Learning from Teaching Facebook for Business
Friday, March 22, 2013
Alyssa Nider - Marketing and Visual Media Consultant
This week I had the opportunity to give a training session to a social media rookie. Initially I wasn't sure what her pre-conceptions were or what areas to focus on, but I was pleased to find that it came so naturally to me. Even more surprising are the things I learned while showing her Facebook, and Facebook Pages:
1. The Interface - I hadn't given the design and layout of timelines much thought. When my pupil asked how the boxes are laid out, and why some of them don't move when you post something new, I noticed the small "callout" arrows point to the main line running down the middle. I explained, the ones that have arrows are points in time, but the ones without arrows are static. Static ones are used to highlight friends, likes, etc.
2. Scheduled posts - Maybe I'm behind on the times, but at some point Facebook started to integrate post scheduling, which comes in very handy for businesses that manage their own pages. What was even handier was where we went after I hit the schedule button. Under "Edit Page" there's an Activity Log, this shows not only scheduled posts but a summary of your past posts or activities.
3. Page types - It is important to get this detail right. As per facebook's categories, a local business or place needs a physical street address, while a company, organization or institution does not. This could make the difference for you or your client depending on the nature of their work.
4. When to make it personal - You have the option of opening a separate account for Facebook when you make a page (if you're signed out). This is extremely helpful for individuals who wish to keep their personal Facebook distinct from the page(s) they manage. I've often been bombarded with notifications from my client's pages. It is nice to now have a clearly separate account for those.
5. Insights - I use insights for clients, but I found explaining it to someone else made the meaning behind them click. Knowing your full potential audience is important when you want to grow your Facebook reach, this also is handy knowledge to have when starting Facebook ads for your page. Drilling down to find out what your current demographic is comprised of is also handy when targeting posts or targeting ads to new likes.
Taking the time to look at something you use everyday can bring fresh perspectives! And teaching someone the potential of social media reminds me of why I love my job. Find out more here: http://www.facebook.com/business
Tweet to the Beat of Your Own Drum
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Shelley Bindon - Director of Communications
Social media, you are so cool. Everyone wants to be seen with you. Introverted academics are logging on to Twitter and … tweeting twice a month. Busy communicators are creating Facebook pages and … posting twice a month. Old-school CEOs are adopting official-looking Twitter avatars, only to have their assistants log in and … tweet twice a month.
Sadly, like any other trend (cigarette pants, muscle cars and man bags come to mind), not everyone can pull it off.* Twitter failures, I feel your pain, and I’m going to tell you how to get back on that horse and rejoin the parade.
First, a story. When I was at a newspaper, people followed my Twitter account because I was the supposed sharer of insider knowledge about the car industry. I had 46 followers after only two tweets, and although I had only two tweets for a very long time, the follow count continued to grow. I came to believe that Twitter success just happened.
Upon leaving my post at the large, connected, credible, prestigious newspaper, I figured my totally neglected, unconnected, rather bland personal Twitter account would also just flourish. I ran it just like the one before and had 17 followers and 10 tweets for a very long time. My new bosses, both of them social media stars, gave me hell and a Twitter tutorial, and after some effort, my following rose to 46 for @ShelleyBindon.
Now, I can share with you the tricks of attracting an audience: follow many others so that they might follow you; tweet often, often, often; engage with everyone; keep it light, bright and polite, as one SM guru advises; offer up numerous quotes by well-known dead people or be a hub of cool stuff, passing along URLs and hip memes. Your following will grow if you do these things. Folks from as far away as Brazil or Indiana will follow you. You’ll get to read about what they eat for breakfast and buy at Walmart.
But what if you don’t want to?
What if you don’t care what the town’s clever cad has to say about skinny jeans? What if you don’t care what the righteous righty Twitter warrior has to say about the latest government policy? What if you don’t care what an Oilers player thinks about traffic on the Whitemud?
I don’t care about these things all the time, so I struggle with Twitter because while I want to be highly connected, I don’t want to be highly connected to just anybody. I certainly don’t want to be highly connected to bumpf and its makers. As a result, I’m stingy about who I follow and what I’ll spend my time commenting on, so my Twitter use is sparse, my persona is somewhat aloof, and because I rarely speak with dead people, I never have any advice of theirs to share.
For all intents and purposes, I’m a Twitter failure, too. But am I really? I post everyday things about birds, soccer, pretty snowflakes, charities, puns, evenings out, sauces that I burn and PR issues. Despite this, my Twitter account grows by three or four followers a week, and I haven’t lost a follower for quite some time. Not one of my followers sells G-spot anything, and nobody lists double-D as a value add-on in their account description. I actually know almost all of the 150 folks who have followed me in the last two months, and we do actually engage, not just on Twitter, but often in person. When I ask my Twitter peeps to RT something, they do. When I ask a question, I get an answer that’s tailored to me by people who know me. By my accounting, that’s real value for the button-pressing.
Because I have a Twitter community that means something to me, I find I tweet more often than ever. That regularity (no jokes please) helps me get noticed, and though I’m well below the advised 15 tweets/day, I’m well above what I ever did when I had lots of stranger follows.
I think I’m indicative of a lot of our clients, too. We at Focus often hear, “and we’ll need a Twitter thing to go with that comms policy that you’re helping us build.” Great, but let’s be realistic about who you hope to be on social media. Are you naturally opinionated, obsessed about surfing and sharing, are you truly an extrovert who will engage, even at 9 p.m.? If not, then chances are good that you won’t become a major influencer with thousands of followers.
Guess what? That’s OK because it’s better to just be yourself. I don’t want to get all Glee on you, but there are many others out there just like you. Maybe only 150 at this precise moment, but the more you do what you do, the more like-minded people will find you. Follow them back, and their nerdy followers will find you, too. The more that people follow you because what you tweet or post resonates with them, the more powerful and connected your network will be.
Community is worth more than follow metrics, so get on your nerd horse and ride. Maybe not 15 times a day, but at least regularly, and without quoting Winston Churchill or Hemingway.
*Notice I did not say fad. A trend can last decades, people, so no hate, please.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Alyssa Nider - Marketing and Visual Media Consultant
Here we are again, early January, promise of a fresh new start, or so we used to feel. We could resolve to stop with destructive behaviour and move on with our lives. However, with the onset of social media, we are constantly reminded of our past. We now have an online record of our existence, whether or not we 'delete' e-content.
This is especially troubling for young people growing up in an computer-centric world (listen up students!) no matter how long ago, or how you think that compromising content is 'private' there will always be something that someone can use against you. We've seen this with politicians, CEOs, bosses, parents, etc. The problem is when you are young and you are making the best decisions you know, it's impossible to anticipate what consequences might arise from your online activity, 10, 20 or 50 years down the road! I think everyone can learn a little about think before you type!
Of course this doesn't always mean social media. This also is applicable to email, message boards, or even online shopping. Your data is going to be always archivalable, and your information will far outlive your natural life.
So for 2013, why not take the resolution of trying to be professional about your online image, think before you type, and clean up what you see if you google yourself. You might be surprised at what you might find!
A funny thing happened on the way to PR
Monday, November 19, 2012
Nisa Drozdowski - Communications Associate
Here at Focus Communications, they believe in throwing new staff right into the thick of things. This includes assigning the greenest Communications Associate to write the next blog post for the website.
The last two weeks (my first two with Focus) have been full of firsts. Scary, challenging, headache-inducing firsts. And I've loved every single one of them!
If you follow me on Twitter, or have ever met me in person, you've heard me gush about the job that brought me to Edmonton. I worked for a great employer in a small retail business that sold beautiful fashions to a clientele that felt like family. It was exciting to get to know my clients' style and needs, pass on knowledge of seasonal and industry trends, and then guide them as they made informed decisions to choose a product that would bring them satisfaction and, yes, even happiness. It was so much more than selling clothes. Or designing custom floral creations. Or teaching grade nine students how to solve a polynomial equation.
And that's why I'm now here at Focus Communications. The art and science of public relations and communications encompass what I've most loved about every other career path I've wandered down: cultivating and managing relationships, sharing knowledge, and influencing decision making.
I know there's a lot more to this industry than that, but let me bask in the headachy newness of it all for awhile.
Baumgartner’s Stratos jump proves the power of PR
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Shelley Bindon - Director of Communications
Although Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner’s five minutes of extreme fame is past, I want to talk about the beauty of the Red Bull Stratos public relations campaign and how it so perfectly echoed the brand perception that Red Bull “Gives you wings.”
Just for the record, although the news media called it an advertising stunt, it wasn’t advertising that fuelled Felix’s ascent into the stratosphere (both literally and figuratively), it was the slow burn of PR – story after story, tweet after tweet, building up to his leap from the capsule. Brilliant.
For the 12 or so million people across the globe who were able to access the mostly digital channels that the Stratos jump played out on, Felix is now part of our collective consciousness. More than that, though, his space jump was an important first lesson for this budding PR professional, and it’s been formative for me in my new role.
After 15 or so years of being on the other side of the desk receiving pitches, I’m now on the flip side, figuring out how to propose an angle to get the attention of my overworked former colleagues. It’s not easy.
As newspapers attempt to do more with less, there are fewer opportunities to get stories set in ink. What to do, what to do? If the story has the right pop, there’s still radio. If it has the right face, there’s always TV. But what about the stories that don’t quite fit? If newspapers are leaving a void as they restructure, that means there’s an opportunity for someone to fill that void. Is it bloggers (most are retired or laid-off news people, so they’re still highly critical and weary of the PR pitch)? Is it YouTube videos? Is it an alluring corporate website that tells the client’s story all by itself? Is it a Twitter campaign?
I suspect that all these options can and should be in play for most clients. It means a lot more work for the PR firm, having to light a dozen little fires on a number of platforms, but I do think it makes for a bigger, hotter, longer burning bon fire of public awareness.
My own experience of Red Bull supports this theory, too. I remember when the energy drink first launched in North America. I was working in queer media in the U.S., and Red Bull was sponsoring gay events because, well, gays party hard, right? I read the brochures, collected my free samples, and then … simply gave them away to my sleep-deprived friends who were nurturing toddlers.
For years since, I’ve been watching the cat-scratch animated cartoons of the brand, as its chubby characters take flight on the wings of their caffeine drink. Never once in all those years did I crack open a can -- not even on my busiest party-a-rific weekend. The concept didn’t appeal, and the advertising certainly wasn’t speaking to me.
Strangely, after experiencing the months-long buildup of the Stratos jumps, the nail-biting abort of the original date, and then the (finally) final leap that one fateful Sunday, I wanted a Red Bull.
I deliberately went out and bought one on the way to the gym. It was expensive for such a small can of mostly water, the mostly water was sickly sweet and strangely herby, and the jolt was indeed palpable. Would I have one again? No. But I am amazed (and slightly gratified) that PR (my new profession) got me to buy one after years of advertising handing me free ones that I simply gave away.
Go PR. Maybe it’s us who will fill the hole left by a shrinking print media.
Pinning on Brand: Supporting Visuals with Words
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Monica Gault - Graphic Designer
Browsing the Fast Company twitter feed last week, my go-to indulgence for creative tid bits, I came across an article on the shift of social media from written content to visual content. This seemed like an inevitable shift as people gobble up information at increasing speeds with increasingly short attention spans. Content itself has condensed from blog articles to Facebook statuses to 140 character tweets. Now, visually dominant media such as Instagram, Polyvore and Pinterest, have virtually eliminated the need for words altogether - save for the emphatic "Love it," which, really, is moot. I especially find it amusing when people don't even bother labeling their posted photos, filling the space with a simple period or slash (people, as in me...and other people).
As a fairly new Pinterest user, going on only about 4-6 months, I find myself getting lost in a sea of scrolling images. What I've wondered is, has our desire for constant visual stimulation and often mindless sharing in order to keep up with the latest somehow diminished the very premise of social media? To be...well...social? Is the conversation richer because of these solely visual platforms or somehow lost as we are consumed by the pretty pictures?
For individuals having a bit of fun and exploring personal interests, this might not be that salient, but for brands, I think these are critical questions that need answering. Pinterest has huge potential in terms of reaching an audience, finding out what they like and selling to them. The old adage "show don't tell" is brought to the forefront here, and it is my belief that well-developed brands who can put their money where their mouths are have the potential to engage consumers, gain credibility and likewise benefit. What's key, however, is having that solid brand foundation to truly execute effectively and to keep that conversation going. There is a huge opportunity for brands to demonstrate the full breadth of their personalities and stories, and using a few supporting words - yes, WORDS - to describe and encourage the dialogue is still necessary. Red Bull is a great example of "pinning on brand," as they depict the Red Bull personality of extreme sports and eclectic lifestyles, while sprinkling in this lovely notion of "what gives us wings;" using it to inspire and build depth. Ellen Degeneres is another one who does well to consistently deliver on brand, naming boards appropriately and commenting on her pins of hilarious images and videos that fuel a frenzy of engagement. Both of these brands have thought about who they are and how they portray themselves to the world, and have delivered a Pinterest experience consistent with those values.
Like any marketing tool, strategy is key and the foundation of "Brand," capital “B,” still stands. Companies jumping on board (no pin...I mean no pun, intended), might want to take a quick breather to see that their pinning activity, and all social media activity for that matter, are in line with their business goals, brand personality, key messaging and audience. And keep using words! Let's not rely on the simple repin - have something to say and become the repinned.
Shift in Communication
Monday, October 5, 2009
There is an enormous cultural shift going on right now – something that I expect will be chronicled in history as a major turning point in civilization. No, I’m not just talking about Twitter or Facebook; rather, I’m talking about the shift from organization-centric communication to consumer-centric or individual-focused communication.
In the retail setting, today’s consumers know a lot about the products and services they purchase. Sometimes more than the salespeople serving them. They source their own information, seek out opinions and reviews, and custom tailor the products and services to meet their needs. The Internet has opened a whole world of information, available at our fingertips – that’s not new.
What’s new is the ability for customers to read reviews or comment on products and services in the moment using smart phones that have Internet access. With Twitter, for example, bad customer service is regularly reported on the spot via cell phones or smart phones, reaching thousands of people. This is a vast difference from the days when poor customer service was reported to a few friends and family. Consumers are more influenced by peer reviews than advertising, so the impact is significant.
The point is; communication is evolving at breakneck speed. May we live in interesting times...
We’ll talk about this in future posts.