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March 2013

5 Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Social Channels

Lake and sky

It’s that time of year again. Time to clean out the closets, get rid of the household clutter, and do a deep cleaning to get rid of the winter cobwebs.

Spring cleaning shouldn’t be limited to your home. Dig into those social channels, and use this season to put some polish on your social outreach.

1. De-clutter your fan base. social channels spring cleaning

Use a social tools to identify and weed out inactive users on your social channels. Start spring fresh with a clean, organized, and socially engaged fan base.

2. Give your channels a social makeover.

Time to toss out the old wardrobe for updated styles. Modernize your cover images on Facebook and Google Plus, profile pictures, and social channel backgrounds to show your brand in a fresh light.

3. Refresh dusty social channels.

Re-evaluate your social channels. Unused, abandoned, or lackluster pages are signs that no one is engaging with the brand. Have you not posted in months? Time to rethink your overarching social strategy and decide which social channels still make sense in order to maximize fan engagement.

4. Organize lists. 

Create lists on Twitter that match your demographic and social influencers. Whether you’re creating a private list of competitors or publicly classifying best customers, it’s important to identify and organize key people who make your marketing mix successful. This also helps you listen to relevant conversations based on the audience you’re targeting. 

5. Spring into action. 

Partner with a local community group or nonprofit and host an event outdoors. Take advantage of the sunshine and extra time you’ll have now that your social channels are refreshed.

How do you clean up your social channels? (ragan)

13 Signs you Spend Too Much Time on Pinterest

Canoe on still lake water

After finding out that Pinterest will be rolling out some new features and changes to its site, it seems that many of us out there will become even more obsessed with the site than ever  before.

Here are 13 signs that show you may be a little too obsessed:

1. You pin at least a half dozen recipes daily, but you can’t remember the last time you cooked a real meal.

2. You’re single, but have at least 100 wedding-related pins.

3. You look aimlessly for the “scroll to top” button on Facebook.

4. You have pinned or re-pinned at least a half dozen photos of Ryan Gosling.

5. You are so obsessed with creating the “picture-perfect house” on Pinterest that you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your real house.

6. Two words: electronic hoarder.

7. You spend more time pinning to your weight loss inspiration board(s) than actually working out.

8. Every time you see a cool photo anywhere, you think, “To pin or not to pin.”

9. You can recite at least 50 different memes and ECards without hesitation.

10. You have an entire board or boards for exotic/tropical drinks recipes. But the most creative drink you’ve ever made was pouring a glass of wine.

11. Your perfect Friday night: A bottle of your favorite wine and hours upon hours to get lost on Pinterest.

12. When anyone asks what to get for your birthday, anniversary or special occasion, you direct them to your Pinterest board (with no less than 20 items) without hesitation.

13. Pinterest = your happy place. You flee there to escape reality, responsibilities and all that pesky drama on Facebook.


Pinterest Begins Rolling Out New Site Design

Purple flowers with dew drops

 Following a trial in January, Pinterest has launched a new look for its content-sharing social network today, which it says should start rolling out to users via an invite “soon”.

The first noticeable change is to the close-up view of pins. Now, when a user looks at a webpage for a specific photo or web clipping, they’ll be able to see other pins from the same board on the right-hand side. It uses the exact same mosaic-esque layout used on the home screen and individual boards, further extending Pinterest’s design ethos across the website.

Just underneath, users will able to see other pins sourced from the same website. So if, for example, you’re looking at a pair of incredible shoes, some of the pins underneath should show other kicks available on their online store. Likewise, a stunning landscape shot might have other snaps uploaded by the photographer to this website.

pinterest1 730x1053 Pinterest rolls out its site redesign with easier access to boards and related content from a pin page

At the very bottom of the screen is arguably the most significant design change though. Pinterest now shows a board, covering the entire width of the webpage, that displays pins posted by other users who also pinned this content.

Follow? The idea is that if you’re interested or intrigued by a certain pin, the likelihood is that you’ll also enjoy other pins posted by that Pinterest user. The likelihood, however, is that more than one user has posted that image or link though – so the new feature offers a way to look at all of this related content collectively.

Pinterest says it will be updating its Android and iOS apps “soon” to include “People who pinned this also pinned” content.

The social network has been working hard elsewhere too. The end result is a simpler and cleaner experience marked by subtle changes such as slightly bigger pins.

pinterest2 730x545 Pinterest rolls out its site redesign with easier access to boards and related content from a pin page

“We also responded to some feedback from pinners who told us they hated losing their place while browsing,” a blog post reads. “Now, when you scroll through pins and click on something that interests you, the back button lands you right back where you were no matter how far you’ve gone.”

These changes should keep users engaged in the site, not only because it’s a more enjoyable experience to navigate, but also because it’s easier to find new and relative content. That in turn increases the likelihood of a user being interested in a particular product, service or experience – improving Pinterest’s potential for monetization further down the road.

(Source: TheNextWeb/Pinterest)

The 10 Commandments of Social Media for Brands

converse in fields

While the anonymous, public and often informal nature of Internet dialogue often leads corporations to relax their guard, it’s important to note: Managing a brand’s social media presence is a tricky balancing act. The key to being successful? Keeping things polite and professional, and constantly acknowledging your audience’s voice, while adding value or insight to customer exchanges.

Looking to enhance your corporate social media efforts? Here are 10 simple rules every corporate social networking team should follow to better connect with fans and maximize the value of their online presences.

1. Thou shalt be patient and considerate.

While many campaigns seem to go viral overnight, it’s important to remember that businesses rarely experience instant breakthroughs or meteoric audience growth on social media. More important than chasing huge follower or subscriber counts is to consistently and meaningfully engage an audience by creating helpful and insightful content that addresses key concerns or speaks to consumer needs.

Over time, through constant two-way dialogue with users, this commitment will help your business build a loyal and involved following, the influence of which may far outstrip that of larger, less engaged audiences.

Be relevant, generous and sincere. While doing so may not seem as sexy or instantly gratifying as posting a viral video or infographic, it will help you build trust, empathy and, most importantly, relationships, the currency of the modern social realm.

2. Thou shalt not be indifferent to the voice of thy customer.

When you engage in social media, you commit to playing a role in very public customer conversations. This entails consistently having to acknowledge other parties’ opinions, and embracing both the good and the bad, including harsh or critical feedback.

Instead of looking the other way when someone posts something unflattering, take a moment to objectively assess the feedback. Constructive criticism not only presents opportunities to improve our efforts to serve end-users; it also presents a chance to engage in human exchanges, and apologize and appease the situation.

In other words, the goal is to create conversations, not critiques, and optimize the level of customer support and service provided to your audience. Sometimes, simply taking a moment to acknowledge others’ voices, or answer questions directly can bridge gaps that threaten to build a gulf between you and end-users.

3. Thou shalt be true to thyself.

You’ve spent ample time crafting your brand’s mission and values across your website, marketing materials and advertising efforts. Now is not the time to abandon the positive image you’ve worked so hard to cultivate, or forsake professionalism or propriety in the name of popularity.

Given the medium’s more personable nature, social media exchanges should certainly be more human than formal. But all should be respectful of customers, audience needs and the positive image you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. It’s important not only to respect followers’ time and intelligence, but also to be consistent with your branding and messaging across all platforms. That way, fans and followers know both who you are and the values that your business stands for.

4. Thou shalt think before you post.

Trade secret: Every post or status update you share should add value for your audience, regardless whether that value comes in the form of enlightenment, entertainment or an uplifting exchange.

Therefore, make every share unique, and think about how to ensure it counts – i.e., what can you add to the conversation that others can’t? As a simple example, retweeting posts of note is an excellent way to share information, but adding your own opinion or links to further resources is an even better use of time. Likewise, if you post every single little detail or update about your brand, industry and products, fans may become fatigued. Respect your audience and think about how to make posts superlative, singular and of notable worth before sharing.

The key question to ask yourself: What’s in it for them?

5. Thou shalt be brief.

Remember to keep it short and sweet on social media. You have only a few seconds to catch someone’s attention, and even less time to keep it. Therefore, make sure your posts have an immediate impact and utilize concise language, links, references or (better yet) visual assets, such as photos, videos and inforgraphics. These quickly convey key information at a glance.

Look for ways to distill an idea down to a single statement or elevator pitch that clearly and quickly communicates subject matter, tone and target audience, and provides further points of reference should audiences wish to dive deeper into the topic.

6. Thou shalt not hog the conversation.

In many ways, social networks serve as the world’s largest cocktail party. But no one wants to be stuck with a self-centered conversation hog.

The same rule applies to your social media presence, where it’s important to listen before speaking – doubly so, as the dynamics of conversation and rules of online behavior differ depending on context and parties in attendance. Dedicate the majority of your time proactively engaging your audience, then split the remaining time between content your audience will care about and promoting your brand.

7. Thou shalt do good.

Think of social media as the world’s largest megaphone or amplifier – it can project your online voice louder, farther and faster than ever before.

Always be engaging and upbeat (negativity never reflects well on the poster, especially online, where conversational subtlety and nuance are often lost in translation), and take advantage of the opportunities presented to promote positivity. Material you post online should be less promotional than beneficial in nature, designed to help viewers save time or money, enhance learning and awareness, or offer key opinions and insights. From securing support for charitable ventures to offering deeper looks at evolving trends to helping fans and followers make valuable connections, consistently look for ways to aid, assist and uplift your audience.

8. Thou shalt keep it strictly business.

While color and personality are always welcome online, business and pleasure seldom mix well in social media contexts – personal and corporate accounts are best kept separated. Remember: Users following business accounts do so because they identify with the brand, and expect content in keeping with its core image and focus. Posting anything outside of this realm may prompt confusion, surprise or indifference, and has the potential to reflect poorly on your brand.

Communications should universally be polite, professional and on-topic. Where the risk of misinterpretation or controversy exists, play it safe and skip posting. Keep your tone and voice upbeat and respectful – avoid complaints, negative comments and stabs at the competition at all costs.

9. Thou shalt respect the hashtag.

Twitter hashtags are great vehicles for highlighting topics of relevance, drawing audience’s attention and fostering fan engagement. However, they can also be dangerous when used incorrectly – i.e., too frequently or in inappropriate contexts.

Oftentimes, brands overuse hashtags or place them in unrelated posts to drive added visibility. But doing so may leave viewers feeling cheated, especially if those hashtags add no relevant context to conversations or potentially alienate readers. This can cause a negative reaction to your online voice and ultimately your business, which will not only hinder fan acquisition but potentially detract from your brand.

10. Thou shalt not lie.

Skip the temptation to embellish, fib or inflate the truth online, especially since it can easily backfire or even lead to potential legal repercussions. Likewise, be honest with your audience. If fans and followers have questions about an evolving scenario – e.g., a potential PR crisis -– sometimes, the best answer is simply a prompt: “Apologies, but we don’t know. However, rest assured we’re working on it, and will let you know as soon as possible.”

Trust is the foundation of any relationship – real or online, and its loss can have a marked impact on both your brand and customer perception. As Benjamin Franklin once pointed out, it takes many exchanges to build a positive reputation, but only one mistake to undo it.

(Source: Mashable.com)

Why March is Perfect for Kicking Up Your Marketing

fields with tractor

If you’re like most local merchants, you’re thinking about how your marketing campaigns can stand out from the competition. The good news is that March presents three unique opportunities – St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness and the first day of spring – to engage your customers using email and social media marketing. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Sharing of the Green

As one of the most festive holidays, St. Patrick’s Day is known for bringing the local community together to  celebrate. You can apply the same concept with a “sharing of the green” email campaign that presents a  compelling deal to existing customers when they share it with a friend. You can make it more enticing through an added incentive if that friend becomes a new customer.

 March Madness

The three-week basketball series is an opportunity to run an extended campaign. Also, since the games have national appeal, you can engage local customers while potentially reaching new ones across the country.

One way to do this is by posting a bracket on your blog, website or Facebook business page. Instead of advocating a gambling pool or taking sides on a particular team, you can list the teams in the brackets and offer a discount or a special offer based on the final score of the games. For example, a 12-point difference would equate to a 12 percent discount on certain items the day after the game.

This will prompt your customers to frequent your website and look forward to receiving your emails with information about the game results and your daily specials.

The First Day of Spring

To celebrate the first day of spring, consider hosting a private event for your VIP customers to give them a sneak peek at your new seasonal products.

You can also create a weather marketing campaign. For example, if March 20 is 65 degrees, customers will receive a 10 percent discount. For every degree over or under 65, they can apply the difference as an additional percentage off their purchase.

Still another idea is to partner with local merchants to create combination offers. For example, a dry cleaner and restaurateur can team up to offer a deal to customers that dry clean their spring wardrobe and then try a new dish at the restaurant.

Here’s to a successful end to winter and a fresh start to spring!

(Source: nbcchicago.com)

The Hidden Benefits of Social Media Marketing: Why Your Strategy May Be Working Better Than You Think

Boat on sea

social media marketingMost businesses venture into social media expecting to see a big return on investment. The hope is that new customers will come in droves, and that the benefits and revenue generation will be huge. However, this is rarely the case. It takes time to build momentum with social media, and the benefits aren’t always as obvious as we would like.

If you’re feeling a bit skeptical about social media marketing and whether or not it’s worth the effort, following are some reasons why it may be working better than you realize.

1. Brand Recognition – One of the most powerful ways to use social media is as a brand-building tool. With social media, you get to decide how you want to position your company and what you want people to know about what you do. With consistent effort and great content, you can build a reputation for your brand around your company’s values, benefits, and advantages.

2. Community – There is nothing like social media when it comes to cultivating a community. When your followers become part of your community, you gain instant access to them. That means you can find out what challenges they are facing and what they like and don’t like about your offerings. You can engage in ongoing dialog that can be more valuable than any kind of paid market research.

3. Repeat Exposure – There is an old marketing adage that says it takes six to eight exposures to a product before a customer decides to buy. A clear benefit of social media is repeat exposure with your network. You have the opportunity to remind them over and over again about what you have to offer, which can shorten your sales cycles dramatically.

4. Authority – For coaches, consultants, authors, speakers, and other service-based businesses, social media can be very powerful in helping you establish authority in your field—making you the go-to resource for your target audience to seek out for help. Share great content, answer questions, and serve your audience, and you will inevitably build loyal fans.

5. Influence – As your following increases, your influence grows. Having a substantial social media audience creates a snowball effect that can attract new customers, media interviews, joint venture partnerships, and all kinds of other opportunities. It’s a bit like when you see a crowd hovered around something. You can’t help but want to see what all the fuss is about, so a large audience will only attract more interest.

6. Website Traffic – Many people don’t realize that social media can be a leading traffic generator. When you share blog posts, videos and other content from your website, you give your audience a reason to click through and visit your site. Once there, you have the opportunity to inspire those visitors to take action by inviting them to sign up for your mailing list, make a purchase, or call to schedule a free consultation. Install traffic monitoring service, such as Google Analytics, and if you are committed to your social media efforts, you will clearly see that social media brings traffic. Also, make sure that your visitors receive a clear call to action when they visit your site so that you can convert that extra traffic into business opportunities.

7. Ahead of the Curve – Whether you realize it or not, your prospects and clients are checking to see if you are engaging in social media. I always find it a bit odd when I’m investigating a potential service provider online and I can’t locate a social media presence or worse, I find Facebook pages that haven’t been updated in months, empty Twitter feeds, and a clear lack of interest in engaging. Social media isn’t a fad and it’s not going away. Even if it’s not your top priority, if you stay current with activity, your prospects will notice.

8. Mindshare with Lurkers – There may be days when you wonder if anyone is paying attention to your social media networks. But if your efforts are consistent, I guarantee that more people are paying attention than you realize. Give it time and you’ll start to understand what’s happening behind the anonymity of the internet. You will eventually hear from people who say, “I’ve been following you on Twitter for ages. I love your posts!”

9. Competitive Advantage – The reality is that most of your competitors aren’t likely doing a very good job with social media (most companies aren’t), which gives you the chance to stand out. Also consider the flip side. If you avoid social media, you leave a big opening that allows your competitors to capture your audience.

10. Big Wins – While many businesses large and small are trying to justify the cost and time investment for managing social media marketing, an important benefit often gets overlooked: Big Wins. For example, if someone from LinkedIn connects you with a significant government contract, then that would certainly qualify as a Big Win. If a major media outlet finds you on Twitter and interviews you for a national article, then that is also a Big Win—one that you can’t measure based on revenues directly generated.

Big Wins don’t happen often, but when they do, they make it all worthwhile. It’s easy to forget results like these six months down the road you’re trying to assess whether your social media efforts are paying off. But that one contract you landed could cover your social media marketing costs for years. And that major media interview could lead to subsequent interviews and a line item on your resume that impresses a corporate sponsor three years from now. Never forget to factor in the Big Wins in social media.

(By: Forbes)

4 Key Questions For Social Media Success

Lightning in dark sky

Social media tools may not be difficult to figure out, but using these tools for a specific purpose is still a challenge for many. No matter what your business, you can use social media either to find new customers or answer your customers’ questions.

However, before you jump in the social media universe to publicize your brand or start a new campaign, you need to ask these important questions.

What do I want?

Your business will always be in one of these stages: creating brand awareness, providing product information, answering questions, giving comparisons, selling the product or service.

What are my objectives and expected result?

You may have just started your business or you may have launched a new product. The content you develop will fit into one of these categories. Eventually you will have to develop content for each stage, but it is important to define the immediate activity and objective of any campaign. For example, you want to create a buzz for a new product. It is important that you define this objective and define the kind of results you expect from this exercise.

Which Medium to Use?

You have your objective defined – create awareness for your new product. Depending on your business and product, you have to determine the type of media that is most suitable to create a buzz. If your products mainly appeal to visual senses, then creating content in the visual medium is the right choice. For example, if you are a tattoo artist, people will want to see your designs before they come to you and these will also appeal to tattoo enthusiasts. Long texts or short text messages will definitely not have the desired impact.

Which medium will have maximum impact on my customers?

Apart from matching the medium to the product, if you the only contributor to social media activities, selecting the media that best suits your business and that you are good at producing without investing a lot of time will give better results.

Which Social Media Network Will Help?

This is an age-old ideology in HR departments – find a person suitable for the job you have rather than adjusting the job to fit the available candidate.

Fit a social media network to the business, not the other way round.

Now you know your objective and the type of content you need to publish to create a buzz for your product. The time has come to go social media network hunting – with so many around, it can get really confusing. The most important factor, of course, is which network has the most number of active subscribers. For visual media, Pinterest, Instagram, and Youtube are your best bets.

Did it Work?

Any improvement in strategy is possible only when you measure the response to your campaign. If your objective was to create brand or product awareness, how many likes, shares, and visits to the product page did you get? Although these numbers do not guarantee that all the people will remember your brand, they can indicate brand exposure or reach. Brandon Hickie explains different methods you can use to measure the impact of your campaign.

Count the numbers!

These numbers can indicate that the people who engaged in any of these activities know about the brand or the product. There would be others who saw but did not Like or share, but that number can only be higher than those who did click or Like.


So here we are, with a simple 4-step process that ensures your social media activities for business are not random and thoughtless.

Step 1: Define your social media objectives and their expected results.

Step 2: Identify media that best portray your products.

Step 3: Identify social media networks that support your objectives and media.

Step 4: Measure and adjust your social media strategy.

Answering these questions will provide you with a concrete plan to work on your social media strategy. How do you measure the success of your social media presence and your activities on social media networks?

(By: Business to Community)

Facebook Introduces Changes to the News Feed

Couple Taking Photos
Here is how the new Facebok News Feed will look
March 7th has finally arrived, the Facebook press conference is over, and the new changes to the social media site have just been announced. Here is a quick recap of some of the new changes, and what the casual Facebook user should expect:

Richer content:

Your News Feed on Facebook will be a lot more visually oriented. Meaning, bigger photos and better quality. Your profile picture and cover photo will be bigger, and your photos and albums will allow you to post your descriptions within the picture. Pushing the visual content to the front, and eliminating “clutter,” as they put it.

All of the presenters at the conference seemed to tip their hat to Instagram and Pinterest, and acknowledged that visual content is the way social media is headed. The result, as the presenters said, will “get Facebook out of the way” and present the content and media you love in the forefront.


CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that he wanted to make Facebook more like an “interactive newspaper.” Meaning, not only are storytelling photos coming to the forefront, but your content will also be presented in a more topic-oriented format. Allowing you the choice of viewing posts from friends, or selecting topics (music, sports, health etc.) and reading about what’s happening in those areas.

In addition to topic selections, your News Feed will also show you trending articles based on the pages, people, and issues you “like.” For instance, if you “like” Justin Timberlake, then your feed will post trending articles about him.

Also, for those of you who have complained about Facebook’s news selecting algorithm, EdgeRank, Facebook will be adding an “all friends” option to the News Feed. Meaning, if you select this option, you will be able to see ALL of your friend’s posts in chronological order. Just like the old times.

Mobile Consistency:

In the last portion of the conference, Facebook’s Tech Lead, Chris Struhar, announced that the look and feel of Facebook will now be more consistent across all devices. Meaning, the site will look and operate the same way whether you are browsing on a phone, computer, or tablet. Allowing the user to easily transition from one platform to the next and not have to “relearn” how to use Facebook.

The new changes will be rolling out on the web as soon as today, March 7th, for certain users, with the tablet and phone changes to be announced in the near future.

What are your opinions on all the new News Feed changes announced at the Facebook press conference? Leave a comment below and let me know if you think this will enhance your Facebook using experience or not.

(Examiner: Steven Neville)