Jim is recognized as an influencer and trusted resource in the social media community consistently providing best practices, tools and strategies for businesses to be successful online.
Here are 17 questions that Jim answered in this Q&A that we thought all marketers could benefit from hearing.
Q: If you could magically add six hours a day that would be devoted to your business (ShortStack) how would you spend your energy/time? How would you change over three months/six months?
A: The big thing for me is future proofing everything that we do. I recently wrote an article about why I don’t believe in business plans and why we never have had one and how it’s applicable in our space. When working in technology, social media, marketing or running a business in general things change rapidly. So with that six hours a day I would be looking at trends, building new products and testing. We’re huge fans of the scientific method; we come up with a hypothesis, throw it out there, test it and make changes. If I had those six hours each day, after 3 months I’d probably have a couple new products, it’d be great.
Q: How do you feel the upcoming changes regarding promoted content will affect running contests through ShortStack?
A: First off, these changes have already happened. Facebook recently announced that promoted posts would no longer get priority in the News Feed. We’ve dealt with this from the onset of ShortStack. When we launched in Beta in 2010 there were landing pages within Facebook, they took that away. Last year they started reducing the reach and now even if you have reach, if you’re too salesy Facebook is going to get rid of it. About a year ago we realized that these changes are going to come because Facebook has to make money, they want you to buy ads. We decided to change our focus, which has been our response to all of Facebook’s changes. We decided to give our users the tools to do whatever they want online which is why we released our Campaign Builder. It allows you to create a campaign for Facebook and for the web. If Facebook is where you want to host your Campaign, you can, but you’ll most likely have to pay to have it seen. We recommend hosting your Campaign on the web and using Facebook as one of the many places you drive traffic to that Campaign from. Whether your goals are to collect email addresses, promote a sale or build a newsletter, we give businesses the power to do that wherever they want and on whichever channel. So far we’ve seen incredible results with people using our publish to web feature. Many businesses have reported higher entries, visits, and shares. We’re not too worried about these changes because we believe the industry itself is changing and people are relying on Facebook less and less as a place to host their contests.
Q: How do you boost your social media presence?
A: Content! It’s actually something I’ve been experimenting with over the last couple of years. We’re interested in Instagram right now and I haven’t used Instagram a lot personally. However, when I go through and look at images and brands using Instagram some have 200 followers and some have 200,000 followers and I try and figure out why that’s the case? It always comes back to content. Knowing your target audience and creating content that resonates with them. If you put out good content that’s shareable people are going to want to distribute it. Social media is very narcissistic, so play up to your audience’s wants and needs. The worst thing you can do is chase the algorithm, especially on Facebook. I see way too many businesses posting photos because photos are what’s getting shared this week, or posting videos because videos get a lot of views. If videos have no place in your marketing or brand, don’t use them.
Q: Can you explain the difference between reach, impression and engagement? Which is the most important?
A: I’m going to take my answers straight from Facebook’s help center. So according to Facebook, reach is: the number of people who received impressions of a Page post. Reach might be less than impressions since one person can see multiple impressions. Impressions are: the number of times a post from your Page is displayed, whether the post is clicked or not. People may see multiple impressions of the same post. For example, someone might see a Page update in News Feed once, and then a second time if their friend shares it. Engagement is the number of people who actually interacted with your post via a click or a comment. In my opinion, engagement is the most important number. It’s the only metric that tells you whether people are actually interacting with your post.
Q: I work for a non-profit, organic reach is pretty dead on social media for the most post. What is the best cost conscious approach for gaining reach and engagement?
A: I don’t want to sound like a broken record but content and campaign building is critical. For non-profits you need to focus on the story and pull at heart strings. Take a look at animal shelters. You know their ad spend is minimal but their engagement is huge because they’re posting good stories. I suggest not spending your time and minimal budget on ads, but on communicating a story and setting up something that’s newsworthy and buzzworthy. Part of your budget may go towards ads, but I see a lot of businesses saying they have no budget to run a campaign but they’re spending $ 1,000/month on Facebook ads. Reallocate that budget to create a great campaign that tells an awesome story and I think it will enhance your reach and engagement.
Q: Does Facebook look at what you spend on advertising to determine your organic reach? Is it better to keep a constant monthly budget or boosting here and there?
A: Honestly, I’m not sure if Facebook looks at your spending and does anything with that. I think it depends on your Page and what works for you on whether you should maintain a monthly budget or boost here and there. We’ve seen better results from having a small ongoing budget, but some businesses see success from boosting. You should test both methods and see which one works best for you.
Q: What is the difference between boosting a post through the Page and promoting it through the Power Editor?
A: There are more levels of detail through the Power Editor. You can choose where to place your ads, whether they’ll be on mobile, desktop, side bar, etc. In my opinion the “Boost” button is more a discovery method by Facebook to let people know there’s an easy way to put some money behind a post. I recommend going through the Power Editor.
Q: How do you add a call-to-action button at the end of a video on Facebook?
A: This is a cool feature that Facebook added to their video marketing a while back. We recently wrote a blog post that provides step-by-step instructions on how to do this!
Q: Is there any way around the 20% text rule on Facebook? How do you promote something if it has a lot of information?
A: This rule is enforced for News Feed and side bar ads, I always recommend just keeping your ad text short and sweet and link to a landing page to provide more information. You can actually use ShortStack to build that landing Page. Here are 3 more tips you can use! I’d also like to note that this rule no longer exists for the cover photo but there are still some best practices you should follow.
Q: We run specific fundraising events. Aside from individual live posts, photos on Instagram, etc. what’s the best platform to host a gallery of images on?
A: The best platform will depend on the audience. If you have all of your traffic coming from Facebook, try having a Facebook album. If your traffic is from Twitter put a link in your Tweets using ShortStack’s gallery widget. Whatever platform you choose, make sure it looks good on desktop and mobile. Also, include a call-to-action with the gallery; have them vote on the photos or allow them to save images as desktop screen savers or share the images with a friend.
Q: My Facebook Likes have hit a plateau for the last 6 months. I use pay posts each month but what else can I do?
A: Try and determine what has caused the plateau. Is it market saturation? Stagnant content? Repetitive content? There are a lot of factors that come into play. I’d stop putting money towards your posts until you test some new types of posts and content to see what resonates with your audience. Don’t forget to cross promote and work with people in your industry. Recommend other tools and services so they’ll do the same.
Q: What kind of success stories do you know about in terms of developing forms for long-term initiatives?
A: For long-term initiatives I recommend having a solid data collecting element. Asking people to sign up for a newsletter, request a reservation or collect demographic information are all good options. I also recommend having the form exist as a web publish feature and not on Facebook. We’re in the process of working with a hotel that runs quarterly raffles and once they pulled their raffle entry form off of Facebook they went from receiving 8,037 entries to 14,281 entries! Publishing to the web ensures that anyone can enter your form, they won’t be held back by the requirement of a Facebook account, plus mobile works better on a landing page than on Facebook. Another tip for longevity is to mention your form wherever you can. Put it in your email signature, link from your main website and continually mention it across your social networks.
Q: Can you talk about the current status of Campaigns as related to Facebook?
A: Facebook is marking a lot of changes, and a lot of people have spent a lot of time and energy building their pages over the years. Now it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to communicate to those people. I recommend you keep doing what you’re doing on Facebook but explore other social media outlets. I still consider email social media. It can be shared, forwarded and discussed. YouTube is a great social media outlet that allows comments and calls to action. Audiences are becoming more fragmented, you can’t just blanket post across all of your networks and expect great results, you really need an individual strategy for each one. I think Campaigns still have a place on every social network if marketed properly.
Q: Could you explain more about what the publish to web feature is and what you can do with it?
A: The idea behind ShortStack’s publish to web feature is to provide businesses the ability to build any Campaign they have in their mind without limitations. We then provide you with a single link that you can use to promote that Campaign across the web. We recommend using all of your social media channels, your email marketing, your website, and anywhere else that you can put a link to share it with your online audiences. When you build a Campaign and publish it to the web it’s completely responsive for mobile users and you don’t have to worry about Facebook’s guidelines. Once Facebook took away landing pages (where you could say that your fans land on a specific tab when they hit your Timeline) businesses were just posting a link to their tabs. We figured why not just make that link a stand alone landing page that isn’t related to Facebook. For business you’re still posting a link to a Campaign but it’s taking you to a landing page instead of keeping you within Facebook where there are limitations for you and your visitors. The new publish to web feature is also great for building landing pages that you can direct people to from your online advertisements. You can learn more about publishing to the web and the power of it on this page.
Q: Can you explain how ShortStack integrates with MailChimp?
A: You can map your form fields so that you can collect data within your ShortStack Campaign and it is automatically placed onto your MailChimp lists. We also integrate with AWeber, Salesforce, Webhooks, Constant Contact and HighRise!
Q: When sending an email from MailChimp can you make MailChimp emails go into a general inbox?
A: I think Gmail makes those decisions with their algorithm!
Q: Can MLM be successful using ShortStack when my product is so visible on Facebook?
A: Multi-level marketing is possible with any platform. With ShortStack if you have a Campaign and it’s working out really well you can clone those Campaigns and share them with other ShortStack users so they can use it. If you’re asking as “I found something that works and now I’m going to have one of my franchisees use it as well,” ShortStack is a good tool to do that. People can smell scam so just make sure to be as transparent as possible.
If you’re interested in joining the next live Q&A with Jim it will be held on April 30 at 11am PDT.