Author Archive: Heather Kuta

Is Your Brand Making One of these Social Media Mistakes?

Social Media is no longer a question of if brands should join its ranks, it’s now a question of how, when, where, and to what end? It should be a no brainer, right? Wrong. Brands, from those who are fresh to a network to veterans that were early adopters, should consider taking basic steps to enable fans to gain value and build a solid relationship that extends past the screen.

If you’re looking out for what could pose as a road block for your brand in social, or have come to a speed bump that you’re not quite sure you can clear, the tactics below may help. Think about these barriers next time you’re between a rock and a hard place, and re-evaluate your Social Strategy to work for your fans once again.

Social Media Mistake #1: Focus on Only One Social Media Network

Choosing the first Social Media Network to debut your brand’s presence is important, and should be picked based on where your target audience is most heavily engaged. However, budding brands shouldn’t necessarily stop there. For some brands, fans are concentrated on one platform, and if that’s the case it’s wise to stick to one alone, as long as research guided the selection of that specific network.

Otherwise it’s wise to choose a solid variety of networks to focus on. Keep messaging, imagery, and voice consistent while tailored to each platform’s target audience (LinkedIn for business, Facebook for friends, Twitter for networking, etc.). Providing fans with a range of networks to engage with allows fans to choose which network best suits them so they may get to know, connect with, share, and potentially builds a relationship with your brand where they already spend time online.

Social Media Mistake #2: Focus on Only One Measurement of Success

Whether it’s important to grow your presence, increase the number of shares of your content, get consumers talking with and about your brand, or allowing fans to bring content to you (UGC), all measures of progress and success in Social should be treated equally important. If you have a fan base of 1 million, great, but if no one is joining in to chat, share, and influence, your large fan-base loses its importance. Keep an eye on the metrics most important to each social channel & tie into social goals that directly relate to your engagement, awareness, ROI, and overall marketing goals.  Also, don’t forget to monitor that growth (or at least a consistent ebb and flow) is present throughout the month. Keeping an eye on KPIs is an essential way to know what’s working, what’s not, and what your brand can do to maintain a solid profile and community.

Social Media Mistake #3: Publish Content Curated for One Network Across Others

The process of researching, drafting, editing, scheduling, and finally moderating curated content for a platform can be cumbersome, but there’s a rhyme and reason. Tailoring content for each network’s target audience means the correct brand message is received and understood by fans every time. Not only does making sure your content is on point, interesting, and of value to consumers, carefully curated content shows your fans you care about the relationship you are building with each one of them. Although it is good practice to carry a campaign, voice, theme, etc. throughout all social networks consistently, each message should be tailored to fit its corresponding audience. Re-using content might save you time, but in the long run it will cost you brand credibility amongst your fans.

Social Media Mistake #4: Publish Content without a Focus

It’s essential to develop a solid content and social strategy before you start posting, especially if you’re new to social. Maintaining a healthy mix of content, as well as making sure it is on topic, and relates to a brand is key to consistently keeping the attention of fans. Defining and maintaining a focus is also vital for brands that have had a social presence for an extended period of time.

Whether it’s time to jump into social, or rejuvenate your content flow, brands should look at what their focus and goals are in relation to the content being published. If you’re a finance company, and only publishing videos of cats because they “work” on social, there just might be a slight disconnect between what works for your brand and audience in social, and what you are deeming as valuable and presenting to your fan-base. Having a variety of content, an open mind, and a sense of humor is great, but all content should relate to your industry, fans, and overall Social Strategy before the publish button is ever pressed.

Social Media Mistake #5: Ignoring the Content of what is Published         

You could be posting too much or too little. You could be filling your copy with marketing, sales, and business speak. Maybe posts are riddled with spelling and grammar errors that go unfixed, or the tone being used isn’t connecting with fans. Keep an eye out for these potential follies, as it will hinder you from developing a valuable and memorable conversation with your fans. Fans remember both the positive, and negative experiences they have throughout your conversations. Make it easy on your brand by making sure that all loose ends are tied; copy, images, and links are approved and correct; and your voice and tone are that of a person, not a billboard trying to sell something to your fans. Fans do notice mistakes and will call you out on it, just as a friend would in real life. Take note of brands that do not value the process of building a relationship, they are not so kind. So remember, treat your fans like friends, and give them the best that your brand has to offer to make their experience with you that much more valued.

Maintaining one Social Media channel is tough, and managing many is even more of a challenge. To keep everything in check, we ask you to remember these simple things to make sure you are successful, and build meaningful relationships with fans:

  • Focus on the quality and content of what you publish
  • Maintain consistency for your brand throughout it’s lifespan and on all networks
  • Treat all metrics as valued assets
  • Give each Network you choose to represent your brand on the time needed to build up relationships with fans

What are some examples of brands that you think have nailed Social Media?

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Twitter in Real-Time Events

When it comes to real-time events, life with Twitter is not always like a box of virtual chocolates.

Whether it be the premiere of Breaking Bad, the excitement of who won at the Oscars, or sharing loud and proud that your country took gold for the most recent Olympics, Social Media can be both your best friend, and your worst enemy. Why, do you ask?  Let’s take a look at a few recent publicized events to explore why it’s so fun to share, and why sometimes you’ll avoid technology at all costs during your special events.

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Twitter in Real-Time Events

Here are three recent events: a television/movie event, a politically fueled event and an international culture event; to showcase how Twitter specifically has changed the way we both experience and interact with real-time events in an age of Social Networking.

Television/Movie Events: e.g. 2012 Breaking Bad Season Premiere
The build-up of Walter White’s fate for the final season premiere of one of America’s top television series, Breaking Bad, was highly anticipated. But what sort of effect could Twitter have on the show? The largest issue at hand for most Television/Movie events is fans in the first time-zone/country getting to experience and discuss the event via Twitter and other networks first. Fans and participants living in locations where the event premieres are lucky. For those waiting to experience the event for themselves however, it is difficult to avoid the multitude of comments, posts, tweets, photos, and more that flood the Internet upon the launch of the event.

Dish Network (smart cookies) offered to stream the premiere live around the country to subscribers to make less of the “East vs. West” Coast spoiler issue. However die-hard TV fans either watched (and heavily participated in the conversation on Twitter) live, or dvr’d the show with the hopes of avoiding all contact with the outside world on social media when the premiere began on the East Coast. Other tactics that were used to fend of the multitude of spoilers were creating filters and lists to weed out posts surrounding the subject and unsubscribing from fans that began to talk about the program. When fans were able to watch the event premiere in their time zone, the amount of excitement, and level of discussion online dropped immensely.

Politically-Fueled Events: e.g. London Riots of 2011
Many cannot forget the outrage and rampage on London and other major cities in England as angered citizens (mostly youths) took to the streets last year and left a trail of destruction and defacement behind them. Some sources blamed the spread of the movement on Twitter while others blamed the prolific use of mobile devices. No matter what angle is taken, it’s clear both the occurrence, as well as the monitoring, and finally the ending of these events came about with the help of the same tool: Twitter. Although the members of the Riots were able to interact with one another through tweets, posts, and the like, the general public was also able to monitor the progress of these events, and avoid many hairy situations by choosing another transit route. In the same vein, authorities were able to monitor the whereabouts, and activity of those acting out. Citizens also went a step further and used these same tools to organize for good – as rioters had done to cause mayhem.

To many the Riots would not have occurred with such force had the ease at which participants were able to message one another, organize, and get the word out of their plan as it was through Twitter. This same perspective however, goes for ending the Riots and apprehending those at fault. Authorities were able to track down participants through their Tweets and profiles as well as monitor the progress of those acting out. Citizens were able to create groups through lists and #hashtags to follow to spur the cleanup of neighborhoods damaged by fire and looters, and some were even able to assist authorities put a stop to events springing up around the city. The playing out of the Riots in their entirety would not have been the same without Social Media.

International Cultural Events: e.g. 2012 Summer Olympics
You knew it was coming. The effect of social media, especially Twitter, on how we experience real-time events around the globe has never been as prevalent as we recently observed with 2012’s Summer Olympics. On the positive side, fans of the games around the world we able to interact and bond with one another over the same subject in real-time. Athletes, announcers, media reps, and fans were all conversing together as the games progressed, responding to every event, mood, photo, and story that was shared. Even for those that were unable to follow the games on television live streaming of the events were run, chats on Twitter were lively, and the events could be experienced almost as if followers were able to see the events as they panned out.

For those who wished to follow the games on their own time zone, or were unable to watch the games in real-time, participating in the conversation was a bit more of a hairy experience. Many fans of the games that wanted to watch the delayed broadcasting had to cut themselves off from social networking, and even publicized media, to avoid learning the results of the events. With more tweets occurring and more users talking about the same topic internationally than ever before, this was no easy task.

From each of these real-time events, we can glean both pros and cons to the use of Twitter in terms of real-time events:

Pros:
- Small/Local events can have a higher impact as it gains more awareness and support online
- Higher volume/depth of discussion about the event(s) on Social Networks is possible through groups, chats, #hashtags, search and more
- Can be used to gather people and their enthusiasm for the event together (for good and bad, unfortunately) in the moment
- All participants in the conversation were able identify one another on some level from recognizing tweets an athlete or celebrity wrote to pinpointing which Twitter User wrote about an act of vandalism they committed
- Internet Networks (such as Dish Network) stream premieres/events live online allowing viewers around the country/world to tune in together
- Fans/followers get the opportunity to discuss in real-time
- The general population is able to get up-to-date information about the event, quite often faster than they can through National/International Media
- Tools to help filter, aggregate, and share social media messages in time with delayed/different time-zone broadcasting is under way

Cons:
- Difficult/impossible to avoid Social Media messages containing results/new information learned
- Time-Zone lag time allows viewing of the event in different time zones to be ruined by fans announcing details online
o Especially true in international event cases
- News/messaging taken-in by participants in the discussion can be unverified/false
o Rumors can develop and spread quicker as well
- Social Media participation and reactions to re-screenings, coverage, and delayed broadcasting of events is significantly lowered due to the amount of spoilers
- Events can escalate quickly with many fans jumping on the bandwagon, for better or worse
- Fans and followers lose some of the excitement in watching or learning about the real-time event due to hearing event news

Overall, our feelings are still the same; Twitter is here to stay for good. It’s important to create awareness about and be aware of the pros and cons of using such a powerful discussion tool during live events as we do on a regular basis. Having and learning how we want to present ourselves, our brands, and participation in conversations locally, nationally, and internationally is still a process we are discovering. Whether that’s a positive thing is for you to decide.

 

5 Challenges to Overcome in Creating Content & How to Do It

Content.

As dedicated community managers we all love (and hate) it. Sometimes we’re so psyched about a post we can’t contain ourselves. Then, it only gets 10 likes. One comment. No shares. What went wrong? Or there’s that post that you wrote at 2am trying to think of one last thing to say to your fans, and bam — 300 comments.

We’ve narrowed down the challenges of writing content consistently to five that come up every time you play the writing game: writers block, channeling the brand, brand interest vs. fan interest, lack of resources, and the inevitable time crunch.  We’re going to tackle them head on with a few tips and tricks. Content creation is a world of wonder. It takes your personality, wit, patience, and planning to get through it. But, that’s why we love it right?

1) Writer’s Block — We all go through it. Staring at the screen or update status box — For HOURS. Here’s what we do when we’re out of juice:

  • Look to others (competitors, industry, brands) for inspiration
  • Work with a team? Swap calendars for a fresh topic
  • Ask friends, family, colleagues, and even fans for topic ideas
  • Look for inspiration offline
  • Still in doubt? Have a cocktail! Or start in the morning.
    • Studies show when tired/slightly tipsy, creative juices flow

2)   Channeling the Brand (Appropriately) –- Fans don’t like to feel as if they are being marketed to (even when they know) so give it flavor!

  • Humanize your brand with a voice and personality
  • Share fun facts, stories, photos, events, etc. to tell the story
  • Ask fans for their thoughts & memories about the brand
  • Use conversational language
  • Find a complimentary brand’s style you like for inspiration

3)   Brand Interest vs. Fan Interest — Fans want to know you care and want to learn about them, not just share about your brand.

  • Ask their opinions, call-out comments, and reply to them
  • Demographics: remember Who they are and What they like to do

4)   Lack of Resources — What to do when your received brand assets consist of little/content fodder, PR and/or marketing papers, and a brand ready to shout their name across the rooftops. To get what you need:

  • Ask for it!
    • What’s the history, personal stories, employee stories, & why is your client proud to be part of the brand
    • Get a Marketing and Events Calendar
    • Get & take photos, videos, polls, etc.
    • Make content compelling
      • KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid/ Keep It Sharable Silly
  • Relevant Research
    • Sign up for newsletters, bookmark reliable online publications, and take a deep dive into industry news to share in-the-know news with your fans

5)   Time-Crunch – Working on a deadline is all about one thing- find your system and work it!

  • Brainstorm & keep lists relating to: Subject matters of interest, brands doing it right/wrong, content types, and resources
  • Organize and Plan
    • Map a monthly “ideal” calendar & determine content mix
      • Remember: 80(Non-Brand)/20(Brand) Rule
    • Create bi-weekly content calendar outline
    • Establish and work a content review process
    • Schedule
    • Analyze/reflect on content to determine what to write next!

Whether its your first day or your 1000’s, content creation is no walk in the park, but as long as you stick to what works for you, and get inspired, you will always think of the right thing to say.