social media

Post-Election: A Loser’s Guide to the Internet

Some things are just too darn hard to bear. You know what I’m talking about — wars, natural disasters, hangnails. In my case, the recent outcome of the presidential election has sent me into a spiral of depression that will likely take me four-to-eight years from which to recover.

I know I’m not alone. For proof, see this article in QZ.com on post-election depression, and how election-addiction leads to post-election depression.

After more than a year of consuming as much news as I could about the election, I’ve found that, now that the whole thing is over, I want to banish it all from my psyche. Yet every time I go online, it pops back up. It’s like after eating a garlic pizza — sure it was fun at the time, but the resulting indigestion is no picnic.

I’ve taken to going onto Facebook only when needed, and I’ve also avoided the Twitter account I’ve set up strictly for bathroom humor.



To keep my sanity, I’ve started compiling a list of websites that are largely non-political. They are decidedly geek-infused, mainly dealing with the future or the distant past. My attention will be on them for the next four-to-eight years:

  •  Wikipedia’s “On This Day.” A daily timeline of events, births, deaths and holidays and observances on any given day. Hey, did you know that Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” was published Nov. 14, 1851? Thank you, Wikipedia!
  •  Space.com. All things space, all the time. Want to know about super-moons, gas giants, Uranus, and other giggle-inducing astronomical trivia? Space.com should be your destination.
  • AVClub. The sister publication of the satirical news site, The Onion, The AVClub is a smart, snarky guide to film, books, television comics and more.

You can’t completely avoid post-election news, but they’re a good substitute for sites such as Politico that regularly fed my election junkie habit, for which I’m currently paying the price.

Also, kudos to the slacktivists on the image-sharing site Imgur, who, shortly after the election, attempted to block any news of the presidency from the front page by upvoting photos of sea slugs.

Also, I’ve started reading about three or four books simultaneously, most of which are between 40 and 20 years old at this point. I’ve become reacquainted with my favorite film from the 1990s, “The Big Lebowski.”

I’m sure this won’t last. We all move on and the healthy, better part of us learns to accept things the way they are, even if we don’t like it. And with that, comes a refinement of social media habits and learning that life does not stop and start at our convenience.

Besides, the holidays are upon us! And those aren’t at all depressing.



Marketing Monday: Social Media And Economic Development In Small Communities

My friend Ryan Pelletier became the town manager of Madawaska within the last couple years. One thing I’ve noticed since he took this position is how he uses Facebook in particular as a way of reaching the masses. He also has a really straightforward approach (sound familiar?). We decided to ask him how he used social media as a tool to do his job better. We’ve included some of Ryan’s posts as examples in hopes to inspire others looking at this post of what kids of information they can share. 

I see you use your Facebook profile to communicate messages about what’s going on, including changing town office hours or moving public restrooms. What makes you use your personal profile versus an official company page?

For me, I’ve been doing this kind of work for a long time and have amassed a lot of friends and contacts on my personal profile. We have toyed with the idea of an official town profile, but I feel that folks follow me and are used to getting info from me via my personal page. My next plan is to start communicating some of the Town’s notices (meetings, elections, flyers about events etc.) via SnapChat for a younger demographic. I will probably use a town Snapchat account for that instead of my personal one, but I haven’t figured out how to set that up yet.

(Oh Ryan! We do stuff like that!)

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How has your openness changed the way people perceive town government and the Town of Madawaska in general?

People by and large seem very pleased with my style of open communication. Town Government (and really all government) should be an open book. Not everyone will agree with what I or the Town leaders decide to do, but that’s ok. At the end of the day, I have to remember, it’s their town, I just work for them. I also get a lot of compliments from local folks both in and out of Madawaska that have said they notice a huge difference in the perception of Madawaska. That’s the best compliment I can get!

What is the most surprising interaction you’ve had on social media about community development?

Not specifically community development, but, when we were considering the drug testing for welfare proposal. That was very eye opening about the strong opinions both for and against. I got to see lots of opinions expressed from throughout the State on that one.

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Do you have any advice for town governments looking to use social media to promote understanding and interaction?

Social Media is not a lot different than regular media in my opinion. I always say it’s better to control the message than let others control it for you. Just like when I issue press releases or do interviews with the local news, it’s about getting ahead of the curve and letting the people know directly what is going on. So the advice is, keep the message simple, honest and straightforward. Don’t be afraid that your opinion will be opposed. It’s all good!

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Ethics in Marketing

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Working for a small business that attracts some amazing clients, I’ve never run into a situation where I’m asked to carry out a task or promote something that I’m morally opposed to (and, I have the freedom to politely turn down such a project). It’s a freedom I often take for granted, until I hear stories about people who don’t necessarily have such freedom.

A couple weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast (Real Talk Radio with Nicole Antoinette) where a woman was being interviewed about her blog (Super Strength Health). Part of the podcast that I found intriguing was towards the end, when she spoke about being approached by various brands to promote their product (a fairly common occurrence for lifestyle bloggers). Usually when this happens, the brand has done a bit of research to determine if the blog’s message meshes well with the brand’s message. As a bit of background, Super Strength Health shares very raw material about eating disorder recovery. The brand that approached her had a tagline along the lines of “guilt-free snacking.” You might see the problem here.



So, the blogger was a bit frustrated. “If you spent any time on my blog, you’d know that we were not a good fit.” Which is true. The discussion goes on to discuss the slippery slope of assigning guilt to food/eating in marketing, and whether or not that is unethical. Regardless of where you or I stand on that particular issue, it made me wonder about the messages I’m putting out there. How can I be ethical (or more ethical) in what I produce?

As mentioned before, I have the freedom to turn something down if I feel it is unethical or immoral. We never really get those clients. Usually when I think “unethical marketing,” it’s the blatantly obvious not-cool marketing, like promoting unhealthy habits, tearing down a competitor’s product or service instead of focusing on why your product/service is valuable, or ignoring glaring flaws or safety concerns with a product (think recalls). These are all easy for me to avoid (in that I’ve never encountered them).

So, instead, I thought of a few little ways to be even more ethical. Here’s what I have:

Do the Research. Make sure you know your facts, especially if others are coming to you for information.
Be Objective. Do you really think this product/service would benefit other people, or do you maybe have dollar signs in your eyes?
“Is this Something I Would Do?” If you’re having a hard time being objective with the facts, ask yourself if you would follow your own advice.
Be the Good. This is my way of remembering my bottom line: whatever I put into the internet/world should make it a little better, even if in a small way.
Get Better. There’s always room for improvement, and as someone who produces content for the internet I could in theory find a rhythm and rest on my laurels. But I could also keep an open mind and look for ways to improve my work (because this isn’t just about me).

My hope is that following these five points in a more thoughtful way will help me feel even better about what I produce, and be more helpful for our clients. (I say ‘more thoughtful way’ because I usually perform research or try to be objective, but it can be reflexive).

The cool thing about marketing ethics? Marketing Schools defines it as “less of a marketing strategy and more of a philosophy that informs all marketing efforts.” It’s not a strategy or a game-plan, but more like having a Jiminy Cricket on your shoulder asking if you believe in the message you’re about to share with the world.



 

My Five Favorite Business Books

100startupIt’s no secret that to be a good writer, it helps to be a good reader.

And when I first started this business and time was short, I decided I was only going to read business books (and occasional biography of a business person helped break things up). I now read other things for fun but someone asked me about what my favorite business books were. Here they are in no particular order. Note these are affiliate links which means we get a small commission if you buy a copy… but I love them regardless.

$100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

It’s always great to think in the bootstrapping mindset because at the beginning, you want to spend time and money on everything but can’t. His ‘launch’ checklist alone is worth the price of admission but it is available on his website too: http://100startup.com/resources/launch-checklist.pdf There is an awesome amount of case studies that will make even the most hesitant person inspired to try a business on the side.

Lessons of A Lipstick Queen by Poppy King

Mainly a memoir, this book is about a young woman running a business. In a lot of ways, I saw myself and in a lot of ways, I didn’t. She has a lot of great one liners and her candidness is appreciated because so many people aren’t. It was nice to hear about someone feeling insecure, making ‘bad’ decisions, and otherwise admitting to the things no business owner ever wants to admit. Plus I love learning from people outside our industry in particular.


Your Best Year Yet! by Jinny Ditzler

If you are worried people are going to know you read self help books, this will tip them off for sure. From the clouds on the cover to the exclamation mark in the title, you know you are in for it. I do this goal setting exercise with myself at the beginning of each year (or I guess more accurately, at the end of the current year for the following year). You don’t have to read the whole book; just use if for the questions you are supposed to ask yourself (the book has elaboration on those questions, which is sometimes needed honestly).

Problogger Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett

Written before social media was anything big, this is how to get blog traffic without it. A lot of what he says is still true today. If you want to use a blog as part of your business strategy (and if you want more traffic to your website or to build relationships, you might as well have a blog), this is a great book about the tech, the content, the marketing (though again, the social media piece is missing) and the money parts of blogging.

Jab Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk

The hundreds (literally) of social media case studies are great for showing and not telling. Also a great overview of each social network, its strengths, and its weaknesses. Whether you are just starting with social media or have been doing it for awhile, this will get you thinking. Content is king but context is God indeed! Enjoy all the pictures of actual posts with their own ‘how to do it better’ makeovers, I did!

I’ve certainly read more than this but these are ones I really enjoyed. What five books influenced the way you started your business/career?



Facebook’s Attempt at Mind-Reading

Social media has always been a platform for self-expression, and has even evolved into a way for people to stay in touch and get updates on current events. Facebook in particular has some interesting methods of encouraging users to share their experiences, beyond the “What’s on your mind?” prompt for status updates.

In the past year or so, it seems like Facebook has been upping the ante in terms of getting people to share how they feel about things-current events, politics, sports, even seasonal changes.



Sometimes, it seems as if Facebook is reading our minds…These are a few of the things that I’ve noticed in the past few months that Facebook has offered to anticipate what we want to share:

Temporary Profile Pictures and Overlays

Last summer, Facebook started introducing temporary profile pictures as a way to let people show support for a cause, be it political or showing support for a sports team. When you make a temporary profile picture, you have options for how long you want to have it set for (a day, a week, a month), and then it will automatically switch back to whatever you had before. Last November, Facebook created a French flag overlay to show support for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Facebook prompts users to show their support by creating a temporary profile picture. In these circumstances, a temporary profile picture is meant to extend support and solidarity no matter where you are in the world.

Good Morning/Afternoon/Seasonal Changes

A couple weeks ago marked the first day of fall, and you may have noticed a “happy first day of fall” message at the top of your Facebook newsfeed. A couple months ago, I was on my phone and noticed a “Good Morning, Kassandra” message with a sun beside it (in the same top-of-newsfeed position). This isn’t an every day occurrence for me, and I haven’t figured out what the pattern is (or if there even is one), and one day there was a “Good Afternoon” curve ball. These messages don’t even have a “share with the public” option, so I can only imagine that they’re just to create a positive user experience.

Let People Know that You’re ______. 

Another feature that borders on creepy is the “Let people know you’re watching” option during a sporting event (only on mobile). The scores will automatically appear if you’ve liked a team’s official Facebook page. Facebook has since added a new “Sports” section that you can access to get updates from any team without having to “like” a ton of Pages. This area of Facebook is called Sports Stadium, which came out this past January. In addition to sharing a status update, you can “hang out” with other Facebook friends who are watching the game, too, and talk about it within the app.

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Another example of a narrowed “let people know what you’re doing,” Facebook started sharing a “Register to Vote” campaign. When you click on it, you get taken to a printable page for voter registration along with instructions. And, because it’s Facebook, you could share with others that you’d registered.

Safety Check

Similar to “Let people know you’re watching,” Facebook has a “Safety Check” feature. If you are in an area that’s in crisis (natural disaster or otherwise), Facebook picks up on this if your location services are on, and will ask you if you are safe. Fortunately, I live in a pretty low-crisis area, so I’ve never seen this in action, until last week when one of my friends used the tool to let people know she was safe in North Carolina. For those of you who watched our Facebook Live video last week, we talked a bit about this Safety Check feature there, too.

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These are just a few ways Facebook is attempting to anticipate what people care about and changing the way we interact with each other online. Can’t wait to see what’s next, Facebook!

Promoting Your Webinar

So you’ve thought about the technology and content of your webinar… Now it’s time to get the people in the ‘door’…so to speak.

Like most events, most of the work is done before the event even happens. Whether you have 5 or 5000 people attend, you do the same base amount of work, so it makes sense to maximize the amount of people who know about (and will potentially attend) your webinar.

Email a ‘save the date’ to your list.

Start with what you’ve got: your customer list. Whether you have an email list, a Facebook group, or any other ‘platform’, it is good to begin getting your friends and customers excited about the event long before the webinar happens.

When they RSVP, allow them to add it to their Google calendar or share it on social media. Getting some initial interest will encourage you to go further.

Make a Facebook event and invite.

I am always surprised at how many people want a direct invite to something on Facebook. Even if publicly posted, people seem to want me to personally invite them to every workshop we do.

Hey, if that makes them come, I’ll take it. If you have a Facebook page or group, make an event and invite away! Ask your friends to pass on the invitation to those who would appreciate it.



Make several ‘teaser’ videos.

If you are going to listen to someone talk, you want to have an idea of what you are in for. So give your webinar audience an idea of what they are in for!

Post a few teaser videos, they can even be a minute or less, to let your prospective webinar attendees get to meet you and know what it’s about. Think of it as a trailer for your webinar.

If you feel bold, ask them to tag any friends who might be interested or RSVP to the event (which of course, you’ll link in each video caption like the smarty pants you are).

Add ‘calls to action’ on appropriate online properties.

Your webinar is going to be the most exciting thing you have going on while you’re leading up to the event. Think of changing things like the homepage of your website or the link in your Instagram profile to reflect this.

Also creating multiple calls to action on each social platform, multiple email sends, and multiple personal invites (online and in real life) will remind people this is coming up. Trust me, they need the reminders.



Consider ads to appropriate audiences.

Let’s say you’re doing a desk yoga webinar. Taking out a targeted ad to human resource managers of mid sized companies as an example audience may be a really smart move for you. Make sure your ad creative (the image you make to go with the promotion) seems specific to that audience only. You want them to feel like you are talking to them.

This may also be a good time to use remarketing data you’ve been collecting from Google and Facebook on your website, making a targeted ad for people who already have ‘met’ you online.

Paid ads have their place and you may find in attracting 100 more people and converting three of them to customers that your ad spend was well worth it.

Seek opportunities to cross promote.

Let’s say you’re doing a webinar on writing for the web. Consider connecting with university writing centers, libraries, and writing groups (online or off) to let them know what is happening.  They may not only promote it within their group but want to otherwise be a part of what you’re doing in your business. We’ve found involving more people, while it does take time, allows not only for a better attended webinar but a more interesting one as well.

You’ve already put in the time to create something interesting and of value for people, so it’s worth the extra time investment to spread the word and get your content in front of the right people. If you need any help/have questions about the marketing, we’re always happy to talk about that sort of thing 🙂