Azure Collier

my take on social media marketing and its impact on how we work, live and consume

5 years, 1,000 followers, and (almost) 5,000 tweets: What I’ve learned on Twitter

twitter-bird-white-on-blueThis month is my fifth anniversary with Twitter – I joined as @azurecollier in April 2008 – and as of today, I’ve grown to have a smidge over 1,000 followers and I’m pretty close to posting 5,000 tweets. To celebrate, I thought I’d take a look back and share some of the lessons I’ve learned.

1.      Tweet like a person, not like a robot

People do not want to interact with a robot that auto-generates posts when you update your blog, Facebook, Instagram, and anything that you can connect with Twitter, and just “set it and forget it.” They like helpful information, but they want to know why they should click on a link you’ve posted in a tweet. So, when I find interesting things I want to share, I try to make a comment about what I like about the thing I’m linking to or share a cool stat that I found in a blog post or article. Sometimes that’s hard to do in just 140 characters, but it’s worth it if you can be helpful to your followers!

2.      Negative words get attention, but make sure you include a positive message

Every time I post something that includes the words “Don’t do this!” or “mistakes” or “things that make you look dumb” or “social media crisis/fail”, I get lots of clicks. Why? Because you want to make sure you’re not doing these things! The negative words will catch your eye, and the reward is usually a post that includes not only the things you shouldn’t do, but also how you can fix it or how you can do it the right way.

3.      Sometimes reading is overrated

I’m a recovering ex-journalist, so I hate to say this, but it’s nice to take a break from scrolling and reading chunky paragraphs on a screen. Give the people what they want: something pretty to look at or listen to. Share infographics and videos, and make sure you use those words in the tweet. And write them in all caps to get people to notice (oh Twitter, when can we start using bold for emphasis instead of shouty caps?). Tell people there is a VIDEO or INFOGRAPHIC in this tweet.

Fellow tweeters also like PODCASTS. I’m a podcast junkie (what else are you going to do on an hour-long commute?), so when I hear something that’s relevant to what I do or is just really cool, I like to share it. Need podcast suggestions? I have a ton: The Speakeasy Marketing Roundtable (shameless plug, I am on this podcast), On Point, This American Life, Car Talk, Pop Culture Happy Hour, Radiolab, On the Media, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, WTF with Marc Maron, and Fresh Air. If you listen to ANY of these, your brain will thank you, and you will be on your way to becoming an official smarty pants.

4.      People like tips and things they can pin to their cubicle walls

I am always in search of social media stats, tips, trends, what’s new, and any best practices that I can have on hand for reference. So are the people who follow me. When I find something that is reference-worthy and can help me with content creation or can function as a marketing best practices checklist, I often include words like “bookmark this” or “print this out and pin it on your cube wall” – those tweets get lots of clicks and retweets. If you are someone who uses that kind of information, sign up for Diigo – a social bookmarking site. You can tag anything you add to your Diigo account so it’s easy to track down later.

5.      Tweet chats are helpful and will get you more followers

I’ve been a bit of a tweet chat slacker lately, but I definitely recommend them. I usually learn something, meet some new and smart people on Twitter, and get a few followers (if I add something interesting to the discussion!). Find tweet chats by topic on this Google Twitter Chat Master Schedule. If you see one you like, create an appointment for it in your calendar to remind you to attend.

6.     People like shoes, food, hilarious signs that have bad grammar, and videos of cats on Roombas wearing shark costumes and chasing ducklings

Since we’re not auto-posting robots and we’re talking like people on Twitter, it’s OK to not be all business all the time. Share your Instagram photos of your pets or a PacMan doodle on an office whiteboard. Post a link to 33 ingenious ways to store your shoes. Do not keep awesome things a secret. If you find an epic video of a cat wearing a shark costume who is riding on top of a Roomba and chasing a duckling (I am not making this up), you are obligated to share it with the Internets! Hilarious and interesting things are clicked, shared and retweeted all over the place. They might even cause you to ask a real live person sitting next to you: “Did you see this?!” You will laugh, have a shared experience with another human being, and enjoy yourself.

I have many more lessons to add to this list, but these are at the top of my mind today. Do you have any Twitter tips to share? Or more podcasts? Let me know in the comments!

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3 tools to help you promote your personal brand and content

If you’re producing content – for your business or yourself – you’re spending a lot of time posting, tweeting, writing, designing, shooting video or taking photos. And you want people to see it, right?

Well, they can’t see it if they don’t know about it. You need to get found in online search, promote yourself and your personal brand on multiple networks, and make people not only aware of your work, but where they can find it.

I’ve found 3 tools that can help do all of that:

1. About.Me

About_Me

About.Me is a personal homepage that provides information about you, what you do, your content, and your profiles on multiple networks all in one place.

It’s really easy to set up. Create an account, and fill in your biography, which includes location, job info, and education. Add links to featured content – your blog, YouTube or Vimeo. And connect to your profiles on 28 social networks and apps. Add a photo, choose your fonts, and colors, and voila – you have a nice little homepage dedicated to your personal brand. Plus, you can track activity to your page with About.Me’s stats – check out how many visitors you’re getting, how people are finding your page, and what they’re clicking on.

2. WiseStamp

WiseStamp

If you’ve wanted your own email signature that easily links to your social profiles and embeds your latest tweets, WiseStamp is the tool for you.

The WiseStamp editor allows you to add a photo, links to your website, blog, contact information, and social profiles (including your About.Me page!). You can also embed your latest content – the email apps tool will insert your most recent tweet and WordPress blog post at the time you write an email. WiseStamp works with just about every Internet browser, and you can insert it into your Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail, and Outlook.

3. SlideShare

SlideShareDo you have presentations to promote? Upload them to SlideShare,  a personal portfolio for all of your creative work. And – if you add the right content and tag it correctly – it will get found and shared. Every month, 51.6 million visitors go to SlideShare to find information and ideas.

When you create your SlideShare profile, you’ll add the usual details – links to your social profiles, location, job title and workplace, industry, and website. Add a description about you and your work, and then start adding your content. The free account includes uploads of PDFs and PowerPoint documents – you can add larger files and videos with a paid version.

The free version also gives you some analytics – you can see how many times a presentation has been downloaded and viewed, and you receive weekly performance update emails.

So these are the tools I’ve found and used recently. Are there any that you would suggest to promote your content? Please share them in the comments!

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Want loyal customers? Take a lesson from Sephora: Teach them how to use your products

After the makeover: Melanie and I strike a pose during our post-makeover cocktail celebration.

Melanie and I strike a pose during our post-makeover cocktail celebration.

I am a member of the cult of Sephora.

Actually, I’m a VIB member – that’s Very Important Beauty – of their Beauty Insider rewards program for spending $350 in a calendar year (don’t judge; it’s not all for me – I do buy lots of birthday and Christmas gifts there!).

Why do I keep coming back? Because Sephora is not just a place where you buy makeup. You also have access to information and education – in the store and online – to help you choose the right products and learn how to use them.

This is a lesson that anyone – whether you’re a small business or big corporation – can use to win loyalty by letting customers try out products and services, and going beyond that with in-person demonstrations and social media content that provides education and best practices.

It starts with the store itself. If you haven’t been to a Sephora (or if you’re a guy and have stayed far, far away from them), they have a knowledgeable staff and aisles and aisles of makeup. Each product has a sample available that customers can try on. There are plenty of endcaps with disposable eyeshadow brushes, cotton swabs and tissues that allow you to try on the makeup (without getting any germs from the last customer). Beauty Insider members also get samples to take home and try based on purchase points earned – and a free birthday gift.

A Sephora palette from one of my Instagram photo-a-day pics.

A Sephora palette from one of my Instagram photo-a-day pics.

Sephora also offers a range of in-store educational services: express makeup application, classes and personalized consultations. Most are free, and a few are paid. A few weeks ago my friend Melanie and I made appointments for the customized makeup application, and it was definitely worth the price. The Sephora consultants were fantastic – they helped us with all of our questions on makeup application, indulged us with our “I always wanted to learn how to do ____” requests, and helped us find our own perfect colors and combinations. I had such a great experience and shared it on Facebook (word of mouth!), which is why I’m going back this weekend with 3 more friends – I’m picking up a few supplies and hanging out while they get express makeovers.

Most of their social media and email content shares that same combination – they strike a good balance of education and best practices vs. sales. The Sephora Facebook page and Pinterest boards are full of pro tips, links to Q&As with cosmetic company founders and reps, links to instructional videos, ideas, trends and invitations for fans to share their tips and photos.

Yes, Sephora is a global company and they want to make money, but they’re also providing a good experience for the customers with the sampling and educating. If you’re a customer, you can know on the spot if something’s right for you and not waste money on products that you’re never going to use. And if you’re a loyal customer, you’ll come back when you’ve used up your favorite shade of lipstick.

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How to make time for social media marketing

According to my tiny alarm clock, it's time for you to post to your blog!

According to my tiny alarm clock, it’s time for you to post to your blog!

One of the biggest struggles that people have with social media marketing is finding time to actually do it.

Everyone has their own tips, tricks and tools, so I thought I would share mine:

Make it a part of your routine

Every day I make time to read social media blogs, marketing blogs, and tech blogs to keep up on what’s happening in the industry. It doesn’t matter if you do this at the beginning of your day, your lunch hour, or during an afternoon coffee break. Make some time to at least scan the headlines so you’re aware of news, updates, stats and what’s next in social media marketing. If you subscribe to these blogs with an RSS reader like Feedly, you can organize them by topic, and quickly scroll through the latest updates.

Not sure what blogs to read? There are a lot of great blogs – and I know I’m missing a few – but here’s some that I suggest (in no particular order):

My blog has now been up for 6 months, and I have to schedule time to work on it. Between my job, my commute, my volunteering, and my social life, there are not enough hours left in a day! Right now, I just can’t post more than once or twice a week. To accomplish that, I schedule office hours for myself a one or two nights a week to write, think of other blog topics, and review my blog and social media stats.

Bookmark all that marketing goodness

The only thing constant about social media marketing is that it changes every day – there’s always new stats, case studies, tools, and news. You won’t remember everything, and that’s OK. Use a social bookmarking site to help you keep track of it all. I use a social bookmarking site called Diigo (it’s also an app!) to bookmark relevant news, posts, stats, studies, infographics, and tools. The great thing about Diigo is that you can tag posts, so if you’re interested in tracking down a post you read that included an infographic on content sharing statistics for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr, you can search your tags in just a few seconds and find it.

This also works for content ideas. If you find a blog post that triggers a topic you want to write about, an article, a photo, a design, or a campaign that inspires you, save it and tag it in Diigo so you can use it later.

Schedule your posts with a calendar

When you walk in to the office or store or wherever it is you work in the morning, you probably aren’t surprised by what’s ahead of you for the day. You have meetings, events, sales, new products, and interesting things on the docket. You’ve been planning these things. So when you’re putting on your social media marketer hat for the day, you’re not walking in with nothing to say. You already have lots of things going on that you can share. As you’re planning them, think about how you can promote them. Make it easy on yourself – create “meetings” for yourself in your Outlook calendar that remind you to create content and post it to whatever social channels you use.

Schedule your posts with a tool

When you know what you want to say, you don’t have to wait to post it. Combine your calendar with social media management systems like HootSuite and TweetDeck (which have free and paid levels) to prepare your posts and schedule them in advance for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more.

What are your tips?

Do you have tips or tools to share? What blogs inspire you? What tools are essential to your marketing? Let me know in the comments!

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