Before You Kick Off Your Social Media Campaign…

Listen, nobody reads the opening paragraphs of a blog post with a numbered list, right? Right. So let’s just dispense with the lead-in and get right to the reason you clicked the link in the first place… 7 things to do before you kick off your social media campaign:

Social Media Campaign1)     Have brand guidelines in place. If you don’t have a cohesive look, aren’t speaking with one voice, across all platforms, you’re not ready to start something new. Back up and check to make sure your brand is ready to launch a new campaign. If you’re not sure, you might want to read this post on branding and creating brand standards.

2)     Know your objectives. If your reason for launching a social media campaign is Social Media Campaignsimply because everyone else is doing it, think again. If you don’t have clear objectives, you can’t measure whether or not you’re successful.


Social Media Campaign3)     Outline your strategies. Know exactly how you will start your campaign. What tools will you use? A twitter chat? Hashtags? How often will you post? How will you encourage shares? Which platforms will you use?


4)     Determine your measurements for success – and put them in writing. Social Media Campaign  It’s the only way to know your ROI. Even in social, this is possible! We’re not just talking about number of followers. But, number of engaged followers, people talking about your brand, your engagement and influence levels. Also consider comparing your brand to a competitor or similar brand on the same platform. And remember that your number of followers doesn’t mean as much as your percentage of new followers. For example: Let’s say your biggest competitor has 10,000 followers and has gained 280 new followers in the past week. You, on the other hand, have 7,400 followers and have gained 259 in the past week. Which is better?  In reality… your percentage of new followers is higher. And overall, it’s the engagement that counts! Using a social dashboard like @sproutsocial allows you to compare all of these things plus your level of influence.

Social Media Campaign5)     Make sure your strategy is in line with your company’s mission statement. If you don’t have a mission statement, take the time to write one. And don’t just write it… live it (For more on this, read John O’Leary’s (@RisingAboveJohn) fantastic article on writing a mission statement)! Is your campaign speaking to your mission? Not only that, but your social media campaign should be well integrated with any other promotions your brand is running across other channels. Don’t muddy the waters with competing messages!

6)     Know your audience! Every social platform has a different audience. It’s popular Social Media Campaign – and smart – to cross-pollinate, but do so wisely. Just because you might share the same article across three different social platforms doesn’t mean you share it the same way. Write your tweets and posts specifically to each audience.

Social Media Campaign7)     Be visual. Pictures have become increasingly popular to share across social platforms. Your audience is four times more likely to remember a photo than they are to remember words. It stands to reason then, that you should include visuals with all of your posts and tweets. And as popular as visuals have become (posts and tweets that contain a strong visual are also much more likely to be shared) be sure that the visual you choose is relevant to its content! Throwing in a picture for the sake of having a visual won’t do you any good.

Does anyone read the closing paragraph either? Probably not. I’ve said my piece. You’ve got your list of seven, as promised. End of discussion. Or is it? Let me know what you’d add to this list in the comments (or in your RT of the link – hint, hint!).




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3 Steps to Greater Confidence for Business Success


My WWWP writing group (that’s me in the middle).

I went to a book launch yesterday. A dozen or so of the anthology’s contributors – myself included – were there. Many had signed up to read a poem or a story excerpt. Almost without exception, the writers started their reading with a mention of how much they’d like to rewrite or edit their work.

Boy, could I relate. In fact, I chose not to even read, because I wasn’t happy enough with the work – a fiction short story and a poem – I’d gotten published. With each person who stood behind that podium, I grew more and more frustrated with us as a whole.  

I regret not reading for the group. I feel frustrated with all the self-deprecation. One writer among us, a women in her 50s or 60s, stood up confidently, talked about all her writing success, pitched her latest book just off the presses, and proceeded to read with strength and confidence. My first reaction was: Geez, she’s a bit cocky isn’t she? Then I realized, she was the only one among us who was acting like she should have been. With confidence. With belief in her talents and work. She wasn’t the one at fault, the rest of us were. The rest of my own writing group was quietly confident. No self-deprecation, but I hear it enough from all of us at our Wednesday night writing group meetings that I know what’s inside. And I suppose it’s inside all of us, to an extent. The insecurity and self-doubt. I’d like to kick them both to the curb.

How many times have you read a blog post or article and kicked yourself because you had been thinking the exact same thing but didn’t write about it? Many times, we feel we’re the only one with a certain thought or take on something. So we don’t speak up for fear of being wrong. For fear of being laughed at or dismissed.

The part of me that is never done revising is calmed knowing that I’m not alone. But, I think this is the difference between the wishers and the do’ers: The do’ers believe

If you’re like me, you follow your industry “thought leaders” on social platforms. Right? How do you think those folks became thought leaders? Look at the very definition of that term: a forward thinker, someone who speaks up when they feel strongly or have an opinion. They shape our thinking because of what they say, and they say it in such a way to make us think, to show us their take on a situation. There is simply no reason you can’t do the same thing. What it takes is a dose of confidence. A little chutzpah, you might say.

Want to up your confidence quotient? Try these three:

1. Take stock of your accomplishments. Go ahead, make a list. Everything you’ve done this week, this month, this year. Compare that to where you were a year ago… five years ago. I’m betting you’ve got a nice, long list to be proud of. It may not seem like much to you, but again, you’re hardest on yourself. Case in point: At this book launch, the majority of the writers who’d been published in this particular anthology had only been published a few times, if at all. While this book represented my very first fiction short story and my first poem to be published, my list of published credits is long and includes both regional and national magazines as well as other anthologies.

2. Look at things from a different perspective. Just last week, I received a rejection letter from the New York Times on a piece I’d submitted. The New York Times! I was disappointed, yes, but then my wiser-than-his-fourteen-years son said to me, “Mom, that’s okay… 

Wiser words, I tell ya. That boy knows of what he speaks. So, yeah, maybe you think receiving a rejection letter is no accomplishment. But this one was from the New York Times… That means I sent something to the New York Times! I’d given it the biggest shot I could think of, and that is worth celebrating. Now to send that piece of to a few other publications – it’s the perfect article for XYZ publication, I’m certain.

3. Keep your mouth shut. Okay, so you get something published (or whatever is the equivilant in your industry) and as soon as you see it in print, you find three grammatical errors and two paragraphs that need editing. Hell, you’d love to sit down and rewrite the whole damn thing! Realize this:

 And chances are very good that no one is going to even notice the “mistakes” that you do. So sell your work, your art, your passion with confidence. Don’t introduce us to it by telling us what’s wrong with it. And don’t worry about what you could have done differently… it’s not worth your energy. Besides, you can always apply what you’ve learned to the next project.

Now take your new-found confidence and put it to work! Finish what you started, set up some new business meetings, make that call. The only thing stopping you, is you.

If starting a company blog, putting together an eBook, getting serious about social media or creating an integrated marketing campaign are on your list, I’d love to hear about it. Let’s get together and create something fantastic!


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Blogging for Small Business

According to Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, blogging is now the #1 area of increased activity for marketers.

And according to Kim Garst* (@kimgarst), CEO of Boom Social, “Blogging is still a dominate way to get impactful, original content directly in front of your customers and prospects easily and inexpensively…If you have been playing around with idea of starting your own blog, now is the perfect time to get started.”

Whether you’re considering a blog, just starting out with one, or one of those marketers determined to give it more effort this year, some advice for getting started:

Blogging for brand#1 Know your brand. Just like any campaign, before you begin you must have a strong brand identity. If not, back up and get cohesive! Your website, collateral, blog and social platforms should all look and feel like your brand. If you’re not sure you’ve got this part covered, give this post a quick read:

#2 Keep It Separate. Your blog site should not be just a page within your website, but a separate site. You will be drawing traffic to your blog and from there to your website. The point is not to sell them on your products or services, the point is to engage them, provide information, and position yourself as a thought leader in your industry – the go to source for information. For more on keeping your personal and business profiles separate:

#3 Add Plugins. There are specific plugins you’ll want to incorporate Blogging for SEOthat will help you with SEO, commenting, social sharing, etc. WordPress makes this fairly easy, as you can search through plugins by keyword and look for those that are highly rated and easy to use.

#4 Start Writing. You should have a back stock of 25-30 blog posts when you begin. So if you’ve only got a “welcome” post, you’d better sit back down and start writing. What to write? Key to BloggingTHIS IS KEY: Your topics should be based on questions your customers/potential customers are asking. What search terms do they type into Google? What do they need to know? What interests them? What’s trending in their world? Think outside of your own products or services to what else your core demographic is interested in.

#5 Create a Content Calendar. This does not have to be overwhelming! Begin with a year in view and write down holidays, promotions and important dates to your company. From there you’ll begin to see themes taking shape.

Once your blog is up and running, a few rules to follow:

Don’t just talk, listen!Follow the 80/20 rule here. You should be listening, in Bloggingthe form of reading tweets, blog posts and responses and watching what’s trending, as well as sitting in on some Twitter chats, to know what’s important to your followers and the people in your industry. That leaves you with 20% of the time to do the talking, so make it worth their while!

Engage. Social media is a space to engage with others in your industry. Vital to your social media success is giving credit to those you retweet and share, thanking others who retweet and share your content, and starting conversations with your followers. It’s time consuming, but so very important.

Promote. You should write at least half a dozen different tweets for each post, as well as Facebook and LinkedIn posts. Don’t forget to optimize for search engines! For more on how to promote your blog posts, click here.

Curate. Posting all of your own blogs is not only terribly time consuming, it’s just one perspective! Curate and share content from other sources that is relevant to your followers … you’ll be seen as a more valuable source for industry knowledge.

Blogs are ideal for sharing content, positioning yourself as a thought leader in your industry and increasing awareness about your company, but they are time consuming. If your goal is to create a new blog presence, or increase the one you’ve got, I’d love to help. Let’s connect and create something fantastic!

*If you don’t already, you’ll want to follow @kimgarst on Twitter – relevant social media tips and a fantastic optimistic approach!

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How to Create Marketing Magic for Your Brand

Marketing is all about creating an emotion – causing consumers to feel something that makes them connect with a brand on some level. It’s creating an experience. Whether that’s a live event, an ad campaign, a brand’s story, a consumer’s memory, social media personality and/or engagement. The idea is not a new one.

On the tv show Mad Men, Don and crew created ad campaigns that helped brands differentiate themselves from the competition. Remember in Season One, when Peggy and the other office girls got to test lipstick? Peggy had a thought about a “basket of kisses.” And that basket of kisses led to the idea that every woman is unique. And every woman wants the power to hold onto her man. It wasn’t about looking pretty or trying different colors. It was about the woman who puts on the lipstick and what she’s feeling inside. Taping into her emotions, her desires, even her insecurities. “Mark Your Man” then became a tagline that worked because it did just that.

In the movie What Women Want, a fictitious ad campaign for Nike became about what women feel when they run. Not how they run, or how they dress, or how much money they make. No Games. It tapped into the reason why a woman runs, the feeling of being in a moment that’s just about her. It’s what brands dream of doing – connecting on a very real, very intimate level with their consumers. Therein lies the beauty.

 Don’t mistake this technique as purely B2C. That’s an outdated concept. At the end of the day, we’re all consumers. I’ve used the term B2E (business to everyone) and have heard H2H (Human to Human) kicked around in social platforms. The point is that appealing to our emotions is a tactic that works on all of us. And while Don Draper and company make it look easy, the truth is that it takes skill, intuition, and more than a little magic. It might be magic, but with a little persistence, you too can create a magic of your own.

marketing magic

It requires leaving your comfort zone, thinking outside your current worldview, outside your personal perspective. A few ways to do just that:

  1. Look at your brand from a different perspective. Let’s say you’re creating a campaign for pepper spray. Who’s your target audience? Women are probably at the top of your list, right? They’re the ones who buy it. They’re the ones who need to protect themselves. Hell, it even comes in a pink container! But what if we stepped outside of that perspective? What if we target men instead? Not the men we’d spray (although that might be interesting), but the men who love our core demographic. Their husbands, fathers, boyfriends and brothers? What if you could tap in to the way these men feel worrying about the women they love? And how would they feel if they could protect her – even when they’re not with her? Now that taps into some pretty strong emotions.
  2. Create an experience. Find out where your core demographic lives/works/plays and go to them! Invite loyal consumers and social brand ambassadors to a local VIP event (and have them bring a guest who is not yet loyal, of course) and give them something to remember. The feel good emotions will last long after the event space is torn down, and mobile/social media will help you spread the good word about your brand.
  3. Listen to your customers – and help them out, even when it doesn’t immediately benefit you. A heard a story several months ago about a consumer who was loyal to a particular hotel chain. On an upcoming business trip, he was unable to book a room with the hotel and mentioned on twitter that his hotel of choice was booked. The hotel saw the tweet, replied to him with recommendations for a nearby hotel and then took the liberty of booking the room for him – compliments of them. Now that’s customer service. Yes, they handed him over to a competitor, but who do you think that customer remembered – and appreciated – most?
  4. Let generosity drive you. Think about how your brand can do something to help others. And not just donating funds or jumping on the pro bono bandwagon. But what ties in with your unique brand that will do good, without asking for anything in return? How do we give our consumers JLo’s famous “goosies” every time they think of our brand? One great example: Several years ago, Lands End partnered with the Big Boston Warm Up to provide gently used coats to every homeless person in Boston. It was a smart decision, and one that helped thousands. You can read a recap of the campaign here.

Tapping into consumers’ authentic desires and emotions is key to creating an experience for which your brand will be remembered.

Every brand has the ability to create magic. Let’s create some for yours.


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9 Tried-and-True Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts

blog promotion

Source: Google Images

Managing a blog is a full-time job. For each post, you chose a topic, research it, gather your thoughts, write the post, edit and proofread it to perfection. But, if you sit back and reflect on a job well done as soon as you’ve hit the “post” button, you’re making the biggest mistake in blogging. Yet it happens more often than not. We write blog posts to get noticed, to draw attention, to share knowledge in the hopes of being seen as thought leaders in our respective industries. 

Over the years, I’ve learned what works the best, and how to get the most exposure. Here are nine tried-and-true ways to promote your blog posts:

1.  Add SEO Keywords. Choosing the right keywords is essential to your company’s ranking on search engines.  And don’t let the word “keywords” mislead you –also consider key phrases that best describe your company, your product/service, and the topic of your blog post. Use a plug in, if possible. I like WordPress SEO by Yoast.

2.  Create an e-signature. Chances are, you’ve already got one of these. But does it include a link to your latest blog post? It should. Not only do I add a link, but I preface that link with a teaser line, much like a magazine headline or a well written tweet. Keep a  library of all blog signatures, so that you can include the most relevant and/or current post in every email.

3.  Scoop.It. Reddit. StumbleUpon. Digg… Figure out which sites work best for you, and post your latest blog here, too. It’s a great way to increase your reach. Many of my readers come from curation sites such as these.

4.  Link It. LinkedIn is a powerful, underutilized social platform for business that’s just starting to get the attention it truly deserves. If you don’t already, post links to new blogs in relevant groups, and to the public, when applicable.

5.  Write several headlines. Many bloggers tweet a link to their new blog post and call it a day. In fact, I’ve seen dozens of tweets like this: “New blog post: (link)” I’ve done this as an experiment and in my own research it doesn’t work nearly as well as writing a compelling headline with a link.

6.  Schedule, Schedule, Schedule! Remember, your followers are online at varying times.

 Use a social media management tool (I loveSprout Social) to schedule your tweets throughout the week. Try various times like 6am, 10am, 2pm, 4pm and 7pm – don’t be afraid to experiment and see which times work best for you. *

Don’t think you have the time for this? You might want to read “How to be a social media rockstar in minutes.

7.  Add linksIf you’ve posted other blogs on similar topics, be sure to add a link to the bottom of those posts. Label it: “Relevant blog posts.” Better yet, use a plugin (I like Microkid’s Related Posts for WordPress). Additionally, make sure you go back to older posts and link to any new articles you’ve written.

blog promotion

Source: Google Images

8.  Make sharing easy. Encourage blog visitors to share your post with their followers and connections by making it easy! Use WordPress plugins to allow readers to share your post on the most relevant social platforms. I use Shareaholic and Click To Tweet by TodayMade. 

9. Follow Up. You wouldn’t create a marketing campaign and fail to check the analytics and compile a recap, would you? Be sure you check your blog’s stats on a regular basis and make note of what worked, and what didn’t.

Hitting “post” on a new blog is just the beginning. You’re not done until you’ve promoted it to the best of your ability. When you’ve completed all 9 of these steps, you can start researching for the next topic! 

Coming up with new topics about which to write, posting a steady stream of blog posts and promoting each of them successfully is a big job.  Could you use some help with your brand’s blog? I’d love to chat. Let’s connect and create something fantastic! 

This article was originally written for  SJI @ the mic.  

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Blurring the Lines Between Online and Offline Marketing

If you’re with the majority, you’ve become fairly active in the social sphere.  Tweeting, posting, commenting and the like.  But to what end? We’ve begun to see a shift in social… while it does enjoy a life of its own, companies are beginning to understand that it’s simply part of a larger plan.  The line between your online and offline marketing efforts should begin to blur. The idea of social is truly that – to interact with others.

Blurring online and offline marketing

Source: Google Images

Here, a few ways to blur the lines between online and offline marketing:

  1. Host a local event. Network f2f with people whom you only know online. Shake hands, have a conversation, bring someone with you.  Get social!  Then video tape the event and edit it for your blog or website, Post photos on pinterest and instagram.  You might even post a short list of questions for attendees to consider before the event. After the event, create an infograph of the answers. See? The line is blurred already!
  2. Write a personal letter – on real stationary –to a rock star Unknown-1follower who engages with your brand via social (retweets you often, or mentions you in blog posts, for example).  Put it in an envelope with a real stamp and mail it.  I know – crazy, huh? But watch the impact it has on the recipient.
  3. If you run a sweepstakes or contest that’s 100% online, create a Grand Prize event that brings it to life.  Videotape the winner being handed his new car key, big check, or speedboat (you get the picture), and share it via social platforms.  Not only will you bring your social campaign to life, and generate additional PR for your promotion, you’ll also remind consumers that yes, someone really does win these things.
  4. Give bloggers the VIP treatment.  If you’re hosting an event, invite local bloggers to stop by before the public storms the location. Roll out the red  carpet and give them something fantastic to write about!  Even if the event is closed to the public, those bloggers will help spread the word about what a cool brand you are – and you’ll build interest for your brand.
  5. Fulfillment is the logistics end of your marketing programs.  Many marketers don’t think about Fulfillment when it comes to Social, but even social media is the delivery of a (virtual) promise!  Send your new followers some swag… a t-shirt, mug, or other small premium, as a thank you for engaging with you online.  Be sure you include your social contact info on anything you send out – it takes your message to the streets!
  6. There are thousands of infographs being posted, shared and seen on social platforms like Pinterest, reddit and corporate blogs.  Take this idea a step further.  Once you’ve shared your infograph socially, bring it to life! For example, at my former agency, we had one of our infographs printed on heavy vinyl (banner stock), added a dowel at bottom and a ribbon for hanging at the top and sent it out to brands interested in games as a marketing tactic.  We received dozens of calls and emails from both clients and prospective clients thanking us for the banner and telling us it was hanging in their office for reference.

Regardless of what social platforms you utilize, finding ways to engage with online followers and friends in a real, dimensional way, will work to bring your brand to life, and give customers (followers, friends and connections) a chance to see that you’re more than just an avatar or icon.

Navigating and managing your brand’s social media presence can be overwhelming. Creating brand cohesion across across all channels is terribly important. And the right words – well, they mean everything. I’d love to help you out with any or all of these three. Would you like to chat? Let’s connect and create something fantastic!

This article was originally posted at  SJI @ the mic.


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Social Media: One of Many Marketing Mediums

Last year around this time, I gave a presentation on Social Media Marketing to an Advertising Principles class at Washington University in St. Louis.


Source: google images

As I was building the presentation, filled with nifty charts and statistics, it hit me. These kids were raised on social media. They might know a hell of a lot more than I do about Facebook and G+ and hashtags, etc. etc. But what they didn’t yet understand was how social media applied to marketing. That got me thinking about all social has made possible for marketers and brands.

Social Media is a Marketing Medium. It is not the holy grail. It is not the end all. It is yet another way to reach consumers in a targeted, engaged way. 

I asked this class of very intelligent, mostly left-brained young adults to name some other marketing mediums. Hands shot up: TV, radio, web banner ads, billboards, POS, even on the shelf at retail. We added others: menu boards, websites, direct mail… the list goes on and on. The point is that social media is one of many. Granted, it’s probably the most cost effective, and it’s definitely the most accessible. Got a computer and an internet connection? You’re good to go.

Unlike advertising, you don’t need actual dollars to give it a whirl. Yes, there is time involved, and yes, time is money, but I’m talking about real cash here. In advertising, experiential marketing, PR… you need a budget. Social Media is “free” – anyone can create a page or a profile and tout their wares. Here’s the drawback… because it’s free, because there are millions of people tweeting and posting there is a great deal of noise. More noise than any other marketing medium. So, In order to truly stand out in social media, ya gotta be good. Really good. And that, my friends, costs money. Even in social.

Case in point: that famous Superbowl Oreo tweet. that didn’t just happen by chance. Oreo was paying a staff of about a dozen agency employees (copywriters, designers, etc.) to watch the Super Bowl and jump on any significant, newsworthy event. It absolutely worked, but it was a carefully orchestrated, well-planned, perfectly-executed strategy. And those do not come cheap.

Look around at a few of those other marketing mediums (print ads, TV, etc.) – trust me, you’ll see more bad than good. But the good ones really stand out. The good ones have a successful formula of great copy, a strong call to action and enticing design. It stands to reason that just because you pay to put your message somewhere does not mean it’s going to work. And the same goes for social media. Just because you create a twitter account, or a blog, does not mean your customers will be coming in droves.

But, if you’ve got these going for you…

1. You know your target audience

2. You’ve got a compelling call to action

3. Your design and copy are well crafted

… chances are you’ll be successful within any marketing medium you choose – social included.

Navigating and managing your brand’s social media presence can be overwhelming. Cohesive branding across all channels is terribly important. And the right words – well, they mean everything. I’d love to help you out with any or all of these three. Would you like to chat? Let’s connect and create something fantastic!

This article was originally written 4/29/13 for SJI @ the mic.

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It Might Be Time to Hire a Social Media Strategist If…

I just came across a blog written by @shelleypringle for Polaris that provided cases for and against outsourcing social media marketing.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

Like all great blog posts, this one got me thinking. How do you really know whether you need someone to manage your social media marketing? It’s a fair question, so, in the spirit of Jeff Foxworthy, I thought I’d offer up some clues.

It might be time for you to hire a social media strategist if…

  • You have a twitter profile but rarely tweet, and when you do tweet it’s to tout your product or service, brag about an award or share a photo of your building or the office dog.
  • You have a Facebook page but don’t see much engagement from fans (other than your mom, God love her).
  • You’ve heard that SEO is important but you aren’t sure how to use it other than pay for it (what does it stand for again…?).
  • You’re spending marketing dollars on talking at your customers (via print, tv or radio ads) but know two-way conversations are important.
  • Your competitors seem highly engaged in social media (damn them – they’re always a step ahead).
  • You have a website but don’t see much traffic (how do you  get to the Google stats, again?).
  • You started a blog but haven’t posted since your “Happy New Year” message on January 3rd (2013) and aren’t really sure what to write about.
  • You have a blog and try to post a couple of times a month, but you haven’t noticed any big increase in sales (And if you did, how would you know it’s related to the blog?).
  • You know your customers are using social media (who isn’t?), but aren’t sure which platforms they’re on, and how to get started.
  • Your sales are down – or flat – and you don’t have much budget for marketing, but you’ve got to build some awareness around your brand.

If any of these sounds like you, it’s time to seriously consider putting some budget behind social media efforts.

So whether you decide to outsource or hire someone full-time, it’s helpful to know what to look for in a candidate. As a freelance social media strategist, I can tell you that my clients prefer to pay me for the hours I work, rather than increasing their overhead expenses. Either way, here are some tips for hiring the right person to represent your brand. Your Social Strategist should have the following

1.      A Marketing Background

Look, social media is a tool for reaching your consumers. Just like TV, radio, print ads, your website, online ads, promotions, etc. Someone with a strong marketing background will ask questions and learn about your audience and your objectives, set up measurements for success (or failure), and keep your brand consistent across all channels. He’ll also have a good understanding of the three pillars of online marketing (SEO, Content and SMO).

images-22.     Strong Writing Skills. A very well-known social media “thought leader” posted a quote just this morning on LinkedIn. He took this famous author’s quote out of context. Ernest Hemingway said “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” The post on Linked in said “Mr. Hemingway on Content Marketing:” followed by the quote. Proof positive that these days, everyone is in the publishing business. But that doesn’t mean  everyone’s a (good) writer. Find yourself someone who can string together a good sentence and weave a compelling story for your brand.

 3. Social Media Knowledge. As Polaris suggested in the post, outsourcing your social manager will ensure that your brand is up to speed. But this depends on whom you hire. It can be easy to get started in social by simply knowing the rules (tweets are 140 characters or less) but having a deeper understanding of how each platform works (tweets that use all 140 characters are a mistake!) and the audiences they serve is vital to your success on each channel.

4. Business Acumen. Sure, today’s college students were raised on the internet and social media, but that doesn’t mean they know how to represent a brand via social channels (My generation was raised on tv, but we weren’t put  in charge of advertising back in the 80s).  Your social manager should know how to handle herself in all business situations, be comfortable speaking for your brand, be professional but engaging and keep you in the loop about any customer complaints or an influx of negative social press.

Source: Google Analytics

Source: Google Analytics

5. Analytics Experience. There’s more to all those charts and numbers than meets the eye. Your SM Manager should not only track analytics but determine what they mean, and how to make changes to continue building your brand based on those findings.

What it comes down to is this: If your brand isn’t actively engaged on the right social media channels, you’re missing a huge opportunity to reach core consumers, engage with brand advocates, and move the needle on your bottom line.

Once you’ve found the perfect Social Strategist, you’re not done! Stay in touch with these 8 steps to ensure you help him help you!

Navigating and managing your brand’s social media presence can be overwhelming. Cohesive branding across all channels is terribly important. And the right words – well, they mean everything. The right mix of these three can have a great impact on your brand. Would you like to chat? Let’s connect and create something fantastic!


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How Lutefisk Launched a Career

While I was still in school earning my BA in Writing, my Writing for Advertising professor told me I had a talent for copywriting. She suggested I offer to write a few print ads or press releases free of charge, to jump-start my career, build my book and get my name out in the industry.

The first chance I got was writing a press release for a little pizza place up in Wisconsin. The owner of the restaurant happened to be my cousin, Ben. I’m sure he thought it would be a mistake to let the cousin he hadn’t seen in 10+ years who “wanted to be a writer” write a press release for his business. Nevertheless, he did.  And because I’d never written one before, and he was a relative, I wouldn’t accept payment.

His only creative direction was this: “Our November pizza of the month is Lutefisk.” Here, he paused for reaction, and when he got none – I had no idea what “lutefisk” was – he continued, “so, I’d like it to have a lighthearted, northern humor.”

lutefisk pizzaI had no idea what he was talking about. This is when I learned my first – and to this day most important – business lesson:  Do your research.

I ran down to my local Blockbuster and asked the guy behind the counter for a comedy – with northern humor. He handed me “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” a comedy that takes place in a small Minnesota town.  I was hoping it had the kind of northern humor my cousin was talking about.

Drop Dead Gorgeous MovieI watched the movie, researched lutefisk (gross), and sat down to write the release.

What came from this piece was this: All three newspapers in town printed the full release and my cousin received a call from the producers of the NPR show “The Splendid Table” with Lynn Rosetta Casper. She interviewed Ben on-air and his restaurant sold out of pizza faster than you can say “Gelatinous Goo.”

My writing career had begun (it wasn’t the first time pizza prepared me for my career). From there I wrote everything from training manuals to web ads, sales letters to website copy, video scripts to feature articles and newsletters. I did all of this at night after a full day at a marketing agency where I was learning the ropes of promotions, mobile tours, sweepstakes, and other off-the-cuff ways to increase awareness, engage consumers and create brand loyalty.

By 2008, Social Media had become the new buzz-word, and I knew I’d found my calling. As it turned out, a background in marketing coupled with killer writing skills and strategic thinking was the perfect formula for a career in social media.

Back in college, my creative writing instructor used to say “write what you know!” It’s still a well-worn principle in the writing industry. But I disagree. I say, do your research! If there’s something about which you want to write, learn it! Why be stuck in the rut of only writing about what you know at the time? Stretch your creative muscles, challenge yourself, and grow! You just might surprise yourself.

I did. And it all started with a lutefisk pie. You Betcha!







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How to Handle Rejection Like a Writer a freelance writer, I’ve submitted 64 feature articles, essays and short stories for publication in the past three years. Of those 64, just 19 have been published. It’s simple math: I’ve received many more rejection letters than acceptance letters. As a writer, I’ve developed a thick skin. Rejections have always been a reminder that I’m writing, and trying to get published. They’ve also become my own personal cheerleader. Every time I’m rejected, I turn around and submit that piece somewhere else – and a few more along with it – just to prove I can’t be stopped.

When I started my small business, I found that I wasn’t handling rejections of proposals and requests for meetings nearly as well.

It finally hit me that they are really one and the same, and the best way to handle a potential client that turns me down is to stand up a little straighter and employ the same tactics – and attitude – I use as a writer.

It’s helped me tremendously, so without further ado, here are some ways to turn a “no” into a “yes” (or two).

1. ALLOW yourself a minute or two to be bummed. Then move on. There may very well be a great reason your proposal was turned down. Maybe the company has received dozens of similar proposals. Maybe they’re under contract with another agency or vendor. Maybe their current focus is just elsewhere. Most companies will explain this to you. If they do, great. If not, let it go. There are thousands of other opportunities out there. Time is money. Don’t waste it sulking – you’ve got work to do!

2. GO smalleror for their competitors. Think about other companies that might be interested in the proposal. If you sent it off to a Fortune 500 company, try starting smaller. Research local companies that might benefit from your ideas and expertise. Take advantage of their proximity to invite key contacts to meet in person. Chances are, the company that turned you down is in a category with several competitors. Find out who they are and reach out to them. The proposal that didn’t work for the category leader might be a perfect fit for number two or three.

3. KEEP a record of all contacts made. As a writer, I keep a spreadsheet of every submission that includes the title of the piece, word count, the publication to which I submitted and the date. Once I hear back from the publication, I update this chart with either the word “Rejected” or the date of publication.  You can – and should – do the same for your new business efforts.

Something like this:

Company Contact Date of contact Date of Response Next Step(s)
ABC Co. Kelly Green, VP Mktg 11/9/13 – via email 11/12/13 Send relevant case studies by 11/20/13 

This will help you keep track of whom you contacted and what your follow-up actions should be.

4. TRIPLE the effort. For every contact that turns down your offer to meet, invite three more connections for coffee – or if they’re out of town, for a quick call. When you start seeing success from these efforts, the initial rejections will begin to motivate you rather than bring you down.

5. BUILD bridges. I received a project on spec from a national magazine last year and thought I’d made it big. As it turns out, the magazine was in the midst of changing it’s core demographic and decided my piece was no longer suitable for them. I shopped it elsewhere, and stayed in touch with the Editor of that magazine. She is now a strong contact who is willing to hear my pitches and read my queries.  It works the same way in business… Several months ago, I received a rejection email from a Fortune 500 brand. It was short, succinct and, I thought, final. I responded professionally and kindly, asking that he keep me in mind for any future projects. Three months later, I received another short email… offering me a new project. Sometimes just putting your name in their head is enough. There might be nothing at the time, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be something later.

Your Turn: How do you handle rejection? Have I missed any great advice you’d like to share? 

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