How to Encourage Coworkers to Blog for Social Media Managers

Blogging for BusinessHow to Encourage Coworkers to Blog – An important aspect for Social Media Managers filling their content requirements
Madi Johnson – Graduate of the NCSU TTS Social Media Management Certificate Program

Blogging is crucial for a business’s overall marketing plan. We’ve all heard it before. More blogs lead to more website views which leads to more conversions. But HOW. How do we create blog content ourselves, and more importantly, encourage our coworkers to create blogs.

The Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less team takes pride in our blog page. The entire team recognizes the importance of the blog. But since we have been blogging since 2011, sometimes motivation is lacking. What else can I possibly blog about? How many more exercise with my dog posts can I write? As I forged through each month, repeatedly asking for coworkers to send me their blog, I realized a few simple practices could put a pep in their [blog] step again.

Make it a competition. This is the number one motivating factor for our team to blog at least once a month. We hold a monthly competition of the top 5 most viewed blogs. At our monthly team meeting the winners are announced and congratulated (or lovingly booed if someone is bitter). The top 5 blogs are featured at the top of a handout everyone receives. These handouts have been known to be framed when the number 1 spot is claimed. At the end of each year, we look back at the top blogs for the entire year. Now THAT is a coveted list of top 5 to be on! The winner of the year’s blog gets a small prize, but it’s more about the bragging rights. It sounds simple and insignificant, but you wouldn’t believe the competitive spirits that come out. It’s amazing what a little recognition and praise will do.

Top 5 blogs

Create specific (and fun!) blog challenges. Throughout the year, I create extra blog challenges to change it up and re-motivate colleagues. Over the holidays, it’s a challenge for the most creative holiday blog. Occasionally, it’s a challenge to see who can recruit a guest blogger and whoever’s guest blogger gets the most views wins. Another example is our 4th of July challenge for the best grilling/cookout recipe (healthy of course). Or, as we just recently launched, an Olympic themed challenge where a gold, silver, and bronze medal are awarded. Now who doesn’t want a gold metal (even if it’s actually a fake apple spray painted gold… because #health).

Blogging

Start it for them. Help your coworkers get their creative juices flowing with blog prompts. Whether you provide them with a theme, a title, a picture, or the first paragraph, get them on the right track. This helps you gather the type of blogs you want for the website as well as eases the writing process for your colleagues. We all know the title is the hardest part of a blog.

Create a theme or a series. It’s easy to jump on board when something has already been set in motion. Create a series of blogs your coworkers can add to, or a theme they can always come back to. For example, we did a series of frozen lunch reviews. Coworkers could taste test their own frozen lunches, rank and review them, and add it to the blog. Easy peasy and it generated great content.

It’s important to remember to encourage your colleagues to blog, not force them to blog. No one wants to read a disgruntled negative blog. Help them find things they like to write about and understand writing is not everyone’s strong suit. Make it fun. Make it exciting. Make it fresh. Make it simple.

 

 

Social Media Security for Social Media Managers

Social Network SecurityAs Social Media Manager for your client, you hold the “keys to the kingdom”, at least in terms of their online reputation and social messaging. Those keys are very important – how do you protect them? That’s what we are going to talk about.

First of all, let’s make it clear that the security we are talking about here concerns risks to a business reputation and marketing efforts, specifically with regards to controlling and safeguarding access to their social media accounts. Discussion of risk in the social media realm often centers around personal use and related privacy issues; while those are legitimate issues for private users, our primary concern is for business use.

Similarly, we are not covering curation or moderation of content. While this is also relevant to the client’s online reputation, that is a question of content management and is more related to the client’s social media, marketing, and branding strategy than it is to security.

The following are time-tested Social Media Security Best Practices. While the applicability of individual points may vary a bit depending on the size of the organization and scope of social media activities, the following checklist is a comprehensive starting point that will ensure a secure online presence.

Business-wide coordination

  • If not already done, inventory all social media accounts.
    • The results should be harmonized with the online strategy, e.g. eliminate duplicates, add accounts where needed, focus your efforts where they will be most effective, etc.
  • Centralize account control and responsibility for maintaining social media accounts under the Social Media Manager.
  • Define roles and responsibilities for the Social Media Manager – what can they do and where does the client retain control?
  • Establish codes of conduct and acceptable use policies for all social media content contributors. For example, is political commentary allowed? It can be relevant, as some account attacks are politically motivated.
  • Provide education and training on the above for all content contributors and community managers (a role sometimes defined in larger organizations with multiple contributors, often filled by the Social Media Manager).

Account Management

  • All social media accounts should be in a business name, registered via a business email (on the business domain), and not a personal account (private name, private email, etc.).
  • Have a backup person named and given access to the account, if possible.
  • For social media that distinguish between business and private account types, make sure to use the business account (e.g. Facebook business page instead of a personal profile).
  • There should be an access termination and/or turnover plan for changes in personnel, both voluntary and involuntary.

Login control

  • Carefully control passwords!
    • Have a unique password for each social media account.
    • Use strong passwords (follow the usual guidelines, or better yet, use strong, unique passwords generated by password management tools).
    • Use a password management system.
      • In a corporate setting, maintain and control SM passwords using the same procedures and systems as with other important credentials (many larger businesses use a centralized credential control system, which automates many of the features above).
      • In a smaller business, use something like LastPass or similar.
  • Consider using 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) where possible (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn offer 2FA).
  • Consider using an account aggregator.
    • Third party platforms are available that can create secure logins to manage multiple social media accounts, their users, and the publishing of content (e.g. Hootsuite, buffer, Sprout Social). This can provide a single sign on capability for centralized management of accounts. Of course, a single sign on is a single point of entry to all accounts if those credentials are not properly protected!

Profile Maintenance

  • Review account settings (such as privacy/sharing) and match them to your objective. Even though this mostly affects privacy, they can also have security implications (e.g. do you accept invitations from 3rd party applications?).
    • Keep up with changes to options and settings as they evolve.

Third party extensions

  • Be careful about installing 3rd party extensions on browsers and / or using mobile applications that link with social media accounts. Vet them thoroughly before using them, making sure to understand all access privileges they require and their reputation in the community.

Damage control

  • Monitor social accounts regularly so you know quickly if there is a problem.
  • Anticipate likely scenarios and have a response plan.
  • When a problem does arise, respond quickly.

If you follow the above best practices, you can sleep well nights knowing that the accounts under your control are secure, allowing  you to focus on the content and messaging. Being a social media professional means never having to say you’re sorry for a hacked account!

About the author: Randy Earl is a Senior Business Analyst at AtlanticBT and enjoys helping clients leverage technology to enhance their business. Feel free to connect with Randy on LinedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/randyearl.

The 9 Top Social Media Jobs

Social Media Jobs

Social Media Manager Jobs

Social media skills are an important part of many jobs these days, and not just for marketing companies. Nearly every business uses social media in some ways, and the larger ones hire teams of people to work in this digital platform in one way or another.

These jobs often require a bachelor’s degree and tend to be listed among marketing positions on job boards. They often pay well. According to CIO.com, 11 of the 20 most common social media jobs pay above the national average, with an average salary of $43,400.

Social media job seekers have many choices, depending on the skill level and area of social media in which they want to work. Consider these top nine jobs:

1. Blogger/Content Specialist/Copywriter — Bloggers and copywriters are responsible for creating, editing, and posting content that matches a brand and uses keywords to help drive traffic to that company’s website or social media profiles. Bloggers are sometimes self-employed, but more companies are hiring these content creators to monitor and produce content full-time.
● Average annual salary: $37,059.*

2. Social Media Manager — This entry-level gig is one of the most common social media. This position is exactly what it sounds like: managing a company’s profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn and more. While it sounds like a dream to some, managing social media accounts means keeping an eye on things 24/7. Plus, managers need to be good gatekeepers, monitoring content for negative or sensitive posts and watching trends.
● Average annual salary: $45,717.

3. SEO Specialist — A Search Engine Optimization expert works to boost a company’s website rankings. In other words, they make sure a company can be found by those searching online. SEO specialists analyze websites and search terms to help create relevant content, organize a company’s online listings, and make sure the website is set up properly for the ideal search results.
● Average annual salary: $46,371.

4. Online Community Manager — While social media managers post to and manage a company’s accounts, an online community manager focuses on clients and customers. They may use social media to interact with clients, answering questions or handling problems. They may also rely on online comments, message boards, and email groups. Many online community managers monitor the social media platforms to make sure the company brand is properly represented.
● Average annual salary: $47,796.

5. Public Relations Manager/Communications Specialist — The PR and communications person handles the company’s press releases and marketing events, holding press conferences, answering questions from journalists and sometimes managing online content in addition to internal newsletters. Those in this job might be on call 24/7 to handle negative publicity if it arises.
● Average annual salary: $47,077 for communications specialist and $61,100 for PR manager.
6. Content Marketing Manager — The use of social media is part of an overall marketing tactic known as content marketing. At some companies, Content Marketing Managers might handle the responsibilities of a social media manager, but may also oversee other areas of content marketing, such as creating and managing email marketing campaigns and other forms of content such as podcasts or webinars.
● Average annual salary: $63,300

7. Digital Strategist — This job requires the critical thinking necessary to analyze data, understand the competition and the market, and produce marketing ideas for your company’s services or products. Digital strategists also help create and edit content and manage company websites or other digital programs. They provide counsel, identify future trends and company initiatives, and track the company’s digital marketing efforts.
● Average annual salary: $63,800.

8. Digital Marketing Manager — In some companies, this job is the same as a digital marketing strategist. In others, the manager oversees a team of strategists. In that case, the digital marketing manager creates and executes marketing plans to increase revenue, using data and analysis to develop campaigns and gauge results. Depending on the company, this person might also study ways to improve a customer’s user experience based on technology.
● Average annual salary: $66,033

9. Internet/Online Marketing Director — This person defines the overall online marketing strategy, sets targets for a company’s marketing campaigns, conducts market research, analyzes data to review the performance of campaigns and decide next steps. The Internet Marketing Director works with other teams in the company to align goals and strategies, especially the sales team. He or she may manage a department budget. This person advises on marketing automation, lead generation, and ways to improve a company’s processes.
● Average annual salary: $97,400.

*All pay information according to PayScale.com.

Learn more about our Social Media Management Training

The Real Need for Customer Personas

  • Did you know that building personas based on your best customers can help you solve more of their problems?
  • What is a persona?
  • How do you build one or two or three of them?
  • Why do you need these?

I realized the answer to the last question is simple. If you don’t put these together, you won’t be providing your customers what they need and with what helps them the very most. You won’t know who they really are and what they are truly looking for – what drives them.

I’ve been asking myself questions like the ones listed above a lot lately as I have been hearing more and more about personas, even though they have been used for many years. So I did what I generally do when I need more information and searched Google. I ran into the quote below which I thought was well worth repeating.

With personas, businesses can be more strategic in catering to each audience, internalize the customer that they are trying to attract, and relate to them as human beings. ~The Team at Krux

Isn’t that how we all want to be related to?

There are some topics that can be used in a persona listed below.  I discovered in searching that there are many different templates available to help you set one up. Personas can contain as much information that is needed to be helpful to you and your clients.  Hubspot has a template, and they are generally a good place to start.  You can Google persona templates and several images will also appear that can provide you with ideas too. Boomerang Social Buyer Persona

Below are just a few of the statistics from a survey conducted by Tony Zambito in regards to using and building personas. I’m ashamed to say I fit into the last one.

  • 71% said they were either somewhat familiar or familiar with buyer persona development with only 15% saying very familiar
  • 57% did their first-ever buyer persona development initiative within the last two years
  • Nearly 80% of the respondents indicated they were confused about what buyer personas were, what were the differences between profiling and buyer personas, what were the essential elements of buyer persona development, and the role of qualitative research methods
  • Nearly 60% indicated they were frustrated their buyer personas were based on typical product management and sales intelligence and did not result in the expected deeper understanding
  • 60% stated they had no to very little understanding of what the best practices are for buyer persona development

If you are still confused about personas versus profiles think of it in this simplified way. A profile is generally the basic information you maintain and how you categorize customers in your database like name, address, phone, email, location, last touch point, purchase history, age group, area group, etc. A persona has much more in-depth information about your clients like how many children they have, what level of education do they have, what are their goals, what can help them attain their goals, what drives them, etc. Personas go behind the categories and look at the individual.

Customer profiles don’t delve into the real passion and needs of your customers like personas do. They also don’t use analytics to see where your customers are coming from. You can create surveys and ask questions on social media to help you create a persona, but you probably wouldn’t just to fill in a profile.

You need to gather all the detailed information that represents your ideal client or customer; a person with a name and photograph, with real values, goals and motivations. It needs to take you part way inside your customer’s mind so you understand why they do what they do. You generally have to meet with them to obtain some of the information required and help the identify ways in which you can help them meet their goals.

Personas also make it clear to you what type of content you need to be creating, no matter what the platform – written, video, podcasts and webinars, along with where to be sharing that content so it is found by the right customers. It helps you learn how to best find and assist your customers.

Marketing to the masses with a single message no longer works. Consumers expect you to talk directly to them as individuals. Once you have your personas set, you are better able to realize how you can help improve your customer’s lives.

It is time you delve deeper into customer personas to better serve your clients. After all, isn’t that what businesses are meant to do.

(Here is the link to Tony’s survey if you would like to see all the stats)

– Colleen Gray – socialboomerang.com

Best Social Media Blogs – Social Media Resources for Keeping Up on the Latest News and Trends

Women Stressed trying to keep up with Social Media informationIn today’s fast changing world of social media, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the magnitude of news pouring in on the latest technologies, trends, and best practices for maximizing returns on social engagement. As social media author Martin Brossman describes it, “keeping up with social media is like being on an island with random earthquakes that change terrains. You have to find a way to maintain your balance and focus”.

Luckily, there are excellent resources tracking and interpreting mountains of data and activities and reporting on key social media takeaways. Before sharing some of my favorites and recommendations from peers, understand that even this condensed list can quickly result in information overload if you’re not purposeful in identifying in advance:

  1. The specific information you’re looking for that, when found and acted upon, can have the biggest impact on your desired result(s).
  2. The companies and industries that are most similar to yours and experiencing big returns on social media engagement
  3. Thought leaders that stretch your thinking and inspire new ideas

Favorite Social Sites

Here’s my short list of favorite sites. Honorable mention goes to inc.com and fastcompany.com

1.     socialmediaexaminer.com

2.     blog.hubspot.com/marketing

3.     mashable.com/category/social-media/

4.     techcrunch.com

I also asked my friends at Blue Flame Thinking, a business building marketing agency located in Chicago/Grand Rapids for their go-to list of recommended resources. After insisting on no more than 4, Josh Stauffer, Digital Media Director and Andrew Swanson, Social Media Manager, reluctantly narrowed down their list to these (you’ll see that they cheated and provided two blogs in # 8):

1.     forbes.com/social-media

2.     thenextweb.com/socialmedia

3.     adweek.com/socialtimes

4.     http://newsroom.fb.comhttp://blog.linkedin.com and https://blog.twitter.com

Others mentioned by the Social Media Management Graduates:

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/

http://blogs.constantcontact.com/

http://blog.hootsuite.com/

http://blog.linkedin.com/

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/

https://blog.bufferapp.com/

http://www.nimble.com/blog/

http://www.quicksprout.com/blog/

http://www.postplanner.com/best-people-to-follow-on-twitter-for-social-media-geeks/ 

http://marketingland.com/ 

http://socialmediachimps.com/

http://pegfitzpatrick.com/blog/

http://www.razorsocial.com/blog/

http://www.stonetemple.com/blog/

http://www.andreavahl.com/blog

http://www.mediabistro.com/

http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/

http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/

http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/

http://www.andybeal.com/blog

These are a few of the Social Media Management Team and Advisors:

http://mysocialmediamastery.com/blog/

http://LinkingIntoSales (Podcast)

http://pronetworkingonline.com/business-news/

http://thesocialmediaforbusinessbook.com

Other news followers and readers:

http://feedly.com/

https://newsblur.com/

Here is a tool for seeing what people are talking about in twitter and Facebook: http://nuzzel.com/

One word of advice—schedule a set time every day, ideally 60 minutes a day scanning your favorite sites for the information that is most critical to your success. Your sole purpose must be to gather the pertinent information you need to take action on your desired outcome. Avoid the temptation to seek more information—there’s too much out there and not enough hours in the day to keep up with it.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Let me know how they work for you. Let’s connect on www.linkedin.com/in/leonrawitz/en

Special thanks to Randy Earl, Maria Drake Stone, Melanie Diehl, Robin Werling, Angela Tripp, Jeanne Munoz, Rick Nipper, Heather CutchinGreg Hyer, Martin Brossman and Karen Tiede  for their contribution of other info resources.

 

5 Social Media Management Platforms for Small Businesses

Social Media Management ToolsSocial Media and Digital Media Managers need effective tools for managing multiple social media accounts whether they are for their own companies or they are working with clients. As tools are always upgrading and new ones continually coming onto the market, managers get comfortable with specific ones. Different tools are needed for different levels of management. It is not always easy to know which to use or try.  As I have tried many of them, I want to mention a number of the major ones that are more affordable to micro and small businesses.

1) Buffer: https://bufferapp.com

Comment: The sign up free version gives you a little taste of how the app works and no credit card is required until you decide to go to the Awesome version. These are both “personal” or 1 business versions.

The free 7 day trial for Business versions requires no credit card which is always nice because at the end of the 7 days if you have decided you do not care to continue with it, it will drop back to the free version. No harm done!

Benefits:

  • Schedule Posts.
  • You can aggregate content from RSS feeds and share content directly from them on the paid business and awesome versions.
  • They have an app for Android and iOS.
  • You can que posts from your email.
  • It posts images as inline images on Twitter.
  • You can use a personal domain for link shortening.
  • Time saving when using to post to social media platforms.
  • Has a built in URL shortener.
  • Has analytics depending on version.

Challenges:

  • You can only schedule posts to TW, FB LI, G+ and App.net. on the free version.
  • Tagging is only available with Twitter.
  • The individual plan can only connect one of each social profile so it is just for sole-proprietors or personal use. This doesn’t give you a good picture of how the social media management side truly works and 7 days of free use for businesses means you have to make good use of those days to see if it is something you really want to pay for.
  • No Dashboard – as in overall view of everything going on with any particular social media account. You have to click on each individual account to see what was posted and it also shows analytics.

Cost:

  • The Awesome version starts at $10/month and includes 200 posts, 12 social profiles and 2 team members.
  • Small business plans start at $50/month and include 25 connected social accounts, 5 team members, unlimited scheduled posts, RSS feeds and rich analytics along with all standard features.
  • They have a transparency policy as far as where your fees go when paying for any business version of Buffer and show you here https://bufferapp.com/business.

Free version or free test period:

  • You can sign up for Buffer and use a very limited versions for free.
  • The business plans have a free 7 day trial.
  • Non-profits get a 50% discount.

Support:

  • Unknown.
  • On the free version support is reached either through Tweeting to them or through an internal email.
  • They have quite an extensive FAQ page for general assistance also.
  • They have several “how to” videos on their YouTube Channel.
  • Support appears to be all email.

 2) Hootsuite: https://hootsuite.com/

Comment: For $9.99 a month a social media manager for small businesses can maintain several social media accounts and see how the platform really works. Their 30 day trial also gives you a good amount of time to try either the Pro or Small Business Plans.

The free version only allows posting to three platforms, making that basically for the casual user.

Benefits:

  • Schedule posts.
  • You can aggregate content from RSS feeds and share content directly from them on the paid business and awesome versions.
  • They have an app for Android and iOS.
  • Geo targeting for Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
  • It has an app directory with a collection of extensions and applications business professionals can add to their Hootsuite dashboard to create a customized experience. http://appdirectory.hootsuite.com/
  • You can use a personal domain (vanity url) for link shortening.
  • Time saving when using to post to social media platforms.
  • Has a built in URL shortener.
  • Has analytics depending on version.

Challenges:

  • You can only schedule to 3 platforms on the free version.
  • Due to LinkedIn changing their API frequently, Hootsuite tends to drop connection with those accounts off and on.
  • It posts images as inline images on Twitter only from the Pro paid version or above.

Cost:

  • The Free plan allows up to 3 social profiles, no team members and 2 RSS feeds.
  • The Pro Plan costs $9.99/month with  50 social profiles, 1 team member and unlimited RSS feeds.
  • Their Small Business Plan is $49/month includes all Pro features with extras like One hour 1-on-1 dashboard setup and training session, 1 additional Enhanced Analytics Reports, Enhanced technical support and Hootsuite University on-demand training.
  • Hootsuite offers a discount to non-profits.

Free version or free test period:

  • They do have a free version for personal use.
  • They have a 30 day free trial on the Pro Plan and Small Business Plan.

Support:

  • Good.
  • They offer you to send them feedback to any of their many social media channels.
  • They offer support through their Twitter Account and you can contact sales at another one of their Twitter Accounts.
  • They also have an online Help Desk that seems to have good search capability.

3) TweetDeck: https://about.twitter.com/products/tweetdeck

Comment: Tweetdeck is currently owned by Twitter. In my observations, when the social media platform owns a posting or photo platform, those are the ones you tend to give better results with.

Tweetdeck is an online / mobile app, which differs it from Hootsuite which is an internet based platform.

Benefits:

  • Scheduled Tweets.
  • TweetDeck is set up to use Twitter to it’s fullest capabilities via searches, listening and more.
  • It posts images as inline images on Twitter.
  • You can add multiple Twitter accounts.
  • Tweet, monitor and follow new accounts from all—or just one of your accounts.
  • You can set up alerts.

Challenges:

  • This is a Twitter Specific posting platform. It does not post to any other social media accounts.
  • If you use TweetDeck it would be in addition to whatever other platform you are using to post to your other social media accounts.
  • You need to use Google or another URL shortener if you wish to shorten links.
  • No analytics – you need to use Twitters analytics or another product.

Cost:

  • Free

Best Use:

  • If you want to schedule your Twitter posts and want them seen as if you posted them directly to Twitter, this is the app to use.

Free version or free test period:

  • As TweetDeck is free you can test it all you would like.

Support:

  • Unknown
  • If you wanted to forward an idea to them for improvement or have an issue with the app, they have an account on Twitter along with Twitter itself has a Support account to be reached at too.
  • There are many tutorials on YouTube by others on how to use TweetDeck.

 4) SocialOomph   https://www.socialoomph.com/

Comment:

They can automate their Twitter accounts to automatically send welcome DMs to their new followers. This is an intrusive way to welcome people on Twitter. It should be done through the feed. It takes several steps on Twitter to opt out of this.

Benefits:

  • Monitor many social media channels all in one place.
  • Schedule posts.
  • You can aggregate content from RSS feeds and share content directly from them on the paid business and awesome versions.
  • Could not find if the have an app for Android and iOS.
  • Time saving when using to post to social media platforms.
  • Integrate blog and social media updates
  • Has a URL shortener.
  • Has analytics depending on version.
  • Employees can email tweets.

Challenges:

  • In the professional version it has many automated items you may not want. I’m not sure if you can turn these off and on easily.
  • You have to use their in-house URL shortening service, dld.bz.

Cost:

  • The Free version only handles up to 5 Twitter accounts and no other social media channels.
  • The Professional version starts at $35.94/month billing $17.97 every two weeks.
  • If you need to connect more than five Twitter accounts, then their SocialOomph Twitter Unlimited subscription is your solution at an additional $6.97 every two weeks.

Best Use:

  • Social Media Monitoring and post scheduling
  • Software created heavily around Twitter Use

Free version or free test period:

  • Free Version for Twitter only
  • 7 day free trial on Professional Level

Support:

  • They have a forum.
  • They prefer to correspond by email. They favorite reply is We will need to investigate further.
  • 302-261-5717 Number Listed but it is noted – (Please do not call this number for user support, questions, or inquiries. You will get much faster response by submitting a support ticket using the link above.)  support@socialoomph.com
  • Self help center only list basic questions.
  • YouTube how to videos done by others.

5) Send Social Media: – This is first hand experience a few months ago. It may have or have not improved since.   https://sendsocialmedia

Comment:

Send Social Media is a very robust social media management platform. Small to mid size companies and social media managers would find this platform exceedingly useful in monitoring, posting, analytics and much more for their social media channels / clients.

Benefits:

  • Supports 30+ networks.
  • Create SMS Text campaigns.
  • Email auto responders.
  • Monitor your brand / reviews across the internet.
  • Manage accounts for multiple clients and assign to team members.
  • Monitor many social media channels all in one place.
  • Schedule posts.
  • You can aggregate content from RSS feeds and share content directly from them.
  • Has mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows7.
  • Time saving when using to post to social media platforms.
  • Integrate blog and social media updates.

Challenges:

  • You have to purchase additional credits to use the email and SMS features.
  • There is a learning curve as this platform can do so much.
  • Starts at $39/month for up to 100 profiles at Bronze Level.

Best Use:

  • Social media scheduling and keyword monitoring.

Free version or free test period:

  • They give a 14 day free trial on their plans.

Support:

  • Poor customer service.
  • Phone number is an answering service. I never received a return call.
  • They have submit a request via email on their site.
  • They have a YouTube channel with “how-to” videos.

 A Couple of Other Helpful Sites:

Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo has all types of great plans to pull alerts and mentions and much more. But they have a free one that you can create and account and use to manually search. You can find any type of top content or influencers and see what is getting top shares and on what sites, use it to manually post to your sites and see who has shared the information. It is a really strong site for the free version to help you find content to share or to blog about.

Cyfe

This is an all in one dashboard that gives you at-a-glance statistics on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.  Cyfe markets itself as social media, analytics, marketing, sales, support, infrastructure… monitor everything! I believe it can if you purchase the paid version which is only $19/month.

There are so many apps and programs on the internet now to help you manage your social media and to be used in managing clients’ social media it is hard to even begin to list them. It can be really confusing filtering through all of them; believe me I know. I search through them daily.

The ones I have listed above are some of the main ones used for micro and small businesses, along with social media managers that have a small number of clients they are working with.

There are many robust platforms that run in the hundreds of dollars a month for large companies and corporations. You may have run into some when looking for one for yourself. This is why I wanted to get this information out to small businesses to let them know that there are many that don’t have to break the bank, but that work really well, and others to watch out for.


Colleen Gray and the Social Media Management Certification Class – Boomerang Social http://Boomerang-Social.com

How do I respond to negative reviews online?

Responding to Negative Reviews

Responding to Negative Reviews

Let’s face it, before social media and Yelp, Google+ Pages, TripAdvisor, Angies List, and Amazon, most unhappy customer’s complaints didn’t reach thousands of people. Now, they do. How your business chooses to respond to these reviews can either help or damage your business’ reputation. Here are a few suggested do’s and don’ts and examples to illustrate the good, the bad, and the ugly responses businesses wrote to their customer’s reviews.

When responding to negative online reviews, DON’T DO THESE:

  • Respond when you are very angry or hurt…cool off. Wait a day to respond.
  • Flag all negative reviews as fake or delete all negative reviews. A few negative ones validates the rest of the reviews. Your intelligent response on behalf of your company to negative reviews shows that the company is listening and cares.
  • Respond with a long essay. It comes across as defensive.
  • Use your response to a review as an advertisement, i.e. “You may have missed the green car sale but, wait! There’s more! The blue car sale just began. But act quickly! Supplies are limited.” Relate to the reviewer as a person.
  • Omit an apology to the reviewer. Empathize with them – this shows that you understand and care.
  • Ignore negative reviews completely and let them go unanswered. This is like ignoring a customer complaint in your store with others watching.

What to keep in mind when you respond to negative online reviews:

  • Have everyone on your team be sensitive to less then fully satisfied customers and do your best to address their concerns while they are in your presence.
  • Treat reviewers as sane, real people. Even if you know the review is fake – or the person is just crazy – the rest of the world doesn’t know that.
  • A well thought-out response to a complaint will help your credibility more than any marketing you can do.
  • Conditional reviews look and sound conditional. For example, don’t give a reviewer an extra cookie for a positive review. Listen for real raving fans and make it easy for your customers to write reviews.
  • Keep the bigger picture in mind: come from your commitment to service and not your emotional gut reaction.
  • Always thank reviewers for their thoughts – their time is precious to them.
  • Be personable. Pretend you’re having a conversation with the reviewer on the phone or at your business. Use first names to tailor your response. Don’t write a generic response to negative or positive reviews.
  • Keep in mind: you don’t want to write something that you will regret later. It will stay up online for many other customers to read. If it is written poorly, your business’ response may damage your online reputation further.
  • If you can determine who the negative reviewer is, first try to reach out to them privately by phone if possible. Some review sites will allow you to privately message the reviewer, and you can get their information that way in order to call them.

Additional thoughts and resources:

  • Be proactive. Claim all of your online listings and keep a close watch for new reviews.
  • You don’t need thank every reviewer that posts positively. Look for the ones that made a big effort to write a glowing review and consider thanking them.
  • Here is a possible handout to give customers which you can modify with your company information on it: bit.ly/localreview
  • Watch Martin Brossman and Andy Beal’s video filled with helpful tips Enhancing your reputation online for individuals and businesses  http://bit.ly/REPPEDInterview ******
  • Check out the guidelines on review sites to help business owners respond to reviews.

A good response to a negative review:

Ideal Business response: “Sally, we’d like to address this situation personally. Please email Manager Name name@businessname.com with your contact information and we will personally handle your issue.”

Customer review: “I stayed at this hotel over XXX weekend. The rate was good XXX a night and I likes that there were shops…right out the front door. Check in went well front desk was very nice. My room was on the 4th floor bad view etc I guess that’s why rate was great…and then the loud neighbors started you could hear others in the halls being loud what you normally experience at [this kind of] hotel. Called front desk they offered to love me and send up keys, apparently there was confusion and housekeeping came up and told me I needed to leave when I tried to explain I was waiting on bellman with new keys they told me to go downstairs with my things. Front desk was really nice upgraded my room and gave me club access and apologized for the misunderstanding –honestly I wasn’t mad just goes and ready to take a nap. New room was nice I will say the walls are thin and hallways are loud I was woken several times during the night (and that was with earplugs in). Another disappointment I had was wifi is $10 a day…really? Who charges for wifi now days. I guess I am used to [XXX hotel]. The club room was nice the staff was wonderful very friendly and caring. All in all this hotel is just okay but I think for area it’s prob better than other options.”

Business owner’s response:Thank you for your review. I appreciate you acknowledging that our staff was friendly and accommodating during your visit. I’m very sorry to hear you found the hallways disruptive. This is definitely not up to our standards and we are constantly working on improving the quality of service provided. Your feedback is of great importance to us and allows us to monitor and continually improve our property. Thank you for staying with us and we all hope to have an opportunity to serve you again.
Best,
First and last name, General Manager”

A bad responses to a negative review:

Customer’s review: “I’m glad it wasn’t just me. The bald dude that runs the store stands there and stares at you the whole time you are there, and acts like you are wasting his time. The prices are fairly high. The ONLY reason I go there is to buy small ticket items because it is a convenient location.”

Business response:Of course you’re wasting my time when you just come in for small ticket items. Buy something big or don’t come in at all. Why are you young kids so rude these days?”

A good responses to a positive review:

Ideal Business response: “Sally, thanks so much for these kind words! We appreciate your loyalty and look forward to seeing you again soon!”

Customer’s Review: “The staff…the property, the food, […the] manager’s cocktail reception [and the] free airport shuttle…were amazing! Rooms are so well equipped! I was there for a group event and the meeting space was also great. Breakfast, lunch & break snacks also excellent. Only thing missing in my room was a bathtub.”

Business’ response: “Dear [XXX ] – Thank you for sharing your recommendation [on XYZ] during your stay with us while you hosted your business meeting at our hotel. We value the opportunity to have been selected as the site for group meetings! Thank you for making exception to the efforts our team to provide spotless accommodations, exceptional service and an outstanding experience to all of our guests as we are very proud of our beautiful [type of rooms] ! Additionally, we do have room models with bathtubs included. Please let us know your preference in the future and we will work to place you in a room with a tub. Again, we are proud you found our services and accommodations to be a value and we look forward to seeing you during your future visits to the…area!”

We hope this will help you put your best “foot” forward when responding to your customer’s reviews online. Love to hear your responses below.

By Martin BrossmanEllen Hammond 

Learn more about the Social Media Management Training at: http://MySocialMediaMastery.com

Special thanks to the following people that contributed to this article:
Heather Cutchin Evans – www.linkedin.com/in/heathercevans/
Chloe Tuttle with Big Mill Bed & Breakfast – BigMill.com

52 Ways to Increase Facebook Engagement on a Facebook Business Page

How do I get more people to interact with my Facebook Business page? Here are 52 ways for Social Media Managers – and anyone that manages a Facebook Page – to increase Engagement.

 

How do I get more Engagement on Facebook

52 Ways to Get More Engagement on Facebook

When in Doubt, Test it Out

1) Change the types of content you post – test different formats (photo, video, links) to see which yields the highest comments, shares and reach.

2) Run Facebook Ads to existing customers and potential customers. Increasingly Pages are running ads just to be seen in their Fans’ Newsfeed as the result of Newsfeed changes.

3) Alter when you post. Test different days and times to learn when your content will receive more Fan Engagement.

4) Schedule your posts ahead of time directly in Facebook, instead of with auto content schedule tools like Hootsuite or Buffer. Facebook favors posts sent within its platform.

5) Test the length of text in your posts to see if it has an affect on the response you get. Being succinct is best.

6) Make sure your Page has two to 10 high-quality posts your customers will value, before running a Facebook Ad. Customers are willing to put up with an ad – even welcome it – if it leads them to useful content.

7) Test out contests and giveaways. Review Facebook’s contest and giveaway rules first to ensure fairness. Make sure you follow through on prizes or it will hurt your reputation.

What do I say?

8) Share blog posts occasionally, selecting ones that speak to your Facebook customer demographic. It may be a blog from your business, it may not. Describe one nugget you got out of it and ask a thoughtful question, urging your customers to weigh in.

9) Spontaneous posting is ok occasionally. Look at trending hashtags and post something relevant to your business using that hashtag(s).

10) Ask your fans to share their weather photos and stories of snowmen, downed trees, etc., on your Page. Remember to like, thank and comment on the photos they share.

11) Feature a question from a Twitter follower and answer it on Facebook. If you don’t have another social media platform, quote a customer who asked you in person. Ask them permission to quote them or make it a general attribution.

12) Ask your fans a fill-in-the-blank question like “My favorite hot dog condiment is ___.” This type of question is less intimidating to answer than an open-ended question. You might get question ideas to use later on, based on their answers. Please this type of question sparingly.

13) Post photos that pull on the emotions of your fans. You may choose nostalgia for the “good ‘ol days” or cute animals that you tie-in to your business. Eliciting ohhhs and awwwws is ok…but don’t overuse.

14) Re-purpose your content, pointing out a new and unique aspect. Examples: Share a link to a blog post, highlighting a new insight… or how about “Christmas in July” – re-sharing Christmas content in July.

15) If no one has responded to your post yet, reply to your own post with valuable comments that might spark responses…do sparingly and only once per post.

16) Depending on your fans’ social media savviness, giving tips on how Facebook works might be useful to them. You might say “To see our updates on xyz go to your New-feed and click ‘Most recent stories.’ “

The Event Angle

17) When there is a big event or major weather going down, more people will be on Facebook than usual. See if you have something useful to add. One example: post a picture of snow at your bed and breakfast during a snowstorm. Another idea – post updates the news is not providing in your area.

18) Test out the Event app for your events, especially social ones and not seasonal sales. Encourage fans to invite other fans to join them. Create it in advance of the event and post updates there regularly. This gives the event time to build momentum.

19) Post a podcast, video or blog by an event headliner in advance to get your audience excited and create a buzz about the speaker or performer.

20) Drum up nostalgia on holidays and past events like anniversaries. Here’s one example: “This day in 1975 we were ____, where where you?”

21) Post about an event (before, during and after) with photos and without photos and see the difference in responses.

22) Share photos or a video during an event. Make it a single quality post that conveys the event’s “spirit,” helping fans feel like they’re there. Only select the best and don’t overdo it.

Strategy: Thinking Big

23) Write in first person instead of third person. Your business should have its own “voice” – i.e., a certain tone and consistency. Maybe develop this “voice” into a persona that your company uses as a guideline for how to write on social media and other media.

24) What is your competition is doing? Think of different things you can do to stand out.

25) Pay to promote all or key posts to your followers by bidding $1 to $5 dollars. This promotes it directly into your Fan’s Newsfeed, using Facebook.com/ads (different than boosting a post).

26) Use hashtags to make your posts more easily discoverable. Choose some for branding, some for emphasis and some for reference to connect to other content like yours.

27) Curate quality content with a comment of why it is worth your customer/prospects time to look at. Pull out an idea that gave you an “ah-hah” moment and explain why.

28)  Intersperse your content, ensuring a variety of posts. Sales pitches for a whole week doesn’t cut it. Aim for posting certain types of content on a regular basis, like a video once a month, a sale coupon, a link to your blog, etc.

29) Have clearly defined personas, avatars or profiles of customer types you are talking to. Decide the percentage of each type you have and create content (blogs, photos, video, etc.) in that percentage.

29) Plan holiday-related posts ahead of time, especially holidays that are big for your business.

30) Daily review your Newsfeed to see what you can like, comment or share as your business. For a quick view on your interaction with other Pages, view your Page’s Activity Log in your Admin settings.

31) Whatever you do, do it in high quality not quantity, your customers’ attention is expensive to them.

Empower Your Team

32) Let board members, employees and other stakeholders know the value of sharing or commenting on content that speaks personally to them.

33) Create and share a Facebook content schedule with your stakeholders (board member, employees, etc.) in order to 1) have a backup 2) collaborate 3) idea dump before it’s ever scheduled to be posted.

34) Consider developing your business avatars or personas in detail with other people on your business team. This fosters in-house collaboration and helps you write future social media content with your audience in mind.

Stories Rule

35) Share your business stories and pictures/videos of the past. Build out the past over time on your timeline all the way back to “the beginning.” See this example of Big Mill Bed and Breakfast and look at the earliest date: https://www.facebook.com/bigmillbedandbreakfast “Born in February 1922” Is there a story about how the business came into existence? If so, share it.

36) Tell relatable stories and include pictures/videos of the owner’s connection to the business.

37) Ask your employees to share authentic stories and pictures/videos of their passion for the business. Make it a regular feature, like once a month, for planning purposes.

38) Occasionally do a spontaneous post related to an event, local good events and local or national tragedies. If your business knows of an organization or individual affected by an event, tell that story as soon as possible while it’s still on everyone’s mind.

39) Answer questions customers ask – on social media or face to face at your business – by linking to your blog with a more extensive answer.

Show How Good Your Company Is

40) If your business is sponsoring a nonprofit event, comment on their event posts leading up to, during and after the event. Don’t forget to share these posts on your Business Page wall with a note on how to support the event to your Fans.

41) If your employees volunteer for a cause on company time, share a photo of them on Facebook, tagging the nonprofit and commending your employees. Do this as timely as possible.

42) Share nonprofit posts on your Page before, during and after an event your business is sponsoring. Let people know how they can get involved in it and why you’re sponsoring it.

43) Do your employees volunteer, but not on company time? Ask them permission to share their story and photos, in the same spirit as “Employee of the month,” but call it something else.

Recognition is Right

44) Ask questions that you think your customer would enjoy answering, and include a related photo. Have a fan ready to respond to “prime the pump” – it will encourage others to answer too.

45) Say “thank you” when people comment on your posts. If you can, add a comment in your reply, mentioning them with the “@” symbol. This recognizes them in a way they know you are talking to them.

46) Spend a good 1/3 of your time, as your business, commenting, liking and sharing key ally posts. Key allies may include other businesses, vendors, your chamber of commerce, and nonprofits you support.

47) Help fans feel like they’re a part of something bigger. Ask them for input on a project you’re working on.

48) Follow up with a photo of the finished project, thanking fans for their input as soon as it’s completed.

49) Mention your strategic allies in posts and blogs in ways that may also be of interest to your customers, as well as prospective customers.

51) If someone posts a negative comment, step up to the plate and show how you can take the high road by responding, not ignoring or deleting it. There are exceptions with fake Facebook accounts and other inappropriate spam responses.

52) If someone gives your business a bad review and the review hints at why, address it in a post or blog and share the link on Facebook. It could be others have similar issues. Turn it into useful information for your customers.

As a Social Media Manager or manager of any Facebook Business page you are always looking  for creative ways to get more of your customers/prospects to like, share or comment on your posts. We hope this was helpful for you. Let us know what you found useful or other ways you have gained more engagement below.

by Martin Brossman and Ellen Hammond

Learn more about the Social Media Management training at: http://MySocialMediaMastery.com 

Special thanks to the following people who contributed ideas or inspired ideas for this post:
Heather Cutchin Evans – http://www.linkedin.com/in/heathercevans
Colleen Gray – http://Boomerang-Social.com
Jay Izso http://www.internetdr.com/
Joel McClosky https://plus.google.com/u/0/109893483113029960788/posts
Drew Becker: http://conveymediagroup.com/

 

Customer Avatars in Marketing: Know Your Audience

What's My Line

“Know your audience” is something you often hear when it comes to speakers, lecturers and politicians but as a marketing content creator, having a feel for who you are speaking to is just as important.  Whether you own the company and need to know your customers better or work for a company as their marketing voice (both in-house or contractor), you cannot create relevant content unless you know who you are speaking to, what is important to them and what they are looking for. This is why creating customer personas / profiles / avatars is so critical prior to creating a marketing campaign.

Avatars

So, who is your audience?  Every organization is different but take a look at some of these possibilities:

  • Customers / Donors
  • Potential Customers or New Market Segments
  • Partners
  • Sponsors
  • Suppliers
  • Current Employees
  • Highly talented potential employees you would love to recruit (i.e. “We’re a great company to work for!”)
  • Investors

Each time you write, blog, post, tweet, etc. you are speaking to one of these. Now within categories we must delve deeper and identify subgroups, and write a “bio” of each fictional person.  You may start with assumptions but back that up with research.

Researching Avatar Characteristics

Data can come from several sources like: Focus groups

  • Old Fashioned Observation
  • Social Listening
  • Interviews
  • Census Data
  • Reviews

Here is a quick example for a hotel or conference center:

Meeting Planner Patty

Hello, I am Patty, a meeting planner for ABC corp.  In addition to organizing meeting space, hotel rooms, flights, airport transportation, speakers, entertainment, printed programs and name tags, (phew) I want to make each event memorable.  My goal is to get everyone in the company excited about attending the meeting, engaged while there and talking about it years later.  I’m looking for unique venues for off-site events, one-of-a-kind experiences and unique ways to get employees to connect face-to-face.  If I can’t make that happen, they all might as well have an online conference call and get right back to work, right?  My job is to share the company message, create company loyalty & motivation and facilitate an atmosphere for employee synergy that more than justifies the expense and time off-site.

Personally, the long hours and travel can be tough on my family so I make a point of either bringing something special back or arranging for them to meet me the day after the event for a quick getaway.

I have zero patience for poor customer service, rude employees and broken partner agreements.  With everything on my plate, who has time for those things? So, Patty is a desirable customer type because she has a respectable budget.

If we were to write a blog post with her in mind we would NOT mention how affordable we are, or our central location.  Instead we would discuss all the unique things to see and do in our destination.  Also, a spotlight on employees who exceeded customer service experiences would be of interest. See how a persona or avatar helps us decide what to share and what not to share?  If we had not taken the time to consider this specific customer type’s expectations we would waste our time (and money) communicating on and on about our holiday special but no one may be interested in that topic.  Or, even worse, we would attract the wrong customer (not profitable) with all that “economical” content.

An Avatar in the Movies

A hilarious example of “walk a mile in the customer’s shoes” is the 2000 movie “What Women Want”.  Mel Gibson plays an ad executive who realizes he cannot effectively create an advertising campaign for female products that he knows nothing about so he brings home a few of the products (pantyhose, wax, lipstick, etc.) to try them out and get a customer’s perspective.

Now it’s your turn (no guys, you don’t have to wear the pantyhose).  Can you think of three to six distinctive types of people who are current or potential customers?  Let’s go beyond “Soccer Dad Duane” and consider different generations, geographical backgrounds as well as marital status and family types.  Or perhaps you offer various products and services and you want to create an avatar for each. Let’s consider: Demographics

  • Values / Beliefs
  • Needs / Wants
  • Objections / Issues / Problems
  • Questions

Avatars for the City of Raleigh

Here is a fantastic real life example from the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau where they have identified seven visitor personalities and offer tourist suggestions according to those interests: http://www.visitraleigh.com/visitors/id

Creating personas takes a great deal of time and research but can be worth it when you realize how much more effective it will make the marketing, content creation and social media efforts going forward for a small local business, non-profit organization or a big corporation.

How do I set up Multiple Google Places for Clients

Multiple Google Places for Business

Multiple Google Places for Business

There’s no doubt about it; Google has forever changed our lives and our businesses. This is especially true when it comes to Google Places. Google Places is one of the best and cost effective ways to be found online. After all, not only is it free, it also integrates with Google maps, so people can physically find you, and the Google search engine, so people can find you online. Google Places also offers a section for images, videos and customer reviews so future customers can learn more about your business.

Small business owners with only one or two locations find it easy to use. But what about large business owners, the ones with many locations? Can they get as much benefit from Google Places? The answer is yes. Google has recently unveiled their bulk listing manager and uploader, which promises to be a real boon for large businesses.

Not that every business qualifies for a bulk listing or even a Google Places listing at all. The types of businesses that qualify to do bulk listing are the ones with physical locations. Because everything is integrated with Maps, Google Places does not accept virtual businesses or businesses where the provider comes to you without having a storefront.

For example, a REALTOR® who works out of their home without a public office is not eligible for a Google Places listing of any kind. However, a REALTOR® who is affiliated with a company or has a walk-in office is eligible. It’s important to note that the agent’s location has to be the physical office, not the area they service.

Google Places is great for any kind of retail, restaurant or storefront with many locations. Ten locations is what Google considers ‘bulk’. If you have nine or fewer locations, each one has to be handled individually.

The first step for bulk management is getting verified. There is a link for “verify for bulk” in your Google dashboard. Once you are verified, it’s a simple matter of filling out the form and waiting. When filling out this form, give Google the business email of the person who will be managing these listings. Google prefers that there be only one email to manage all of the listings included in a “bulk” package.

Verification can take up to a week. Google checks out your business to ensure its legitimacy, that all the contact information is correct, and you do have the authority to create these listings. While you wait, you can start working on your bulk listing immediately. However, the listing won’t go live until after verification has been completed.

Bulk uploading enables you to upload a spreadsheet with all relevant information on it for each location. Typically, this spreadsheet contains name of business, phone number, hours of operation, websites and more. Google makes this process as easy as possible for you by providing a spreadsheet template for your use. It also has a guiding feature to point out errors and to help you correct them.

Once you’re verified and your listings go live, the person who logs in with the given email address and login makes any changes that need to be made. You can add or close a location at any time. You can even do another bulk upload without going through verification again. In fact, the only time you need to go through verification again is if your places account sits inactive for too long.

Now that all your locations are uploaded and live, it’s time to have some fun with them. Even franchises like McDonalds don’t all look alike or have the same features, though they do all sell the same food. While it’s important that you brand yourself consistently, you also have the ability to customize each listing to bring out its best features.

It all starts with the photo. Each location needs its own photo of the building. This helps differentiate multiple locations. It also helps the customer when they are in your area looking for a special location.

Next, comes the description. Even though your stores will be similar, each one should have its unique description. This gives you the opportunity to optimize for location specific keywords, excite the customers in that area and create the original content that Google loves to show.

Providing different images or videos of each location is another way to differentiate your locations. This helps fill out your places page, encourages interaction, and delights your future customers as they can now see which location is best for them. Sometimes, it’s not always the closest one.

Google Places has a section for promotions, contests and special offers. Google allows you to post special offers that are available at some locations, but not all. This is a great way to drive traffic to an underperforming location or to celebrate a special location’s specific event such as a grand opening or anniversary.

Google Places is one of the easiest, most cost effective ways to be found online. Not only does it benefit “small,” it also gives large businesses a chance to brand themselves as “small.” Even when people know you’re part of a larger company, differentiating each location through Google Places gives each location a more ‘small business’ feel and helps make it an important part of the community.

See our other post for Social Media Managers at:
http://mysocialmediamastery.com/blog/ and learn more about our Social Media Management Certificate Program at: http://mysocialmediamastery.com/

By Martin Brossman and Karen Tiede

Research by Mercedes Tabano II