Blog Archives

Better Social in 2015

So, we are on the verge of a new year (already?!). It’s a time to celebrate accomplishments and the good things we’ve done. It’s also a time to take a hard look at ways to improve for the year to come. I’m sure that whether you are a business or an individual, there are things you’d like to do better in 2015. Maybe it’s improving your bottom line or re-packaging your current brand.

IM2_PROLOGUE_VFX_12In December, I love to take stock of where I stand, personally and professionally. It gives me a chance to take a critical look at how I’ve served my clients and whether I’m growing. I want to be better, as a business owner, a person, and a professional. These improvements also include social media.

There’s been good social and bad, just like every other year. However, I hope that in 2015 we see social media improve. Here’s five ways to do that:

1. Be smarter with your posting– Far too often this year, we’ve seen mistakes by brands and individuals. There are more “gotcha moments” (see Franco, James) and hitting the send button before a post is really looked at closely (see U.S. Airways). Don’t rush to update your Facebook page or that Instagram photo because you want to be funny or beat another brand to the punch. Think your posts through. You’ll be better off in the long run.

2. Don’t cross-post from Facebook to Twitter- Or vice versa, for that matter. No matter how many times myself or one of my colleagues says that Facebook and Twitter are different social channels, there’s always a brand that decides they are too lazy to come up with separate posts. Cross posting from Twitter to Facebook shows you don’t really care about your audience, your message, or, frankly, your brand. People notice and they’ll eventually stop listening.
3. Don’t be so “salesy”- By now, you’ve probably seen that Facebook is going to get tough on businesses, big and small, that have posts that are heavy with sales speak. While some businesses are worried, they shouldn’t be. A smart business strategy on Facebook should involve posts that speak to fans, not sell to them. If you follow a brand on Facebook or Twitter, you probably like the product. Brands need to remember this and speak to customers as people, not numbers. And that leads me to…
4. Take the time to understand your audience, customers- This should really be a no-brainer, but, sadly, it isn’t. There are still plenty of brands that would rather treat their followers and fans as numbers, instead of as an important part of their business. Social media isn’t just a platform to get your messages out, it’s also a chance to connect with your audience and make them more of a champion for you. Don’t look at followers as numbers. View every one as a prospect!
5. Plan ahead- Remember the old saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” This is absolutely true when it comes to social. A social media posting plan is something that you need to have. No questions asked. Now, when I say plan ahead, it doesn’t mean that if you schedule posts, you are in the clear. If you are a social media manager, it’s important that you keep your eyes and ears on the news and what is going on around you. Scheduled posts can come back and bite you if they don’t fit the tone of the day. The bottom line? Have a posting plan, but be ready to change at a moment’s notice.
Social media is still growing and it’s important to understand that we can all be better at posting to the large number of networks that exist today. Make 2015 that year to be better, more strategic, and more focused. Here’s to your social success!

5 Tips for Making Social Media Work Together to Boost Your Reach

(Jas’ note: I’m glad to welcome back Alicia Lawrence with another great guest post.)

If you’re like most business owners, you probably want to use social media to expand your marketing efforts and reach new customers. After all, social media is a powerful, free tool — you can use it to access countless new contacts. Here are several tips for having social media work together to expand your influence and reach new customers.

1. Make Social Media Complementary

According to a survey done by Accenture this holiday season, over 65% of customers preview products online before looking for them in stores. This makes it crucial that your online presence accurately reflects how you and your products are in person. In addition, 63% of people also plan to do the opposite — check out products in-store and then shop online. That means it’s important for the transition between your actual store and social media presence to be as seamless as possible. To do so, focus on a few channels and make sure you’re always delivering content that is entertaining and useful to your audience. Remember: your social media efforts should complement your brick-and-mortar business — if the two work together you’ll almost certainly attract customers.

2. Have a Blog

boosting reachOne of the best ways to gain customers’ attention and trust is to have a business blog. Now more than ever users are accessing news, information and articles online. They highly value content, especially if it comes in the form of a well-written blog post. If you regularly post original, engaging content you’ll very likely attract followers. You can write about a number of things — for example, if you’re a software company, you can write about tips for buying a new computer. The more you can tie your business in with information users want to hear, the better. Remember: consumers want a relationship. The more you share with them the more likely they’ll be to buy your products in return.

3. Work Together, But Be Different

When managing multiple social accounts, it’s easy to fall into posting the same content on each one. Instead, get to know the users on each different channel and learn what they would want to see on your social feed. This might mean sharing entertainment Facebook, news and deals on Twitter, and product reviews and photos on Pinterest. If you can pin down what your followers are looking for on each channel you have better chance of boosting your reach to others who are looking for the same info. The brand Havahart does a great job at this on their Facebook and Pinterest.

Beyond that though, some sites allow you to tailor content to different contacts. On LinkedIn, for example, you can sort connections by category and send a private message to everyone in that category. Do a little research, and figure out how to tailor your posts on various sites and platforms. This way you may be able control which followers receive regular blasts and updates, and which receive messages only occasionally. At the very least, you know how many contacts you have in each category, which is very useful when you’re developing a new campaign. It can also allow you to see if one social media platform is more successful, and if so, you should ask yourself how you can emulate this success on your other sites.

4. Hashtag It

Even though you’ll be sharing different content tailored for each social channel, that doesn’t mean they should never connect. Hashtags are a great way to integrate your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and even YouTube videos! Just in 2013, hashtags on the YouTube video Dance Pony Dance helped it go viral on both Facebook and Twitter.

5. Know Your Brand Mavens
Brand mavens are individuals that are highly influential to your target audience. This isn’t just celebrities, they can also be those just with a large following or with a blog that has high traffic. Make sure you identify your brand mavens on each social channel so you know who to outreach to when you have a message you think their fans should hear.

Alicia + Page

Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land and CJ Pony Parts. Her work has been published by the Association for Business Communication, Yahoo! Small Business, and Spin Sucks.

Thursday Thought: Paid vs. Unpaid Internships

The debate over paid or unpaid internships is back in the news again. One of the editors at Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In Foundation” ruffled some feathers by asking for an unpaid intern.

Here are my thoughts on paid versus unpaid.

What say you, viewer? Weigh in by leaving a comment.

When Personal isn’t really Personal

On Tuesday, July 30, a story came out that a reporter at a television station in Alabama was fired for what she posted on her personal blog. It immediately became another instance of: Is what you write on a personal blog really that personal?

To summarize, Shea Allen, the now-former investigative reporter for WAAY in Huntsville, did a blog post, titled, “No Apologies: Confessions of a Red Headed Reporter.” Ms. Allen states in the post that she has gone bra-less during a live broadcast and that she’s taken naps in the news car. You can read the rest of her post by clicking the link above. The post made waves with her station’s management and she was fired.  The move made some wonder if this was a violation of Ms. Allen’s first amendment rights.

photo credit: WAAY

photo credit: WAAY

Reaction to the story has been mainly supportive on Twitter; the comments on her blog appear to be 60-40 in favor of what she wrote. Here’s where I say I understand the personal blog “boundaries,” but for a person in the public eye, it’s not so personal.

Ms. Allen was employed by WAAY, therefore she should have been a more careful in what she posted on her blog, even though it’s labeled as “personal.”  We know way too well that despite saying in your Twitter bio “tweets are my own” or “tweets do not reflect my employer’s opinion,” if you say something that isn’t appropriate or can bring bad publicity to your employer, you are going to get in trouble. The same goes for a blog. Did WAAY have something in its contracts with employees that talked about social media or blogging? I’m not sure.  In this age of social media and quick posting, it’s necessary to think first, then post.

However, I need to defend Ms. Allen because, unless the reports of previous reprimands are true, this shouldn’t have been a one strike and gone issue. Yes, she re-posted the blog after initially being asked to take it down. Are the things she posted a little out-of-bounds? Maybe. But she’s an award-winning journalist, was respected by her peers, and this certainly isn’t something like the Larry Mendte/Alicia Lane issue in Philadelphia back in 2008. There should have been a suspension, at the least.

This is a teachable moment for young reporters (and even young PR/social media pros): Just because it is labeled “personal,” what you put online (blog, social media, etc.), isn’t personal anymore. It’s public.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

Awakening in Life and Work

“I don’t need to fight, to prove I’m right. I don’t need to be forgiven.”– Baba O’Riley, The Who

Over the weekend, I turned 40. For some, it’s a reminder that we are getting older. For others, it’s the thought that the greatest years of your life are still ahead. Prior to my birthday, I had a few weeks where I felt really old. I was no longer a “young guy,” but an older man. However, the day my birthday hit, a real change came over me. This wasn’t some magic light or message from above, it was an awakening.

earth-horizon-m_1You may not realize it, but your awakening can happen at any time and any place. It can happen at age 21, 30, 40 or 50. It can take place in your car, with a friend or even in your office.

Say you get let go from your job, like I did in 2010. Is this your awakening? It very well may be. For me, it was the start of a dream. For you, getting let go may be the beginning of the rest of your life or it may be something that hurts you for a bit. There is not a super serum that changes you overnight (even though you may think you are Captain America). Your awakening may take some time to grow.

The same goes for your work. You may have been exposed to some great mentors and work in an environment that has allowed you to grow. Does this mean it is time for you make the leap into starting your own business? It could be. Is this, as Oprah calls it, an Aha! moment? Probably.

The moment your mind and body align, you are having an awakening. I have a good friend in PR that was putting together some social media marketing plans. He read a post about B2B marketing with Facebook at Social Media Examiner. It changed his perspective and was an awakening for him moving forward. He now understood what it took for him to really grasp the connection with social.

Remember… Your awakening may come at any time. You need to grasp it and understand the how it will shape you. Now, and for the future.

Let me know what your awakening in life and work has been in the comments.

Path: Gaining Traction or Social Clutter?

One of the things I enjoy about my job is researching new ways to help clients in marketing their businesses and brands. So, I tried Path at the recommendation of colleague. Launched in 2010, Path is a more personal social network than Facebook and Twitter. On iTunes, it says that Path is, “the best way to share life and stay connected with family and friends.”

PathI’ve been using Path for almost a year and there are many things to like about it. Path is a tad more personal than Facebook, but still (like Facebook), allows you to comment on friends’ posts. You can also add emoticons to a friend’s Path (without leaving a comment), much akin to the “like” on Facebook. A few of the other items that are a plus is how it allows you to add photos (like Facebook), tag where you are (like Foursquare), and let people know what music you are listening to at the current moment.

I’m never one to totally close the door on any social network, but as I’ve used Path I’ve come to these questions more than once: “Why am I using it” and “How is it really different?” I’m not sure I see how Path fits for a brand, business or even for personal use. Sure, the “more personal” side may be great for some, however, just what value will it bring me or even a client?

Of course, not every social network is made to be used by businesses. In the case of my personal use of it, I’ll admit that I haven’t embraced it totally, although I do post and react to friends’ posts.

I asked this question on Twitter on Tuesday: “Working on a post on Path. Why do you use it? What do you like/dislike?” Here are some reactions…

Path Twitter post 1

Path Twitter 2

Path Twitter 3

While this is only three people, it gives you a good idea what some feel about Path. Heather’s point is very well taken. I do see some different emotions there than on Facebook. Harrison’s point, though, is how I tend to feel. It doesn’t pull me away to say, “I have to post on Path right now.”

At the end of the day, a social network needs to be appealing and have something that other ones don’t already.  Ask yourself these questions: “Is it worth my time?” and “Will it enhance my social experience?” If your answer is no to one or both, don’t use it.

What say you on Path? Let me know in the comments!

There’s No Such Thing as a Social Media Killer!

“This is the end, beautiful friend. This is the end, my only friend, the end.”- The Doors

Remember when Google+ was supposed to kill off Facebook? How about that time Twitter was going to die? Both statements never came true. Why? Because there’s no such thing as one social platform killing another. Watch…

Let me know your thoughts? Am I wrong or right?

Blog Series: Don’t Take Any BS

What is it about putting up with BS that we enjoy so much. Do we like feeling wanted? Do we figure it will get better, in life and in business? I’ve come to a point in my life, and in my career, where the BS has to stop. There’s no room for success when you put up with BS! Repeat that a few times and see if it doesn’t make you feel better.

In public relations, we are taught to work collaboratively. We may even say yes to something we don’t necessarily believe. Why would you do that? I pride myself in life and in business with being honest. If I BS someone, how is that going to really help a client or a friend? If a client has hired me to provide a social media plan or media training, I’m going to be honest. I’m not going to be a jerk and say, “I’m right and your wrong!” It’s a collaboration. We come to a mutual agreement that plan A is much better than plan B.

honestyThe same goes with social media. We can put up this persona that everything is great, it’s just like riding a unicorn while reading memes with pictures of cute kittens. News flash- life sucks sometimes and it’s ok to say that. Isn’t honesty really the best policy? When you become something you aren’t on social networks, you are setting yourself up for failure. I’d rather see you speak your mind than BS your way through a conversation.

In business, we want to work with clients that (hopefully) are looking for us to add our expertise. I had someone tell me once they couldn’t stand working with a certain client, but it was all worth it because they paid on time. It’s come to that in your PR career… settling for someone who pays on time. That, my friends, is BS. Don’t stay with a client because they pay on time. If you begin with honesty, you’ll have an open line of communication all throughout… and that’s good for both sides.

Before you say that not adding a little BS is impossible, think of this. Who are the most successful people in your career field? Do you think they BS’d their way to the top. After awhile, the BS runs out and we find out who someone really is. That isn’t a good day.

Cicero once said, “Where is there dignity unless there is honesty?” The more honest you are and the less fake you are, you’ll find more success!