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The Periscope App Deserves Every Content Marketer’s Attention. Here’s Why.

Periscope iOS App is One to Watch.

Stop the presses! Periscope iOS App is one to watch.

There’s a new iOS app in town, but unlike so many flash-in-the-pan social media darlings this one deserves your attention. It’s called Periscope (@periscopeco) and in just 6 weeks since launching, it is already rocketing to the top of the social media world. Here’s why it matters to you.

Periscope is a live-streaming application (how it works), which sounds kind of dry as new technologies often do. So why are Periscope weeks like dog years for everyone else, gathering outsize attention in an internet universe drowning in me-too apps?

The answer lies at the heart of story-driven marketing. Periscope’s live streaming is compelling in ways that other apps are not, because it offers two of the most precious – and difficult to create – elements of great storytelling: authenticity and drama.

AUTHENTICITY RULES

Consumers value authenticity and drama now more than ever, because our social channels are awash in emotionless, manufactured content. When audiences consume this kind of prepared corporate information, they are hyper-aware of the possibility of manipulation. Even the good stuff, content we like, often feels just a little too much like marketing.

In contrast, live-streaming offers the kind of unfiltered immediacy and intimacy that cannot be faked. You get what you get. It’s real and it’s live. It’s even better than reality TV for raw honesty, because there is no script, no manipulative director, and no editing after the fact.

The downside of this is that some of the videos will inevitably be really boring. But the upside is transparency. And in a world caked in corporate insincerity, consumers crave truthfulness – even if it is a little unvarnished at times.

PUT PERISCOPE TO WORK FOR YOU

Where should you start? Any content that lends itself to an interactive conversation is probably something to consider developing on Periscope. The best part is that this technique is freely available and will work equally well for companies both big and small. A couple of examples that jump to mind would be:

Q&A. Like the one held by Runners World just today with their Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso, Q&A sessions are extremely effective at building loyalty and relationships. Imagine how helpful it would be if companies like Home Depot or Lowe’s answered DIY questions live, in the store, and just walked around showing what to buy and how to do things for certain projects.

Crowd-sourcing or focus groups. Now imagine how this might work for a food company like Seattle’s brand new (and drool-worthy) Rodeo Donut. Or maybe the folks at the beauty brand, Julep. Both need to develop new products regularly. Imagine how helpful it would be to get instant feedback and advice from customers on new flavors, colors or skus. It’s a trifecta of excellence: develop rapport with your audience, build a larger base, AND get invaluable customer insight.

Show what you know: My buddy (and triathlon teammate) runs a seriously terrific Seattle-area store called the Balanced Athlete that offers running gear, shoes and clinics. A live stream of even a small part of one of his clinics would be a marvelous way to raise awareness, answer questions right on the spot, and demonstrate why any runner would be better off getting fit for new sneakers there than at some faceless chain at the mall.

DON’T WAIT

These are just a few ideas, but once you start thinking about it, there are endless ways you can use the transparency and immediacy of Periscope to advance your business goals. The point is to start using Periscope RIGHT NOW, while the field is still wide open for new players and before it gets much more difficult to make an impact. And of course, don’t forget to save all that great content and upload it to YouTube, so you can re-feature it to your audience again later.

Broadcast on Periscope

Get started now

Got any comments on using Periscope? I’d love to hear them.

How to Manage a Social Media Crisis

Social Media True Grit: How Story Can Save #Takata

How to Manage a Social Media Crisis

Story power helps meet tough challenges

A whole lot is going wrong right now for the folks at the Takata airbag company in Japan, and my heart goes out to their PR team. While the crisis swirls around them crushing their brand reputation – and the company stock by 23%- their social team, if they have one, appears to be paralyzed, most likely by legal and compliance issues.

The hashtag #Takata is filled with negative news and retweets, especially of the story of a woman in Florida who was killed by shrapnel that was emitted by her Takata-made airbag. In the meantime the response on Twitter and elsewhere from the company has been near silence.

I’m going to assume that the Takata team is precluded from joining the conversation right now by legal constraints, so I won’t bash them on the slowness of their response, even though speed is absolutely critical in these situations. Instead, let’s look at how Takata might turn this around going forward once their hands are untied – using smart social media and storytelling. If Takata were our client today, here’s what I’d tell them.

1. Start with an apology

This one should be easy, because Japanese companies have a stellar history of heartfelt public apologies, at least once it is clear they are at fault. This time should be no exception. An excuse-free apology in personable, human language from the CEO on the company blog is job one.

2. Don’t pretend it’s all in the past

While it’s true that the production mistakes that caused this crisis date back over a decade, the consequences and the ensuing news stories are all very current. Takata has to treat this like a problem they have to deal with right now, not something they can just dismiss as a past mistake.

This means creating a specific marketing campaign that is laser-focused on rebuilding the brand trust that has been so negatively affected by this story. The campaign should include every trick in the book — video, images, text, blogs, etc. — and Takata should be prepared to spend some serious budget on getting their message out. Most importantly, every element in the campaign should deploy messaging specifically designed to rebuild confidence and communicate the company’s core mission – saving lives.

Think about it. Takata is an airbag company. Safety is what they DO. The key is to communicate that passion and remind everyone that their whole reason for being is life saving work.

3. Explain the facts, but do it with a story

When people die, no one cares about your data. So when you are ready to go public use powerful stories to evoke the data instead. For example, it’s clear that airbags save way more lives than this error has caused. A 2009 study by the NHTSA showed that over 20,000 lives had been saved by airbags in the United States alone, compared with the four that have been reported lost due to this crisis. That’s a lot of saved lives and every single one of them is an opportunity for Takata to tell the story of the overwhelming good their airbags do.

So go out and interview people who have been in car accidents. Speak to their families, children, parents, co-workers – and tell the story of what one saved life can do. Don’t ignore the tragedy, but balance the scales in the consumers’ mind with stories that are as powerful as the ones that are fueling this crisis right now.

The point is this: The beginning of this story is written, but with the right training, tools and mindset, Takata can still write the ending.

*Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why You Should Take the Summer Off from Social Media

Social Media Summer Break

Enjoy your beach times

This week, I tried out out the new blog posting functionality on Linked In. It’s pretty neat! I’ll come back in a a few months and let you know the business results of regularly posting there, but in the meantime, here’s a recap of what I covered in that post:

I’ve noticed that plenty of smart business folks I meet are pretty stressed about social media, and with good reason. Some feel overwhelmed by the proliferation of options, others are panicked by the idea of keeping up with the latest developments, and still more feel compelled to use social media tools, even when they feel totally unnatural.

If this sounds familiar, I’m here to say one thing: Relax.

First, while there are more options than ever, that doesn’t mean you need to use each and every one for your business. For example, if you run a B2B business selling construction grade lumber to contractors, it’s perfectly legitimate for you to decide to ignore Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest almost completely. Not that you couldn’t come up with some interesting campaigns for those platforms, but why make yourself crazy, when there are so many more efficient options for you to reach your audience? Of course you’ll want to monitor those platforms for any conversation that goes on about your brand, so you can respond if needed, but that’s a far cry from needing to come up with fresh content, building a following or posting regularly.

Instead, just pick the few platforms that can really deliver for your business and focus on them. Depending on the size and type of your business, if your blog, email marketing and Linked In are shipshape, that may be more than enough. If you’re not sure what you need, it shouldn’t cost a ton in social media consulting to find out. I often suggest starting with a solid digital audit. It’s relatively quick, affordable and will help you figure out what you really need and what you don’t.

Second, remember that no one is actually keeping up with everything. That’s right, even within the ranks of the social media gurus, people tend to specialize. There are folks who focus on Facebook, others who focus on Linked In, others still on Google+. So if even the pros are giving themselves permission to do one or two things really well, so should you. The digital audit combined with a clear understanding of your business objectives will help you identify where to put your chips quickly and efficiently.

Finally, if you don’t actually enjoy social media, chances are pretty good you aren’t going to stick with it anyway. And since consistency is essential to success, don’t try to push a square peg into a round hole. There may already be someone in your organization who loves social media and who would be delighted to take this over for you. Or maybe you have a raving fan or customer who would do cartwheels at the idea of running social for you. The point is to find an efficient way to get the work done; not to transform yourself into someone you’re not.

Social media can be a very effective piece of your marketing mix, but it’s perfectly fine to do it in a way that fits your business priorities and time constraints. So if you’re feeling a little behind the 8 ball, here’s what I suggest: make a doable plan, stick to it, and measure the results. If you’re getting the business results you need, enjoy your well-earned summer weekends off and don’t worry about the rest.

4 Smart Management Lessons from the Epic Marina Quit Video

By now you may have already seen or heard of this epic video made by 25 year old Marina Shifrin quitting her job. In case you missed the memo, it already has over 5 million views on YouTube and is all over the internet. Here is Marina, showing us that she truly knows how to rake in the traffic:

So what’s the takeaway here for managers and people who actually love work?

1. Don’t make work a job
Clearly, Marina loves her work as a video producer. Indeed, she loves it so much, she actually turned quitting into a work project! So why’d she quit? Because her boss turned her work into a job by valuing quantity of output over quality. It’s a safe bet that Marina will land right on her feet at a company that loves the work as much as she does.

2. Even an epic fail can be turned around
When the video went viral, Marina’s boss, and company, Next Media Animation, didn’t threaten to sue her, nor did they turn themselves into the focal point of the story. Instead, they let the light shine where it belonged – on Marina. Thus, they were saved from a potential PR mess. Even better, Marina has been quoted in the Daily News explaining that her boss actually paid her full salary through the month of October. That’s not just classy, it’s smart damage control.

3. Be realistic
Marina is obviously a clever gal, but a viral video like this one is like lightning in a bottle. Her new employers will be smart to do everything they can to reduce the pressure on her to deliver a repeat performance out of the box. Great talent is nurtured, not browbeaten into excellence.

4. Emotion STILL sells
Why did this video go so viral, so fast? All viral hits have an element of luck, but Marina did the one thing you absolutely must do for the win. She told a universal story in a compelling way that taps the deep-rooted psychology of nearly ever office worker. Who hasn’t wanted to give their employer a giant middle finger at some point in their career?

Marina did that, video style.

Facebook’s Custom Audience Tool: Don’t Make This Mistake With It

Some pretty lousy advice is circulating about how to use Facebook’s Custom Audience Tool, and I hope you won’t take it. Here’s why:

First, there is this silly post on The Social Media Examiner (which is generally a terrific blog). The post title makes it sound like you can use Facebook’s Custom Audience tool to better understand your existing email list. Sounds good, right?

Unfortunately, what the post mainly does is explain how to upload your company’s subscribed email list into Facebook, so you can send them Facebook ads. That’s right, the advice is to buy Facebook ads and target them at people who are ALREADY on your email list.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Still, I try to stay open to new ideas, so I asked a friend and colleague I respect what she thought, and she pointed me to this slightly older, and even sillier post on SEOMoz about the very same thing.

In it SEOMoz explains that uploading your list to Facebook will help you (this is their order of priority, not mine):

  1. Get more Facebook followers (OMG)
  2. Drive sales and conversions
  3. Get newsletter sign-ups

Let’s look at  point #1, getting more followers on Facebook. Why is this such a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea?

Social media is supposed to (among many other things) help you build your list. Not the other way around! Anyone who tells you to pay precious marketing money to convince your email list to follow you on Facebook is letting the tail wag the dog.

(Note: This is totally different from asking your existing customers – nicely and for free – to fan you on Facebook so you can stay in touch with them there, which is a very good idea. But remember, Facebook only shows a limited number of your messages to fans, while your emails go to your entire list. Every time.)

What about their #2, drive sign ups and sales? That sounds good, but why on earth would you pay for Facebook ads when you can market to these people via permission-based email for free?

SEOMoz gives the example of a Valentine’s promo that you would only target at people who are married or in relationships. Have they checked Facebook lately? Or ever? How many people actually add that data? And how many lie?

To add icing to this cake, some of the commenters on the post actually suggest that you may get better clicks from Facebook ads than from your emails written to your subscribed list. Whoa. If you’re even thinking about Facebook ads because you think they’ll beat your emails for open rates and click-throughs, it’s time to fire your email marketing team – stat.

The data is very clear that email marketing is STILL the best way to drive sign ups and sales. And that’s just fine. Social media has its place, and replacing email is simply not one of them.

As for newsletter sign-ups, that doesn’t even make sense. By definition, people on your list have signed up for email from you, and your newsletter is part of that.

I’ll give the folks at the Social Media Examiner credit for explaining a fourth use for the tool in their post: gaining demographic insights about your list. Okay, but it would be a lot easier simply to look at your Facebook analytics and see what demographics you’ve got there. Will this be identical to your list? No, but if your brand image is consistent across all platforms (as well it should be), then you’re well on your way – without the extra work.

This kind of advice shows a painful over-reliance on Facebook. Never forget that Mark Zuckerberg runs Facebook for his own shareholders, not yours. And given the rate at which Facebook changes the goalposts, you should be looking for ways to be less reliant on it, not more. Certainly not ways that involve paying Facebook to advertise to people already on your list.

Just goes to show you that even the experts can get it wrong. The best way to  avoid getting taken is to give every new tool you are offered a traditional marketer’s gut check. If you already have a way to do something for less money, you probably don’t need it.

The Oatmeal: Why the BuzzFeed Story About Matt Inman Got It Wrong

By now Jack Stuef’s inflammatory post on BuzzFeed attacking Matt Inman, the creator of the stupendously successful website, The Oatmeal, has made the full rounds. I wasn’t even going to dignify it with a response until I saw that Inman himself published a reply. So here’s why you should ignore the BuzzFeed piece and go right back to enjoying the Oatmeal:

1. It’s written in attack mode

You can always tell when someone is out to slash and burn when they use loaded language to take someone down. Here’s the very first paragraph in the Buzzfeed piece: (Note: all emphases are the author’s, not mine.)

Matthew Inman boasts that his site, The Oatmeal, has received over a billion page views since he launched it in 2009, making it one of most widely read comics in the world. But Inman bears little relation to his lumpy everyman profile on the site, and the disconnect between that cheerful profile and his actual identity — an edgy comic and unapologetic online operator — collided this week after a rape joke made its way into his typically safe comic.

Notice the terms “boastful” and “unapologetic online operator”? These are labels designed to instantly brand Matt as unlikeable. And that’s just in the first paragraph.

2. The logic isn’t sound

In the very first sentence, Jack Stuef accuses Inman of bragging about a having huge audience, and in the next sentence, he accuses him of pretending to be an everyman. Which is it Jack? Is Inman a boastful jerk or an everyman pretender? If you’re going to accuse him of both, you might want to at least separate the claims by a few sentences, so we won’t notice.

The logic in the section about Matt’s history with SEO and Reddit is tricky at best. According to Stuef, Redditors were pissed at Inman for his tactics, but in the end he concedes that

…Reddit, apparently unable to resist a webcomic from a sharp traffic guru aimed squarely at them, resumed serving as a major source of traffic.

What did he do, hypnotize them? No. He created irresistibly GOOD CONTENT. The poor suckers.

3. Stuef is flogging a dead horse

Everyone agrees that Inman’s rape joke was a mistake, and his defensiveness about it compounded the error. But who among us has not made a mistake, been called on it, and then backed ourselves into an even worse corner as a result?

In the end, Inman apologized. And when someone has as much good karma as Inman does buzzing about the internet, he more than deserves that we accept his apology and move on.  Maybe he’ll screw up again later and then it’ll be strike two. But for now, enough is enough.

4. It reeks of jealousy

No one doubts that Inman has been enormously successful. Stuef seems to be angered by this. He writes:

Inman’s transformation from a reviled search-engine-optimization expert and marketer to a beloved comic artist was less dramatic than it sounds. Inman has described The Oatmeal as a kind of continuation of his Internet marketing work. He’s still making cartoons and quizzes carefully configured to go viral, but instead of doing it for clients, he’s now lining his pockets directly.

Again, watch the language. Since when are SEO experts “reviled”? Last I checked, they are well-paid professionals, who are an integral part of any smart digital marketing campaign. And as for “lining his pockets”, how is this different from “getting paid”? It’s not.

As a copywriter, I gotta hand it to Stuef; he did a great job of leading you down the path of doubt in this piece. It’s a well-executed hatchet job if I ever saw one. Stuef has a real future in politics.

5. He never bothered to interview Inman

Any good journalist – at the very least – owed him a call and a chance to tell his side of the story.  The fact that he didn’t bother to get Inman’s input is an inexcusable journalistic oversight.

6. It’s picking on the admirable

Stuef appears to complain that Inman (who has some very successful comics about grammar) uses an editor to make sure his grammar is correct.

Why is this bad? If ONLY everyone on the internet who passed himself off as a writer bothered with an editor! Stuef also says,

Unlike that of most successful webcomic artists, Inman’s work was not originally a labor of love, a slow process of honing one’s voice, developing an original perspective and take on the art form, and eventually building an audience. It was always business, always a play to known sources of Web traffic, whether for clients or for himself.

Yes, unbelievably enough Stuef is upset that Inman had the nerve to try to make money for his clients and – gasp – for himself. Oh, the horror!

Then he goes on to say,

When given the opportunity to speak in front of business-minded audiences, however, the former SEO mastermind has been unable to hold himself back. Speaking before a tech conference audience at Gnomedex in Seattle in 2010, Inman delivered a 27-minute presentation explaining his process for creating a comic or quiz for his website. His comics, the slideshow says, are created according to a formula aimed at pandering to the broad tastes of the Internet and social media, based on six core principles:
– Find a common gripe
– Pick things everyone can relate to
– Create easily digestible content
– Create an infographic
– Talk about memes and current events
– Incite an emotion

Wow Jack, first Matt is a “mastermind”, but then a “panderer”? Which is it?

I actually attended the Gnomedex conference in 201o that Stuef cites, and Inman’s presentation was the best one of the day. (I bet you can already tell that by the bullet points from Inman’s presentation that Stuel so helpfully included in his excerpt. I left them in there so you can borrow them too, because they are all great tips.)

After Inman spoke, I got a chance to chat with him briefly (no he doesn’t remember me, and we’re not friends on Facebook, although that would be pretty cool). The “mastermind” turned out to be a totally genuine guy, who had absolutely no way of knowing that his interaction with me that day would one day be reflected in this post.

7. The logic isn’t sound, redux

Stuef accuses Inman of owning a “sprawling retail business” in the same paragraph in which he reveals that Inman employs family members. Yes, that’s right, family members. Last time I checked, Wal-Mart is a sprawling retail business, and a mom and pop is a shop where you employ your family members.

Oh, and by the way, anyone who gets along with, let alone EMPLOYS their family members, gets good guy kudos in my book.

8. It takes issue with Matt’s exercise routine

Wait, what? That’s right Stuef is actually annoyed that Inman is a marathon runner while his main character is drawn as a couch potato. What’s he supposed to do? Draw his cartoon with a six pack and smirk? I’m betting Inman uses all that time running to develop his ideas, honing them and whittling them down to their very best before he ever puts pen to paper. (Yeah, I know it’s a computer, but work with me here.) If only everyone online spent that much time thinking through their posts.

9. More picking on the admirable

Stuef concedes that Inman gives to charity, but sneers even at that effort, because Inman was publicly gleeful about beating back a ridiculous lawsuit earlier this year. At least Stuef had the decency to concede that the lawsuit against Inman was baseless.

That’s great use of another persuasive copywriting trick, by the way. Always concede something to the competition so as to bolster the reader’s trust in your argument. I told you Stuef had a future in politics.

10. It leaves out critical detail

And what of Inman’s spectacular fundraising effort on behalf of the Tesla Museum? About this, Stuef is mum. Apparently, he couldn’t think of anything bad to say about Inman’s rescue of Nikola Tesla’s memory for the non-techie public. So he just didn’t mention it at all.

So, let’s recap. The real reason Stuef is pissed is because Matt Inman is young, smart, funny, fit, (somewhat) rich, famous-ish, and exceedingly successful in his chosen field. Hmmm, come to think of it, if I wasn’t so busy lining my office walls with Inman’s hilarious comics, I’d probably hate him too.

Social Media Gold: 1 Daily Habit to Make Your Social Strategy Sparkle

computer on a buoy

Pitch in a little each day

Recently, I got an email from a friend with 20+ years of executive-level marketing experience at a large firm. He’s just learning about social media, and asked about Facebook.

Since we had done a very successful post on the Cozi page that day (it garnered over 300 comments and some critical customer insights), I immodestly encouraged him to check it out.

I received this reply:

I could not figure out how to get directly to the post, so I had to wade through a long list from the last 24 hours. Seems like much of what you (Carol) are doing online is providing technical support. Ever think of hiring an intern for $12/hour and training them to provide online technical assistance, so you can spend more of your time on strategic initiatives?

My reply to this is “no”, and here’s why:

1. Some of the best social insights come from customer service

Social media is about listening and talking to people. If you don’t have time to answer customer questions, you probably won’t be very good at social media. This is true on a company level, an executive level and a personal level. It’s also one reason (among many) that so few big companies are truly good at it.

You see, at big companies a few people get paid a lot to plan, and a lot of people get paid a little to execute. So, in a big company context, an hour spent in the customer service trenches by anyone making more than $12 hour feels like a waste of time, brainpower and money.

In truth though, allowing mid and senior level people to remain divorced from customer interaction is a huge minus for everyone. No report can capture the nuance of customer feeling. And failing to understand feelings is how you end up with disasters like the infamous Summer’s Eve Douche ad.

2. You can’t fight to improve what you can’t see.

The concept of continuous improvement was invented by an American named W. Edwards Deming, and social media has made it easier than ever for companies to  continually improve based on feedback. But only if you take the time to listen.

When YOU have to chase down the answer to whatever comes up that day, you start to see every chink in the company’s armor: product, customer service, engineering, logistics, communications. If there is a weakness somewhere, it will be revealed in the hunt for answers.

3. It’s not just about the numbers

Yes, it’s great to have an intern comb all the incoming complaints, questions and issues and put together a spreadsheet for you on which issues are coming up most. But relying purely on reports inevitably dilutes the passion behind the data. It’s a lot easier to say, “Well, that problem only affects a small portion of our users”, when YOU aren’t the one having to tell them there’s no solution to their problem.

Moreover, you get incredible insights into the customer profile from these interactions. (See point #1) Would a smart executive in charge of strategic planning or product development take the time to read transcripts or watch video clips of focus groups? Of course they would. Social media allows you to focus group your customers every day. But only if you show up.

4. The biggest value in customer interactions comes from empowering those who have them

Companies that hire low-level, low-wage kids for EVERY customer-facing task are throwing away huge amounts of value. Only someone with experience and some business depth can pull out the relevant insights, turn them into an action plan and then champion that plan to the executive team. It’s not reasonable to expect the intern who makes $12/hour to deliver this.  The job of the social media lead includes MAKING the time to talk to customers and ensuring that those insights make a positive impact throughout the business.

So the 30 minutes to an hour a day I spend reading and answering customer questions – whether on Facebook., Twitter or the blog — isn’t a waste of my time; it makes me better at my job. Better at understanding our customer, better at developing social strategies that fit their needs and better at building relationships with our most passionate brand advocates. Most importantly it makes me better at delivering usable insights to the Product, Marketing, Sales and Support groups.

Now, do I spend hours every day answering every question myself? Of course not. I let our superb help desk team do the heavy lifting that makes customer support such a unique and valued feature of the Cozi brand. But I don’t for a minute believe that I should be doing something more “strategic” than understanding the customer experience.

So set aside some time each day to really hang out with your customers. Because that is what social media is for. Not for feeling too important to answer a question. But for developing a real, human understanding with thousands if not millions of customers, and USING that relationship to make your company better at serving them.

What I Learned from Summer Camp About Facebook Pages

This week my 8 year old daughter started daytime summer camp, and came home with this sticker on her chest:

Facebook "Like us" sticker

Note: Do NOT use your customer's children as marketing vehicles


It says, “See all the fun we are having at camp!” Like us on Facebook”…

So, the camp is asking me to “Like” their Facebook page. Which I totally get, except for a few things:

First, I already “Liked” their page when they asked me in an email a while ago. And since I tend to pay more attention to Facebook pages than the average citizen, I have repeatedly checked it out. And you know what? As a mom and customer, there’s just not much to “Like” about the page. In marketing language, their content sucks.

Second, I’m totally cool with them asking me to ‘Like” their page in almost every which way: Emails; at the bottom of every single one of those dozens of forms I have to sign; a big sign on the door — hey, even a camp ditty with a line about how fun their Facebook page is(n’t). But a sticker on my kid’s chest? Now you are creeping me out.

What can everyone who runs a Facebook page learn from this?

1. Don’t use desperation tactics to drive your Facebook page. Especially when it comes to people’s kids. First think, “How would I feel if someone used this tactic on me? Could I do something similar that would work just as well? ” My friend Lua over at Miss Lulu Blogs rightly pointed out that even putting it on her backpack would have been way better.

2. As the always-amazing Ramon DeLeon commented, the problem here is really lack of winning content. See, my older daughter attends another summer camp, a sleepaway camp no less, and their Facebook content is equally bad. It’s a sleepaway camp people! Can you think of a better, more interested audience than parents of kids who are away for the summer? That page should be HUMMING with interaction among interested parents. What do they got? Nada.

Just imagine:
“Name your kid’s favorite Harry Potter book correctly to win a free goody bag for the whole bunk!”

Parents name the book and their kid, camp checks, and declares the winners both to the campers on site and then to the parents, on the Facebook page of course. Thus, kids and parents have a unique interaction VIA Facebook that is fun for all.

“Congratulations to Joey in the Raccoon bunk for having a mom who knows her Harry Potter! He and all his buddies will be enjoying candy bars and popcorn tonight!”

And I just made that up.

What do you recommend for juicing up a summer camp Facebook page?

Don’t Write Twitter Off Just Yet

Recently, the always excellent Jay Baer, who speaks, writes and consults about social media, did an interview with Steve Lundin of Big Frontier about, well, social media. It’s a great interview and I highly recommend that you watch it. There’s just one thing…

During the interview Jay explains his belief that Twitter has become a sort of niche news service packed with useful links, but where real conversations have been severely compromised, and which only get increasingly harder to have as you get more successful at it. Maybe, but I think there are still plenty of ways companies can take advantage of Twitter to have excellent, on-brand, real-time conversations with influential individuals – especially if you market to moms.

Here’s my list of ways to use Twitter to connect with moms on-line:

1. Twitter Parties: It’s hard to think of a better medium for moms to get together and party than Twitter. After all, we are busy, tired, probably wearing sweatpants and have drastically different schedules depending on our kids’ ages. We also don’t love paying a sitter. Enter Twitter Parties: join when you can, from home, in between everything else that you are doing. Even better, since you are partying with other moms, if you get interrupted, everyone understands.

Indeed some of the very best, most active parties on Twitter are run by top mom bloggers and influencers, including Jyl Johnson Pattee of Mom It Forward’s Girls Night Out (#GNO) fame, Amy Lupold Blair of Resourceful Mommy; and Amy Bellgardt of Mom Spark Media, just to name a few.

Whether you are brand-new to Twitter or have been using it for years, it’s a piece of cake to hop onto a Twitter party related to your brand’s topic area and join in the conversation. And I do mean conversation.

Not into “mom” topics? That’s Ok, there are chats on Twitter about EVERYTHING, including travel (Travelers Night In is on Thursdays – just follow#TNI); food (Foodies Night In -which I co-host – is on Mondays at #FNIchat)… you get the picture.

So whether you run a hotel, a food exporting company or a local hair salon, the chances are pretty good there’s a Twitter party that makes sense for you. But don’t think of it merely as a way to get noticed. Think of a Twitter party as a way to LISTEN to your target audience. And if they talk about your competition, or if your competition shows up, please for goddsakes, LET IT RIDE. Unless you want to pay some fancy-pants marketing agency a fat fee for a competitive analysis. And even then it won’t be as good. Trust me.

2. Hashtags for Events: I know, I know for the really big events like Blog World Expo and SXSW, the hashtags are so overloaded with traffic, it’s almost meaningless. But there are plenty of small events where the hashtags are a GREAT way to listen, connect and yes, make an impression for your brand. This is particularly true of the smaller and mid-sized  mom blogger conferences.

Now this is important: If you are not actually at the conference, it is absolutely a great idea to follow the conversation via Twitter and LEARN. It’s also OK to jump in once in a while with RELEVANT comments. But it is absolutely, positively NOT OK to pretend you are there, hog up the stream, or send overt marketing messages. This is really bad manners, and if you get busted will result in a level of widespread ridicule you most assuredly do not want to incur.

Come to think of it, this is bad manners even if you are at the conference, so either way, DON’T do it.

3. Customer service. In many cases, this should be right up at number one on the list. If you do NOTHING else on Twitter but answer questions from current customers and prospects, then you are still putting it to good use. You would be AMAZED at how happy people are when they send a “help!” tweet and actually get a response. I have personally seen people turn 180 degrees around from, “This product sucks” to “Wow, what great service!” within just 24 hours. THESE are the people who go on to become your most passionate offline word-of-mouth advocates. Especially if they are under-appreciated moms. (And is there any other kind?)

So please, with a cherry on top, don’t give up on Twitter yet, OK?

How NOT to Build a Facebook Following

I belong to a LinkedIn group focused on Facebook success. From what I can tell it’s a mix of people from all over North America (mainly), who work in social media (or who would like to), and people who just want to get a better grip on using Facebook for business success.

Recently, someone posted a discussion thread that went something like this: “Let’s all band together and “Like” each others’ pages, so we can all build up our followings.”.

I was tempted to post back what a silly idea I thought this was, but figured it might cause some hurt feelings. Besides, no one asked me for my opinion there, right? That’s what this blog is for. So, here goes… This is a NOT the way to build a Facebook page. In fact, it’s a terrible idea. Let me explain.

Let’s say you have a Facebook page for your local hair salon. You use it to post specials, chat about what’s going on in the neighborhood association, give some hair tips, maybe even post photos of cutting someone’s hair for Locks of Love. All good stuff that your existing fans like. But you’ve only got 350 fans and you wish you had more. So, you follow the advice of this thread and ask for “likes”. Suddenly your fan count zooms to 700. Yippee, right? Wrong.

Before, Facebook was looking at your stats and rating you an A+ content provider, because a nice percentage of your 350 fans were interacting with your page – “liking” your posts, writing comments, maybe even posting “I got an awesome haircut!” to your wall.

Now, Facebook is gonna give you C, because you’ve got 350 new people who, after “liking” your page once, are never going to interact with you again. So as a purely strategic move, this is bad idea because it hurts where you will show up in the news feed. And showing up in your fans’ news feed is the #1 goal of any post. The higher, the better. After all, you can’t be relevant if you aren’t being seen.

But put that aside, and pretend Facebook doesn’t have an algorithm that rates which posts are most popular, and then put them in your feed accordingly. This is STILL a bad idea. Why? Because 50% of your fans are NEVER, EVER going to set foot in your salon or spend a dime on your services. So what business goal has been accomplished?

Of course, you could argue that artificially inflating your fan count is good simply because people love to join a winning team. Thus, the bigger your fan count, the more likely new visitors will take the step to “like” your page. This is actually, the only decent argument for doing this, and not an entirely bad one. But you have to pay a price. Now YOU have to go fan all those irrelevant pages to pay the favor back. (Unless you’re a freeloading jerk.) Do you really want to do that?

How about just building a REAL following instead? A following of people in your area who actually need their hair done? A following of people who love your services and will recommend them to others? Even a following of people from all over who are really into hair products and styles who come to your page to learn the latest and greatest?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t deploy tactics that bring in new fans. Of course you should. But when you choose them, make sure you’ve got at least a better than even chance that you’re attracting and retaining RELEVANT prospects and customers. Because don’t forget, business success – not fan counts — is what Facebook marketing is for in the first place.

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