Stay Tuned…

It’s been more than a year, and I’ve been planning big changes. Watch this space. I promise great things…


What Makes A Social Media Expert?

Over the past few weeks, the same Tweet has been showing up in my feed. To paraphrase, it basically says that more people than really should be are calling themselves social media experts. Three times, I’ve asked the person who sent the Tweet for clarification and three times, I’ve not gotten an answer. So, I suppose that’s one trait we disagree on – engagement. I believe a willingness to engage with your audience is critical, but clearly, this individual does not. Since I haven’t gotten my answer from the originator of the Tweet, here are the basic traits I think social media experts should have.

1. An understanding of marketing and communications strategy

When you or your company decide to jump into social media marketing, it’s not just a matter of opening a bunch of accounts across a number of platforms and just starting to blog, Tweet and post whatever is on your mind on any give day. Social media is an additional piece of your overall marketing mix – and you need to plan accordingly. What platforms make sense to reach your particular audience? What are you going to say to them? What messages make sense online? What will you do to engage your online audience? How often will you post to your blog (keeping in mind consistency is critical)? Is your online message consistent with your offline message? Are you ensuring that you’re talking with, not at, your online audience?

2. A willingness to talk to your audience

Social media is just that: social. It’s about two-way conversations instead of just pushing out your messages. When you put yourself and your business in front of your customers on social media platforms, it’s a given that they will use these channels to talk to you. And you need to be willing and able to listen and respond appropriately (people are always watching). Putting someone in charge of social media who doesn’t have excellent customer relations skills may mean the difference between positive customer interactions and swift, possibly earned, negative attention.

3. A sense of urgency

The speed at which social media moves in unprecedented in the business world. Customer interactions take place faster than ever – it’s easier to send a Tweet to a company than it is to pick up the phone, send an email or (if you can find an actual physical address on a website) write a letter. You need to be willing to respond just as quickly. Oh, and publicly, too – unless someone sends you a direct message, all of your interactions will be out in front of everyone online.

4. The ability to be “real”

Posting marketing messages to your social media sites of choice without having a personality is not what your audience expects. You need to be willing to have a human voice, and be willing to engage customers in discussions about subjects other than their products or services. Sometimes, even adding your community manager’s name to your Twitter profile will help add a personal touch to your interactions.

5. A willingness to take the time

Social media may be a cost-effective way to promote your message and engage your audience, but it does take time. Budgeting enough time to strategize your activities, respond to customers, see what your competitors are doing and measuring and monitoring your successes and failures is critical.

6. The ability to sort out the good from the bad data

Monitoring and listening are critical to knowing what’s happening in your company’s world. What are people saying? How often are they talking about you and your competitors? Where is your traffic coming from? There is so much data to gather about your online audience, but it takes someone with great analytical skills to use the listening tools, interpret the data and offer an honest view of your online reputation.

I could devote pages and pages of my blog to the subject of social media expertise. But, I’m going to leave it to you – what traits would you suggest make a person a social media expert and why? Leave me a comment and let me know!

I Am Grateful

I haven’t posted recently because I’m tired. I’ve been coping with being the caregiver to a very sick loved one so writing has been the last thing on my mind after I get home from spending the day at the hospital, getting dinner together for the family in the evening and settling the children into bed.

But today, I went for a run through a beautiful local park because between dropping the children off at school and visiting hours in the ICU beginning, I have about two hours. Two hours during which I can choose to stew and be alone with my own morbid imagination and the Internet (trust me when I tell you not to Google symptoms of even the most minor illness. Seriously. Don’t do it).

I put on my runners, slipped my earbuds into my ears and ran. I ran from my thoughts, I ran from my obligations, I ran from the fear and uncertainty of the last week. And I discovered something as I ran. That despite everything we have faced in the last few months (job losses, family illnesses, hospital stays, etc.), I am still grateful for so many things.

I am grateful for family. Both the family I was born into and the family into which I married. They have supported me, my loved one and our children throughout this week. They have arrived with offers of help, a willingness to distract the children, an ear to just let me vent and an amazing capability help me navigate and cope with all of the unknowns.

I am grateful for friends – the family I chose for myself. The fact that these individuals have been willing to suspend their own lives and cook a dinner, watch the children, help me be a patient advocate or just give a big bear hug when I need one has touched me deeply. I knew I chose this family right.

I am grateful to my children for providing a welcome sense of calm, humour and energy in my life. They are the reason I have continued putting one foot in front of the other instead of curling into a ball on my couch. They are the reason I have kept laughing despite my worry.

I am grateful to the amazing medical team in the ICU, the emergency room and to those that help others. Those that are willing, even when they have no idea what the root cause may be, to don a gown, gloves, masks and put their own safety aside to try to heal someone. Their support has been tremendously appreciated. Their daily job has allowed my loved one to continue living.

I am grateful to the artists in my running playlist for spurring me to lace up my runners and hit the trail. Music is healing and has made me move even when I haven’t wanted to keep going.

I am grateful to the peacock in the park this morning who opened his tail feathers just as I rounded the corner. You reminded me that even in the midst of drab hospital rooms, harsh florescent lights and the smell of antiseptics, there is beauty.

Finally, I am grateful for life and the ability to keep breathing day after day. Yes, this is a rough patch and yes, there are days I don’t want to keep going. But I do. And I will. And, after the reminder this week of how tenuous life can be, I will live it to the fullest.

Why Oreo Won Twitter During the Superbowl

Photo Credit: Oreo, 360i
Photo Credit: Oreo, 360i

By now, Oreo’s game day Tweet referencing the blackout at the Superdome has become a viral sensation, having been retweeted more than 15,000 times since it was posted shortly after a blackout that lasted slightly over a half an hour began.

The question for many small business owners would be why that Tweet, not those from Calvin Klein (who happened to use the new Vine app) or Tide or the countless others that had something to say during that 34-minute break, became the one that “went viral.” So, let’s explore…

  1. Timeliness – Oreo’s brand team and their agency, 360i had a “war room” set up that allowed them to get real-time approval on any creative or messaging that related to the game. Although their Whisper Fight spot had aired earlier in the game, they were able to go “off script” quickly.
  2. Imagery – they kept it simple. A beautifully lit cookie on a semi-dark background. No need to click through to watch a video, no call to action to retweet or buy anything. The cookie itself is iconic and the image is (say it with me this time), simple.
  3. Demographic – while the buff guy working out courtesy of Calvin was easy on the eyes, and the number of women watching the Super Bowl is rising each year, as is the number of people reporting higher-than average disposable income, the Oreo universally appeals to men and women, and is an affordable luxury in many homes (and in others, is a staple pantry item). Calvin Klein, and the buff model, would likely appeal to less than 50% of the audience. In relation to Tide, research has shown that in married households, 85% of the laundry is done by women. Cute Tweet, Tide, but it missed the demographic
  4. Integration – Yes, Oreo paid the $3.8 billion price tag for their :30 spot, but that spot drove people to their Instagram account, which in turn, would naturally drive people to check out their other social media sites. Oreo started the evening with 2,000 Instagram followers. Five hours later, they had 34,000. According to reports, 111 million people watched the Super Bowl. Nielsen has reported in the past that 41% of tablet users and 38% of smartphone users use their devices while watching TV. Which means that millions of game watchers had the opportunity to comment and share via social media instantly. And they did. Reports from Twitter’s blog are stating that 24.1 million Tweets about the game, the ads and Beyonce’s halftime show. During the blackout, there were 231,500 tweets per minute. Oreo used this integration to their advantage.

Overall, there is absolutely no sure-fire way to guarantee viral content, but ensuring that social media posts are timely, appeal to your demographic, are visually appealing and that your messaging is consistent across all platforms certainly provides a better online experience for your customer – even if your brand isn’t Oreo.