Twitter as a News Source

Twitter as a News Source

With Gen Z-ers on the rise, strategies and tactics everywhere are adapting to how the generations work. One peculiar thing that sticks out to me, but I think is often overlooked about this generation, is the look to Twitter for news.

 

We know that traditional news sources have been on the decline for a while now: just look at traditional newspapers versus the internet and television. Since the major increase in internet popularity and use around, I would say the 2000s mark, the newspaper market has been steadily decreasing. Newspapers were forced to require online outlets of their publications in order to keep up with the flow of instantaneous (and in many cases free) flow of news and information happening. When smartphones hit the game about a decade later, things got even harder for traditional print.

 

However, another shift in the news source spectrum has occurred in recent years that I think gets overlooked: Twitter as a primary news source.

 

Twitter.com is an online social networking site that started in 2006, became one of the ten most visited sites in 2013, and currently has over 100 million monthly active users. While Twitter started as a social media site for people to share blurbs and thoughts in under 140 characters, it has since become a hub of information in all different ways…

 

When I personally start my day, I turn to Twitter first. Not only is it where I get a good laugh at jokes and see what my friends are up to, but I also get a pretty instantaneous look at current events and news. And under the umbrella of a now 280 character limit these blurbs are (at first) mostly just facts and not so much opinions.

 

Sure, traditional news source and media outlets have Twitter accounts that they use – and that’s definitely one of the ways Twitter helps in being a news source. But more than that, Twitter compiles “Moments” that are collections of tweets from news outlets and citizens that accumulate into one tweet slide show that highlights what is happening with a specific event or topic. And along these lines, Twitter is also a whole new way for citizen journalists to shine. While we all know citizen journalists have their pros and cons, they are still crucial to stories being told to the public.

 

A quick fact to throw in here: those who use Twitter may recall that in the Parkland, Florida shooting on February 14thof this year, students who were in the classrooms on lockdown took to Twitter almost immediately to share their experiences and update what was happening from their points of view. Furthermore, in the aftermath of the incident, students also took straight to Twitter to take a stand and plan a protest on the topic of gun control.

 

A similar instance happened in the 2013 Amtrak Metro North train derailment: citizens who were there took to Twitter to discuss their experiences. This kind of access to citizen journalists and the public is, in my opinion, vital to a news cycle.

 

Businesses even take to Twitter to announce big news – just take a look at IHOP’s recent bold move where they took to Twitter to announce their new rebranding: IHOb, International House of Burgers. Many other businesses also jumped on this media frenzy to throw in their two cents on the beloved chain’s brash name change. Whataburger Tweeted that they’d never change their name to “Whatapancake,” and Burger King even temporarily changed their name on Twitter to “Pancake King.” In fact, here’s a whole article on how multiple businesses clapped back at IHOb with jokes after their name change announcement.

 

So, next time you’re looking for news and want it in one place from all the major traditional outlets and some citizen journalists – give Twitter a try. While it may not be what everyone thinks of when they hear “news source,” it could be worth the shot!

IHOb - Marketing Stunt or Marketing Genius_

IHOb – Marketing Stunt or Marketing Genius?

In the past month, the media has been in a frenzy over something so simple… IHOP (International House of Pancakes) is changing their name to IHOb (International House of Burgers… Burgers?)

 

Before they revealed the inspiration behind their new name the company offered up a guessing game to see if people would guess what the new letter stood for. One of the most common answers was International House of Breakfast, which makes much more sense than burgers, and people were shocked to hear what the new letter stands for.

 

As a ridiculously brilliant marketing strategy, IHOP (or IHob…) took the media world by storm. Even other food chains are commenting on the name change, therefore bringing even more attention and press to IHOb.

 

 

All of these tweets and changes also made a huge break in the media therefore giving IHOb even more publicity.

 

Before anyone actually thinks this name change is happening, Forbes revealed that “shockingly, once we got the official word, it turned out to be merely a publicity stunt designed to highlight the chain’s new focus on meals other than breakfast.” As absurd as the internet is taking this name change, it is doing EXACTLY what it is supposed to be doing… generating buzz. Some people find the name chance comedic genius while one site even deemed this marketing strategy “a new wrinkle in the dystopian hellscape of viral marketing”. Ouch. But, just like all media, in about a weeks time nobody will even be talking about it anymore.

 

Forbes brings to attention to the essential concept of branding – a name is not the same thing as a brand. A name is what we call something. A brand is something different entirely—and far more meaningful.

 

“In an era when brands are spending millions or tens of millions of dollars to stand out from the crowd, what you’ve seen IHOP do is take a moment in time — a small event, the addition of a menu item — and made it a pop-culture event, that’s PR at its finest.”

– Carreen Winters, chairman of reputation and chief strategy officer at the public-relations agency MWWPR

 

Louise Pritchard of Pritchard Volk Consulting offers a more in-depth differentiation as she and her business partner discusses your brand story – your brand or brand story is not a marketing stunt or marketing materials, it is the essence of who your business is.

 

As far as marketing is concerned, IHOP’s recent name change is generating vast amounts of buzz. While the “burger” reveal left a lot of people confused, IHOP accomplished exactly what they were after: drawing attention to an increasingly popular non-breakfast item that’s always been on their menu.  says that “time will tell is the stunt will actually translate to sales, but there is absolutely no denying that, in theory, the campaign was incredibly successful. Consumer conversations show that IHOP popularity has skyrocketed since the announcement, turning the brand into a trending topic.” IHOP posted the announcement of the name change on Twitter, and even went further to include a quiz prompting users to guess “what could it b?” Various interpretations were presented, and IHOP even bantered with celebritiespro sports teams and news outlets, saying things like, “the blot thickens.”

 

While yes, IHOP will not actually be changing their name to IHOb and it was all simply a marketing troll – it was clever, it generated a lot of buzz for the company, and judging by the influx of IHOP being mentioned in media, it worked.

 

Balancing Life as a Mompreneur

Balancing Life as a Mompreneur

Many women have the same struggle as I – balance owning a business with being a mom (not to discriminate, this can apply to dads too!).

We feel pulled towards giving 150% to our businesses while having children that need us to care for them, take them to school, dance, sports, etc.

#thestruggleisreal

My daughters are 9 and 13, and I am now the “mom Uber” going from school to dance four days a week (and multiple times each day) to church, all week long. I’m not complaining – I have looked forward to this since they were babies. However when they were born I never imagined owning my own business. The freedom and flexibility of owning my own business is something I won’t ever leave. I love being able to still be a mom and a business owner.

During the school year, it’s easy – work while they are in school, and while they do homework, and maybe a little after bedtime. The summer is something different. We have a slew of things on the schedule for the summer – VBS at church, dance camp, church camps, a trip to the beach, a trip to Texas – wow, I’m already tired just typing all of that! Working from a home office, I am fortunate that I can do more than some 9-to-5 office moms can do (props to them and how they fit in all in too!).

But all boils down to balance.

Let’s get something straight – there is no such thing as work/life balance. It’s a myth. Life is all about balancing and managing what season of life you are in and this is an ever-evolving thing. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.

Here are some things I do to balance owning a business and being a parent, and maybe one or a few of these will help you!

Set a schedule.

This is very important. Know when you are going to work, and when you are going to put on the parent hat. This could be different every day of the week – and in the summer. Set the tone with your children so they know when mom (or dad) will be working. I will admit, there are times that I cannot do it all, so there are friends and babysitters that pitch in. It’s okay to admit that you have help. We’re not Superwoman (or Superman).

Set expectations – for both your clients and your kids.

If you are going to be on summer vacation or having to work different hours because of school activities, let your clients know.  Be upfront about it – they need to know when they can contact you. Also, tell your kids what you expect from them during school breaks, after school, and the summer. With your schedule, tell them when you need to be left alone (if they are older) for a period of time each day or what you expect of them if you have a conference call. They need to know that even though you are home, you still have a job.

It’s okay to bribe every now and then.

I do this more than I care to admit. We have a pool & waterpark we like to go to in the summer. I tell my girls, during the summer, if they let me get my work done, then we can go to the pool that afternoon. This especially comes in handy if I have a big conference call. The reality is that sometime we do what we have to do to get it done. It’s easier during the school year because they are gone from 8am-3pm, but if I am chaperoning a school trip, expectations need to be in place.

Enjoy the time.

Yes it may get crazy working with kids around, but your kids are only kids for so long. If you need to take a day and just be a mom (or dad), do it and don’t feel guilty. Next year your kids will be a year older and may not want mom or dad around, so soak it up as long as you can! Chaperone school trips, go to honors day and school parties, take a mental health day and go to the beach. Make sure to spend quality time with them. It’s so hard to believe how fast my girls have grown up in the seven years I have had ME Marketing Services. Blink and they will be all grown!

 

How do you find balance and manage it all? Share what you do so we can all learn from each other!

 

 

 

Why Not Everyone Succeeds in Social Media Marketing

Why Not Everyone Succeeds in Social Media Marketing

Social media (and digital) marketers are a dime a dozen.

 

They’re everywhere and many people think they can aptly manage a business’ social media accounts with no prior marketing experience whatsoever.

 

About 75% of the social marketers I got to know when I started my business seven years ago are no longer doing social media/digital marketing. Some were given other opportunities, and some just couldn’t cut it.

 

I hate to see businesses fail and people give up. I know how much time, energy, love and money go into running a business. However, there are some who just are not cut out to be business owners in any arena.

 

Harsh, but true.

 

But let’s circle back to area of social media marketing. This is an area of marketing that takes a lot of time – you have to dedicate time to always staying up-to-date with the latest changes (and there have been TONS in 2018 alone), what platforms people are using, and various ways to integrate into the overall business plan.

 

Some are good at it and some are just trying to keep their head above water. So, why is that? Here are five reasons social media marketers do not succeed – hopefully we can take these reasons and use them to show us how to succeed.

They do not take the time to educate themselves and fall behind.

Social media is ALWAYS changing (think Facebook this year alone!) and it is a lot to keep up with. If you are not dedicated to staying up on the latest trends, TOS (Terms of Service) changes and new features, you can bet your competitor is and they will take advantage of that. If you follow any of the big names in social media, you will see how they keep up with everything. Now, they may have a team that does it for them, but they do know what is going on.

 

Here are some great resources I use to make sure you stay on top of it:

 

They have no marketing or sales background/experience.

Okay, I know I’ll take some heat with that statement, but not everyone is a born marketer. I know people who have decided to start handling social media for businesses because they REALLY love to post on Facebook or Instagram. Next thing you know, they hit the streets running with no idea what they are doing or any sense of what marketing really is. Their graphics and captions are full of misspellings and grammatical errors. Out there in the world, I’m sure there are successful people in this industry with no marketing experience, but let’s admit it, that’s not common. Who I’m referring to are people who have no idea what to do in a sales call or that social media marketing is more than just posting to social accounts.

 

They could never figure out who their target market was.

This is something a lot of business owners struggle within this industry. Do you want to serve everyone or one particular niche? Many just float along until they just give up or get fed up. This is why you need to have a social media strategy and define your ‘why’ and ‘how’. Doing just those two simple things will set you on the track to success.

 

Something better came along.

This is the scenario that fits most. A better job offer came along and they completely abandoned what they were doing (including leaving clients high and dry). Who can argue with more money and a stable paycheck because, let’s face it, when you own your own business, there is no such thing as a steady paycheck.

 

Poor client management/relationship skills.

This, unfortunately, I’ve seen first hand from clients coming to me because they were unhappy with who they were currently working with. I can guarantee just about everyone working in the social media marketing world has had this happen to them – you get an inquiry from someone who is unhappy with their current social media marketing company – or marketing company handling this as a part of an overall marketing package. Communication skills are VERY important in this field. No communication skills = no clients.

 

To avoid this, stay in constant contact with your clients. Ask them what you could be doing better. Getting continual feedback from your clients will not only strengthen your relationship with them, but you will be killing it in the customer service area.

 

There are many reasons and circumstances that would keep someone from making it in this field. The five reasons listed above can actually be applied to more than just the social media marketing industry. I do truly wish all business owners the best and want everyone to succeed.

 

Why do you think people either don’t make it in marketing – or simply give up? I’d love to get your feedback!

 

The Struggles with Being “You” in Your Business

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.”  – Steve Maraboli.

 

Easy enough, right?

 

A while back I wrote about how to be more “you” in your business. Now that you’ve found a way, I imagine you might be finding an element of struggle with it. Being yourself in your business is not an easy task. There are roadblocks you are going to come up on and unpleasant discussions will creep up fast. Despite any bad there may be in being yourself, nothing can trump the feeling that comes with knowing who you are, knowing you are being genuine, honest and authentic in your business. There are four struggles I see with being “you’ in your business –

Struggle #1 – Will I be taken seriously?

This is something all business professionals deal with. Depending on the industry you work it, if you’re too rigid, then you’re a <expletive>. If you’re too fun or out-going, you’re seen as a flake. What you need to do is look at who you are. Don’t force yourself to be someone you’re not – you will only end up miserable. Do keep in mind your workplace – you want to be taken seriously, so you still need to conduct yourself in a professional manner, but you can do that and still be yourself by –

  • Being honest – don’t EVER lie.
  • Have fun, but still be serious and get the work done.
  • Respect those in authority positions. Don’t treat your boss like he’s your drinking buddy (even if he/she is after hours).

 

Struggle #2 – Will it be seen as “bad marketing” and hurt my brand?

There are some individual brands (think: celebrities) that attempt to “be themselves” to the point you can see right through the publicity stunt. Being yourself will only attract the ones you want to work with and deter the ones you don’t want. If you are genuine, people will see that and work with you because of it. Rarely is being yourself seen as “bad marketing.”

 

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”  – Bernard M. Baruch

 

To keep being yourself and not have it backfire or hurt you, keep these things in mind –

  • Be tactful.
  • Be conscious of who you are and what you represent. Don’t ever waver from your core beliefs.
  • Watch your language. You can still be yourself without using cliches and foul language.

 

My friend Brooke Ballard of B Squared Media wrote a great post about when being yourself could be seen as “bad marketing.” I suggest you check it out.

 

Struggle #3 – Will people find me offensive?

This is something I struggle with personally. There are things I want to say or discuss publicly, but I won’t because I know I’ll offend people. Petty, yes, but you do not want to alienate your community. You can still be yourself and interject your thoughts and beliefs without offending people.

 

A typical cop-out is when someone says “I don’t mean to offend, but…” Almost always an offensive sentence follows. Don’t post that. Ever. I’ll be honest – when you are yourself, you will offend someone. It’s going to happen, but how you react says a lot about you as well. Don’t apologize for standing up for your beliefs (whether it’s political, religious, parenting-related, etc.), just recognize that sometimes people just have to agree to disagree. I’m not going to touch on offending someone by posting slurs and other slanderous statements. There simply is no place for that online or really, anywhere.

 

“Never complain, never explain. Resist the temptation to defend yourself or make excuses.”  – Brian Tracy

Struggle #4 – How do I keep from crossing the line of “too much”?

We’ve all seen the celebrities and athletes who share pictures that probably shouldn’t be shared, in the name of personal branding. Being online, there’s a temptation to reveal all. You shouldn’t, not because of bad business, but because of personal safety. It’s risky putting yourself out there – however rely on your instincts when it comes to being yourself. You’ll know what feels right and what doesn’t.

 

To keep from crossing the line, do the following –

  • Ask yourself if the post helps to further your business.
  • Ask yourself if your grandma would be okay with it.
  • Sense what your gut is telling you – are you leery about posting it? If you feel the slightest off about it, don’t post it.

 

It’s tricky to be yourself in your business. I see it as walking a tightrope – you have to be open, yet guarded. Open-minded but not abandoning your beliefs. I think I’m doing a fairly good job at it, how about you? What do you struggle with in being yourself in your business?

Why You Need to be Vigilant About Social Media and Your Kids

Why You Need to be Vigilant About Social Media and Your Kids

What would you do if you knew your teenage son or daughter was sending nude photos of themselves to teens of the opposite sex? What if those photos were posted to Snapchat or Instagram?

 

If you’re like me, you would be absolutely furious and enraged.

 

But this is happening each and every day in small towns, large cities, public schools, private schools, and yes, even Christian schools.

 

You think you raise your children right, teaching them right from wrong, but once they get a smartphone and social media in their hands… well, sometimes what you teach them fades into the background in favor of acceptance and validation.

 

Four years ago I wrote an article about how withholding social media from your children does not make you a bad parent. I thought it was time to revisit the topic of children/teens and social media.

 

My oldest daughter is 13. She has Snapchat and Instagram. However, we set the passwords and she has to leave her phone available for us to check it spontaneously whenever we want. That was the deal. I can log in to her social accounts on my phone and see what’s going on. So far, so good.

 

However not all parents are vigilant like that. They give their kids smartphones and let them open social media accounts and never take a second look. Many of the girls in my daughter’s seventh grade class have ‘Finstas’. Not familiar with Finstas? They are fake Instagram accounts where they hide their identities and post horrible, derogatory things about their classmates – or posts that are inappropriate for their public-facing accounts. They are selective in who they let follow them because of what they post. And their parents have no clue.

 

Snapchat isn’t any better. I will say the majority of what they do is send daily streak snaps to keep days-long streaks going with their friends. Many of these are a blank screen with the word ‘streaks’. However, what gets sent via group snaps and individual snaps cannot be seen by the general public. That is where a lot of this takes place.

 

Why is all of this happening? Why are kids acting like wild college kids on social media? To put it simply – they have parents that are not checking behind them. They are not being held accountable to their actions. Parents want them to fit in so badly, that they let them do what they want on social media with no recourse.

 

Do they realize that some of things they post can get them suspended from school? Or hurt their chances of getting into college? Or even a job?

 

No.

 

Why is that? Parents are not educating themselves and their kids about the dangers of social media. My daughters are out of luck there. With a mom who owns a digital marketing company and a dad that is a Prosecuting Attorney for the state… let’s just say their every move is watched.

 

According an article from the New York Times last year titled The Secret Social Media Lives of Teenagers, “Even though 86 percent of teens say they’ve received general advice around online use from their parents, researchers at Common Sense Media found that 30 percent of teens who are online believe their parents know “a little” or “nothing” about what social media apps and sites they use. And yet, teens still say that their parents have the biggest influence on determining what is appropriate and inappropriate online.”

 

If parents would take the time to educate themselves on social media and the potential danger it can bring, most of what’s going on with children and teens on social media wouldn’t be happening. Parents are not being vigilant enough. These are our precious children and we should protect – and educate – them as long as we can.

 

Being vigilant may look like we are being nosy or being a helicopter parent, but if we are not monitoring their social actions, no one is. Here are five reasons you need to vigilant:

 

  1. You are protecting them from strangers and others who are out there to prey on our sons and daughters. Even with all the internet-nanny programs and account restrictions, that still wouldn’t stop a predator from seeking out your child. If you want to know if this really happens, I can let you talk to my husband. He’s prosecuted many cases over the years where the under-age victim was lured via social media. Just because that Instagram account says they are a 15 year-old from a high school in the next town over, it doesn’t mean they really are.

 

  1. You are protecting them from cyber-bullying. Being a teenager is hard enough without the technology, they don’t need the burden of the online bullying to hurt their still-building self-esteem. Our kids need to find their self-esteem and validation from their parents, their church, and healthy friendships. Not social media.

 

  1. They post content without thinking. Some of this content may hurt them (or haunt them) on down the road and/or hurt a friend’s feelings. Children and teens (and even some 20-somethings) are not mature enough to understand the long-term ramifications of posting hurtful content and inappropriate pictures.

 

  1. Social media can wait – it’s not going away anytime soon. Kids are only kids for so long. Let them be that. Let 9 year-olds ride around on bikes. Let 12 year-old boys play baseball or football. Encourage your kids to be active and social – without an electronic device. Remember back to when you were their age.

 

  1. Not using social media to communicate at this age allows them to be taught the proper way to carry a conversation with others. I know teens (and college kids) who could use a lesson in that. With a generation that is texting the person next to them instead of talking or Snapchatting pictures instead of enjoying an event, the lesson of how to hold a proper conversation is being lost. Not to mention their writing. I cannot count the number of times I have told my daughter that “k” or “ik” (that’s “okay” and “I know”) is never an acceptable way to respond to a text message from me or anyone else.

 

A study from Common Sense Media found teenagers (ages 13-18) use an average of nine hours of entertainment media per day and that tweens (ages 8-12) use an average of six hours a day, not including time spent using media for school or homework.

 

The world is a scarier place now than when we were all kids in the 70’s, 80’s, or even the early 90’s. The amount of information and the immediacy of communication at their fingertips is outright frightening.

 

But if we as parents are vigilant about our children and their technology – checking their text messages, checking their social accounts (that means logging in, not looking at what’s public), we can help our children navigate this and make it a more positive experience.

 

What are your thoughts/experience with this?

 

Is Now the Time to Rethink Facebook?

Is Now the Time to Rethink Facebook?

I probably shouldn’t confess this in public, much less put it in writing, but I hate Facebook. If I didn’t have my business, I wouldn’t be on it.

 

Why, when I built a business around it, you ask?

 

Despite the fact everyone is on it and businesses can benefit from that, Facebook is a place full of fake news, people portraying lives they do not live, ridiculous fluff posts, oversharing that goes beyond the boundaries of TMI (too much information)… I could go on.

 

Facebook is a wonderful tool for businesses to take advantage of to reach their target audience – that’s what I enjoy using it for. Helping businesses connect with people.

 

However I am starting to rethink the whole premise of that in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica breach. It’s all over the news, so I am not going to rehash all the details here, but in a nutshell, an analytics company got their hands on data from over 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge or permission and used it to influence the 2016 US election.

 

Your information. My information. Your mom’s information. Your child’s information (if they are on Facebook). And it was all exploited to create highly-targeted ads to serve certain purposes.

 

So let’s see, in the past two years Facebook has been overrun by fake news, Russian trolls have run millions of dollars of ads to allegedly influence politics, people were allowed to run ads that targeted racist groups, and now a massive data breach.

 

As a marketer, we naturally encourage Facebook because that’s where the people are. Is it time for us to rethink that? Is it time to take a hard look at the marketing strategies we are putting in place for not only our businesses, but for our clients, and use a strategy that does not involve Facebook?

 

Blasphemous, I know, but I think the day is coming where we will have to consider social marketing options that do not include Facebook. I’m already exploring other options with my own clients.

 

Facebook use is down for the first time ever. In my honest opinion, it’s about time. Social media addiction is real and Facebook is the culprit.

 

When working with businesses, Facebook is always the first platform we look at and go to. Why? It’s the biggest and it’s because it is where everyone is. And it’s where the most data is available to run highly-targeted ads. Why is that? Let’s think on that a minute.

 

Think about all the information you put on your profile.

All the pages you like.

All the meaningless quizzes you click on and take.

 

All of that collects data about you. And that data goes back to Facebook to allow us to create those targeted ads.

 

Scary on the personal side, amazing on the business side. That’s how I describe it.

 

In light of the data breach, can you really trust a company that allows that to happen? A company that’s so focused on making money it has a real internal struggle going on. Sandy Paralikas, a former Facebook employee who worked there enforcing privacy and other rules was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “The people whose job is to protect the user always are fighting an uphill battle against the people whose job it is to make money for the company.

 

Really? Making more money is more important than protecting information. Internally, Facebook is a hot mess. My friend and mentor Mark Schaefer had a great suggestion on how they can clean it up – go private. Everything that has ever gone wrong with Facebook all started when they went public and started having shareholders to answer to. As much as I do not like Facebook, I think this may be the right – and smart – move. They need to right the ship or they will sink, and sink fast and hard.

 

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg finally responded to the data breach. You can read his statement below.

 

And then later that same night (March 21), Zuckerberg went on-air on CNN and apologized for the breach, saying, “”This was a major breach of trust, and I’m really sorry that this happened,” Zuckerberg said. “We have a basic responsibility to protect peoples’ data.”

 

Is his response too little too late? Or just another Facebook bandaid?

 

Personal feelings aside, I put the best interests of my clients first and if it’s in their best interest to market on Facebook, then that’s what we do. The day may be coming when everyone may have to branch out and away from Facebook and we need to be ready.

 

In the meantime, if you are not already diversifying your social media marketing strategy and using other platforms, this is the time to start. Look at where else your target audience is and start working on your presence there. You should never solely rely on one platform.

 

Will this data breach affect your Facebook activity or any strategy for your business?

 

If you want another great read on this topic, check out Mike Alton’s post on The Social Media Hat.

Adapt Your Social Media Marketing or Fail

Adapt Your Social Media Marketing or Fail

Social media marketing is changing.

 

The way you post, what you post, who you target – the who, what, when, wheres – it’s all changing. If you’re not adapting how you use social media to market your business, you’re going to fail. And fail bad.

 

In the past year, here’s what we’ve seen:

 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg folks.

 

In the beginning – way back in the early 2000’s – you could just post whatever you wanted on social media and people would see. Much like the movie Field of Dreams, where the main character was told, “if you build it, he will come.” And he built it, and he came. Now that was dealing with a baseball diamond, the Black Sox, and a dad, but the theory is the same. You could post on social media and people would see it, and theoretically, come to your page/store/website. There was no algorithm dictating who saw what.

 

Fast forward to 2018 and the landscape is vastly different. Everything is methodical. Everything is done purposefully. There is a science and a psychology behind social media marketing – and it’s changing.

 

People do not want to see sales pitches. They want to see content that matters and relates to them.

 

People do not want to see fluff (think of all of those stupid videos and gag-tastic memes/quotes/graphics in your feed). They want to see meat – content with substance.

 

People do not want to have their time wasted by a business posting meaningless “Share this to win a $25 gift card!” posts and their feed cluttered by 25 friends sharing it – which, by the way, is AGAINST FACEBOOK RULES TO DO. People want to see authentic content.

 

What are you posting online? What’s on your Facebook page right now? Instagram? Twitter? LinkedIn?

 

Put yourself in your follower’s shoes. Are you posting something that would make you stop and read it, or just scroll on by. Think about that for awhile and think about that when you post next.

 

Social media marketing is going through an evolution right now. It came on the scene, people exploited it, everyone became an “expert” on using it as a marketing tool (when very few are legitimately versed in it), and now as the tide is changing, everything is being sifted out. The fluff content is getting penalized on Facebook. The fake experts are being called out. Social media marketing is changing.

 

But how?

 

It’s all coming back to the nuts and bolts of what I call marketing 101. Relationship-building. And it’s not a one-way street. You have to be active and respond to everyone. Let me type that again – you have to be active and respond to everyone.

 

People have said they want meaningful, accurate, authentic, and informative content. Adapt your content as such. Stop the fluff. Post the content that will draw them in, make them act. Reach out like the human being you are and build a relationship through social media with your community. Use social media as the communication tool, like the telephone.

 

People want more personalized experiences, especially in retail (read more about it here). Use social media to tailor the experience they have with you to them. Feature customers. Congratulate customers.

 

AT&T way back in the day had an advertising phrase – “Reach out and touch someone.” Apply that to your social media marketing. Reach out to your followers and touch them. Create an emotional connection that will turn them into life-long customers. It’s all about the relationship.

 

Social media marketing is going to be like Darwin’s theory of evolution – the strongest will survive and those who adapt with outlive the rest.

 

So how are you going to adapt?

How to Determine Success in Your Social Media Marketing Efforts

How to Determine Success in Your Social Media Marketing Efforts

I’m going start with a statement you may not agreement with – your success when using social media for your business is not always going to translate into dollars and cents.

 

Yes, your return on your social media marketing will not always be money.

 

Let that sink in. If you think you are going to make thousands of dollars for your business by using social media to market it, you are wrong. The chances are very high that you won’t make anything – in terms of dollars and cents.

 

What you determine your return for using social media to market your business is is determined by what you define your ultimate end goal as being when you write your social media strategy. Your social media strategy should include WHY you are using social media for your business and WHAT YOUR END GOAL IS of those efforts.

 

Your end goal in using social media could be any of the following:

  • Increased brand awareness (this is the most popular reason businesses are using social media, BTW)
  • Building an online community
  • Generate Leads
  • Sales

 

Your success on social media will be determined on what that end goal is, compared to the results of your social media marketing efforts.

 

However, businesses are sorely lacking in actually measuring their social media marketing efforts. Many will post and never look back to analyze what worked and what didn’t, and what they can do better or different.

 

Measuring your social media efforts is different than measuring ROI on something tangible, say an expo event or a speaking engagement. When you look at ROI, you are looking at a return on your investment, and that almost always relates to money. Measuring success in social media marketing takes looking at many different factors and bringing them together like pieces of a puzzle. Some are easy to track, some are a bit harder.

 

Mark Schaefer wrote the book Social Media Explained a few years ago and in Chapter 6 he goes into explaining why you have to measure your social marketing efforts and activities. There were 4 points he made:

 

  • There is an implied value to everything.
  • If we are expending human effort, it should be justified.
  • If you’re not measuring, how do you know you are making progress?
  • There is no excuse not to measure.

 

I’d like to call your attention to numbers 3 & 4. First of all, I want to say AMEN to number 3. Seriously, if you’re not measuring what you are doing, how do you know if it is working at all? As for number 4, if you are given an excuse as to why you can’t measure what you are doing, well, that’s just a cop out.

 

Mark also points out in the book that not all ROI (success) is quantitative – some is qualitative. There are some elements you can measure but you can’t put a dollar value on it.

 

Let me share with you what I consider to be measures of success in social media marketing (and these are in no particular order).

 

Social Media Marketing Effort Benchmarks

  • Community Growth
    • Did you see an increase in the number of people in your community? Was there a decline? Why?
  • Engagement Levels
    • Did you provide quality content that inspired likes, comments, shares, retweets, pins, etc.? If so, you would measure that a positive, if not, figure out what didn’t work and try again.
  • Offer Redemptions
    • Did you post an offer for our community? How many people redeemed it? Did you receive any leads from it?
  • Contest Entries
    • Did your contest entries provide you with any leads or sales? Did it attribute to any community growth?
  • Clicks
    • How many people clicked through your content? It could have been a picture, link, ad, contest, etc. Did you see an increase in your click-thru rate over last month? NOTE: Make sure to check your Google Analytics as well on this one!
  • Overall Sales
    • How did you overall sales look compared to the amount of time you spent on social media marketing? Can you attribute any sales increases or decreases to your efforts?
  • Conversions (tracking pixels for ads)
    • Did you track any website conversions from LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook ads? If so, was there an increase or decrease over the past month. NOTE: Check your Google Analytics too.
  • Subscribers
    • Did you see an increase or decrease in your email or app subscriber base? Was any of that a result of your social media marketing efforts?

 

As you can see, more than just how much money you made can go into figuring out if your social media efforts were successful. What you want to look for are positive increases each month, no matter how small those increases are.

 

Using social media to market your business is ultimately about relationship-building, building that trust and loyalty with your fanbase. The sales will come from that, sometimes sooner rather than later. But remember, you have to have a purpose in every action you take on social media – and remember your end goal at the same time.

 

So please share with me, how do you measure success in your or your clients’ social media marketing efforts?

 

7 Social Media Questions I Always Get Asked, Answered

7 Social Media Questions I Always Get Asked, Answered

I get bombarded with questions about social media all the time. In Walmart. The school pick-up line. Church. Social media is what I’m known for.

 

Last month, a good friend of mine in the business did a round-up of the top social media questions she gets asked and posted them on her blog, so in the spirit of share, and share alike, I thought I would do the same. The timing is quite fitting. I recently led a workshop with my good friend Louise Pritchard of Pritchard Volk Consulting on Branding and Social Media Strategy for The Southern C Summit and many of these same questions came up again. They are common questions, which means that business owners are still learning how to effectively use social media in marketing their business.

 

Before I dig into these questions and give you my answers, let me preface it all with this. This is simply the advice I give based off of over 16 years of overall marketing (and advertising) experience, including almost 7 years of that working solely in social media and digital marketing. There is good advice and there is bad advice. I mean, really, really, really bad advice. There are social media consultants out there that prey on inexperienced business owners like ambulance-chasing attorneys prey on victims. They take advantage of that business owner’s inexperience in this arena and lead them to practices that are just wrong, and sometimes against the rules. My company, and myself, pride ourselves on being one of those who follow the rules to the very end, so know the advice we give comes from experience and research 🙂

 

So let’s take a look at the most popular social media questions asked, and the advice we give {for free!}:

 

What social media platforms should I be posting on?

Before you decide what platforms you are going to use, you have to answer three questions –

 

  • WHY am I using social media in the first place?
  • WHO am I targeting?
  • WHAT is my end goal?

 

Let me explain. You have to know why you are using social media to market your business online – everything you do has to come back to that. After you know why, you have to know who you are targeting. This is very, very important. You will only use the platform(s) that your target audience is using. Let me repeat that. You will only use the platform(s) your target audience is using. You will rarely, if ever, use every single one. Once you know your target audience, you will essentially answer the question, BUT, you have to know what your ultimate end goal is for using social media. That will also play a role in what platform(s) you are using.

 

Example: You are women’s retail boutique that wants to target women ages 30-45 who like trendy clothing. After looking into the demographics of the platforms, you’ll see that the majority of that audience are using Instagram first, then Facebook, followed by Pinterest. So you choose to start with Instagram and Facebook.

 

Here is what Buffer found in their State of Social 2018 that most businesses were using (and keep in mind, this is an overall average – you need to do what is best for your business and your target audience):

Source: Buffer

 

How much should I post on social media?

Posting on social media requires a careful balance. You do not want to post too much, but you don’t want to hardly post at all. There is research to support both. The amount you post is ultimately up to you. Based on my years of experience, this is my recommendation:

 

Facebook & LinkedIn Company Pages: Minimum 5 times/week

Instagram: Minimum Daily

Twitter: Minimum 3-5 tweets/day

Pinterest: Minimum 3 pins/day

 

Your posting frequency will be determined by your goal and “why” statement in your social media strategy. You want to make sure you are posting enough to satisfy your goal in why you are using social media.

 

People have said Facebook is dead and not worth posting on anymore, is that true?

Honestly, I so badly want to eye roll when people ask me this. With all of the fake news and viral Facebook doomsday posts that go around several times per year, no wonder people think this. Facebook is not dead. People of ALL AGES are still using this (including teenages and college kids!) and the daily active users count is growing (see chart below). There are over 3 BILLION people on Facebook. If you want to reach your target audience, you are going to have to do something on Facebook – and more than likely it’s in the form of a Facebook ad. As seen below, Facebook is still the leading platform of choice for social media marketing.

 

 

How much should I expect to spend on Facebook ads since that is the only way to be seen?

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way – if you are going to use social media (and Facebook) to market your business, you are going to have to run Facebook ads. To make this point, when Buffer presented their State of Social 2018, they found that businesses that have invested in social media ads are more than twice as likely to report that social media marketing is “very effective”.

 

Source: Buffer

 

Back to the question on hand. Facebook ads can be run for a minimum of $1-$20 per day depending on what your objective is. You can get more detailed information in my Facebook ads primer here, but what I would suggest for most small businesses is to expect to spend $2-$3 per day minimum for brand awareness ads and $5 per day minimum for traffic ads. At those amounts, you will see quantifiable results.

 

How can I get more Instagram followers?

I feel like this is the $50 million question. Of course, there are (illegal) shortcuts such as buying followers and gaming the system, i.e. following people then immediately unfollowing them as soon as they follow back, however, I do NOT suggest either of those.

 

Growing your Instagram following is hard. And that is the 100% honest truth. You will fight tooth and nail for every single one of your followers, but they will be authentic, engaged followers. So how do you get them?

 

  1. Follow those accounts (both business and personal) of people you know and people that are relevant to your business and that interest you. Not everyone will follow back – and that is okay.
  2. Use hashtags in your posts and follow hashtags that are applicable to your business. A lot of posts and accounts are found from hashtags (and you can see in the insights on each post if people came to that post from a hashtag).
  3. Engage with people and hashtags! The more you engage with people and hashtags you follow (and don’t follow), the more exposure your account will get and over time, your account will grow.

 

Do not get tied up in the vanity number of how many are following you. In the age of people buying followers, it’s hard to know of the millions of Kim Kardashian’s how many are actual human beings. Focus on quality posts and engaging and things will be fine. You can start off by following and engaging with us on Instagram (shameless plug, I know!).

 

How do I manage my time doing my own social media and still run my business?

Time management is always a sticky subject. You could literally spend all day doing nothing but social media for your business. But that’s not why you have your business. Using social media to market it is just one teeny tiny part. This was a question that came up in my workshop and here are three tips I gave that will help:

  • Set aside a specific time to bulk create your content. This could be one day each month or a few hours at the start of the week. Use this time to create as much content as possible to spread out and use for as long as you can.
  • Schedule Posts as often as far out as you can. Set aside time each week to schedule your posts for that week or one day each month to schedule out standard posts for the month so you have something out there. Just keep in mind your ‘WHY’ statement from your strategy. You have to have purpose in everything you post. At ME Marketing, we work a month in advance for all of our clients.
  • If doing this yourself, set aside time each day to dedicate to nothing but your social media. Be diligent about this time. Use it to respond, post, engage. Be focused and purposeful. This could the first 45 minutes of the day or an hour mid-day.

 

What tools are out there to help me manage my social media?

There are many tools out there to help you manage your social media. The programs range from free to paid, based on the number of platforms you use and features you need. We are partners with Sprout Social, so that’s our go-to and first choice (and they offer a FREE 30-day trial!). These programs allow you to schedule posts, respond to posts, view analytics, monitor your reputation – and more. Other choices out there include Buffer, Hootsuite, and CoSchedule. Like I preface anything, you have to choose what works best for you and your business.

 

Of course, I get asked all sorts of questions, but these seven are the ones that have come up the most over the past year.

 

Social media is fluid. It changes all the time. What works today, may not work tomorrow. And isn’t working today, may work next week. If you are managing your business’ social media yourself, please make sure to educate yourself from reliable sources so you know that you are doing things right (see list below). If you need help, you are always welcome to contact us and let’s talk!

 

Here are some reliable, vetted sources that we suggest to follow for good advice, other than this blog of course 😉 :

 

We’re curious… what social media questions do you have?

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