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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!
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Generation Labels: Limiting or Limitless?

On Oct. 21, I posed this question on Twitter:

 

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the labels that are placed on generations. I don’t hear much about the tags on Generation Y or Generation X, and when I did, it wasn’t hammered home like the Millennial label is now. I accept the Millennial tag, but I often wonder whether it really is a badge of honor or a label that is unnecessary. Many in the millennial generation, however, embrace the tag. So, I left it to the Twitterverse to see what they felt. I received some really great answers.


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You’ve heard some of the thoughts from Twitter. Now, what do you REALLY think about generational labels. Are they a hinderance to your success? Do they make you feel more confident? Let me know in the comments!

Quick Hit: The Players Tribune… brilliant or sportswriter’s nightmare?

Derek Jeter’s blue Jumpman cleats haven’t even be cleaned off and he’s got the next phase of his life lined up. Much like his preparation for a baseball season, Jeter was ready for retirement and what lies in front of him. Earlier this week, the now former Yankee captain rolled out “The Players Tribune,” a site where athletes can directly connect with fans, unfiltered, and beyond 140 characters.

Jeter has already recruited Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson as a senior editor. Wilson’s first post was heartfelt and honest. However, the site hasn’t been met with the same aura that Jeter carried during his sure-to-be Hall of Fame career.

After being lauded for his humbleness, work ethic, and respect for the game, Jeter is now being criticized by the same peoplethe-players-tribune for lauded him over his playing career. Why? Some sportswriters are cranky because they feel their jobs are being done for them. Really? Last I checked you can still interview these players before and after games, practices, and sometimes at public appearances.

There will always be a need for sportswriters. However, some of them were the same ones that complained about blogging a while back. Now, they are using for story supplements, first-hand reporting, and live blogging. You will not see papers laying off sportswriters because Derek Jeter has started a website.

At the end of the day, we, as sports fans, would love to learn more about our favorite players. Do I need to know about their personal lives? Not really, unless they’ve been bad (ahem, Ray Rice). I do look forward to learning more about how they’ll make an impact while playing or after their career.

Besides, I’d rather hear what Derek Jeter has to say over ESPN’s Keith Olbermann any day.

Don’t Play the Social Media Blame Game

Do a Google search on blaming social media and you’ll find over 5.6 million results. They range from social media being blamed for your bad mood to the 2011 London Riots being blamed on social nets. Social media is an easy punching bag because it’s still relatively “new” in society.

Social networks have taken the world by storm. First, it was a fad, then it was emergent and, finally, mainstream. Many people and organizations are on board with using social. While social is widely hailed as helping to transform the way we communicate, it’s become somewhat of a target or crutch when someone needs to place blame.

The latest “blame social media” incident was during the July 16 MLB All-Star Game in Minnesota. St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Adam Wainwright clearly grooved a fastball to retiring New York Yankees All-Star shortstop Derek Jeter in the first inning. Wainwright admitted it in a separate interview and was flamed on Twitter. He then backtracked in a dugout interview with Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews.

“Don’t you love social media…,” Andrews was saying tongue in cheek to Wainwright. He replied, “No, I don’t love social media.”

While this isn’t the most egregious violation of blaming social media, it is an example of the lengths people will go to place blame on social media for their own mistakes. Wainwright blaming social for his own error is akin to me blaming my kids You-cant-handle-the-truthfor not making dinner when I said I would in the first place.

Social media has become the punching bag for those that don’t really understand how powerful social is today. In this day and age, you need to fully grasp that your words and actions are magnified by social. Something that use to be a benign comment can be overblown very quickly. It’s not all social media’s fault; be responsible for what YOU do and say. Here’s how.

  • Don’t use social as a crutch- “I didn’t mean to post that,” “If I didn’t have a Twitter account, I wouldn’t do things like this,” or “Social media didn’t get my sarcasm,” are crutches that you need to throw away. They are excuses. You and you alone have the power to control your actions and virtual words. Period.
  • Understand what social can do for you- Social media is responsible for something of the biggest news events becoming bigger. Remember U.S. Airways Flight 1549? What about the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound that netted the Al Qaeda leader? These are examples of how social has changed news reporting, gathering and dissemination. It’s also become the place where brands make major announcements. With great power, comes great responsibility. Social media is a great responsibility.
  • Know your role- The more you understand how social works, the better off you will be when using it. If I post something and someone takes it the wrong way, that’s on me. I didn’t explain it well enough in 140 characters, or clearly in a Facebook post. Just because you don’t have a blue stamped check mark next to your name on Twitter or have a million followers on Facebook and Instagram, does not mean you aren’t being listened to closely. Your role in social media is a big one, whether you believe it or not. Appreciate what social is and what it has become.

Facebook is ten years old, Twitter is only eight years old. That’s still very young. However, social media has come a long way in that time. You need to understand that before you go placing blame on a social network for your words. Be better with social and you’ll appreciate the benefits.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

The JourneyCast Podcast: Stephanie Wonderlin

When you hear the words “Twitter Powerhouse,” you may think of a brand like Mercedes Benz or Starbucks. But, you’d be wrong. The Twitter Powerhouse we are referring to is Stephanie Wonderlin. Not only is Stephanie a passionate user of Twitter (@swonderlin), Facebook, and Instagram, she is also one of the savviest people on YouTube. Whether it is AboutSWTweetheartTV, being a social media corespondent, or working on her own new segments, titled “It’s a SWonderful Life,” Stephanie has proven time and time again that not only is she one of the most talented people on social, she’s also one of the kindest.

In this edition of The JourneyCast Podcast, I talk with Stephanie about her career, so far, how she has had to adjust her brand, what “lean in” means to her, and  how she balances her busy home and work life.

The JourneyCast Podcast, Episode 8, with Stephanie Wonderlin.

You can find all of Stephanie’s links by going to her website.

Subscribe to The JourneyCast Podcast and don’t miss an episode. We’re listed on iTunes, so you can listen in the car, while you’re working, or even working out!

 

Personal Branding: One Twitter Account is Enough

One of the more popular questions I get during my CEO of You personal branding talks is: “Should I have separate Twitter accounts for personal and professional?” It’s a great question because there are so many opinions on this. There’s the camp that states it is absolutely necessary to have both because you do not want to confuse followers about your brand. A recent article on “The Savvy Intern” blog stressed the necessity to have a recreational account for topics that aren’t “on brand.”  Tip of the blog cap to Reganie Smith (@ReganiePR) for sharing the post on Twitter.

managing multiple social accountsI fall into the other camp: I don’t think it is necessary to have two Twitter accounts. On full disclosure, I do have two accounts. One is for my business, JRM Comm; the other is me, @JasMollica. The difference, though, is that I don’t feel it’s essential for staying “on brand” to have a second account for myself. My JRM Comm account is strictly business; my @JasMollica account is a mix of professional and personal. Here are my reasons why you should focus on just one Twitter account.

  • Time– Regardless of whether you know how to use Tweetdeck, HootSuite, or Twitter’s app, it’s not easy to juggle multiple accounts. Focus your time on making your personal account great and show people you are worth the follow.
  • Confusion- One of the more important aspects of personal branding is giving people a good idea of who you are and what you do. If you have two accounts, who should I follow? The real person or the other account that just tweets business/career information? Don’t fall into the trap of being confusing. That only makes your brand clouded.
  • Transparency- I’ve stressed in many of my talks to students and professionals that the need for openness and transparency are essential. To me, multiple Twitter accounts do not help. I want to know who you really are… and so do other pros and potential employers. And, frankly, if you put the more personal tweets on another account, people will still find it.
  • Noise- We’ve all heard folks complain about too many tweets. Two accounts from one person adds to the Twitter noise. We see people tweet the same information, at the same time, from multiple accounts. That adds to the noise. Tweeting information that is valuable to your followers from one account cuts down on noise and confusion, too.
  • Personality- I’m in the camp that wants to see your personal side and that’s not to sound stalkerish. Before I hit follow, I look at what you’ve tweeted about. It gives me -and others- a better idea of who you are and what you do. If you posted something about last night’s hockey game, that’s great. We don’t, however, need to see the posts about beer pong or being hung over.
  • Smarts- Twitter and many other social networks may be free to sign up for, but they all require responsibility. You can make your one Twitter account great by just displaying some smarts. Don’t be so quick to hit that tweet button. Take a moment to consider your audience and your brand. Displaying smarts on your one account will go farther in strengthening your personal brand.

Focusing on your personal brand can be very difficult. The more honest you are with yourself and your audience, is not only great for your brand, it will be great for your career as well.

What are your thoughts on multiple Twitter accounts? Let me know in the comments!

JourneyCast Podcast w/ Ben Butler

Late last spring, I had the chance to first chat with Ben Butler over Twitter. As we got to talking, I realized how incredibly prepared and focused he was. Ben interviewed me for his blog and we finally got to meet in person in October at the PRSSA National Conference. 

In this edition of the JourneyCast, I chatted with Ben about his start in PR, why he decided on a solo PR career, and what drives him every day.

The JourneyCast with Top Hat IMC’s Ben Butler

On your phone or tablet? Download the podcast on iTunes!

Ben Butler

Ben Butler

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.

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.