Design, The good, The bad, and The Unaesthetically Pleasing.

What is good graphic design? That is a question akin to “What is good art?” The first thing one needs to remember is that graphic design is an art form. Unlike traditional art, however, it is art for commerce, marketing goods and/or services and follows several key design components. Of course, it is more complicated than that, but we’ll talk about that later. I would like to take some time to share a few insights and things to consider about good design.

I find that in today’s fast paced world many small companies don’t understand or even consider the impact that good design can have in marketing products or services. There are on-line services that anyone can use to create their own marketing materials or have someone bid on a project. One question that often comes to mind is; Why should I hire a designer to develop a logo when I can do it myself for free using company “X” on the web?  The truth is there are many things one should consider. Is the final product really free? What is the overall value of the design, meaning how well does it represent your company, and your company’s core values? Is it a good representation of the goods and services you offer? What is the quality of the digital file? Can you use it across multiple marketing platforms? Do you own the copyrights? There are many other questions, but let’s not get too carried anyway just yet. I cannot give you all the answers, but I hope to help you understand a few things about good design and how it specifically relates to using online “design” services. Let’s look at The good, The bad, and The Unaesthetically Pleasing.

The Good

There are a few good things about using online services for your design needs. One they are usually fast. People do sometimes need something very quickly, I understand this. When someone makes the choice to start their own company, it is not usually done on a whim. I have never met a small business owner that said; “I woke up this morning, quit my job, baked some cupcakes and started selling them on the side of the road.” The point is, most people have a plan for their new company, and marketing is part of that plan. Do some research and have a marketing budget that includes design and/or marketing services.

Cost effectiveness, yes, some on-line services are based on people biding on jobs for the lowest rate. We have all heard the saying; “You get what you pay for.” I say, you only have one chance to make a lasting first impression, make the most of it. Consider, who is the person doing the design for you? How much of your time are you going to spend selecting a design you like? Is there customer support? What about the cost for design changes? Don’t forget your time has a value as well.

The Bad

Not all things are of equal quality. With an on-line design bidding service, you may have a real person working on a design for you, but how much time did they spend on getting to know your company and what you do? Was it a face-to-face meeting? What questions did they ask you? How much input did you have in the final design? Did you submit a project and have few dozen people send you files and you spent hours looking through them only to give up and pick one? Many people I have worked with ask for my help because they have been down this road and are simply not happy with the outcome, the work they received did not fit their marketing needs. Just for fun, I investigated an on-line site for creating a company logo. The overall process was easy, but the final results were bad. The logo was a random combination of easily recognizable clip art and the fonts were also widely used. Yes, I had the option to download a “free sample” of very low resolution. Other options included standard logo files, files for social media, re-sizable files, and an option to have a designer redesign the logo with new options. The list also included a branding plan and a way to order business cards. What about the quality of the files? Are they good enough to use on a web site? Are they crisp enough for resizing? Are they in a format and resolution for printing, or will more costly work need to be done? Does this sound like a great value? These companies do this all without any understanding of who you are and what you do. How does that represent your company in any way that is important to you? Ask yourself, what is the real cost of this.

The Unaesthetically Pleasing.

The heart of the matter. Unaesthetic means offensive to the aesthetic sense; lacking in beauty or sensory appeal; unpleasant, as an object, design, arrangement, etc.1 You’ve probably seen bad design before, and said, that looks bad or what were they thinking? One of my design professors in college told us that good design is barely noticeable, we see it, it appeals to us, but we don’t give it another thought. Bad design hits like a brick. It looks unpleasant, and many times we don’t know why it looks bad, it just does. Sounds confusing right. It can be, we already know that what one person finds appealing another may not. This is true with art and music. It is also true with design. All designers must walk the line of what people find aesthetically pleasing and what is unaesthetically pleasing. To complicate things even more, they need to do so while delivering a clear message about a product or service. How do they do that? With a bit of magic and a wave of a photoshop wand. Not really just checking to see if you are still there. Graphic designers follow seven key design components. Color, Line, Point, Shape, Texture, Space, Form, Unity/harmony. I will not go into detail for each, that would take several pages to explain. My point is that a good graphic designer understands these concepts and understands how to utilize them to design marketing products that fits the needs of your company. The design process is not something that should be an algorithm based on a three or four multiple choice questions. It is a creative process, based on a conversation about your companies’ products/services and core values. Every designer has their own creative process. I like to meet with a client, ask them about their company, who they are, what the company values are, what they offer, and understand how they wish people to view the company. I then began my creative process, and it usually includes lots of coffee, music and a drawing pad. My point is, consider the real value of a well-designed marketing piece. Will people look at it and say; “What where they thinking?” or will they look at it a say; “Oh, you do this? Great, let’s talk”.

I am a graphic designer with eighteen years of experience. My experience includes corporate marketing, high production design with print vendors and freelance design work. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in graphic design, a certificate in Computer Art and Animation., a Webmaster Certification with Adobe Flash Specialization and a certificate in Social Media Management for Marketing and Business.

Joe Butters
Rogue Ferret Design
rogueferretdesign.com

1 Dictionary.com: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/unaesthetically

Core competencies, skills of a social media manager

It is essential in today’s economy for every company to have a robust, malleable digital presence; and, since social media platforms provide that ability, the demand for social media managers is growing by the day.

Therefore, those seeking social media manager positions or jobs of a similar ilk need to understand what qualities and competencies are required to obtain this type of job and succeed in it. Here are some of the core skills and competencies that a social media manager must have.

Photo courtesy of Martin Brossman

The fall 2018 Social Media Management Certificate Program graduating class

Contrary to popular opinion, the requisite skills for a social media manager are diverse and take practiced refinement. Some of those core skills include collecting, creating and curating content; operating social media scheduling tools; utilizing and interpreting analytical data; SEO and social media writing and editing; understanding social media advertising and post-boosting (especially on Facebook); and marketing to increase interest and revenue. In essence, the skills that a social media manager should have group into three categories: creation, development and maintenance.

Creation requires the ability to gather information quickly and produce engaging and targeted written or visual content that represents a brand well and advances the progression of that brand. While being able to produce effective content with relative speed is a large part of the creation competency, a social media manager must also know which content and form are most effective for each platform. For example, brief posts that have immediate or short-term relevance are ideal for Twitter, whereas Facebook allows for (and users have come to expect) lengthier content. So being able to produce content that utilizes the purpose and format of a social media platform is the name of the game.

Then again, if a social media manager doesn’t know who the platform-specific content is supposed to reach, its effectiveness is compromised. “I start with getting grounded in a comprehensive understanding of who our target audience is and what they care about,” says Vanessa Williams, senior manager of integrated strategy and promotions at Ignite Social Media in Cary. This is where development of content (in the areas of audience, brand exposure and sales) comes into play. If a clothing store producing wares for teenage girls is not using Pinterest (or Instagram) and failing to produce image-heavy posts with catchy text on a daily basis, that company will have a difficult time reaching its intended audience and market.

Which is where analytics enter the fray and aid in the development of market-targeting or narrowcasting. “Social media managers … need to be analytical,” Williams says. “They need to be able to interpret quantitative and qualitative data to determine what is working …  [and] bubble up social results into metrics that matter for the business.” Those metrics include advertising return on investment or spending, cart value, offline- and online-sales conversions and loyalty program enrollment, Williams says.

The more a social media manager or a business knows about its market, the easier it is to forge relationships; and in a social media world, relationships are king. “One of the great things about social media … is the ability to build one-to-one relationships with your current and potential customers in real time,” Williams says. “Being a helpful resource, surprising and delighting fans, and taking their feedback into consideration can help build relationships and brand loyalty with customers.” The content has to engage those most likely to buy the products or services a company offers, and providing resources for customers to accomplish that can establish relationships with new customers and strengthen those with existing customers.

Lastly, there is the maintenance or the curation of the content produced and the relationships and markets that have been developed. Outside of being able to refine, update and schedule content, the most important aspect of the maintenance competency is discipline. A social media manager needs to be consistent in upholding the quality of content and in tailoring it to meet shifting and burgeoning trends while also adhering to the strategy that has been established. Consistency is paramount in maintaining the relationships that have been developed. As with any system, the components that make it work need attention and discipline drives the maintenance of those components.

Social media is a fundamental part of contemporary sales, marketing and advertising and is only going to become a more integral part of those industries. As a result, companies need those inclined to utilize this dynamic tool, those social media managers about to find their stride.

 

Special thanks to Janet Constantino, Melanie Diehl, Cathy Comella-Ports, Martin Brossman, Karen Tiede, Kerry Mead, Davina Ray and Sasha Fetisova, all of whom contributed to this article. Learn more about me, Justin Goldberg (primary author) at https://www.linkedin.com/in/justin-goldberg-101a4a16/

Marketing to Generation Z on Social Media – Tips for Social Media Managers

family photo Social scientists, marketers, and educators identify the generation born between 1998 and 2016 as Generation Z. The Gen Zs are the first generation that is completely native to internet technology. They are the Jedi masters, and the internet is their Force.

The Zs might be the most important generation in the history of humankind. That’s not an overstatement. The Grand Challenges we face today are potentially cataclysmic. Climate change. Terrorism. Nuclear weapons. Economic disparity. Cyber security. Clean water. The rise of machines. Drug-resistance diseases. All of these challenges are reaching a tipping point in the coming decades . . . decades in which the Zs will be running the show. They didn’t create these challenges, but they will be expected to solve them. Fortunately, for all of us, the Zs are uniquely prepared to save the planet.

As parents, educators, and social media marketers, we need to understand this generation and not take them lightly.

The Generation Z Profile

What puts the Z in Gen Z? Here’s the basic makeup of the Gen Z profile:

  • The internet, technology, war, terrorism, the recession, social media, and the emergence of “fake news” shape their lives.
  • They are tech savvy.
  • Social media has connected them globally to like-minded peers.
  • They stream entertainment, information, and data continuously in a cloud-based world.
  • The internet has connection them to global knowledge.
  • They are bright, and their IQ scores are higher than previous generations.
  • They are the most racially diverse generation in American history.
  • Their worldview is distinctly different from the generations before them.

The Hard Road That Shaped Gen Z Values

Every generation thinks the generation that comes after them is spoiled, and no doubt the Millennials think Gen Zs have it easy compared to them. That assumption doesn’t hold up under the most basic scrutiny. Gen Zs only know an America that has been at war. The media is filled with stories of terrorism, gun violence, school violence, and polarized political parties.

Gen Zs see the dark side of the modern world firsthand, too. They know someone who’s been to war. They’ve always had to take their shoes off to board an airplane. Their schools practice active shooter lockdowns. They saw foreclosed homes in their neighborhoods and had a relative who lost a job in the economic downturn.  

All of this has further shaped the Gen Z profile. Here’s a short list of their core values:

  • They are digital natives, but not necessarily digital citizens.
  • They value diversity, inclusion, and equality more than any other generation.
  • They are not as patriotic as previous generations and are more distrusting of their government.
  • They are flexible in nature and expect flexibility from institutions.
  • Surveys show Gen Zs are less optimistic about the nation’s current status than older generations.  
  • The same surveys show Gen Zs are far more optimistic about the future than older generations.  

Gen Zs on Social Media

The internet is sometimes described as the “Wild Wild West,” and if that analogy is true, then Gen Zs would include Buffalo Bill Cody, Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley, Jesse James. They might not be the pioneers, but they are the settlers who left an indelible mark on the West.

Where is Gen Z on social media? Let’s be honest, they own it. Sure, millennials created Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, but then the Gen Zs took all of it and made it theirs. When Johnny Cash remade the Nine Inch Nails song Hurt, Trent Reznor (NIN frontman) said, “I felt like I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore.” Gen Zs did the same. They made social media their own, and they probably took Trent Reznor’s girlfriend, too. We have a lot to learn about the Zs and from the Zs if we want to connect with their generation on social media.  

Here’s where they are on social media:

  • Gen Zs are continuously and seamlessly connected to their friends, relatives, acquaintances, celebrities, brands, and complete strangers through social media.
  • Gen Zs use social media and social media profiles to create their own personal brands.
  • Instant contact is very important to them.
  • Waiting for emails has never been part of the Gen Z world.
  • Social media has led to a sense of social justice, especially when they are bombarded with images and news of war, recession, and climate change.
  • Social media has made it easy for them to take up social causes. They search for careers and opportunities that will help the world.
  • Rating things on the internet is in their DNA. Giving plus 1s, clicking on thumbs up or down, awarding stars, and leaving comments is a natural part of their day.
  • Making celebrity and big brand misbehavior go viral is a major achievement for the Zs.
  • Gen Zs use social media to find like-minded people, giving greater strength than ever to counterculture and alternative groups.
  • They “crowd source” for solutions on social media.
  • They’ve learned to be careful on social media. They are concerned it is too public. This is why Snapchat is so popular with them. They want to better control who sees their messages.

Marketing to the Gen Zs

Is it important for social media managers to understand Generalization Z? Yes, because they are running roughshod over traditional marketing campaigns. They are brand resistant and social media savvy.  If you connect with them, they will be your best ally.  If you dismiss or ignore them, they will make you go viral in the worst way. And they will do it quicker than you can log in and delete your entire internet footprint.  

Here are some key points for commerce and marketing with Gen Zs:

  • Gen Zs are not brand loyal. They will mix and match everything from clothes brands to philosophies.
  • Gen Z teens and preteens have the biggest impact on the economy for that age group ever. Their social media “likes,” product ratings, forum feedback have companies and marketers scrambling.
  • They see way too much negative product information online to immediately believe ad campaigns.  
  • Gen Zs have grown up in the world of online reviews. They not only write reviews, but they rely on them and trust them for making their own purchases.  
  • Events like the recession and Occupy Wall Street have left Gen Zs distrusting of big brands.
  • They spend more on the economy than any generation before them at their age. Most of their spending happens online. This is driven by gift cards like Amazon, Etsy, PayPal, Xbox, PlayStation, and iTunes.
  • Gen Zs also understand commerce online. They sell and swap their own goods (and possessions) on sites like Etsy, Depop, OfferUp, Poshmark, and letgo.
  • They are more concerned about purchasing environmentally safe products than the generations before them.
  • They don’t have a regard for the traditional “Pro America” brands.
  • Gen Zs want to be the first to like something, follow something, buy something.
  • They like anti-establishment brands
  • Label wariness has led to the rise of the thrift shops. See Thrift Shops by Macklemore.
  • Big brands that use social media openly and honestly have connected with Gen Z.  
  • Big brands have reached Generation Zs through other Gen Zs. Big brands have reached out to popular Gen Z YouTubers and Instagram user to advertise their products. Gen Zs are much more trusting of individuals within their own generation than of big brand institutions.
  • Gen Zs spend their money wisely. The know too many Gen Xers who graduated college, live with their parents, and are saddled with college debt. Gen Zs find this horrifying.  
  • Gen Zs value “cheap” more than older generations.
  • Gen Zs are not easily impressed with technological improvements because it is an expectation. Unless your technology improvements revolutionize the product, don’t make it the center of your ad campaign if you’re targeting Gen Zs.
  • Gen Zs like brands that “stand for something.” Brands score well that stand for diversity, inclusion, and equality.
  • Gender specific ad campaigns don’t fare as well with Gen Zs, who tend to think more in gender neutral terms than older generations.  

Marketing to Generation Zs on social media will be no easy task. We have to catch up in areas where we are used to leading. The better we understand this group, the better we can connect with them, and that’s really what social media marketing is all about.

Note that the last people born into Generation Z ended sometime around 2016. This year gave birth to a new generation. Wait until you meet Generation Alpha. (Que intense Darth Vader entrance music.)

Look forward to hearing your comments.
– Adam Renfro

 

Content Tips for Social Media Managers Whose Clients Offer Nothing

Can't get content

Photo credit Sean MacEntee

Finding content for your company’s social media accounts is not easy. While some businesses supply social media managers with a steady stream of white papers, blog posts, videos, and ideas, many of us are left with almost nothing.

Even worse: the very people who hire you refuse to participate in anything fun, even as a modest team photo. (It’s called social media, people.) Maybe your client does not have a blog, or your colleagues refuse to write. (Check out Martin’s useful tips for that situation.)

Alas, until AI (artificial intelligence) takes over our job, we must create a lot of content to post on social platforms each day. Make your life easier with these ideas for finding, producing, and tracking content for your social platforms for your B2B clients:

Tried and True

Let’s start with the basics.

  • Content Calendar – This is a must if you manage multiple accounts. A content calendar allows you to see what you’ve done before and plan for the future. These don’t have to be fancy, by the way. I like to use spreadsheets.
  • Google Alerts – As we learned in SMMCP class, Google alerts are a useful way to find blog posts and other people’s content to share on your social media accounts. One idea: get creative with the alert terms so you can find something different from what everyone else is sharing.
  • Evernote/Notebook – Make sure you have a notebook or someplace you can write down brilliant ideas while you’re having lunch. Creativity doesn’t keep to a schedule; keep your notebook on hand. Many of my best blog post ideas occur while I’m trying to fall asleep. (Darn it.)
  • Feedly or other RSS Reader – Who’s got time to read? You do if your client leaves you high and dry. While we know it’s better to share in-house content, you’ll need a strong mix of other people’s links.
  • Basic photo editing software and programs like Canva. With no graphic artist handy, you’re in charge. Find royalty-free images and try out infographic programs so you can produce your own useful, shareable content.
  • A face for video. Or at least the bravery to try it. Join the new video-focused Toastmaster group in Raleigh and start practicing. If your company/client allows you to shoot videos for Facebook (or better yet, go live!), you’ve got one useful way to generate something interesting.
  • Find the one. There is probably one person in the office mildly interested in social media. Chat with him or her. Is he/she willing to help or offer ideas? Follow his/her accounts.
  • The holiday list. Yep, time to drag out the “It’s National Topic that Relates to Our Company Day.” (Curious about those holidays? Check out this podcast episode.)     

Other Avenues

Next, here are some other ideas for finding and creating content. Some of these might not work for all industries. Some brands and companies prefer to stay safe rather than stand out. If that’s yours, best wishes to convince them to be bold! As Ann Handley always says, our biggest mistake is playing it too safe with content.

  • Thrift stores. You don’t have to be a #Girlboss to find a deal at a thrift store. Can you drag a team member in there and take a fun photo? Can you find an item that relates to the business in some way? Can you tell a story of a forgotten, cast aside item and tie that into the business? Can you buy some items and put them in the office for a photo?
  • Art gallery. Or some other interesting place. The idea is to tie it back to your company’s services in some way. Of course, you don’t always have to be “sell, sell, sell,” as we know. But it pays to think hard about the stories you’re telling.
  • Events. Is the company involved in charity work? Are you attending something interesting this weekend you can share? If nothing else events provide a photo opp. A lot of North Carolina’s smaller towns have various fun things happening. If you client is located in one of them, help spread the word about those local events. By using hashtags, you might even gain a few followers in the process.
  • The long story in short segments. Write a blog post or story related to your company, but then divide it up into 140 character statements. Number each one and then spread out those posts on Twitter, labeling each with a number and/or hashtag.

Often the hardest part about content creation and social media for businesses is convincing them it’s OK to be different. Many of the people I work with prefer to stick to the basics. What helped you convince someone to be bold? What helps you create strong content for social media platforms?

Jennifer Suarez is a Raleigh content writer who offers blog posts, social media, and other writing services to small business owners and marketing agencies. She graduated from the SMMCP program in May 2016.

 

Photo credit Sean MacEntee https://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/

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://smmcp.wpengine.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