• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • Duo Consulting
    Michael Silverman on October 15, 2014

    4 Reasons Drupal Is the Best Social CMS

    It turns out Drupal and Social Media are a match made in heaven. Because of Drupal’s system of modules, integration with external websites can be as easy as installing a module that fits your site’s needs. And once these modules are installed, you will have a central place to manage profile information and plug-in modules, such as follow and share buttons.
  • A survey released today by Hootsuite and Nielsen validate the role of social for businesses. However, it also finds that companies don't know what to do with all of their social data, and that departments rarely collaborate on their social business strategies.

    A survey released today underscores the importance of social to business, but also reveals the challenges businesses have dealing with the amount and types of data produced by social.

    Social media software company and consumer ratings giant Nielsen surveyed employees in medium to large-scale enterprises across North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and found that while 88% recognize the importance of social, 60% have trouble taking their data and turning it into something actionable.

    The survey also revealed that the use of social is becoming more widespread in companies, but that departments are not always working together. Three of four respondents say that social plays an expanding role in their companies, but the majority (64%) concedes that aligning strategies across departments is difficult.

    “One of the things revealed by the survey is the need for education around social,” says Jeanette Gibson VP, Customer Success and Community at Hootsuite. “Companies need to learn how to drive their social data, how to understand it, and how to make it useful.”

    Gibson says that companies need foster more collaboration around social, and figure out how to connect it to their business strategies. “It was surprising to us how far behind some businesses are on making the shift from tactical to strategy,” Gibson adds.

    It is clear, however, that business understands the value of social for interacting with customers and influencers. A majority of the respondents (84%) view building relationships with existing customers as the inherent value of social media, followed by the ability to learn about the company’s reputation (81%), and to monitor external communication (79%).

    Additionally, 74 percent of organizations value social media’s capability in resolving customer complaints and questions.  “Businesses get that social is really about building relationship with customers—connecting with them and understanding their needs,” says Gibson.

    When I attend a conference, view a video or see a presentation, I look for something that is going to set my heart ablaze and send my mind wheeling. I wonder where I will be taken or how I will be surprised. Dan Pink’s book, To Sell is Human, explains the formula deployed to great success by Pixar. It goes something like this.

    When I studied literature, I was fascinated by form. By the words. Arrangement. Layout. And narrative. I loved the way that John Fowles would create untrustworthy narrators that led the story in new, unexpected directions. And I loved Antonin Artaud’s dangerous writings. Or Christopher Barnett’s language that was so revolutionary it broke the words. I was intrigued and excited by writing that would break the language and our expectations and then reconstruct things completely new. It was a disruption to thought and expectation and it blew my mind.

    But the best of these writers were not rampant destroyers of meaning. They were articulate explorers pushing the limits of language and the implicit bargain that writers make with their readers. Sometimes it would work and take us – together – on new journeys. And sometimes I’d throw the book against the wall and leave it to make its own way back to the shelf. The thing is, that the best of these writers were masters of their craft – and they’d work very deliberately to take us as readers on a journey – it just so happened that the by-product of that journey would be some form of collision or catastrophe of language. And in that way, the product of the writing was not the book – but the experience. Of reading. Co-creating meaning. Disruption.

    So when I attend a conference, view a video or see a presentation, I look for something that is going to set my heart ablaze and send my mind wheeling. I wonder where I will be taken or how I will be surprised. And more often than not, I am disappointed.

    There is no narrative. No journey to follow and become involved with. It’s just facts. Numbers. And opportunities for micro-naps.

    It’s a slow death being hammered by statistics.

    But it doesn’t have to be this way.

    Dan Pink’s book, To Sell is Human, explains the formula deployed to great success by Pixar. It goes something like this:

    Once upon a time <something happened>.

    Every day <life went on like this>.

    One day <something changed>.

    Because of that <the world was never the same again>.

    Until finally <a new world became the next chapter>.

    Now, I am not going to say that this formula will change your world. Nor that each presentation needs to be a masterpiece.

    But if your job is communication (and if it’s not, why are you presenting?), then do your audience a favour and wheel out the Pixar Pitch. You might just be amazed at the impact it has.

    PAISAN HOMHUAN / Shutterstock.com

    It's easy to get wrapped up in the storm of social media, but savvy social media users are deliberate about their engagement. They make a concerted effort to have regular "indoor recess" days, where they step away from the tweet-by-tweet action, and focus on select projects with the promise of longer-term impact.

    The best and worst part of social media is that there's never a shortage of things to do. If you frequent Social Media Today, chances are your days are already filled with posting, monitoring and responding to the world your social activity helps create.

    It's easy to get wrapped up in the storm of social media, but savvy social media users are deliberate about their engagement. They make a concerted effort to have regular "indoor recess" days, where they step away from the tweet-by-tweet action, and focus on select projects with the promise of longer-term impact.

    It's a smart strategy, and one that anyone can emulate. Here are five such rainy day projects that can help you get started.

    1. Find Feedly Fodder

    Unless you are hilarious, famous or hilarious and famous, the surest path to social media success is being a resource for your followers. In this vein, content discovery is crucial to sustained social media success. Producing content is great too, but not everyone has the time or inclination to write the posts that the whole world reads.

    The first step to sharing great content is finding great content. To this end, Feedly is an integral tool in any social media arsenal. As a socially integrated, easily customizable RSS aggregator, Feedly gives users useful tools for finding, organizing and digesting content. It's the best tool I've seen for combing through hundreds of articles and finding sharable content. I'd estimate that more than 70% of my social media activity starts with something I unearth in Feedly.

    You should use Feedly every day and also make time every few months to search for new feeds to add to Feedly. Having a regular rotation of sources helps diversify your knowledge and improve your shares. If you read the same three sources all the time your shares will start to feel predictable and stale (nobody likes the guy who only shares BuzzFeed stories).

    If you need some help getting started, or are looking for some content to add, here's a screenshot of three of my Feedly sections that consistently yield interesting content (juts type in the outlet title into Feedly and it will find it for you to add).

    Feedly Snapshot

    2. Create a Network Map

    In the spirit of more fruitful networking, it's worth making a concerted effort to capitalize on your connections by scheduling in-person meetings when you travel. Whether it's connecting with old friends, or those LinkedIn contacts who you only kind of know, there's rarely a downside to a coffee meeting with someone in your network. This is an opportunity to rekindle dormant relationships, keep yourself on a contact's radar and/or to pick someone else's brain about anything that you're interested in.

    The main barrier to such interactions are typically lack of pre-planning and a surprising lack of knowledge of where your contacts physically reside. Carving out two to three hours to make a map of where your contacts live is an effective way to remedy both problems. Most people have 80-90% of their career-oriented contacts in LinkedIn, with the rest on Twitter or maybe Facebook. With this in mind, creating the map is largely about pulling up your LinkedIn network and going contact-by-contact, with some crosschecking of your other social networks at the end.=

    There are many different ways to create the actual map, including buying a physical map and using pushpins along with a corresponding key; or creating an Excel document that has major cities in one column, contacts residing in that city in the second column and their contact information in the third column. Any way you go, the point is to have a comprehensive sense of who you know and where they live.

    Once you have your map, make sure you refer to it frequently, and keep it in mind any time business travel looms on the horizon.

    3. Conduct a Top Tweets Audit

    There are plenty of analytics tools that you should regularly use to make sense of your Twitter habits and results. However, these metrics are only as useful as your ability to interpret them. If you aren't a an analytics whiz, then a simpler approach might work better for you.

    MyTopTweet.com is an elegant free tool that shows any Twitter handle's top 10 tweets by the number of retweets it generates.

    My Top Tweet

    Take an hour to look up your top 10 tweets, and write out the characteristics of these tweets as thoroughly as you can. Things to focus on include: subject-matter, use of images, photos, links, hashtags, @mentions, replies and anything else you can think of.

    If you're willing to go the extra mile, look up the top tweets of someone you want to emulate on Twitter and conduct the same exercise of listing key characteristics. In either case, it's a small sample size, so don't weigh yourself down based on what you find, but use the information to make tweaks to your Twitter activity. You'll be encouraged by the results.

    4. Quantify Your LinkedIn Profile

    Whether you have a job you love or not, it behooves you to build an excellent LinkedIn profile. More often than not, landing your dream job is the result of steady networking over time and not a flash of serendipity.

    One of the best uses of your time on LinkedIn is spending 30 minutes every six months to quantify your profile. Everyone makes statements about their accomplishments and value on their resume, but HR departments love the people who go the extra mile and back up their statements with data. This isn't as challenging as it sounds, here are a few examples of simple quantification that lends heft to a LinkedIn profile:

    • Spearheaded promotions for a blog launch, which drove 25,000+ views in its first week
    • Netted 14 new clients, adding $200,000 in new revenue over 18 months
    • Managed a team of six across two continents

    Sprinkling a few numbers throughout your profile will make your resume seem substantive and factual. Don't be surprised to have recruiters jump on these points and ask you about them during exploratory calls in the future.

    5. Form Your Own Image Library

    If you're anything like me, then the token picture is the last and hardest thing to finishing a post. It invariably takes far too long to come up with something only halfway satisfying. The truth is that more time, effort and imagination needs to go to the images we use in our social activity.

    I've found that maintaining a personal image library is a good way to improve in this regard. As I scour the Internet, I always have an eye open for images I like; pictures I can envision a use for in the future. Similarly, I've started keeping a list of images that are worth creating for future use. The cameras on our phones and free tools like Canva, make image creation easier than it's ever been. Even with such tools, if you lack visual imagination your best bet is finding a friend with design aptitude and bribing them shamelessly (nachos for a bit of Photoshop, anyone?).


    Take a few hours some afternoon to set up your image library (there are tons of ways to set this up--from a Cloud-based option like Evernote to a standard folder set up with Windows Explorer). You'll find yourself growing it steadily over time and turning to it over and over again in the future.

    What's the difference between paid, owned, and earned media? If you're looking for easy-to-understand definitions, The Media Octopus has pulled together a great infographic that explains everything.

    In our fast-moving marketing and digital spaces, social media and online PR continue to gain more significance as the processes of budgeting, reporting and investing in media evolve to reach multi-channel audiences.

    As a result, it is becoming more important than ever for brands and businesses to distinguish between paid, earned and owned media, as well as understanding the individual parts they can play within a comprehensive marketing mix.

    We acknowledge that these types of media aren’t new but rather; the approach and prominence of owned and earned media has changed from a dominant focus on paid media with regards to traditional advertising.

    While all three are crucial for marketing activities, time, money and resources dedicated to each is determined by industry and target audience.

    Here we have highlighted the key differences between the media types, identifying how each can offer lucrative opportunities to influence customers and fit into your marketing activities, both on and offline:

    Paid, owned and earned media - Social Media

    This infographic was pulled together by the Digital Marketing Agency, The Media Octopus.

    It’s not enough these days just to have a website. Lots of people think that having a website equals online presence. You build it, they will come. Wrong!

    It’s not enough these days just to have a website. Lots of people think that having a website equals online presence. You build it, they will come.

    Wrong! An online presence is meaningful engagement with your internal and external stakeholders. Your site won’t even get near the right eyeballs on Google if you don’t consider content and social network engagement. Once the forbidden zone, social media is now front and centre in your marketing and PR plan.

    Before you start using social media for business purposes, do some groundwork first. You’ve got to put some serious thought into exactly what it is you want your efforts to achieve.  You might already have a personal Facebook profile, but you can’t apply the same principles to your business presence as you would for yourself. 

    Here’s a list of things to consider carefully before getting out there amongst it.

    1. What are your objectives?

    Many businesses start out on social media without having a clear idea of exactly what it is they want to achieve. As every social media platform can be used to serve different purposes, it is a good idea to understand what your objectives are in order to make the most out of the available platforms.

    Figure out what your objectives are (usually one of the following):

    • To position your organisation as an employer of choice
    • To drive more traffic to your website
    • Improve your reputation
    • Provide customer service
    • Generate more sales

    2. Know your audience

    Social media can be used as an incredibly powerful tool to directly target your existing and potential networks – if you know who (and where) they are. Spend some time figuring out who your target audience is and where to find them.

    3. Your presence on social media

    Once you have figured out the first two important items (Objectives and Audience), the next step is to figure out which platforms to use.

    With over a billion accounts, Facebook may be the biggest social network, but it may not be where your customers are. Now you know who your target audience is, it is important to pick the network where the greatest proportion of that audience is spending most of their time. 

    You can find statistics about who is using each social network at Socialbakers.

    4. Levels of engagement

    Decide on whether your business posts once a day or once a week. The more often you post relevant and timely content, the higher your levels of engagement. Like a person, a business positions itself online through its actions. A high level of intellectual and emotional commitment is required to engage effectively.

    A business’ level of engagement can be divided into groups:

    • Champions - those who know and care and like to be involved in conversations online
    • Loose Cannons - those that care but aren’t informed enough to have input
    • Bystanders - those who know but don’t care enough to contribute to online conversations
    • Weak Links - those who neither know enough to comment and don’t care.

    Click here to see a levels of engagement diagram.

    5. Resourcing

    A common reaction to resourcing social media channels is, “it takes so much time and we don’t have the resources”. However, the focus should be on outcomes. If social media communication can achieve business objectives, it is worth the investment, and choosing to use social media may mean redeployment of resources, not greater investment.

    Content planning drives efficiency.

    It is good practice to prepare a content calendar that identifies sources of information that your stakeholders will find interesting, and want to engage with. Build in key events within your business, and ways in which you will build up the promotion of these on your social media accounts.  

    Assessing the following will result in maximum efficiency:

    • Time vs. impact
    • Staff level of experience
    • Supporting tools (see below)
    • Content planning

    6. Online social media management tools

    There are many tools available online that will help you manage your social media accounts, saving time. These tools not only allow you to schedule content ahead of time, most of them contain basic analytics on your social media activity. Most of these are free to use, but the paid tools are quite cost effective at around $10 per month.

    Some useful online social media management tools:

    • HootSuite
    • Buffer
    • Social Flow
    • SproutSocial

    7. Timing

    Be aware of when your target audience is online. It is pointless to post meaningful and engaging content at times when no one is online to read it. Be sure to post in a timely fashion to ensure maximum impact.

    Experiment with what time of day you post and test content that results in higher interaction. Often, your target demographic is using social media on public transport on the way to or from work. Use this insight to plan your content schedule.

    8. Building a community

    It is easy to become focused on achieving ‘Likes’ rather than engagement and building a respected community of advisories and peers.

    Be discerning. It is better to have a small number of high quality followers than a large amount of superfluous ‘Likers’.

    Example: LinkedIn provides the option to make a group private. This enables the group administrator to act as a gateway and only permit those they feel would be valuable to the community to join the group. Use this to your advantage.

    9. Visual representation

    Remember that you are marketing your business using social media. Each platform must reflect the brand’s overall visual identity. As each platform is different, bespoke graphic representation must be created for each to create a visual flow across all online presence.

    10. Risk management

    A lot of social media content is about positive messaging, but you need to be prepared for the dark side. Take the time to develop internal social media guidelines and policy; a document that outlines what could go wrong and what action to take in the event of a social media meltdown.

    This strong set of social media guidelines should be provided to new employees and will help them understand how your business or organisation uses social media and how to uphold the values of company and express the brand when posting.

    11. Content decision making framework

    A simple content decision making framework assists in checking content before distribution.

    Ellis Jones - content decision making framework

    Image credit: Cameron Russell via Flickr Creative Commons