bridget is a marketer and strategist who has been working in the WordPress world most recently as Marketing Manager at GiveWP. We are over-the-moon delighted to have her help with Postmatic and look forward to starting 2018 with her on board. Check out her blog. WordPress geeks should especially read her recent piece on the economic impacts of Gutenberg.

Some new features are on the way for Postmatic and Replyable

We have some development planned for early January that will help with compatibility with a ton more popup packages and 3rd party services. Syncing your Postmatic lists with other services will be a breeze. Look for that soon. We’ll also be giving some attention to Replyable in the form of a few experimental add-ons to increase compatibility with plugins outside of the commenting sphere. It’s great to be able to shift focus a bit back to Postmatic in the coming months. Look for some new features soon.