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!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What do YOU want to know?

I recently did an interview on social media with Chris Baylor of NBC affiliate WEAU TV-13 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Chris did an excellent job of taking over an hour's worth of interview material with me alone, integrating it with other social media information and interviews, and creating a story.

What I found most interesting is that while Chris and I were doing the interview, he was asking me, "What do people want to know about social media?", "What are they most interested in?", "What are the biggest concerns people have?" "What do you stress in your presentations?"

To be honest, each presentation/workshop/training session I do is different because the audience comes with different levels of experience and expectations. My speaking philosophy is very parochial in that I start from the basics so there is a good foundation to build upon.

Now, what I want to know from you is, what do YOU want to know? What questions do you have about social media? What are you not getting answered? Where are the gaps? What are your patrons, clients, staff, executives, etc. asking you?

Check out the TV-13 segment that aired February 17: http://www.weau.com/home/headlines/84633272.html

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Engage Me

Now that we have some followers on our social media networks, how do we engage them? Yes, we need to engage them. This is the whole purpose of social media. Our communities, whether they be patrons, clients, co-workers, fellow professionals, groupies, advocates, businesses, whatever, they are playing the social network game with us to be engaged.

BE INTERESTING: When posting on our wall or sending a tweet, make it worth others' time. Peak interest. Tell about nightly specials at our restaurants; following an American Idol episode, encourage patrons to check out CDs from former Idol winners; remind committees of a meeting that is happening today; or notify viewers of a special segment that is airing or publishing.

BE RELEVANT: Be aware of followers and know our audiences. Send information they care about and affects them. 

DON'T GET PERSONAL: Use business accounts for business purposes. Yes, we should show our organization's culture, character, and personality, but keep it business-related. Do not get too personal.

DON'T BE ANNOYING: We should never annoy our followers by innundating them with too many messages. Again, this is about peaking interest. Send too much and followers will be annoyed, send too few and followers will lose interest. We need to strike a balance or risk losing the followers we worked so hard to gain.

ENCOURAGE AND INVITE: Encourage followers to invite friends and get the word out about our account(s). Invite them to post comments about experiences at one of our events or about a product. Make the online community we created for them inviting, welcoming, and rewarding.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

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?

First and foremost, it is crucial to note that it is not the quantity of our followers, but the quality. We could have 5,000 followers, but if they are all our competitors trying to see what we're up to rather than the audiences we are trying to reach, we are throwing our time away. Be proud and appreciative when we gain followers from our target audience.

Once we have established ourselves on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other, we need to reach out to others. Here are a few simple ideas to get us started, but not overwhelm:

Facebook: Become a fan of the page. Encourage friends and family members to become fans by posting a link on our personal walls. Fan area businesses that are also on Facebook. Solicit the help of teen groups, advocates, business groups, etc. to get the word out and become fans. Don't forget that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is women 55-65, so we need to remember to focus on reaching our female audience.
Become a Fan of Laurie Boettcher Speaks today! (I know, shameless, plug. ;-)

Twitter: Go to www.twellow.com and in the search box, enter the name of your city. The results will show registered Twitter users in your city. Follow them. People often check to see who is following them and will follow in return, especially if they did not realize we had a Twitter account. (Note: While on Twellow, make sure to register your Twitter account!) Also, use the Retweet function to forward information on. When we Retweet a message, that message shows up in the stream of the person/business we retweeted, as well as all of the people that follow them. Thus, we may earn new followers just by recognition.
Follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/LaurieBoettcher.  

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is my favorite, as many of you know. This is where we build our professional credibility. Connect with credible friends, family members, colleagues, board members, clients, patrons, vendors, and fellow professionals. Whom do we know that we would like to stay professionally connected? When we send invitations to connect, let's not ruin the opportunity by not having a completed profile or personalizing the invite. Instead, let's greet the person, remind him/her of how we know each other, and tell why we want to connect.
My profile is at www.linkedin.com/in/laurieboettcher.

Overall: Have frontline personnel wear buttons reading, "Fan Us On Facebook at . . ." or "Follow Us On Twitter @ . . ." Have bookmarks, drink coasters, hand-held fans, and other trinkets created to let our audiences know we are using social media. Include links to social media accounts in e-mail autosignatures and on business cards.

We'll go into more detail in later posts, but this will get us on our way.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Justify My Time

I've written it before, social media is free except for the cost of our time. Well, with budgets being cut and there being less resources to do the same amount of work, our time is pretty darn precious. To be the most effective with the time we have to do marketing, it is important that we first find out where to be.

Let's take Twitter for example. I love Twitter. But, I live in a small ruralized suburb. How many people are really on Twitter in my immediate community? For the businesses in my community that are marketing to residents, are there enough people on Twitter to receive their tweets and make the Twitter effort worth their time? If marketing to a more regional audience, the justification gets stronger.

What about Facebook? What portion of our audience is on Facebook? Facebook requires significantly less effort than Twitter because it is a community we create for our peeps. We build it and periodically initiate conversations and messages, but it is mainly about giving our peeps the freedom to discuss our programs, products, and/or services.

The best way for us to find out where to focus our marketing efforts is to ask. I have created a template you are welcome to use at http://www.slideshare.net/LaurieBoettcher. Just below the 'Presentations' section is another section titled 'Documents.' There is a .pdf of Where Are You in Social Media? that lists the top six social media sites as of February 2010. A good sampling of people surveyed will help you know where to focus your efforts.

This is a good start. In the next blog, we'll talk about what to do to build our following on social networking sites to make the effort even more worthwhile.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What's Allowed?

"I hate my boss."
"Our organization lost so much money last quarter."
"I heard our owner is in negotiations to sell our organization."
"Tom is going to be fired tomorrow because he's been taking company office supplies."

Would you be okay with employees posting this information on a social network site like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or a blog? If not, you need to consider creating a social media policy.

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.

Here are some helpful tips for creating your social media policy:
  1. Start with a simple statement like, "While you are employed by ABC Organization, you are expected to adhere to the following social media guidelines."
  2. Personal social networking is not allowed during business hours. Your lunch hour and breaks are exceptions.
  3. Reading blogs as part of keeping up with our industry is permissible. Please be reasonable with the amount of time you spend.
  4. Because you are a reflection of ABC Organization, we request that you turn your privacy settings on in Facebook, MySpace, etc. Do not feel obligated or pressured to add co-workers or clients as friends.
  5. Protect your job and professional reputation by being respectful of your employer and not posting derogatory, confidential, or competition-sensitive information.
  6. If you author a blog, please include a statement that the views expressed in your blog are yours and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABC Organization.
  7. If you are in sales and on LinkedIn, please privacy protect your connections. ABC Organization works hard to respect our clients' privacy and secure them as our clients.
  8. If you have any questions about social media use, please discuss it with your supervisor.
Your social media policy may be more elaborate. You may choose to break it out into sections like Blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook/MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, etc. You may also want to outline rules for employees that are in charge of social media on behalf of your organization. But the most important thing is to get one in place to protect your organization and your employees.

As more and more small businesses and organizations are using social media as a business tool, the need for a social media policy becomes more important. We'll continue this conversation in future posts.

123 Social Media offers social media policy examples at http://123socialmedia.com/2009/01/23/social-media-policy-examples/. You may find valuable information in these examples that you could include in your own social media policy.