Social Media

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Don’t Let Be Scared!

What scares you?

Is it not getting any “likes” on a post? Setting up an event page and seeing zero RSVPs? Pressing send on an email?

OOOooo—that IS scary!

As social media managers and marketers, we’re constantly putting ourselves out there.

The internet is like a haunted house. Behind every link and app, there are unexpected tricks and treats. As a result, we may be delighted or we may be disappointed.

But isn’t that outlook a bit bleak? Sure, there’s always a bit of stage fright associated with performing for a crowd—online and in real life.

When we plan ahead and strategize, taking risks becomes a lot less scary.

If you’re worried about being haunted by a mistake, the best solution is to take action. You can connect with fellow marketers and communicators whose work you admire. Ask their advice. Remember, LinkedIn, email, and Twitter aren’t just for your business. They can also help you build personal connections.

We’ve all been nervous at one point or another. That’s a good thing.

It means we’re stretching ourselves. Having an online presence is a powerful thing. We should take our roles and the opportunity to connect with others seriously.

Keeping up with news and events takes the mystery out of a frequently changing industry. When we follow new marketing developments and learn about different strategies, we arm ourselves with the information that can help us succeed. Consider signing up for an industry newsletter, setting a Google alert, or following a trusted industry news site on Twitter.

Perhaps you like the thrills of working in communications and marketing. A lot of us do! If you encounter an obstacle, don’t run away at the first sign of trouble.

When we plan ahead, work together, and take time to be creative, we can tackle any fear.

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Break Down Social Media Goals

Quote overtop of background featuring dramatic photo of lightbulb: "Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it's about deliberately choosing to be different."
Michael Porter

When we break down a task, we make our success more attainable.

Embarking on a social media journey can feel overwhelming. From building a following to monitoring trends, you may think you don’t have time. But the virtual side of your business can be just as important as daily operations.

That’s why building a strategy is so important.

Who is your audience? Knowing who you need and want to reach will help inform all your social media decisions. Starting with research, and channeling that research into making personas, will allow you to decide where to focus your efforts.

If you know your audience, you know if they are on Facebook or Yelp, Pinterest or Twitter. Make choices that will help your brand stand out. It’s okay to invest your time and money into the social platform that will be most beneficial to you.

How often do you want to reach them? Setting guidelines around how often to post on which channel will help you manage your time. Additionally, creating goals of how many followers you’d like to have by a certain point will ensure you know if you are on track.

Remember, it’s also important to create a timeline for yourself. Check in and see how your goals are measuring up. Metrics might change or you might realize you were overambitious. If you need to adjust your goals to be more realistic, that’s a normal part of the social media strategy process. Keep checking in.

Is your community engaged and empowered? When you join social media, you are joining a community. Online, we are truly all in it together. Not only can you break down your tasks to help reach goals, but you can call on others to help.

It’s an engaged community that makes for a strong social presence. Empower your employees with social media guidelines so they know how to participate. Encourage your followers to submit user-generated content. Engage with fans by replying to posts.

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Have Fun with Gamification

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Let’s play a game.

From Foursquare to Uber, gamification has become an accepted part of how people interact with companies. By reorganizing everyday activities into a game, consumers can engage with a brand in a fun and memorable way.

Whether grocery shopping or working out, a bit of competition and the chance for reward encourages people to forge a deeper connection to a task or company. In fact, people might not even think about it. As a result, it becomes a seamless part of your business experience.

The idea behind gamification is to take use various proven elements of games to motivate greater involvement. It can be used to encourage desired behaviors in individuals, whether they be customers, employees, or students. […] It is a motivational tactic that taps into our competitive spirit and drive to succeed by fostering competition and offering convenient milestones.

The Origins and Future of Gamification by Gerald Christians, University of South Carolina

However, you don’t need a large company or app developer. Instead, brainstorm creative ways you can apply gamification to your social media or marketing needs. To get started, think about gamification as it applies to your social media milestones and goals.

Gamification can bring considerable results if:

  • The process of progress tracking is transparent
  • Talented players are recognized
  • People feel valued through real-time feedback

How can gamification help you create a community or gain more followers?

Smaller companies, like a local restaurant or boutique, might want to focus on driving foot traffic. For example, gamification is part of a loyalty rewards system. This can help visitors feel like valued members of your community. Consider adding a reward for folks who help you reach a social media follower goal. Another idea would be sharing a discount codeword with subscribers to your e-newsletter.

Mid-sized companies might want to think about how to get consumers to engage with a product through user-generated content. Think about encouraging followers to enter photo contests, use hashtags, and answer questions for prizes.

(But remember to follow through on promises and have clear rules and regulations. You don’t want to create any legal or ethical issues, especially in relation to privacy or copyright.)

Larger companies could try gamification tools to train employees or cultivate the workplace community. Through a company app or fostered social media engagement, you could turn employees and casual users into brand advocates.

Get out there and start playing!

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Make Your Instagram Bio Shine

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Quick! Describe yourself in 150 characters.

That’s what you have to do in your Instagram bio. It’s not a bad length to cover the basics, but on such a visual platform you’ll want to stand out.

How can you succinctly wrap things up?

Give your text a boost

If you’re looking to add a fancy font, look to Beautiful Dingbats. Enter your text into a generator and see it converted into formal script, block letters, or other unexpected fonts.

Have fun with emojis

Think of emojis as signals. They convey a host of information in one character, and can also suggest emotions and convey a sense of style and personality. Not only are emojis eye-catching, they can also surprise and delight people in just the right way.

Connect to your links

You only get one link on Instagram, but with Linktree you can link out to multiple. Sign up for free (or pay for a pro account), connect Linktree to your profile, and be able to direct your followers to multiple pages, from your professional website to latest project.

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Why Your Business Needs a Social Media Policy

Sometimes, the internet can feel like the Wild West.

Understanding our tools, planning ahead, and having procedures in place can help. That’s why your business needs a social media policy.

What’s a social media policy?

A social media policy is a crucial tool for any organization that uses social media.

In fact, it’s a crucial tool even if your organization doesn’t use social media. Because your employees almost certainly do: 72% of Americans use at least one social media platform. Yet 63% of Americans say their employer has no social media policy.

Hootsuite

Think of your social media policy as an online code of conduct. It makes clear how you expect others to engage with your business online, especially your employees. This may sound limiting, but it can actually be empowering.

When you know what to do and how to act, others have the tools to represent your business to the best of their abilities. It can also help you avoid disaster and legal risks. Establish your policy early instead of when you’re in the middle of a crisis.

Your policy can be short (and there are many guides and examples online for you to build upon). It should also be a living document. Your business is going to change, and so will technology available. Is the existing policy still working? Is there a new platform that needs to be accounted for? Make sure you keep checking in that it is up-to-date.

Make your policy straightforward and available.

A clear, concise policy is best. Share the policy with new employees as they join your business.

Additionally, make the policy available to your web community. This is what will help commenters and followers know how to interact with your business online — and know what counts as crossing a line.

Document everything.

If you start having issues with someone online, take note. Perhaps that first infraction simply raises a red flag. If you decide to have a “three strikes and you’re out policy,” you’ll need to track strikes.

Hopefully, it doesn’t get to the third strike. But if it does, you’ll have the documentation needed to back up any further action.

Discover brand advocates.

When you monitor your business online, you get to discover your fans. This is one of the pleasures of engaging with your online community. When we think about policies and rules, sometimes we think about “don’ts” more than “dos.”

As you look around your social channels, take note of the positives. When you engage with your brand advocates, you encourage a conversation, and they feel even more a part of your world.

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Advance Your Digital Marketing Career

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As digital marketers, we are always learning.

Whether navigating a new app or staying up-to-date on industry news, it is important to stay curious.

Taking a short course or earning a certificate can help professionals expand their talents.

It can also help give your resume an added boost. When potential employers see you’re investing in new skills, it shows you are someone willing to try different tools and responsive to fresh ideas.

When we’re in the classroom, we’re also connecting with others in the industry.

Marketing and communications is all about building a dialogue with others. By enrolling in a specialty course, we have the chance to not only learn from the instructor but also our peers. Social media especially is often learned through doing. What better way to learn than by exchanging experiences and real world examples?

A specialty course can help us go deeper into subjects.

Investing your time in a webinar or workshop means students can maximize their time and choose topics relevant to their individual interests within the digital marketing.

Perhaps you are curious to learn more about search engine optimization or pay-per-click advertising? If you have questions about a certain subject, find a way to learn about just that and dig in!

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Set SMART Social Media Goals

Let’s go from the broad to the specific.

As online marketers, we often think about success in terms of positive online interactions, strong followings, and engaged audiences. We recognize that the power of social media can help us reach our goals.

But how, exactly, do we get there?

We get there with purpose. Social media has an inherently fast energy—a quick snap, retweet, or like. But as social media marketers we know that “fast” doesn’t mean “thoughtless.” There is so much going on behind the scenes.

When we work thoughtfully, we work successfully.

To work successfully, we need to consider our organization’s objective and set social media goals that support that mission. It’s time to move from questions like “Why should we be on social media?” to “How can social media help me reach new customers?”

Do you want to use social media to:

  • Increase brand awareness?
  • Distribute content?
  • Improve customer service?
  • Manage your online reputation?
  • Convert followers into sales?

There may not be a single answer, and it’s perfectly acceptable if your strategy is targeted at more than one. Choosing the correct social media goals can really make a difference in focusing your efforts and energies.

With your social media objectives identified you can set SMART goals.

These should be specific, measurable, attainable, and timely goals. Don’t say you want to increase followers. Instead, say you want to grow 50 new followers on Instagram each week.

Ask who you want to reach, why you want to reach them, and how and when you will reach them. If you realize your brand is relevant to parents of very young children, a platform like Pinterest is likely more helpful than Snapchat. Taking the time to discuss your audience will help you define your voice, content, and the channels you choose to use.

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Add Video to Your Events

Graphic image of mobile phone with white text on screen reading: "RSVP. Will attend... Will attend digitally...X"

Bring your event to guests with video.

Thanks to social and online options, no one is ever excluded from the guest list. Using video across your social media platforms, you can extend your marketing powers while playing with new tools.

Whether engaging with a polished professional video or spur-of-the-moment livestreams, you can use video at each stage of your event.

Step One: Generate Interest

Generate interest in your event with a video promo, and make it to fit your budget.

Upload a polished promo to your YouTube page and drop links to it in your email newsletters. Or check out Ripl for marketing videos you can share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and which can be created using stock images and text.

Step Two: Invite People In

If you have a Facebook event page, populate it with behind-the-scenes livestreams during the event. Are you expecting to make a big announcement? Generate buzz with backstage videos. This can give attendees an inside look and make people who couldn’t attend still feel like they are part of it.

Your guests will be sharing their own social pics and stories, so think about going live in this fun, casual way on Snapchat and Instagram too.

Step Three: Celebrate Success Together

Your event is over, but the good feelings remain. No one wants a fun night to end, so think of ways to keep celebrating with your audience.

Collect your footage from the night and assemble a recap video to post on your YouTube channel. You can share it with attendees as a followup and keep it on hand to help market annual events as they come back around.

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Craft Your Out-of-Office Email

Yellow sticky note with to-do list reading "To do: Relax, take it easy, have fun"

Rejuvenation is especially important in marketing.

Fast-paced environments, exciting challenges, and frequent deadlines can be both thrilling and stressful. Even if marketers are happy in their industry, they can still feel overloaded and in need of a break.

Yes, you can and should take a vacation. Time off can help you reduce stress and feel refreshed. Vacations are vital for our mental health and wellbeing.

But what does a break look like for today’s digital marketers? With communications seamlessly integrated into our personal and professional lives, unplugging can take on different meanings.

Do you still check email on vacation? Do you log off Twitter but stay on Instagram? Do you try a digital detox and vow to take a break from it all?

Whatever level you choose, there are apps to help you unwind—and ways to put your apps to work while you take time to play.

Mark Your Calendar

Of course, before you go anywhere, you have to prepare for your trip.

Be clear with coworkers about when you will be gone and how much digital access you will have. Mark your shared calendar so you have a visual reminder of when you will be gone. Adjust timelines to accommodate your schedule. Set an automatic reply message for your work email so any incoming messages don’t go unrecognized.

A simple out-of-office message should cover the basics. Share the dates you will be unavailable and if there’s someone else a person should contact in your absence.

Direct Folks to Your Work

If you feel fancy, your out-of-office message is also an opportunity to generate interest in your skills or company.

While folks wait for your return, you can direct them to a colleague for help or even direct them to check out examples of your recent work. Also, remember to include necessary contact information. You can even direct folks trying to get in touch to your social channels.

Just because you’re away from your email doesn’t mean you stop communicating. An away message is an unexpected opportunity to surprise and delight. Invite potential clients to catch up with your work and get a feel of who you are and how you might help them upon return.

Avoid Digital Overload

When it comes to breaking from our devices, we may stand in our own way. But if you decide to check out of the office without checking out of all your apps, there are ways to monitor your usage.

Before you leave for vacation, set rules for yourself that will help you stay away from the office virtually. Uninstall your work email account from your phone. Turn off push notifications.

You can still upload your favorite vacation pics to Facebook, just steer clear of LinkedIn. Use apps like Swarm to discover new places, but turn WhatsApp on silent.

Avoid the digital overload and you’ll have a more refreshing time away from the office.

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Add Emojis for Fun, Creative Connections

Yellow emoji "thumbs up" character with yellow starburst around it

Does your business speak emoji?

There are more than 3,000 emojis at our fingertips⁠—and we are making use of them!

Facebook statistics show an average of 5 billion emojis are sent each day on Facebook Messenger. And as of mid-2015—a few years after emoji keyboards became standard for most Apple and Android users—half of all Instagram comments included an emoji.

It’s true: Millions of social-savvy communicators use emojis in creative ways on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. These small digital icons of faces, symbols, objects, and more make up a unique language.

For most businesses, adding emojis to your social media messages can help your business stand out. They can also encourage people to engage with you. Emojis can make a business feel more personable.

However, it can be difficult to incorporate emojis in a natural way when you’re representing your business. While your thumbs might be emoji-happy in your personal life, you might not know how to use them for your business profile.

For example, organizations and businesses with a more serious mission may want to stay away from emojis. At the very least, you should use them sparingly. You don’t want to upset clients or the public by accidentally creating a lighthearted message when the tone should be somber.

We enjoy using emojis and gifs on our social media channels. Why? Because it is engaging and fun.

Here are a few tips on adding emojis to your social media messaging:

  • If you aren’t sure what’s best, or if you generally want a cohesive look for your social feeds, make a guide of all your brand-approved emojis.
  • Think of emojis as an elevator pitch. Your audience should get the message—fast. One or two symbols should let people know exactly what value you’re bringing to them.
  • Use emojis to catch attention. Drop in a few to spice up your posts, but don’t leave readers guessing your message by leaving out relevant information and links. You can still use hashtags and images, too.
  • An emoji can help when you don’t have an image, or play off a photo to create a clever theme. Add an emoji arrow directing folks to “click here” or “look up.”

Think of adding in emojis as using all the tools in your toolbox, but not overdoing it with any one option. They create visually interesting messages that convey emotions sometimes better than words and add a human element.

Emojis remind your audience there are people behind your accounts, and that encourages engagement. As always, the more engagement you can encourage, the better you will do overall.

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