Keys to Success

We’ve learned a lot in this time together.  We’ve worked through blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, posting strategy, posting evaluation, and ethics.  So what all have we learned?  Whether it was blogging or Snapchat or posting strategy, there are a few consistent tools you need when working with any kind of social media for your organization.

  1. Know Your Audience.  Needless to say that regardless of what your topic or organization is when posting, you need to know who you’re addressing.  Knowing your audience will determine what you post, when you post it, and also where you post it.  Who does your topic affect?  Who is going to care about your information?  Different audiences will require different needs.
  2. Be Knowledgeable. Regardless of what your page or blog may be about (be it a topic or an organization), you want to know what you are talking about.  You won’t know everything there is to know right from the beginning so do your research.  Whether it is going online to find more information on your topic or just looking more in depth into your organization,  you want to keep learning.  Doing research also will make you more credible and save you some grief in the long run.
  3. Stick to Plain Language.  A media writing guide by the CDC says that it is super important to use plain language when using any kind of social media.  No one wants a bunch of jargon or long- technical terms thrown at them,  Use language that engages your reader without talking over their heads.  This can go for tone as well.  It’s important to keep it conversational while still being informative.
  4. Be Interactive.  The whole purpose of social media is to create something more than just spewing information on a website.  Social media creates an opportunity for communication between an organization and its audience to go from a one-way communication to a two-way communication.  Social media allows for people to communicate with an organization directly while also interacting with people following the page.  Being interactive can come in many forms whether you want to create a poll, use infographics, post questions, or ask for feedback, there are a whole list of ways to be interactive with your audience.
  5. Keep Track of What’s Working. It’s important to keep track of the progress and success of your page.  Analytics is a new way to keep track of what is and what is not working on your different social media pages.  You can track what people like, what posts got shared the most, and what got the most attention.  This is useful because it allows you to keep track of what posts are doing well and what people liked the most.  You would’t want to waste time making posts that people aren’t responding well to when you could be producing content similar to those that were doing well.

While social media can be confusing at times, it is worth the success that comes from using it.  Social media offers a chance for organizations to branch out and brand themselves online.  Onward to success.

Let’s Get Ethical

By this point, you have learned about social media websites, the best strategies for creating content, and even how to check and see how successful your content is, but now it is time to think about how your content will affect/is affecting the people who see it.

When it comes to social media, producers have certain ethical obligations when creating and spreading content.  We have to take into account what considerations we should take into account before posting anything or how our personal social media presence might affect our organization’s media presence.

Things to Consider

When posting things for your organization or campaign, there are a few things to think about before hitting that “Post” button.  Can your content offend or insult anyone?  Is it helpful?  Can it be easily misinterpreted?

Understanding what is best to post or not to post can be difficult, but there are ways of taking some of the pressure off you.  Different websites, such as the TEAM Up page, have created different sets of guidelines for posting about specific content.

For example, TEAM Up created a set of social media guidelines for posting about mental health and suicide prevention.  Of course, this is not the end-all-be-all for what you can and cannot post, but taking these guidelines into consideration can save you a lot of grief in the long run.

Contrary to what your natural instinct may be, avoid going trendy with your content.  The Think Progress website referred to one tragic attempt of being trendy that eventually crashed and burned, i.e. “The Dress” made by the Salvation Army.
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“The Dress” was originally created to address the issue of domestic violence by using the then-popular topic of the White and Gold Dress vs. the Black and Blue Dress.  Unfortunately, this attempt backfired and brought on an onslaught of angry comments about the ad.  While the original “The Dress” trend was lighthearted, using it in relation to a serious topic made the issue of domestic violence seem “less serious.”

Dealing with Negative Comments

All of your posts can’t be winners, so there might be a time when your organization receives backlash from something you post.  Now this does not always call for taking down the post itself.  In one instance, MAC Cosmetics was slammed with a wave of racist comments after they posted a picture of an African American woman’s lips on their page.  Sometimes the negative reaction people have to content is because of their own personal prejudices, but that is not to say the content itself is bad.

So what do you do when people start commenting negatively on your post?  An article by Insight180 offes a few tips on dealing with negative comments:

  • Always respond. Whether it is your organization actually responding or the community responding, it is always important to address the issue.  By responding with a positive tone shows that you and your organization have nothing to hide.
  • Contact the commenter privately.  By contacting them privately, you are showing the commenter that you are trying to resolve the situation.  It also allows your organization to control the negative content by keeping it in a private message rather than on the public page where everyone can see it.
  • Delete and Ban. If a commenter is posting profane, unjustified, or rude comments on a post, it is best to just delete the comment itself and, again, contact the user privately.  If you come across a user persistent on posting inappropriate comments, it may just be better to ban or block them altogether.

At the end of the day, there are certain obligations producers have when creating, posting, and maintaining content.  Remember to think before you post and create/maintain a safe environment for your audience to discuss and comment.

Check Your Stats

You’ve made it through creating pages for your organization, you’ve learned how to produce good content for your page, but how do you know if what you’re doing is successful?  Tracking your analytics will tell you just how successful you’re doing on social media.

Tracking analytics is one way to find out exactly what is working for your page and what isn’t working, otherwise you could be wasting time in certain areas.

Contrary to popular belief, success on social media does not consist of how many posts you’ve made, your follower to following ratio, or how often you post.  What matters is what happens after you post.

Avinash Kaushik says, “Did you grab attention? Did you deliver delight? Did you cause people to want to share? Did you initiate a discussion? Did you cause people to take an action? Did your participation deliver economic value?”

In the past, people and companies would have to spend large amounts of money finding people or programs to do their analytics for them, but with social networks constantly updating and changing, sites like FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter have created analytic dashboards right on the website and app for free!

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Here are a few “How To” sites on how to use analytics for each site: TwitterFacebookLinkedIn.

Understanding Your Stats

Kaushik describes four different metrics that can be used to analyze social media:

  • Conversation Rate: The conversation rate is the number of audience comments per post. It’s fairly easy to determine this rate on most social media (Facebook, specifically) because it will give you the total number of comments per post.  On other sites, such as Twitter, it is a little more difficult to calculate.  You often have to take into account the quote-tweets and the mentions that come from a tweet.
  • Amplification Rate: Amplification is the rate at which your followers share your content through their network.  This could be a share a Facebook or a retweet on Twitter.  It is important to take this specific statistic into consideration when planning future content because this shows what content people found most shareable.
  • Applause Rate: This one is basically what it sounds like.  The Applause rate is how many people liked or favorited your post.  This is quite literally how many “applauded” your content by liking it.
  • Economic Value: Economic value is the sum of short and long term revenue and cost savings.  Another way to describe this rate is a page’s ROI (Return on Investment).  This could be how many donations your page is generating or how much money your page is bringing in.

It’s All About Strategy

Creating the different social media accounts is half the battle when it comes to being successful online.  While social media can have incredible pay off when used well. success does not come without strategy.  Strategy can be a make or break key when it comes to making your mark online.smm_icons

Before we get started, just a refresher on the basics.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Guide to Writing for Social Media reiterates that successful social media campaigns should have four main goals: defining a target audience, determining objectives, choosing the right media for your message, and determining how much time and effort to put into it.

Another point made by the CDC is using plain language when working on social media.  Using a lot of jargon and technical terms often turns people off to whatever information you are trying to present.  The same can be said for long, dense posts.  If a person cannot easily pick out information and understand it, how can we expect them to want to engage with it?  The CDC gives a few tips when using plain language:

  • Quickly engage the reader
  • Limit use of jargon, technical, or scientific language
  • Write in active voice
  • Keep messages short
  • Write in a friendly but professional tone
  • Choose familiar terms, and use them consistently
  • Use numbers when they help you make your point

When it comes to creating content, it’s important to keep your audience in mind and cater to their needs when posting.

Creating Content

Social media won’t always be a “schedule and leave it alone” ordeal.  A lot of the time, social media pages are going to need attention and maintenance.  The CDC says social media content should be relevant, useful, engaging, easy to understand/share, friendly, and action-oriented.

If you’re running short on ideas, Forbes created a helpful list of ways to engage with your audience through content. A few examples are:

  • Create polls
  • Use infographics
  • Fill-in-the-blank posts
  • Post questions
  • Post pictures of your product, your company, or an employee
  • Ask for input and feedback

A sure-fire way of creating good, quality content is planning it out ahead of time.  Similar to writing papers in school drafting and editing can be crucial to how the content will eventually turn out.  Planning it out ahead of time also allows the content to look better put together and intentional.  It also gives you time to brainstorm different ideas and decide what ideas would work best rather than trying to throw something together last minute.

When planning ahead, it is not only about the content itself, but the day and time you plan on posting it.  If a holiday or event is coming up, your organization would want to adjust as needed.  You wouldn’t want to be posting about healthy tips for Thanksgiving in June.

Finally, it is incredibly important to listen to your audience.  What posts are getting the most attention?  Which ones are receiving the most likes, shares, or retweets?  Pay attention to what your audience is responding to and what they want to see and work from there.

Snapshot of Snapchat

img_1578Screenshot your success.  Snapchat is becoming much more than just animal filters and the rainbow mouth filter.  Snapchat is making its way into the business world as one of the fastest growing social networks with over 100 million users

Now you may be thinking, “How can Snapchat really help my business?  Isn’t it just sending pictures to people?”  Yes and no.  Snapchat offers a unique platform that gives you a chance to visually connect with your audience, whether you use it as a source to share information or to make something visually engaging.

Of course, this new, innovative social media, there are some limits to what it can do.  With the user base of Snapchat being between the ages of 13 and 25, businesses that decide to utilize Snapchar are often doing so to target a specific audience.  However, compared to other social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter, your post won’t get lost in a feed of hundred of other posts.

Keys to Success

One of the most useful ways to utilize Snapchat is to use it as a marketing tool.  Similar to what was stated earlier, Snapchat has very specific limitations to its content, but that does not necessarily make it a bad thing.

Although Snaps expire as soon as whoever you sent it to opens it, you also have the option to add it to your Snapchat story, where your audience can view it as many times as they want within a 24-hour period.  On that same note, Snapchat does not require a lot of planning beforehand.  It is meant to capture a moment and it is hard to know what moment you are going to capture before it happens.

“Now all this information is fine and dandy, but how can I realistically use this for my organization?  How do I even get started?”

First tip: Develop Content. Developing content for Snapchat is very unique compared to developing content for any other kind of social media.  Since it is completely based on creating something visually stimulating within a 10 second period, you can’t afford to be long-winded on Snapchat.  Show your audience something interesting;  show them how your product works or give some behind the scenes of your company or an event.

Second tip: Be Interactive.  With any social media outlet, it’s just as important to be interactive with your audience as it is to have quality content.  Companies have an opportunity to ask their audience to reply and interact on Snapchat.  Think of this:  If the Susan G. Komen foundation wanted to raise awareness or do something different for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they could work with Snapchat to maybe create a “Think Pink” filter and have people snap pictures back to them using the filter or even taking pictures and posting them on different social media.

Snapchar may be new and mostly geared towards a younger generation, but it is not to be underestimated in its ability to reach an audience.  Be creative.  Be interesting.  Be educational.  And just as importantly, have fun with it!  Happy snapping!

 

Social Media and Your Psyche

Social Media is singly one of the biggest growing industries in the world.  Social Media now has things like positions opening in the job market to large corporations and organizations taking part in it to the normal, every day use.  But is there such a thing as too much use of social media?  Studies show yeah, kind of.

Social Media has become so addicting, it’s often the last thing people check before they go to bed and the first thing they check when they wake up in the morning.  Social media has also shown to contribute to things like high levels of stresseffects on mental health, and can even contribute to illnesses such as eating disorders.

What is Social Media?

According to Medical News Today, social media is “array of Internet sites that enable people from all over the world to interact. This can be through discussion, photos, video and audio.”  This can be anything from FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and so on.  Although social media offers a unique way to connect with others, it does not come without a price.

How Social Media Affects You

Self-Esteem

According to a 2012 study done by Anxiety UK,  53% of participants reported a behavior change after using social media.  The study also showed that users who reported a higher use of Facebook had a negative impact on face-to-face interaction and even brought forth negative feelings about one’s self.

Social media use has even been linked to having effects on our egos and self-esteem.  It’s hard not to get an ego boost when your post receives a lot of likes or retweets, but at the same time when we do not receive the amount of “love” from our fellow users, it can breed a sense of inadequacy within ourselves.

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In the same thread, we start comparing our lives and accomplishments to what we see others post on social media, creating an unwarranted sense of competition.  On the flip side, social media can also develop narcissistic behavior.  According to Panek, people can overestimate the value of their opinions on social media.  The compulsive need to check in with social media may sometimes do more harm than it does good.

Body Image

Over exposure to social media can also mean over exposure to media that can negatively affect the way you see yourself.  One of the most common, and somewhat shocking, instances is a trend called Thinsirpation, also known as Thinspo.  This trend basically promotes unhealthy ways of losing weight in order to be “beautiful” or “starving for perfection.”

These posts have shown to directly influence and encourage eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.  The effects that social media can have on self-esteem can also directly relate to eating disorders.  The feelings of inadequacy are similar, but this instance is specifically about how we view ourselves and our bodies.

What You Can Do

Put the phone down for a bit.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to be connected to your friends, colleagues, and even the world around you, but overuse of social media can become addictive and very stressful and damaging.  Putting your phone down for a little while every now and then can help strengthen your relationships outside of the internet, reduce stress, and make you more connected to people and things outside of social media.  Give it shot.

Pin It on Health

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Most people don’t necessarily think of health organizations when they think of Pinterest.  I know most of us usually think something more along the lines of cute DIY projects or ideas for new recipes to try at home, but organizations are finding innovative new ways to use Pinterest for marketing purposes.

But what even is Pinterest?  Pinterest is a social bookmarking site developed in 2009 that focuses on sharing photos that are usually linked to another page.  Users can organize their “pins” by categories on things called “boards.”  Basically it is an online version of pinning pictures to a cork board in your room, except there are millions of pictures or ideas and the boards are just a little bit bigger.  It also has the third most popular social media site behind Facebook and Twitter.

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What Pinning Can Do for Your Organization

Pinterest offers a unique opportunity to connect with people in terms of a visual product.  When most people think of health in terms of Pinterest, we usually think of those “Four Workouts for Toner Legs” pictures or a very (intimidatingly) in-shape model with an inspirational quote attached to it.

Organizations found that it allows access to a a specific demographic, specifically women and mothers, who are five times more likely to use Pinterest compared to men.  Women are also very influential in many health decisions in a family, therefore organizations are looking for new ways to target this demographic through social media.

Using Pinterest also allows a quick, easy way to market and promote for your organization.  Sharing infographics, flyers, PSA’s, or just information in general becomes that much easier when you can post it to your profile.  Here is an example of an infographic from GOOD Magazine

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By organizing your organization’s different information into boards, it allows users to pick the board with the information they are most interested it.    Women’s Health Magazine does a great job of organizing their information into different, easily accessible boards.

Tips for Success

  1. Know Your Audience.  Keeping the user demographic of Pinterest is crucial in deciding what information you will pin and share to your organization’s page.  With more Pinterest users being women between the ages of 24 and 52 , organizations will be more likely to cater their information to this specific group.  With any organization or information, the biggest question should be, “Who are we trying to reach with this information?”
  2. Be Who You Are, Share Your Story.  Users are more likely to be trusting of an organization if they feel like they personally know them and what it is they are doing.  By posting the story of the organization or sharing behind-the-scenes pictures allows users to get a better idea and understanding of exactly what it is your organization is trying to achieve.
  3. Be Inviting.  People want to see that there are actual human beings behind the account of an organization, not just an automated computer system spewing out information.  Being personal and building relationships with your users will also create more brand recognition and a higher level of trust in your organization.

For more helpful tips, check it out here!

Tweet Your Way to Success

If Facebook is the “parent” idea of social media, Twitter is the teenager who is talking a million miles a minute.

Developed in 2006, Twitter has been one of the fastest growing social sites, with over 500 million users, since the development of Facebook.  I mean, is anyone shocked there?  In spite of only having 140 characters per tweet, tweeting offers a constant stream of information in shorthand.  But what even is Twitter?

Twitter is something known as a microblog, which is basically a type of blog that allows users to post short updates.  Things like Instagram or Yik Yak can also be considered microblogs.

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Even if you still aren’t quite sure what a microblog is, Twitter is definitely a must-have for personal and professional social sharing.  Sign-up is simple, but here is a step by step video on how to sign up.

Tweet Your Way to #Success

I’m sure you’re going to have a lot of questions joining Twitter; Who to follow, what to tweet, how to get people to follow you, etc.  Here a few tips on how to successfully utilize twitter:

  1. Start with a good profile picture and cover photo.  This will be the first thing that anyone viewing your profile will see.  You want clear, high quality photos whether it be a selfie or the logo of your company or whatever you decide on.
  2. Be clear and concise in your bio.  Now your bio can be funny or serious or however you want to be perceived, but regardless of what tone you write in, be very clear about what you do or what your page is about.  And, with only 160-characters of space, you can’t afford to be Ernest Hemingway when explaining yourself in your bio.  Also, check, double check, and re-check for any spelling or grammar errors.  That’d be embarrassing….
  3.  Keep your tweets short and be conversational.  Keeping tweets around 100 characters is generally a good rule of thumb when tweeting just as much as being conversational is.  You want to seem approachable and knowledgeable.  Building customer relations is one of the most important things if you are creating a page for a business or organization.
  4. Take it easy on the hashtags.  Although hashtags can be useful when joining a trending topic or searching for specific key words, seeing one after every word is extremely annoying.
  5. Tweet about what you know.  Similar to writing your bio, if your page focuses on a specific topic, tweet about that topic!  If you are a fashion page, you aren’t going to go tweeting about deep sea exploration.

Mental Health America does a great job of following these general guidelines.  Both their header and profile picture are the logo of the organization, their bio is short and concise while also utilizing a hashtag, and their first few tweets show conversation with others.

Want more tips?  Check out this nifty infograph for more Twitter tips.

What Twitter Can Do for Your Organization

Along with all the funny videos and pictures out there, Twitter will give you a unique opportunity to share your information for your organization.  Promotion and marketing is made that much easier because with every retweet your information receives, that’s a whole new audience being exposed to not only the information, but the organization itself.

Twitter also allows your organization to communicate with clients or just people in general in a more relaxed setting.  If Jimmy Johns, Under Armour, or  Office Depot can utilize and master communicating with people over Twitter, I’m sure you can, too.  Remember, be personable and approachable while still being knowledgeable.

Twitter also has this cool new tool called Periscope, which is basically a live stream video that lasts for about 24 hours.  Do something fun! Live stream an event, let your audience see what it is your organization actually does.

Now, go with this information and tweet your way to your #goals!

 

Get Friendly with Facebook

In a time where staying connected is crucial to every day life, social media has taken on a life of its own with the plethora of sites and apps that allow us to keep up with the world around us.

One of the most popular, and probably the oldest of other popular apps, is Facebook.  With over 700 million registered users, Facebook takes the cake in terms of accessibility to current and future clients. People are spending more and more time time on the internet with over 22% of that time being dedicated to social media.

With more time being spent on social media, this becomes an incredible opportunity for campaigns and organizations to utilize this new medium for their own use.

Facebook is in the process of becoming a “jack-of-all-trades” in terms of social media.  They are looking to be somewhat similar to Google in the sense that they want to be the source that people come to to find information.  Surprisingly, over 40% of surveyed people said they turn to social networks (Facebook het) to find health information, whether it is health and dieting tips or finding out more about specific providers and organizations.

So What Can Facebook Do For Me?

Facebook is unique in that it offers a two-way channel of communication.  What this means is that organizations can not only connect with their audience, but their audience can connect back with them, be it through commenting, liking, or sharing.  In other words, it is perfect for marketing.

According to Healthcare Success, here are a few benefits of using Facebook:

  • It’s free, for the most part.  It’s free to sign up for and fairly easy to get started on a page. Granted, it will take some maintenance and attention to make your page successful.  You will have to stay updated with content to keep your audience interested.  The only thing that will cost you is if you were planning on advertising on the site as well.
  • It’s interactive.  Instead of just having a traditional website that merely presents information, Facebook allows organizations to communicate with their audience, have their audience communicate with them, and have their audience communicate with others.
  • It lets you brand yourself.  Making your mark on social media can be crucial to your reputation.  What you say or post about your organization directly affects how your audience will see you.

On top of these benefits, Facebook has been working on creating new feature to help non-profits and other organizations utilize Facebook more effectively.  Recently. Facebook developed a way for users to donate to a non-profit without having to leave Facebook.

There are a few organizations that nailed Facebook, creating different campaigns to get their audience involved.  Organizations like Breast Cancer Awareness and the It Gets Better Project utilized Facebook to reach a larger audience and through shares and audience participation, their content gained quite a bit of attention and traction.

Blogging: Yes, That’s Still a Thing

When most of us think of blogging, something along the lines of Tumblr comes to mind: pictures, videos, funny and relatable texts posts, the whole shebang.  But believe it or not, blogging can be used for so much more, and the best part is, you can blog about just about anything.

Want to blog about amazing food?  Make a food blog.

Want to share your amazing fashion sense?  Make a fashion blog.

Obsessed with how amazing your dog is?  Dedicate a blog to that beautiful mutt.

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Getting Started

The hardest part of anything is getting started, whether it is getting started on a new diet, starting a new project, or even just starting your homework (guilty).

For all your basic questions (i.e. What is a blog? What does it look like? etc.) please refer to this “What is a Blog?” video.

Although blogging has an endless amount of options of things that can be blogged about, I’ve often found that people, in any form of writing, struggle with settling on a topic.  Selecting a topic sounds simple enough, but when it comes down to actually writing about it, people seem to get stuck.

If you have a food blog, is it going to be reviews of food?  Your own recipes?  A log of things you’ve eaten or made?  Tips with cooking?

The trick I’ve found is find a topic that: A) you are interested in, B) that has a wide enough scope so you can have options of entries, and C) that is narrow enough so your reader doesn’t feel overwhelmed.

Once you’ve picked a topic, then there are matters of layout, writing style, entry ideas, etc.  The most important things to remember when blogging, regardless of topic, are:

  • Know your audience
    • It always does well to know who you would want reading your blog.  Different audiences have different needs, meaning different styles or themes may appeal to them.
  • Do research
    • You do not know everything in the world, I promise, and doing research on whatever your topic may be will make you much more credible in the long run.  You may even learn something in the process.
  • Be yourself
    • Regardless of your topic, remember this is your blog.  Your readers will come back for what you have to say, let your personality shine!

(For more tips, please see “Beginner’s Blogging Tips” and “16 Rules of Blog Writing and Layout”).

Now, be on your way.  Good luck, bloggers!