Category Archives: Marketing

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Social Media for Nonprofits: 7 Tips for Success

The use of Social media is a great way for nonprofits to expand their mission. The Global Web Index 2015 report shows the average person has five social media accounts and spends around 1 hour and 40 minutes browsing these networks every day. What does that mean for nonprofits? It means that social media can become a powerful tool. It provides a way to tell your story, recruit volunteers, increase donations and share your mission.

As I welcome my new client, Legacy International, to Danielle Ricks Productions, I am looking for ways to do just that. Legacy is dedicated to promoting peace by strengthening civil society and fostering a culture of participation worldwide. They train and mentor community leaders, youth, professionals, and governmental and non-governmental administrators, helping them to develop and implement practical, community-based solutions to critical issues.

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Like many nonprofits, Legacy manages multiple projects. But it’s often hard to find your voice in the digital space while you are busy doing the good work of your mission. Here’s where social media comes into play to help in an effort to market and increase brand recognition.

There are seven social media strategies that nonprofits should consider when developing their social media plan. I’ll use each of these for Legacy International and you may want to consider these tips when developing your own social media strategy.

1. Set Your goals. Why are you in the social space? Is it to raise money? Maybe you need to recruit more volunteers. It could be that you need to get the word out about your mission to partners, supporters and donors. Each of these has a different social media strategy. Know why you are in the digital space before you get started.

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2. Determine Your Target Audience. Will you be speaking primarily to the people you serve, those benefiting from your services, the general public, or to the people who are dedicated to keeping the NPO afloat? Maybe you’ll be speaking to all of these audiences. That’s fine, just know who your audience is so you can develop your online voice.

See3 provides an excellent case study example with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and how they tell their stories.

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3. Choose Your Platforms. There are a lot of social media sites to choose from. Do you need to be in all of them? Your target audience will dictate where you put your social media energy. Have an audience of teens, you may want to be on Snapchat. Need to reach the parents of teens, you may want to be on Facebook. Need to reach government agencies and news organizations, Twitter may be your best bet. The target audience will dictate the platform.

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4. Create Your Content Strategy. This is where the bulk of your social media energy will go. Determining what, when, where and how you will share your content. You’ll want to keep in mind three key things:

  1. Your Voice – Who are you and what do you stand for?
  2. Frequency of posts – How often will you post and why?
  3. Patterns for engagements – What gets shared when?

If you need help developing an effective content marketing plan, you can check out my blog post here.

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5. Ready, Set, ENGAGE! Once you have determined your audience, your voice, and your strategy, it’s time to engage your audience. Be prepared to answer questions, field inquiries, share great stories and motivate your audience.4

6. Track and Measure. After ninety days or so, you’ll want to evaluate how you are doing in the digital space. Take a deep dive into the analysis and data. Keep an eye on likes but keep an eagle eye on shares. A like is a click of acceptance. A share means I’m personally invested in the content and I want others invested in it as well. Determine what strategies worked and which ones fell flat? What resonated with your audience and what does that tell you about your story telling, your mission, your followers

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7. Almost done! The last step is to start all over again at number one and continue the cycle. Determine who on your team will be responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of your social media strategy and maintaining the integrity of the brand, voice, and mission. Reevaluate your plan every three months and make adjustments accordingly.

The most important part of all of this social engagement is to be social. Be authentic and have fun. Have social media strategies that have worked for you? Share them in the comments below. Need help to develop your social media strategy, please let me know.

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Six Ways Nonprofits Can Start Using Social Media TODAY!

When I spoke at the Daily Do Good conference, I shared ways nonprofits can use social media as part of their marketing strategy. Most nonprofits know they should use digital and social media as part of their marketing strategy, but many are not getting the most out of their social media plan? Some many not even have a strategic digital marketing plan or know where to get started? Want ways nonprofits can get started using digital and social media as part of a strategic marketing effort? Below is the video from Daily Do Good talk where I highlight ways nonprofits can use social and digital media.

Here are some things I hope you’ll walk away with. When we talk about social media we are talking any two-way communication that is open to the public. This includes some spaces you already know about, such as, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others you may not have thought as being social, such as  email marketing campaigns or crowdfunding opportunities. The most important part of social media… in my opinion… is the “social” aspect of the engagement.

Digital media refers to audio, video, and photo content that has been encoded or digitally compressed. Digital media marketing then, is the use of this content to promote your brand or mission. Are you with me? For instance, let’s say you have a lot of photos either from historical references or from current events. These visuals help tell the story about your organization or mission and that’s what’s this is all about. Right? Good story telling.

When you hear digital content, what comes to mind. If you said “video” you are right on point. If you don’t know already, video is the single most important element in any social media strategy. Whether it’s video on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LiveStream, Youtube, or the new hot social space, Periscope video is King. So what does that mean to you and your organization? The content you should think about creating and marketing for your business is video. Period. Research by Pew Internet shows that more and more  people–across demographics–are watching online video. So whether your supporter base is made up of millenniums or seniors or a demographic somewhere in-between, they’re likely to watch videos on the Web at an astounding rate. And, of course, you want to be where your customers are. Right? With social media and video marketing in mind, how can you get started?

Technology and more specifically social media is NOT a cure-all, but done correctly, you can increase your visibility, donors, and cause. To get started, it is important for organizations to be very clear about what their objectives are and invest in crafting their story from day one. Most of your supporters will rarely check your website for updates. Meaning they likely only think of you and your cause now and then. Having them like your page on Facebook or follow you on Twitter provides you with an opportunity to appear on their feeds and give them daily reminders of your mission. From your social media sites, you can drive supports to your website, and after later donations, volunteers, and raise general awareness for your cause. How do you do that? How do you drive traffic to your social media accounts? You’re taking notes now, right? You start by including buttons linked to any and all platforms that your organization uses. Think about recording important events or, better yet, Periscope the event and share with your followers LIVE.

There is a lot to cover when we talk about social media for nonprofits. Here are six key takeaways you may want to focus on.

  1. VISUALS: A study conducted by Professor Albert Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA showed that 93% of communication is nonverbal since visuals can be processed by the mind 60 thousand times faster than text. With this in mind, it’s crucial to tell the story of your mission using appealing visual elements across all of your social platforms. Post pictures or video on sites like Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc. You may have seen dog shelters do this. They take video or photos of dogs that came to them in very bad condition. Then they show a healthy, happy dog that is nursed back to health. It’s a complete story. Told visually.
  2. FREQUENCY: Consistency is so important. Non-profits often only post to their social accounts when they have an event or a campaign. Work on building relationships throughout the year… before you need them. Also, it’s best to vary the types of post you use on social media, whether you’re running a campaign or not. Try to mix in press releases, with stories of the people you’ve helped, spotlights on volunteers along with information on upcoming events, and reminders of how easy it is to donate or contribute to your cause. Having a social media plan will help you with this. Post too much could put you in the “unfollow” zone. Don’t post enough and you won’t reach your target audience. If you need help getting started, check out my blog on Developing a Social Media Plan here.
  3. VOLUNTEERS: Create a volunteer social media corp. Your volunteer social media corp should be designed to amplify your messages. By ‘amplify,’ I mean they will share your messaging, not speaking on behalf of the nonprofit. To make sure the volunteers are empowered to amplify messages on your behalf, you can create a Facebook group or Google+ community where you can share the messages that are most important to the organization. Once the volunteers get the hang of it, you might want to start training them to become your social media community managers for your social sites and help you manage your weekly and monthly social media plan.
  4. SOCIALIZE: So many nonprofits broadcast only. However, you don’t want to make your posts a one-way conversation. Like I mentioned earlier, the most important part of social media is the social part of the engagement. For nonprofits, that will call for you to humanize your cause in a way that is relatable and actionable. You’ll want to pull on some heart-strings. Think about making your posts as conversational as possible. Listen to your audience and show them how important they are to your cause by responding back. That means replying to comments on your blogs, Facebook page, Twitter posts and comments on Instagram and Snapchat. Make an effort to comments on posts by other organizations or individuals who support your cause. When this is done correctly, your efforts will result in increased followers that will turn into increased donors, volunteers, and revenue.
  5. STORYTELLING: As I said, you will want to humanize the purpose of your cause. Relying on only phone calls, fundraisers, and direct mailings is no longer enough. If I get one more phone call from my local cultural theater house, I’m going to poke my eyes out! But, if they share a great story about their new play, I’m in! Show your audience what they are missing by not joining you. Or show them how you are changing the world. For nonprofits, emotive content is inherent in your makeup. In this regard, nonprofits are in a better position to use social media more effectively than most big brands. You have, or should have, a community that cares deeply about what you do. Having a well-crafted story will give you tons of content to share and resonate greatly with your audience.
  6. CROWDFUNDING: As a non-profit, you’re always looking for new ways to raise money. One option that has quickly caught on is crowdfunding. It is an easy way to raise money with donations from a large number of people. This  growing trend towards crowdfunding has created lots of new revenue streams and models for investment and funding. Before you jump out there, however, there are many things to consider. Nonprofits should take the time to research all the available options. Some crowdfunding sites charge a fee and others do not. It would be wise to do your due diligence to find the best option for your nonprofit. Then, when you are ready, remember that your crowdfunding campaign pitch is your first point of contact with potential donors. For your pitch to be effective it is crucial to plan ahead and include all the elements that make a compelling story. To learn more about how to develop a crowdfunding pitch, read my 5 Tips For Your Crowdfunding Pitch here.

Social media will continue to have a huge impact on the nonprofit sector. But, like most things in the digital world, social media is evolving quickly. Do not expect your website or social platforms, and blog to hit overnight. Social media and content marketing requires time and patience—so does building an online audience. It can take several months to see results from social media marketing. If you don’t have the time to manage your sites, think about hiring a digital media specialist. The team at Danielle Ricks Productions is ready to help!

 

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Five Digital and Social Media Stories Worth Reading This Week

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Here are five stories pulled from the headlines to get you up-to-date this week on digital and social media news. I’ve done the research for you. You can thank me later.

It’s the year of the “Influencer.” IBT: In Search Of The Real Thing: Why Global Advertisers Like Coca-Cola Are Ditching Celebs For Little-Known Instagram ArtistsPULL QUOTE: It was all about selfies for Christine Adelina, until May 1, 2014. That’s when the 22-year-old student and obsessive Instagram poster from London learned her large following on the photo-sharing app could translate to some decent income. After attending a meetup for Instagram “influencers,” she switched from bedroom and bathroom selfies to artistic portrayals of the world around her, now spending at least three hours a day on the app. And brands are gawking — handing over ad dollars to Adelina and other so-called influencers, anywhere from $300 to thousands of dollars depending on the deal, to join their marketing campaigns. While some sponsorship deals simply reward users with gifts for sending out company-related Instagram posts, others are contracted. Take Nabisco’s #PuttingOnTheRitz campaign, for example. That marketing strategy to promote new Ritz Crisp and Thin crackers — to which Adelina and a handful of other contracted influencers submitted two photos for this June  — reached 7.5 million people. One post from British blogger Tanya Burr, who boasts 2 million Instagram followers, drew 110,000 likes.

It’s the latest sign that Madison Avenue and its counterparts worldwide are recognizing the pitch power of organically born social media stars like Adelina and Burr. They can be just as influential, or even moreso, as celebs like the Kardashians. Consumers, the thinking goes, may connect more readily with individuals who lead lives like their own. “For ‘Putting on the Ritz,’ we were very interested in getting people involved. The campaign seemed more real,” said Jana Soosova, social media campaign manager at London-based PHD Media.

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While Instagram influencer Christine Adelina’s post was not the highest traffic-driver for the #PuttingOnTheRitz campaign, Nabisco paid for and endorsed the submission as part of its marketing strategy.  – Instagram Screenshot 

Earlier this month, Instagram introduced its first ad product for businesses. The system allows companies to quickly create standard ads, target them to selected users and include direct-response buttons (like “Buy Now” as seen on Facebook, Twitter and Google). The move will spur more ads on the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app — and fuel Instagram’s predicted rise to $2.8 billion in revenue by 2017.

Marketing jobs have gone digital and they are asking for a lot from their employees! MarketingProfs: The Most In-Demand Digital Marketing SkillsPULL QUOTE: The most in-demand job titles identified by the analysis were digital marketing manager and marketing manager. Those roles may be especially hard to fill given the wide range of skills required: Companies seeking marketing managers tend to look for proficiency in several disciplines, including social media marketing, SEO, PPC, content marketing, Google Analytics, and digital marketing. Other digital marketing job titles with a high volume of listings are digital marketing specialist, marketing coordinator, SEO specialist, Web developer, account executive, and social media manager.

If you’ve paid attention today, you’ll see Kanye West trending on Facebook (kill me now). What does it take to becoming a trending topic on Facebook? IBT: In Search Of The Real Thing: Why Global Advertisers Like Coca-Cola Are Ditching Celebs For Little-Known Instagram Artists – PULL QUOTE: But how exactly does Facebook decide what to put in the Trending queue? And why is it that trends sometimes show up hours if not days after they may be trending somewhere else? Facebook shows you things in your Trending line-up the same way it shows you things in your News Feed: Algorithms. It takes into account a few personal things, like where you live and what Pages you follow. But primarily it looks for two broader signals: Topics that are being mentioned a lot and topics that receive a dramatic spike in mentions. You can’t have one without the other. For example, Kim Kardashian is mentioned often on Facebook, so the total volume of mentions is always high and isn’t a good indicator of whether or not she’s part of a trending topic. Instead, Facebook looks for a spike in mentions relative to the normal chatter around Kim and other celebrities, too. Things that trend aren’t just the most highly mentioned people or topics. They have to be tied to some kind of relevant event.

Right now I’m rocking a Misfit. I ‘m using it as a replacement to my UP24 because I can swim with the Misfit. Am I missing out on not having an Apple Watch? ReadWrite: The Wearables Market Is Exploding, And Apple Is Stealing The Show – PULL QUOTE: Second only to Fitbit, Apple Watch rules the smartwatch scene.  A new report published by IDC paints an intriguing picture of the wearables market as it looks in the middle of 2015. The market grew 223% over the course of the previous year, and Apple—new to the sector and with only one wearable to its name—was bested only by Fitbit, in terms of devices sold during the last three months. That puts reports of rather underwhelming Apple Watch sales into perspective. (Apple hasn’t released official figures of its own, of course.) While the smartwatch has yet to make an iPhone-like splash so far, with nearly 20% of the market, but it’s already threatening to dominate the nascent wearables movement.

I’ll admit it, I’m developing Snapchat campaigns and have totally forgotten about Vine. Apparently, that is not a good thingQuartz: Vine is a sleeping giant (while everyone is focused on Snapchat)PULL QUOTE: A funny thing happened to Vine, Twitter’s short-form video app, after its initial buzz wore off: It kept going. If you haven’t checked lately, Vine, launched in early 2013, is still a thing. It has evolved from a social “Instagram-for-video” built atop Twitter into a unique mobile entertainment platform with its own style, format, and celebrities. And as mobile video continues its long-awaited rise, Vine has built and maintained an impressive audience. Vine serves more than 100 million people across the web every month, according to the company, delivering more than 1.5 billion “loops”—its term for video views—per day. Meanwhile, comScore says Vine reached 34.5 million unique visitors in the US in June across desktop and mobile—roughly the same as Snapchat, which has grown rapidly over the past year and is valued by investors at $16 billion.

 

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Five Ways To Get Your Blog Up And Running!

blogging-tipsIf you are like me, writing may not be your first love. I am a storyteller, but I’m much more comfortable with the spoken word than the written. Like me, you may have a lot to say but organizing your thoughts and putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboards may not come naturally. You may be worried that no one will be interested in your point of view. I’m here to tell you, nothing could be further from the truth. We all have a voice and a story to tell. It’s not always easy to make time to blog, but the effort pays by growing your online community, setting yourself up as an expert in your field and sharing your vision and brand in a way that is engaging, entertaining, and can take clients or customers from prospects to actual business revenue generators.

I blogged for twenty-one days straight as part of my 21 Day Dream Big Challenge. I started blogging on April 4 and posted every single day, without missing a beat for twenty-one days. The goal of the challenge was to encourage readers to dream BIG and to get into the habit of focusing on their greatest desires and aspirations. Scientists say it takes twenty-one days to build a habit. We were on a journey to build a habit of dreaming big and living out loud. Little did I know that not only was I building a habit of dreaming big, I was also building a habit of blogging. After blogging every day for twenty-one days, I discovered a few things.

Here are five tips that will take the fear and anxiety out of blogging to get you on your way to telling your story and sharing your point of view.

  1. Blog Post Platforms: I use WordPress as my blogging platform of choice. I think WP is easy to use and very intuitive. For many people, WP is a bit intimidating. If you’re not worried about analytics or SEO (if you have to ask what SEO is then you probably aren’t worried one bit) there are plenty of user-friendly blogging platforms from Tumblr to Blogger that are an easy 1-2 process. If you are worried about analytics and SEO, I suggest you blog from your website and push the content out from there to your other social networking sites. This will help drive traffic to your website and, in addition, your blog will help establish you as an authority in your industry. It can also help you build your network with potential clients. Plus, I think it is a good idea to curate your content in a hub that you own. I have two blogs. One blog that lives on my website that is strictly business related and one blog that caters to my geeky, techie, lifestyle connoisseur interests. I often cross promote posts across both blog platforms when appropriate.
  2. Blog Post Length: People often think they have to write the next great American novel when they are blogging. Some people may tell you this is necessary. I would beg to differ. When you are doing a blog post, you don’t have to write a long novel. You have to write an interesting post. In fact, if the information resonates with the reader, shorter is often better. Regardless of the length, I alway cross promote my blog post across my various social networking sites. I may also share a blog several times throughout the month or share an archived article when I haven’t had time to write an original post. When I do this, I change-up the title in an effort to attract new interest. Speaking of blog titles…
  3. What To Name Your Post: The catcher the blog title, the more likely someone will click on your post. But, be mindful of how that title will translate if you have your blog set up to post to across multiple platforms. “Get Your Sexy On In Five Easy Steps” may work for Facebook or Twitter. You’ve told the reader what the subject is and what they will be learning. However, that may not be what you want to post to LinkedIn or Google Plus. A title on those sites may read, “From The Office To Evening in Five Easy Steps.” Get it?
  4. Double-check Spelling: If you are like me, grammar isn’t your strongest attribute. Look, I do many things well. I cook, I teach aerobics, I cycle all over the city and I’m one heck of a producer and storyteller. But spelling and grammar? Yeah, I think I was absent the entire time they taught that in elementary school. If you can’t afford an editor (I use one for professional documents and presentations) then use a service like Grammarly to help you edit your copy. I’m using it now. That said, don’t send me your editorial notes on all the things that need correction in this blog post. Send your notes directly to Grammarly. They are the ones acting as my editor at the moment. On a serious note, remember, these sites that have been set up to help us write mistake-free will check for grammar and misspellings. They often cannot determine context.
  5. Writers Block – Write about what you love and you’ll never get stuck on what to write about. OK, that’s not entirely true. But, as a rule, if you are blogging about things that interest you, what you are writing about should come naturally.

Once the twenty-one-day challenge ended, I was both relieved and saddened. The pressure was off to not have to write every day. But, I soon missed my morning blogging ritual. Currently, I have committed myself to blogging at least once a week or twice when I have time. It’s a lot easier than it sounds.

Need help getting started with your blog? I can help you develop a strategic content management strategy that will be the most effective way to use your blog to generate leads that turn into revenue. Together we can start telling your story in a way that will elevate your brand and generate revenue. Fill out the contact form below and let’s get started.

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Five Tips To Help You Develop An Effective Content Marketing Plan

4Social media, mobile technology, and word-of-mouth marketing have been serious game changers. People are getting their news and entertainment online, watching TV on mobile devices and subscribing to newspapers and magazines on tablets.

According to Entrepreneur.com, a Hilaire survey discovered that print, TV and radio advertising is being replaced with non-traditional means of content marketing.

So just what is content marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute reports:

Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.

The trends in content marketing tell us three things:

  • Traditional advertising, as we use to know it is dead
  • Content marketing has replaced traditional advertising
  • Having a winning content marketing strategy is the single most effective way to get leads and turn leads into business revenue

How do you use content marketing to engage prospects and customers?You do this via blog posts, social media sites, videos, and photos. Done correctly, this will generate leads, enhance your brand identity, and put your company’s expertise on display. But your blog, Facebook page, and Tweets are just a means to get your message out. The real value is in the content that you share. Where can you get started?

Here are five ways to develop a content marketing strategy:

  1. Have A Plan: No, really, have a plan. Far too often people forget that they must plan for the success they desire. Thinking they can wing it is the #1 mistake most folks make. Your plan should support your brand’s mission and goals. It will include the unique value you are looking to provide. It should also outline the obstacles and opportunities you may meet as you execute your plan. Preparation is the key.
  2. Start Writing: When readers find themselves consistently reading a brand’s content, they start to see that brand in a new light, not only in terms of credibility but also likability. You can start a blog, contribute as a co-contributor to someone else’s blog, or submit articles to your industry trade magazine. Not much of a writer? Do a video blog or an audio blog.
  3. Listen To Clients: Not sure what to write about? Start off by writing down the questions you repeatedly hear from your clients. I guarantee those questions will spur ideas for articles or blog posts that would be valuable to your audience and may even land you a few new customers.
  4. Identify Your Audience: Know the specific audiences for whom you will create content, what their needs are, and what your content engagement cycle will be. Will you post once a week across many social networking platforms or several times a week across only two social sites? Knowing your audience will decide your level of engagement.
  5. Schedule Your Posts: I don’t know about you, but I’m always busy. If you are as well, invest in a “Social Media Management Tool.” There are many to choose from, but one of the most inexpensive (there is a free version) and intuitive tools is Hootsuite. It will help you keep track and manage your many social network channels and free you up to do those other posts… which… by the way… can also be scheduled. Need help coming up with a social media plan? Read my blog on ten ways to develop a social media plan.

What content do you have to share that will help drive business to your company or advance your organization’s mission? Let me know if I can help you master just the right content marketing strategy for your business that will turn prospects and online community members into leads and clients. Fill out the contact form below so we can get started strategizing.

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You Can’t Afford Not to Do Video Marketing

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You can’t afford not to do video. Seriously. You can’t.

“In a world where earning attention is harder and harder, and customer acquisition is getting more and more expensive, video is one of, if not the best, way of earning those eyeballs. By 2017, video will account for 69 percent of all consumer Internet traffic, according to Cisco.

In comparison with text content, video quickly delivers information to our brains in a way that makes it easy for them to digest. Using video results in better conversion rates for businesses and provides a better, more human relationship with their customers, that increases brand awareness, loyalty, and fuels sales.”

Read the full article on Why You Can’t Afford Not to Do Video from Entrepreneur.com. Then when you are ready let me and my team help you with your video marketing needs!

Stop Counting The Number of Followers You Have

You’ve bNumber Imageuilt up a loyal follow of thousand upon thousand of folks across multiple platforms. Yet, you are unable to get them to buy your goods or services. You can’t get them to donate to your cause and you online marketing efforts are failing. Before you even think about getting more followers, start instead by setting some goals on the return you want from you do have. Here are a few tips to up the ante on your online engagement.

  • Post Good Content: Sounds simple right? From your Twitter and Facebook bio, to you profile photo, and each post you make, your content should support your mission, tell your story and the convey the essence of your brand. The content should be so good, so entertaining, followers want to be a part of your mission.
  • Develop an Engaging Voice: Your brand has a unique personality. That personality should translate to your online presence. Whether it’s fun, witty, cutting edge or all about business, your posts and online voice should match up with your brand.
  • Engage in other people’s conversations: Participate in Twitter Tweetchats. Follow hashtags discussions on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to follow the hashtags of events you attend, and make easy to follow hashtags for your events. Start a conversation based on a link someone shared.

Getting more followers isn’t the end game. You win by getting followers who are invested in your brand and responsive to your calls to action. 

Know The Length of Everything Online

Have you ever wondered how long your blog posts should be? That email you just sent, was it too wordy? What about your Facebook update? Did it go on forever? Maybe you’ve agonized over the proper word count for a blog title. Oh, come on, don’t act like it’s just me.

How long should your email be? How many characters should you use in your Facebook post? What is the proper count for use as your titles, tags, and other descriptions?

A lot of time has been put into calculating the exact length of titles, tags, posts and everything in between. The crazy good people at The Next Web have found out the best length for everything on the Internet. In fact, I may be typing too much right now! Take a look.

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Editors Note: I took their advice. The title of this blog is only six characters, as they indicated it should be. Interestingly enough, the title of their blog was eight words. Things that make you go, hmmm.

Social Media Is Still Relevant And Here Is Why

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Tinu Abayomi-Paul, web site promotion specialist, and author, is also the principal consultant of Leveraged Promotion, a website promotion company. Their specialty is bringing companies with an existing offline presence the local, national or international exposure they need to increase profitability, by leveraging the cost-effective tools available on the web.

In January 2014, Tinu was named one of the top 50 Industry Influencers by AGBeat. In February 2014 she was also awarded a Women’s Leader Fellowship by the Hot Mommas Project. In September 2012, Tinu is quoted in the CNN article: “Why Business Women are Flocking to Twitter”, as part of the CNN Leading Women showcase. In October 2012, Tinu was featured in TopRank’s yearly updated list of 25 Women Who Rock Social Media.  In June of that same year, Tinu was featured in AGBeat’s Business Leader Showcase. In December 2011, Liberated Muse named Tinu as one of the Top Ten Women in Social Media. Whew, that’s a lot of accolades!!

She is a woman in the know and an all around cool connector of people. I was able to catch up to her to get her thoughts on social media and where we are going in the social space.

Q- Why is social media relevant?

Social media is relevant because it provides a layer of communication and data in real-time, one that previously did not exist. In terms of customer feedback, focus groups and other types of research based on end user feedback, you can gather actionable data about a topic faster than ever before. As a marketing source, it helps democratize and facilitate word of mouth within a global context, at a cost low enough to even the playing field for small businesses.

Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other tools also give power to the individual on a level that hasn’t existed before. We may not all be using it that way yet – but the potential to be able to use your personal voice and opinion to affect change on this level is unprecedented. If you wanted the potential to reach the world with your voice, as little as ten years ago, your options were much more limited than they are today.

For example, if you checked into a hotel in 2002 and had a problem with customer service, you could ask for management’s help to resolve it, but had few other options. Depending on how much the hotel cared about your repeat business, and whether or not customer satisfaction was a primary goal, your voice might be heard by the hotel or it might not.

Armed with social media, companies are now not just marketing to you; they’re marketing to whatever your potential audience reach is. Now, a complaint isn’t just a complaint – it can go on record on Yelp or Foursquare, go viral on Twitter, or be permanently posted to a Google local or Facebook business page.

How do you use social media in your work?

One of my companies helps build marketing systems for small businesses, integrating search, social or reputation management with existing PR or other types of online or offline marketing. All of the activities that increase visibility for a company are more effective in synergy.

Q- What trends to you see in the upcoming year for social media?

1- More discerning choices about what we’re paying attention to – the problem now in social media is that there are too many channels, most of them repeating the same information, though sometimes in different formats. The younger users are enjoying tools like SnapChat, which deploys a shared image, video, drawing, etc for a set period of time, then destroys it.

We’re seeing the results of the backlash, with people opting out of Facebook and other new media channels indefinitely or for set periods of time. And yet you never hear anyone say “I have to quit Googling, it’s just too much.”

The question is: how do we respond to those trends as small business owners and social media professionals?

2- The maturation of the visual web trend. Clearly, the web is becoming increasing more visual, and much less text heavy before our eyes. With internet enabled TV and other devices like Roku that gets the video we view on the web on the big screen, the demand for content that can be consumed on the bigger screen is increasing as well. Early movers will benefit when this trend hits a peak. It may not happen this year but it is coming.

3- The web will be soon be everywhere – our refrigerators will be linked to the grocery store, and we might be able to update our list by sending a direct message in Twitter. At the leading edge of this right now is mobile. If your social content isn’t web enabled, you’re missing out on a lot of additional exposure.

Q- What is your best social media tip?

Start all of your social-related endeavors with research and clear goals. Why this channel? Who uses it? What competes with it? What do we hope to achieve? How will we know we’re successful? And most importantly, what do the people we want to reach want to hear from us on this channel? The data is out there and accessible. Or if you have some access to the community you want to grow with, just ask them what they want.

This post is edited and updated from the original version that appears on the All Things E blog.

Tips to Rock Your Social Presence

Shannon Mouton leads the internal marketing and digital communications efforts for McKinney & Associates. She is a relationship marketing professional, with a passion for utilizing social technology for building business relationships, sharing information and advancing the greater good. Her 20-plus years of marketing, communications, and 12032876_10206198800663549_1037900389348578334_ocommunity-building experiences have afforded her unique opportunities to foster communities where none existed, develop and launch innovative programming and bridge generational, economic and racial divides. Shannon is a contributor to Women Grow Business and has been featured on the Digital Sisterhood Network and American Express OPEN Forum.

I asked Shannon to share some of her best social media tips with me. This is what she had to say:

1. Social media is an part of my workday as I’m responsible for the virtual marketing for the organization. We focus on social tools and platforms that allow us to showcase our expertise and experience as a strategic communications firm. Instead of spreading a little content over a lot of platforms, we do a lot of content over a few platforms. For instance, a team member will write an article, “How to Pitch to Reporters” and we post that article as a blog post and a week later we turn the article into a presentation for SlideShare. We will also post both forms of the information to Facebook and Twitter because we understand people receive and retain information differently.

2. The three social media sites the firm will probably still be using in two years are YouTube, SlideShare and Facebook. While the written word will always be important, visual communications is becoming increasingly so as a method of delivering messages to a variety of audiences. These sites focus on visual communications and lend themselves to the written (and spoken) word. We enjoy and use Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr, which are visually based platforms, but they lack the strong written or verbal component that we need for long-term strategic communications.
3. My best social media tip is also a tip for living your best life: do a few things exceptionally well, instead of being adequate at a lot of things.
This post was originally shared on All Things E

Search Engines Want To Sit Between YOU and Your Friends

You may have noticed that the online marketing strategist in your life has been sweating a little more than usual these days. It’s not because the heat inside your building is set to unnaturally high temperatures to combat the cold. Thanks to recent changes in search engine security, online marketing has just gotten a bit more challenging.

Major search engines – including Google, Yahoo, and little brother Bing – are looking to find that sweet spot between customer privacy and satisfaction. As Christopher Soghoian, technology researcher and Principal Technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union, stated during his speech with Edward Snowden at SXSW, “Google, Yahoo and other internet companies want to sit between the conversations you have with your friends and add value…That business model is incompatible with your security, with your having a secure, end-to-end connection to your friends.”

Players in the virtual world were up in arms after revelations about government internet monitoring were brought to life (synopsis here). In response, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, and six other integral names in the information exchange mix formed Global Government Surveillance Reform. This committee strives to limit government oversight of user data and increase transparency of back-end snooping.

So why are marketing strategists feeling the stress? You may notice (or, if you didn’t, you will notice it now) that after you type a search into Google, the resulting page URL begins with HTTPS. This extraneous S automatically encrypts data or veils them to potential eavesdroppers. This means that keywords, or search terms that eventually lead a potential customer to your site, will no longer be included in the analytics.

Yes, keyword searches are an important piece of the marketing puzzle. They provide valuable insight into how you can move your website up the Google food chain. However, this recent layer of protection is not an impenetrable barrier. Here are some ways that you can respond to this strategy change:

  • Enlist outside help. Programs offering ways to interpret available data have begun to surface. For example, gShift Labs unveiled Not Provided, a program that analyzes daily metrics to offer popular keywords. Their website advises this product is best for medium-sized-and-up companies, so if you’re a small business, this may not be work for you.
  • Pay to play. Those who advertise on Google using AdWords still receive keyword data. Yahoo and Bing do not. This handy chart breaks down the differences between each major search engine’s handling of secure search.
  • Keep doing what you’re doing, and then some. You are the expert on your intended audience. When maintaining your online presence, it’s important to research key terms and common subjects; however, trying to stick to a few choice statements puts barriers on creativity and increases chances of redundancy. Having limited contact with keywords limits your chances of self-imposed restraint. Given that changes in security, protocol will not affect current rankings on search engines, embrace your new-found freedom and get creative with content!

Look at it this way, marketing gurus: secure searching is a challenge, but not a barrier. It’s time to let your flag fly: highlight your great design of infographics and not your ability to work “changemaker” and “sustainability” onto every page. If you build it and build it well, your well-protected clientele will come.

This post was originally written All Things E.

5

Why You Should Have A Social Media Plan AND Ten Ways To Get Started

4You know you should be active in social media. It’s good for your personal brand and your business. But you just don’t have time to do all those posts. One way to help you get organized is having a social media plan. A social media plan or mapping out what your posts will be on a weekly and even monthly basis helps you think strategically about what you should share with your audience. The social media plan includes a daily breakdown of what you should post most days of the week.

Yes, I said most day so of the week.

Consistency is the key in social media. Don’t ride the social media wave unless you can commit to a consistent schedule that your followers can depend on.

I tend to use themes to map out the days of the week on my social media plans. I am also a big fan of iteration. Below is an example of a Monday through Friday Twitter and Facebook social media plan. I developed this weekly plan for my client, AmeriCorps VISTA. It helped guide my posts throughout the week. You’ll see the days of the week divided up into five categories:

  • Mission Monday
  • Tip Tuesday
  • Webinar Wednesday
  • Throwback Thursday
  • Follow Friday

SMM Plan Image

SMM Plan Twitter JPEG

To get started on your plan, think about the content you have to share. If you are new to the social space, focus on one social media site at a time. I would recommend you consider getting starting with Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

Twitter – Without a doubt, Twitter is the best way to share and discover what is happening in the moment. To grow your audience, think about following and sharing popular hashtags and TweetChats.

Facebook – Most of your friends and colleagues are on Facebook. So are your clients and customers. Why not join Facebook Groups that support your mission and vision? Better yet start a group of your own. It’s a great way to connect and engage with the people that mean the most to you or the people you are trying to reach.

YouTube – Everyone has a story to tell. YouTube provides a forum to allow people to connect, inspire, entertain and inform. If you are comfortable in front of the camera or have a lot of video content, YouTube is a great place to start. Consider producing a web series of your most popular content. 

Here are ten tips to keep in mind once you are ready to start your social media plan:

  1. Determine which platforms you will use – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or all four
  2. Devise a daily, weekly and monthly social media schedule that incorporates each platform
  3. Monthly posts should reflect recurring dates such as holidays, celebrations or conference dates
  4. Determine who will manage your accounts and how often they will post
  5. Build upon the content you already have (photos, video, press releases)
  6. Come up with a regular posting schedule and stick to it
  7. Use a social media management tool such as Hootsuite to schedule your posts
  8. If you are cross posting from one site to another, factor in a few organic, original posts for each site
  9. Remember that it is a plan, a guide, so leave room for unexpected breaking news stories or changes
  10. Engage, engage, engage and then engage some more

 If you need help developing your social media plan, I’m here to help!