social media

It’s Not About The Leggings: Strong Online Stances And You (Part Three)

This is the third and final installment in our series “It’s Not About the Leggings: Strong Online Stances and You.” If you missed the first two posts, make sure you check out Aggressive Marketing Tactics and Click Bait

Manners On The Move

Besides aggressive marketing tactics by businesses and more subtle ‘click bait’ approaches to get people to websites, the fast evolution of online manners is something that effects us all.

Social norms move quickly in this online world. Many people, including myself, are still figuring it out. Do I tag my boyfriend in a Facebook post without asking him? Do I post a picture of my friend? Do I invite that new woman in my running group to my online pajama sale this coming Saturday?

Gary Vaynerchuck says ‘content is king but context is God’ and he’s right. Context can briefly be broken down in three different questions, 1) Does it make sense in the context of the social media platform you’re using (i.e. is this an Instagram post or a Twitter post?), 2) Does it interrupt people in a bad way (think pop-up ads that are hard to click out of), and 3) Does this align with how I want to be seen as a person/brand/business? These are the big takeaways, but the article itself is worth a read: https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/content-is-king-but-context-is-god/

However, if you aren’t a brand or a business, those questions may not translate to your personal social media usage. Instead, these questions can help you find your context. Some questions before taking an action:

  1. What things about social media am I comfortable with doing (posting photos, ‘liking’ political figures, etc.)?
  2. How often will I post? What is ‘too much’?
  3. If my information involves other people, do I get their consent? Do I get consent always or just for certain kinds of information? If so, how?
  4. What subjects am I comfortable talking about online? My religion? My struggle with depression? My children? Where I am drinking my beer right now?
  5. If I have a business, what tactics am I comfortable using to promote my business? Do these make other people comfortable?
  6. If someone isn’t comfortable, how will I address it? If people opt out, how will I deal with that?

An example in my own life, I don’t ‘check in’ to a location with someone without their consent. But if I have a really flattering picture of a good friend, I post it but don’t tag it (I let people tag themselves). These are some of my lines but yours will likely be different.

More resources:

https://www.facebook.com/digitalmanners

Manners in a Digital World

After this series, you can probably go back to the beginning offenses and realize that being outraged about someone who is overenthusiastic at Lularoe isn’t really isn’t about the leggings. A lot of the things we’ve brought up fall on individual people and companies to decide whether or not what they’re posting is “appropriate.” While you can’t control what other people choose to share online, perhaps you’ve thought of a few ways to be a bit more mindful of your own posting habits and what your online rules look like.

What we can control is how we react to this behavior. Kindness and a desire to understand go a long way, online and off. So when you feel yourself get irate at a friend’s Instagram post or deciding whether you should tackle a controversial topic in a blog post, keep these things in mind and proceed as best you can. Because that’s all any of us can do.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Sharing is Caring

Leaving a review is one way to show your favorite businesses some online love. Another way is hitting that “Share” button (on Facebook, which translates to retweeting or reposting on other platforms, or just passing along information). As a business, there are ways to make it easy for people to share your stuff, which ultimately spreads your marketing to a greater audience than it otherwise would have.

There are plenty of ways to share on behalf of a business or organization you care about online. Some of the more common methods include:

  • Share as a status update, on a friend’s timeline, or in a private message.
  • Invite friends to an event on social media or share link to event registration.
  • Retweet (Twitter) or Repost (Instagram).
  • Forward a newsletter to a friend and/or tell them how to subscribe if it’s something they’re interested in.

Sharing as an individual is fairly straightforward. But as a business, what can you be doing to make your content more shareable? Besides being generally useful and interesting, here are some things to keep in mind:

On Social Media.

Whether you’re promoting a sale, sharing an event, or just doing general updates, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering “share-ability” of your post. Most shared content on Facebook includes a photo or video. If you have one or the other, consider quality (is it blurry or off-center? Is there unnecessary footage?) as you’re posting- fans want to help you promote your business but might not want to share a ‘meh’ visual. This goes for Instagram, too, since it’s an all visual platform.

If you’re making a flyer for an event, check out our post on How Not to Design a Flyer for tips on this particular type of visual.

Keep in mind that well over half of Facebook users are on their mobile devices, so double check your links (especially those that you share from your own website, if you have one) can be read on mobile. Test it on your own device or ask a friend to help!

On Your Website.

A lot of websites have plugins or extensions for sharing through email, social media, or even text messaging on mobile. Hubspot has an easy to follow guide for adding social buttons for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. This is an easy way to let people share your material on a channel of their choice, not necessarily one that you’re active on. If you aren’t automatically publishing blog posts on your social media accounts, social sharing buttons on your website makes it easy for others to share them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

We’ve talked about this before, but if your website is where all the “big” things happen (sales, registration, donations, etc), having a responsive/mobile-friendly site is something you really want to consider. If someone is getting to your website through Facebook on their phone on the train, they might not remember “Oh when I get home I have to sit down at my computer to follow through with this.”

In Your Newsletter. 

In addition to social sharing buttons at the bottom of your newsletter (example pictured below), you can also add options for “Forward to a Friend.” True, a person can easily hit “Forward” on their own, but the idea is to make sharing easier for people.

In addition to making it easier to share, you can also give followers an incentive to share. Some businesses offer a “Share this post for a chance to win” contest on social media, which is a fairly simple contest to set up. Encourage people to share your content, be interesting, and have fun with it!

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Where Have All the Millennials Gone? The Year In Social Media

Snapchat took them, every one.

If CNet is to be believed, we are going to be living with Snapchat for a long, long time. The image messaging app and social media platform continued to dominate one very important market in 2016. Snapchat, which filed for its IPO in 2016 and turns 5 in next year, is still the go-to hub for the all-important millennials.

Snapchat (now “Snap”) claims 200 million active users — 60 percent of whom are under 25 — watching 10 BILLION videos every day.

So what is driving Snap’s popularity? Is it its mobile-first attitude? Yes, there’s that. Plus, for years we were taught that what gets posted online stays online forever. And then comes along Snapchat’s message-destruct feature, giving folks a platform where they can post first and think later.

If you’re a company looking to target millennials in 2017, it looks like Snapchat is still the way to go. But let’s not discount Facebook, especially if you’re aiming for a more, ahem, seasoned demographic. Pew tells us that Facebook is still the most popular social media platform.

Facebook’s number of users continued to grow in 2016 to the point where 79 percent of American adults who use the Internet use Facebook. That’s an increase of 7 percent over 2015, something Pew attributes to the fact that more older adults have joined that community.

Twitter was in the news a lot in 2016, mainly for its use in the Presidential campaign. And yet, it’s only fifth in popularity, trailing far behind Instagram, the second-most popular platform. Once an online hub for the before-it-was-cool-Williamsburg-hipster-vegan, Facebook-owned Instagram is now used by 32 percent of online adults.

Instagram was followed closely by Pinterest and LinkedIn, with 31 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

Compare that to Twitter, used by only 24 percent of online adults.

One of the bigger surprises in 2016 was that while Vine withered and died, Google+ still clung to life. Although not mentioned in the Pew article, good ol’ G+ still has 2.2 billion users, thanks in part (I’m guessing) to the integration with the wildly popular Gmail.

Yet, it’s important to note that only 9 percent of G+ users actually bother to publicly post content. And so Google+ continues to orbit the social media sphere like an abandoned space station. You can still see G+ in the night sky, only no one’s onboard.

So what’s going to big in 2017? Video sharing may be a bigger driving force, based in part on the fact that Snap entered the oft-derided wearable arena with Spectacles. Augmented reality may continue to be big, considering Pokemon Go’s continued popularity.

One thing that won’t likely change in 2017 — the challenges many local, small businesses and nonprofits face in trying to navigate the ever-changing social media landscape. Lucky for you, companies like BEC will be there in 2017, too.

Marketing Monday: Picky Bars

After looking into the Whole 30 a couple years ago, I started paying more attention to labels. They say that ignorance is bliss, and that’s definitely true for me once I started tuning in. For me, the absolute worst thing was reading the labels on granola/granola bars. “It’s pure sugar” I internally wailed while agonizing over putting it back on the shelf.

Enter Picky Bars, created by Jesse Thomas and Lauren Fleshman. Jesse is a professional Triathlete, and Lauren is a recently-retired professional runner (I’ve listened to her on a few different podcasts now and she’s my hero when it comes to running/motherhood/creativity/health). Picky Bars was born from a need for a way to fuel before/during/after workouts in a natural, not heavily processed way. Way before I started reading the labels on my food, Jesse and Lauren had already been working to create a healthy solution to their problem.

Of course, they didn’t stop at production (this would hardly be a “Marketing Monday” post if they had). Lauren and Jesse found a way to create their product and make it fun along the way.

Social Media

I started following Picky Bars on Instagram about a year ago, which is where this whole thing started for me. One thing that stood out was that they primarily featured their own employees in their content. They have scenes around the office that feature inventory, ‘a day in the office,’ and what their employees are up to (something like “so and so went on this hike today”). From the outside looking in, it seems like a fun place to go work.

pickybarsinsta

Promotions

Another fun thing I noticed on Instagram was the occasional promotions that they run. The week before Halloween, just for fun, all orders were shipped with fake vampire teeth. Sure, it’s not the most profound thing ever, but it was putting ‘out of the box’ in the box, so to speak. They also recently promoted their BFS, or Big Freakin’ Sale, where everything was 30% off. During the BFS, they also ran a Bar for Bar offer that donated a bar to a local charity for every bar purchased in that time period.

Subscription Options and Creative Marketing

While Picky Bars can be found in various retail locations, they aren’t everywhere (the nearest one to me is in Bethel, about 130 miles away). However, they have an easy online subscription system called the Picky Club, where members select the amount of bars they’d like to receive each month and their favorite flavors.

Members also get some perks, like getting a Sneak Peek bar each month and being able to give feedback, and perks not available to the public.

Plus, their call to action is pretty fun. Not to mention the actual names of their bars, from Moroccan Your World, Cookie Doughpness, and Need for Seed, to name a few. My weakness is cleverly named products, and I think this creativity is what sold me on Picky Bars.

pickybarssubscription

The Site

The Picky Bars website is more than just an ecommerce site. From the copy to the font, it reflects the values and personality of the business. You have a pretty good idea what to expect from a customer standpoint. And, that’s what websites are all about, right?

As someone who is fairly active and loves subjects in health and fitness, Picky Bars has found a way to market their already amazing products in a way that’s fun and true to the brand. And, if they ever ask me, I have a few new flavor selections to offer them.

 

 

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Social Media Addict’s Gift Guide (Inaugural Edition)

No doubt, there’s a special person in your life who spends most of their time with their face 3 inches from their phone, wiling away the day on Snapchat and Instagram, or on Hoolie’s vast array of apps.

This holiday, what do you get for the person who has everything, because “everything” is on their phone and/or tablet? You could get them a GooglePlay or iTunes gift card. Perhaps you want for them something tangible, something physical, but something that still speaks to the giftee’s dire social media addiction. Most importantly, you want to give them something that’s not a selfie stick (now available in bargain bins everywhere!).

With that in mind, we present the 2016 Somewhat Snarky Social Media Addict’s Gift Guide:

Social Media Frame Cut Out
$8.99 on Etsy

This made to order digital file is perfect for those with big things happening in 2017, like a wedding, birth, vacation, or prison sentencing. Simply frame your selfie with this, uh, frame, post it online, and be prepared for a barrage of “Inception” jokes! Sorry, this is a digital file only, so it’s up to you to print it, cut it out, and mount it.

Like a Boss Social Media Humor Poster
98 cents plus s/h on Amazon

Perfect for: Bosses; Mark Zuckerberg; Fans of Facebook; Fans of dated Andy Samberg references.

 

Social Media Wedding Wooden Hashtag Sign
$27 on Etsy

It’s a wedding sign. Made of wood. Featuring trademarked social media icons along with your own custom hashtag. I don’t get it but hey, if this your thing, more power to you, I guess.

Social Network Shower Curtain
$14.95 on Amazon

According to the description, “(t)here’s a little ‘window’ for your face so it looks like a profile picture on a social networking site.” That is, if your profile picture was taken while you were in the shower, which raises all sorts of questions about your bathroom habits. Again, we won’t judge.

“Not Everything That Pops Into Your Head Needs to End Up on Social Media” Coffee Mug
$21.99 on Amazon

Recommended as a friendly, morning reminder for a oversharing teens, racist uncles, or anyone you know who can post six Instagram photos in 24 hours. 

Selfie Photo Album
$12 on Amazon

For that special narcissist in your life. You could also get them a mirror from the dollar store and save some scratch. The ideal companion to the theoretical photo album, “Meals I’ve Ordered, Photographed and Posted on Instagram.”

Sterling Silver At Sign Cufflinks
$65.99 (marked down from $220) on CuffLinks.com

Description: “Quite literally a sign of the times, the @ Symbol is ubiquitous with the media age thanks to email and Twitter. Constructed of .925 sterling silver, with an engravable backing, this set is ideal for any tech-wiz. Cufflinks by Ravi Ratan.” Fatal flaw: most tech wizes prefer to wear quasi-ironical T-shirts featuring Ninja Turtles rather than formal shirts, thus negating the need to link their cuffs.

Tech Greeting Cards
$3.50/card or $24.99 for 1o pack

(Full disclosure: this is our Etsy store.) Getting a card in the mail is amazing so give your favorite techy person a pack of cards they can send offline to their friends. Sentiments include ‘Let’s leave our phones at home and see what kind of trouble we can get into’ and ‘You speak excellent emoji’ and three others.

In other words, you have plenty off offline options to get your online friends and family. Are there any ridiculous social media gifts we forgot? Leave a comment with your recommendation(s) below!

Online Systems: Outgoing Messages

You may ask yourself why we separated the incoming messages systems with the outgoing message systems. (Missed the last blog post about systems for dealing with incoming messages? Click here.)

For me, incoming messages are mainly reactive to while outgoing messages are more proactive.

We all have things we need to communicate about and figure out our system for sending these messages into the world.

From You: What Needs To Be Said?

The first kinds of outgoing messages that need to be sent are your outgoing (likely marketing) messages. Now this could be businesswise (sale!) or personalwise (birthday party!).

Answering these three questions quarterly about upcoming communications can frame this process:

  1. What do I need to say?
  2. Who do I need to say it to?
  3. What medium(s) will work best?

Make a list of all the messages you need to communicate over the next three months answering these three questions. 

Examples:

I’m having a Sappy Holidays low key gathering (where we watch ‘Love Actually’ and ‘The Holiday’ with a cookie baking intermission).
I need to invite my local (driving distance) friends.
Facebook event

I have an email list I want people to subscribe to for my business.
I need to tell my customers, friends, and potential customers. Maybe even some colleagues.
I need to remind people with twice a month posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Instagram. I need to tell people when they come to in-person events. I should probably put it in my email signature. I should publish the email newsletter regularly as part of this. All these things will be scheduled ahead of time.

I know this sounds REALLY STUPID. But it’ll force you to look and think ahead, which is something most of us need to be prompted to do occasionally. I just made this list for Anchorspace messages and realized ‘dog friendly’ and ‘fast WiFi’ are not something we’ve been communicating at all. In other words, this list you make, whether for your business life or personal life or both, may surprise you. Also doing it quarterly will feel less nuts than doing it weekly or monthly.

Responding To Others: Now or Later?

Every message you get begs the critical question “Do I deal with this now or later?” My tips:

  • Strive for zero inbox, in all areas of life (texts, Facebook, etc.). If you get a message you can act on/respond to in five minutes, do it in the moment. If you can’t, put it somewhere: on a calendar, in a project management system, wherever you are capturing the needed information. There is a reason this concept has been cool since 2007, more here: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/inbox-zero
  • Message the person. Responding to someone and acting on the item can be two different events. Acknowledge you received the info and, if you want, set a deadline about when they can expect to hear from you about it. People appreciate this step, even if it does take an extra 30 seconds. I am trying to be better about this myself.
  • If you don’t have a way to capture needed information (ex: Where do I put my grocery list?), that means you need a system. Your message box, whatever kind of message it is, is not a system!
  • Check ‘drafts’ folder and make sure that message you thought you wrote actually went out. I try to do this once a week and I always find something in there I thought I had sent out.

So in making sure your important communications go out and responding to other peoples’ communications go out, you are now in control of your outgoing messages! Congratulations! 

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.
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