A guest article by Ramon Ray, entrepreneur, global speaker and best selling author.
For the past few years, I’ve come to realize the simplicity of social media marketing. Sure, there are some complex parts to it, but it’s really about four key areas.
Frequency, Relevancy, Engagement and Analytics – FREA.
Once you’ve defined your target audience and you know to WHOM you are speaking, the rest fall into place. This doesn’t mean it won’t take hard work, but if you follow these four principles you’ll do just fine.
If you’re out of site, on social media, you’re out of mind. In order to make social media work for you, you must ensure that you’re constantly posting content to educate or entertain your audience.
On Twitter you can post several times a day. On Facebook, more than twice a day might get annoying. LinkedIn, keep that to no more than once every 2 or 3 days. Instagram, like Twitter, you can post frequently.
Whatever you do, definitely post and post often. There’s a lot of content online and posting once is never enough. It takes strategic repetition to ensure a wider audience sees what you’re posting. This same repetition is also important to build trust, credibility and get someone to take action.
If you’re not posting the right content to the right audience you’re wasting your time. Ensure that what you are posting is of value to your audience. It’s easy to post irrelevant content – and just press “submit” on our favorite social networks. Smart marketers know their audience and ensure they are giving them information they really want and find useful.
Engagement is one of the most important pieces to the marketing puzzle. If the content you’re publishing is boring (not interesting) no one’s going to notice it. No one’s going to pay attention to it.
It’s important that you use engaging images, video and headlines. Your content should CAPTURE attention and should be so interesting that whoever’s reading it wants to share it with others. Engaging content doesn’t mean it must be FUNNY. It can be serious. But it’s GOT TO BE INTERESTING.
Now that you’re posting and engaging with your community, it’s critical that you measure your results. You want to know, for example, who is the audience that’s reading your content. Another data point you want to know is what content is being read the most. These questions and others are easily found out with Google Analytics for your web site. Facebook has very rich analytics tools to review the traffic to your Facebook page. Each of the social networks have varying degrees of analytics tools to measure your traffic and audience.
Overall it’s essential that you leverage the power of social media in a strategic and purposeful manner. Not using social media can have the same results as using social media, but not using it correctly. You want to leverage content as a way to BUILD a community of fans and followers. You can then nurture this community to become your customers, brand Ambassadors and champions.
Join entrepreneur, best selling author and global speaker, Ramon Ray in a FREE webinar on August 23, 2017 at 2pm ET hosted by Verizon Business Markets as he shares how to use social platforms to DRIVE your business forward.
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A Guest Article by Rhonda Kallman
Well, on this topic I can speak from experience…many times over! One event that happened is worth sharing, if only to highlight that there needs to always be Plan B, C, D, Etc.
Given that I had been in the beer industry for 15 years, I expected the battle for shelf space, for recognition from distributors and for the financial backing to sustain a new brewing business wasn’t going to be easy. I remembered what it was like how Jim Koch and I had to bootstrap Sam Adams and how that brand started as a spit in the market. Here I was, in 2001, prepared to go at it again by starting a new beer company that I hoped would be an incubator for the beer industry.
What I had not prepared for was the government intervention, specifically the FDA, 10 years into the start of New Century Brewing Co. You can’t control government regulation, and you can’t control timing. And timing was not on my side when I introduced New Century Brewing Co, literally launching the company in Las Vegas at a National Beer Wholesalers convention on the eve of 9/11. Unbeknownst to me, that was the start of a 10-year doom loop, both personally and professionally. As there are many stories to tell, I’ll share one in particular in this post.
After being at the forefront of the craft beer movement, innovation is part of my DNA. In 2003, I had my radar up, as I always do, particularly when I’m in places where people are consuming alcohol and having a good time (tough job, though someone has to do it)! I realized that the brands that were being consumed (i.e., Starbucks, Red Bull and Mountain Dew Code Red) all had one thing in common – caffeine. It struck me that in a then $100B beer industry there are no caffeinated options for beer lovers, who love the taste of beer though may want a pick me up at some point of the day or night.
With this new epiphany, I picked up the phone and called my partner, Dr. Joseph Owades (credited with the invention of light beer in 1967) and asked him if he could make me a beer with caffeine. He literally hung up on me! So, I called him back and walked him through the business reasons why this was a good idea. Two days later, he called me back “we can do this” he said! My investors and advisors were elated as well “if you can pull this off, you’ll should have no problem getting this business capitalized properly, finally)”.
After filing the formula with the federal government, it became a waiting game. What normally would take 30-45 days, became 3-4 months, as it was something that hadn’t been done. Finally, the day came when the TTB (Trade and Taxation Bureau the agency that rides herd over alcohol—formally the BATF) approved our formula.
Moonshot ’69 was born -- an all-malt pilsner style beer with 5 percent alcohol and 69 milligrams (the year the astronauts landed on the moon) of natural caffeine. This was clearly innovation in beer, which some would argue hadn’t happened since Dr. Owades’ recipe became Miller Lite in early 1970s.
After gaining process patents in four countries, including the US, for adding caffeine to beer and ale, we were going full on with this brand. In fact, 7-11, authorized a test of two SKUs of Moonshot ’69 in 800 of their stores nationally. That was the validation we needed. Although still extremely capital constrained, we set up distribution options in eight new states. After 10 years, being cash flow positive was within sight!
Two industry giants were finally taking notice of what little New Century Brewing Co was up to and decided it would be prudent to have an incubator that was on their team. This was something I had been working towards my entire career! During the time that we were negotiating our deal that would allow us access to their network, two major unforeseen, unimaginable things were happening: Both of the industry giants were in the midst of a takeover and/or forming a joint venture with other industry players. These deals were in the 10s of billions of dollars.
At the same time, there were forces trying to stop the emergence of other caffeinated alcoholic beverages, namely Four Loko, a jumbo 23.5-ounce can packed with 12-percent alcohol and 135 milligrams of caffeine. That’s like having four or five beers, a Red Bull and a shot of espresso. Four Loko had proliferated on college campuses and were among the top sellers in every convenience store nationally. Not only did they end up using our patented process, Moonshot and Four Loko were drinks clearly in an entirely different class. Moonshot was for beer lovers who wanted something different. And besides, mixing a little caffeine with alcohol was innovative in beer form, but nothing new. Take Red Bull and vodka, coffee drinks, even Twisted Tea. People have been drinking caffeinated alcohol for decades.
As the TTB had approved our mark on four occasions, they were on our side. However, it became very political. So when the TTB said they wouldn’t stop it, the FDA was mobilized to stop that and similar beverages from being sold. Period.
Because we deliberately added caffeine during the brewing process, they decided that Four Loko and Moonshot should be categorized as dangerous and should be banned and removed from the market immediately. In fact, it was quarantined in Massachusetts!
I fought the FDA, with the help of a well-heeled government relations firm, taking my plea all the way to the commissioner of the FDA in Maryland. I attracted more than 5,000 fans to leave online signatures on my website to protest the FDA’s actions. After years of trial and error, I finally had broken through with the brand, earned shelf space and garnered excitement. All that from launching with my credit card!
Instead of regulating, as the FDA is in place to do, they outright banned the category. They should’ve enacted a threshold or formula that was a parts per million of caffeine to percentage alcohol and anything above that line would be illegal. Moonshot ’69 would’ve fallen well below that. Evidently, it was not meant to be…Moonshot ’69 is prohibited from being produced, transported and sold in the US -- the first thing since the end of Prohibition in 1933!
I lost my heart for beer and inhibited my excitement, not to mention my business proposition. I was so passionate and committed to beer, and this was the final straw. My other brand, Edison Light, had a following but not enough to sustain New Century Brewing Co. on its own. So, I decided it was time to shut down the beer company and get on with the next chapter of my life.
It is surprising how alarming and how powerful politics are and, frankly, very disappointing. So how do you deal with events such as that, those that you cannot control? You look at yourself in the mirror and go, ‘What could I have done differently?’ It wasn’t anything I could control.
Ironically, with my new venture, Boston Harbor Distillery, I’m happy making whiskey from distilling Sam Adams beer varieties and making a coffee liqueur that is outstanding. It has four times the amount of caffeine and alcohol as Moonshot ’69 did, though because it tastes like coffee, it’s legal…Go figure!!
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