How to Turn your Employees into Social Media Ambassadors

Jason Cassidy 30 under 30Your employees are vital to the success of your company’s social media strategy. They each have their own brand and unique networks that you can benefit from. Here are five ways to get your employees to market your brand for you, using social media:

Share your vision

Tell your employees how you’re trying to position your brand on social media. Be clear about how they could be supporting that position on their personal profiles. More often than not, they’ll want to help.

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Why Content Needs Context in Order to Survive

There is more content produced and shared on social media everyday than you can sink your teeth into. That means you need to find ways to create meaningful content that grabs attention.

Here are 3 things you must know about content creation based on a presentation at Social Media Week in Toronto by Josh Muirhead, the founder of Socialmark Media, entitled “Content may be king, but without Context – no one will pay attention.”

Be brief, be brilliant, and be gone

The key in creating great content is the meat. Unlike the traditional hamburger model of marketing, where your message was sugarcoated with a tasty bun and an assortment of hearty vegetables, the content you create for social media must waste no time getting to the point. Social media users don’t have the time or the attention span to listen to a long-winded version of your story. We suffer from the need to tell our audience everything, instead of what really matters. So find out what’s important to your audience and just say it. Avoid overwhelming them with too many condiments. Continue reading

Communication Trends of 2012: Need to Know

After reading several articles from socialmediatoday.com, mashable.com and others I’ve decided to round out my COS blogging contribution by highlighting some major industry trends that have started to transpire, or some that might. Most of the changes in the industry, they suggest, are attributed to advancements in technologies.

1. The Shift to Digital

More companies are  giving priority to their digital media marketing and communications before their traditional print media. Case in point: news organizations. More people are flocking to the Internet and it provides more flexibility for news networks as well. Some call that a #nobrainer

2. Decentralization of Social Media

People are becoming more and more competent on social media and realizing that it is no longer acceptable to limit organizational members from participating.  According to Paul Holmes, “the more consistent a company’s message, the less authentic it sounds. […] Any consistency should be organic – a natural result of shared values and cultural cohesion, rather than imposed by the message police.” As mentioned in mine and @Tatjana’s #PC8005 seminar, the key to success is empowering staff members by educating them on social media and ensuring that they understand the company values and they ought to be portrayed. Censoring employees will only result in resentment, which can backfire.

3. On the Go

Mobile, mobile, mobile is the biggest adjustment that communication professionals need to make because everything is going mobile. Don’t believe me?  Check out this #shocking slideshare. Yes, I sometimes hashtag my blog. That might warrant its own category…next year. Social Media Today maintains that this is because of convenience, context and fun. Mobile is convenient. It enables people to be connected ‘24/7’ and, as a result, work more efficiently. Finally mobile is fun…because, well….it’s fun.

4. Playtime

Consumers need more enticement than ever when it comes to mobile phones, which means communications and PR specialist must find creative ways to engage their audience. Make digital media a game. What do I mean by that? Check out how BMW turned a Mini Cooper giveaway into a real life game of manhunt. Mobile media has become more than inviting the public to scan a QR code that takes you to their company website. Consumers are more adept with the technology and expect more out of communications professionals. To be successful, we must exceed those expectations.

5. It’s a Brand New World

My personal favorite, is the shift towards companies thinking and acting like journalists. It relates back to a Web 2.0 concept that instead of being a consumer or a producer companies must all think like “prosumers”. In a nutshell, tell stories about your company. Be modest, unbiased and critical of yourself when need be. Nissan was one of the first companies to participate in brand journalism. What does this tell communication professionals? Start thinking like a journalist. Tell your company’s stories.

Been Blogging, you?

A business Blog has proven to be an effective way to generate buzz and traffic.

—Why Business Blogging is much more than a hobby

I knew a guy that refused to Blog simply because he despised the word. He was a journalist, constantly on the lookout for story leads, but he cringed when someone said the word.  He is just one of a handful who feel that way, and like all acts to resist new technology, they eventually fade into the night. Especially when that fad becomes overwhelmingly popular and beneficial.

But think of Blogging as one tool in your online marketing strategy, perhaps even a central piece. It can be used in many ways to communicate more effectively with staff, customers, industry experts and potential investors. What makes a Blog work so well? They have the ability to target a specific audience in a quick and cost-effective way. This means keeping your customers informed about new products, events or industry information. All of these components portray that you are the expert in your field; whatever that is.

But just as Blogging can be a great way to generate traffic and buzz, it can also work against your intentions if done improperly. Posting unfavorable content or saying something you might eventually regret can’t be erased. Someone, somewhere out there, has it stored on a server. Not to mention the traces left on search engines like Google.

Blogging is a powerful marketing and communications tool that can help businesses indirectly promote their product(s) to customers, stakeholders and suppliers. According to eMarketer, as many as 43% of companies will be Blogging by 2012. Here’s a list of 6 things to consider when starting your new Blog:

Shipping it is not enough. You’ll need to ensure that your Blog is integrated into your existing marketing/communications strategy and presents a brand message that is cohesiveness throughout all mediums. If it’s done properly, a Blog can enhance your overall traffic, activity and more importantly, ROI.

Consistency is everything. Publishing periodically isn’t enough (as I admittedly do myself).  Assuming readers enjoy your work, they will come back and expect the same level of “awesome” that the received the first time. So set up a monthly calendar of potential topics, and stick to a weekly plan for consistency.

Content is King. As important as consistency is, it’s the quality of that content that will make you stand out amongst other similar Blogs.  Think of your top 5 favorite television commercials. What do they all have in common? The fact that they stuck in your head is one of them. People like commercials that stick and commercials that people like often stick. As you embark on your new Blog, make your posts memorable. If you are memorable your posts will stick in the minds of your readers long after they were published. If you are really lucky, they will even share it with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Read It, Stumble Upon, Delicious, Flickr, etc.

Simplicity. The simplicity of Blogs makes them influential. For the many of the technologically challenged, Blogs are refreshing. They cut out a lot of the fluff and simply present what matters most. That is the information.

SEO. A Blog will inevitably enhance your businesses Search Engine Optimization. The more your name is associated with keyword-rich content, the more often it will show up in search engines.

Blogging is hard work. Before jumping into it you need to understand that this is much more than a diary of the days events. You’ll need a dedicated staff member to be responsible for the creation and maintenance of the Blog. They will probably spend 30-60 minutes a day to brainstorm topics, write, edit and tag all posts. Depending on the size of your company, that number could increase dramatically.

After considering these recommendations, it is important to measure and track your success. This means analyzing website traffic in key areas such as top posts, referrals, and click rates. You can start by using complimentary stat trackers and even Google Analytics in-depth array of information on bounce rates, visits by country, and more.

Blogging has its advantages and disadvantages and should be handled with great care. If you can’t wrap your head around Blogging, don’t be alarmed. It is a learning experience that, if done properly, can be very beneficial for your business. After all, the goal is to become the expert in your field, solidify your position in the industry and attract new business.

Blogs, Vlogs and Splogs

Blog, internet, social media, SEO, meta tags, URL. What is a blog, How to incorporate a corporate blog, public relations in business.

The following are examples of a search engine optimization rich URL, specific keywords and phrases that will increase a blogs ranking in search engine’s like Google. By positioning them in such a spot, I expect this post will now get a total of 5 readers (Dr. Freeman, Dr. Fung and Dr. Mason, myself…someone else?)

After reading Mark Deuze’s article “Participation and Media Production: Critical Reflections on Content Creation,” I discovered that there are many variations and motives behind writing a blog. Deuze describes them as, “a networked form of deeply personalized and indeed ever so slightly narcissistic self-expression,” (Deuze, 2002).  I have been the primary producer of a blog for some time now without having actually put much thought or analysis into what other variations are out there. I view mine as a virtual garage, a digital dumping ground and, at times, an electronic resume. Deuze introduces us to the existence of Vlogs, Flogs, Splogs, Spings, Spamdexing, and the act of Blogola. Say what? That’s what I thought too!

According to a survey by PRWeek in the United States about 10% of corporate communicators had a weblog in 2006 and 8% of them were Fortune 500 companies. So here is a quick breakdown of what these terms mean:

Flog: a fake blog, a stealthy way to improve public relations with customers and stakeholders. They have become a marketing tool designed by professional companies or ad agencies to promote, directly and indirectly, certain products or services without being transparent about the corporate-sponsored identity.

Splog: an artificially created weblog in which the author uses to promote affiliated websites to increase SEO. There are an estimated 3,000-7,000 new splogs created each day (Technorati report, 2007).

Spings: are short for “spam pigs” which send automated messages from blogs and other online publishing tools to a centralized network service providing a notification of newly published post or content. This gives the impression that an older post is suddenly new and improved, though it might be dotting an I or crossing a T.

Blogola: is the act of flooding bloggers with free stuff in hopes of flattering them enough that they’ll provide positive coverage in return. Companies will try to tap into the social networking power of the blogger. I believe there are guidelines against this for accredited journalist but not for bloggers. #opportunity

Spamdexing: is a method of manipulating the relevancy or prominence of an article for over-indexing it with an abundance of keywords, meta tags and search items. This way search engines will pick up that article before another that isn’t as thoroughly tagged.

So what impact does this have on the blogosphere? In my humble opinion, it is blurring the lines between what blogs were originally intended to do: publish raw, uncensored thoughts, opinions and position into more of a corporate playground. It is manipulating the open, collaborative, give-and-take framework blogs were created for.

For a look into one of the most fascinating bloggers I follow, visit “Charles Leblanc’s Other blog”.  His original blog was shut down and you’ll see why. He is a journalist without any credentials that pushes his limits with local companies and politicians. It is raw, uncensored and very successful even without proper spelling or SEO. He is the Stewie Griffin of New Brunswick’s blogosphere. Warning: take this with a grain of salt.

References

 Deuze, M. (2008). Corporate Appropriation of Participatory Culture. In: Carpentier, N., Livingstone, S. (eds.), Participation and Media Production: Critical Reflections on Content Creation, pp.27-40. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishers

Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen

In my short time back in the “big smoke” I have quickly become acquainted with graduate school. I must say that I am enjoying it. It has been exciting, overwhelming and fun. As the readings begin to add up, things like an internship or research ideas become daunting. But unlike other times in my life, I feel better prepared thanks to a few concepts that I learned this summer while reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.

The book is based on epidemics. Gladwell explains the emergence of fashion trends, the rise and fall of crime rates, and how books become best-sellers, to name a few. One of the main principles is the Law of the Few and how epidemics rely on three types of individuals who are ultimately responsible for the eventual ‘tip’ or spike in popularity.

The first group of people are the connectors who, first and foremost, know a lot of people. You certainly know one yourself, and they often go unnoticed and unappreciated. Scattered throughout many interconnecting circles are people with an extraordinary knack for making friends and introducing like-minded people.

Secondly, there are those people who inform the Connectors. Gladwell calls them Mavens. The term is Yiddish and means one who accumulates knowledge. These people are the information specialists, price vigilantes and the ones who hold societies elites in check. They passively collect information and willingly share their knowledge without any expectation of gain in return.  Because they are socially motivated, they lack one of life’s most fundamental skills, persuasion.

The third type of person is a Salesman. The Mavens provide the data, Connectors are the social glue and the Salesman convince those who are swaying in either direction. Most truly successful Salesmen/women aren’t necessarily selling the product or service, they’re selling themselves. It could be a powerful personality trait, energy, enthusiasm or charm as Gladwell explains.

Without any one of these people epidemics are unlikely. So as we begin to move closer to internships, MRPs and eventually graduation (believe it or not) I think it is important to not only become immersed into the information and opportunities around us, but also to share, connect and persuade others. If you are a Maven pass along your expertise, if you have a knack for Connecting, then connect; finally, if you are gifted in the art of persuasion, convince others to try new things or keep up with the latest technology.

All of Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas relate back to communication because without it, epidemics wouldn’t be possible.  Nothing is more powerful than word of mouth, visual communication or the gift of speech.