We’re getting away from Marketing 101

This is a guest post by my friend, photographer and social media marketer Dana Dillehunt. If you have a minute (or two), please check out her photography website, read her blog, Like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter!

Dana is tired of brands and businesses abusing social media marketing. She’s got 4 tips on how you can redeem yourself:

Blonde Woman with MegaphoneIf McDonald’s was showing clips of ‘80s movies instead of advertising their food on TV, we’d all surely enjoy the commercials. But we’d have no idea that they were created by McDonald’s, and they wouldn’t exactly inspire a surge of Big Mac purchases.

So why are brands abusing the largest marketing opportunity available?

Somewhere along the blue-brick road, companies lost their way. They decided it was more important to have 1 million likes than 1,000 sales directly inspired by content. They wanted ALL THE FOLLOWERS, regardless of the actual audience composition.

So they stood over their social media minions (with whips! and fire!), evilly cackling away at LOLCATZ and ehrmagerds, completely neglecting their actual message. And no one bought anything from them, ever, and they went bankrupt and the media minions rose up and bought the company and renamed it something awesome and made all the bosses work as janitors.

Don’t let this happen to your business! Here are four no-fail ways to make sure nobody ever thinks of you (or your company) as a giant douche.

1. Stop asking your followers to LIKE, or SHARE, or COMMENT. They can read (they’re on Facebook, after all). Allow your content to inspire them, to drive them to do any (or all) of those actions. Even the least savvy of followers might be dissuaded from acting, just because you told them to. (We all have a little rebellious streak).

2. Don’t exploit memes because people “like” them. We don’t need any more stock Victorian imagery over pastel backgrounds with snarky text. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Does the meme somehow communicate your brand’s message? And on the rarest, (read: RAREST) of occasions, can it be modified or stretched slightly to align with your brand?

3. Don’t capitalize on national tragedies to leverage engagement. This is the douchiest move of all. We all groaned as brand after brand posted stock images of candles or flowers and aligned themselves as keeping “the victims of Sandy Brook Elementary in our hearts.” Just don’t do it. It’s tasteless. It’s OK to NOT acknowledge awful things. In fact, a nice way to acknowledge without being a total douche would be to NOT post. By not posting your typical upbeat, on-brand (albeit trite, in the face of tragedy) message, you are paying respect without exploiting. And we all know that it’s better to do a good thing without telling everyone that you’ve done it. Trust me. People will notice.

and of course, the most important lesson:

4. DON’T POST ANYTHING THAT DOES NOT DIRECTLY RELATE BACK TO YOUR COMPANY OR MESSAGE. Just re-read that a few times.

We’re all capable of producing fresh, inspiring and fabulous content, and have no need to resort to these awful (and surprisingly still prevalent) tactics.

3 tools to analyze the impact of your personal Facebook profile

I live in the world of social media marketing geeks, where we spend all day talking about how small businesses can effectively use their Facebook business page to market themselves.

There’s a lot of tools out there to measure ROI of your marketing efforts. Facebook has Insights for business pages, and there’s a lot of free and paid tools that exist as well.

But what kind of impact are you making with your personal Facebook profile? Who is engaging with the content you’re posting for your personal networks? What types of posts do your friends engage with?

Before we go any further: I am NOT talking about using a personal profile as your business page. If your business’s Facebook account has friends – not Likes – you are not using the right account. Stop reading this right now and convert your business’ personal profile to an official Facebook business page. Trust me. You’ll thank me.

Here’s what I found to give you some insight on your personal Facebook profile:

Wolfram Alpha Word Cloud

Apparently I say the word awesome a lot in my posts!

1. WolframAlpha’s Facebook Report

This first tool – free from computational knowledge engine WolframAlpha – is the most comprehensive of the 3. Click through to the Facebook Report, connect it with your personal profile, and you’ll receive a ton of information:

  • Recent posting history – posted links, vs. statuses vs. photos
  • The most frequent times and days of the week that you post
  • The total likes and comments, average likes and comments, and average length of your most recent posts
  • What words you use most frequently – and a word cloud!
  • Your most liked post and most commented posts
  • Your top commenters and sharers
  • Your most liked and commented photos
  • Friends’ demographic information
  • Most common names among friends
  • Friends with the most mutual friends
  • A graphic that shows different combination of “friend clusters” based on mutual interests/demographic information
One of my most popular Facebook posts. Apparently my friends want more stuff like this.

One of my most popular recent Facebook posts. Looks like my friends want more stuff like this.

2. Klout

If you haven’t signed up for Klout, you’re probably not a marketing geek. Klout provides each of its users with a score that shows how influential they are on social media.

In Klout’s words:

Klout measures your influence based on your ability to drive action on social networks.

The Klout Score is a single number that represents the aggregation of multiple pieces of data about your social media activity. We compute the Klout Score by applying our score model to these signals.

Marketers like to roll their eyes at the impact of a Klout score, but it’s also a bragging right. I think it’s fun, and I have a little bit of trash talk going on about the scores with a handful of people.

Klout monitors your personal Facebook activity, plus 11 additional social networks. It gives you a look at the most popular content you’re sharing on your personal Facebook profile – the posts with the most likes and comments, and who you engaged with.

3. My Social Strand

This last tool – from the National Marrow Donor Program – creates a cool infographic about your Facebook activity and networks (and suggests possible donation matches) that you can post to your Facebook page.

Connect it to your profile, fill out some basic info (city and state), answer a few questions (Zombies or Aliens?), and My Social Strand will create something like this:

A personal infographic! Woo hoo!

A personal infographic! Woo hoo!

You’ll get some interesting facts about yourself vs. your friends, which friends are most engaged with you, and your average activity level on Facebook.

I hope you try out these tools too! Let me know if you’ve found any more tools like this in the comments.

How your business can prepare for Facebook Graph Search

Facebook Graph Search

Facebook’s big Graph Search announcement today was a wake up call for businesses. Essentially, Facebook is the next big search engine and local search app. Your potential customers are on Facebook, and if you’re not using Facebook for marketing, you won’t be found.

If you’ve been on the fence about using Facebook for marketing, or you haven’t done much with your page, this is why Graph Search matters:

So, you can see where this is going. Facebook is where we’re going to find the products, services and recommendations we need. A lot of this searching is happening when we’re on the go with our smartphones – which people are already using to access Facebook. Graph Search is how you’re going to be discovered.

This is a win for businesses and marketers. We’ve all been trying to figure out how to beat EdgeRank to make sure our posts show up in our fans’ news feeds, because – due to the EdgeRank formula – only 16% are seen by your fans. As more people use Facebook as a search engine, your chances of coming up in a search will increase because of the content you’re already creating.

How can you prepare your business for Graph Search?

  • Fill out all of your profile information – even if it’s already complete, give it a second look. Is everything current? What keywords could you add to your description that would benefit you in a Graph Search?
  • Make sure you’re regularly adding visual content because photos and videos shared on Facebook will also come up in a Graph Search. It’s a good idea to do that anyway – posts that include images will get 120-180% more engagement than just text.
  • Grow your fanbase. A no-brainer, but Graph Search results are personally tailored based on what a Facebook user – and their friends – like. So make sure you are:
    • integrating your marketing efforts. This sounds basic, but only 19.5% of small businesses have a link to their Facebook page on their website. Make sure there’s a link in your email newsletter, your blog and anywhere else you’re listed (LinkedIn, Twitter, Yelp, etc.) in your profile or about information.
    • creating engaging content to keep your fans interested, improve your page’s EdgeRank, and amplify word of mouth. The more your fans interact with you, the more likely you’ll show up in their news feed. And the more your fans interact with you, it will appear in their friends’ news feeds.
    • preparing offline. Do you have signs or decals in your store that promote your Facebook page? Do they have the entire URL (facebook.com/yourbusinessname) or a QR code so they’re easier to find and Like by smartphone users?

Want more info on Graph Search? Check out this business guide on the Facebook Studio site.

What do you think of Graph Search? Let me know in the comments.

3 tools that will turn your Instagram images into a Facebook cover photo

It’s been over a year since Facebook introduced cover photos for profile and business pages, and I’ve only changed mine 9 times. Why? That is a big space – 851 by 315 pixels. Whatever you put up there is huge, and you want it to be good, right?

That’s where Instagram comes in. Their filters and tools let you look like a photography rock star. Why not use all those great images you’ve been creating, and make them into your cover photo?

I’ve found 3 tools that will help you create a beautiful Facebook cover photo from your Instagram pics:

PicStitch

PicStitch (available for iPhone and Android) is a collage app with 70 different layouts. To create your cover photo, choose your layout, then click on Aspect in the tools on the bottom of the screen. After you choose Aspect, you have several sizing options; scroll until you see the one called FB Cover.

PicStitch FB Cover

To add your photos, click on any of the boxes in your collage layout and click the Edit tool. Then choose your Instagram images you’ve saved in your phone’s photo album or on Facebook. Once your photos are in place, click Export, and choose Facebook.

PicStitch Edited and Export

Statigram

Statigram is an Instagram management dashboard that tracks your Instagram stats, but did you know it’s another tool that you can use to make Facebook cover photo collage?

To get started, click the Promote tab, and scroll down to Profile Cover. Click the Create your cover button, and Statigram will automatically pull and size your images.

Statigram Create Your Cover Button

It takes a few minutes, but you get an easy-peasy way to create a cover photo. When your image is all set, right click it and choose Save image as to save to your computer. Then use Facebook to upload to your page.

Statigram Save Image As

InstaCover

The InstaCover site makes a Facebook cover photo that’s a bit similar to Statigram, but you get editing options. Start by choosing which Instagram account you want to pull from – it doesn’t have to be yours – by entering the Instagram ID. You could also make collages out of categories, tags, or photos you’ve liked. Choose your layout and spacing, and then click the Preview button.

Insta-Cover Choose Options

InstaCover pulls up a draft of your cover photo, which you can edit. Click the orange X in the top right of any photo to drag and drop to another spot, or delete it. When you delete it, InstaCover replaces it with another Instagram photo. Click the Final Preview button when you’re finished editing.

InstaCover Edit Drag and Drop

You’ll see the finished cover photo, and you can save it to your Facebook profile by clicking the Save to album on Facebook button.

Save InstaCover to Facebook

Changing your cover photo

None of these tools instantly changes your cover photo. You need to be on your page to do that.

Go to your Facebook page, and hover over the bottom right corner of your current cover photo. A Change Cover option will appear. Click Choose from Photos.

Change Cover

Select the new cover photo you just added to your Facebook page.

Choose from your photos

Voila! You now have a collage cover photo made from beautiful images you created with Instagram.

PicStitch Cover Photo

3 ways to promote your blog with social media

Stephanie Fielding

Stephanie Fielding

Today’s guest post is from my friend Stephanie Fielding, the fabulous woman behind Sandpaper & Glue.

Hi!

I’m Stephanie from Sandpaper & Glue, a DIY blog centered around first time home owning. I started my blog about a year and a half ago and have since earned a modest following not only on the blog, but on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest as well. Here’s my two cents worth of tips, tricks, and experience:

1. Branding!

It’s strange to think that something as all about you as a blog needs an actual brand, but readers are quick and savvy and fleeting, and it’s important they know it’s YOU when they stumble upon something. Also, everyone uses social media differently and at different frequencies, so the more ways readers have to connect with you the better off you are. Here’s how that’s done:

Keep your names and look consistent

Create a logo or a pattern 

Sandpaper & Glue Logo

  • Put solid thought into what colors, style, patterns are most you – look around your house and at your wardrobe to see what you tend to be drawn to. I recently designed my whole blog for the new year, I created a new pattern for the background and a new header. This then meant I had to create a new thumbnail for my Google Reader and Blogger followers, a new Facebook cover photo (because headers are not the same dimension), new Facebook tab buttons, and a new Twitter background. Whew! (if you need a quick reference for social media photo sizes, check out The Ultimate Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet)
  • I happen to be handy at Photoshop, but PicMonkey.com is a free photo editing site I highly recommend you check out. Also keep in mind you don’t have to be an artist to create a brand; it can be as simple as picking a color scheme or sticking to a font.
  • Let me step back for a second and address something in that first bullet – create tabs on Facebook that match your brand. This isn’t nearly as difficult as you’d think; this article by Her New Leaf gives you step by step directions on exactly what to do. I made the images for mine in Microsoft Paint, and followed her directions and I had it done in less than an hour – doesn’t get much easier than that! To get my Twitter feed linked up as a tab, I installed this app, then just uploaded a new image. Please email me at SandpaperAndGlue@gmail.com if you need any help with this!

2. Unique content is key! 

Sandpaper & Glue Pinterest Boards

You can’t expect people to follow you around the interwebs if they’re going to see the same thing everywhere they go. Of course you’re going to have some crossover: I have a Project Central board on Pinterest where I pin all my tutorials – but I have lots of other boards I pin to as well. My blog posts automatically link to Twitter, but I mainly use Twitter to talk to other bloggers and reblog cool things they’re up to, and share giveaways they’re hosting. My Facebook page has a Twitter feed tab, and I sometimes put my blog post links as a status, but more often than not I ask questions or share images there.

3. Be yourself!

Pinterest Food Challenge

This one takes a while to figure out. I used to link up to a weekly fashion post about what outfits I wore that week, which was a good way to drive traffic to my blog. But I got bored with that real fast, and when I thought about it, I realized why: I don’t run a fashion blog, and the traffic I got was from readers interested in fashion, so they weren’t going to stick around. That’s when I got a little more clever and created the Pinterest Food Challenge. Once a month I cook something I’ve pinned, then I share the recipe and review it. (Don’t forget to create a logo for anything recurring!) This drives people from Pinterest to my blog, and vice versa. Think about how your social media can work with your blog in an interesting way, but just every once in a while because unique content is key. 🙂

So there you go – my two cents! I do hope my tips help, and feel free to get in touch with me through the Sandpaper and Glue blog or SandpaperAndGlue@gmail.com if you need any assistance or have any questions!

How one small business built Facebook buzz – before opening its doors

Thumbs upI first heard about the Rail Trail Flatbread Co. when my husband and I were in Hudson, MA a few weeks ago looking for a place to eat dinner. We drove by the restaurant’s downtown storefront – a new brick sign spanned the building, and the windows were covered up. It wasn’t open, but I was intrigued. What was going on with this restaurant, and when would it open?

Not long after that, I saw a Rail Trail Flatbread Co. ad on Facebook that included a picture of the storefront. I liked their page, and was immediately surprised to see that the page already had 400 likes and wasn’t open for business yet!

How did they do it?

Mystery

Hudson is a small town. So when someone starts a business, people notice. And, like me, they want to know what the heck is going on. A quick Google search revealed that plans for this restaurant were announced a little over a year ago. Shortly after that, the Rail Trail folks started their Facebook page. Good move – anyone who Googled the restaurant would find the Facebook page. And they would like it to be in the know.

No Update is Too Small

Throughout the fall, as the restaurant neared completion, the owners posted updates about their progress a few times a week – no marketing-speak, just quick posts about hiring staff, painting, finishing the bar, putting up the sign, and testing ingredients. These updates helped add to the excitement, and served as a reminder to fans that the opening was happening soon.

Photos, Photos, Photos

Images are powerful – especially on Facebook, where 70% of all activity is based on photographs, according to a study from Overgram.  The study shows that using images can boost your Facebook engagement by 120% for a single photo, and 180% for a photo album. If you’re curious about the new restaurant in town, you’re probably dying to see what it looks like. And, if you’re a beer connoisseur, a Facebook photo of Rail Trail’s 20 taps is going to rock your socks off. That image got 61 likes, 15 comments and 1 share, and demonstrated the power of social word of mouth.

Welcoming Their Future Customers

Rail Trail started participating in community events before their opening and posted photos on Facebook – they handed out candy during Hudson’s downtown trick-or-treat walk. They invited people to get an exclusive preview as part of the annual holiday stroll. On more than one occasion, they thanked local businesses and vendors for their help with the renovations, and thanked the community for their support.

Rail Trail Facebook Thank You Post

By taking time out to get to know their neighbors and show their appreciation, Rail Trail is forming relationships with future customers. Posting on Facebook is key – fans are used to seeing them in their news feed, and they’re getting to know the business.

Facebook Ads

By early November, Rail Trail’s Facebook page had around 200 likes. With the opening day a few weeks away, they amped up their fan count by buying Facebook ads – when I finally liked the page toward the end of the month, they had reached 400 fans. They were up to 500 around the week of their quiet opening. Ads allow small businesses to directly target potential fans, based on demographics and geographic information. It clearly worked – they doubled their fan count in less than a month!

Social Media Success

I haven’t had a chance to visit Rail Trail Flatbread Co. yet, but I’m already impressed – they’ve proven that you can easily generate buzz for your small business by marketing on Facebook with the right content, and the right mindset.

Engage, inform, recruit: How nonprofits can use social media to recruit volunteers

A version of this post appeared on the Constant Contact blog in December 2012.

When you think about nonprofits and social media marketing, you probably assume that these organizations are primarily using social media tools to fundraise. Without money, you can’t provide services or pay the staff who carry out those services.

Actually, most nonprofits are going social to build relationships. When asked about social media goals for the 2012 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, nonprofits said their top three were growing their base, engaging members and growing fundraising. Two out of the three priorities focused on recruiting volunteers and supporters – growing and maintaining relationships.

So how can a nonprofit use social media to grow their volunteer base? That’s a question I answered recently for several nonprofits by presenting a session on social media during a November volunteer breakfast at the United Way of North Central Massachusetts.

The key is using the right content for your organization to engage your audience, inform them about your mission, and then recruit them once you’ve built a relationship.

Engaging content from the Humane Society Pinterest PageEngage

Engaging your audience means sharing content that encourages them to act – you can see how successful that content is when people comment, share, like, retweet, and repin. What kind of content is engaging?

  • Multimedia – Use photos and videos to engage your audience. The Pajama Program provides new pajamas to children in need, and their photos of smiling kids and families are a powerful way to tell their story. I couldn’t find one of the hundreds of their Facebook photos that didn’t have some fan interaction.
  • Inspirational – Get your audience thinking about what they can do to help. UNICEF has an entire Pinterest board of inspirational quotes and photos.
  • Asking a question – The Girl Scouts got a lot of mileage on Facebook recently just by asking a few questions:  “So we’d love to hear your good news about girls: what skills are they learning? What educational trips have you taken? In what way have they awed and inspired you?” That simple post got 186 comments, 422 Likes, and 35 shares.
  • Humor – Animal photos and humor are a natural fit for The Humane Society. Every one of the pins on their cute animal photos Pinterest board have been repined. Your nonprofit might not have anything to do with animals, but sharing funny content is always a good idea.

Informing Content on Facebook from Massachusetts Service AllianceInform

Social media allows nonprofits to interact with their audience on a daily basis. Take advantage of that interaction by informing your audience about your mission.

  • Share your news – This is basic, but it’s important. Regular posting of your accomplishments, announcements and events help to remind your fans of the vital role you serve in your community.
  • Education – Your knowledge is valuable – use it to educate your social media audience. The ASPCA has a Pinterest board full of pet care tips. Each pin links to a full article on the organization’s blog.
  • Events – Definitely invite your followers to events via social media, but make sure you’re posting after the event too. Event photos and video allow you to show off your hard work. Make sure you tag participants – people, sponsors and other nonprofits – in your photos to get more traction like the United Way of North Central Massachusetts did during their annual Day of Caring. As your fans interact with your content, their networks will see it, allowing you to spread your message even further.


Recruit

Red Cross Twitter Post About Volunteering

You’ve engaged and informed your followers, and formed a connection with them. They’re thinking about you on a regular basis and they support your cause. Reach out to them through social media to recruit them as volunteers.

  • Share links to your volunteer opportunities – You can post the link and add a description on Facebook and Twitter, but don’t forget about Pinterest. The San Antonio, TX Food Bank has a Pinterest board of volunteer opportunities and donation drives.
  • Talk about your industry – The Massachusetts Service Alliance, which works with dozens of nonprofit agencies, shared this Americorps infographic about what just one Americorps member contributes through their work. It shows your followers how they can make a difference.
  • Use statistics – The Red Cross has posted daily Hurricane Sandy relief updates on Twitter, including volunteer needs. They tweeted that 90% of their 5,700 workers helping with Sandy relief are volunteers, and linked to a website to sign up for Red Cross opportunities.
  • Try LinkedIn – The Heart of West Michigan United Way posts opportunities on their LinkedIn page, and they link to their website, which has a volunteer matching service.

Need more social media help? Check out my slides from my social media presentation, Engage, Inform Recruit: How to Use Social Media for Volunteer Growth.