Social Media

Why You Should Try To Use Google+

Now whenever I am giving a social media talk, I gloss a bit over Google+ for a few reasons:

1) Relatively few people care about it right now. Not sure if you’ve ever had a limited amount of time to get through a topic and a lot to cover but when there is cool information that no one cares about yet, you need to kind of gloss over it. Almost all the questions at any social media talk I give are about Facebook so it seems silly to give a lot of lip service to Google+ in those settings at this point in time.
2) It’s a small base of users. 300 million users is a lot… but not when compared to Facebook (1.1 billion).
3) There have been a specific group of early adopters. Enthusiastic users tend to be dudes, 30-50 years old, in the tech industry. Compare this with the social network Pinterest, female dominated and driving lots of purchasing and you’ll see why people are comparatively less excited about Google+.

So after those super thoughtful reasons above, why would you care about Google+? Here are a few reasons I think Google+ deserves your second look.

Google+ is very tied into Google.

(Sorry if that was ridiculously obvious. Allow me to elaborate.) SEOMoz every year comes up with factors that are correlated with a website doing well in search. Here’s how Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ shares effected search rank, respectively:


If you want to geek out, this graph and more here:

So as you see, sharing things on Google+ means good things for your site… and who better to share those than you?

Sharing specific things for specific groups of people.

Sometimes I find a great link to share… and it falls somewhere between being something I can share with more than one person but something that I don’t want to share with everyone. Google+ allows you to put people in ‘Circles’. So for example I can share a link about fonts with my ‘Web Designer’ circle and this article I’m writing here with my ‘Social Media’ circle. Friends can be in multiple circles which makes things handy.


Google+ is growing fast.

Google+ has experienced fast growth. (This and other charts are here:

When a network is growing this quickly, it means that it might be a good place to grow your brand… before your competitors catch on.


Doing more research into the network and what you’d do with it will tell you if Google+ is right for you and your business… but one thing everyone with a blog should know is about Google Authorship as a way to increase your blog’s followers. (Click here to learn more!)

So would I gloss over Google+ if it were up to me? Of course not. But while technology moves fast, people move slow…. so it might take awhile before I get asked to do a seminar about Google+, even though it’s a network I value enough to spend some time on.

Why Social Media Marketing Costs Money

Social media marketing has revolutionized the advertising industry from the business point of view because it’s three things: fun, ubiquitous, and free.

But the thing is it’s not really free because even though it is free to use, social media takes time and some skills.

People are familiar with social media in that they use it personally, but so many don’t understand why a business or non-profit would pay for someone to do this for them.

Below is why we charge hundreds of dollars a month to do social media for businesses, you know, so you don’t ever have to awkwardly ask us at a party about it.

In terms of marketing spending, businesses often get a better return online.

Whether you have worked at your company for five minutes or five years, you are aware that they are doing something to get new customers, clients, or donors. The question for most people is not whether or not to do marketing but how (and how much).


To explain the above graph, ‘outbound marketing’ is traditional marketing: direct mail, television commercials, etc. ‘Inbound marketing’ is putting out information and allowing customers to find you: social media, blogging, etc.

So if it cost you 60% less to get a customer, wouldn’t you try to get most of your customers that way? And wouldn’t it be worth you putting some money into your internet marketing one so it could work better?

Your current (and potential customers are on social media).

This may seem obvious but if you think all they’re doing is looking at pictures and playing Farmville, you are wrong:


People are as likely to get information about a company or product from a social media website as they are to go to the company’s website. And if you aren’t there to have the conversation, how many customers could you be missing?

Creativity on social media is required.

Let’s say you sell toothpicks.

I’m going to venture a guess that every day, you don’t have breaking news about your theoretical toothpick business. I also am guessing you don’t want to be that jerk constantly saying ‘Buy my toothpicks’ every day, all day.

What’s a toothpick salesperson like yourself to say that’s shareable on social media? How’s this:

A tiny toothpick treehouse in broccoli:


10 toothpick recipes kids will love– Don’t worry, we won’t make them actually EAT the toothpicks!

A video about how toothpicks are made:

See what we did there? We made your fake toothpick business interesting. Someone is going to remember that you pinned that cute toothpick picture or share that recipe link with their sister-in-law. And what you have there is the beginnings (and expansion) of brand recognition. It’s information that’s fun and sometimes useful… but it’s still about toothpicks.

Our point with the exercise above? You can make your news on topic, interesting, and shareable on social media… you just need need a creative mind, an organized approach, and some time to do it.

Consistency is the name of the game.  

I run three days a week, and go to roller derby fitness skate once a week. The run is outside my door, the skate practice is an hour away. Which one do I miss more often, percentagewise?

I am more likely to miss the run, and I think it’s because people at the fitness skate are expecting me to show up.

Accountability and consistency is an important thing in business too. Can you make something interesting to share, everyday, on every social network you want to be a part of on behalf of your business?

Most people can’t do this consistently, so they need help.

Being effective takes knowledge.


There is something to be said for knowing the culture of the website as well as the optimal conditions when something will work best.

It’s also valuable to be able to see where things are going and be ready for then they change (as things often do online)!

Someone who follows and understands social media knows what to do and when to change strategies on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Youtube… for themselves and their clients.

Who you trust with this is key.

Social media is an extension of your business culture since many customer service questions are answered on it.

Your customers need to be responded to in a timely, appropriate, and helpful manner. So whoever is the gatekeeper of your social media profiles needs to be someone who can represent your business well.

Working with someone you trust who has a proven track record and excellent communication skills is something you pay for.

Hiring a firm can mean having someone with higher skills at a lower expense.

By the time a company hires an employee to do their social media, they are paying in the thousands of dollars per month. They are paying to train the person, for their benefits, and other employee expenses.

Hiring a firm like ours means no overhead costs and having access to expertise that gets the  job done in a shorter period of time then it would take a less experienced employee.

If you are too busy to do it yourself but don’t have the financial resources to have a staff person, having someone help with social media is a great in between step.

Social media companies keep their eye on results. 

Most everyone we work with signs a six month contract. This means that we have six months to prove we can increase followers, engagement, sales, website traffic and more.

Because we haven’t been hired for an indefinite period of time, we are always hungry to prove ourselves. This constant striving benefits our clients in the way of results.

Taking care of social media has a lot of indirect benefits.

Many people notice the following happens after they have a strategy for social media that is well executed:

  • More website traffic
  • More targeted website traffic (people going to an online store or filling out a request form)
  • More followers/fans
  • More engagement with their followers/fans
  • Better search engine performance
  • More email subscribers
  • More comments (‘I saw you are doing x’ or ‘I loved y’ said by customers or employees), over the internet and in real life

Social media may be free to use but it’s not free in terms of maintaining and growing an online business presence. And that’s why we do what we do!

How To Handle Tragedy On Social Media

So when something crappy happens, what are we supposed to do online? The same things we do offline actually. Here’s what I’m talking about.

There was a historically huge Bangladesh factory collapse that killed over 1,000 people recently. My friend David posted a link from The Village Voice showing a screenshot of Joe Fresh, the retailer’s homepage, after the body count was posted:


OK so this is kind of ridiculous. Should Joe Fresh have done a bit more considering this was their factory? I think so.

Now posting a small condolence message is not quite the same as:


So this second instance of a brand handling a tragedy got A LOT more negative feedback on social media then the first one. Probably for a couple reasons:

  • For better or for worse, people seem a lot more sensitive about US-based tragedies. That said, it’s important to mention what is happening overseas in some cases so please mention something even if it seems far away… just know a US-based audience will react to a US-based tragedy more strongly as a general rule.
  • Acknowledge the tragedy if you want, especially if it affects your company.
  • If you go the acknowledge a tragedy route, don’t try to sell to people.
  • You can ignore a tragedy (without any or many negative consequences) if it has nothing to do with your business.
  • If you schedule social media updates ahead and something bad happens, skim your scheduled updates of accidentally offensive content. (Ex: There is a huge fire in your city and you have a post scheduled to go out called ‘Sell like your store is on fire.’ with a link to your latest blog post. Yeah, you might want to change that.)

In other words, you can’t be selling your stuff and be mournful at the same time. Your customers will think it’s kind of weird and creepy. And if you go the ‘we’re a sensitive company’ route, be prepared to wait a respectful amount of time before returning to your regularly scheduled program.

Want to read other opinions on this subject? Check out:

How To (Not) Run A Facebook Contest

“I know I’m not doing it legally but…”

I smile as my friend/small business owner confesses to not running an exactly legitimate Facebook contest. I like how I’m kind of a Facebook priest that people confess their sins to.

Now she’s totally right; I am willing to bet Facebook is not going to come after her relatively small page for running a Facebook contest that is against their rules.

(Facebook? Rules? Yes there are some:

The best way to follow the rules? Use an app to run your contest. I’ve used ShortStack for a photo contest (note there is no affiliate link there meaning I am getting exactly $0 to recommend them to you). It works great… and at $30/month for the two months we needed it, it was a great tool. If you look up ‘Facebook contest app’ you will no doubt find others that will work for your particular contest.

Now I see plenty of people trying to avoid this but here’s a couple of reasons why I think you should fork out some money and do your contest the right way.

1) Facebook rule compliance is automatic. 

Does reading fine print make your queasy? These contest apps have done that and created a way to hold contests that follows Facebook’s (often changing) rules. If you get in trouble, the app developer is going to get hauled into the trouble with you.

2) Your contest is confusing without an app. Trust me. 

Story time folks.

Our local vet ran a photo contest recently on Facebook. The photos with the most likes (one in the cat category and one in the dog category) won. So the first step was submitting the pictures, which were supposed to be emailed. Only some people posted them to the Facebook wall. Or forgot the date they had to submit them by.

Once that fiasco finished, there was the voting. So the picture in each category with the most ‘likes’ won. So few people ‘shared’ the picture of their cat/dog onto their personal profiles to get likes… but the likes from their friends (who were looking at a photo on the profile) did not count toward the total like count of the photo on the vet’s Facebook page. Also some people left comments without liking the photos, thinking a comment also counted as a vote.

Does this look like my dog being in a photo contest? Yeah, it doesn't to me either.  Is your Facebook contest equally unclear?

Does this look like my dog being in a photo contest? Yeah, it doesn’t to me either…and as you see, my friends are confused by it too. Is your Facebook contest equally unclear?

Do you want to confuse people at each stage of your contest?  No? Then get an app, it’ll automatically take care of a lot of these issues for you.

And literally just as I wrote this, I saw a post go by asking me to ‘like our banner’ to enter a contest. The status update itself had no image which led me to wonder: What banner? The cover image on your page? The photo you posted about the contest two weeks ago? I’m the local informal Facebook ‘priest’ as we have established earlier. So if I don’t get it, your people won’t either.

3) Customer service is way easier. 

Now let’s say you were running a photo contest like our vet friends. If I had set up a place were people could submit photos on their Facebook page and then made a deadline, I could simply say. ‘Go here to submit your photo’ and the submission page would automatically go away on the deadline. Then I could have made a voting page for each pet viewable on one screen. I could have restricted the votes by Facebook profile, IP address, etc. The act of voting (or not voting) would be very clear by using a ‘vote’ button. I can even make a rules page which as a link comes up when people are on the contest page.

Do you want to answer the same questions over and over? Yeah, us either. Having an app with everything findable within it will save you a lot of emailing and panicked messages.

4) People will like your page if you run a good contest, not if you coherse them. (This is just a me thing, you can legally run a contest that makes people like your page to participate.) 

If you make me like your page, spin on my head, share it with 16 friends, then vote, I’m not going to do it. But if you run a simple, organized straight-forward contest that people enjoy, guess who will like your page? Contest participants.

Now if you want to make them like your page to do it, that’s perfectly within Facebook rules. But I want someone to like me because they do, not because I made them. So a more creative contest might be submitting a photo or captioning a picture. Something creative that people want to share or otherwise be involved with.

So please do hold Facebook contests. The good ones make me laugh and give me hope in humanity. But do try to use a contest app. It’ll make your customers’ and your life easier for just a few bucks!

And as bonus reading, here’s another great article on this topic:

Social Media For Mommies

Donna J. Hanke lives and works in Bar Harbor, ME. She blogs about her Massage Therapy practice at You can also find her on facebook And, someday soon, she might even be on twitter!

Girl pointing on touch screen a social network memberConfession-computers intimidate me. That is beginning to change, so maybe I should start saying computers used to intimidate me. I am really beginning to appreciate them for the tools that they are.

This wasn’t always so.  I managed to avoid even owning one for most of my adult life. I finally broke down and bought a desktop about 6 years ago when it became apparent that it could streamline the management of my business. Duh! This winter, I purchased a chromebook so I don’t have to go down to the basement every time I want to check my e-mail. Maybe the next time I upgrade I’ll even be ready for a touchscreen!

I was a little behind the curve in joining Facebook, and when I did it was not for business purposes or even to make personal connections, but because I am a mom. It had suddenly occurred to me that although I might choose to avoid these methods of communication, my children are going to be growing up in a world immersed in them. They will need these tools to socialize, to network, and in their professional lives. If I didn’t understand what social media was or how it was being used, how on earth could I hope to guide them in developing healthy habits? Or how to use them safely? One of the main cornerstones of my parenting style has always been to model healthy behavior. So I figured I had better start with myself.

I signed up for Facebook the next day. I found that I do enjoy social media networking for many reasons, and am realizing how helpful it is as a business tool. I have discovered that I need to set time limits for myself. I also witness many users (adults! I guess we are all figuring this out) posting in a manner that I view as inappropriate. From the harmless TMI (or not so harmless TMI!), to posts that I read and think would you really want a potential employer to read that?.  And this will all inform my parenting when my children begin to use these technologies.

For a deeper discussion of this issue, I found this article pretty well-balanced.

If you have children using social media, I would love to hear what guidelines and boundaries are working, or not, for you.

What I Really Think About Facebook

Several times, I’ve heard people refer to me as ‘the Facebook girl’. The most common questions we get involve Facebook: how to use it for business and what people can/can’t see on your profile.

If only so I have an easy thing to link to when I answer Facebook questions, I thought I’d write a post about it today.

Fact 1: Facebook is a tool, which means we need to properly use it.
Whenever people get mad at Facebook, I get annoyed. Because here’s the thing: it’s a free tool. You aren’t paying for it. Facebook is paying employees to maintain the site, create improvements, hosting costs for all those photos you upload, and more. You know how you pay for magazine subscriptions, cable television, and other sources of entertainment but don’t pay to use Facebook?  Yeah, exactly.

How can you offer something for free that costs money? You offer advertising. You take advantage of the same tax loopholes as big corporations like Walmart or Target. You sell shares. Now you are a profitable company yet still offer a free service.

The second you become a paying customer, a shareholder, or a developer who solves a Facebook problem if they would only implement it, complain all you want. Otherwise to me, it’s the equivalent of people who complain about our government but don’t get involved in the political process.

And guess what? If Facebook suddenly wanted to charge, all the power to them. It’s their website, not ours. If you want some bit of information to be yours forever and ever, put it on your website. Because you own that.

Fact 2: Facebook is the new silly email forward, which means I will ignore a lot of it.
Those ridiculous things you used to get in your email inbox have gone onto Facebook… where I will also ignore them. Let’s address these two of these things I see the most often which I am ignoring/deleting like I was doing with these email forwards way back when:

Intolerant Posts
People on both sides of the political, religious, and other aisles we’ve created in society need to stop posting negative stuff about the other side. First of all, there are plenty of ways to make your point in a non-negative way.

Second, there’s a psychological phenomenon where when you talk about other people, the person that’s hearing you subconsciously attributes those qualities to you.  So if you are saying someone is arrogant, the person hearing you saying it thinks you’re arrogant. Think on that.

OMG Privacy Posts
At least every two months, I see a bunch of ‘the sky is falling’ status updates about Facebook privacy. They are usually a flurry of activity as they get copied from friend to friend. You’ll notice me ‘the Facebook girl’ never perpetuates these.

In response to this latest one: if you really think I am going to click on and change a setting for you, you are crazy. I have over 900 friends and not much spare time.

If you are using something, you need to understand it. You wouldn’t misuse your microwave (by, say, putting aluminum foil in it and shorting it out) and then bring the microwave back to the store and tell them it’s their fault it’s broken. There are hundreds of great blogs out there including Mashable and AllFacebook which cover Facebook and how to use it in detail. You can also ask an expert for help.

The good news? Misusing Facebook won’t usually cause an electrical fire.

If you are genuinely worried about privacy settings 1) Go to your privacy settings on your profile and put your shields way up and 2) Don’t share things on Facebook you don’t want people to see. Which brings me to…

Fact 3: Facebook is my workplace, which means I will respect it.
Despite evidence I see daily, Facebook is public. If you wouldn’t want your boss and your grandmother seeing it, don’t post it.

Go look at my Facebook page if you want. These are all things I don’t mind you seeing: pictures of my dog, what I ate for dinner. Have you ever seen what my bedroom looks like? A picture of me doing any kind of illegal substance? A mean comment about someone else? Exactly. This isn’t me putting up a front; this is my public persona. A curated version of who I am that I am showing you on purpose.

You know where I go to relax? Pinterest. There, no one expects anything of me or wants to interact and instead I can just look at pretty pictures. (Alice’s version of this is Imgur.)

As Facebook evolves, it’s been interesting to watch how people use this tool. Heck, how I use the tool.

But as long as a majority of you respect this free resource by treating other users with respect, I think I will be grateful for what it does and tolerant of its shortcomings. Otherwise, I’m going to move onto the next social thing, and gladly.

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