Network, Network, Network!

Last week our Social Media class was graced by the presence of a recent QU alum and entrepreneur, Zach Hesterberg. He was kind enough to share his stories and experiences, relating with us because he was sitting in our seats just months ago. Zach developed an 8 step strategy as a sort of go-to guide, do’s and don’ts of social media. Takes notes ladies and gentlemen!

Step 1: Understand micro-goals. When a social media marketer begins developing an effective, personal strategy for a specific business or client, they must first create and understand their micro-goals, or the little steps it takes in order to reach the big, end goal.

Step 2: Setting goals. After accomplishing the micro-goals, move on to the main goals. Always aim high when setting goals, be unrealistic and it will push you much farther and make you work harder to turn those “unrealistic” goals into an attainable thing. When setting goals, be specific and timely because realizing you are on a deadline pushes you to work faster and not procrastinate. Once you accomplish the end goal, the business or client is pleased with the progress made and the was goal achieved. Although, is there ever really an end goal? Or can we continue pushing the limits of social media?

Step 3: Characterize target customer. Keep in mind when advertising or posting for a business (for example a local bakery in Quincy) that the content should be relevant to your target audience or customers. If you post a picture hoping to promote your bakery, boost engagement and increase sales, it would not be wise to use general, basic bakery hashtags because people from all around the world may discover and engage with your post. Doing so will not increase sales when you are not targeting your local customers. Say later down the road the bakery wants to expand its business, then using more universal hashtags and mentions would not be a bad idea. Just keep in mind your target audience when managing a social media account for a business.

Step 4: Analyze the competition. In the fast paced, consumer-driven world we live in today, competition is everywhere like it or not. In reality, competition is a good thing. Imagine if a business wanted to start a new line of products. After getting a simple strategy started, they go check out the competition and to their surprise, there is none. This is never a good sign, typically meaning it is not a good investment. Once you have a set, sturdy strategy, do some digging into your competitors content and engagement ratings. Discover what works and doesn’t work so well for them and build your strategy around the analyzation to better your chances of beating the competition.

Step 5: Develop your brand’s message. Content is key! Every business has a logo, saying or something people associate with their “brand.” Being able to brand your business well will eventually lead to promotions, spreading sales, increased engagement and it helps construct an overall professional feel for the company. Create a catchy brand that compliments the business’s motto and stands for something positive. Your brand’s message benefits the business and will potentially boost clientele and keep loyal customers coming back.

Step 6: Choosing the best social media platform for your brand. Social media is always on the rise. Just when you think you have it all figured out, it does a 180 and leaves you sitting back at square one. Choosing the best platform to tailor to your brand can be tricky, but if done right it will pay off (literally) in the end. Dependent upon your business’s target customer, determining this will lead you in the right direction of the perfect platform to boost your brand. For instance, pretend I am a social media manager for a fashion industry (targeted towards teenage girls.) My target customers would most likely flock to Pintrest and Instagram to find the hottest trends and stay up to date on the latest fashion lines. Facebook and Twitter may not be the most appropriate platforms since their content is intended more for news and updates related to different people’s lives (friends, family, celebrities, athletes, etc.) My intent is to promote and sell my brand which is a teenage girls clothing line, so picking the right platform is important.

Step 7: Build your content posting strategy. In order for your business to receive the most engagement on every post, there are a few tips and tricks that can be useful to utilize. First of all, figure out the best time of day and even days of the week to post. When are your friends and followers the most active on social media? This may take a few trial tests to determine, but once you lock in a perfect posting time, schedule all your posts to go out at that specific time in order to receive maximum engagement. Secondly, use visuals! Experiment with this a little bit by posting photos versus videos and stick with what people interact with the most. To be honest, no one likes to read an article without a corresponding visual. A visual will immediately draw your target customer’s attention straight to your post and hopefully hook them. Last but not least, be original. If a business continually re-blogs, re-posts, or re-tweets content, this is not attractive. It gives off the impression you have no personal opinion or that you have nothing new to show in terms of your business and brand, aside from the competition.

Step 8: Paid advertising. Managing your business’s social media algorithms is a great resource to help you, the social media marketer, see what is working well for the business and what areas you need to assist in improving. Paid advertisement is the number one way to spread the word about your business. This works wonders for companies who know the right platforms to produce the ads on and exactly who and how many people your ads are reaching. Business’s think that by simply “boosting” a post they are increasing their reach. However, it is a waste of time and money. Be aware of your advertisements.

Zach mentioned several other pivotal points during his lecture. One metaphor he used was that “social media is going to the gym.” By this he means that social media is a workout. When you want results- you have to be disciplined, consistent, repetitive and stick to a routine. Applying this to the job of a social media marketer makes perfect sense.

According to Zach, based on his personal and work experience, he has reason to believe Twitter is a dying platform. Social media is all about change. When one social media medium updates and upgrades features, the other feels the need to almost mimic or outdo the other. Twitter is non-responsive to the ever evolving world of social media, leaving them behind in the dust a little bit.

Previously mentioned in the social media strategy steps, identifying your target audience is key to sales, engagement and overall boost of a business. Using the shotgun approach is not an effective way to reach your target customers because spreading the word to everyone may boost engagement a little bit but will not get you the end result of attracting more customers and making more sales. Post natively to reach potential customers.

The biggest social media mistakes business’s make is not separating content between platforms. Distinguishing a difference and adapting to the uniqueness of each platform is critical for content to be recognizable and relatable. Filter the content specific to each platform and your business will thrive. Stay SoZesty!

 

 

 

FYI… Verify!

“If the truth is there, bad writing won’t hurt it!” This quote made famous by Alfred Adler means to me that if what you are writing is in fact the truth, then the way in which you write or present the information has little impact on how people perceive the truth. When you log in to your preferred social media site, or tune into the top trending news stories, how do you know the content you’re absorbing is factual? Should people really believe everything they read?

The main difference between a verified account and verifying content on social media is that when you verify something you see, trace it straight back to the original source. You research and use reliable information to aid in the verification process.  A verified account on social media means that person has been checked out by the platform itself and really are who they claim to be. The verification of content on social media is very important. Whether it be news and politics related or just a post pertaining to something you care about, it is crucial to not only rely on what that source claims but to double check for accuracy yourself. No one wants to be armed with false information or reports.

Everyone has their own version of verification. Comparing the three given sites and after critiquing the processes of differing styles of verification, I personally believe CNN has the more solid, stronger strategy. CNN uses iReport which was described by a CNN spokesperson as “the most developed and active citizen journalism platform of any news organization worldwide.” When they get reports flooding in, the way they verify the information works well for them. First thing, contact the contributor- get straight to the source. After confirming the source of the report is real, they move on to validating the foundation of the information in the story. They use outside resources, locals, and the CNN international desk to help identity and verify the facts. CNN calls their verification process vetting.

When it comes down to all the different ways we have to verify a source, generally most companies, bushiness, brands, and average Joe’s all verify content the same way. You first look at who or where the source came from and use a variety of different methods to do this. After validating the source, you verify the facts. Search for similar posts, pay close attention to details such as the time and date of post, cross reference their social media platforms. With the availability we have to easily access information online in the 21st century, there should be no excuse for fake news! Filter what you find.

In many instances, people associate being first with being the best. However, in the case of social media content, it is always better to be right rather than first. Say for instance that you’re a social media manager for a top news organization. There is a breaking story and your competitor beats you to the punch of getting the information out to the public first. But, what if their information is not all that accurate? Taking the time to verify all the facts and report on real issues is more important than being the first to publicize it. Of course, many would agree to some extent that you should always think before you post. Is what you are saying completely true to the best of your knowledge? Are you accurately sharing information that has been through the vetting process and passed? Are you stating facts and not giving your personal opinion? As long as you have verified the sources and original content base to be true, share away!

If for some reason I unknowingly re-posted false content then no, I do not believe I should be held liable. Now, if that same scenario was applied to a journalist or reporter then the answer is yes, they are completely liable because like I previously mentioned, there are so many ways to verify content these days and journalist have a greater duty to fact check than someone like me, re-posting a story unaware of its false pretenses. When I share or re-tweet content that does not necessarily mean I have went out of my way to verify the information before personally posting it. Usually, if I re-tweet or share something it’s because I had some type of reaction to it, positive or negative. As a social media manager, the job responsibility entitles them to not only spread the word but seek the truth. So, attribution does not absolve them from spreading false information to the public, especially when their job entails them to verify all content.

To have a verified account is very valuable as a business and brand. When you are promoting something as a verified account, it reassures your followers that you are a legit site and all the information you post is valid and factual. A verified account gives people peace of mind.

On The Outside Looking In

After documenting my daily life, I have come to the sad realization that my accurate life has the ability to bore anyone to tears! Comparing my accurate day to my unfiltered day, there are a couple noticeable differences. My unfiltered day is simple, basically consisting of parts of my daily routine like first thing in the morning waking up and looking out the window to see the weather, going to and from class or places around the library which lately has felt more like my second home. My filtered day is composed of much more interesting and appealing photographs. I include a selfie and a picture of a friend whereas in my accurate day I do not introduce pictures of myself or other people.

My accurate day is just that… accurate. Besides eating, going to the gym, showering and sleeping, pretty well everything else I do on a daily basis was documented in my unfiltered day photographs. Even in my filtered photos, there is not a noticeable change of scenery. I took the same type of photos just with added filters, different lighting and angles to make it intriguing to the eye and inspirational to the mind. Visually, I try to practice presenting myself through a unique, different perspective. I do not enjoy posting a hundred pictures of myself but rather I’ll post something out of the ordinary, comedic or alluring.

Honestly, considering what my classmates may think about my average life affected my photos more than I would like to admit. I have always been an advocate of being yourself and not to let society’s judgemental status dictate who you are. However, the way you present yourself through social media says a lot about who you are in “real life.” I think it is pretty safe to say that we all worry about how people will perceive us. We put a little too much thought into our posts rather than something that seriously matters such as politics or schoolwork. I have never been one to be super consumed about what people may think my life is like on the outside looking in on social media.

I may seem to be contradicting myself here when I say that I, just like everyone else, prejudge people based solely on the pictures they post on social media. For example, if you are a selfie queen and post multiple pictures of yourself everyday then I would easily assume you are conceded and have nothing better to do than bless social media with your presence. Dependent upon my relationship to the other person, I still tend to judge more harshly than I know I should. I feel like humans are programmed to judge quickly; your first impression is everything and social media makes no exception.

The slide show of my “daily life” is definitely just chipping away at the surface of myself. I am not the type of girl who post what I am doing every second of every minute of every day. If I think I have something that people would enjoy seeing or reading, then I will share it. While preparing for this slideshow presentation, I would have to say thankfully, I did not experience any ethical concerns while documenting my daily life.

Twitter in the Twenty-First Century

Twitter was born in 2006. Eleven years later, I created a Twitter account for the first time when my Social Media class started. Although I have only recently become a tweeter, it did not take long for me to learn how to navigate the site. Friends, celebrities, businesses and everyone in between uses Twitter as a relaxing social media outlet to stay up to date on the latest news, sports, fashion, humor and almost anyone you can imagine seems to have that famous @username tag. Hashtags became well known through Twitter. Since you are only allotted 140 characters, hashtags make it easier and more convenient to get your point across quickly. Trends change daily, and they are based on your location. A few things trending today are Beyonce, #TrumpOnBlackHistory and #JustCantSayNoTo. Hashtags are a fun, different way to express yourself.

Brands, businesses, celebrities and even the President of the United States use Twitter as a way to bypass the media and communicate directly to people, promote their products, upcoming albums, book signings or even to raise awareness about a specific cause close to their hearts. Brands like to use Twitter to keep their message short, sweet and to the point.

How top brands are using Twitter as a social media platform is huge. The fact that retail is the largest industry that receives the most engagement does not surprise me. Big retail brands like Wal-Mart or Target use Twitter to promote their sales and products. This platform seems to have a bit of an age target market. Although anyone who can run a computer can create a Twitter account…. compared to Facebook, Twitter seems to be the more youthful and playful platform of the two. Certain things you tweet, not to mention the way you tweet, will result in the reactions you want. Using all capital letters, hashtags, and using the word ‘you’ seems to boost people’s numbers. I believe that if you stay fairly consistent with the way you post, followers will like that.

The very first brand I followed on Twitter was Intrepid Travel. This brand is literally just a page that posts nothing but beautiful, awe inspiring pictures of places all over the world. I followed them first because traveling is a huge passion of mine and in my spare time I enjoy scrolling through things like this because it forces me to become more imaginative; picturing myself in that place and being immersed in the diverse culture, language and surroundings brings me joy. Plus, it always gives me new ideas of different places I would have never dreamed of traveling to until I saw it on Twitter and was intrigued to do further research.

After scrolling through much of my Twitter feed, there were three particular stories or posts that stood out to me the most. The first was a picture from Fox News covering President Trump’s first one hundred days in the White House with a hashtag #First100 which caught my eye; this post was quick to read and allows me to gain more knowledge about current events without actually watching it. The second story was a link posted by the New York Times including a photo that boldly read, “Truth. It’s vital to democracy.” They linked their website with the post and this certainly got my attention because as an aspiring writer with an interest in politics, I strongly agreed with their message. The last story that stood out to me was Nat Geo Travel who shared a “dazzling video of glowworm cave in New Zealand.” With the bright photo of the glowworm cave and the caption telling people to check it out really intrigued me. All three of these stories would be very easy to research and write about because they all have accessible information on the internet and are important brands or television networks with top stories.

Out of my six tweets, my top interaction was when I retweeted a funny post about dentists and tweeted at my friend who is in dental hygiene school and she liked it. I noticed that when I tweet original content it never gets much reaction. My engagement on Twitter is dryer then the Sahara desert right now. To whoever reads this, feel free to follow me @anw1313. You would be greatly appreciated.

My advice to you whether you are brand new to the Twitter world or you’re an experience tweeter, the best practices for this specific social media network is keep it short, use hashtags appropriately, add pictures, videos, and links when necessary and don’t think to much about a tweet unless of course you are tweeting to people from a business or brand’s account.

Honestly, I plan to utilize Twitter as another way to stay connected and in the loop with friends, famous people and articles I have a peaked interest in. Twitter can assist you with doing homework because for instance, if you had a class that requires you to stay informed on all the latest news then write a detailed report, Twitter would be an excellent outlet to use. Or in my case, it can be useful when you are enrolled in a Social Media class and must use Twitter among other social networking sites to engage and interact with followers. Twitter is a great way to spread your name and brand to get recognized. The more followers you have, the more famous you become.

In the short amount of time I have spent on Twitter, I have learned that it is a great tool to use to sift through information, posts, and people that pertain to you. It also allows you to be a bit creative without going overboard. For me personally, this is just a more laid-back version of Facebook and I am slowly but surely starting to appreciate that. Twitter seems timeless right now, but technology never takes a day off.

Facebook or Freebook?

After scrolling through my Facebook timeline, keeping the “perfect post” concept in mind, I discovered something quite revealing. By comparing the people in my friends list to the companies, businesses, or celebrities I follow who all use this platform in one way or another- trying to sell something, force their opinions and ideas on everyone, or endorse something/someone; I found that my mutual Facebook friends received much more positive reactions, not just the most, but the best. For example, a mutual friend of mine recently purchased a new vehicle. By simply posting a picture and captioning it with cute little car and heart eyed emojis, she had tons of likes and comments congratulating her. Being she is actually a car saleswoman, she did not try to publicize her company or even say where she bought her new car, and I think this is why she received so much love on her post. People are happy for her and do not feel an obligation to any specific car dealership. Comparing this post to her previous ones where she made a sale at work, posted a picture with a caption, I noticed that does not receive as much feedback because people typically do not really care about the success of another stranger. Although, is that not what Facebook is essentially all about? The sharing of your successes, sometimes your failures, or even what you had for lunch for all your friends to see is my definition of Facebook.

My most recent successful post to Facebook was about a month ago when I changed my profile picture to a picture of my friend/colleague and me at our Christmas party for work. It received around seventy-five likes and five comments. By tagging my friend in the picture, this allowed for all her friends and family to see and react as well, which in turn boosted the likes and other reactions of my post. Also, I think people just enjoy seeing updated versions of you (and in this case my friend too).

capture

 

AEIOU (and sometimes Y) stands for something so much more than you might think. A-action. E- engage. I- inspire. O- outrage. U- understand. Y- why? This strategy works well when you are aiming to create that “perfect post” on Facebook. Imagine you are working as the social media director of a company and they ask you to promote the business online. You log onto the company’s page and in your mind, go through each letter and check it off once you are sure it is covered in the post. People want to read something on Facebook and feel like they can make a little bit of a difference somehow, someway. If you make a post for a company that is bland, dull and boring, it will be scrolled right past. By using the AEIOU strategy, you are sure to create that perfect post almost every time, receiving the reactions and responses you and especially your employer seek! Not to mention a possible raise as a reward for your fabulous promotion skills!

Facebook is one of the most recognized social media sites worldwide. But, when it comes to the question of whether or not they should begin branding themselves as a legit news producer, they already are in sense. There are pros and cons to something like this of course. But if you stop and think about all the ads and promotions you scroll through on your daily news feed, Facebook always has things popping up across your timeline related to the sites and pages you ‘like.’ In a way, this can be creepy. The internet recognizes things you do, then repeats and remembers them. The only change I see happening if Facebook did decide to officially brand themselves would be the companies, businesses, and websites featured on Facebook would expect to receive some sort of revenue and the creators and operators of Facebook would most likely be liable for any ‘false news’ that came across their site.

Whether you think the contents of a post are deemed inappropriate, pornography, violent or threatening, it goes against your views, or you simply do not want to see it for some reason, Facebook allows its users to report the post and then they review it further. Recently, Facebook has added another option when you are reporting something- false or fake news. What happens when people report false news is this: Facebook marks on the post that it has been reported as fraudulent or misleading information, however they do not delete the post entirely. This is a progressive step in the right direction for Facebook. People ultimately determine for themselves what they believe is false news or not. Facebook is there to make sure everyone is aware of what the content of a particular post could potentially be and that is as far as they should go. Leave the false news outrage for President Trump to figure out.

According to recent studies and polls, it has been shown that videos are commonly the most ‘shared’ posts versus just a link or photo. When Facebook upped the ante and added live streaming to the mix, it changed the game. At first, live video was only an option for celebs and public figures; this makes the average Dick and Jane feel not only virtually connected but as if they are really there when they watch, live, someone they admire (or maybe hate). However, now that “normal” people are allowed to stream live on Facebook, it does not seem as meaningful to me. Live video is just another way to stay on top of the game and literally see what someone is doing at that same second, react and watch the comments flood in, share it, and days later you can view it again. When do we say enough is enough? Facebook will be ever evolving and anything is possible these days…. well, almost anything.

MySpace Terror

I was around the tender age of ten when I first logged onto a computer without adult supervision. Way back when, MySpace was the go-to social media source. Knowing what I was about to do was wrong, or at least according to my parents, I began to create my new identity. I discovered all the intriguing and unique themes available, the anxiety that comes with choosing the right profile picture and forming a bio that would make me seem somewhat appealing. Well, to say the very least, it was love at first social media site.

As I continued to build my page, I would add friends, strangers, anything to get my followers number and profile views to increase. I seriously thought I was going to become one of those crazy reality stars who were discovered on MySpace and went on to host their own television show. My ten year old self became so wrapped up in this new virtual reality that when I stumbled upon my uncle’s profile, I uncovered a completely different side of him- the social media side. He had listed in his biography some of the most vulgar, disgusting things I had ever read. Was this what MySpace condoned I wandered. The farther I scrolled, the more traumatized I became. After the initial shock and horror wore off, I deleted my account the same day I created it and decided right then and there that maybe my parents aren’t always wrong.

The moral of my story is never underestimate the ability of the internet. Technology has the power to connect people and/or destroy their lives all in one click. In all its glamour, glory and mystery, social media is really what keeps our society connected. In this day and age, complete strangers separated by oceans can connect within seconds all thanks to the handy dandy Internet. With its perks also comes the disadvantages, such as catfishing. This can be easily defined as a individual who creates a fake profile and engages in a virtual relationship based on the falsehood of identity. Speaking of identity, that is one thing that the Internet does offer… a sense of a new beginning, a clean slate. Although your average Joe can do some digging and research information that you never would dream of being accessible to the public- but it is. Online shopping can become dangerous territory when you give your credit card and personal information to a website, it is automatically saved no matter what their policy may say.

Internet hackers have been around since the creation of computers and technology, so just be aware of everything you post for the world to see. There is truly no delete button. Everything you post to social media or look up on your favorite search engine is on record. Times are ever evolving, as well as technology. So the next time you feel like creating a new you, think twice about who it really effects and the actual outcome you want out of your social media experience.