• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 18, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • Christmas is a time of year that evoke feelings of generosity and community, especially in the social media world. We have seen A LOT of changes, both good and bad, this past year and there are more looming in the first part of 2015. With changes, we tend to feel like starting over. New strategies, new tools, new actions we must take.

    My daughters have started to make their Christmas wish lists. Actually, they started back during the summer. Christmas is a time of year that evoke feelings of generosity and community, especially in the social media world.

    We have seen A LOT of changes, both good and bad, this past year and there are more looming in the first part of 2015. With changes, we tend to feel like starting over. New strategies, new tools, new actions we must take.

    This post isn’t about that. Back to the Christmas lists.

    I recently surveyed my community about what they would ask Santa for for Christmas. Here is a social media pro’s wish list…

    Dear Santa,

    We’ve been really good this year. We made it through all the changes without going bezerk. We gave back and helped businesses move forward. We would like to think we all made the good list this year.

    Here is what I would like to ask you for…

    • For Facebook to stop tweaking organic reach.
    • For a social media professional board to certify social media professionals to weed out the fakers from the authentic.
    • A personal assistant to help with day-to-day duties.

    In addition, my friends would like…

    • To be able to tweet in my sleep. – Brian Fanzo
    • A free (API approved) Instagram scheduling tool! I know, it’s a lot to ask. But if anyone can do it, Santa can, right?  – Jenn Herman
    • All of our social media analytics pre-packaged in an easy to understand presentation. Preferably tied together with a neat little bow. – ThomasNet RPM
    • A few more fun clients to work with and one big speaking gig. – Dorien Morin-van Dam
    • A drama-free Facebook. – Kim Dick
    • 1000 new clients and a personal assistant who understands all things tech savvy so I don’t have to do the nuts and bolts “stuff”!  – Donna Sumner Hovey
    • I would like for it to be required that people read (and hopefully comprehend) the articles that are posted before commenting. – Amy Addison
    • More Time! – Blue Flame Design
    • Get a coffee break with Gary V! – Anna Zubarev
    • A transporter! – Rhiannon MacDonnell

    Lastly, I would like success for all of my fellow social media pro friends. We all have varying strengths and focuses and work really hard at what we do.

    Please consider our requests and we’ll be looking out for you December 25!


    Social Media Pros Everywhere

    What would YOU add to your social media Christmas list?

    Photo Credit: Social Media Christmas List/shutterstock

    Social Sensitivity is being able to recognize social contexts and cues in conversations. In business, and in life, this is an important skill to have because it demonstrates that you are aware of other people in social and business situations.

    I’m reading Focus by Daniel Goleman. One of the topics he discusses is social sensitivity, which is being able to recognize social contexts and cues in conversations. In business, and in life, this is an important skill to have because it demonstrates that you are aware of other people in social and business situations. If you’ve ever been in a situation where someone isn’t socially sensitive, you know what its like. The person keeps talking about themselves and whatever they are interested in, and doesn’t listen to anything you say and refuses to see the nonverbal cues that also demonstrate you aren’t interested. When this kind of situation occurs it becomes very awkward for everyone around the person. I see this situation occur a lot in networking. I’ll go to a networking event and there will be one or two people there who just don’t seem to be aware of how much they are hogging the conversation.

    It is possible to become more socially sensitive. One of the ways you can do this involves practicing mindfulness. Being mindful involves focusing on being aware of your surroundings and other people, in a manner where you pay close attention to what is being said or done. Before you go to a networking event, take a few moments and ask yourself what you want to say and how you want to show up to people. When you go to the event, keep that awareness in your mind so that you focus on only telling people what you want them to know. When they speak, focus on listening to them intently. Ask some questions to show interest in them (you can come up with these before you go to the event as well). By doing this you will be more aware of other people and it will help you learn how to read the verbal and nonverbal cues they share.

    In situations where you are doing business with someone from another country, social sensitivity is even more important. Each culture has its own particular behaviors which are considered acceptable, and other behaviors which aren’t considered acceptable. Recently I started working with a client from another culture. When we discussed some business strategies, she explained to me that there were some things she couldn’t do or would need to do differently because of how people would respond in her country. She needed to be less direct than an American might be, because such directness could be considered rude.

    Even in the U.S. you will find that certain subcultures or ethnicities have different expectations about how business should be conducted. What might be acceptable to one ethnicity, might be considered rude to another. It’s very important that in such situations you make the extra effort to learn what is considered acceptable behavior versus rude behavior. By demonstrating such social sensitivity you show that you are aware of and respect what other people feel is important. In business and in life respect is what really shows how committed you are to developing the relationships that make your business successful.

    Facebook's war on marketing is causing an unexpected side effect: it is challenging brands to create better marketing.

    Facebook has brands worried…again.

    A recent article headline from Ad Age magazine summed up this concern perfectly, announcing that “Facebook Cuts Brands’ Reach Once Again.

    Of course they did.

    One of the biggest issues facing the largest social media platforms today is how to monetize their offerings. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are all working on a solution to this same challenge, and it has marketers justifiably worried. What will they start charging for? And how will they ransom the data they have collected?

    The problem for brands is that we no longer live in a “paid, owned and earned world” of media. A growing amount of media and audiences are rented. Space on Facebook is rented. Tweets and Twitter audiences are rented. Instagram pages, vine videos, and YouTube channels are all rented. What this fourth category of media means is that all the associated data and insights generated from users doesn’t belong to brands. That insight, also, must be rented … usually in the form of advertising.

    So when Facebook announced last week that they are making another change to further hide “overly promotional posts” from brands, it was widely seen as another move from the platform to try and steer brands towards spending more money on advertising. And it may work.

    It is tempting to see this as a bad thing. After all, the more money Facebook can extort from brands in order to reach consumers or access deeper data and insights the worse it will be, right? No one wants a world where Facebook can control the pricing for all digital advertising and effectively charge whatever they want.

    Yet the signs are already on the wall that this is not the world we are heading for. Instead, Facebook (and others’) war on marketing is causing an unexpected side effect: it is challenging brands to create better marketing.

    Great marketing isn’t overly promotional. In fact, it usually doesn’t seem like marketing at all. It solves a need. It provides value. It entertains. Great marketing is immune to algorithmic shifts for a very simple reason: consumers actually like it and want to share it.

    This is one of the reasons why content marketing has become such a powerful tactic in the world of marketing. It is not about creating more blog posts or videos. It is about creating something substantial. Something that is more than an ad or a promotion. The good news is plenty of brands are rising to meet the challenge.

    Revlon is partnering with Refinery29 to create a beautiful curated series featuring trendsetters, musicians, entrepreneurs and entertainers called Beauty Nation. The effort features amazing photography, engaging editorial and appropriate and interesting product integration from Revlon.


    A few months ago, HP partnered with Vine video star Robby Ayala to produce several videos featuring one of their tablets in an entertaining way that was looped more than 12 million times and became one of the most popular videos on Vine.

    Robby Ayala - HP

    Just last month, Honda released a mind bending two sided video promoting the new Civic which is sure to win some marketing awards and rapidly went viral on YouTube with millions of shares and plenty of media coverage.

    Each of these efforts succeeds because of brilliant creativity, smart product integration and a focus on providing an entertaining story and experience that people are highly likely to share. It also happens to be the kind of marketing that is immune to getting filtered or hidden by algorithms.

    The panic marketing teams are feeling at the recent Facebook announcement is certainly understandable. But I think it may not be solely driven by the fear that Facebook will be able to charge and make more money through advertising. It may also come from the realization that boring, lazy marketing is now actively getting filtered, forcing brands to get more creative and produce better marketing.

    For that reason, Facebook may just be doing us all a huge favor.

    top image: facebook / shutterstock

    Retargeting on social media is quickly becoming common practice. Using data wisely may be the key to navigating the line between creepy and effective.

    Have you ever visited a website, or liked a company’s Facebook page, only to see ads for that website or that company appearing on your sidebar or in your social media news feeds? Kind of creepy, isn’t it?

    Creepy though it may be, it won’t be changing anytime soon. In fact, it’s probably going to happen more frequently. This is just another example of marketing’s changing landscape. Big data has taught us to learn a lot from the vast amounts of information produced everyday. Retailers can learn shopping habits from transaction records. Healthcare industries can be more reactive by anticipating outbreaks before they happen. There’s no limit to what businesses in any industry can learn. And while information can be gathered from almost anywhere, there is one medium that has drastically changed how we gain information more than the others.  

    Social media has disrupted the communications industry. Of course, we immediately equate social media with the ability to stay in touch and share pictures, but it runs so much deeper than that. Social media has had a profound impact on marketing and advertising industries. Social media has opened the floodgates of consumer data and drowned out demographic advertisements. In fact, the days of targeting specific demographics are dying. Companies will no longer have to gamble the success of their marketing campaigns on the assumption that they understand the broad needs of a large group of people. Instead, companies can gain tremendous amounts of detailed information on individuals through their social media accounts. With algorithms that are becoming even more complex and reactive, social media information is creating a world of individualized marketing. One where ads and promotions are tailored to meet the specific needs of specific people.

    Many people aren’t comfortable with the idea that businesses are using social media to spy on them. In fact, social sites like Facebook always face some level of controversy surrounding their new algorithms and privacy policy changes. People love the idea of free social networking sites, but don’t like knowing these companies are profiting off their personal information.

    Every post made, comment liked, or page shared gives an insight into who we are. New features also allow social media sites to learn why certain ads don’t appeal to us, and which ones we tend to react to more. All of this data is filtered into these complex algorithms that learn our tendencies and create more and more content designed specifically for us. It’s almost like a game of 21 questions. The more we respond and react, the more we can narrow down what we are looking for. Ask enough questions, or provide enough information, and content can get very specific.

    Companies would have to be crazy to ignore this type of information. Most have realized this, and have tried to improve their social presence. Some use it simply as a means of improving interaction, but smart companies also use it to listen to what people are saying, follow their trends and glean relevant information.

    However, gaining insights from social media isn’t a cakewalk. Every minute there are 100,000 tweets, 3,600 new Instagram photos and almost 700,000 pieces of content shared on Facebook. That’s a lot, and only a small piece of the social media pie. Managing all that information is a complicated process. Companies looking to take advantage of this wealth of information will need to invest in proper services designed to handle it all. Computer frameworks like the Apache Spark are perfect for social media, because they are designed expressly for fast, large-scale data analysis. Using these types of services will allow companies to quickly execute real-time queries, develop interactive algorithms, and create big data graphics to help visualize social network information and targeted advertising.

    Big data analysis, paired with social media, has helped advertising and marketing departments deliver targeted, individualized content using hundreds of data points. So don’t be surprised if you express an interest in sports and suddenly start seeing lots of Nike ads, or you want a new computer and Best Buy tries to contact you. That’s the future of marketing, so we might as well embrace it.

    Image Source: Pixabay

    Tone is the overall attitude you as the author take towards your subject. It decides how readers will read a piece and how they will feel about the subject. It creates a mood. And, more than any other single piece of the puzzle, it determines your brand voice.
    Over the last few weeks, we’ve been examining the words you use to help uncover your brand voice.  We looked at your diction, your syntax, your similes and metaphors, and today we’re going to look at how all those things come together to create your tone.

    Tone is the overall attitude you as the author take towards your subject.  It decides how readers will read a piece and how they will feel about the subject. It creates a mood.

    And, more than any other single piece of the puzzle, it determines your brand voice.

    As I think you may have realized if you’ve been reading along, you can say the same thing in many different ways.

    “What a beautiful day!” she exclaimed, throwing her hands into the air like the birds flitting past.

    “What a beautiful day,” she grumbled, pulling on her rain coat and popping open her umbrella to create another dark spot in the sky.

    One of those statements is genuine, while one is sarcastic.  One is upbeat while the other is downcast. The difference is all in the words I chose and how I chose to string them together, the punctuation I used, and the similes and metaphors I chose. Overall, all those choices add up to the tone.

    And your tone is like your mood lighting.  The same way the colors of your website, your photography, your graphics all set a mood and a tone for your business, so too do your words. (And if they clash, it’s even worse, but that’s a topic for another day.)

    How to determine your tone and brand voice.

    If you go back and work through the exercises in the previous posts in this series, you’ll have a piece of writing all marked up with diction words circled and similes highlighted.  Take that piece of writing (or any piece of writing, really — I’m not picky) and answer the following questions.

    Using only the words you actually put on the paper (not what you meant to say or wanted to convey):

    How do you feel about your subject?
    How do you feel about your clients or customers?
    How do you feel about your worldview?

    You may find that your words are serious, comical, spectacular or distressing. You might notice that your words seem formal, informal, sarcastic, sad, or cheerful.  Whatever general sense your words convey — totally apart from what you may or may not have intended to convey — is your tone.

    How do you feel about what your words are saying about your topic?

    For example, if you found you use a lot of negative diction words, you may not like what that says about your brand—or it may feel like a perfect fit, because you’re a realist and want people to face their problems.

    I worked with a health coach who had two different brands. One she wanted to feel very loving, accepting, and helpful, like a word hug; the other was aimed at a different clientele, and needed to be more energetic, to-the-point, and witty.

    How do you want your brand to feel?

    Why does understanding your tone matter?

    Here’s the funny thing about tone: Whatever you’re feeling will come out in your writing when you least expect it. If you’re reviewing a product you don’t really like, but you want to give a positive review because the manufacturer sent you a free sample, I would bet money that your tone will shift slightly to the negative. And when you’re thrilled about something happening in your life or biz, your words will be just as ebullient.

    But when you’re conscious of those choices, you can choose different words and actually influence how your reader feels while reading. That’s a powerful tool.

    One of my favorite clients, Sarah Ancalmo, has been tweaking her brand to make sure that her clients understand (and are thrilled about the fact) that she is a luxury service provider, and that working with her is not like buying a dress off the rack, but rather custom ordering a bespoke gown from the designer.

    The blog posts we’d written in the past were funny and flirty, irreverent, witty and conversational, but when we started working on her catalogue of services, her intake questionnaires, and other documents her clients would directly interact with, we wanted the words to feel as special and luxurious as fine silk and champagne.

    I spent many hours with a thesaurus, picking exactly the right words, because that was the tone of elegant precision we were trying to create. Get became acquire. See became envision. And with those word choices, Sarah’s quirky blog voice morphed into a polished representation of her new brand.

    Words matter.

    The Internet is, at its core, a literary medium. You can have videos and images on your site or not, but you will almost certainly have words. And those words matter.

    When you spend a little time understanding how and why they matter, you’ll be heads and shoulders above your competition. Because whether your words are the equivalent of Barry White or some tinny accordion music, they’re going to set the mood for your potential customers. Better to choose the mood than to leave it up to chance!