Posts By: LyleH
How to ask questions on social media
Asking questions should be easy, right? Then, why are so many people doing it wrong.
When I was working on my Master’s degree, I had to write a 30 page paper on how to ask the right questions. . . yes, you heard me, thirty pages! At first, I was not sure how I could do that, but then, I realized there is a lot more to asking questions than I thought. So, let me share a few tidbits that will help you ask the right questions on social media.
Avoid Yes/No Questions
I see many questions like: “Do you like chocolate ice cream?” There is nothing wrong with that question, but it does not engage your audience. A simple yes or know will suffice for the answer. You want your questions to create engagement.
Avoid One Word Answer Questions
“What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?” is a better question, but it still leads to a one word answer. If you are trying to create a survey or tallying up the favorite of some topic, this would be a great question, but for most of us, this would do little to entice people to answer.
Avoid ambiguous questions
Let’s continue our ice cream question. Some people think that adding a ‘why’ to the end of a question helps: “What is your favorite ice cream flavor and why?” That leaves too much open. Again, it asks for a one word response based on opinion, then follows with an opinion which could be answered, “It tastes good.” There is no reason to engage with that question.
Asking the RIGHT Questions
Engage the audience
Asking great questions on social media involves engaging your audience. If you have a reason to ask about flavors of ice cream, then make it a question that really entices the readers to respond. “Why do you think chocolate is the favorite flavor of ice cream in _______?” This is a why question that asks the reader to engage their brain and think about something. They can answer funny, serious, opinion and so forth. It gives them the freedom to allow their personality to come out.
The Power of “IF”
“If you created an ice cream flavor, what would be in it and would you call it?” “What if” questions allows the reader to put their own spin on things. Again, with social media, people want to show off their personalities. Asking ‘what if’ scenarios allows the readers to show off their personality and engage with your brand.
Open ended questions
The opposite of yes/no questions is open-ended questions. It allows the reader to answer on their terms. Using the word ‘what’ often gets you started for these questions. “What items go best with ice cream?” This questions engages your audience.
Ask for their experience
“What is your ice cream story?” Look at how broad that question is. Depending on your audience, it could work. People love to share their experiences. Other ways to relate to this question is: “What was your favorite experience with _________ ice cream?” See how that asks the audience about themselves? People love talking about their story.
Ask them to predict the future
I am not talking about prophecy here. I am asking you to engage your audience in thinking about the future of your topic or industry. There are some valuable insights that could be gained with the right question: “How would your life change if there was no more ice cream?” “If ice cream disappeared, what would you do?”
Asking questions is powerful. You may have noticed the word ‘engage’ was repeated throughout this article. Good questions engage your audience. You must know your audience, speak their language and ask the right questions. IF you do this, you will see your shares and your engagement on your social media increase tremendously.
Which tip are you going to put into practice this week?
I can say that statement with full confidence, you know how I know? Because you are reading this page!
You have a desire and you know there is something you can do to help others. Developing a product is simply taking a skill you have and teaching it to others.
How do you make it successful? You provide a result that people will pay for.
Let’s break down a basic product:
- Solve a Problem
- Prove Results
- Show them how to do it
It’s pretty simple.
Start with who needs this product. Think of a specific group of people and target them. Make sure to develop a list of who your product is not for.
I know we all think everyone needs and wants our product. We think that we will make more money if we sell it to everyone. This is a bad way of thinking about business.
The way you make money is to get it to the people who are willing to pay for it. To best do that make sure you have a clear idea of who it is for.
Step One: Who is it for and who is it not for? If you are teaching dog training, it is not for people who don’t have a dog.
Step Two: What results can I expect? Make sure you tell the customer exactly what results they can expect.
Step Three: Tell them how they get those results. People want to see that the steps are easy to follow and they want to believe they can do it.
SPECIAL NOTE: I have even started developing a course that helps entrepreneurs develop their product. If you are interested in being part of a beta group, let me know through out contact form.
Let’s be honest, SEO is a game. We try to trick the search engines into finding our web page. We want to win the game by having more people talking about us and yelling louder than all the other pages when Google comes looking for something.
SEO is not about being the loudest, most bold webpage. SEO is about being relevant to the person who is searching for actual information.
Search engines make money when people use their searches and click on their links. They can only stay on top if customers are finding what they are looking for. When the people at the top are just the people with bigger budgets, the search engine game fails.
Sidenote confession: Even though I talk about Google and even SEO according to ‘Google standards,’ I don’t use Google as my primary search right now. With the current changes, I am finding more relevancy, so they may win me back, eventually.
When I first used Google, I would find a bunch of salesy, spammy sites with lots of ads and no content. Some of them even looked relevant, and I pride myself at being able to spot bogus sites. I even sometimes would find a page with the same title I searched for, but on that page was no actual information. It really irked me.
I may be biased due to my experience, but the truth is: in regards to how SEO is manipulated, YES, SEO IS DEAD!
However, we are in a changing world. SEO is integrating more search relevant content. For instance, if I look up something about fitness, search engines intuitively know that I may be searching for a gym. Local gyms websites will end up in my search box even though I did not ask about gyms.
How do search engines work?
Search engines look around the internet to find web pages that consistently put out good content that is relevant to people who are searching. They include things like bounce-rate (how long you stay on a webpage) and task completion (did you do what you came there to do, like watch a video). It is a long and well-protected algorithm that figures all of this out.
If a search engine sees that your site is getting a lot of attention for a particular subject, then they index, or record, your site as being relevant for that topic. You move up in the ranks when you have more relevant topics relating to particular search words (keywords). Keywords are words that are repeated and therefore ‘key’ to what the page should be found for.
‘Moving up in ranks’ means that you get closer to the top of page one on a search for a specific keywords. Think about it, how many times do you go to page 2, or even 3? People want to find their topic on page one and at the top. That is the ‘position’ you want to have based on your SEO.
Basically, sites like Bing, Google, Yahoo and all the others, send little searching robots (or spiders) to go through a webpage to find repeated words and relevant phrases. Those words are used to return information to searching people like you and me.
What is working now?
Technically, anything that has a pattern can be tricked. We are not talking about tricking the system. If you want those tactics, you can look elsewhere. These are tactics that will work time and time again, no matter what kind of updates search engines go through.
High ORIGINAL Quality Content
High quality content is working great. You want to put out content that people want to read. Someone may not want to hear you talk about yourself or your company, but they do want to read about a problem they have or a solution you have found, more on that in a minute.
You want to have something posted on your page at least weekly so that search crawlers know to keep looking for updated information from your page. You want that information to be original or those crawlers will skip over your page like the plague.
The key to high quality content is how it is formatted and presented. Keep it as short as it needs to be. I suggest around 500 words, but there is nothing wrong with a quick article now and again that include lists, bullet points and bold important information. Don’t be afraid to be long, either…just look at this article. You want to be as long as you need to be to relevantly talk about the subject you are revealing.
Customer Focused Content
There is an old adage that says, “you are not selling a drill, you are selling a hole.” If you understand your customers and where they are in the customer buying cycle, you can put relevant information on your page for them to find. You become the ‘go to’ company for a particular topic.
For instance, you may not want to put a video about how to use a drill if you are a hardware store. Instead, you may want to create a series of ‘how tos’ for your customers. You would put a video out about how to drill a hole. (Remember, people are not looking for a drill, they are looking for a hole.) While they are looking for a hole, why not show them how your new drill works to create the best hole with the ease of use. You are making the content relevant to their needs.
We have talked about authority a lot, let me just keep it simple. Authority means you know what you are talking about. The more content you have online about a particular subject, the more search engines will go to your page for relevant information. This content should be on your page, on videos, podcasts, and even written articles on other pages.
Social media is all about ‘social proof’. Search engines look to see how many people have friended or circled you as a first step. Then, they take into account how many people are engaging with that social media: likes, shares, etc.. The good thing about social media is that it is easy to track and respond to. If you go to sites owned by search engines, you are found quicker because search engines index their sites quicker…uhem…Google Plus and Youtube…cough, cough.
What about all the letters: SEO, SEM, On Page, Off Page, SMM’s?
SEO is search engine optimization. You are supposed to make your site relevant to your customers and because of that you are found by search engines.
SEM is search engine marketing. It is a larger category of SEO, but it includes paid advertising like PPC, which stands for Pay Per Click.
There are two types of optimization: on page and off page. “On page” means that your meta tags, keywords and formatting ‘on’ you webpage is set up to be easier to find by search engine robots. “Off page” tactics include getting people to link back to your site (backlinks), with relevant words.
SMM is Social Media Marketing. It is a way of using social media links to verify the relevancy of your page for specifically searched keywords.
I think this is a good place to stop for now. I could literally write a book about all of this and maybe I should. I just wanted to create a basic article that gives you some relevant content about SEO. Hopefully, you found it interesting enough to share with some friends and other entrepreneurs…nudge, nudge.
Seriously, though, I would love to hear your questions and comments. Please don’t be afraid to ask a question because we get better as entrepreneurs when we work together: ask your questions or leave your comments on Youtube or GooglePlus.
The three steps are easy;
- Call to Action
Let’s break these down and see how we used them in the video.
Every video needs to have a purpose. Without a purpose, there is no reason to create a video. Are you entertaining? Are you teaching? Are you inspiring? Are you sharing a story?
The intention creates the ‘feel’ and ‘mood’ for the video. Having the whole video moving toward a single goal helps keep your viewer engaged and keeps you on track when creating the video.
First thing you want to do is grab attention. In the video, I shared the hook about what you will learn in the video. If you were interested in creating videos, you would have been hooked from the beginning.
A hook can be a question, an interesting graphic, a joke, or something that stands out as different. You want to wake someone up when they come to your video and give them a reason to continue watching.
Second, you want to show the benefit of listening. What are you going to cover and why is it important. I put the hook and the benefit in the first few seconds of my video. I wanted you to know exactly what it is that you would get from watching the video.
Third, you want to show why people should listen to you. Now, don’t go too crazy with this one a simple sentence like, “I’ve been creating videos for over thirteen years.” Or “I have created hundreds of videos and talked in front of audiences of over a thousand.” Those are credibility statements. (Both are true, but did you notice I did not use them in the video!)
Some people take credibility to the next level and talk about expert authority. If you are doing a 5 minute video a sentence or two would work. If you are doing a 30-60 minute presentation, you want to share a story about what you do and why you are doing it.
The point is you want people to believe you. You can see from this one channel that I know what I am talking about, so I decided not to bother you with details, I just jumped right in because I tried to keep this video under three minutes.
First thing you want to do is make people feel comfortable. You want them to feel like you are talking directly to them. Don’t pretend to talk to everyone in the world, picture in your mind one person whom you are sharing. Create the video for that one person.
Imagining this one person makes your conversation more intimate and people will relate to you better.
Second, you want to show off your personality. Even if you are a mellow person, be who you are. It is so important to be real and authentic.
People want to relate to you, not some online persona you created. If you get to know me, you will see that I am just like I am in person as I am on video.
If you are who you are and you are talking to that one person, your video will be so much more powerful.
Thirdly, (who uses thirdly anymore. . .) Make it easy to grasp. Present your information into bite sized chunks. I suggest using lists and keeping it simple. Think of three important take aways or five quick tips.
You may have heard a preacher, he covers his three points in his sermon, then continues to go into another mini-sermon. Don’t do that. Deliver the content intended. If you have more content, create a new video. That is the power of editing.
CALL TO ACTION
Every video needs to have something for someone to do. Psychology has proven when someone finishes reading a blog or watching a video, they are looking for the next thing to do. Give them something specific that relates to your intention. (See how that comes back around?)
Be as specific as possible. Tell them what to do, how to do it, where to do it and why to do it.
If you listened to the video, I told you to come to the blog. Read this page so you can learn about videos. Then, I asked you to create a video. I can see that you got the first two right, now all you have to do is create a quick video and share it with us on on Youtube or GooglePlus.
Suggested videos for you to create and share with us:
- 3 questions I have always had about creating videos for my business.
- One thing I have always wanted to know about videos.
- A topic I would love to see covered on this blog/video page is . . .
- If entrepreneurs were as cool as you are, then . . . .
If you share a video with me and email me (or use the contact page) I will share with you two tools to help you come up with great headlines and topics to write about no matter what your topic of interest is.
8 Video Tips to Make Your Videos Look Professional
In the video we covered the value of the content: what you actually say is important. We covered audio, visual, location and even touched on editing. Well, hold on while I give you three more exciting tips to get you one step closer to being a video pro.
You have probably heard the term ‘dead center.’ Dead center is a term that means our eyes get bored when something is in the middle. It is dead because our eyes will jump around the frame to find something interesting.
If you take a photo or a video the rectangle where the images are is the frame. When you are shooting, think about the way you put something in that frame. The easiest way to talk about it is to consider your frame like a tic-tac-toe board. You will imagine two lines going across and two lines going down. Where the lines cross are ‘points of interest.’ (Some cameras have these line built in and you can visually see them!)
Look at this pic of a raptor…don’t worry it is not real. Look at how the top of his eye (which is bright yellow) lands on the top right point of interest. Then, his lower teeth line up on the bottom left point of interest. The framing of this shot lines up to make the photo interesting…not that a photo of a raptor needs to be more interesting, but you get the point.
Also when you are framing, make sure you are aware of everything around you. Have you ever seen a a video of someone talking and it looked like a tree was growing out of the top of someone’s head. Don’t do that. Make sure your background is also framed and there are no distracting lines.
It just takes a moment to be aware of your shot and to notice any distracting lines.
Lighting is so important. When you shoot a video, you want the brightest light to be on the person you are videoing. If there is more light behind them, your camera will pick that up and your person will look dark.
Keep it simple. Put a lamp in front of the person. Make sure to ‘soften’ the light with a light cloth or scarf so you don’t have harsh shadows behind them. Unless you are doing a scary movie, then you may want to have a big lurking shadow behind the main person.
If you are outside be aware of the sun. If the sun is overhead, you will have strong shadows on the face. You don’t need a long enough extension cord, use a white poster board. Anything white will work. Just stand right outside of the camera frame, tilt the poster board to reflect the sun and fill in the face of your main character. You would be surprised to know that pros do this and some of them pay hundreds of dollars to get the same affect.
Make your videos interesting by changing the angle of your video. Now, if you are just doing a vlog, you may not want to change the angle very often. However, changing angles for effect can create powerful video images.
Let’s start with the basic. Make sure the camera is eye level and you are situated on a point of interest. You can tilt up a little and pull the camera a little lower to make yourself seem important or big. You can put the camera above you and tilt it down to make yourself seem smaller.
Why? Well, let’s say you are doing a vlog. You are announcing an exciting big addition to your channel. You would start by talking about the announcement. Then, change the angle to a lower angle to make yourself look big. Do your announcement from that angle to make it interesting. You can even add an echo to your voice to really make it stand out.
Angles help tell the story. Only use them to tell the story. Remember, what you say is important. Your content ought to be the primary purpose of your video. Then, you use techniques to really make your message stand out.
I have covered the basic angles, but there are a lot more. I created a video a while back that goes through a lot of different angles and show the ‘feel’ of each video. It was done with some teens, so it is fun and a bit quirky. Click here to watch the video: The Story of Interesting Angles.
Feel free to ask questions, I love helping blooming videographers. If there is anything I can do the help, don’t hesitate to ask.