Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Scheduling Social Media Posts in the Quest for Work/Life Balance


It's terrifyingly easy to let your work consume your life when you're a social media manager: to check Twitter and Instagram on your phone at social events and have everyone excuse your behavior because it's your job. ABC is even taking the "social media manager with no social skills" stereotype to the mainstream with its new show Selfie. But with all of the tools at our disposal, there is no excuse for a social media manager's work to take over his or her life.

Below are my top five reasons why social media managers often tip the work/life scale towards work, including a few commonly cited as arguments against advance scheduling.
  1. Procrastination: When you leave everything to the last minute, you're forced to rely solely on live posting. As you work frantically to get all of your posts out at the right time for numerous clients, ask yourself: could this post have been scheduled in advance? Most of the time, the answer is yes. Eliminating procrastination for posts that can be drafted and perfected in advance leads to more consistent, more professional work, and gives you more time to focus on community management and engagement.
  2. Lack of Advance Planning/Strategy: As Yogi Berra once said, "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." Reliance on live posting is often a sign that a social media manager doesn't have a long-term content strategy or schedule. Developing an overall social media strategy, a content strategy, and a marketing plan/schedule will provide the framework for advance scheduling.
  3. Belief that Scheduling Hurts Authenticity: Pre-scheduled posts don't have to be (and indeed shouldn't be!) any different in tone or content than live posts. They are still your (or your client's) thoughts and words - they are simply executed at an earlier point in time. In fact, pre-scheduling leads to more authentic engagement by giving a social media manager more time for real-time community management and engagement.
  4. Fear of Missing Out: The dreaded FOMO argument comes from people who think advanced scheduling means "set it and forget it." This idea is reinforced by the ineffective social media managers who do just that, often with disastrous results - see #5. The answer isn't scheduling OR live posting, it's scheduling AND live posting.
  5. Fear of Being "That Guy": We've all seen him and bemoaned his behavior - that guy whose inappropriate pre-scheduled, usually self-promotional, messages appear in our feeds during a breaking news event. A prepared social media manager whose advance work gives him or her enough time to monitor live events will see them happening and can cancel or reschedule pre-scheduled messages accordingly.
With the right combination of scheduling and live work, a social media manager can be a relaxed, in control, functioning member of society and have a healthy work/life balance.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Being a Social Media Manager - Not a Social Media/SEO Specialist


As a social media consultant, prospective clients often ask me if I do search engine optimization (SEO) as well. (Or more accurately, they ask "Hey, can you mess with my website so I show up on the front page of Google?") The short answer is, no I don't. Here's why.

In high school, when I asked for more playing time on the varsity volleyball team, my coach told me flat out, "If you try to do everything, you'll never be good at anything." At the time, I was on extra-curricular overload. I was captaining the Junior Varsity volleyball team, singing in two school choirs, regularly starring in drama productions, and competing in equestrian events up and down the West Coast. My coach's words shocked and devastated me. I subsequently dropped out of volleyball and took up several more extracurricular activities, but her words have stuck with me in my professional career.

Here's the difference: high school is a time to have fun and try your hand at everything in order to develop diverse skills and find your passions. Participating in so many different things back then shaped who I am as a person. Trying to do the same now, in my career, would mean sacrificing the quality of the services I provide, and I am not willing to do that.

When clients ask if I do SEO as well as social media management, I explain that while social media activity can have SEO benefits, SEO is an entirely different specialized field. In theory I could do both social media and SEO, and many people do, but I prefer to focus on social media and make the work I do for my clients the best it can be.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Social Media & Life Lessons from Mom

Recently, a friend posted a list on Facebook of life lessons he had learned from his mother. I loved the straightforward wisdom of those lessons and instantly recognized their applicability for social media managers. Since Mother's Day is this Sunday, here are those motherly lessons, accompanied by a few of my thoughts on how social media managers can apply them:

1) When given a task, do it silently and do it well. It takes less time to roll up your sleeves than it does to find ways around working.

Let's face it - the networks that give us a reason to exist as a profession aren't perfect. Most of us are guilty of ranting about this latest UI change or that lack of functionality or customer support. The flaws inherent in the social networks and tools we use are not an excuse not to get work done.

We are communicators by nature, so another common issue for social media managers is the "do it silently" bit. Many social media "experts" are so busy talking about how to do the work of social media, in blogs, tweets, white papers and eBooks, that they couldn't possibly be practicing what they preach and actually doing much social media work. Roll up your sleeves and focus on clients first before writing that next blog post.

2) "Sir," "Ma'am," "Please," and "Thank You." Courtesy is everything.

Given the frequently informal nature of social media, it can be easy to forget that we are often providing customer service when interacting with fans and followers. Depending on the context, a name might be more appropriate than "Sir" or "Ma'am," but a "please" and "thank you" should accompany most interactions. Courtesy becomes especially important when receiving negative feedback and criticism!

3) If you don't have time to do something right, when are you going to have time to do it over?

Take the time to research who you are interacting with or get full details on the situation. In the fast-paced, busy world of social media, speed often seems more valuable than quality. Taking the time to research an individual or situation helps you address them more professionally and effectively and will save you time in the long run.

4) You are entitled to nothing in this life. You must earn all you have, and appreciate that which you have earned.

Entitlement is a common complaint from those of us engaged in customer service. It is easy to recognize or perceive a sense of entitlement in others. We must turn the lens on ourselves when it comes to the systems we use and the clients we serve. Is 24/7 customer support a right or a perk? Are you billing a certain rate because you earned it or because you think you deserve it?  Key words to reflect on here are respect, humility and gratitude.

These four life lessons are just some of many common sense principles that can and should be applied by social media managers. What other ways could the industry apply these lessons? What other life lessons might be relevant to the social space?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day: The Global Impact of Social Media

This Earth Day, let's pause for a moment to appreciate the global impact of social media. On any given day, I scroll through my various news feeds to see posts from coast to coast in the United States, and from friends and connections around the world in countries like the UK, France, Canada, Mexico and Australia. I have clients in Houston and Hungary and colleagues everywhere in between. Social networks are more than just tools to keep us in touch. They have created a global network of connections - a digital manifestation of the "six degrees" concept.

It can be easy to focus on the negative, but today let's look at some of the amazing things social media is doing for the world:

  • Cause Awareness & Fundraising: Since Earth Day is all about environmental protection, let's first take a look at the impact social media can have on causes. It provides us a platform to talk about causes we're passionate about, gives us a way to contribute, and encourages the viral spread of information and contribution. From small-scale Indiegogo projects to major awareness efforts by organizations like Sea Shepherd, social media gives people a platform to create change.
  • News: Whether you're watching breaking news unfold on Twitter or reading an article posted by a trusted LinkedIn connection, social media has put news in the hands of the people.
  • Personal Connections: Social media allows us to stay in touch with friends, coworkers, acquaintances and others around the world. Taking full advantage of social media's original intent as a networking tool means our networks aren't just social - they're global.
  • Family Reunions: After seeing her mother's plea for help reposted on Reddit and Twitter, a runaway Seattle teen was reunited with her family. Personally, I have several friends who have connected with birth parents and long-lost family members via social media.
  • Health: You may have heard the story of the little girl from Tennessee whose rare eye condition was caught due to a Facebook post. This is just one example of social media's health impact. Whether it's grassroots, like a friend recently posting to ask friends for their favorite natural allergy remedies, or global, like tracking the spread of disease through online posts and searches, social media helps us stay informed and connected on health and medical topics.
  • Positive Stories: From funny cat photos to heartwarming tales of human kindness, social media can make our day with positive, uplifting content we may not otherwise have seen.
These are just a few of the global benefits of social media. What others have you experienced?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Alternate Meanings of a Facebook Post "Like"

15 people like chemical explosion injuries?
Chances are you understand the basic intended meaning of a Facebook post "like" when it's used to give a pat on the back, a thumbs up or a high five. Things can get tricky, however, when the original post is not something fun, funny, informative or interesting. Here are six common alternatives to the standard Facebook post like:
  1. Agreement: Whether a post is positive or negative, sometimes a thumbs up is a form of agreement rather than an enthusiastic validation.
  2. Saving for Later: People who are familiar with how their activity log works often like a post so that they can come back and see it later. 
  3. Sarcasm: When a friend is vaguebooking or whining, likes can convey sarcasm or mockery.
  4. Sympathy: For posts conveying bad news, a like can indicate sympathy.
  5. Confused Page Like: Often when people post an update to ask their friends to like a Page, their friends who don't know better will like the post instead.
  6. Call to Action Response: "Click like if you hate being asked to click like all the time!"
The trick to identifying these alternative meanings is to look at the context of the original post. What other meanings do you see in your Facebook News Feed? Leave a comment below.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Local TV Stations & Facebook Calls to Action

Local news agencies are making the most of their Facebook posts by using specific, targeted calls to action. This often takes the form of asking fans' opinions on controversial or positive topics. In many cases, however, this means benefiting from bad news by asking fans to share their condolences and sympathy in response to tragedies. Whether the topic is positive, controversial or tragic, these specific prompts serve two purposes: generating engagement, which boosts the Pages' EdgeRank, and reducing the likelihood of off-topic remarks and flame wars in the comments. Below are examples of calls to action from the four major TV news outlets in the Seattle area.


Among local news outlets in this area, CBS affiliate KIRO 7 seems most likely to prompt for responses to tragedies, such as this death in a car accident. Calls to action on tragic events like this draw an outpouring of support for those affected, but often a few negative comments towards the station for trying to benefit from a tragedy. In a formula that covers all the bases, KIRO's post uses a photo that appears to be pulled from the young man's Facebook profile, includes both a link to the story online and a prompt to watch the news story on TV, and closes with the call to action.

NBC affiliate KING 5 takes advantage here of a topic residents love to talk about - bad drivers! The photo they used is likely a screengrab from the news story. They lead the post with their excellent call to action that requests a specific type of feedback on a particular and popular topic.

ABC affiliate KOMO 4 taps into the popular throwback trend here. In a smart move that will increase their EdgeRank even further, KOMO's call to action requires users to engage with the photo they shared in order to answer the prompt. Like their friends at CBS, KOMO phrases their call to action as a statement rather than a question.

In their rather bland, cookie-cutter call to action, and accompanied by a stock photo, Fox affiliate Q13 comes across sounding like a psychologist. While people (dare I say Fox viewers in particular?) may have strong opinions about how the new Mayor is paying aides compared to the outgoing mayor, a clearer, more specific prompt would have been more effective here.

When crafting calls-to-action for your own Facebook Page, keep these examples in mind and strive to do the following: ask for responses to interesting, engaging topics, play with using statements vs. questions, tap into people's emotions, and ask for specific feedback.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

12 Ways to Engage Your Company's 12th Man on Social Media

Whether it's your mom, your best friend or an extremely loyal customer, chances are your business has at least one social media super fan. They're easy to spot; they like, retweet, comment on or otherwise engage with almost every post you publish. These people are for your business what Seattle's rabid sports fans are for the Seahawks. They are an extension of your team that boosts your confidence and helps you succeed - your very own social media 12th man. So how can you go beyond those basic interactions and use their enthusiasm and support to get you all the way to the Super Bowl? Here are 12 ways:
  1. Interact: Don't let their support for you go unanswered. Even if your 12th man leaves a comment on every one of your Facebook posts, make sure you reply to all of them.
    1. Name Them: Giving your 12th man a unique (and hashtag friendly) name will help them self-identify, connect with fellow fans and rally together in their support for you.
    2. Share their Photos: The 12th man often tweets photos or shares them on your wall - boosting the reach of those photos by reposting them to your broader audience will encourage others to do the same.
    3. Interview Them: Capture your 12th man's enthusiasm in a video, audio or text interview to post on your social channels.
    4. Give Perks: Give your 12th man an assignment in order to shape their interactions in the most beneficial way for your business. Ask them to take a photo or send you an anecdote on a specific topic.
    5. Ask for Content: Giving your 12th man an assignment, like a photo or anecdote on a specific topic, will help you shape their interactions in the most beneficial way for your business.
    6. Ask for Feedback: Your 12th man likes everything you do, but what would they like more of? Adjusting your content strategy based on their feedback will improve their engagement and probably create more super fans.
    7. Ask for Reviews: You know they will gush, so ask your 12th man to review you on Google+, Facebook, Yelp, etc.
    8. Acknowledge Them Online: Did your Foursquare Mayor just check in on his birthday? Giving your 12th Man a special online shoutout makes members feel recognized and encourages them to share more.
    9. Acknowledge Them Offline: It may seem awkward at first to reach out to the 12th man when you recognize them in person, but bridging the real life gap will strengthen your connection.
    10. Connect with Companies: Ask your 12th man to get their businesses involved in their enthusiasm for you - chances are the relationship will be beneficial for both organizations!
    11. Thank Them: Find personal and meaningful ways to say thank you and mean it. The 12th man will recognize and appreciate authentic affirmations of their enthusiasm.