The 7 Cs of a successful social media strategy

A lot of people and companies decide, after using social media for a while, that they need a strategy. Of course, that approach is like putting the cart before the horse.

To ensure success, you should think about your social media strategy in the context of the seven Cs.

1. Community

Like all good communication, it is best to start by determining your target audience.

  • Where do they spend time online?
  • What social media channels do they use?
  • How do they communicate on these social media channels?

Before your social media efforts can take shape, you should listen and learn about your community. For example, a B2C consumer goods brand such as Oreo, one of their top social media communities is Facebook. Their salute to the Mars landingwas a huge hit with their Facebook fans. For a job seeker, he or she will most likely find a community on LinkedIn because 93 percent of job recruiters use LinkedIn to find qualified candidates.

Finding out where your community interacts on social media is the first step of a successful social media strategy. It is important to first determine what type of conversations are taking place about your brand and in your industry before engaging in a community or building a community from scratch. If you decide that your brand should build a community from the ground up, you should learn from Mark Ragan, the publisher of the Ragan Communications’ PR Daily andRagan.com.

2. Content

After you figure out how your community engages with social media, you should next figure out what content you are going to share with your followers. For example, if you are looking to grow your personal brand, what articles are you going to share to highlight your expertise about your job or personal interests? If you are a company, how can you show your clients and prospects that you are a thought leader or that you are trying to make their lives easier? To learn more about the importance of content, you may want to read the Content Marketing Institute blog.

3. Curation

You can’t think about content, without mentioning curation. Curation is a way of sharing other people’s content and acting like a museum curatorBeth Kanter in her post Content Curation Primer says content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way. Rohit Bhargava in Manifesto for the Content Curator post defines a content curator as someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content a specific issue. Content curation is one of the easiest ways to share content because you don’t have to create anything. This leads well into the next “C”: creation.

4. Creation

Creation is the act of creating content online, whether it be in the form of text, images or video. If you have posted a blog post, uploaded a video to YouTube or took a picture and posted it to Instagram, you are in the creation business. One of the ways to help you create content is to create an editorial calendar. It may be helpful to use this editorial calendar template. If you don’t like spreadsheets, then you may want to consider using an application such as Divvy. For the more advance content creators, using a content marketing software platform such as Kapost should be something you consider.

What is the sweet spot between creation and curation? According to research, the sweet spot of curation to creation is a 60-40 (60 curation and 40 percent creation). You can always think about as the 4-1-1 ratio.

5. Connection

After you have either curated and/or created content, the next C is the physical act of sharing content. This C is about connecting with your community and getting a deep understanding of what your target audience likes about your social media activities and strategy. Based on measurements and data, what content are your communities attracted to and willing to share with their friends and colleagues?

Many brands today have created buyer personas so they can better understand and connect better with their target audience. In other words, personas are fictional representations of your ideal clients, based on real data about demographics, online behavior, along with educated assumptions about their history, motivations and concerns. On the personal branding side, you may want to use one of these 5 tools to manage your relationships online.

6. Conversation

This C is all about having a conversation with your community. This C is very similar to the community, but the important difference is the actual engagement part of communicating with your communities. To help you with this concept, learn the 3 key social media conversation starters.

7. Conversion

The seventh C is conversion. You can’t talk about social media without having a return on investment (ROI) conversation. The important thing to remember here is that your social media strategy should be tied to your business strategy. To help you get started, you may want to look at the 14 social media ROI metrics.

When thinking about this from the company perspective, it is important to remember to look at it two ways:

  • external view by your clients, prospects, and partners
  • internal view by your employees

To develop a successful social media strategy, it is important to communication, convince, and most importantly, convert social media into action, both externally and internally.

Whether your social media metrics are at your company, they will boil down to three main categories:

  1. awareness
  2. sales
  3. loyalty

On the personal branding side, social media is a way to help you advance your career—whether it be successfully climbing the corporate ladder or launching a successful business. You can judge the success of your personal social media strategy by whether or not you are top of mind with your network and whether it helps you get that interview or land that perfect job.

One of the ways to maximize conversion with your social media strategy, you may want to learn about the social media maturity model. According to Forrester Research, there are 5 main stages of social media maturity and adoption.

More than 7 C’s

In conclusion, a successful social media strategy should include:

  • finding and engaging your communities and/or building a new community
  • making sure you have the right mix of content curation and creation
  • connecting well with your community
  • having relevant and meaningful conversations
  • converting on your goals

Just like the 4 Ps of marketing has grown to the 9 Ps of marketing, I am sure there are more Cs than seven.

What Cs would you add to this list?

7 ways to avoid common PR campaign pitfalls

Managing a PR campaign takes a lot of hard work and effort.  To ensure success of your PR campaigns, you should avoid these seven common pitfalls or mistakes

1. No integration

A campaign is more than a news release.  Most successful campaigns know how to take advantage of a multi-channel campaign that uses online and offline PR tactics, including developing a media kit, writing a blog post, producing a video and/or podcast or event for key stakeholders.  If all the components of the campaign don’t integrate, the campaign has a lower chance of being successful.

2. Lack of alignment and availability

Think about the key stakeholders in your organization and how they are going to be affected by this PR campaign. Is your key spokespeople who works in another department available to talk at moment’s notice to answer questions on a blog or via traditional media?

3. Lack of proper positioning

There is nothing worse than not understanding how a PR campaign fits into your overall marketing strategy. Marketing positioning is very important for a product, brand or organization.  What is your company’s identity and how will this campaign reinforce an image that has been branded into the minds of your target audience?  How will this campaign help with search engine optimization (SEO)? In other words, does the PR campaign highlight all the keywords that your audience may type into a search?

4. Too self-centered

Make sure that you solve your customer(s) problem(s) with the PR campaign.  Make sure you think about how this will help your target audience.  A journalist is more likely to write about something if the PR campaign can help its audience.

5. No newsworthy components

As a PR pro, you need to put on your journalist hat and think like the media.  Why should anybody care? Or what is in it for me?  Be sure to read: What Makes a Story Newsworthy? It is very important that you read, listen and/or watch the media outlets you are pitching for the PR campaign.

6. Not sustainable

Often times, a PR campaign is great at creating initial buzz but is forgotten months later.  You should create what is called the PR longtail on the Internet. Making sure that the content you write today can still be applicable in some way tomorrow is important for long-term success of the campaign.   Also, make sure the concept of the campaign is created in a way that it can be adapted to many different audiences.

7. Don’t know target audience

Who is the audience for your PR campaign?  Make sure that you not only know what target audience you are trying to reach with the campaign but what media outlets or online influencers would most likely be interested.  Make sure you do your homework.

What would you add to this list?

5 common social media mistakes and how to avoid them

Social media can help grow your personal and company brand, if done right. If social media is not done properly, it could send the wrong message to your community and it could hurt your brand. It is important that you don’t put your social media on autopilot and you don’t neglect it. Social media takes a lot of care and feeding.

We have created a list of five common social media mistakes and how you can avoid them.

1. Not customizing your message to the social network

How many times have you seen @ signs on LinkedIn? Probably a lot. Do you listen to those messages when you know they are for another social network? Probably not. What about learning about LinkedIn on Twitter? Are you really going to read an article about LinkedIn tips on Twitter? It is a common mistake that people make is not customizing posts for each platform.

The fix: Remember what the purpose is of each network is and its ins and outs. LinkedIn is a social network for professionals; therefore, your posts should be more professional. Facebook is a network for friends; so these posts should be less formal, more casual. Remember to cater your message to the platform. For some that is communications 101 but for others that is a common mistake.

2. No strategy

Have you ever asked yourself why you are on Facebook? What about Twitter? Are the people your company trying to reach on that social network? Are your friends still on Facebook or have they left for another platform like Instagram? Who are you trying to communicate with? Before you or your company joins a social media platform, ask yourself: why?

The fix: Create a social media strategy. Having an intern manage your company’s social media presence is a big mistake (here are 11 reasons why). A seasoned experience professional should be handling your company’s social media presence because he or she knows your business well and can avoid crises.

3. One-way communication

Social media is not a platform to blast messages one way. It is a way for people and brands to listen, learn and engage. How often do you see a brand or person never respond to a post or a message they sent? How often do you see questions or concerns go unanswered by brands and people? It shows a lack of understanding the true essence of social media: being “social.”

The fix: Social media is way to humanize brands (read: 20 tips on that topic) and open up possibilities for people to connect with people around the world. Social media is a platform for two-way not one-way communications. For everyone @ mention on Twitter, reply back. It doesn’t take a lot of time to say thank you to your followers who care about you or your brand.

4. Selling. Selling. Selling.

Social platforms are not for selling. People don’t join social media networks to be sold to. They join them to converse, see what others are doing and learn about the world. How often do you see posts about companies talking about themselves too much?

The fix: Share news and expert content that is helpful and shareable. Find a balance of posts that promote others and you or your company once in a while. Share content created by your colleagues and industry experts. Be helpful not salesy.

5. Inconsistent or no posts

How many times do you see a company create a social network but they haven’t posted in months or years? The page looks like a ghost town. For example, how many Twitter accounts have you seen where the person still has an egghead and has never tweeted? Inconsistent posting on social sites can say more to your followers than what you are actually posting. Would you work with a company that didn’t care about its social media presence? How you would be treated as a customer? Would you get neglected as well?

The fix: Make sure you post at least once a week. On some social networks, you may want to post once a day but you don’t want to clutter your followers’ feed. For example, Twitter is a much faster moving feed so posts can be much more frequent than Facebook. On LinkedIn, you may want to make an update at least twice a week because your home feed on that platform is getting more activity recently with the launch of sponsored updates.

What would you add to this list? What are you seeing that others are doing wrong on social media?

This post is courtesy of guest blogger Cassandra D’Aiello, social media manager at Perspectiv3

3 free image editing apps for social media

If you are active on social media, you know that social networking sites frequently change the look, feel and functionality. Look at what happens almost on a monthly basis with Facebook. Not to mention LinkedIn and YouTube. They both recently underwent a series of updates and changes.

One day you have a perfect background photo and the next day you don’t.

It is important for you and your company to keep up with these changes because it is a key component of making a good first impression and keeping your community coming back for more. They are more likely to engage with you and your brand with eye-pleasing images that make their experience on your pages enjoyable and fun. Not to mention, it also provides an opportunity to show off you and your company’s personality.

But social networking sites don’t make it easy.

Have you tried to edit your graphic or photos using Adobe Photoshop or your pre-loaded image editor?

Have you tried over and over to successfully maneuver your way through editing a picture to the correct pixel size that each social network requires?

As you may know, Facebook requires your timeline cover photo to be 851 x 315 pixels, Twitter requires your background to be 1920 x 1080 pixels and YouTube requires your header to be 970 x 150 pixels.

We feel your pain.

Below is a list of three photo-editing apps (with their pros and cons) that can help you edit you and your company’s social media images for free (now you won’t have to use image editing websites that charge a hefty monthly or program subscription fee).

1. GetPaint.net

Pros: Range of effects; straight-forward interface; and diverse menu items.

Cons: Software download required; limited brush types; and lack of layer effects.

2. Pixlr

Pros: Facebook compatibility; basic layer canvas feature; and no download necessary.

Cons: Limited import/export options; no frame options; and no option to save favorite effects.

3. PicMonkey

Pros: Easy to use; variety of editing and features; and blemish fixing tools.

Cons: Lack of undo option; many options not free; and limited fonts available.

What free image editing apps would you add to this list?

This post is courtesy of guest blogger Cassandra D’Aiello, social media manager at Perspectiv3

10 free tools to manage your personal brand and online reputation

Do you Google yourself and find another person with your same name pops on the screen? Want to prevent a recruiter from seeing those drunk college photos that your friends posted on Facebook? Want others find out quickly who you are, what you do and what content you are sharing online?

If your answer to all those questions is “yes” then you will want to monitor and be proactive about your personal brand and online reputation.

Managing your personal brand and online reputation is not an easy task but here are 10 free tools that can help you.

1. BrandYourself 

This website is a great way to manage and take ownership of your search results. This tool makes sure that the search engines like Google and Bing find the “real” you and not someone else who may have a name close to your name (or in some cases the same name). It helps you put your most relevant results at the top and improves your personal brand.

BrandYourself

2. About Me 

This website helps you create your own personal homepage that is a central place for all of your online website properties like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and blog. This tool can help you improve your presence on the web and help others quickly learn about who you are and what you share online.

About.Me

3. Social Mention 

This tool sends you alerts of your keywords. It analyzes when you are mentioned and how important those mentions really are. In other words, it is social media search engine. It searches user-generated content like blogs, bookmarks, comments, and videos.

SocialMention

4. Who’s Talkin? 

This tool is similar to SocialMention in that it alerts you of your mentions. It helps you search for conversations that you care about the most.

whos-talkin

5. NameChk 

Want to know if your name is available on a social network? This tool is helpful in making sure you secure your domains and don’t let cybersquatters steal your name on social networks. It helps you figure out if your desired social media username or URL is still available on tons of social networks.

namechk

6. HootSuite 

This tool helps you manage and measure your social media presence in one simple dashboard. You can manage multiple social media profiles, schedule messages, and tweets, track mentions of your name and analyze social media traffic.

hootsuite

7. Google Alerts 

These alerts are still a must-do today for searching for the keywords you want to know about such as your name or nickname. It also helps you stay up-to-date on keywords you are interested in like public relations, content marketing, brand journalism or social media.

google-alerts

8. SquareSpace

This website helps you create your own website which helps you improve your personal brand. According to their website, their mission is “empower millions of people … to share their stories and create an impactful, stylish, and easy-to-manage online presence.”

squarespace_stories

9. Yasni 

This tool can help you search for a phone number, email address, profession and location of any person. The tool provides news and links about any individual.

yasni

10. Naymz 

This tool measures and manages your social reputation. This tool gives you a score based on how people find you. You can calculate your social influence and earn badges/endorsements of your strong reputation and influence like Klout does.

Naymz

What free tools have you found helpful to manage your personal brand and online reputation?

5 ways to create expert content with limited resources

In the world of tighter budgets, less staff and more workflow, who has time to write content?  How much do you have to write to be effective? Why write it at all?

A recent business study showed that 75 percent of buyers are likely to use social media in the purchase process and 55 percent of B2B survey respondents search for information using social sites.  Remember all those social platforms you put up for your company? Better have something to say on them, or better yet, have something to pass along. Content is your currency, make it worth sharing within your target community!

Below are five ideas on how you can create expert content, with limited resources:

1. Curate

This is the cornerstone of a robust content management program. Similar to a museum curator, you don’t create the artwork; you collect and assemble it into a relevant showpiece. This involves organizing just where you are going to get your content from, and that’s not Wikipedia. A well-organized collection of useful information will motivate your audience not only to read, but also share with others.

Just ask Guy KawasakiHe’s a master curator, employing a staff to help sort through the mountains of information buzzing across the web. In fact he uses Twitter to send folks to his website at Alltop.com by tweeting links to his “online magazine rack,” in other words, the content he has aggregated from original sources.

Trusted, credible sources are key to curating good content. Start by building a go-to list of sites that you rely on regularly. For me, as a social businessperson, a few I subscribe to via email for updates are:

In addition, I use Facebook to like pages such as Mashable.com/tech to get all the technology news by the master curated site on the web.

2. Crowdsourcing

Here’s yet another way of collecting knowledge from different sources, where the aggregated collection is the value. You’ll want to ask subject matter experts in your network a specific topic based question or two and aggregate your findings. Here’s an example of expert shared tips, which makes for a perfect published piece: Laptop Life Tips: Experts Share 10 Tricks To Make Your Computer Last Longer.

Or you can take a more public poll. Facebook recently added a Poll app called “Ask a Question.” Survey Monkey also allows free surveys and gives you a link to drive traffic to. LinkedIn Answers offers a chance to ask industry professionals for feedback and opinions.

Here’s a question: “What percentage of your marketing budget are you going to use on creating content this year?”

3. Comment

I just read a story about big data and where it’s headed. Well, if I’m a systems architect, I just may have a lot to say about that. I cite the story, and then add my commentary. It’s also good practice to notify its author and build a warm relationship. Follow him/her on their social sites as well, you’re building press credentials for later.

4. Use Numbers and Lists

Research shows that the highest rated posts on the web organize their content into numerical lists. 5 ways to create content, 3 top server consolidation methods, 7 of your favorite blogs (this one included). A list that is well sourced and has meaning will inspire your readers to comment and engage.  No room for fluff here. Quality is the key as shown in this The Top 10 Qualities of High Quality List Posts

5. Interview

My colleague, Kathy Tito, from New England Sales & Marketing does this very well. In “The Bootstrap” blog, she finds people of interest in technology marketing and interviews them Q and A style in a candid, no-nonsense way. Not only does it make for some great storytelling, but also she has acquired some great business contacts along the way.

What would you add to this list? How are you creating content with limited resources?

This post is courtesy of guest blogger Anita O’Malley, who is a social and marketing business communications expert. She recently curated her own company, Perspectiv3. She can be reached at anitaom@perspectivmarketing.com

7 ways social media is changing PR

Social media is a game changer for public relations. It is bringing new challenges and opportunities to the profession and to savvy pros.

Here are seven ways that social media is changing PR.

1. Two-way conversation

PR pros can no longer blast out information about their brand or client and expect to succeed. Consumers and journalists have come to expect that they won’t be “spammed” and will be answered quickly and in a personal manner. Timely, two-way communication is the “new normal.” Listening, engagement and thought leadership are now three areas that PR pros manage.

2. Digital communication

PR pros need to know the latest digital tools, including social media monitoring tools, Twitter, Google Analytics. They need to understand blogging and the tools that come with that. We need to understand the nuance of communication for different online communities. (ie. between communicating on Twitter and/or Facebook.)

3. Research

The social networks offer a wealth of information to PR pros on target markets, customer service, and media they want to pitch. They can now create new opportunities that may not have been available before without social media.

4. Journalism is changing

Traditional media is no longer the “go to” source for information. The news can “break” from anywhere and the general public has become citizen journalists. For example, look at the U.S. Airways crash into the Hudson River or Michael Jackson’s death. The consumer no longer relies on big news organizations to be on the scene for news. Companies are, in essence, becoming media companies and their PR pros are becoming publishers. Be sure to read How is Social Media NOT Journalism? 

5. Faster and more visible communications

In our 24/7 customer-centric world, social media has increased the potential for complaints and the visibility of this negative outcry. Since we live in a social network, crises happen faster, and response time must be as well. It is important for PR pros to develop their organization or client online presence BEFORE a crisis happens. Because technology is always changing, the crisis plan needs to become a “living” document that helps give an immediate and well-informed response to the latest information.

6. Analytics

PR pros need to understand and use math everyday. Social media can better help track the return on investment, including direct costs of staff time spent using the tools, and measurement of the traffic it drives to a company’s website.

7. Organizational hierarchy change

Internal and external communications have been democratized thanks to social media taking out the extra layers such as a direct line to the CEO if you are an internal or external stakeholder.

What would you add to this list? How do you think social media has changed PR?

This post originally appeared on Spin Sucks.