Robert: Welcome to the Ecommerce Marketing podcast. Today’s guest is Krista Neher. She is the CEO of Boot Camp Digital and she’s a bestselling author. Krista has over ten years of branding and marketing experience. She’s worked with companies like Procter & Gamble, GE, Macy’s, Google, and the United States Senate, and she has been featured as an expert in the New York Times, CNN, Wall Street Journal, NBC, CBS, Mashable, and the Associated Press. Krista’s passionate about social media and she created one of the first accredited social media certification programs in the world. Welcome to the Ecommerce Marketing podcast, Krista. How are you doing?
Krista: I’m doing great! Thanks for having me.
Robert: Wow, what a resume! It’s actually cut short. If I was to read everything, it would probably take the whole length of the podcast. But you have accomplished a lot and we are very excited to have you on today.
Krista: Thanks. I’m happy to be here.
Robert: Okay, so, you also refer to yourself as ‘The Marketess.’ Is that your blog, the Marketess?
Krista: Yeah, that’s a blog. I actually don’t really write there anymore, but, yeah, that’s a blog that I used to run with kind of marketing tips and stuff like that.
Robert: Oh, okay. And if you can just briefly explain what you do with your current company, Boot Camp Digital?
Krista: Sure. So, Boot Camp Digital specializes in social media and internet marketing training. So we help businesses figure out how to better use social media tools and internet marketing to grow their business. We have an online certification program and a variety of other classes that we do that really just help business centers to get better results.
Robert: And you also—I don’t know if this is a side of Boot Camp Digital, but you also do the personal branding?
Krista: Yeah, absolutely. We work with people and help them figure out how to bring their personal brand to life in a meaningful way. So, today, people are googling you to assess your credibility, and the idea of personal branding is making sure that when people search for you, you look like a rock star who they’re really excited to work it. So we help people figure out how to get more from their personal brands as well.
Robert: Okay. And, yeah, that’s one of the reasons I wanted to have you on and I’m real excited to have you on, is just the fact that you have all these years of experience in social media, and I wanted you to kind of share some strategies and show us how businesses can actually use social media and social networking to increase their traffic, increase sales, increase conversions. And the first question I had is if you can just briefly explain to some listeners who don’t know or just give a definition of what is social media?
Krista: Sure. So most people, when they think of social media, they’ll think “Oh, it’s Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn.” And those are social media sites, social networks, but really, what social media is, at a high level, is it’s about connecting with people through the things that they care about and through conversations. And so, really, whether you’re using Instagram or Pinterest or Facebook—whatever tool you’re using—the big idea here is that you want to connect with people in a relevant way where they’re already spending their time and having conversations. And that’s really what social media’s all about.
Robert: Okay, so it’s just not the networks, like you’ve mentioned, it’s anywhere a person who is interested, they’re spending their time, you want to engage with them in that platform, and that is considered social media.
Robert: Okay. And why is it so important for businesses and marketers to try and engage with customers in social media?
Krista: So, you know, the idea of marketing and advertising in general is about getting in front of people where they spend their time. It’s about the right message to the right person at the right time. And, really, as we look at where we can reach people with relevant messages, social media’s becoming a bigger and bigger opportunity because people are on social networks a lot. One in every five minutes spent online is spent on social media. So, right there, twenty percent of internet time is spent on social media.
And it’s growing even more than that on mobile devices. So the big idea here is that we want to get in front of people where they’re spending their time with a relevant message. Now, some people might say “Well, I don’t know that people want to talk about my business on Facebook.” Studies show that most people are interesting in connecting with businesses on social networks. Over eighty percent of people have connected to a business on a social network. And when we look at that kinds of things people are doing, they’re complimenting brands. They’re making recommendations. They’re clicking on links to go and look into this.
So there really is an opportunity for businesses of all types to understand how to take advantage of this to grow their business and really drive sales.
Robert: Okay. And would you recommend the people of the business to get connected with the customers or to extend the brand in those social networks?
Krista: Well, I think it’s both. I’m not sure that it’s one or the other. I mean, most people when they hear social media, they think “Okay, we should make a Facebook page and start posting stuff. And that still is a little bit more close to traditional advertising, I would say, where you’re trying to push messages out and hopefully they’re messages that people are actually interested in.
What we’re find though, more and more, is that what also works is finding where people are having discussions and connecting with them there. And, honestly, that’s not really a new idea, but I think with all the hype over social media, a lot of people have forgotten it.
So back when I got started in social media in 2007, we were on social networks. Back then, we were on Myspace, actually, because you had to be in college still to get on Facebook. But we were on social networks doing those things, but we also went into discussion forums. We read blogs and left comments. So it’s a combination of posting stuff, but also being relevant and developing relationships where people are spending their time and talking about this stuff too.
Robert: Okay, so, how would businesses engage with their customers in social media? What would they need to do to engage their customers and then, in turn, get more leads, get more conversions?
Krista: So I think the first thing is to figure out what it is that your customers are actually interested in that relates to your product. So, look, if you go on social media and, let’s say, selling…whatever product it is your selling. Purses. If all you post every day is “Look at this purse. Check out our purses. Oh, we have a purple one!” There’s only so much interest people have in that. But if you maybe instead talk about what does someone interested in purses actually want? They’re interested in style and fashion. They’re interested in coordinating different colors. They’re interested in—you know, maybe other accessories that would complement a purse.
So the big idea is finding out what your audience is interested in, and then posting that type of content to build relationships.
Now, obviously, we have conversion goals, too. You’re not on social media because you want to be popular on the internet, you’re on social media because you want to drive your business. And so essentially what you want to look at as well is “How do we post stuff that’s both interesting to the customers but also drives our business over time?” And as you start getting your content close to that, that’s where businesses see results. So, for example, if I’m selling purses and I start posting style trends…well, as long as my purses are in those style trends, that naturally can grow sales for my business as well.
So the idea is really connecting with people in a meaningful way. And the other thing I would say is social media ads do really well also, and at least exploring and testing with some ads is a great opportunity for almost every business.
Robert: Okay, and what are some of the networks that ecommerce companies need to be looking at?
Krista: Sure, so, I mean, if I just talk about the biggest ones, we start with Facebook. Facebook is by far the biggest social network. Most people can’t really afford to ignore it. Now, that being said, marketing on Facebook has been getting more challenging. Organic reach, or just naturally reaching people without advertising is getting harder and harder. So most businesses that are active on Facebook now also have a budget to promote their posts or to advertise with Facebook.
Now some people might say “Oh, I thought it was supposed to be free.” Well, look, just because it’s not free doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. Everybody is on Facebook. It’s by far the biggest global social network, so most businesses find value from being there as well.
The next one I would mention is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is really powerful if you’re targeting business owners or if you’re targeting people in a professional context. So if I was selling office related products, even if I’m not selling them to a business, but if it’s business related, LinkedIn is where you’re gonna want to spend your time. It’s the second biggest social network.
Next, I would say is Twitter. Twitter is…you know, it’s one of the oldest and most interesting social networks. It’s about the third biggest social network, depending on how you measure, and the thing that makes twitter really cool is that a lot of people are really active on Twitter and the people on Twitter love sharing experiences. They click on links, they’re very active and engaged. So it’s a great place to get people talking and to talk back to people, but it does take a little more time than, say, Facebook.
And then the next two networks I would mention are more what I would classify as emerging social networks. And there we have Instagram and Pinterest. First of all, Pinterest is amazingly powerful for ecommerce. If you sell anything on the internet that’s remotely interesting, and hopefully if you’re selling something it’s interesting, Pinterest. Pinterest. Pinterest. Pinterest drives more traffic to websites that LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter combined and doubled.
Krista: And if you didn’t follow that, it’s a lot. Yeah, so I think Pinterest would definitely be toward the top of my list now. It is a more female-centric network, but huge, huge, huge potential and really good for directly measurable results.
And then finally I would mention Instagram. When I wrote my—what was it—my second book, which—or my third book, Visual Social Marketing—when I wrote Visual Social Media Marketing, I interviewed a company that sells wedding supplies online, and they’re killing it on Instagram. Their company’s called Coil Wholesale. And they’re killing it on Instagram by posting products and getting people’s feedback.
Now, you can’t click on a link on Instagram, so it’s a little bit less traceable from a results standpoint, but if people are looking at their products and commenting on them, over time they’ll definitely drive sales.
So that’s kind of like a quick overview of the big social networks that most businesses are paying attention to.
Robert: Okay, and to go back on Pinterest, I was just trying to think in my head, what if I’m a business that necessarily doesn’t have something that interesting to share or promote on Pinterest, is there like a creative way you’ve seen or you can suggest for business to promote themselves even though it might not be a fit just because of the return you mentioned at the start?
Krista: Well, I mean, look, it only works—so if you don’t have an interesting product for whatever reason, and it’s not something that fits with the Pinterest audience, what you’ll find is you’ll work really hard to be posting your stuff, but you’ll kind of just be spinning your wheels. Because it only works if people actually click on your stuff. And if you don’t have things that are appropriate for Pinterest, you may find that you’ve put in a lot of effort and you’re not seeing a great return, and that’s probably because it’s just not a good fit.
One of the easiest ways to tell, if you have a slightly established business at least, is you can actually go onto Pinterest and see if people are already pinning stuff from your website. So when I look at a business, usually any kind of business that already has customers and that people know about, usually we’ll be able to see some content from their website getting pinned by average people on Pinterest. That’s a good indicator that Pinterest is a good fit for you.
And if you’re not seeing that already, it might be because your audience isn’t very big or that it’s just not a good fit. But trying to fit a square product into a round hole is gonna be a waste of your time. So if it’s not a fit for that audience, I wouldn’t spend my time there.
Robert: Okay, and that does bring up a good point and question. How would businesses find a good fit for which network is good for them? Like that example you said, okay maybe Pinterest might not be a good fit for certain businesses, but how can businesses go into these social networks and get a hint or an idea of “Maybe this is a good fit for our business and we need to invest time and money to engage customers here”?
Krista: So there’s not really a single answer to that question. It’s not like “If you’re this type of business, go here. If you’re this type, go there.” it just doesn’t really work that way. What I would say would be really good indicators are, one, are you competitors getting results there? So, in a business I’m working with right now, they’re not active on Twitter yet and they’re not sure if it’s worth their time. Well their two biggest competitors have hundreds of thousands of followers there. So that shows at least that people want to connect with businesses like theirs in that medium.
So I would look for competitors, similar businesses, or industry associations. If they’re getting traction that shows people are interested in stuff like what you do on those networks.
The other thing you can look at is conversations either about your brand, again, your competitors, or your industry. So if I was thinking about—you know, if I was selling car parts, maybe, I would want to look. “Do people talk about car part son Twitter?” I’m just using Twitter as an example. But are there already conversations? Do they talk about competitive products, do they talk about my products? And if there’s already conversations, that’s another good indicator that it’s probably a good platform for you.
Robert: Okay, yeah, I think those are great points on finding the indicators. And now, moving on, are there some top mistakes that you’ve seen brands and companies make in social media?
Krista: Uhm, the mistakes brands and companies make—is that what you asked?
Robert: Yeah, what are some of the top mistakes you see companies making in social media?
Krista: So the first one I would say is not having a real plan. A lot of the times, what happens is somebody says “Oh, you should be on Facebook! It’s a big opportunity!” and so we say “Okay, let’s get on Facebook” and we just start posting stuff and nothing happens. You need a plan. What are you posting? Why are you posting it? Why would anyone care about it? And you also need to always keep—the second thing I would say is keep your target audience in mind.
I just spoke—I did a keynote presentation at a national conference and I pulled up Facebook pages of all these businesses, and honestly, they’re all posting like “Oh, look at our employees doing this. Look at our employees doing that.” and I say “Who do you think cares what your employees are doing?” maybe your employees, so put it in a newsletter. Why are you putting it on Facebook? Your customers so care what your employees do all the time.
So what’s in it for a customer? Why would they care? People don’t exist to market your business for you.
And then the third thing is make your content interesting. One of the top mistakes that I see right now is the stuff people post is just so boring. It’s uninteresting. Make it interesting. Spend time. Choose your words carefully. Make it funny, witty, interesting, humorous, unusual. But make your content better or people will just ignore it.
Robert: Okay. And what about some of the tools that you use for social media for managing social media? What are some good tools that companies can invest in?
Krista: Sure, so when it comes to Facebook, generally you want to post directly to Facebook. Facebook reduces the visibility of posts that come through third-party tools. So when it comes to Facebook, I always post directly through Facebook.
HootSuite is a tool that I’ve used for, gosh, a long, long time now to manage Twitter primarily. It just allows me to organize what I’m looking at and makes it faster and easier for me to have meaningful conversations on Twitter. I can see the hashtags I wanna follow, I can see the people that I’m most interested in, and I can respond easily through HootSuite. So HootSuite would be the second one on my list.
And then I also, more recently, have been using Buffer app. Buffer basically allows you to create posts and schedule content out in advance, and I’ve been using that for some time as well. So those would be my top three things that I would point out.
Robert: Okay. And, lastly, what are some advanced tips and hacks for social media that you can share for businesses to use?
Krista: Sure. So, you know, when it comes to hacks and stuff like that, I feel like a lot of the times, people want these easy answers, right. Like I see products for sale like “Learn exactly how to grow your Instagram following by five billion people in two weeks,” some crap like that. The reality is that most things that are gonna get you quick results like that, you’re getting low quality results.
So here’s a great example: A client of mine—I have no idea why he did it—he was like “I wanna get more serious about Instagram!” so he went and he bought this Instagram training class and what they told him to do was do—what they did, it was tell you the top hashtags for different categories. So you’d go find the top hashtags for food, and you could literally copy this list of hashtags and place it in every one of your Instagram posts. Now, there’s an underlying principal there that’s accurate, which is using hashtags will increase your views. But spamming hashtags, which is essentially what he was doing, does not increase your views and it annoys people. And actually, Instagram removed all of his hashtags from his posts.
So, I think when it comes to hacks like that, you need to be really careful. What I’ve noticed is a lot of the biggest sort of “secrets” and “hacks” and things like that that you see people come out with are good ideas that are done in kind of like a spammy or overaggressive way. And they really do not work well when you do them that way.
I think, honestly—look, if there was a magic formula that would get you amazing results overnight, I would be a billionaire sitting on a beach somewhere. The reality is, if it was that easy, we’d all just be rich people retiring somewhere. There’s no shortcuts, there’s no secret answers.
Here’s what it really comes down to, though, from an advanced strategy standpoint. It’s really knowing what is the stuff that people both are interested in and that also drives your business. And most people don’t spend enough time thinking about their posts to really nail that. But if you can figure out exactly what is it that people care about, and that drives my business, and you start posting stuff like that… If you spend time actually connecting with people and understanding your customers, responding to them, nurturing relationships, that is the stuff that works over time.
You know, businesses that get on Twitter and go out and buy followers or, you know, just start posting stuff and maybe using a bunch of hashtags and whatever, they usually don’t get great results. Because what you need to do is really think about “Okay, who have a really good value proposition? Let me follow those people. Now let me respond to some of their stuff. Let me retweet some of their stuff.” And that’s really how you get—that’s really how you get results. So, you know, the best sort of advanced strategy I have is to really think through your content well.
The other thing I’ll say is explore some efficiency and light automation tools. That stuff can save you a lot of time. You know, a lot of things that used to be done manual can now be at least scheduled out. So Instagram—or not Instagram. Pinterest just opened up their API so now there’s Pinterest schedulers. That can save you a lot of time and effort by just scheduling a handful of pins to go out every week.
So I think pay attention to the tools. What I try and do is at least investigate one new tool every month, just to see how it goes, and take it from there.
Robert: Okay, Krista, that’s been very, very informative and I think very helpful to a lot of businesses. From everything you said, I think one great takeaway would be investing time to find the right network, and then coming up with a plan. I think that’s one great takeaway I’ve come up with from everything you’ve said. Would you agree with that?
Krista: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a great summary.
Robert: Okay, so, again, this is Krista Neher. She is a speaker, author, uhm—yeah, she speak internationally. She’s an author, she has three books. And where can people reach you,
Krista, if they have more questions, they want to connect with you and follow you?
Krista: Yeah, so, I can be found at my name on every social network. So K-R-I-S-T-A, N-E-H-E-R. I’m an open networker on LinkedIn. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. And if you want to follow my company Boot Camp Digital to get more social media tips or to check out some of our training classes, it’s Boot Camp Digital at every social network, or you can check out bootcampdigital.com.
Robert: Okay, Krista, thanks a lot for being on the podcast today and for sharing everything you’ve shared today.
Krista: Yeah, thanks so much for having me.