What Social Media Managers need to know about TikTok

tiktok

Picture source PIxabay – tiktok-5064078_640

by Author: K. Leah O’Connor 05/27/2020 

This article contains clickable links to websites that are not on Facebook.

TikTok is a social platform that people can use to create, edit, add music, and or special effects to a short video and share it with other users around the globe. 

To be a success on any Social Media platform you first need to ask what is my target audience? The difference between TikTok and other Social Media apps is the largest group of users are in the 25 and under age group. Generation Z has taken to the platform like ducklings to water. They will ignore you if you try to push traditional forms of marketing and advertising on them. They do not want to be sold to; they want to be entertained.  

I signed up for a TikTok account two days ago. What I have gathered so far is that everyone loves pets and little kids, dancing, lip-syncing, cosplayers, and general silliness. There are a lot of artists, sewists, musicians, singers, gamers, Cosplayers, and people who are not afraid to be themselves. Some people are putting up how-to videos. It is an interesting mix of everything. 

The tagline on TikTok.com sums up the most important aspect of this popular app that Social Media Managers need to remember. Make Your Day, Real People. Real Videos. There are no hard and fast rules of what you can post to TikTok. Although, you must keep in mind that being upbeat, funny, downright silly, sincere, chaotic, real, informative, or whatever spin you want to use in your video without sounding like a salesperson will keep you from being ignored. People do not use TikTok to look for products or services they use it for entertainment and fun. These are the aspects of the app you must remember to be successful. 

So how real is it? It is very real, and users will see through you faster than you can post a 15second video. Some people call it cringy, some say it is outright stupid. I read on Quora that turning on your privacy settings is important to keep people from knowing your location. Probably good advice. This platform, however, has become massively popular no matter what people call it and it is growing every day.   

I reached out to a young woman, @r0mmie, 21 years old, and asked her about her TikTok. Her profile features videos of herself expressing her fears, her challenges, and her frustrations. Or as she put it, “My TikTok is a mess of me complaining about work and me being comedy gold.” It was not the type of profile I expected to find. Her answers to my questions provided insights from a user point of view that I found to be helpful. 

Question: Why did you join TikTok?  

@r0mmie: It was a creative outlet similar to Vine that I was super active on before it closed down. The community on TikTok is a lot more accepting than Vine.  Question: What do you like and dislike about TikTok?  

@r0mmie: I love that I can make videos up to a minute long instead of the 6 seconds you had on Vine and that there are lots of cool editing effects. I dislike that once I create multiple segments in a video, I can only delete the most previous section. Also, my recommended page generally shows people I already follow. I find myself having to look for tags (hashtags) to find people to follow instead of using that. And I love the many different communities on TikTok. They are all SUPER active and so accepting. There is a large LGBTQ community and I have made friends with a lot of nice, supportive people.  

Question: Have you watched any videos or followed any businesses that are using TikTok? 

@r0mmie: I have seen quite a few businesses on TikTok, but they are mostly large companies like Coke or Skittles. I have seen artists promoting their Esty’s though! I am not following any yet because I post when I have a few spare minutes and I don’t have that much time to browse. I have been using my time to make friends. As for ads, there is usually one when I first open the app, but again they are only for super big companies.  

Question: If you were to follow a small business or an Esty artist, what about their profile or video content would be most interesting to you and make you want to follow them? 

@r0mmie: The process of the craft! I have seen tons of painters showing small snippets of themselves painting. Sewers doing the same thing, showing the process and progress during creation. It makes it so interesting to see what they do and how they do it.  

TikTok is a relative newcomer to the arena of Social Media. Launched in 2016, the platform has, according to Wallaroomedia.com, over 800 million active users worldwide. The U.S has about 60 million monthly active users. At an average of 52 minutes a day per user, that equals enormous potential for Social Media Managers that are willing to take the plunge. 

 As influencers on platforms such as Instagram are getting left behind for being too sales-driven the influencer culture remains strong on TikTok. Many of these influencers are children, celebrities, and public figures. To hire one will cost you a premium, .01 to .02 cents per view of an ad. The average cost of advertising with TikTok, at least for now, is beyond the reach of most small businesses. That doesn’t mean you can’t grow a following using ingenuity and creativity. To become a TikTok influencer rack up 10, 000 followers and you are in. 

 A great deal depends, of course, on the goods or services you want to market and what your target is. Your ideal demographic may be generation Z. But if not, there is good news for Social Media Managers. The users now include Millennials and Generation X. But do not let a jump in age groups lead you to believe you can get away with anything old school. You are going to have to leave production type videos for other platforms and get personal. 

 You have decided to jump in and give TikTok a try. You download and install the app. You create an account and visit Wired.com to read their Beginner’s guide to TikTok. You watch some of the videos that range in length from 12 secs up to 60 secs and think, yeah I can do this. I can be creative, unique, authentic, and funny. Building an organic following, as with any social media platform, will take time and effort. The more content you post the further your reach will extend.  

Using Hashtags, (tags as they are referred to on TikTok) also must be on your to-do list. This will take you some research and time to perfect, but it is crucial. Be sure to include a few of your own tags. It is how users search for content. Many individuals will use other’s tags and spread content they like by making their own videos about it. The more engaging you can be the more success you will find. If you have been using Twitter or Instagram this will be easier for you. If tags make you go what? Jeanne Munoz, of Jeanne Monoz Consulting, gives a great course on Instagram for Business through the McKimmon Center for Extension & Continuing Education. It includes the importance of hashtags and how to use Hashtags. Useful information to have for Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.  

TikTok does also offer paid advertising options. On their website, you can sign up for an account. When I did this, I got the message, “This region is not yet available for self-serve. Please leave your contact info”. Paid options are not open to users in the United States yet unless you contact TikTok directly. Several large brands, such as Pepsi, Kroger, Chipotle and Elf Cosmetics have been using paid advertising on the platform since it started last year. They have seen their tags used billions of times, so it does warrant looking into if you have the budget for it.  

 To run ads on TikTok, the word on Quora is, expect at least $10 cost-per-1000 views with a $500 minimum campaign spend. Depending on your client and the possible ROI they can get from a campaign, it well may be worth it. Keep in mind though that the largest demographic using the app is 25 and under. Insurance, umm no. A new game release, or a cool gadget, something artsy, or otherwise fun or fashionable, might be worth the cost. Outstanding content is what will get you the best exposure no matter what you are selling. Plumbers are even posting videos.  

 We may well find that our target audience is on TikTok waiting for us to entertain them. So how do you market a business, product, or service in new uncharted cyberspace to mostly young lipsyncing, cosplaying, dancing, wannabee influencers with a penchant for dogs, cats, and little kids? Especially if you are going to do it organically?  

 As with anything new, there is a learning curve. First, we must explore; we must get a feel for this new platform and make it our own. A plan of action will have to created and fine-tuned. We, as Social Media Managers, must rethink the strategies we have used on other social media. We cannot be a brand with a personality, we must be a personality that has a brand. There will be trial and error. No doubt we will make some mistakes. We will have to create content that inspires. We must dig deeper into our creativity than we may have ever done. We will have to present our brand with honesty and a fair bit of wit, and also be willing to show our fun and humorous side without reservation. Then they will follow, share, create new content with our tags, and buy from us. 

The challenge is on.

Language Sensitivity Critical to Social Media Managers

Writers have love affairs with words. As a writer, I am fascinated by the words’ ability to inspire to unite and to enlighten. At the same time, I am distressed by their ability to horrify, to divide, to wound, to belittle and incite.

Working with social media, all of us need to be extremely sensitive to the power and limitations of the written word. Words in a post, in an article or presented through any of the numerous channels today, can convey
persuasive, passionate messages or perform almost irreversible harm and disseminate devastating misinformation. Even more troublesome is the fact that those same words—in spite of their intent—can be misinterpreted and change the reader’s perception of the sender. This is true for an individual, a small business, or a large corporation. So, here’s a question: How do words impact on a screen or on a page and what about the effects of a video?

What happens to those squiggly lines we propel through social media and print?

Words Have Power

A study many years ago purported that communication is only 7% verbal [for our purposes, this is the written word] and 93 percent non-verbal. This indicates that the written word itself is only a small part of the communication process. The results of the study also proposed that body language makes up 55% and the remaining 38% is conveyed through the tone of voice.

Although arguments since the study have pointed out that these percentages may not be totally accurate, there is a truth in the concept. One of the more recent arguments pointed out that this breakdown applies
only to emotional communication. Today, especially in social media messages, many which focus on the pandemic and racial inequality, most communications have strong emotional content. This is a result of
messages with heavy doses of opinion and selective information.

An important lesson here applies directly to all communication and particularly to social media, whether you take the percentages in that study as exact or approximations. When we read posts, look at memes and
consume other forms of digital communication, we are prone to misinterpret, especially in the current divisiveness of our culture. The same is true for the written word.

Another factor in misunderstanding is a lack of awareness about context. As we mature, we begin to learn that everyone has different perspectives. Although this becomes part of our self-awareness, the implications take longer to sink in. I am reminded of a quote attributed to Robert McCloskey, a U.S. State Department spokesperson.

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

When I came across this statement, I needed to read it again to understand its full meaning.

This pithy saying can help us contemplate what the effects of our communications may be. If you express something from your point of view and do not realize that I am hearing it from the sum of my experiences, you may think that you were clear in what you expressed. However, since my background is different than yours, your words may evoke an experience or memory that is contradictory to what you are saying. I may interpret your message in such a way as to reject it, hear it as confrontational or simply stop listening to you.

When we add the visual and auditory aspects of expression with our digital technology like Zoom™ and other tele-meeting platforms, these two factors—communication percentages and awareness of context—have a profound influence. I have seen and heard participants get caught up in contentious topics in online tele-meetings and become adversarial.

One recent example was a discussion about having a live event. The person organizing the event scoffed at the idea that there were significant risks. His viewpoint was motivated by the importance of keeping his
business thriving in the face of the extraordinary limitations all business people, especially those who rely on in-person events, are encountering. Another attendee sat quietly but others could see by the look on her face that this upset her. She had recently lost both parents to COVID-19 within a week. Even if the organizer had no intention of alienating other participants and may not have even recognized that he did, his connection was severed. This ended the other participant’s willingness to hear anything else he said both in that session and perhaps on future occasions. My empathy with her position changed my opinion of the person promoting the event and I will re-evaluate our future relationship.

I focused on him in the example, but this experience continues to be a vivid lesson for me. It reminds me of statements I have made that could have and probably did alienate people with views different from mine.
Fortunately, I have been more careful with my social media presence. I have shied away from expressing personal opinions on social platforms because I don’t believe that it is an effective way to change minds.

The original excitement for social media faded for me years ago with the politicization of posts. I have had to unfriend people on both sides of issues because, in their fervor, they have been rude and hateful. I’ve also
limited my consumption of social media and television news and opinion programs. Others around me have done the same. I decided not to participate and that saved countless hours of unproductive communications. This action also protects my social media clients. I prefer to use social media personally for more positive messages, specifically because of the second tenet of misunderstanding I described above.

These same challenges face our ability or inability to discuss racial inequalities. Many people express extreme views and are unwilling to listen to the other side. Some of the more radical expressions may have been necessary to bring this painful circumstance to our attention, however becoming entrenched in any perspective and refusing to consider anything contradictory prevents understanding. These entrenched views thwart any possibility of a compromise that might be acceptable to both sides.

During the protests in the 1960s, about Civil Rights, the Viet Nam War and other issues created a similar division. Only when more moderate views on both sides were expressed, did a path emerge where more people could work together. Only then did legislation and government action initiate the changes that followed.

I have heard the new generation of protesters argue that nothing came out of these previous actions, but the war ended, and minorities gained some rights (even though it did not bring about racial equality). Without the
understanding that ensued, there would not have been integrated schools, increased business opportunities and a greater awareness of minority contributions to America. We would have had many fewer Black and other minority filmmakers, actors, and more inclusive television shows. We would not have had as much awareness of the plight of minorities since that time.

I concede to these younger activists that much more could have been done. Granted that after the heightening of awareness, many in the majority culture returned to their previous, more personal focus, however, they were more aware. This awareness kept the coals simmering since so that when new protests were enflamed, the somewhat forgotten embers of the past were ignited and some from the older generation added their voices and support. Still, many others like what happened 50+ years ago, cling to what they are used to and what is comfortable. Now however even those people are seeing that the world will not be the same, if only because of the results of the virus and our attention to policing efforts.

What can we as social media managers do? Can we bring a new sensitivity about language and communication to bear? We are living through a time where it is easy to be overwhelmed, frightened and stressed. This is also a time where we may want to help, to contribute to solutions and to a path forward. We can change the world, but it has to begin within us, with a review of our attitudes and actions, and specifically our messaging.

It is our responsibility as social media managers to examine our intent and our clients’ intent in all communications. We must be clear and act with one of the promises in the Hippocratic oath, primum non nocere: “first, do no harm.” I now read my posts, emails and other communications one more time. I want to be sure to deliver the correct message in the clearest language. I pledge to watch my language and hope other social media managers will do the same.

~Written by Drew Becker

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

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

 

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.

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

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://smmcp.wpengine.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://smmcp.wpengine.com/blog/ and learn more about our Social Media Management Certificate Program at: http://smmcp.wpengine.com/

By Martin Brossman and Karen Tiede

Research by Mercedes Tabano II