• 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.
  • Greg Gerik
    Greg Gerik on September 16, 2014

    Shaking Up Social: Attending the Social Shake-Up in Atlanta

    Last year, the Social Shake-Up was one of the best social conferences to attend and this year promises to be even better. Here are a few of the hottest topics and sessions at the Shake-Up this year that are sure to deliver and drive this industry forward.
  • LPope
    Leah Pope on September 23, 2014

    Using Social Intelligence to Build the Sales Pipeline

    The social web has opened new channels for consumers to discuss products and brands, share opinions and ask for recommendations. Brands today must take a more responsive approach focused around interests relevant to the individual consumer. With the right tools in place, brands can uncover these opportunities, engage strategically and directly contribute to trackable lead generation.
  • Infographics serve a variety of purposes that make them very useful for Web 2.0. With so much information these days out on the web, people’s attention spans are very limited.

    The recent proliferation of social media has brought many new opportunities for everyday people to showcase their talents and provide information in different ways. Some do it with videos, others with photos and text. Another recent phenomenon that has sprung up in the past few years has been Infographics.

    Infographics serve a variety of purposes that make them very useful for Web 2.0. For one, with so much information these days out on the web, people’s attention spans are very limited. If they don’t find something visually appealing even if the content is great, there is a good chance they will pass right over it.

    Humans are, by nature, visual learners and Infographics can help you and your business stand out from the crowd. They provide a visual representation of information and research that has a high ability of getting noticed. They provide this content using color graphics, branding and typography in a way that can be easily understood.

    With the assistance of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, Infographics now have the ability to be shared, create backlinks (which search engines love) and have the potential to go viral. More importantly they can become a powerful marketing tool.

    Creating Infographics though isn’t always so simple. Good work takes time and there are many hours of research, planning and illustration involved in making them effective. You don’t though need to be great in Photoshop and know a great designer to create one. Tools like Piktochart and Visual.ly can help give your data a unique look to let you stand out from the crowd.

    Infographics have come a long way over the past years and their popularity is souring. As a marketing tool they can easily help present you and your business as an authority in your field and an educational resource.

    For more information on how to best utilize Infographics in your marketing strategy contact Big Couch Media Group at http://www.bigcouchmedia.com.

    Photo Credit: Infographics and Marketing/shutterstock

    The illusory superiority bias is one of the more common psychological biases to emerge in our working lives, which suggests that we tend to think we’re an awful lot better at things than we actually are.
    The illusory superiority bias is one of the more common psychological biases to emerge in our working lives.  For those that aren’t familiar with it, it suggests that we tend to think we’re an awful lot better at things than we actually are.  In a professional context, research has shown it to be particularly pronounced in senior management circles, where a lack of candid feedback extenuates the illusion that things are actually pretty good.

    I wonder at times if the social business world is not suffering from this itself, in the sense that it often makes very grand and worthwhile noises about how it is underpinning a revolution in how work is done, with this transformation making work a more rewarding and engaging place for all employees, and a more innovative and profitable one for organizations.

    Is it though?  I mean really?  In the earlier days of social business the concept was much less established than it is now, so many companies and individuals had to sell the notion of social business as a concept.  That’s great, but a good few of those early advocates gradually began to drift away from social business as a risky and innovative change in workplace behaviours, towards the much safer (and presumably more fertile) ground of social business as a social marketing adjunct.

    Those that survived, and indeed those that have since joined the movement, have still been pushing the cultural change aspects of social business.  They’re still peddling the line that this is about creating a workplace fit for the 21st century, yet the reality appears to be that most are just trying to sell the installation of enterprise social software, and to justify that usage with the same sort of metrics that used to be applied to social media usage in general (likes, comments, shares etc.).

    Have our workplaces really changed?  It’s hard to see a great deal of tangible evidence for it, and I wonder if there is almost an omerta here whereby no one is willing to question whether the things we’d love to see happening really are.  The illusory superiority bias persists largely because of a lack of feedback, or a lack of accurate feedback to be precise.  I wonder if the social business industry either has the feedback, or has it and doesn’t really want to listen to it.

    Far be it for me to be critical of professionals working in the field who have to do what they can to pay the bills, but this movement is almost built upon the potential for a cultural realignment in how organizations operate.  It isn’t built on pushing out messages on Facebook or installing an enterprise social network.  Has the message become lost?

    For some small businesses, resources may not be available to have a full-time manager who could handle all social media activities. This is where automation comes in.
    Curating and sharing quality content is a brilliant way to build your brand's online presence.
     
    However, for some small businesses, resources may not be available to have a full-time manager who could handle all social media activities. This is where automation comes in.

    Social media automation can help you to stay on point with your marketing by giving you the time and space to focus on engaging with your audience.

    Take a look at this infographic from insuranceoctopus that illustrates how social media automation can work for your business.

    Click image to enlarge

    How Facebook, Twitter, Google+ Content Automation Can Work For Your Compnay - #infographic

    2 key takeaways:

    Not everything should be automated, but as a general guide 'your own awesome content as well as other's awesome content' is a great formula to get into the habit of scheduling ahead of time. Scheduling and sharing the thoughts and quotes, or retweeting the content of others - particularly if they're an important or valued in your industry - Sends a message to your audience that you're supportive of the industry you're a part of. It's a great way of networking.

    Remember that automation is not a replacement for genuine interaction on social media but it can help to enhance it by freeing up time to find great content to share and to have meaningful engagement with your customers.

    Show Your Love, Connect With Us On Social Media: Google+ Facebook Pinterest Twitter
    Twitter chats can be a valuable part of your social media engagement strategy. Lesley Price shares her top tips and tools with us in this week's SMToolbox.

    Live Twitter chats are a great way to engage with your audience and to build deeper relationships on social media. This week I caught up with Lesley Price, CEO of the charity Learn Appeal, who helps run a popular Twitter chat: #chat2lrn. She shared some great practical tips for managing Twitter chats and the tools they use.

    A Twitter chat is a conversation around a specific hashtag. The hashtag is used by all participants and effectively tags each comment so you can follow and participate in the conversation.

     

    There are many benefits to running and participating in a Twitter chat, such as:

    • building relationships

    • creating a community

    • demonstrating knowledge

    • getting instant feedback

    • staying informed

    It is easy for people to participate and, as they are public, they can promote your brand and help gain new followers.

    You can also build authority both by hosting and appearing as a guest. Twitter chats are also proving popular for providing support to customers. There are many good examples, such as Hubspot’s weekly Twitter chat #SciChat and #Chat2lrn run by Lesley Price and others.

    Top Tips For Hosting and Managing a Twitter Chat

    Like most things in life preparation is critical to success. I was impressed by how much thought and hard work goes into making #chat2lrn successful. Lesley’s advice is as follows.

    General Preparation

    • Choose a short, unique hashtag. The hashtag will appear in every tweet so keep it as short as you can.

    • Timing is critical as participants in Twitter chats may come from around the world, so choose your time to reach as many of your audience as you can. Global timings get difficult in the Spring and Fall when clocks start changing at different times. Lesley says you have to anchor your event somewhere, they stick with a fixed UK time.

    • Use an avatar. Lesley’s advice is to set up your own Twitter account with an avatar for your chat. This makes it clear when you are managing and running the chat. The avatar for example tweets out the questions.

    • Create a team. In Lesley’s experience Twitter chats work better organized and managed by a team.

    • Be consistent. Most successful twitter chats are regular events. They are also a big commitment, so run one every two weeks if you can’t commit to one a week but be consistent.

    • Prepare a calendar with dates, names and topics.  The team then know well in advance when they are responsible for leading on a chat and it also allows you to keep track of topics you have discussed and are planning to cover.  This will ensure that you are not rushing around at the last minute scrambling to find a leader, a topic and also that you have a good range of topics.

    Event Preparation

    It is important to prepare participants for an event and to promote it actively. Lesley’s advice is as follows:

    • To create a good discussion and a well informed event the #chat2lrn team create a blog post on the subject to be discussed. Typically the blog post is written either by someone in the team or by the guest expert for that week’s chat. “This allows the community to read about the key issues that will be explored during the chat.” See their site here http://chat2lrn.wordpress.com/.

    twitter chat tips

    • The team meet virtually prior to the event and come up with approximately 8 agreed questions that will be used during the one hour session. The questions should be designed to encourage discussion and have a natural flow, so try to avoid questions that have a simple yes/no answer.

    • Promote the event including regular tweets using the hashtag, for example this week’s #chat2lrn is about gamification, join us on x day at x time. The #chat2lrn team typically send out different message types before an event.

    Running the Chat

    • The #chat2lrn team agree different roles during the session. One person takes responsibility for leading the chat.  This role involves writing the post for the topic or inviting a guest post. They are also responsible for making sure the discussion flows.

    • Another member of the team manages the avatar account and administers the session. They do the welcomes, post the questions and keep an eye on the clock. “They move things along as guests or the topic leader can get very involved in discussions and forget the time.” The team take turns in running the avatar account.

    • The #chat2lrn team run a skype back channel during the session using just text messages to share thoughts and help ensure things are running smoothly. The guest is also invited to be part of the back channel as it helps keep them involved and makes them feel part of the team for that chat.

    • The first question Q0 is normally an introduction and they ask people to make sure that they put the relevant question number in front of their responses as chats can get busy and out of synch.

    • “The role of the team is to act as facilitators rather than moderators” say Lesley “You do occasionally get people who try to hijack a session to sell something. In my experience it is sufficient to just tell them firmly this is not the place to sell. The community are also good at policing this type of activity.”

    • At the end of the chat get people to reflect, ask them for their biggest takeaways.

    Tools to Use

    Lesley’s favourite tool is Tchat.io. You just sign in with your Twitter account and enter the hashtag. You then enter what is effectively a room or stream that just shows tweets with the hashtag included. Tchat allows you to reply, retweet and favourite and puts in the hashtag automatically to all of your tweets.

    tchat screenshot

    Others in the team use similar tools such Tweetchat and Twubs, and it is partly a case of personal preference.

    Some people in the team also use Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to monitor wider discussions, as sometimes participants forget to include the hashtag and you will miss it if you are only tracking hashtagged tweets.

    Running Twitter chats requires a lot of concentration. Lesley’s advice is to make sure you are in a quiet room, with no interruptions.

    After the Event

    It is useful to continue the discussion after the events. To support and help people the team use Storify to produce a curated list of the the tweets from the event. Here is a good recent example http://learnpatch.com/2014/09/curated-tweets-from-chatlrn-twitter-chat-on-gamification/

    Summary

    Twitter chats can be a valuable part of your social media engagement strategy. However, great chats do not just happen, they require preparation, organization and management. The #chat2lrn approach is a great example we can all learn from.

    I’m not much of a photographer and am often short on time, so creating my own images wasn’t much of an option. When the prices at iStockPhoto.com leaped up to fifteen dollars per credit, I went in search of a new vendor for stock photography. Enter, Dollar Photo Club.

    Until last week, I was a staunch supporter of iStockPhoto.com.

    At three credits for a low-res image suitable for blogging, it was my go-to resource for stock photography. Depending on how many credits I purchased at a time, it would run from $1.59 to $2 per credit – so my image would cost $4.50 – $6.00. Not too bad. I can live with that.

    But last week, we broke up. I’m not giving them my monetary love any longer.

    Why? They changed their pricing structure to one credit per image, with a price leap to $15 per credit. They are now selling only high-resolution images, instead of letting the customer chose the size they wanted and spending fewer credits for lower resolution. Not only is the cost twice as much (I’d be spending over $100 on images each month!), but I would now have to spend time resizing each image. After all, larger images take more time to download, significantly reducing website performance (and hence, SEO results).

    NO, THANK YOU.

    I’m not much of a photographer and am often short on time, so creating my own images wasn’t much of an option. I went in search of a new vendor for stock photography.  Enter, Dollar Photo Club.

    One dollar images! Love at first sight!!

    Well, second sight, actually. I had to check out their inventory to make sure it was sizable enough to cover my needs and of decent quality. So far, so good!  Like a dollar store, it’s a mix-up of fantastic bargains and over-priced junk.

    I also like Canva quite a bit – instead of a simple stock photography site, Canva is an image editing tool designed to be used for social media, content marketing and other uses. It allows you to buy images for one dollar as you are using the graphic design software, or use solid colors and your own images for free. If you haven’t taken a look at it yet, go check it out.

    Just How Important Are Images?

    Very.

    25 Free Tools to Rock Visual Marketing from ThriveHive

    In addition to the above SlideShare that has some freebie resources to check out, here are a few more resources to explore… Just in case my one-word answer to “Just how important are visuals” wasn’t enough for you. (Picky, picky.) 

    In addition to the above SlideShare that has some freebie resources to check out, here are a few more resources to explore… Just in case my one-word answer to “Just how important are visuals” wasn’t enough for you. (Picky, picky.)