Oct 23

Keywords and Data and Content! Oh My! My Top Takeaways From SMX East 2014

I had the opportunity to speak at SMX East in New York City a couple weeks ago. It was actually my first time at SMX East, but I had heard many great things about the conference so I was excited to be part of it. I was impressed with the quality of speakers and breadth of content covered in the three days. I’ll give a high-level overview of some of my top takeaways from some of the fantastic presentations I was able to attend. There were many more fantastic speakers and presentations; this is just a handful of my favorites.

 

  • Defining and Mapping the Native Advertising Landscape with Rebecca Lieb
    • Rebecca detailed some very interesting research she conducted with Altimeter, which you can access for free!
    • She detailed the pros and cons of native advertising, which is definitely helpful if you need to get buy-in or want to be realistic about your challenges.
    • If you aren’t already, you need to pay attention to native advertising. According to Rebecca, 49 times more clicks are generated by Facebook page post ads than traditional onsite ads. And they cost 45% less!

 

  • 4th Wave of Content Marketing by Scott Brinker
    • Scott outlined the evolution of content marketing so far, most of which has been very passive for our customers.
    • Since 93% of brands are doing content marketing, how can you break through the noise? Scott made the case that the next step for content marketing is to move from passive to interactive.
    • He recommends that we need to use marketing apps, both native apps and responsive web apps, to involve our audience in the content.
    • I loved Scott’s example of using quizzes to qualify interest before offering a white paper, rather than just asking for email. While it is more of a hoop to jump through, it is interesting and engaging, and people feel more invested and want to learn more.

 

  • Does Your Brand Have What it Takes to Deliver? by Joanna Lord
    • Joanna talked about the importance of branding and building a strong brand story.
    • Joanna urged us to know what our brand’s passion or purpose. What is it we wake up every day to do?
    • Joanna also stressed the importance of providing value beyond the products. How will your brand improve your customers’ lives?
    • She has some great brand examples from today’s top brands; I recommend you check them out!
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Casie Gillette, Michael Icon King and me checking out the other presenters at SMX East.

 

  • Persona Driven Keyword Research by Mike King
    • Mike went through 78 slides in about 15 minutes. There is so much great info in there! So many awesome tools! It’s definitely one you must check out.
    • There were two particular tools I hadn’t heard about before that I’m excited about: Bottlenose Sonar and keywordtool.io.
    • Bottlenose Sonar is a social listening tool that will show you terms that are being discussed together on Twitter. You can get a gauge on what people are saying about your brand or products, and what other things they mention along with it.
    • io will help you quickly discover what people are searching related to your products and keywords. You can search for Google, YouTube, Bing and the AppStore.

 

  • Keyword Research to Generate Content Ideas by Joe Pawlikowski
    • Joe showed how marketers can use keyword research tools, like SEMrush and KeywordTool.io, to figure out what people want to know. Knowing this, marketers can create content that addresses those needs.
    • I loved Joe’s idea that marketers should come up with 10 ideas every day. He recommended reviewing those ideas weekly, mating any ideas that work well together. Then create the magic!

 

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Christi Olson, Danny Sullivan, Jeremiah Andrick and me chatting during a break.

 

  • Actionable SEO Insights by Kerry Dean
    • Kerry’s presentation was one of the best ones I saw both because of his fantastic content, but also he is hilarious! If you ever have the chance to see him speak, I highly recommend checking him out!
    • Kerry talked about the history of the Internet and KPIs. Remember hits? And hit counters on your website? Man, that took me back…
    • Kerry also talked about the rise of mobile and what that means for search marketing and metrics. One fantastic point he made is to make sure you track the traffic you drive to your mobile app since now a Google search can lead directly to the app.
    • Another great quote from Kerry (quoting himself), “People want the story. Not the data.” I’m a geek for the data, graphs and analytics, but what’s more important is the story they tell. The “so what.” As marketers we need to take the data to tell a story.

 

Content marketing and branded content was definitely a theme throughout the conference. We’ve heard “content is king” so marketers started making MORE content. But the theme of SMX East 2014, at least for me, is we need to make BETTER content, not more content. It’s about the quality and value the content provides for your audience.

 

One thing I love the most about the SMX conferences is they bring together many difference disciplines within the online marketing field. My career has mostly been focused on owned and earned media: PR, social media and content marketing. But it’s so crucial that I understand and work with paid, SEO and PPC marketers to reach our business goals. We can’t work in a silo anymore. The SMX conferences help me understand other marketers’ pain points and goals, so we can better work together. And I get to learn from some of the smartest people in the industry.

 

If you were at SMX East, I’d love to know your key takeaways!

Jul 28

A Case of the Mondays – Grammar Laughs

As a past 3rd grade teacher and public relations professional, I’m a bit of a stickler for grammar. I still have an AP Stylebook next to my desk and my co-workers come to me with their grammar questions. It’s not that I’ve never made a mistake. However, when I do make a mistake I notice it after and it drives me nuts. But not literally.

Anyway, the latest wave of memes and jokes about linguistics warms my little grammar geek heart! Here’s a bit of a laugh to brighten your Monday.

Not to turn this into an Oxford comma debate… (cue Vampire Weekend)

The standard comma, Oxford comma and Walken comma

Captain Kirk comma

 

I didn’t think Blurred Lines + Weird Al could be so good, but it is. And it’s educational, too!

 Have you seen any great grammar jokes? Please share them with me in the comments!

Jul 10

Keep Your iPhone, I’ll Stick With My HTC One

 

My HTC One M8

 

I’ve tried pretty much every cell phone operating system. My first smartphone was a Blackberry. Then I got an iPhone. After that I tried out Windows Phone. Finally I moved to Android. I really didn’t expect to like Android, let alone love it. All my friends had iPhones, so I figured I’d stick with that. But then HTC became my client and I learned so much more about different operating systems and the cell phone market.

For two years I had the chance to try out many new devices. I still kept my iPhone in case I wanted to switch back or there was something I was missing out on. But once the HTC One (M7) came out, I sold my iPhone and I honestly don’t miss it. Then HTC gave me the One M8 to try out and I’m even more impressed.

HTC is no longer my client, so I’m no longer responsible for their successes (or failures) in marketing. But I genuinely want them to succeed. They make great devices. I love showing off my phone to friends and family. One of my friends commented the other day that I’m the only person she knows who really loves her phone. And I do. Let me tell you a few reasons why.

 

 

 

BoomSound

 

The speakers on this phone are unreal. It has dual speakers in the front that make it louder than any other device I’ve seen. I have a Jambox by Jawbone, but most of the time I just use the HTC One’s speakers. I use it every morning when I’m getting ready. It’s also super handy when I have a picnic in the park or at the beach with friends. I often become the group DJ, a role I love to play!

The Look

It’s a beautiful phone. It’s an all-metal frame, so it feels far more solid than some plastic competitors. Because it’s a solid frame, I can even go without a case. I have the gold color and it’s really pretty so I want to show it off.

Some might find the size to be too big, but I like it. It still fits in my pocket and it feels good in my hands. And I love the larger screen. The colors are so vivid and beautiful, I enjoy showing off my screen to others.

Camera

My very favorite thing about the HTC One M8 is the camera. It really is incredible. Most of the time my friends ask me to take the picture because it will turn out better than their phone’s camera. From the wide-angle front facing camera that captures better group selfies to the night mode that captures in low light, the HTC One M8 outperforms most other camera phones. In fact, I’ve completely stopped using my point-and-shoot camera because my phone is better.

Water show on the East River. #NYC #nofilter #HTCOneM8 #oneography

The duo camera effects are really cool as well. I’ve enjoyed playing around with ufocus and turning simple photos into more professional looking images. I think one of the coolest features of the HTC One is the automatic video highlights feature that turns my photos into a 30 second video. I loved it on the M7 and they improved it on the M8. Far too often I would take a ton of pictures, but only share a few on my social channels. With the video highlights I can share many of my photos from an event at once and share more of the whole experience. I only wish I could make longer videos because sometimes 30 seconds just isn’t long enough.

These days I feel like the basic features of phones are pretty much on the same level. And now most apps are available for both iOS and Android. So for me, the phone has to have something extra to stand out. The sound, the design and the camera make the HTC One M8 stand out.

 

Jul 01

I Heart NYC: A Year to Make a New City Your Home

A year ago today I packed up everything that was left in my apartment, took an Uber to SeaTac airport and flew to New York. I arrived at my new apartment in Manhattan exhausted, but ready to start my new life. Today is my first New York-aversary!

New York City

It was my birthday a few weeks ago and two of my best friends from college were visiting me in New York. They commented on what an amazing community I’ve built here, especially since it’s only been a year. They’re right. I’m so blessed with the incredible friends who make up my family of choice in NYC. Some people I’ve known for many years from their time in Seattle, but many are new friends I’ve made this year. In a city of more than 8 million people, I’ve luckily found some of the smartest, funniest, most caring and honest people. Each an every one of my friends here supports me and challenges me to be a better version of myself.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to meet people in a new city. When I moved to Seattle 9 years ago, I didn’t know anyone. In Seattle, they talk about the Seattle Freeze and how hard it is to actually make friends. Luckily, both my brother and sister had moved to new cities and gave me some tips which have worked well both in Seattle and New York.

Common Interest Groups

For my brother it was running and skiing. For my sister and I, it was volunteering. When I moved to Seattle I started volunteering with Seattle Works. It was a wonderful way to meet like-minded people and give back to the community. I especially enjoyed Team Works because you volunteered for several months with the same group of people. I am still close with many of the people I met on my first team 8 years ago.

When I moved to New York, many people recommended I check out New York Cares, which is a sister organization to Seattle Works. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in a couple projects with them and met some great people!

If you’re trying to meet people in a new city, doing something you already enjoy is a great way. Whether you’re an athlete like my brother or philanthropic like my sister and me or you prefer something totally different, there are plenty of groups to join. Meetup is one great way to find a group to join.

Alumni Groups

Many colleges have alumni groups across the country, which organize game watch and other special events. Even all the way in NYC there is an Oregon State University alumni group! It was great to cheer on the Beavs with them last fall.

For me, my sorority alumnae group has been a fantastic way to meet a group of intelligent, driven and fun women. The Chi Omega alumnae chapter of NYC plans many events every month, so it was easy to find things I wanted to do. I’ve enjoyed it so much that for the next year I will be planning our chapter’s career and personal development events.

Professional Groups / Events

I work in marketing and have specialized in social media for the last several years. Especially in my industry, networking is important for professional growth. It’s also a great way to make new friends!

I met some wonderful people through Social Media Club Seattle. When I moved to New York I attended some of the Social Media Club events here and again met some great people. Also through social networks, I’ve become part of MOSAIC, a group of spectacular and fun marketers in NYC.

Whatever your profession, networking is always a good idea. Added bonus, you can meet cool people!

Friends of Friends

Admittedly, social networks like Facebook has made this easier. I can use graph search to see if I have any friends, or friends of friends in a given city. Messaging everyone I knew living in NYC is actually how I found my first apartment.

But you can even meet people the old fashioned way and get your friends to introduce you. I met some of my favorite people in New York through mutual friends. We now even have a group on Facebook of Seattle transplants in NYC. There are more of us than you might think!

Whether you use tech or word-of-mouth, having a friend in common can make it much easier to strike up a conversation and build a friendship.

It isn’t easy to make new friends. It doesn’t happen overnight. I remember feeling pretty lonely my first few months in New York. But if you work at it and try to meet people, it eventually clicks. Then one day you’ll look around at the incredible community you’ve built and feel just as fortunate!

Have you moved to a new city? Any tips you’d add?

Jun 29

5 Reasons I Like Atlantic City Better Than Las Vegas

Still being pretty new to New York, I’m still adventuring around and getting to know the East Coast. I had the chance to spend a very brief, but welcome, 24 hours in Atlantic City, New Jersey last week thanks to Crowdtap. I wasn’t really sure what to expect of AC. Some of my friends told me it was run down and sketchy, others said it was fun. I was excited to check it out for myself.

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My friend Heidi and I took the bus from Manhattan on Monday morning and were on our way to AC, baby! 2 hours later we arrived. The next 24 hours were filled with sunshine, beach time, swimming in the ocean, great food, delicious drinks, amazing sand sculptures and a whole lot of laughter! I like Vegas. It’s fun, especially with a group of friends. But I like Atlantic City more. Here are a few reasons why…

 

  1. The Size

 

For some people the fact that Atlantic City is smaller might be a drawback, but I preferred it. Before I went to AC, I thought it would be like Vegas where it’s too far and too hot to walk anywhere. I swear it’s a mile just to walk within a casino from one end to the other! It was easy to walk around Atlantic City. I usually find Las Vegas a bit overwhelming, so I preferred the size of AC.

 

  1. The Scenery

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Between the ocean and the marina, Atlantic City was incredibly beautiful. Personally, I’d rather trade the flash and lights of Vegas for the natural splendor of AC.

 

  1. The Boardwalk

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The Atlantic City Boardwalk is iconic. It’s cool and provides some amazing people watching! Sure, you get people watching in Vegas too, but walking down the strip isn’t the same as the boardwalk. It’s more nostalgic, relaxed and fun. And, to my knowledge, you can’t easily get funnel cake or deep-fried oreos on the Las Vegas strip.

 

  1. The Ocean

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I’m a sucker for the ocean. The smell of the salt water. The sound of the crashing waves. The feel of the sand in my toes. Being in desert, there is no ocean in sight in Vegas. Being near the ocean is my happy place, so our trip to Atlantic City was relaxing as well as fun.

 

  1. The Vibe

 

I’m the type of girl who prefers dive bars over swanky clubs. To me Vegas has always felt too pretentious. The high-end clubs just aren’t my scene. I felt right at home in Atlantic City. It was far more chill and laid back.

After a weekend in Vegas, I need another weekend to recoup. After 24 hours in Atlantic City, I felt refreshed and relaxed! It was a perfect getaway. In fact, I’m already planning another trip with some more girlfriends. We’ll be back, AC!

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Jun 02

Not All Social Networks Are Created Equally

On Friday IPG Media Lab and 140 Proof published a report about how people manage their social profiles across multiple channels. There were several important findings we as marketers should understand.

At a high level, the research finds that a majority of US adults are active on multiple networks, but they use each one with a different purpose and a different audience. Based on that, we should pay attention to each channel audience and their particular interests separately. Content should be created with the specific channel audience in mind, and not just post the same content on all social networks.

People Use Multiple Social Platforms

Number of Social Platforms Used by Multi-Platform Users

A majority (52%) of U.S. adults use two or more social networks. Of the 107 million U.S. adults who use multiple social platforms, more than half use four or more. We can expect this number to continue to increase with specific use case platforms. As marketers, we need to make sure the content we create fits the channel and the particular use case.

People Don’t Treat All Networks the Same

Using multiple platforms requires social hygiene

With a majority of people managing multiple social platforms, many of them participate in “social hygiene,” meaning that they are intentional and conscious of how they engage and where. People align specific networks to particular interests. 72% of those surveyed agree that certain platforms are better suited to different interests. In addition to specifying some networks for specific interests, they also engage with different audiences on various channels. 60% of those surveyed agree they connect with different types of people, media and brands on different social platforms.

Based on this, brands can’t treat all social networks the same either. The same content shouldn’t be posted across all social channels. Doing this misses a big opportunity to adapt or customize the content to that specific audience and channel. The message or tone of voice shouldn’t necessarily change, but the content should be tailored to tell a story across all platforms.

Different Platforms for Different Interests

Percentageof Platform Users Engaging with Each Topic Area

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest aren’t the same thing. How people use them is distinct. When people want to talk about or learn more about a particular topic, they will select the right platform for that subject. If users want images, inspiration and how-to tips for home décor, fashion or hobbies, they’ll go to Pinterest. If they want to keep up on celebrities and gossip, Twitter is the top platform. Marketers should pay attention to how people use each platform and what topics are the focus.

Distinct Audiences for Different Platforms

Percentage of platform users connecting with different types of accounts

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that people engage with different people based on the social network. By design, LinkedIn is more focused on business contacts and industry experts. Twitter is an easy way for people to follow their favorite celebrities and cultural figures. What marketers should pay attention to is the multi-audience on Facebook. It is overwhelmingly where people connect with their family and friends, but it is also where they like to engage with brands. Facebook is a more personal channel, so marketers should be more personable and create more genuine content.

Likes Don’t Always Last

Likes and Follows aren't forever

Another part of “social hygiene” means that people don’t like or follow a brand then forget it. People are always culling their lists and getting rid of anything that isn’t valuable to them anymore. 61% of adults surveyed have unliked or unfollowed a brand. That percentage goes up to 69% when you look at the 18-34 year old demographic. The top reasons sited for unlike/unfollow are loss of relevance, switch to a new brand, and contest ended. While contests and gimmicks may get a quick follow or like, it won’t last if you’re bringing in the wrong audience or you aren’t giving them valuable content. If all you want to do is “sell, sell, sell!” – they will leave!

If You Collect Social Data, Use It

Currently, many targeted ads are based on previous browsing history. Survey respondents said they would prefer ads targeted to their specific interests. It turns out a majority (67%) of people are comfortable signing in with their social accounts, which provides valuable audience information. If you collect that data, make sure users get value in return. Also, make sure you are using the data and social accounts for good, not evil. Apps that post to your account without permission or pester your friends to play Candy Crush are annoying and will get unconnected quickly.

 

Overall, we need to be smart marketers and not work on autopilot. Consider each channel and audience separately. Create an overall strategy that tells a story across all platforms, each in a distinct way. Learn exactly who your audience is and what they care about so you can better connect with them. Consider using a social CRM to capture info about your customers across all social networks for a more complete picture.

You can read the full report here: A Network for Every Interest – How People Actively Manage their Social Profiles Across Multiple Platforms

 

 

Apr 29

Was #myNYPD a Fail? What Can Brands Learn?

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 11.43.25 AMLast Tuesday, the NYPD tweeted, “Do you have a photo w/ a member of the NYPD? Tweet us & tag it #myNYPD. It may be featured on our Facebook.” The image they posted in the tweet is an example of the type of photos they wanted to see. For the first hour, most of the responses were positive and shared photos of happy people posing with police officers.

However, less than an hour and a half later, an Occupy Wall Street Twitter account got involved and encouraged followers to share their own police photos. From there the hashtag became about police brutality and violence. The conversation didn’t stay on just New York City. It moved across the United States to #myLAPD, #mySPD, #mySFPD, #myOPD, #myAPD, #myDPD and worldwide.

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Why Did It Go Wrong?

Many of the marketers and reporters who have analyzed this campaign have said it should’ve been obvious this would fail. Why is that and what can other brands learn from this experience?

Once a hashtag is created, the original creator has no control over the conversation or content. That coupled with the fact that Twitter is an audience full of cynical people who have been known to hashtag hijack in the past, it does seem the NYPD should have at least considered the possibility this would happen. Many other hashtags have been hijacked including #McDstories, #AskJPM and even #AskRKelly, plenty of opportunities for the NYPD to learn from past mistakes. In each of these cases, as is true with the police, their reputation isn’t spotless. It’s dangerous to tread into social media, especially when asking for user generated content, if your reputation isn’t pristine. You’re inviting anyone who disagrees with your brand to engage in take over the conversation you’re starting.

By asking for photos, the NYPD gave their opposition a perfect opportunity to share the many photos of police brutality. Since this has been an issue in New York City and around the globe there is plenty of content. Even if the photos capture something completely legal and not necessarily brutal, there is often little or no context to explain the scene. Even NYPD Commissioner, Bill Bratton, said sometimes police work isn’t pretty.

Another misstep here is that the NYPD asked people to share their photos on Twitter with the hashtag, which means they are immediately public. There is no way to curate and only share the photos the NYPD wanted to receive. They did get some of happy people posing with friendly police officers, but they were far outnumbered with the negative images.

While the NYPD are a bit of a tourist attraction in New York City, most people’s direct experience with police isn’t positive. People normally only interact with the police if they have committed a crime, are accused of committing a crime or are the victim of a crime. These aren’t the best circumstances to bond with your friendly police officer and snap a photo.

The NYPD and Social Media

The NYPD’s ultimate goal in this campaign isn’t completely clear. Was it get engagement on Twitter? Increase buzz around the NYPD and #myNYPD? To gain new followers? If it was any of these things, then this campaign may have met their goals. The hashtag became the number one trending topic on Twitter and had over 50,000 tweets on Tuesday alone. The NYPD also gained 4,000 new followers. However, if their goal was to generate positive PR or highlight positive community interactions, they failed.

The NYPD seems to be considering this experiment a success. NYPD Deputy Chief, Kim Y. Royster, released a statement that says, “Twitter provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city.” NYPD Commissioner Bratton seems pleased as well. He said, “I kind of welcome the attention. We really broke the numbers yesterday.”

If the NYPD’s goal was to start a conversation about police force and actions with the public, this might’ve been a good start. But so far, it doesn’t seem that the NYPD is doing anything to engage that conversation. Commissioner Bratton said, “Most of the pictures I looked at, they’re old news.” With this he is brushing off any criticism and not facilitating an open, honest conversation about the police department’s past, present and future. He had the opportunity here to show how open and communicative the NYPD wants to be under his leadership, but instead the department shared the photos they liked and ignored any backlash.

Commissioner Bratton said social media is a top priority for him at NYPD. While Twitter and other channels could be a good way to communicate with the public and keep a pulse of the community, it’s important that the NYPD fully understands social media, what works and the audience they’re trying to reach. If the NYPD wants to be successful on social media, they need to be genuine and truly open to hearing and responding to criticism.

Some police departments have found Twitter to be a useful tool to communicate with people and build community relations. Boston Police Department used Twitter very effectively to communicate information during the Boston Marathon bombing and manhunt last year. They continue to use the channel to update more than 276,000 followers on community news, missing persons, safety tips and police department initiatives. The Seattle Police Department has been active on Twitter for several years and has gained national attention for their creative campaigns like Tweets-by-beat, tweet-alongs (the Twitter version of a ride-along) and genuine two-way communication, even on the topic of marijuana.

It isn’t that the NYPD shouldn’t be on Twitter, or other social media channels, but they need to understand the benefits, risks and best practices. It’s alarming that no one saw any red flags when this campaign was proposed. There should’ve been a strategy for how to manage the campaign as well as a detailed crisis plan to handle any backlash. The negative responses should have been anticipated and an internal discussion of how to handle them long before the hashtag went live.

Tips for Other Brands:

What can other brands learn from this experience? Here are a few tips and best practices to consider before starting your own hashtag conversation or asking for user-generated content.

  • Have a Strategy

First and foremost, know exactly what you’re going to do, why you’re doing it, how you will measure success and what you will do when problems arise. All of this needs to be outlined and determined before the initiative begins.

 

  • Know Your Reputation

Be honest and thoughtful about the perception of your brand in the general public. If you aren’t the most loved person or company in the world and no one has a beef with you (and I honestly can’t think of anyone who fits this), you will likely get some backlash on social media. It might not be a lot, or it could take over the whole conversation like #myNYPD. If you aren’t sure what people think of your brand, do some social listening. If you’re reputation isn’t good or your products suck, social media won’t help. Fix that first.

 

  • Be Aware of Current Events

A couple years ago we did a campaign with Wells Fargo for the anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. Because we were paying attention to current events and conversations on social media, we knew Occupy SF was planning to march across the Golden Gate Bridge on the day we planned to start our campaign. We knew this meant our campaign might get hijacked so we delayed the start and made sure we had a crisis plan in place for the duration of the initiative. You must pay attention to events that could impact your campaign.

 

  • Plan for the Worst

You likely will get some criticism or negative responses in social media. People on the Internet are cynical and like to complain. Think about the responses you might get ahead of time and make a plan for when and how you will respond. It isn’t necessary, or even advisable, to respond to every hater, but it’s important to have a crisis plan in place to handle any backlash.

 

  • You Don’t Control the Conversation

Once you’ve published that tweet, created the hashtag and asked the Internet to respond – you don’t own it anymore. Where it goes isn’t in your control. If this scares you or you think this might spell disaster for your brand, don’t do it!

 

  • Submit Content for Review

Rather than creating an open conversation on Twitter, where anyone can lead the discussion down a different path, use a more moderated approach. Consider a moderated Q&A where people send questions ahead of time for selection. Or give people an opportunity to submit their content and review it before it’s published. Back to the Wells Fargo Golden Gate Bridge campaign, we created a Tumblr where people could share their stories and content for review before anything was posted.

 

  • Have a BS Detector

Before you go live with any campaign, run it by someone or a team who can help you see what might go wrong. Sometimes we get rose-colored classes when it comes to our own company or brand. We might not see the flaws or negative side that may arise. It can be helpful to bring in fresh eyes to help identify any potential issues.

What tips would you recommend to other companies thinking of doing a similar campaign?

Sep 30

A Case of the Mondays – Quit Your Job

Come on, everyone. Quit right now! Nah, I’m just kidding but if you don’t love what you do, Mondays really do suck. Luckily, I love my job!

Marina Shifrin quit her job in this epic video that’s making the rounds today. Her point, that content is king, is important and one I hope her former employers will take to heart.

Sep 27

A Whole New SMC

I attended my first Social Media Club New York event last week. I’ve been active in the SMC Seattle chapter for four years, so I was eager to get involved here and meet some new folks. The event was held at the PR Newswire offices and as I arrived I saw a familiar scene of a table with hors d’oeuvres and many professionals mingling with wine and beer in their hands. A woman greeted me and it turns out this wasn’t actually the SMC event. I made my way back to a small conference room where the SMC event was being held.

There were about 15 people sitting around a conference table and a few snacks, beers, sodas and a bottle of wine or two on a table in the back. I was a bit surprised because this was so different from the huge, sold-out SMC events back in Seattle. But I sat down and got ready to meet some new people and learn something.

Stephanie Grayson, @critiques4geeks, presenting at #SMCNYC

Stephanie Grayson, @critiques4geeks, presenting at #SMCNYC

The speaker for the event was Stephanie Grayson, Social Media Editor at Yahoo! Finance. She talked with us about real-time social media response, which is a topic I have experience with and have written about recently. I was interested to hear what Stephanie would have to say on this subject.

One of the benefits of a smaller group is the ability to make it more of a conversation, rather than a lecture. Stephanie lead us in a discussion about the risks and rewards businesses must weigh when deciding whether or not to respond to a trending topic or event. For example Stephanie asked us, how different would the story have been for Oreo if the blackout at the Super Bowl turned out to be related to a terrorist attack?

@Mr_McFly: Risks include: Insensitivity, wrong info, brand damage, backlash, public safety, financial, legal, etc. #SMCNYC

What I really loved was what we did next. We broke into two groups and we were each asked to “create” a company, one B2C and one B2B. We needed to determine our company name, what products or services we sell, and our competitors. This was just the first step so we could get to a real-time marketing situation simulation, but I loved how into it everyone got! There were some super smart marketers in that room who started to build a business plan. There was discussion and debate about our bestselling product, our name, our specific value proposition… it was so detailed I was pretty sure we were all going into business together as soon as the event was over!

After each team established their fictional company, Stephanie gave us our real-time marketing situation. It happened to be Talk Like a Pirate Day, so that fit well for this purpose. Of course, this example goes back to what I’ve said before that you need to be prepared.  But there will always be things we miss; special days or events that we forgot to plan in our brand’s editorial calendar. These things will happen, so it is good to be prepared for what you will do.

I won’t retell every part of the simulation, but it was definitely a fun and educational experience. If you want, you can read more in this recap of the event. I did want to share my key takeaways from the night, which go along with my earlier post on real-time marketing.

@PRNTech: Opportunities for rewards in social response can be anytime, don't limit yourself to specific perennial events #SMCNYC ^KL

Key Takeaways:

  • Create a calendar of events and special days that relate to your brand.
  • Create a process to get approval quickly when last minute and after-hours events occur. Who do you call? Who gives the final approval before you publish?
  • Keep an eye out for opportunities to engage in trending topics and events. Pay attention to the trending hashtags on Twitter, but make sure you know what it’s about BEFORE you jump in
  • Build a process to work quickly – time is of the essence with trending topics!
  • Stick to you brand voice and keep it related to your business
  • Think it through – what are the possible outcomes and how will you address them?
  • Do what you can in the time you have. You might not have time to create a full video or even a static image. If so, then craft the best damn copy you can for a text-only post.

Overall, it was a terrific night with some savvy professionals. I actually really appreciated the size of the group which allowed us to be more interactive and engage with one another. I’m definitely looking forward to the next Social Media Club NYC event.

What tips do you have for real-time marketing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Sep 18

Everything I Know About Marketing I Learned by Teaching 3rd Grade

Ms. Stinson in her classroom

Me in my classroom

Five years ago, I resigned my teaching position and moved away from my career as an elementary teacher. It was a difficult decision, made even tougher as we entered a recession and jobs were scarce, but I have never regretted it. Every day I am more certain I made the right choice for me, going back to my first love of marketing and communications.

I’ve often had people ask me about my diverse background. With my mix of experience in marketing, social work and education, I understand why it’s a question. At first glance, it can seem as though these positions have nothing in common. How did I go from communications to teaching elementary school, and what brought me back?

When I graduated from college, I planned to do public relations for high tech companies. I had some connections at agencies, and I planned to follow in their footsteps. Unfortunately, my timing was not ideal and due to the dot.com bubble burst, most of those agencies weren’t hiring. I did land a job doing marketing for an internet-based learning startup, which was an amazing experience. But sadly the company was not able to survive the crash and closed down leaving me wondering what to do next.

I spent some time doing the typical jobs recent college grads do when they are trying to figure out their next steps. I was a waitress at The Spaghetti Factory. I was a temp employee. I worked in customer service at Mt. Bachelor ski resort. And I bartended at a few different bars. I could actually write separate blog posts on how all of these different experiences make me a better marketer, but that’s for another time.

The farther I got away from college and my plan to work in public relations, the more I started to question if it was what I really wanted to do. Did I really have a passion for communications, or was I just following that path because that’s what my friends were doing? I questioned if I wanted to work for Corporate America. I was feeling a bit lost and without direction.

All my life I’ve had a desire to help others and I’ve always loved kids. It’s the reason I almost majored in Education in college, before I decided on Communications. So when I was trying to figure out what to do next, I was drawn to The Children’s Farm Home, a psychiatric treatment center. The two years I spent there were probably some of the most exhausting, heartbreaking and rewarding of my life. When it was time to move on from The Children’s Farm Home, I decided working with kids in a public school would have the rewards of a psychiatric treatment center, you know, without me getting punched, kicked and bit daily at work.

I received my Masters of Teaching from Pacific University and started teaching in Auburn, Washington. I loved my students! I enjoyed building lesson plans and designing new, creative ways to teach them. I adored thinking of fun ways to use emerging technology to help my students learn. I took over the school yearbook and taught my students basic design skills. I built a community in my classroom where students felt supported, encouraged and safe to speak their minds. There were many things I loved about being a teacher, and in many ways I excelled, but I felt something just wasn’t right. I like to think ahead and plan where I’m going, and when I asked myself where I wanted to be in 5 years, I didn’t really see myself still in the classroom.

As I was beginning to ask myself some tough questions, I happened to be in a leadership training course through Seattle Works. I learned a few things about myself as part of that course and the personality assessments. I learned that I’m driven by achievements, titles and promotions. I learned that I actually do want to be part of Corporate America, and I want to succeed and excel there. I’m competitive and driven, and that’s okay. I don’t know why I had resisted and tried to suppress those parts of my personality, but I couldn’t do it anymore. It was time to find a career where I could combine all my talents and traits.

When I resigned from my teaching position that August, I didn’t have a full time job. But I had some experience doing pro bono PR and marketing work for Seattle Works, an event planning contract position with another non-profit, and I was enrolled in the University of Washington’s public relations professional certification program. Over the last five years I’ve had the opportunity to work with some super smart professionals at fantastic agencies. I’ve learned so much. It hasn’t been an easy road at all, but I know I made the right decision for me because I love what I do. I love helping my clients succeed. It makes me so giddy to help build a thriving, healthy online community for a brand. I enjoy explaining what my clients do that makes them special, to reporters, bloggers, the general community or even my family. I know this is the right career for me. I can feel it every time I get to flex my muscles with creativity or writing. It just feels right when I can advise brands on the latest trends and tactics.

Since I made the big decision to go back to communications/marketing, I’ve realized it was always what I wanted. I even found old papers from high school where I talked about wanting to work in PR and marketing. I’m not sure why I started questioning that or thinking it wasn’t my path and I was just following along. One look at my history of running for student council nearly every year in high school and college, working on the high school newspaper, anchoring the college news program, and my lifelong love of writing would make a career in marketing an obvious choice. While there are times I kick myself for not believing in myself, I don’t regret my winding path. My diverse background has given me a broader perspective, more patience and the ability to quiet down a room of 30+ 8 year olds. :-)

Every fall I do get a pang where I miss my students. I miss setting up my classroom and greeting them every morning. I will always love kids and want to see them succeed. But now that my career is a better fit for me, I’m not so drained and burnt out. Now I can spend time mentoring kids and supporting their growth in a way that gives me energy. Spring Creek Group has a long relationship volunteering with the Technology Access Foundation in Seattle, which was an incredible experience. Now that I’m in New York City, I’m looking for a new opportunity.

They say to be happy in life, follow your passion. My passion is helping people connect and learn. I’m a lifelong learner, always striving to better myself and the world around me. PR, marketing, social media… all of these give individuals around the world an opportunity to meet people, learn new things and connect with the brands they love. This is my passion. I took a winding road, but I grew my skills and experience along the way. And now I’m exactly where I was meant to be.

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