All Posts By

Michael Brooks

Your Cheat-Sheet to Paid Social Media

By | Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

It might be frustrating, but paid social media promotion is the future. Although social platforms like ello are attempting to break the mold an not sell your information or make it available to advertisers and marketers, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have already caved, providing insights on each and every one of us. Scary, perhaps, however in this day and age we are well aware of the choice we’ve made and the repercussions that go along with our subscriptions to these networks. In quite a few cases, we’ve found something extremely helpful online through these targeted ads despite our dislike for them.

Your company needs social promotion if you want stronger brand awareness. If you need a quick primer on paid options for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter ads, continue reading and let us know what you’ve found most effective in optimizing  your spend!

Facebook Options

What: Facebook gives you the option of targeting millions of users through paid options across all demographics. Some options include:

  • Marketplace ads/Paid advertisements (run on the sides of user’s Facebook feeds)
  • Page post ads (ads placed in a user’s news feeds, however they aren’t liked as much)
  • Promoted posts (boosted posts that reach more than the 16-30% of your total audience)
  • Sponsored Stories/‘Friends of Friends’ outreach; friends of friends will see your posts

Why: Because Facebook now limits your reach as a business through adjusting EdgeRank, the platform is mostly ‘pay-to-play’ now (meaning you need to spend money to stay effective). Using Facebook’s massive network and robust tools (especially Custom Audiences), however, you can target specific regions, genders, groups of people and much more while keeping spend moderate.

How Much: Facebook has very  broad pricing when it comes to these various campaigns. Dynamics can change quickly depending on who you want to target and for how long. Regarding ads, PPC seems to be quite decent for their Marketplace Ads (some for mere cents per clink; even as low as $0.01). Because of the trend of plugins like AdBlock, we recommend utilizing PPC.

LinkedIn Options

What: LinkedIn is known for its B2B marketing services; clients that focus on B2C probably won’t see much successes in paid advertising. They offer simple ads that can redirect to any URL or social media page.

Why: LinkedIn has a huge business database full of users who own their own businesses who are looking to improve those in which they work. Web design, branding and other services we provide would do well on here with the right tag line and ad (human image on the ad, talk about the free audit, then give a deadline to drive action).

How Much: Probably the most expensive option at around $1-2 a click, even up to $5-7 for certain niches (uncommon, but very possible). Should be looking at $2 a click on average. If you’re looking to hire new talent, posting jobs can cost you upwards of $300 a job, less if you buy some in bulk.

Twitter Options

What: There are quite a few options on Twitter for promoted content. The pricing for all of them is relatively similar, and is much more affordable than LinkedIn.

  • Twitter provides ads that are shown throughout the website depending on your keywords and audience. Everything is based on a bid platform, meaning you set an amount against other advertisers for an ‘action’, and the one that pays the most wins. In most cases you won’t have to bid very much to stay competitive.
    • Promoted trends are located in the sidebar and are easily noted as being promoted. They’re good for getting a conversation started or bringing in new leads through a hashtag or new topic.
    • Promoted tweets can target genders, regions, devices, and more. They are at the top of a page and are triggered depending on the user searching for content. You are only charged when someone engages with the tweet, so you get instant value for your money.
    • Promoted accounts allow you to be found in a users follow suggestions. You are only charged when a user follows you as a result of the promotion.

Why: Twitter has a much more active audience than any other social network, and their users contribute and engage more with brands more often, too. Promoted content can help anyone grow their following with users that actually care about their cause and not just filler followers.

How Much: Usually in the cents range for PPC. Options depends on keyword and reach, but it’s said to be very affordable.

 

How to Use Social Media During the Holidays

By | Social Media | No Comments

The holiday season is a great time for people of all backgrounds, ages and cultures to get together and celebrate family, friends and tradition (alright, and buy your products, of course). As a business, it can be difficult to optimize your advertising strategy let alone your social media campaigns aimed at pulling in customers and generating buzz for the extremely lucrative holidays. How do you get more eyes on your business and create more brand awareness?

Following these tips won’t just get more social media users to your website, stores or other sales hubs; they’ll ensure your fans and new followers know you’ve got some of the holiday spirit in you, too.

Sprinkle Some Christmas Magic on Your Ads

Your ads are one of the first components of your digital campaign you should alter for the holidays. Putting a bit of a spin on your advertising won’t only warm up viewers of your ads, they’ll let your audience know your a brand that’s current, fun and thinking of them when you push out your latest campaign. This doesn’t just mean adding Santa’s and Frosty’s to your social ads; we’re talking about integrating the colour scheme, using playful language and using smart inferences to your niche.

Focus on the Customs of Your Audience

If your audience is mainly Jewish, for example, you’re less likely to be on message if you’re using a rather specific Christmas oriented voice. It’s all in style of your message; using location-centric tools to find your audience across networks and be sure to speak properly to your choice audience. Not everyone during the holiday season is celebrating Christmas; be mindful of this fact and promote multiple holidays if you’d like, or even play it safe and speak to the festivities of the winter season. It’s not too early to mention sales or promotions for the New Year, as well, so take this time to speak to the time of year.

Aggregate Holiday Oriented Content

Social networks like Pinterest are great places to collect and share holiday content, from recipes to DIY to crafts and more. The holidays are a time for sharing and creating memories together, and making use of visually oriented networks can help communicate to users that your brand is interested in the same interesting, fun and family-oriented content. As we like to tell our clients, plain old copy is too boring to capture the spirit and imagination of the season, so take pictures of your products or simply share content on a consistent basis that’s appealing, shareable and festive.

Keep Up-to-Date on Holiday Hashtags

Instagram, Google+, Twitter and Facebook are all well known for their hashtags that help users find relevant information on their interests.

  • #Holiday(s)
  • #Xmas
  • #Christmas
  • #Santa
  • #Gifts
  • #MerryChristmas
  • #HappyHolidays

There are many more, but these are the most relevant hashtags at the moment that speak to western Christmas in its current form. As users collaborate and create new hashtag campaigns themselves, the landscape will undoubtedly change, however these are safe choices for any network you might attempt to frequent.

 

 

Getting the Most Out of Your Twitter Images

By | Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

Images capture the imagination. The world’s greatest, most influential writers have captivated children and adults throughout the centuries with spellbinding stories and prose, however many of the world’s most stunning photographs easily speak the equivalent of thousands of words, each telling their own stories. On social media, our own personal stories and opinions are shared each and every day through useful articles, information dumps and status updates; would they, too, benefit from great imagery? Not just the same old copy only content and links? Would there be a stronger human connection and reason to get engaged?

Of course. This is one of the largest reasons why networks like Instagram and Pinterest have taken off in the last few years; people want to share photos and experience a world beyond words, all while experiencing it with others. Twitter has gained traction as one of the fastest growing, most influential networks for businesses of all kinds, but it’s known more for its word limit than it’s use of images in posts. Despite being an easier network to leverage than Facebook or Google+, Twitter does often pose as a difficult network to see immediate successes on; if you’re not part of the community, it can be extremely difficult to breakout without the proper connections and endorsements.

So where do you get these endorsements? Through sharing great content (be it your own or others). One way to showcase this content is through photos, images and graphics; optimizing your images for Twitter might seem a bit irrelevant (you could consider it a primarily text centric, but actually including photos at all serves as a massive booster for your social campaign. On average, posts with images are twice as likely to be retweeted, 90% more likely to be favorited and receive 20% more clicks. As I said before, a picture is worth a thousand words, and with such a limited amount of characters to convey messages to your audience…there can be a disconnect.

If you’re looking for some easy tips to supercharge your Twitter campaign, check out these quick-and-dirty photo tips.

1. Find High-Quality Images

When posting articles and other useful links, be sure to move beyond just the included images in the associated posts. Yes, it might be easiest for you to just upload the image the author already included, however who want’s to look at low-resolution images that may or may not be relevant to your post in the first place? Using resources such as Compfight or Google Images (with reuse rights on, of course) are available for your use. Stock photo websites can be awesome places to find images that aren’t just captivating, but are at higher resolutions; if your images aren’t large enough, there’s the chance they won’t actually be ‘featured’ (full maximized to catch your audience’s attention). As recommended by Danielle Cormier, be sure to use images higher than 800 x 500 (we’re sure a bit smaller than that will be featured, perhaps around 600 x 350 works) and use as many commercial-use images as you can to stay in the clear.

2. Use Overlays

Canva has been a huge player in the social media graphic world lately; if you’re ready to move up from Paint, Canva is certainly the tool for you, saving all your custom graphics and images onto the cloud while providing some great graphic resources for your projects. If you want something even more rudimentary, Spruce serves as a great tool for captioning images or establishing a CTA where you just didn’t have room for one before. No matter the tool you use, optimizing your images with graphics, titles, hashtags and captions can speak to your audience in a way plain copy by itself can’t.

3. Don’t Just Use Images

Counter intuitive? Actually, I’m just saying for you to use the image space for something more than just photos as filler. Mix things up! Previous mentioning tools like Canva and Spruce, try your hand at creating quotes, asking questions, or even other creative uses like word/object searches, contests, analytics, charts, comparisons and more. As I said before, it’s easy to just upload some in-line images into your next post, and people likely know that. Flex your creative juices and think outside the box; wow your visitors and they might just come back for another visit.

 

 

4 Really, Really Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice

By | Social Media | No Comments

I’m a sucker for blogs that give me the bleeding-edge, up-to-date social media trends and updates (you should check out Buffer Blog for some really comprehensive stuff), but just like every other niche and platform, there’s going to be someone out there who –not purposely– publishes some really bad advice. And we mean baaaaaad.

Think you’ve heard the worst, actually plausible, well intentioned social media advice for your business? Here are four you might actually follow yourself.

“Use Every Platform”

Probably the most common of these poor pieces of advice. Many without corporate or enterprise social media experience are likely to tell you you’ve got no choice but to use Facebook for any campaign you’re hoping to augment your digital marketing strategy. The reality is, as per one of my most recent posts, you need to be where your audience is. You’re wasting time, money and resources if you’re attempting to find leads, build relationships and grow your business everywhere. Do your research and keep your social media presence across networks lean and mean until you can really devote resources across the digital space.

“Like and Share Your Own Posts”

Although many might not know this, sharing or ‘Liking’ (called different things across different platforms; promotion, in the end) doesn’t increase your reach and impressions on just about every network out there. Promoting and sharing your content with the account that’s publishing the content doesn’t leverage a wider audience or tap into another user’s network. We still believe it’s a stigma in many situations and might make you look…well, what do you think it makes you look like? Heavily promotional, perhaps? Unsure of how to actually use social media? Yup.

“Post as Much as Possible”

Keeping it short and sweet, people on social networks like Facebook will likely run for the hills if you post 5-10 posts a day to a single platform, be it relevant content or self-promotional fluff. We know being active is awesome, but instead of scheduling posts and appearing as if you’re active, engaging with audiences is actually an extremely beneficial practice to turn to habit. In truth, your engagement is what will likely take your campaign to a completely different level, granting business, new partnerships or general brand awareness. Don’t pester people with an avalanche of content; post meaning, useful and valuable content and you’ll never go wrong.

“Have HR Handle Social Media”

As social media and community managers, we take our jobs rather seriously; we’re not just playing on YouTube and Twitter all day (we’re not, we swear!). We’re executing social media strategy to better help your business, getting it in front of eyes that you’d otherwise not the get the chance to through traditional digital marketing methods such as advertisements or email campaigns. Your internal team has their own set of responsibilities; does pushing for a less than adequate social media presence, which may compromise someone’s efficacy in their core role, make the most out of someone’s skills, time and resources? Not really. It’s our job as social media managers to ensure you establish a digital footprint and grow your foundation on our time, not yours.

Where Your Audience Really Lives

By | Social Media | No Comments

Social media is an ever-evolving beast. Not only are new social media networks popping up all over the place each and every day (think ello and TSU), but the rules are changing all the time as well. Ad free networks. Networks with built in currency where invites and friends determine your wealth and worth. Networks of merely one word messages and images for correspondence.

Things are a bit different than they used to be; it’s no longer 2004 and the only major player in social media outreach is Facebook. So what about this blue giant? What about our good friend Facebook for finding great audiences to engage with? What about Twitter? Or one of the newer kids on the block, Google +? All these networks have proven as useful channels for communication, idea sharing, entertainment and much more. They’ve proven themselves to consumers and marketers: these are places where users aren’t afraid to part with their information at the cost of always-on human interaction, no matter how alone at home you might be or how removed you are from society. Depending on where you live, these networks reign as law, standing the test of time.

The Popular Networks

Today, we might call these the ideal networks to find your ideal audience; your perfect place to find audiences for your social media marketing campaigns. But you know what? There’s something wrong with this state of mind, something I find a bit stale. Not the networks themselves, perhaps, but how we classify them and always rely on their popularity and reach. When you think ‘social media marketing‘, your mind probably flickers to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or a few other networks you hear about day-to-day, week-to-week. Is that good behaviour? Should we envision these communities as the internet’s most essential forums for communication and identity?

You could call this a rant, but I’m tired of hearing that the power of social media is limited to the most popular social networks. As a business, some will say you can only pick Facebook, Twitter or whatever other mainstream network that compliments your business and its presentation online. Don’t think for yourself; do what everyone else is doing. Force yourself to use a Facebook, even with it’s declining reach and business adoption. 

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

So what’s the truth? If these networks aren’t the only ones, where else should you look to engage and leverage audiences interested in your product or services?

You might not like the answer, but it’s wherever your audience lives.

Where Your Audience Resides

You don’t like the answer, and I get it, but it’s the truth and I’m not going to attempt to pull the wool over your eyes. A community is a coming together of people from countless backgrounds and experiences, although many individuals share qualities, likes, desires and many other things with other members of such communities. It’s what makes them tick; a gaming community around multi-player covert  shooters is going to be different than one that frequents Twilight fanfics (hey, there’s very likely overlap between the two). They’re different, but similar.

You’re not going to find the heart of these communities in the same place; you’re not going to find the most passionate, most invested users all together on Facebook or Twitter. In a matter of speaking, it’s too cluttered and ‘mainstream’. Twitch, for example, serves as a platform for competitive game streaming, and continues to blossom into successful gaming community. Twitch may be more mainstream than other game oriented networks, sure, but they’re extremely passionate because they have a network of more passionate people who have invested their time away from popular networks.

I’m aware there are thousands of groups and lists out there on Facebook and Twitter respective, places where you can find influencers and thought leaders in every possible niche; on Facebook, for example, users are given the option of groups. However, the problem lies not in the strength of these platforms technically: it lies within them at a fundamental level. Because networks like Facebook are a place for everyone to interact and cut their own piece of the pie, we see less…how should it be phrased? Isolated communities? Less distinction? When we build a giant condo with millions of rooms, it gets crowded; you know that next door you’re going to find anime enthusiasts to…well, just about anything. Not that it deters you, but what about those ‘cool kid’ clubs? Where else could you feel different and understood?

I’m not promoting a network in particular, nor am I discrediting the typical social media campaign organizer or manager and calling them lazy. No, what I’m attempting to do is trying to get us interested in new ideas, new communities and taking the time understanding your audience. And I mean your actual audience, not the one you think exists where you think it does.

Think beyond the typical. Do your research. Don’t be afraid to fail if these communities don’t happen to reciprocate; refine your strategy and take the next step. That’s how marketers have struck it rich, and that’s how they’ve succeeded.

Quick Advice for Kick-Ass Customer Service on Social Media

By | Social Media | No Comments

If your business isn’t online, that’s one problem; if your business isn’t in the position to tackle customer service online…that’s another. Sure, not every mom-and-pop shop has the traffic, reach and reputation that larger retailers do, but the gap is closing in regards to customer expectations. Today’s customers expect some sort of channel to communicate to your business through, be it a phone number or email address. Growing still is the number turning to social media to communicate their concerns, experiences and compliments; we’re a digital connected society in every sense of the word, now more than ever.

And it’s not slowing; people are becoming enthusiastic about awesome customer service online, and it’s up to you to fulfil that expectation. Need some direction? Follow these three easy steps and you’re well on your way to some super-happy, rather impressed customers.

 

1. Craft a Culture and Experience

Your customer’s might not expect you to message personally on Facebook for questions to your answers, however that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider stepping it up another notch. Why not message your customers personally on Twitter? Why shouldn’t you partake in customer service that isn’t putting your company in the spotlight? Give some value to your responses and make users want to interact with you again and again. Great experiences only lead to happier, more invested customers, and that likely means more business and referrals for you.

You probably shouldn’t respond to customer inquires like a robot, either. Giving your brand some personality is the first step in making you stand out from the pack. Who want to see or hear another boring, automated message? Personalize it. Be witty, compassionate, thoughtful, truthful and real.

2. Be Quick, Be Nimble

Alright, so you might not have the absolute best listening software to keep you in the loop, but you still have your rudimentary social media feeds (and if you’ve got a smart phone, a million apps to choose from with push messaging). There shouldn’t be an excuse if you miss a question or chance to engage with the plethora of tools available at your disposal these days, and your customer’s don’t expect any. Accounts like JetBlue often have response rates below 10 minutes, which is often better than most casual users on social media.

People want to know you respect the use of their time, and nothing says ‘I Seriously Take Your Time Seriously’ than getting back to them within a half-hour time frame. Always keep your eyes open!

3. Go Ahead and Stand Out

Although follower ratios on social networks look important, they really aren’t. Likes and follows are a means to an end (in business situations, anyway), because they augment your impressions and reach with good, valuable content. That being said, having a good follower ratio (or really just more followers) does make your account appear to be more trustworthy and reliable, and that in a sense is important to your online strategy. Although followers come with time and effort (and we mean meaningful, relevant followers), you can improve your social image by posting daily/every few days with both status updates and relevant industry content. People don’t follow silent, boring accounts, right? Pump out good content and it’s more likely you’ll see engagement and spark more conversations.

Appearances only mean so much, but on social media optimizing your accounts for best visibility can really give you a boost.

4 Unconventional Social Media Networks To Compliment Your Business

By | Social Media | No Comments

We’re all suckers for traditional social networks. Digital marketers once found bliss in re-evaluating their Facebook strategies countless times to expand their reach when reaching our full audience was so much easier. However, times have changed; Twitter and Facebook have especially turned sour with changes to their algorithms (poor EdgeRank). You might be a Facebook veteran with hundreds of likes, or a Twitter wizard with thousands of some-what active followers, but why should that stop you from reaching your arms deeper into the digital world? What if you don’t have the reach you once had or are considering targeting more niche audiences? You don’t need to sit on these new changes; be creative and search for new places to start the conversation. Here’s a list of some lesser known social networks that might help you target and leverage specific audiences to help grow your brand and help you get more business.

 

Fancy (http://fancy.com/)

Fancy is a retailers dream. Akin to Pinterest and other social networks that focus on visual content, Fancy allows you to collect and save images you like, although Fancy is far more specific in what is actually allowed on the site. Instead of sharing pictures of rainbows and kittens, Fancy is a platform for sharing products. From glowing toilet seats to 24-carat gold rubber ducks, (and maybe some more normal stuff), Fancy lets people know how badly you want stuff while actually letting you buy it right away (as if we needed the it!). If you’ve got some unique products and know how to make them look good in photos, make use of Fancy to get your cool stuff out there.

 

Medium (http://medium.com/)

Medium is one of my favourite services to date, mainly because it’s actually a service that represents what blogging actually is (or used to be; all opinion, of course). Yes, this blog post is informative and helpful while retaining some of my opinions about useful social networks, however the term ‘blogging’ was supposed to represent a more personal conversation about life and it’s experiences. It’s supposed to be more frequent, and less…well, less of what it is now: content marketing. Don’t get me wrong; content marketing is wonderful and useful when actually done with genuine thoughtfulness, however seeing so many pieces written by digital marketing agencies with the sole purpose of converting you makes me miss what writing on the web was once about.

Back to the network. Medium changes things by becoming a service where you can write attractive, easily-digestible content on a robust platform very easily. It’s about the story, not what’s necessarily being sold to you or nudging you to act and become a conversion. Medium isn’t just a place for article writers and storytellers; it’s a place for day-to-day updates in a similar vein to Twitter except with more context. As a business, choose Medium as a place to post real, relatable content that help humanize your brand. If you don’t have a blog living on your website (although we do recommend it), you could use Medium as another outlet to provide thoughtful updates about the experiences of yourself and your staff.

 

ListGeeks (http://listgeeks.com/)

Lists have always been important. You probably don’t do too much shopping without one. You probably also follow and update your workflow according to one, too; we get it, they’re invaluable in helping us remember. But what use could a social network based around lists have to offer your business? Sounds lame? Well, ListGeeks gives you a place on the web to create public and personal lists that tell others how your rank and order services, products, people, events and more. Imagine: creating a list that helps prove your knowledge in a niche and where viewers can comment and agree (or disagree) with your choices, generating free buzz around any topic. ListGeeks lets you share data in a fun, attractive way, an alternative to infographics and boring ole’ text. Although there are quite a few other sites like ListGeeks, I love their look and functionality despite their beta status.

 

Storify (https://storify.com/)

Looking for content to make an interactive experience? Use Storify to pull content from other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to create a custom story about your brand or your campaigns. Not only does Storify add a visual element to your blog entries or posts, it allows you to send emails and reach out to various audiences with likeable content that sticks. If you’re interested in highlighting how happy customers are with your business’s services or products, Storify can do you right by properly framing them.

How Often Should I Post to My Blog?

By | Other, Social Media | No Comments

Blogging isn’t for everyone, which is exactly why it’s turned into a service where businesses pay agencies and freelancers to manage their network for them. Bloggers, content creators, writers, storytellers, copy artists: they’re called many things by many different people, but those who offer blogging services, either independently or as part of an agency, are great researchers and writers above all.

Not sure what message to send to your audience? Good bloggers can summarize your business goals, strengths, tone and more, establishing a solid foundation for your brand online. They’re indispensable, but the importance of blogs for both business and personal use still goes unappreciated.

But hopefully you’ve been educated and told that maintaining a blog is a good idea for establishing a digital presence. If you’re unsure how often to post to your blog (regardless if you’re managing it or not), you’ve come to the right place. Our blogging service can set you on the path to a great digital presence with a SEO foundation and followers who love your content. If you have some blog ideas but don’t know how often to post, keep reading.

Blogging for someone who doesn’t do it often can feel more of a chore than an accomplishment. Blogs usually take so long to impact SEO that some businesses don’t even bother to update regularly. So what are they missing out on? Why shouldn’t you just turn to your current digital strategy? Your blog is a place to start conversation. It’s a resource that could make businesses standout as an influencer in their field. It’s a channel to provide value and meaning to their potential customers and clients.

It would be a mistake not to blog, especially on a consistent schedule. I’m not talking about posting at the exact same minute each and every week, but rather how much you post a month. What’re the best practices? Well, if you can create content you actually find interesting to write about (which I suggest you do, as your audience will be more enthralled with you writing), I would recommend at least one post every week. That amounts to about four a month, which is actually pretty considerable; depending on the quality of your writing, it might take you an hour to create a strong blog post. It may take you significantly longer, and that’s okay. Keeping to a schedule will help make creating posts easier by helping you set aside time to actually get around to making them.

A post a week will likely improve your SEO less than putting out two or three a week, but that doesn’t mean you should give up and not bother posting if your competitors are creating content left and right. Quality content trumps quantity any day of the week these days, and SEO algorithms are only improving, highlighting the importance honest content instead of vast legions of poor, unoptimized copy. Also, SEO is only part of the story; blogging can bring you more traffic if shared and linked across the internet, increasing your fanbase and helping others ascribe value to your brand. This is why blogging is invaluable to businesses in this day and age: blogs (with properly crafted content optimized for your audience) that offer value are useful in their own sense, and in the everyday world, value is actually worth something.

You want more customers? You want more people to care about your brand? Offer them something each and every week; offer them something useful they can take home and improve their businesses and their lives. Keep them coming back. Keep them interested, and they’ll never forget you.

4 Misconceptions About Social Media Management

By | Social Media | No Comments

If you’ve never used social media for business before, be it promoting products and services, or simply establishing an online presence, you might have some preconceived notions on best practices. I’ll be honest: I never thought certain aspects of social media management made sense until I put them to use to reflect on their usefulness. To save you the trouble of undermining your social media strategy (if you choose to take it head-on yourself), here are some of the largest misconceptions on how to handle social media.

 

Twitter and Facebook are the only useful, popular social media networks.

The first misconception. They might be extremely popular, but there are numerous networks out there with lots of users interested in engaging, sharing and following. In addition, just because Facebook has a large user base doesn’t mean it’s available or practical for you to leverage; some networks jump out to your cause or goals. You have to think about your audience’s demographics before you leap and dismiss some networks.

For example, Pinterest is made up of primarily women with interests in design, DIY, and crafts. Learn to make use of your ideal audience; find more interesting ways to reach out to them and share your story. Hangouts, which is integrated with Google +, is a great way to have weekly conversations with members of your community, humanizing your organization and putting a face to a name. Experiment and explore. TD;DR: Your ideal audience can be reached on some networks more easily than others. Don’t exclusive stick with Facebook and Twitter just because everyone else is.

 

Text posts perform just fine.

A common mistake by anyone who thinks that engaging content is merely a random linked with a bit of auto-filled text. Although it serves as the prime method of communication online, copy simply doesn’t catch your eyes as well as a crisp image can. Images with your posts (even posts that are merely a link) can bring some context, imagery (did I really need to type that?) and interest, as a large majority of Twitter posts, for example, have no images attached to them.

Aren’t you more likely to click on a post that isn’t just larger, but also gives you a preview of what the URL might actually be about? Standing out from the pack is what social media outreach is all about, and you’ll always outperform the exact same post that’s only copy. Yes, using pictures with Twitter takes up characters, and its a bit of extra work to upload them, but its well worth it. TL;DR: Photos and graphics are almost essential for copy centric social platforms.

 

Hashtags are for teenagers.

They might seem a bit childish or obscure, but hashtag contribute heavily to social media, and to your marketing strategy. Hashtags are used for discovery and tagging relevance to a post, image or other piece of digital information. When you search in Twitter or Facebook for news and updates, anything that has a hashtag that matches your search query (or similar to it) will likely appear. This is how your posts get found (if you’re not engaging actively, which you should).

Hashtaging about 2-3 times a post (depends on the network) is usually a good way to get extra engagement and have your post stand out. In the end, posting without hashtags is a huge waste of potential exposure, even if you might feel a bit weird using them. TL;DR: Hashtags help you get found online in a majority of social networks. Use 2-3 in a post to increase your reach expectationally. 

 

Doing whatever your competitors are doing is just fine.

To be honest, most of your competitors (unless you’re a medium-large sized business) don’t have a social media presence, so I guess it wouldn’t make sense to emulate that. In the cases that they do, its important to see what works for them and what doesn’t. But more importantly, your competitors might find themselves on social media for other reasons; are they looking to handle customer service online? How about use social media as a hiring mechanism? Or maybe promote their brand and culture? Or products or services? Find out why you’re using social media in the first place (likely for marketing and brand development purposes), then move forward with competitor research.

Strictly following their strategy might make little sense. For example, if you’re running a pizza parlour and your speciality is organic ingredients, you should leverage your point of differentiation, not just advertise your deals like everyone else. TL;DR: Your competitors are probably different than you are. Although you share a similar niche, there are multiple reasons to be on social media. Find yours, and take successful ideas from multiple competitors. Also, find and promote what makes you unique.

 

How to Craft Your Own Personal Brand

By | Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

Brand & Mortar specializes in business of branding companies and organizations for the digital age, but what if you’re a one-(wo)man show? What if you’re not trying to sell products and services, but yourself to an employer or potential client? What if you just want to establish a greater online presence in your network, perhaps become a face that stands out from an ever endless crowd?

This is what we refer to as personal branding: marketing yourself as a brand, highlighting your strengths, experiences, and place in the world. Improving your own branding is very similar to that of building a brand for a business or organization; you’re making yourself unique and likeable, setting down roots so you (hopefully) stand the test of time.

In this day and age, its becoming more and more essential to become knowledgeable about social media and digital communications; websites, blogs and social media platforms are playing larger parts in our lives as we become more involved in everyone else’s lives. So how do you go ahead developing your own personal brand? Don’t fear; you’ve got a lot of options to keep others in the digital-know about your own development, be it about your career path or last weekend’s camping trip.

 

Website and Portfolio

Owning a website or digital portfolio on a pre-hosted web service can set up a digital foundation for you, no matter what you do or what point in life you’re in. Want to look like an industry leader or a know-it-all? Starting a blog detailing both your life experiences and your knowledge in your field will help both humanize don’t know you personally and make you stand out as an influencer.

There are countless options out there these days for blogs and personal branding outlets: Tumblr, WordPress and Blogger are some of the larger free ‘blog’ content management systems (CMS) out there with some impressive flexibility. Looking for a portfolio theme? These web services offer that flexibility quickly and easily.

If you’re looking for something that’s a bit more stream lined and solely oriented towards your life experiences and your career path, you might want to consider some other alternatives. Sometimes, all you need is a simple page that highlights who you are, building your digital foundation one step at a time. About.me, Flavors.me and Zerply are some of the more popular names in personal, one-page branding services. They give visitors a quick blurb about your life, your passions, where you’ve been, and how you got there (in addition to details about education and career status). They’ve each got their own advantages and disadvantages, but they require basically zero setup time and are easy to share with friends or include in your resumes and other communications collateral.

 

Social Media

When it comes to a professional network to help build your own personal brand, Linkedin is second to none. Yes, Facebook might be the largest network out there today (1.3 billion people), but it is continually becoming less and less relevant to those who delve into business communications and corporate image. Your Linkedin profile should be up to date with your latest information, which includes career advances, your skills, milestones in your life, and more. This should be your baseline in social media; create posts to share with others in your network and across Linkedin, and interact with groups and discussions to get yourself out there.

I’ll touch briefly on the less specialized social networks, but only along a certain vein: professionalism. When you’re using Facebook, twitter, and other social networks that specialize in the use of visual media in addition to text, be sure you aren’t posting things you’ll regret; as a basic rule of thumb, if your mom wouldn’t approve of it, think twice about posting it. This includes your photos, comments and replies; it not a perfect rule, but big businesses go through PR disasters more often than you might think, and you’re just as likely (if not more so) to make yourself look less notable than the next candidate lined up for that job. Be professional, but don’t be dull, either; post interesting content, especially hanging out with friends, cool tips, reviews and conversations online and linking insightful articles about your industry. Branding is about the looks, yes, but also about how genuine you are behind the smoke cloud.