Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Social Media Process: Step 5

As I have shared throughout these five steps, social media is an involved and engaged process. We need to present at every step, and that includes after the inital time investment is complete. This is where the final step in my Social Media Process comes into playManage and Monitor.

By now we are participating in our social media platform(s). We should be actively managing our content, followers, and interactions. Making sure questions and comments are being responded to appropriately, value-added content is being generated, and we are staying fresh are all crucial to proper management.

The monitoring aspect should be opening a dialogue within our organization. What is working? What is not working? How can we be better? Reviewing our Plan from Step 2, what tactics do we need to adjust? Are we meeting our goals and updating them for the next 30, 60, 90 days?

This Manage and Monitor step is an ongoing process and must continue. In fact, the whole 5-Step Social Media Process must constantly continue to incorporate new technologies and trends.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Next week I'm going start a series of posts on the big picture of social media and venues you may not have heard about.

Connect with me at www.lbspeaksonline.com or www.facebook.com/lbspeaksonline.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Social Media Process: Step 4

Step 4 in my Social Media Process is to Engage and Interact.

Having completed Step 1, Step 2, and Step 2 (Side Note), we are now comfortable and familiar with who constitutes our audience. This is important because it is allows us to tailor our messages and themes to the demographics of that audience. Topics we discuss with a group of male tweens/teens is often significantly different from topics discussed with middle-aged females.

According to our schedule of consistency (Step 2), we want to start actively using our account. Maybe we have formed a committee to set the theme for our week's interaction, we are working on a particular campaign, or we have an altogether different strategy. However we are going to handle postings, here are a few important reminders:
  • Social media is not about us. It is about our followers. It is about giving them an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with organizations, like us, that have products and/or services they love.
  • Give people a reason to connect. Followers connect because there is a benefit. Maybe followers are privvy to special information and discounts, they get to review products, participate in contests with prizes, whatever the reason - give a reason.
  • DO NOT information dump. Distributing information is an invaluable aspect, but it should not be the sole focus of our interaction. Pose thought-provoking questions, observations, acknowledgements of clients/patrons/members, and musings.
  • ALWAYS respond. If a follower posts a question or comment on our social media platform, they should expect a response within two to four hours MAXIMUM. Now, if we post information about an upcoming event and one of our followers comments, "I'll be there!" we can take the opportunity to interact and comment back, "it will be great to see you," or we can let the opportunity pass. However, it is absolutely positively beyond necessary to respond immediately if one of our followers comments, "what time does the event start?" Not responding could mean that follower doesn't show up and our efforts have been wasted.
  • Tailor messages. We need to tailor our message to the demographics of our audience AND to the social media platform. For instance, if we are on Twitter and Facebook, we would not share the same exact message on both platforms. Why? Because we can use hashtags and mentions in Twitter, but they would look impersonal and out of place in Facebook.
  • Share stories. Sharing stories makes us more personable and real. It makes our followers feel more connected to us and it opens the door for them to share and participate.
  • Be fun. We shouldn't be all business all the time. Occasionally, post something about what is going on in our office. Maybe we are enjoying cake for Sandy's birthday or we're having a taco lunch buffet to celebrate reaching an internal goal.
  • Include pictures and graphics. Give our audience that additional dose of personalism and connection.
  • Consistency is key. Stay on track and post according to our schedule. Two to four times a week keeps us relevant and interesting, without inundating our followers.
Graphic Copyright (c) 2006 - 2010 Tenaya Group, LLC. Article by Brian Phipps. 

 People are often worried about quantity - how many followers do I have? Why don't I have more? I need more! We should be worried about the quality of our followers. I would rather have 100 followers who are thoroughly engaged and care about my services than 1,000 followers who just receive my postings. Strong content along with engagement and interaction attracts more followers.

Connect with me at www.lbspeaksonline.com or at www.facebook.com/lbspeaksonline.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Social Media Process: Step 3

We've come to Step 3 in my Social Media Process. By now, we should have completed the Where Are You in Social Media worksheet from Step 1, addressed the numerous issues mentioned in Step 2, and have taken into account the different demographics and purposes of each social media platform from Step 2 (Side Note).

Step 3, we actually get to Create Our Presence. It seems like a significant way into the process before we are able to do this, but hopefully we understand why after reading through the previous steps. We are already leaps and bounds ahead of others because, according to a study done by Valeria Maltoni of Conversation Agent, 86% of All People Don't Know the Plan Comes First. Since we have invested the time in planning up front, we won't need to backtrack and start over like so many before us.

On to creating our presence. Depending on the time and resources we have allotted, we may want to start with creating just one presence, the one most dominantly reflected in our Where Are You in Social Media worksheet from Step 1. This allows us to create and tweak our social media routine before adding another platform.

When creating our account, if possible, it is important we have a centralized e-mail address or login credentials. This allows ease of separation between employee personal and work accounts.

Once the account is created, we must be diligent in making sure it is a consistent reflection of our organization.
  • Make the logo and color scheme recognizable to our audience(s). 
  • Use our logo, tagline, etc. to incorporate branding.
  • Complete all information. For example, Facebook has an 'Info' tab. We need to have our address, hours, phone number, web site, and, if appropriate, our disclaimer posted.
  • Ensure settings are where we want them to be so we are allowing the engagement and interactivity to meet the goals in our plan.
Once we have created our presence, ask a select group of people to connect with us and test features like posting text and photos, deleting posts, monitoring activity, etc. This is our opportunity to experiment before we get to full on engagement.

What organization features your favorite social media presence?

Connect with me at www.lbspeaksonline.com or at www.facebook.com/lbspeaksonline.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Social Media Process: Step 2 (Side Note)

After my last post, I received several private e-mails asking about demographics for popular sites. Here is a little information that may help.

In February, Royal Pingdom published a highly informative article, "Study: Ages of Social Network Users." The graphic below, along with other valuable information, accompanied the article.

Age distribution on social network sites

However, we know how rapidly social media and its demographics change. The amazing Tammy Camp published "Crafting Content To Social Media Demographics" just a few weeks ago in October. Excellent information accompanied her graphic below as well.

I applaud those of you who were question the demographics. Knowing our audience as well as their demographics gives us great precision in creating valuable and engaging content. If the information we provide isn't relevant, than neither are we.

Completing the Where Are You in Social Media worksheet from Step 1, addressing issues mentioned in Step 2, and taking into account the different demographics and purposes of each social media platform, will prepare you to move on to Step 3 with me next week.

Connect with me at www.lbspeaksonline.com or at www.facebook.com/lbspeaksonline.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Social Media Process: Step 2

In my last post, I shared that the first step in my fabulously festive "Laurie Boettcher Speaks Social Media Process" is to Listen and provided a link to a worksheet that can help tally those results.

The next step in my process is to Plan. That sounds simple enough, but what is it that we plan? Let's stop and ask ourselves, our group, our committee, our organization, or whoever is involved:
  • Why do we want to get involved in social media?
  • What do we hope to achieve?
  • What platforms are the best fit for me/us?
  • Who is going to be involved in our social media efforts?
  • Who will be responsible for posting / commenting / maintaining / archiving/ etc.?
  • What training do those individuals need and who will provide it?
  • What is our schedule of consistency?
  • How much time will be allotted?
  • How will we promote our social media presence(s)?
  • How will we define success in 30, 60, 90, and 180 days?
  • Do we have a social media policy?
Know that these questions don't need elaborate answers, but they do need to be addressed. The more we open the dialogue about our wants, needs, and expectations, the better we are able to evaluate our efforts and make adjustments where necessary.

It is important to be realistic with each question. Maybe our definition of success in 30 days is that we have made a decision about what social media platforms we will use, who will be responsible, and training is in progress. Unless we have unlimited time, resources, and budget, social media will become a chore if we aren't realistic in our planning and approach. It shouldn't be that. It should be a tool(s) we use to interact and engage with our followers on their terms.

The worksheet and tools that accompany this step are currently only available to my clients. In the new year, I will be making it available for download.

What is the most challenging part of the social media planning process for you and/or your organization?

Connect with me at http://www.lbspeaksonline.com/ or at www.facebook.com/lbspeaksonline.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Social Media Process: Step 1

The idea of jumping into the game of social media, much less 'embracing' it, can be overwhelming to many. If we have thought this through, we realize it is going to/does take time, effort, and resources to participate in whatever platform(s) we decide to participate.

Each social media professional/enthusiast/guru/ninja (whatever we are calling ourself), has his or her own approach to social media. Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to walk you through my process. It is a five-step process which is cyclical in that, in order to be successful, we must contstantly continue and evolve it.

The first step in the fabulously festive "Laurie Boettcher Speaks Social Media Process" (isn't that a mouthful?) is Listen. To make the best use of our resources (time, energy, budget, and staff), we need to know where our audience is -  patrons, clients, members, stakeholders, whoever they are. Where are they? What social media platforms are they using? We want to be where they are. We can't say, "we want to be on Twitter" only to find out that there are only five of our patrons that use Twitter. Social media interaction and engagement is not about us. It's about them - our people.

I have uploaded an updated version of the 'Where Are You in Social Media' worksheet to Slideshare at www.slideshare.net/laurieboettcher under the Documents section. Print a couple out for your audience to complete. This allows us to make an educated and informed Decision.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Open the Dialogue

Cyberbullying and irresponsible use of social networking platforms have infiltrated our news for some time now. As I mentioned in the closing of Tuesday's post, we need to open the dialogue about social media.  

Just as tweens/teens do, we as parents make choices every day. We can make the choice to 'friend' our child on Facebook and then scold/shame them for the things they and their friends post or we can take a different approach. We can refrain from commenting online and use it as a listening tool. Not only does it allow us to see the character of children, but gives us insight in how to protect them by arming them with knowledge and decision-making skills.

Approach 1: "Your friend Stacy has been talking about running away. She is a bad influence. I don't want you hanging around with her anymore and I'm telling her mother."
Approach 2: "Stacy seems to be going through some rough times. Are you handling it okay? Do you want to talk about it?"
Handling it this way allows our tweens/teens to share how this is affecting them. Also, asking if Stacy has talked with her parents and evaluating that situation is crucial. Asking, "Do you think Stacy's parents should be concerned?" gives our children the opportunity to ask us to intervene and anonymously talk to her parents or even give them tools to help their friend talk to her parents.  

Approach 1: "Joey has been mean to you on Facebook. You can't be friends with him anymore."
Approach 2: "Joey has been saying some pretty hurtful things on Facebook. Is everything okay with you two? Let me know if you feel like he is crossing the line and want some help with your privacy settings."
Empowering our children with the ability to set boundaries and say enough is enough is a critical life skill. Also, validating them by acknowledging these are hurtful things being said about them, brings these comments into a new context.

We, as parents, know our children better than anyone else. We want to protect them from everything, but we cannot always do that. What we can do is arm them with knowledge and good decision-making skills. Social media and social networking tools is a good place to start.

If you are interested in learning more about cyberbullying, I highly recommend the book "Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying" by Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja of the Cyberbullying Research Center. Dr. Patchin, a cyberbullying expert and criminal justice professor at UW-Eau Claire, was recently featured in a CNN Anderson Cooper 360­°television special focusing on Cyberbullying.

Check out the book at your local library.

Connect with me on my web site at www.lbspeaksonline.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Millennials and Social Media

When I was in high school, we had typing and computer classes because these were seen as essential skills needed in the work world. As technology continues to evolve, we need to turn our efforts to educating our tweens, teens, and college students on using social media effectively and what it means to 'be social.'

For our Millennials, it is their reality that social media knowledge will be a highly sought after skill in any career they may pursue. It is also their reality that some of the highest paying and most desirable jobs have to do with social media including programmers, developers, project managers, bloggers, new media specialists, web engineers, content coordinators, digital marketing directors, community managers, and more.

These jobs were unheard of when I was in high school. The truth is that we are preparing our youth for these jobs and jobs that don't even exist yet. To give them an edge in a competitive workforce, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves in social media, so we can, in turn, educate our youth and open the dialogue to this new world.

Connect with me on my web site at www.lbspeaksonline.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Teaching How to 'Be Social'

Remember when e-mail first debuted? We made up our own rules as we went, used it how we chose, and tended to be a bit careless. Then, we learned e-mail etiquette and we were taught how to use e-mail appropriately - both for business and personal.

Social media is no different. It has its own language, its own culture, and its own etiquette. As Eric Qualman so eloquently reminds us, social media is a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. Although the platforms (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.) may evolve or change, the fact that our way of communicating in this engaged manner has not and will not.

To participate in social media, we need to learn how to 'be social.' Being social means knowing our purposes, what is appropriate to post and what is not, how to interact, handling conflict, using correct terminology, but most of all, knowing what we are sharing and with whom by protecting our privacy on our social media accounts.

Being social not only provides us with invaluable knowledge, but it helps us teach the next generation to use this mode of communication that will shape their workforce and skill sets. I'll talk about that more in Tuesday's blog.

Connect with me on my web site at www.lbspeaksonline.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Journalists Embracing Social Media

Like many other professionals, journalists are embracing social media as a listening tool as well as a source tool.

The big three: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are at the forefront of journalists’ social media resources. Facebook is a great tool for building online communities, finding sources, and engaging readers in content they enjoy. Twitter provides a connection to trends, inspires great story ideas, locates unique and local sources, and offers journalists a list feature to categorize their sources. LinkedIn gives journalists that professional connection to bloggers, industry leaders, academics, freelancers, and fellow journalist professionals. All three allow dissemination of information to a demographic traditional newspapers may not reach.

A January 2010 national survey by Cison and George Washington University revealed that a significant number of journalists are becoming increasingly dependent on social media tools. The report indicates 89 percent of respondents turn to blogs for story research, 65 percent to social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and 52 percent to microblogging services such as Twitter. Surprisingly, the survey also reveals that 61 percent use the popular online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

In a post by Lee Odden on TopRank’s blog, WCCO TV News Reporter Jason DeRusha says, “Private business does a horrible job cataloging their expertise in a manner that’s search engine friendly. This is a real opportunity, as journalists become much more crunched for time, and use search as quick way to identify local experts.”

Have you been contacted by a journalist who found you as a result of social media? Share your story.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Train Me!

Todd Defren over at PR-Squared did a blog post in August about Social Media Training On the Rise. I share his sentiments that is a good thing. In fact, I would go one step further and say that it is phenomenal!

I recently did a LinkedIn training session for an international business here in Wisconsin and it reminded me why I love doing these group sessions in-house. It puts everyone on the same page. All employees (including executives) in attendance are being trained the same way, getting the same information, uniformly understanding how it can help the organization, what it can do for each particular job/department, the organization's tone in using this particular social platform, the guidelines for its use, and organizational goals. What an amazing feat for a one to two hour training session!

Take the time to make this investment in our employees. Even if it is simply offering an all-employee meeting about using Facebook Privacy Settings. This is an excellent opportunity to create value and open the doors to communicating about social media. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Social Networking and Jobs

Last week, I participated in an article with Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times for an article he authored entitled Social Networking Your Way to a New Job. I was thoroughly impressed with the article and his shedding light on this often overlooked topic.

In our current time and with our current economy, it is crucial we examine all aspects of our identity when searching for employment. That extends to social media and includes:
  • thoroughly reviewing our privacy settings on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. We will be reflections of any business that hires us and we want those to be professional reflections.
  • ensuring our LinkedIn profiles are complete. Our profiles should tell a story. We need to make sure those stories are accurate and that our privacy settings are turned OFF so any employer reviewing our profiles can access all information desired.
  • allowing our Twitter accounts to show who we are. Do we follow groups, organizations, and industry leaders that show we are engaged in our fields? This also goes for LinkedIn, we should belong to groups that reflect our engagement in our careers.
  • adding our LinkedIn URL to our e-mail autosignature and resume. Inviting others to learn more about us enhances our opportunities.
  • taking classes/training about social media use. We all know that social media is not a fad. If we have time and the opportunity, we should take classes that teach us how to better use these tools that make will make us more of a value to potential employers. Public libraries, which we know I LOVE, often offer free classes in their communities, presented by speakers like myself, to teach community members the basics of using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Let your story be a success story with the help of social media.

Don't forget to check out Laurie Boettcher Speaks at http://www.lbspeaksonline.com/.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Social Media Touch

David Armano of Logic + Emotion authored a terrific post earlier this month entitled Media Isn't Social. Although the article was wonderful, what caught my attention most was one of his graphics:
This is so true. Social Media touches all of these aspects and departments.

Recently, two of my friends, Linda Pophal of Strategic Communications and Renee Bonjour of Group Health Cooperative, had an interesting discussion about who, within an organization, should be responsible for social media activities. Being a PR Practitioner, Linda leaned towards PR, and Renee is a Marketing Director, so she voiced Marketing. After much discussion, we all agreed that it has to be a carefully planned endeavor on behalf of all departments.

Social media is about communicating with one consistent voice. It's about showing our followers we are here, we care, and we are engaged. PR and Marketing help define that voice, most of the time Customer Care is the voice, HR determines what that voice can legally say, IT helps the voice be heard where it needs to, and R&D gets to respond to the needs on the other end of the voice. If everyone is not communicating, the system is not working.

Which person/department at your organization handles social media? How involved are other people/areas?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pusher or Sharer?

Do we want to be Pushers or Sharers? For the chatty type like myself, it is easy to reply 'Sharer!' I love it when my followers join in the conversation by posting their own thoughts, questions, concerns, and experiences. Everyone learns from that.

For companies who are driven by a bottom-line, it is really challenging to reply 'Sharer.' It is your job to sell products and services and to meet quotas. With social media, however, we all have to move from Pushers to Sharers if we want to earn and retain our followings.

Starting the conversation about a product, service, or experience allows us to be Sharers while offering information about what we can do/provide. If we get too pushy, we lose the engagement and the following. Sometimes, it is even best if we let our followers respond to others' questions and concerns. It is great to see our products and services be sold by those whose respect and loyalty we have earned.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What do you mean 'it's not all about me'?

As much as I like everything in life to be all about me, there are times when I have to come to terms with the fact that it is not.

Using social media is one of those times. I like Facebook and Twitter; they are my fave social media tools. However, many of my clients and followers, like you, are new to social media. You may value your privacy on Facebook (yay you!) or just not get into Twitter. That is when I have to put you first. Where are you at? What are you comfortable using? What makes you feel engaged and valued?

My professionals like LinkedIn. For some of my library peeps, it is connecting with me on LibraryThing. For my fellow wine 'tasters,' it's Cork'd. Educators, I can connect with many of you on Classroom 2.0 because it is one of the few social networks schools don't block. For others still, it may be traditional e-mail or telephone calls.

If you and your organiztion don't like social media and have decided not to do it, you really are missing out on an invaluable opportunity to reach your people on mediums they feel comfortable using.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why Do I Blog?

First and foremost, anyone who has ever met me knows all too well that I like to talk. I've got stuff to say and I love me an audience. Besides feeding my need to (over)share, here are a few benefits of blogging:
  • Blogging gives us and our organizations a voice. A place to open a dialogue about what is going on within our orgaizations, exciting news and events, and a damage control tool.
  • It is an opportunity to reach more people on tools they are comfortable using. Millenials and others aren't paper-prone, they prefer to read information electronically. If that is what they want, let's give it to them!
  • Often times, it helps our budgets. Printing expenses can be a huge portion of our budgets. If we can offer our newsletters, agendas, and other documents on a blog, we can save some cash.
  • It fosters relationships. When we write, we express our character and style. Our bond with our readers is strengthened when they sense who we are.
  • It provides our readers with a connection to us. When we blog and comments are posted, we respond. That shows readers that there are real live people on the other end who care about their experience.
  • Encourages activity on our web sites. If our blogs our intriguing and engaging, readers want more of us. They want to know who we are, what products and services we offer, and how to reach us.
Those are just a few of the reasons I blog. I use Blogger which allows me to schedule my posts, which is a huge convenience during busy weeks/months. There are several other formats that are highly popular. Check them out and get your blog on today!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Know Where You Need to Be With Knowem'

What if our company isn't one that should have a Facebook page? What if our customers/patrons aren't on Twitter? Now what?

Facebook and Twitter, although two of the dominators in social media, are not always - or even often - the answer to our social media needs. The key with using social media correctly is knowing where our peeps are and how to reach them. As social media is evolving, the nich sites are becoming more an more valuable. They allow us to target in on a demographic with a specific message. That way we reach people who we know are interested about the topic.

There is a web site out there that I use often: http://www.knowem.com/. Visit the link and click on networks. Tabbed out in categories, we can see a sampling of some of the most popular niche social media sites available. But, before we make any rash decisions to join a bunch of social media sites. Visit the site and search for some of our keywords - company name, product name, competitor name, competitor services, whatever. See if/how we are represented on the site. We may be surprised.

Most importantly: never join more sites than we can manage. If we cannot be consistent and present, it is a waste of our time and energy as well as our patrons.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Facebook Page URL

A little over a year ago, Facebook began offering businesses the same opportunity we have on our personal Facebook pages - vanity urls. What is a vanity url? It allows us to give our organization's Facebook Page a personalized name. For example, mine is www.facebook.com/lbspeaksonline. I have secured it and it is mine.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Once we secure a vanity url that is the name we have. There is no opportunity (as of yet) to change it. So, we need to make sure the name is exactly what we want and our spelling is correct.

To take advantage of this great opportunity, a Facebook Page must have 25 followers/likers/whatever we are calling them today. Once we have that many, simply go to http://www.facebook.com/username/, select 'Set a username for your Pages.' The Facebook Pages we are admin for will appear in the drop down box. Select the page to name and enter in the name we would like to secure. Voila!

This is a nice feature in that it allows us to more seamlessly market our Facebook Page in our autosignatures, business cards, marekting materials, and such.

What is your Facebook vanity url?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Big Brother Watching Through Social Media Eyes

I don't know about you, but when I think of social media carelessness, my thoughts lean to immature teens or carefree college students who don't yet know the importance of protecting privacy, especially on the internet. Mary Madden and Aaron Smith of Pew Internet and American Life Project authored a great piece title, Reputation Management and Social Media, that makes us rethink this subject.

According to the report:
  • 44% of young adult Internet users say they take steps to limit the amount of information available about them, compared to 33% of users ages 30 to 49 and 25% of those ages 50 to 64.
  • 71% of younger social networking site users actively change their privacy settings to limit what they share with others online, compared to 55% of those 50 to 64.
  • 41% have removed their names from photos of them posted by others, compared to just 18% of those 50 to 64.

"The prevailing notion of young adults is that they have a radically different perception of privacy, one that is very free," says Mary Madden, the report's lead author. "But this data shows they are every bit as concerned with privacy and are more engaged in monitoring their information than older users."

I find this wildly ironic since the majority of questions, concerns, and panic about 'Big Brother Watching' is from the 45-75 demographic. The solution is simple. Big Brother has nothing to watch if we are not posting or if we are educated about protecting our privacy. 
So, these are my questions: When is the last time you checked your privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or other social networks you subscribe? Do you understand what you are sharing? Are you comfortable with those settings? Do the settings intimidate you? Share your thoughts on privacy settings.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Laurie Boettcher Speaks: The Web Site

There is a good excuse for my hiatus from blogging. Thanks to some truly amazing people (many of which are YOU, my readers), my career as a Speaker, Trainer, and Social Media Enthusiast is booming. Those who have attended my workshops, conferences, or training sessions have helped me grow significantly both personally and professionally, all the while singing my praises and earning me more opportunities. Thank you so very much.

This brings me to my excuse. It is with much excitement that I unveil my new web site at www.lbspeaksonline.com. I am simply tickled pink! I'm disappointed in the way the blog is appearing on the page, but very excited about everything else. Please take a moment to check out the web site and post your thoughts, comments, and suggestions either here or on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lbspeaksonline.

Thursday's blog, I'll be writing about 'Big Brother Watching Through Social Media.' Here are a few more topics you'll see coming up:
  • Protecting Your Privacy with Facebook's New Settings
  • Ideas for Using LinkedIn Groups
  • Social Media Policies
  • Features in the Paid Subscription to LinkedIn by guest blogger Jen Simon
  • Social Media Tips that Work for Non-Profits by guest blogger Ben Richgruber
  • Protecting Our Kids on Social Media
As always, if there is a topic you want to know more about, please comment so I may cover it in a future post. Thank you again.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Oldies But Goodies

I am working on a detailed post for Tuesday about recent Facebook changes and what we need to do to make sure our privacy remains protected. So, for today I am posting links to my most popular blog posts. I love comments and suggestions, so please feel free to share your thoughts on any post.

Connect @ Your Chamber: First and foremost, a community is only as strong as its leaders. The Chamber is where community leaders and decision-makers network, gather information, and form opinions.

Social Media Marketing Can't Help Us: Budgets are being cut and we need to increasingly depend on whatever free venues are available to us. Next to word-of-mouth advertising, social media marketing is arguably the best free venue.

Do You Want the World to See?: Everyone, especially those leery of social media, talks about privacy concerns. As well we should be. When we post/publish something on a social media site, or anywhere on the web, we need to be prepared that this is now out there for all of the world to see.

Web Sites Are More Important Than Ever: With all of this talk of Web 2.0 and social media, what about our web sites? Chances are that you, too, have spent a lot of time, money, and resources developing and maintaining a web site presence. So, what happens to it now if we are suppose to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, etc.?

Board Members on LinkedIn: Board members, just like staff, are a representation of our organizations. Whether we are a library, non-profit organization, or corporation, our board members help people gauge the credibility, strength, and structure of our organizations.

Protect Your Privacy on Facebook: Facebook was 'born' in 2002, so it is still just a tween. Although I think Facebook is highly responsive to the wants and needs of its 400 million members, it is still figuring out the best way to utilize privacy settings.

What's Allowed?: When people hear/read 'Social Media Policy' they tend to get intimidated and don't even know where to start. It really doesn't need to be an elaborate document. It simply needs to state your organization's stand on social media use and what is expected of your employees.

Come, Follow Me: Once we have decided to use social media as a tool in our marketing and image development efforts, we need to build a following. Unfortunately, it is not always a 'build it and they will come' scenario. So, how do we build followings that justify our time commitments?

Look for next Tuesday's post on recent Facebook changes and what you need to do to make sure you are still protected.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Did We Win?

Yes, social media is free. But what is not free is the time and resources to do social media. With a significant time investment, it is only fair we want to know if our efforts are worth it. Did we win?

Well, that depends on how we measure our success. Success for each one of us can be very different. For me, personally, success is engaging and interacting with my workshop attendees and clients to continually educate and foster relationships. By my own standards then, my social media efforts are definitely worth it. I watch my 'engaged' twitter followers number increase, get LinkedIn invitations from my 'peeps', read posts from followers both on my blog and Facebook Community Page, and see people at workshops who quote information from my blog posts. This proves to me that I am making the connection I want to make. I win! Granted, there is always room for improvement, but in this stage of my goals, I am successful.

Others may measure success very differently. Increasing sales/attendance/traffic/users prove success. Whatever your definition of success, know what it is. Define it. Take baby steps. Maybe the first step is presence. The second step is 25 followers. The third step is one or more interaction(s) per day through social networks. Allow it to grow authentically. Do not expect it to be the answer to your marketing prayers.

How do you define success with your social media efforts? What tells you that you are winning?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Coming Full Circle with Customer Service

There is nothing I love more than good customer service. Yes friends, even more than I love my 'big girl' drinks.

Back in the day, organizations could not survive without stellar customer service. It is what sets an organization apart from its competition, and us coming back for more. As technology evolved and budgets were cut, that lovely voice on the other end of the phone when we called an organization was replaced by voice mail hell. (Yes, DMV, I AM talking about you.)

I like to believe that the evolution of social media is a collective response from organizations who realize that we patrons want and deserve more. Social network giants like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the nich networks like Cork'd, LibraryThing, Culinate, and SparkPeople, allow organizations the opportunity to interact with their followers on a medium they use and love. We post a question or comment on Facebook and someone actually responds! How exciting is that? No voice mail hell with "push 279 to repeat your options."

What organizations are realizing is that not only are we more satisfied patrons, we are more engaged with organizations that interact with us. Even if a negative comment or question is posed, this is an opportunity to win us over or let other patrons step in in defense of a product or service.

I, for one, am thrilled with the new customer service era!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Shall I Blog About?

In response to my How Do I Even Get Started? post, Adam posed the question, "Do you have any suggestions on topics that can be blogged about?"

Anyone can have a blog. Blogs give us a voice. They allow us to write or journal about topics that we possess strong knowledge, which is why many people blog about topics related to their profession. But, for me, what sets great blogs apart from the mundane is passion.

Adam, you could blog about your profession, but if you are not passionate about it, your readers will know and they won't feel compelled to follow you. Find a topic you are passionate about and let the ideas flow. Inspiration for my posts comes from conversations, information I read, experiences I have, 'aha' moments, situations I observe, anything that gives me something interesting to share.

I love to follow blogs authored by people who are passionate, motivated, and inspiring. Blogs that show character and personality. Their tones make me feel like I know them and therefore I 'tune in' for each of their posts. Give your readers a glimpse into your world. Let them read what makes you tick. Being real and personable is the first step in engaging our followers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teens and Social Media

I love what I do! Seriously, every time I have the privelege of doing a workshop or speaking to a group, it is such a rush. Living my passion is the greatest gift. That is why I am so excited about a new opportunity.

For the next few weeks, I am attending a phenomenal Technology Awareness Series hosted by the Eau Claire Area School District. Sarah Paul, the school district's software integration specialist, along with a guidance counselor, tech expert, and law enforcement will be presenting workshops. 

My workshops, up until this point, have focused on an adult audience. But, that adult audience has shown great concern about what is going on in the minds of teens. Completely understandable, especially when we see and read stories about teens committing suicide over Facebook pages and cyberbullying. Because these issues are so serious, I want to do as much research and preparation as possible to create a responsible and powerful workshop.

In the end, the workshop I create out of this research experience will cover social networking sites, internet predators, cyberbullying, securing home computers, keeping kids safe on the internet, and staying one step ahead of what they know.

To help me make this workshop the best it can be, I would love to read your feedback about what you would like to know when it comes to tweens/teens and the internet.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How Do I Even Get Started?

Today's post goes out to all my peeps in library-land, although the rest of you may find some great tips in here, too.

Getting our social media accounts up and running is one thing, but knowing what to say and how to interact is something completely different. What do we tweet? How do we start a conversation on our Facebook walls? What do we even start a conversation about? How the heck do we get started? Here are a few quick and simple ideas to get us started thinking in the social media zone:

Biggest Loser, American Idol, and Dancing with the Stars are all ratings dominators right now. The day after one of the episodes airs, we could tweet or post messages like:
  • Inspired by Biggest Loser last night? We've got a collection of Biggest Loser cookbooks, soundtracks, and workout DVDs ready to check out.
  • Amazing performances on American Idol last night! CDs from former American Idol winners - and losers - are here at your local library.
  • Did Nicole's performance on DWTS last night leave your toes tapping? We've got Pussycat Dolls CDs and books on all types of dance.
  • Getting ready to plant your garden? Our gardening section has books on how to plant, what to plant, where to plant, and even why to plant. Check 'em out today.
  • Going boating this weekend? Stop in and pick up the latest book by Jen Lancaster to enjoy while floating on the water.
  • Swimsuit season. Ugh! If you're nauseous at the idea of putting yours on, stop in to pick up a workout DVD, lowfat cookbook, or book about healthy living.
  • Only two weeks into summer vacation and your kids are bored already? Bring them down to the library for . . .
Tweeting and posting is all about listening to what is going on in our communities and environments, and then responding. To properly engage our followers, initiate the conversation, but allow them to carry the conversation. The publicity they give us is often far better than we could have ever given ourselves.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What's Next?

It is inevitable. At every workshop I present someone will inevitably ask, "Is social media just a fad?" or "What is coming next?" These are great questions. It means we are paying attention and preparing ourselves. From both a business stand point and a personal stand point, what is next is exciting.

In my opinion, web 2.0 and the evolution of social media has been about starting the conversation, opening the dialogue, developing the tools, and allowing industry experts and social networking lovers to separate the good from the bad. With web 3.0, small businesses and organizations are getting in on the conversation, learning how to use it to build our followings, and compete on a scale never before realistically attainable. Studies and surveys galore have been done to show us what social networks our audiences use and how they use them, giving us unbelievable precision in our target marketing.

Not to mention, social networks are branching off everywhere. Instead of being overwhelmed and intimidated by this, we should see the opportunity in it. There are social networks for just about any hobby or interest. I, for instance, love 'sampling' wine and am therefore on the social network http://www.corkd.com/. If you have a vineyard or sell wine and wine accessories, how awesome for you to have a perfect niche to advertise and engage followers.

This is where we are reminded of the importance of observation in social media. Listening and watching gives us even more opportunities. Have we listened to what people are saying about our competitors? Are we monitoring that activity?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm Trying My Hardest

I'm trying my hardest to like FourSquare and Gowalla. These two location-based social networking sites have been rising through the ranks and were named the up-and-comers at this year's Social Media Conference. BUT, I'm still trying to like them - or at least one of them.

My issue comes with privacy. I love social media and I love teaching social media workshops even more. That does not, however, mean that I do not enjoy and deeply value my personal privacy. The site www.pleaserobme.com debuted as a stream of updates from various location-based sites showing when users check-in somewhere that is not their home. The idea, of course, is that if we are not home, criminals are invited to rob us. Granted, the site has become socially responsible and has replaced the stream with their theme "raising awareness about over-sharing," but the fact remains that we need to be responsible and accountable for our actions online.

Foursquare and Gowalla can be highly valuable marketing tools for businesses, which we will talk about in future posts, but for now, remember to be careful what you share and with whom you share it.

This graphic is complements of Mashable. Check out Shane Snow's excellent post on Foursquare vs. Gowalla at http://mashable.com/2009/12/25/foursquare-gowalla/.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hash Tags Are It!

I recently had the pleasure of presenting two workshops at the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce Social Media Conference. In the To Tweet or Not To Tweet workshop, 'hash tags' was the topic getting a lot of buzz.

If you use Twitter, you have probably seen one (or many) and not even known. So, what are hash tags? It is a term/word/acronym in a tweet preceded by a # symbol. The # is a hash symbol, thus the term hash tag.

Let's say I want to tweet about this blog post on hash tags. I may tweet something like "Hash tags are all the rave on my blog. #lbshashtags" I just made up 'lbshashtags' (Laurie Boettcher Speaks hash tags) and put the hash symbol before it, thus a new hash tag is born. When the hash symbol is added, the hash tag automatically turns into a link. Every time someone tweets using my 'lbshashtags', it is grouped together.

Any tweeter can make a hash tag by including the hash symbol. First, do a basic Twitter search to see if someone already created a related hash tag. We can do this by entering our hash tag in the search box of the right navigation bar. Hash tags allow us to create groups or communities of people with similar interests or following a specific topic.

More and more organizations are using hash tags at conferences or events to encourage attendees to tweet about their experiences or let others know of exciting happenings. The possibilities of using hash tags are endless and we will further this conversation in future posts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Do you hear what I hear?

I love Brian Solis. He is a rock star of social media and public relations. He is intelligent, insightful, relevant, and his posts inspire me to think outside of the box. Follow his blog and tweets, if you don't already; you won't be sorry.

In a blog Brian posted earlier today, he writes about the culture, behaviors, and demographics accompanying social network usage. What intrigued me most is this graph:

The graph shows age demographics on popular social network sites. This is an amazing tool because it gives us insight into where we need to be listening. Yes, listening. Several of my previous blog postings have focused on engaging our followers. That is extremely important, but let's not forget the crucialness of listening.

Listening allows us to hear, first hand, what people are saying about our organizations, services, products, staff, and customer service. Other organizations pay big money for agencies to do research and find out what people are saying about them, but we have the opportunity to access this information for free. (I love free!)

Use what you hear to make yourself and your organization shine. Market what they love, tweak or do away with what they hate, reward staff that provide excellent customer service, promote products or services they don't know about - our possibilities are endless!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How Could a Recommendation Hurt?

Who doesn't love a good recommendation? When I get a new one on LinkedIn, I am giddy and read it over and over again, just flattered that someone would say such kind things about me. So, how could this possibly hurt?
As an employer, a recommendation of a current employee could come back to haunt us. According to writer Patrick Smith, The National Law Journal warns about the dangers of using LinkedIn to provide recommendations to current employees. The concern is that a terminated employee may use favorable recommendations on LinkedIn as evidence that the employer's stated reason for termination (such as poor performance) is merely a pretext for discrimination, retaliation, or harassment. Any communications concerning employee performance, regardless of the media, are potential evidence in a lawsuit.

So, make it your company policy (and include it in your social media policy) that executive management, managers, and supervisors are not authorized to provide recommendations to current employees.

It is, however, okay (and encouraged) to give and receive recommendations to/from clients, co-workers, fellow professionals, vendors, consultants, and service providers. In my opinion, good quality customer service is a dying art, so I like to shout it from the rooftops when I find a true artist. Recommendations help us help each other weed out the good from the bad.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

LinkedIn for Employers

According to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey*:
  • 38% of those surveyed indicated they had embellished their job responsibilities
  • 18% admitted to lying about their skill set
  • 12% indicated they had been dishonest about start / end dates of employment
  • 10% confessed to lying about an academic degree
  • 7% said they had lied about the companies they had worked
  • 5% disclosed they had been untruthful about their job title
With these statistics, don’t you think you should be one of the 80% of employers** using, or planning to use, LinkedIn as a hiring tool this year? 

Saratoga Institute estimates that employers invest 8-10% of an annual salary to hire a non-exempt employee and 18-20% to hire an exempt employee. In this economy, it is increasingly crucial for employers to hire the right fit the first time as to avoid these costs repeatedly. LinkedIn is an excellent resource for evaluating job candidates.

Although employment/labor laws are still catching up with social media technology, there is currently no law prohibiting employers from searching social networking sites while conducting background checks of current employees or job applicants. The legal concerns surrounding social media background checks is that an employer may uncover protected information like religion, political affiliation, disability, etc. If an employer were to reject a candidate solely because of these findings, it opens up the organization to serious liability.

LinkedIn is an exception because it is a form of social media that focuses on business rather than personal. Job candidates invite potential employers to view their profiles. If an organization wants to go beyond LinkedIn a social media background check, the best form of protection is to obtain a consent form from the candidate and only do the check once there is a conditional job offer made.

My LinkedIn for Employers presentation is available to view on SlideShare at http://www.slideshare.net/LaurieBoettcher. A great way to stay informed about human resources surrounding LinkedIn is to join the group LinkedHR. Highly professional members offer a wealth of information as well as free webinars.

We'll talk more about this topic in future posts.

Don't forget to become a Facebook Fan of Laurie Boettcher Speaks!
*Survey results complements of 'Decoding Background Checks' professional development series webinar presented by LinkedHR.
**According to a November 2009 Jobvite survey.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Manage Your Social Media Time

Now that we have talked about justifying our time in using social media, how to begin gaining followers, and how to engage followers, the next step we need to discuss is managing our social media time. This is a significant concern for a majority of individuals and organizations. How do we keep it all straight? How do we monitor everything and still remain productive?

The first step I recommend is signing up for a social media aggregator. A social media aggregator is a free web site that allows us to coordinate all of our social networks from one spot. Nice, huh?! There are some fantastic aggregators available. See the bottom of this post for a list of very popular aggregators. My personal favorite is HootSuite. The greatest benefit of an aggregator is that we only need to log into one web site to see activity on all of our accounts, rather than taking the time to log into each. This is a huge time saver. However, I do recommend that we still log into those accounts once a week or so to check things out.

Another time saving apsect of aggregators is that they allow us to schedule posts and status updates. So, let's say there are several tweets we want to send out in a particular day/week, but the day/week is crazy busy and we don't want to forget. Well, with most aggregators, we can schedule a tweet/message/status/whatever to be sent at the date and time we choose.

The next step I recommend is setting a social media timer. In the beginning this timer may be more of a 'I have to spend this much time on social media efforts today/this week.' The timer may be set for 30 minutes. It simply encourages us to use social media and remain engaged with our followers. After we get into the social media swing, the timer may turn into more of a, "This is all the time I can spend on social media today," because it can become addictive with all of the great information out there.

Social Media Aggregators (compliments of Francine Kizner, writer for www.entrepreneur.com):
  • Digsby: A desktop IM, e-mail and social media aggregation app that brings together Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn, as well as multiple e-mail and IM programs 
  • Flock: This social media web browser gives you quick views of your friends' activity on various networks, allows drag-and-drop media sharing and has a built-in RSS reader to track buzz around your brand.
  • FriendFeed: A social network built around aggregating social networks, FriendFeed has you create a lifestream of all your online activity and lets you see and comment on all your friends' online activity.
  • HelloTXT: A status blaster program that lets you update multiple social networks via web, SMS or e-mail
  • HootSuite: Never miss an update with HootSuite's multiple columns feature. Organize your social networks into friends, news, search terms, keyword tracking - whatever you like!
  • iGoogle: Google's personalized home page lets you add Gadgets for various social networks to get an overview of recent activity.
  • Minggl: This browser plug-in for IE and Firefox gives you a toolbar and a sidebar to keep track of contacts, link up your profiles, send cross-platform messages and do mass status updates.
  • PageFlakes: This personalized home page application gives you widgets where you can see the latest activity in multiple social networks.
  • Ping.fm: A status blaster tool that lets you update multiple social networks via SMS, IM, e-mail and other mobile and desktop apps
  • Tweetdeck: This desktop dashboard lets you manage Twitter, Facebook and 12seconds updates, and also allows you to set up filters and friend groups to help manage a large network
  • Twhirl: This Adobe Air desktop app brings together Twitter, FriendFeed, Seesmic and Identi.ca, letting you send and receive updates and sending notifications for personal messages
Each aggregator has its own pros and cons. Make sure to do a comparison of the to find one that is the right fit for you and/or your organization. Comment below on your favorite aggregator and why it is your favorite to help others in their searches.

Don't forget to become a fan of Laurie Boettcher Speaks on Facebook!