Category Archives: social media

A Twitter Party? What’s that?

If you’re familiar with Twitter, you’re most likely familiar with #hashtags. There’s a lot that can done with the hashtag. When it comes to engagement and community, there’s something called the Twitter Party which can be quite beneficial for many reasons. It’s unlike the traditional definition of a party. A Twitter party consists of a moderated chat based around a series of questions. Unlike a traditional Twitter chats, which are generally reoccurring, a Twitter Party is a one time deal (or series) that’s hosted by a brand or company around a certain topic in which prizes are given out throughout the duration of the party.

Twitter parties can have many benefits for many reasons. The idea of the conversation isn’t to necessarily talk about the product or service itself, but more-so around the lifestyle based around it. For example, a Twitter party hosted by a mattress company wont talk about their beds, instead they talk about tips and tricks around sleeping and finding the perfect mattress. After all, that’s what it should be about in today’s world. The hard sell is out and relating to one’s personal lifestyle is in. It also provides some personality to the brand hosting the chat. The party usually has the moderator asking the questions and a couple of other people to help in engagement and choosing winners of the prizes.

The goals of the Twitter party may vary host to host, but the main ideas are to generate conversation, engagement, and maybe even a call to action. Some steps to preparing for a Twitter Party are as follows:

  1. Choose your topic and create a hashtag. You want something not being used already, but that’s also relevant to the topic of the party. A unique hashtag will help with tracking later on. (Check out hashtracking to help with measuring tweets)
  2. Create the questions. Five questions are generally the perfect number. It all depends on how much time you want to spend on the questions and how many people you think will be participating. Remember to stick to questions around the lifestyle and not about the actual product.
  3. Choose your prizes. A prize for a rsvp, to the best answers and the best participants are usually the best way to award prizes. Gift cards or branded products are usually the best options for prizes.
  4. Choose your date and time. Middle of week, 8pm EST is usually the best time. You need to think about the audience,  time zones and when people might be out of work and already had dinner.
  5. Announce the party. If you want time to grow hype around the party, I suggest up-to a month before hand. It’s gives people time to spread the word and add it to their calendar. Share it on your social networks and on your blog. Make it known that someone who RSVPs will win a prize. Make people excited and interested to join.
  6. Prepare the day of. Make sure all your eggs are in one basket. Have a timeline set for all your questions, the time spent on them, and when prize announcements are being made. Depending on the topic, be prepared for any negative questions that may arise and how you want to handle them. It’s best to handle those apart from the chat and offer different means of support. Stick to the topic as much as possible.
  7. Host the party. Have fun! After all, it is a party.
  8. Analyze your results, look at your goals and expectations, see what went wrong and what went right.

Twitter parties a great way to build awareness and word of mouth on a cheap budget. They have the potential to generate a few thousand tweets with millions of impressions in just an hour’s time. If it’s successful, you might even be lucky enough to grab the trending hashtag on Twitter.

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Why Every Community Manager Should Take Some Time to Travel

Any good community manager knows that a big part of their job is being empathetic. You need to be able to feel for and understand your community and potential community members. You don’t need to be a psych major to understand people. (A psychology class doesn’t hurt though.) It does takes a lot of being around people, listening, talking, and understanding. Being an introvert and keeping to yourself wont help. I previously wrote about about how working in food service was a huge help in my non-traditional CM education, now I want to talk about how traveling can help just as well.

First off, I want to say traveling can be a huge step up if you live somewhere remote and demographically segregated. If you live in a huge populated city like NYC, the world is all around you. I wasn’t always in NYC, so traveling was the first way I was really able to see the world we live in and the people that populate it. Unlike the U.S. where we’re pressured to graduate high school, go to college, and then start a life long career, there are places where it’s normal to finish grade school and then take some time off to see the world. Traveling can be a life-changing education of it’s own. There’s a world of people out there; different societies, cultures, religions, and communities. When you get a chance to travel, you really get to understand people in a new way, in a new light. When I talk about traveling, I don’t talk about staying in a nice hotel and luxury, I’m talking about backpacking and staying in hostels. Hostels have been a great way IMO to “really” meet people. I also did a lot tours and activities solo.

If you aren’t familiar with hostels, think of a college dorm. Instead of a room with one bunk, try 3-10 bunks, and it being unisex. You could have 10-20 people in a room of just beds, a shared bathroom and a shared kitchen. The best part, despite any cultural differences, most people are like-minded and very outgoing. A language barrier is usually the only thing in the way of good conversation. I’ve come to  meet people from all over the world while traveling overseas and staying in hostels. Even staying hostels in the U.S. I’ve come to meet people from around all walks. You can learn so much from these travelers about the world we live in. You can’t afford to be narrow-minded staying in a hostel. If you haven’t been everywhere, there’s most likely someone who has, and they’ll tell you their stories. There’s a lot you can learn about people, and you begin to understand them more than you ever thought before. If you can truly understand a person and where they’re coming from, it really helps in community building and outreach. People come from all walks and backgrounds, and not everyone is the same. What may work for one, may not work for some. That’s something you need to realize as a community manager.

Of course, not everyone has the luxury of traveling. But if an opportunity arises, I would suggest you go for it. If you do travel, and can manage by staying in a hostel for a night or two, do it. If you’re afraid of being in a cramped room on a rickety  bunk bed with a stranger, you can usually rent a private room for still less than a hotel room. Talk to people, talk to someone different than you. You never know what you can learn. Even if you can’t travel, talk to someone new. Go to networking events, talk to someone new at the bar, join a meetup group. If you want to understand people, you need to interact with them. Most likely your audience will be a good mix of people. If you have an idea of who they are, it will be easier to converse with them.

So go out there and meet someone new!

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What Working for Paula Deen taught me about Community

If you’re familiar with the Food Network, chances are that you’re familiar with Paula Deen. Paula Deen is the the so-called “Queen” of southern cooking. In saying that, she’s known for her unhealthy choice of fried foods and a ton of butter in a good amount of her recipes. But she’s also well known for her “southern charm and hospitality.” “Hey Ya’ll” she says charmingly with her picture perfect smile.

Before I started working at her restaurant I was pretty quiet and reserved. Little did I know that in looking for a job, working at her restaurant would change me as a person for the rest of my life. Unlike the busser that doesn’t interact with customers, I was hired as a S.A. I wasn’t quite sure what that was at the time. I quickly learned it was a server’s assistant. As the S.A., I was the first one to the customer’s table before the server even got there. Here I was, this shy kid, forced to go up to a table and say “Hey Ya’ll!, welcome to the Lady and Sons” and proceed with  passing out their bread. It was soon before long that I really began to enjoy that role. My job was just to say hi and pass out bread, but the customers always wanted to talk, and I wanted to oblige. It wasn’t before long that my enthusiasm in talking to customers turned into being moved up to a server way quicker than most employees who needed to have much more experience. Just to be a server, I had to memorize Paula’s entire rise to fame. I had to know that information, so I could answer customer questions.

Day in and day out I would meet these customers coming from all over the country, sometimes even internationally. They all had different stories, different opinions. Some were big fans of Paula, some wanted to see what all the hype was about. Other customers were recommended by someone else, while not having a clue who Paula Deen was at all. Some people loved the food and some people hated it. Sure, you go to a restaurant to eat, but overall, it was the experience that really mattered over all. That’s something I really began to understand. It was about doing your best to create the best overall situation from beginning to end, and if the situation started to turn, it was up to you to do your best to flip it back around. The same thing holds true with communities. While someone may have been upset about waiting in line for hours in the heat and humidity, or had a meal that was subpar, it was up to you weigh the outcome of the situation. Even if you can’t completely satisfy the person then and there, they’ll at least see you tried your hardest and they’ll respect that (hopefully). Maybe I had a customer who’s experience was horrible from the start. The line was too long, the host wasn’t friendly, the food took too long and then the food wasn’t that great. After all that, they probably don’t want to wait for something else to come out of the kitchen. So, you be sincere, understanding. Apathy is important and can go a long way. You offer them reservations for the next day, a free meal, free dessert, and if not that, suggest somewhere else that might make them happy. Maybe you have a friend at another restaurant and you call there and get the upset customer a reservation. Do what you can, when you can.

The thing is, you never know who that person may be or who they know. At the restaurant, we had food critics from all over come to eat at the restaurant, friends of the family, and even secret shoppers from corporate. You always have to be to be on top of things, treating every person equally, no matter where they come from. One wrong thing, and it can go viral, one right thing, and it could go viral just as well. In a digitally connected world, one person can have all the power to spread things within minutes, if not seconds. That saying “Any P.R. is good P.R.”, it doesn’t stand true for all situations, it can be your downfall if you choose to think that way. It’s best if it’s good P.R.

It’s simple as that. Put the customer first. A company can’t be successful without it’s patrons. If people see you bending over backwards to help, they’ll appreciate it. Not to mention, you’ll feel better about how you handled the situation.

 

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Social Media is About the Human Connection

There are plenty of books out there on how to use social media correctly with more coming out everyday. When it comes down to it, aren’t they all really saying the same thing or similar things? While some books are written in a terminology easy enough for a ten year old to understand, others are written similar to a college text book. If you look at the history of brands over the century, you can make pretty easy observations of how they relate to consumers.

Looking at ads from the early 20th century, you see illustrations for soap, cigarettes and Coca-Cola. In these illustrations you see beautiful people, sex sold. It’s human nature to be attracted to beautiful people you see in posters and in print. As advertising evolved throughout the years into TV & digital, branding still took a similar stance. It’s about the human connection. The hard sell existed, but that wasn’t the RIGHT way to sell your product. People like emotional connections, they like being told what to do, how to do, and what can make them  better, stronger and more beautiful. From beauty products, to fashion, to cosmetic and plastic surgery, people strive for something different in our lives. It’s really not that hard to make those connections if you’re saying the right things or presenting the right imagery.

As branding started transitioning from traditional advertising into social media with the rise of Facebook, Twitter and other channels, it allowed for a stronger emotional connection between brand and consumer. We all want to be loved, to be thought about, treated like we’re someone. That’s what brands needed to start leveraging. People choose and distinguish between brands for many reasons. From the simplest of reasons: affordability, to packaging, quality, reputation and status; people have their brands of choice. It’s now up to the brand to take social media and connect further with the consumer. Unlike advertising, where a brand attempts to make an emotional connection, social media helps better those chances. Then again, traditional ads have a lot better placement and a higher ROI (Return on Investment) then ads through social media channels. The good thing about the social part, is growing the relationship with current fans in hoping they’ll leverage WOM (Word of Mouth) and share with their friends what an amazing experience they had.

Talking to people is the easy part. Social media is a lot about conversation and engagement, listening and understanding. Those are words you’ll see thrown around quite a bit in blogs and books on how to use social media. It’s really just a casual conversation between two people, the only difference is that you have one person voicing the entire brand. A big part of the relationship is empathy, every fan has feelings as well as good & bad experiences. The person speaking on behalf of the brand needs to be someone who’s a friendly conversationalist with a solid amount of patience. It doesn’t get much simpler then that. People enjoy stories, they like being heard, understood and even some direction at times. You can ask people to LIKE something, share or retweet content and they’ll most likely adhere to your direction.

Just remember to pay close attention to the upset people as well. They’re venting through social media to be heard not only by you, but so other people can see their distress as well. An unhappy customer will scream from mountain tops about how angry they are, while an extremely satisfied customer will share with their closest friends. It’s best to deal with those situations both publicly and privately when possible. If you can turn around an angry customers on a public wall, it’s can very beneficial. Another reason to take care of negative sentiment as quickly as possible, is that you never who that person is and what their influence is on the social web. News travels fast and the quicker you can rectify the situation, the less time it takes for that news to travel to thousands if not millions of people.

There is it, how to leverage social media as simple as that. Of course that’s in a nutshell. There’s a lot more that can be learned, a lot through trial error, as well as through reading and education. Once you know how to use as the different social channels though, it’s talking to people and making connections that’s the easy part. Just remember, think before you post and double if not triple everything before you hit the send or post button.

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Are You Listening?

Are you listening? Listening to what you may ask? And when I say listening, I also mean reading, understanding, and empathy. This is for the brand, for the advertiser, the marketer.  The hard sell isn’t what sells anymore. When you have the resources to communicate back and forth instantaneously, when nothing can no longer be kept a secret, you need to stop and listen. Listen to the the consumer, to what the people are saying. It doesn’t have to be about your brand necessarily, it can be casual conversation. Social Media has become the new market research. Forget focus groups, you have everything you need using social media channels.

These channels allow you to hyper target small niche groups, in which you can then monitor your results. If all goes well, or not, you have the ability to move around and switch things up, then record your new results. Go where the people go. See what they like, don’t like, want or don’t want. Listen try to understand where they’re coming from and where they want to go. Everyone is a consumer, yeah, you tend to be taught to think differently once in the shoes of a brand, but think about the brands you like. Talk to people around you. You need to genuinely care and think what benefits the consumer is getting from your product. You need to be the friendly neighbor next door who offers up a cup of sugar or friendly advice then they need it.

With so much competition, you need to stand out, be different and let people know what makes you different. What sets you aside from every other cookie, shoe, hairdresser or doctor. Is the consumer just a number orrevenue to you, or someone you really want to benefit from your service or product? People don’t like to be confused, talked down to, don’t use incomprehensible words. You need to keep things simple, like everyday conversation. People seek familiarity. Not everyone is the same of course. Thats why you need to listen to your audience and then modify your plan to adapt to their wants and needs. Its all pretty simple when you get down to it. Just be transparent, and believable, be honest and straightforward. If you make a mistake, fess up, we’re all human and nothing is perfect. Not all mistakes can be fixed of course, but have some sort of plan for when bad things happen. Respond when asked a question, and even reply to a statement, it lets people know theres a face behind the brand.

So listen, I mean REALLY listen, be human and see how it works out for you.

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Think Before You Post

“Every thing you say can and will be held against you in a state of law.” Does this sound familiar? The same can be held true on the internet. You never know who will read what you post. You might be able to hit delete, but if someone has already read it, the damage is already done. You really want to think before you hit that send button online. Whether you’re a brand, a celebrity, someone in a public spotlight, an influencer, or even an average Joe, think about the outcome before you post something on the internet. Things travel fast and far online and through social media. What you say can have a very negative or a very positive effect on you or whatever you represent. Look at P.R., their  job is to play mediator between a brand and the consumer, they really have to be careful what they say.

As a brand, you need to look at who the consumer is, who you’re trying to reach out to. You need to think like them, learn how they act, how they respond to stimuli. Be afraid of ruining your reputation if its in good shape. If its in bad shape, then see what needs to be done to correct that. From posts that are trying to engage people, to responses to people, whether good or bad, take a quick second to think about whats happening on the other end. You can’t please everyone, it’s impossible to make everyone feel the same about you. Some people are more sympathetic then others, while others are quick to jump at the throat with the tiniest thing. Thats why you need to generalize your target audience in a way. You need to look at the overall picture and try to figure how it will work out. Everyone has their brands they love, they follow. Everyone is a consumer, it shouldn’t be too hard to paint a picture for other brands you might not follow, but represent. Try it out, see how it works out.

Even if you don’t represent a brand, just yourself, you should be careful just as well. If you’re trying to work your way up in this world, you never know who might stumble upon something you posted that could damage your credibility, your work ethic, or you as a person. Take caution. Sure, you might not be serious now, but just think about it. Look at your industry, where you want to be in 5-10 years and see what might work and might not work. You might save yourself down the road by not saying something or posting something because you thought it might be damaging to your image. Its all fun and games until someone gets hurts. Just keep that in mind.

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Meet Up, Meet People, Do Things

Meet Up has been one of the greatest things since pre-sliced bread. Maybe not the best analogy, but nonetheless, Meet-Up is a great platform. It allows you to build community, network, meet some great people and possibly make some amazing friends. Meet-Up works by allowing an organizer, or group of organizers to create a virtual group then create real meet-ups around any given topic, interest or hobby. Who you meet in these groups is the best part. Granted somewhere like NYC the possibilities are endless because some many people are located in single condensed area and if you live somewhere isolated and cut off from civilization, it might be a bit harder. Nonetheless, you can still meet and chat in a virtual meeting place. Meeting in person is a much better option though if its available.

I haven’t yet created any Meet-Ups, but Im a part of of numerous groups that meet throughout NYC. From board games, to food, to advertising, to technology, to community management, theres always something for me to do every day of the week if I’m open minded. You can’t be shy, you need to be willing to go right up to people and introduce yourself and then keep the conversation going. Feel free to find fun groups to join, but also look into professional networking groups as well. You never know who might show up at a MeetUP. Its a great place to find potential job opportunities if you’re looking in the right place. Its work in the opposite way as well, if you’re looking to hire someone, its a great to meet people and get to know them. There’s just something about having a casual conversation with someone off the books that makes them a better candidate for a position. Its also a great just to learn from each and give lessons over various topics and interests.

Another option is Plancast. Plancast is a similar platform. Its not as in depth as Meetup. You don’t use it to create groups and conversations, its more just for posting an event and allowing people to join up and follow other people’s events on the site. Its still a great way to find events to go to. On Plancast, you can search plans, people or categories.

So find what interests you, look it up and join a group. You won’t be disappointed in the outcome. Whats the worst thing that can happen?

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