Wednesday, December 4, 2013

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Using Hashtags

It seems like hashtags are everywhere these days, from comedy sketches to commercials. Brands of all sizes are trying to cash in on the conversation tool, with mixed results. To make the most of your hashtags, ask yourself these five questions:
  1. Are others using this hashtag?  It might seem basic, but if no one else is using the hashtag, what purpose does it serve? Fun or funny commentary style hashtags can make you seem clever and accessible, but excessive and unnecessary tags can lead to a decrease in engagement. Know your brand and what is appropriate for your audience. To stay professional and polished, leave it off unless you're creating a new conversation and have a concrete plan to promote it and get it to spread. 
  2. Are you using the right hashtag?  For a sexual health writer, it might be tempting to use #ED, since it is the commonly used abbreviation for erectile dysfunction, but a little research will show that the education community uses #ed in their conversations.
  3. Are you adding to the conversation?  When you use a hashtag, your post becomes part of the larger conversation on Facebook or Twitter. Consider what benefit you are providing to the community as a whole by participating in that conversation. 
  4. Will your hashtag benefit you?  If you aren't adding to the conversation, ask yourself if your hashtag contribution will provide a benefit to your account through exposure to people who are following that topic.
  5. If you're tagging a name, would an @mention be better?  If you are trying to get the attention of or acknowledge a particular account, an @mention may be more appropriate. On the other hand, multiple @mentions can seem spammy, so hashtags may be better. Hashtags will also help with searchability and cross-posting to Facebook.  
How have hashtags changed your conversation? What other hashtag-use questions or guidelines would you add? Leave a comment below.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Social Media Management from Afar

Whether you're a traveling or representing clients in another part of the country or the world, there are three key things to keep in mind when managing social media from afar:
  1. Time Zone: Make sure you're posting at the best times for the fans.
  2. Local Voice: If appropriate, adapt the tone of your content to sound familiar to local fans.
  3. Local Content Sources: Source content locally to make it more relevant.
For more details on why, visit my original guest post on Social Media Club's "From the Clubhouse" blog. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Importance of Subject Agreement & Active Verbs in Social Media Writing

Credit: Dan Thesman / CNN
A Facebook post by a local news station caught my eye today. It read, "Authorities in California say a man's leg was severed by flying shrapnel while watching an implosion today in Bakersfield, and is in danger of losing his other leg."

According to this sentence structure, the man's leg was watching the implosion and the man's leg is in danger of losing his other leg. We know that the news outlet meant that the man was watching the implosion and that he risks losing his other leg, but some readers may have had to take a second look.

News editors often use the passive verb structure, in this case "was severed," to avoid placing blame. ("A subject was shot by police" instead of "Police shot a man.") It's clear in this story that the flying shrapnel severed the man's leg, so the passive tense is unnecessary and sloppy.

Let's take a stab at revising the post: "Authorities in California say flying shrapnel severed a man's leg while he was watching an implosion today in Bakersfield. He risks losing his other leg as well."

Why should you ensure that your subjects agree, and use active verbs? Not just to appease grammar geeks like me! Here's why:

  • Passive verbs and sentence structures add unnecessary words to your posts and make them longer. Statistically, shorter posts generate higher engagement. If you don't mind a longer post, tidying up your tenses makes room for additional information.
  • Active verbs make your writing more direct and exciting, and your calls to action clearer.
  • Subject agreement eliminates confusion. Yes, we may know what you intended to say, but subject confusion will make many fans re-read a post. Confusion drives down engagement in the form of retweets, favorites, likes and shares. (Although it might earn a comment or two from grammar-conscious folks.)

Social media is not an excuse for improper grammar. In fact, the short format and drive to create engagement make good grammar even more necessary!

What are your grammar pet peeves? Share a comment below or tweet @lpmikov.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What is a Social Media Manager?

It's the standard American conversation starter, besides discussing the weather: "What do you do?" When I tell people I'm a Social Media Manager, they nod appreciatively. Then, more often than not, they furrow their brows and ask something along the lines of: "So what exactly do you do all day?" The standard short answer is that I manage Facebook Pages and other social media accounts for businesses. But of course it's a lot more than just that. When I have time, the long answer sounds something like this.
  • The social media world is complicated and what might be right for one business may not be for another. Drawing from my considerable knowledge of social media best practices, I develop a unique, individually tailored social media strategy for each of my clients, using an understanding of their goals for being on social media, target demographics and brand identity.
  • Just like people have Facebook Profiles, businesses can have Facebook Pages. They contain a bio of the company, including its history and anything else that it might put on its website. And just like a person can with a Profile, the company can put out status updates, including photos and links. Instead of friends, Business Pages have fans. When people "like" a Page, its status updates appear in their news feed, just like their friends' status updates. I help companies create their Pages, and I put out content on their behalf, and respond to comments on their updates and posts on their wall. Acting as the Page, I "like" other Pages, and interact with their content and post messages on their walls. Pages can also advertise on Facebook, so I create and manage those ads as well.
  • On Twitter, I create and manage accounts for my clients, including developing and posting content, and following and interacting with other accounts, especially "influencers" and "thought leaders" in the client's field. I also track and respond to mentions of the client's name and relevant keywords and, if they have a physical location, respond to check-ins and reviews on sites like Yelp and Foursquare that get pushed to Twitter. Twitter has its own advertising as well, which I manage on behalf of my clients to promote their accounts. 
  • Because a Google+ presence has such a great SEO benefit, I use Google+ to share similar content to Facebook and interact with other accounts by "circling" them and interacting with their content.
  • If the client has video content to share, I create a YouTube account for them and use it to post videos, respond to comments, and interact with other YouTube accounts, including commenting on their content and adding their videos to the primary account's playlists.
  • Reputation management in the social media world means monitoring review sites like Yelp and Citysearch, as well as location listings like Google+ Local. Since listings on these types of sites can be generated automatically or by customers, I search for new listings in addition to monitoring to existing listings, and respond to reviews as needed. 
  • Pinterest is an excellent way to share clients' images and curate image collections, especially for clients with a visually compelling or physical product for sale.
  • I help clients set up a LinkedIn listing for their businesses, and in some cases manage their personal LinkedIn accounts, posting information relevant to their industry and helping them manage their network of connections.
  • In addition to managing the most popular social media accounts on my clients' behalf, I also closely monitor trends in the industry to determine if new social media products might be right for them.
  • As they're so fond of saying over the loudspeaker at my gym, "what gets measured gets improved!" I use a variety of analytic tools to track the progress of the work I'm doing and use those insights to refine my social media strategy.

As one of my mentors, Robert Caruso, is fond of saying, social media is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires advanced training, careful planning, incredible endurance and constant adjustment to conditions on the day. Considering all of the above elements as well as the flexibility to adapt to consumer interactions and changes in the field, the answer then to "What do you do all day?" is: work - hard.

This is me - working while on vacation in the Caribbean

Friday, May 3, 2013

What's in a name? Name Your Facebook Page Carefully

Business owners and Facebook Page administrators must choose their facebook page names wisely, or risk difficulty down the road. Facebook's Page Name Guidelines provide some direction for establishing a page name, including using proper grammar and avoiding superfluous descriptions. But often, and by the time page administrators realize their page needs to be renamed, it's too late. It used to be entirely impossible to change a page's name once it reached 100 fans. Facebook now allows page admins to submit a name change request form, but can only do so once.
What's in a name? Page names are the most visible representation of a brand on facebook. In addition to providing a physical title to the page, the name of a facebook page also impacts its visibility in the News Feed. It also reflects the ease with which a page can be tagged in posts by other people and pages.
So why would a page name need to be changed? The most common potential problem, besides the always annoying typo, is illustrated by event pages with sponsor names (think Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.) Fun Fact: The Fiesta Bowl has changed names, and sponsors, three times since it became the first bowl game to acquire a title sponsor in 1986. Events like the Fiesta Bowl are usually the pages most likely to include ‘superfluous descriptions’ like sponsor names, locations and dates.
For large events like the Fiesta Bowl, which has more than 13,700 fans, it may be easier to get through facebook's page name change process due to their visibility. On the other hand, for smaller events with less than a national presence, it can prove extremely difficult, if not impossible. 
Page admins should get involved in their organization's sponsor contract drafting process. This is to ensure that sponsor mentions happen only in the account's posts and in the ‘About’ section. Loyal sponsors like Tostitos may stick around for 18+ years. But if their contract ends, the admin may have a tough time renaming the page. Since page names can only be changed once, if a sponsor change takes place again, the page will become obsolete and the event will have to start with a brand new Page. 
When many admins try to change the name of their pages, they are unable to do so. In the official Pages Terms, Facebook provides a vague description of its page name policy, but does not outline it in detail. The process of approving name changes is left to the discretion of Facebook staff. As noted by hundreds of users in Facebook's community forums, that can be hit or miss.
While the Pages Terms naming section is vague, some further clarifications are provided in the Page Name Guidelines and noted again when an admin first initiates a name change request:
From there, the admin must select the type of page: a business or company, a person or public figure, an organization, a website or blog, an event, or other. The page type selected brings up a handy list of "things to keep in mind," giving the admin some further guidance on things to avoid this time when creating their new page name, such as specific dates, locations, corporate sponsors, taglines and other descriptions. Admins who find their page request declined may be in violation of these requirements. 
The final step in the process, which Facebook claims will help "expedite the process" is to "upload documentation that clearly shows the name and address of your business", such as a utility or phone bill. For pages without official documentation, this step can be the final insurmountable barrier.
Given the inherent difficulties in the complicated process of changing the name of a Facebook page, business owners and page administrators should study the Page Name Guidelines, choose their page name wisely and be willing to stick with it - or be stuck with it - forever.
This article is a repost of my article on

Monday, February 18, 2013

Being Friends with Clients on Facebook

As you go about the process of establishing yourself on Facebook, it may be tempting to add your customers or clients as friends, or accept friend requests from them. Here are some things to think about when deciding whether or not to accept or send a Facebook friend request from/to a client:
  1. Their Privacy: As a friend, you will have access to the details of their profile and be able to see most, if not all of their status updates (unless they are smart and using friend lists to filter the visibility of their posts and info.) Ask yourself - do you need or want that level of knowledge? Would your client be comfortable with you commenting on, for example, a photo of his or her children?
  2. Your Privacy: On the flipside, if you accept (or send) a friend request from/to a client, they will likely have access to your personal information and status updates. Are you comfortable with them knowing about your political affiliations? Your family? That you checked into a local bar? Will you be able to either keep your posts client-friendly, or use friend lists to limit what content your clients see? Is it worth the risk? 
  3. Facebook's 5,000 Friend Limit: If you have a substantial group of friends and are adding customers as friends as well, you may find yourself fast approaching the 5,000 mark - Facebook's upper limit. At that point, you'd need to start culling the list, to accept closer friends or more important customers. 
  4. Profile vs. Page: If you're adding clients as friends for purely business purposes, you could be violating Facebook's Terms of Use, which state: "You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes."
  5. Reachability: When you're friends with a client, it will be easier for them to contact you at random hours, whether via Facebook Messenger/Chat, wall posts or comments. You can use friend lists to limit your reachability, but consider that they might realize that they can't post on your wall and ask why. If they send you a DM, Facebook will show them that you've read their frantic 2am message, and they may wonder why you haven't responded yet.
It's up to you to decide if your clients can be your friends on Facebook. A good rule of thumb might be that if you wouldn't be friends with someone if they weren't a client, you should not have them as a Facebook friend. Personally, I do have some clients as friends and I use friend lists to determine what information is visible to them to avoid any potential awkwardness. Remember that when you're establishing your social media presence, identifying your agenda can help keep things clear. 

P.S. - Speaking of privacy, with the introduction of Graph Search, rumors are, once again, flying about Facebook making private info available to the public. When you see people posting "Please Repost This" Facebook security rants, please direct them to Snopes.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Advertising to Current Facebook Fans

There's a feature on Facebook advertising that is easy to overlook but vital for an effective Facebook advertising campaign. It's a little button that prevents your ads from showing to current fans of your Page. Why is that button so important? It keeps you from wasting your money on clicks or impressions from people who are already engaged with your Page, and prevents them from getting annoyed with you for spamming.

Your basic Facebook ad is designed to drive fans to your Page. It may say things like "Like our Page for info on our business and industry!" When your page is showing to "Anyone" rather than to "Only people not connected to [your Page]", you are wasting impressions, and potentially clicks, on your current fans. At best, your current fans will ignore the ad, since they've already liked you. They might click on the ad, confused by why they're seeing it. At worst, they will unlike your Page because they're being spammed by unnecessary advertising.

So when do you want to show ads to "Anyone" or "Only people connected to [your Page]"? When you have a specific message that would apply to current fans as well as potential fans, such as a special offer or promotion, or to remind current fans that you're still out there. It may be especially helpful to show ads to only current fans if you're providing a special offer only to existing fans. To make sure that your current fans see your posts, because Facebook's EdgeRank means that only a small percentage of them will, you can show Promoted Posts to only people connected to your Page. Targeted, specific activities like these will make sure that your advertising money is well spent.
No matter which Connections button you choose, the important thing when creating any Facebook ad is determining your objective. Once you determine what that is, whether it's getting new fans, improving your Page reach or engagement, or promoting a special offer, you will be able to target the appropriate audience.