Monthly Archives: August 2012

Speak with your voice.

Managing a social media page can be difficult. Each site and service uses different vocabulary, etiquette, and functions. Each draws a different audience, although some members may cross-over into different sites. One thing that remains the same between all of them is the idea of voice.

In recent weeks, we have seen a couple of examples of organizations and businesses both sticking to their established voice or not having a strong one in place. Chick-Fil-A has come under fire recently because of comments made discussing their beliefs. The President of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, stated his (and the company’s) stance of not believing in same sex marriage due to their Christian faith. Regardless of whether you feel the same or not, I have not seen them back down from this thought. They have always been transparent to what their beliefs and values are, right up to their chains being closed on Sundays, and this stance should therefore not be surprising.

Again, I am not addressing the controversial issue, but trying to illustrate the idea of voice. Dan Cathy clearly knew what his company stands for, and his company continued to support him.

Let’s bring this review closer to home and look at the comments posted on the Rutland GOP Facebook page recently. Although the events were unfortunate and the apologies multiple, this is a great example of this idea of voice. It has been reported that the Rutland GOP did not write this post, but shared the thoughts of someone else. This happens all the time in social media, as it is easy to “share,” “retweet,” “repin,” etc. Sometimes, the service does not even allow the user to share their own thoughts or reflections when sharing someone else’s post.

Being aware that mistakes are made, your social media managers and page admins must know what your company stands for and supports. This is done easily by answering some questions, and should also be revisited every time you look at or update your brand.

Let’s discuss the four areas you should look at to establish your brand’s voice.

  1. Who You Are – Although this may seem like the easiest step, I would argue that it may actually be the hardest. It is difficult to think of an entity that you need to write and present as yourself as having separate thoughts, morals, and ideals than you do. These guidelines should cover sense of humor, sarcasm, professionalism, and even political views. Some of this may seem a bit extreme (why would my ice cream shop need to know its stance on abortion or international relations?), but you do not know what situations you will find your business amidst. You need to address how you view your business, and how you want to be seen, as well. You need to ensure that your social media presence is consistent with all other branding and marketing.
  2. Who You Audience Is – There are two distinct audience groups – those you want to reach, and those you are actually reaching. How can you present information in a way that your target audience will respond, react, and be engaged? What can you alter about your message (not only the way you are saying things, but what you are saying) that will attract the target audience?

You also need to take into account that online and offline communications are different. Social media communications and audience expectations differ even from email and other digital forms of communication. Be succinct and to the point. Bring your text to life with pictures and video. Frequently alter your cover photo (the long photo on the top of your profile page) to keep up with important events that will encourage audience response.

Do not only self-promote, but share information, articles, pictures, video, and community happenings that your audience will appreciate. In the case of the Rutland GOP, where they were sharing the words someone else wrote which caused them to be caught in some hot water. They may not have considered their audience entirely, or how the message would be absorbed by their audience.

  1. What Is Your Message – Before you begin typing away, think about how quickly your message and what you are sharing will spread. Depending upon the amount of fans or followers you have, your message virality will differ (This is the potential reach of your post. Not only your fans see your post, but when one of your fans likes or comments on your post or retweets it, for example, the number of people that actually see the information you shared spreads rapidly.) This is great if you are sharing relevant information and could hopefully draw more fans or followers to your social media presence. On the other hand, this backfires when you mistakenly share content that does not stick to your brand or company viewpoints. If you share information that is not relevant to your audience or offends them, you will quickly drive people away.
  2. How You React To Mistakes – If you make a mistake, don’t panic. Apologize. If a customer complains on your page, respond to it. How you react and the time that it takes you to react can have a positive influence on your brand.

Social media has made marketing a two-way conversation. Customers are observing how you handle difficult and challenging situations. What you do after that mistake is just as important as preventing another one from happening. This can be addressed during brand conversations by making sure someone is assigned to manage these social media relations. This is an important aspect of customer service, and can drastically affect the impact your brand has.

Your brand and voice are ever evolving. Make sure that you regularly address your brand and voice with key members of your team. Keep your brand and voice moving forward, as this will help you with new media and hurdles down the road.

This column originally appeared in the August 6, 2012 issue of the Rutland Herald.

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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Marketing, Social Media


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Facebook changes. Again.

Just this past week, a friend called me and asked a question about Facebook. I responded with quick directions on where exactly to find the information he was looking for within Facebook. He quickly informed me that it had moved. My response, “Oh, Zuckerberg went and changed it up again!”

Although many people quickly get frustrated with Facebook’s changes and additions, I need to point out that there are few complaints about what is “missing” on Facebook. Yes, there is a list (community aggregated calendar, further expansions of options for pages, etc.), but Facebook is doing a great job moving forward and not being stagnant.

Facebook only announces major changes, and others just simply appear. Although I read many social media blogs and tech websites, some of these changes get missed.

Facebook has started to roll out some improvements for their Pages (non-personal profiles) that can help out the business owner or social media manager of an organization.

1. Admin Roles

Since Facebook separated Personal Profiles and Pages, you have been able to add people as administrators to your Page.  This is easily done, either by typing their name if you are friends with them, or entering their email address. The improvement is assigning different roles to these admins.

Managers can access everything. This is a good setting for the owner of the company or key driver of your page. It is the default setting for every admin.

The only limitation for Content Creators is they cannot modify or manage admin roles. Moderators are not allowed to edit the page or create posts as the page.

Advertisers may only create ads and view insights. Last, but not least, an Insights Analyst can only view the analytics (called insights) for the page.

Being able to assign roles to different admins is great. It allows the Manger or owner of the page to invite a consultant, intern, or other staff access to take on some of page responsibilities without fear of someone doing more than the manager wants. When a new admin is added, or for admins that were previously established, the default role is Manager.

Roles are easy to alter by selecting “Edit Page” from the upper right corner of your Page’s Facebook Timeline, and then selecting “Admin Roles” from the drop down menu. You will be brought to a screen that shows all of your admins and their different roles.

2. Deals

Deals are still in their Beta phase, so it is not yet available to all businesses. If Facebook decides to launch it through out the site, keep your eye out for it.  A Facebook Deal allows you to offer something special for your customers that use Facebook to check-in to your business.

For example, you visit one of our great restaurants for lunch. You launch your Facebook app from your phone and select the “check-in” option, perhaps adding a picture and tagging the other people you are eating with. If that restaurant has set up a Deal, the visitor will be able to see this on their phone when they go to check-in.

There are four types of deals:

Individual Deal

This is a good option for a one-time deal that you can offer to both new and existing customers. You can do a dollar or percentage off, or even a gift with purchase.

Loyalty Deal

Tried of punching holes in cards? Use a check-in loyalty deal! This would work for the customers that are already loyal to you, but also encourage new customers to return. You can create a deal that can be claimed after no fewer than two check-ins, but no more than twenty.

Friend Deals

These deals allow you to offer a group discount to up to eight people. This allows your customers to introduce what they love about your business to their friends and family.

Charity Deals

This deal triggers a donation to be made to the charity of your choice each time someone claims your deal. You are required to manage the donation process.

You are able to limit the run dates of each deal and how many may be claimed. When someone claims your deal, it will also post to their wall and their friends’ newsfeeds, spreading your reach virally.

It is important to note that Facebook Deals are in Beta testing. This means that the types of deals, price, and availability may change. Not all Pages have access to be able to offer these deals right now, but if you are part of the testing, I urge you to take advantage of them. If your business does not have a physical location, these deals will not work for you.

For more information about Deals and to see if your Business can offer them, select Manage Permissions from your Edit Page drop-down menu. Then, look for the Deal option in the menu on the left hand side of the page.

3. Pages App

If you have an iPhone and you manage a Page on Facebook, you need this app. It is free in the app store, and allows more flexibility than your Facebook app. It only came out 2 months ago, and I believe this is why it is still exclusively on the iPhone.

The Pages App allows you to access your Pages messages, photos, settings, admins, and, most importantly, your insights.

Insights are your analytics, or how you can see how well your posts and information is doing on Facebook.  You can also view data for individual posts, which allows you to see how many people you are reaching with each post.

I could not find any information as to whether there is a plan to release the app for other phones (mainly, Android), but I would hope that it is what is coming next.

Be aware that Facebook is on the move. They like to shake it up and be dynamic. If they didn’t, they would still only be catering to college students.

This column originally appeared in the July 23, 2012 issue of the Rutland Herald.

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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Community, Marketing, Social Media


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Tweet Tweet.

Tweet, tweet.

I have written about a bit in the past, both on my blog and in various columns that have appeared in this paper. Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows users to create posts up to 140 characters. You can also share videos, pictures, and links in these posts.

By utilizing a pound sign (#), users are able to categorize their tweets by topic or keyword. These topics are called “hashtags.” Television shows, businesses, and organizations have started to display their hashtags in commercials, in the corner of the screen during their shows, and in printed advertisements. Cities also have hashtags in order to make tweets categorized and searchable by area.

Most cities with airports use their airport code as their hashtag. For example, Burlington’s hashtag is #BTV. I have often mentioned that the biggest set back to Twitter in Rutland is the lack of people tweeting in this area. I can tell this by the little use of our hashtag, which #RutVT. Any user can then do a search of these keywords to find other users to connect with or relevant topics.

As a Twitter user, you should always categorize your tweets appropriately. This will help you connect with other users who share similar interests. It can also increase your followers. If you are an expert in something, users will begin to follow you based on your specialties.

Interaction between people is different on Twitter than Facebook. Your “friends” on Twitter are called “followers” as they follow your posts. The service is very much public, and although you can block people, generally anyone has the ability to see what you post and respond to it. Some people may see this as a negative thing, but because of the limited personal information shared on Twitter, the Twitterverse differs from its neighboring Facebookland. On Facebook, you generally only friend people whom you know in your offline life. On Twitter, you may become friends and connect with several people you do not know offline, and perhaps will never meet offline.

Because of Twitter’s ability to categorize, one of the best uses for the service is networking. I often send a question out to fellow higher education professionals to get advice or see what others are doing at their institutions. By using the #highered keyword, I am able to connect with others, and know that the appropriate people will see my questions.

Twitter users have also found a way to put the “social” back in “social media.” Twitter meet-ups, or “tweet-ups”, have become popular events. Usually revolving around a specific idea, users with similar interests met up and network.

What does this all mean for your business?

1. Make sure to utilize appropriate hashtags. Use a hashtag for your location as well as the category for your business. This will help people in your area and interested in what your business is in find you and connect with you.

2. Start conversations with users. See another person tweeting about something that happened in your area? Tweet at them by tagging their username (i.e. @localsocialvt). Search relevant hashtags to find these users.

3. Host a tweet-up. Make sure you have wifi or amble cell service available for the Twitter users.  No doubt they will want to live tweet the event.

Let’s all connect on Twitter and start a movement in this direction. Tweet at me @localsocialvt. I will be looking for those #RutVT hashtags.

This column originally appeared in the July 2, 2012 Rutland Herald.

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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Community, Social Media, Vermont


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