Category Archives: Social Media

Post With Meaning Or Mean Post?

Visibly Media, social media like and dislike emoji

Social media channels are wonderful communication tools from which we can learn from others’ thought leadership, experiences, beliefs, motivations and passions. Each page we create on our website has its own visiblity, thanks to Google, but can achieve greater visual impact by posting to social media channels.

This revelation can be either a positive or negative experience, depending on the person utilizing these means. I’ll explain.

In the past year, more and more people are taking to social media to post some of the most hateful, hurtful, and harmful messages I’ve ever read or care to read. Quite a few have had little to no provocation and were resolved with either suspending or firing the poster.
As a small business owner, you must have either guidance or control over posts about your company by employees, contractors, suppliers or partners. I prefer guidelines vs. control, personally. I would rather positively encourage than negatively micromanage and discourage posts. This brings out some of the best posts I’ve read, because employees, et. al., have been given freer rein to explore not just their expression, but their own thought leadership as well.

So, why, then, are people paying the price for this with their jobs?
When I post one of my blog articles, or just make a post, it’s my viewpoint. Now, to that argument, as a solopreneur I can do that – no harm, no foul. However, if I were to go to work for another business, my comments could be construed as views representative of that company as well. This is what trips people up.

For example, if your company is working on a new product or service, you wouldn’t want to post about that and tip the hand of the competition, right? The same goes for “on the fly” posts you haven’t talked about with your employer and could become a pain point for the business.
Back in 2012, you may remember reading about a former CFO of an Tucson, Arizona business who was fired after ranting at a Chik-Fil-A employee in the drive-thru. No, he wasn’t upset about his chicken sandwich; rather, he was upset over the founder’s views on a particular topic during an interview. This business professional drove to the nearest Chik-Fil-A, ranted in the drive-thru and videotaped the entire monologue, then uploaded it to his YouTube channel after he got back to work.
I just Googled the reference: as of early 2015, the man was still unemployed and on food stamps.
Here are a few quick post tips:

  1. Breathe. Your post needs to be timely, but don’t get caught up in the moment and make a rash, improper judgment call.
  2. Read it twice. Don’t look for just grammatical errors; how will the post will feel to your readers?
  3. Stick to the facts. People should absolutely post their passions, but, be careful this doesn’t spill over too much into your words, lest you wander off into the weeds of the “I don’t know” zone. Worse, readers may think you’re arguing with them instead of conversing.
  4. Words have meaning. Is your post satirical? Mean-spirited? Theoretical? Would you say it like that to a person, in person? Would you want them to say it back to you?
  5. Teach. What we pass on to the next generation can be gold or dung – the choice is ours.
  6. Ask for an opinion. Another set of eyes as a reality check may save embarrassment.

What will your next post be written about? Choose your words wisely.

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.

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The Inference Of Our Words and Social Media Posts

woman posting to social media from mobile phoneThe inference of our words and social media posts can either push your brand forward, or come back to bite you. A recent co-post by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Sharon Day caught the ire of the social media communities, particularly Twitter. At first, the post seemed fairly harmless, but the inference of the language is what led to a Twitter firestorm.

Take a look at this excerpt from a national news outlet via mobile phone: (insert screen capture here, please click to expand):

twitter mobile post by RNC

Twitter mobile post by screen capture, courtesy Fox News article.

One would like to infer that Priebus and Day were not referring to the new president-elect as a new “king”. Unfortunately, what else could possibly be understood from these words?

Words have meaning. We’re taught this as children when it comes to name-calling of others. We’re also taught that “names will never hurt me”. That’s a pretty good visual of conflicting views, don’t you think?

Oh, no? “What does this have to do with business?”, you might ask. More than you think.

What Your Meant vs. What Was Assumed

We all know what the word assume means. In this post, we could assume that both Prieibus and Day meant the birth of the Christian Son of God, Jesus. It also could mean literally what the post says – that the president-elect is a new king in America. Yet, the scope and meaning may have been lost or confused because: 1) it was rolled into a political post from political leaders; 2) other than wishing Americans a Merry Christmas and the presumptive meaning of renewed faith for the season and the incoming president-elect, the meaning of the post is not entirely clear, leading to assumptions that may not be entirely accurate.

Think back on our recent presidential election cycle. Go back to the name-calling by both presidential candidates. One intended to separate himself from his competitors. While this purpose was accomplished, the unintended consequence was the assumption, by many people, he will continue this sort of langugage as president — not a great way to gain allies.

The other, while trying to accomplish the same, also had the unintended consequence of isolating and separating herself from about half the voting population and inferring they were “bad people”. Not the best way to get people on your side.

From this post, could political adversaries conclude that the election means we now have a new king rather than president? Yes, it could — and apparently, they did just that. The bigger questions: 1) is that what you truly meant to say; 2) why wasn’t your message written more clearly; and 3) how does this message relate to your brand?

Now, think of your own messages and posts for and about your business. What could your competitors conclude? What will your intended target market and audience conclude? Was this your intention — what you meant to have happen?

Watch Your Langugage!

Before you hit the Post or Publish button on your next status update or blog article, stop and read your words again.

  1. Is the language appropriate to the topic or your audience? Could you have chosen words that clearly stated what you meant vs. choosing words that make you seem important or educated? Will your audience have to look up any of the words you’re using in a dictionary?
  2. Is the message appropriate to the topic or your audience?
  3. Will your message attract or isolate readers? Was this reaction deliberate? If not, how will your audience reach a more informed understanding?

  4. How does this message relate to your brand? If it doesn’t, why are you posting it? Is your brand experimenting with a new direction to capture a new audience? Are you venting a frustration or celebrating a victory of a situation that your brand did not participate in directly?

Your intentions for your posts and articles should match your brand’s mission and vision statements. Choose your words wisely, lest you get “caught up in the moment” and post something you may regret later.

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.

Image courtesy of a Fox News article.


Why Your Hashtag “Strategy” Stinks and How To Fix It

Hashtags thrown against the wall.Your hashtag “strategy” stinks. Know why? You don’t have a real strategy. You don’t know what goals/results you’re trying to achieve, what expectations you have for the campaign and/or the hashtags, and what activities you’re going to utilize to make these outcomes a reality.

Here’s a quick background on hashtags. Hashtags were born on Twitter back in 2007 by Chris Messina as an idea to track conversations around a specific subject or interest. From this basic idea came the Twitter chats (learning and collaboration); movements, causes and disasters (i.e., #OccupyWallStreet, #LetsJoinHands, #JapanEarthquake); product sales (i.e., #SamsungS7, #iPhone7); events (i.e., #Rio2016, #Olympics); and social awareness (i.e., #BlackLivesMatter, #IceBucketChallenge, #BringBackOurGirls).

Business owners and brands know how to create a hashtag, for the most part: they start with the # sign and use a word or series of words with no spaces after it. They know they should either use one in a campaign or create one, but they don’t know which ones will get the most strategic visibility to meet their goals or how to create one that ties in to their campaign’s goals. Instead, some business owners create a hashtag that no one understands what it’s being used for, is what I call an “inside acronym” or “tech term” (used only within their industry or business), or is only relevant to that subject (which is good) but not being talked about by anyone else, including themselves (which is bad).

When creating a marketing campaign, you first decide what product or service you will showcase based on the goals of your company’s current business plan. You must decide the purpose of this strategy (i.e., what part of your marketing funnel you’re trying to target: product/service/brand awareness, client acquisition (new revenue), or client retention (marketing new products or services to an existing customer base). Once this is decided, goals and expected outcomes/results are planned to measure what your efforts should bring against the reality of what really happens.

Then, you decide how the campaign should be run: offline only (i.e., newspaper/magazine or radio ads, presentations, EDDM, etc.) online only (email to specific lists, social media, blog articles, webinars, etc.), or a combination of both. After you decide this point, you can determine whether or not a hashtag will be useful to your purpose.

Use An Editorial Calendar To Schedule Hashtags

Now that you know how your next marketing campaign will be presented, use your editorial calendar to plan out an entire month of blogging and social media posts, including hashtags. Here’s what you want to measure:

  1. Keyword vs. Phrase. Is the hashtag a keyword or phrase? Add a category to your calendar and monitor which one gets better results.
  2. Industry-specific. Are you targeting a specific industry for the Awareness or Consideration stages of your funnel?
  3. Use.How do you know that industry is using that hashtag? Is the prospect you want to do business posting content using it?
  4. Lone Wolf. Is your competitor or prospect the only one using that hashtag?
  5. Engagement. Both your competitors and prospects may be using the hashtag(s) you use. However, are they engaging with posters (posting a response or reply!) or just clicking the Like/Heart link? Mind you, I know sometimes a Like/Heart is okay, but if that’s all you see in their news stream you might rethink your own strategy.
  6. Social Media. List which social media channels you will be using to communicate your message and the hashtag(s). Pay close attention to both voices on each platform: your own voice (a.k.a., the company’s), and the channel’s.
  7. Save the date! Each post and its related hashtag should be scheduled consistently to maximize:
    • Google’s ability to capture your posts,
    • measuring what I can “consistent frequency”,
    • maximizing the number of eyeballs that will be reading it.

The hashtag(s) you choose to use can determine best visibility by day and time, and also by conversation. The last thing you want to do is attach a hashtag to your posts that has nothing to do with what you’re talking about! That means each hashtag must be researched to ensure both potential visibility and audience capture. Two good methods I use:

  1. Hashtags.org. This tool gives you a free 24-hour snapshot of the best time of day your chosen hashtag should be posted to Twitter, as well as about 5 snippets of conversation using this hashtag. If you don’t see a heartbeat (as I like to call it), the hashtag could either be so new no one is using it yet, or one you’re trying to brand to your organization (i.e., company name). Why Twitter? Two reasons: (a) hashtags were born on Twitter and the platform has fully supported this from day one; and (b) reporters use Twitter to look for interesting stories, media releases or company updates.
  2. Social media channels. OK, sounds like a d’oh!, right? You’d be surprised at how many business owners miss this simple step! There may be well over 500 social media channels, but they each handle hashtags differently. Check the channel you want to use to see how the hashtag is performing: (a) how long has this hashtag been used, and (b) what are the conversations around this hashtag?

If you’re using a different tool to measure hashtags and it’s working well for you, please comment to this article or on the social media channel you found this article.

Every business owner and social media manager should perform a social media audit at least once a year (larger companies should consider 2x/year). to ensure their strategy matches the goals of the business and marketing plans, and also ensure consistency with post frequency, voice, and engagement per channel. Download my social media checklist to get your audit started. No time? No problem! Fill out this short form and our experts will get your audit started.

To your success!

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.


7 Tips To Help You Avoid Becoming A Hashtag Whore

According to Urban Dictionary, a hashtag whore is someone who puts a hashtag in front of almost every word in their Twitter post. Their mission: getting as much attention as possible. Know what? It doesn’t work, people! This is THE ultimate “spray-and-pray” for marketing.

Your tweets and social media posts should be treated like pieces in a chess game. Each has a strategic purpose and reason for being used. Ask yourself this question: would you rather have a post that could be seen by several or several thousand, or a post that strategically targets people looking for the type of product or service you offer?

Tip #1: Make A Strategy. Most business owners I talk to may know who their target market is, but not how to reach them. Part of your marketing plan has to include a communications strategy, and that has to include both printed and online methods. Part of this plan has to include the content they want to find that will solve their problem. AND, this part has to include what hashtags they are using to find your content.

Tip #2: Research Delivery. Discover how others in your target market’s industry like to be communicated with, how they want (and expect) to receive it. Email? Presentation folder? LinkedIn post? Outside a social media platform, a hashtag can be used to help brand the business name, product or service, or a special event or cause. Find out also which mediums you cannot use a hashtag.

Tip #3: Research The Tag. Most hashtags I see used look like they were just thrown together with no thought behind them. As I research these tags on Hashtags.org (my favorite haunt!), I usually find a “flatline” for these tags – no one is using them or talking about them. Give some thought to what you’re tagging; research through sites like Hashtags.org to confirm their usefulness and conversations.

Tip #4: Check The Trends. Don’t post a trending hashtag (or respond to one) without first checking to see why it’s trending. Twitter shows you the latest trends in conversation and hashtags on the left side of your feed. Click on the tag you want to use and see what everyone’s saying about it. You will be saving yourself both time and possible embarrassment.

Tip #5: Search Using Google and Twitter. You can search more than conversations, especially through Twitter. You can search images, videos, live conversations, and best of all — what Twitter accounts are using that particular tag! Think there could be a few people to follow? Oh, yeah.

Tip #6: Don’t Hijack A Tag. You finally found a hashtag you feel is relevant to your business but someone else is using it. Check how it’s being used before you decide to make a post with it. Trying to capitalize on a trending tag that has nothing to do with you will ensure the Twitterverse never lets you hear the end of it. On the positive, catching the wave of a trending hashtag that does apply to your business or industry will get you tons of eyeballs. Make sure you check it out first.

Tip #7: #Don’t #Tag #Every #Word (or almost every). I see this practice often on Pinterest, most notably those with accounts at Etsy. While you might think this makes you appear smarter than the rest of us, it backfires huge by demonstrating you didn’t practice the above information.

Keep an eye on your hashtags, and keep the ROE from removing your ROI.

What’s the best hashtag use you’ve seen in any media platform? What’s the worst? Share below in the comments, and please, folks, keep it civil and clean.

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.

Successful Business Uses for Facebook and LinkedIn

This is an old post from my former blog, but I felt the information was still relevant today.

The corner where Marketing Ave. meets Strategy St.Deciding on a marketing plan for your business, whether or not to market your business in either Facebook or LinkedIn, and the right mix of disciplines to use is a combination of personal preference, trial-and-error, and industry statistics. The industry statistics help determine what combination of online and offline marketing tools your competition is using. Objectives help keep you on your marketing path by providing the support for the plan. The trial-and-error helps determine what works and what doesn’t by being flexible to try some other marketing idea when the current idea isn’t working. The personal preference is, well, up to you. Learn what your target market is using for social media platforms and gear your messages to both the audience and the platform.

LinkedIn is a social media platform with a more professional population. In this platform CEOs, entrepreneurs, decision-makers, business owners network for jobs, projects, and information. Members connect for colloboration, to show expertise, continue company branding and expand their professional network. Creating a LinkedIn Group has three advantages over joining an existing group for professional connecting:

  1. You write topics and/or posts and invite like-minded people to join and contribute to the new community.
  2. You are viewed almost immediately as a leader.
  3. Make new connections, find & be a resource for those needing help.

Facebook is another social media platform that is more social than professional. Members connect here to stay in touch with friends and family, or to find friends or family. The atmosphere is more laid back, more conversational, less formal than LinkedIn. After creating a personal profile, you can create a Business Page (f.k.a. Fan Page). This has three advantages:

  1. Build a community and network through posts and discussions.
  2. Continue branding and awareness of your business.
  3. Insights allow Pages to see what content is most influential for their followers, as well as receive notifications of new Likes and messages to Page.

The choice I am making for my two business’ marketing plans is to engage more through LinkedIn Groups. I am weeding out Groups I have joined that either are no longer active, or are no longer aligned with my business’ strategies. Ideally, continuing to utilize both cultures and maintaining a presence is desirable, but for my companies — both B2B (business to business) oriented, I must spend more time engaging in LinkedIn and create my own Group for interactions, information, and assistance.

Bottom line: business owners should make their social media choices based on knowledge of their target market, finding out what social media platforms they are using via email, phone and/or surveys, and what type of content is most important to them. Don’t assume your audience knows everything about your business. Listen to the questions they ask, and they will point you in the right direction for content creation.

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.