Author Archives: Angelica Ross

About Angelica Ross

Angelica Ross is a social media and digital advertising consultant. When she isn't making magic happen online (because we know everything you read on the internet is true..bon jour..), she's locked in a Foursquare badge race, exploring the food and drink of Pittsburgh, Instagramming everything, and running off those calories. Follow Angelica Ross on Twitter

Three Things For Social Success

The new year is a great time to review your social advertising strategies.  As a companion to “7 Things To Remember When Posting For Your Business,” I created a list of the top three things I believe you need in order to have social success.  If you aren’t doing any of these, I’d suggest incorporating them soon.

Three Things for Social Success

1. Know Your Audience.  If you don’t know who you’re reaching, how can you possibly send the right message?  Do you want to speak to males in their early 20s?  Then the information that you share probably shouldn’t be focusing on how your bar is family-friendly.  Knowing your audience is more than just knowing demographics, though.  How do they interact with your product?  Do they check their social pages on the T (or metro/subway if you aren’t in Pittsburgh) going to work or are they reading after they’ve tucked their kid in bed?  Is this something they use in tandem with another product?  What else are they interested in?  Assuming that your customers don’t live in a vacuum with posts from your company as their only form of information, there are thousands of messages bombarding them daily.  Being able to understand your customer and what they do with the service you provide goes a long way in making them feel like you “just get them, man.”

2. Tone.  Be authentic.  When I say “be authentic,” I mean be true to who/what your company is.  Similar to knowing your audience, knowing how to disseminate your message will go a long way.  Are you a legal service provider specializing in wills and estate planning?  Your tone will most likely be different than the coffee shop catering to 30-somethings with a disposable income and Mac products falling out of their ears.  Whoever you are and whatever you’re selling/promoting, though, be true to it.  Decide how you want to speak with customers and put together a “social style guide” to make sure your message is consistent no matter who is posting.  It also serves as a reminder for you; with a style guide, you can see how you’ve said something in the past and mimic it in future posts.

3. Timing.  Timing is everything, they say.  I tend to agree with whoever “they” are, because it’s true.  Again, going back to “knowing your audience,” it’s critical to get your message in front of their face when they’ll see it.  If a post goes up in the forest and no one is around to see it, did it really get written?  Make sure you’re spreading out your messages, too.  You don’t want to bombard your customers with five social media posts from different platforms in one minute and be silent the rest of the day.  If you can’t sit at your desk at peak posting times or you’re worried you’ll miss an important update, utilize a service like Buffer to help get the message out.

Will you be reworking your social strategy this year?  I know theBrewRoom is ready and willing to help.  What new practices are you going to employ?

What Target Teaches You About Advertising

I am not afraid to admit that I love Target.  It combines so many wonderful things in one clean, bright space.  I know, this is the suburban equivalent of hanging out at Wal-Mart, but bear with me.  Inspired by a post I wrote for myself at syntaxxerrorr.com,Mt Nebo Target I’m bringing you a list of things that Target can teach you about advertising.

Highlight your best features – Target knows what it does right.  It’s clean and bright and (aside from the makeup section) surprisingly well-organized.  Target goes so far as to recognize in its 2012 Annual Report that cleanliness is one of the factors that affects guests’ perceptions of the store and is a factor in its competitive ability.  It’s kind of like an it’s-so-obvious-you-may-forget-about-it point, but let me state the obvious.  Be obvious about your positive attributes.  Focus on what makes your brand the best – that’s your unique selling proposition – and then don’t let people forget that your coffee shop uses all-natural everything or your agency has worked with X company with Y results.

Take it as it comes or roll with the punches – On a rainy day, Target brings up that rolling cart full of umbrellas.  They know that some people forgot theirs at home or haven’t replaced an old one. Timing is everything, and so is embracing what comes your way.  While any advertising/PR person worth their beans will tell you that you need a plan, you also must be flexible when unforeseen circumstances come your way.  (I touched on this in 7 Things To Remember When Posting for Your Business.)  Consumers can tell if you’re not being genuine, so if something happens, make sure your customers are aware of it rather than sweeping it under the rug.  They will appreciate that you’re being proactive and working with what comes your way, and you’ll be able to build a trusting relationship with those customers.

Broadcast your goods and services – Here’s another it’s-so-obvious-you-may-forget-about-it point.  Target sends out almost-daily emails with compelling reasons to click through to their site; once you are on the site, they’ve got you.  Sometime they’ll just send a snippet of their online exclusive offers, other emails will contain a link to the weekly ad.  Make sure you let customers know what you are offering and if there are any perks for being a loyal customer.  In any event, let your customers know what you can offer them.

Change is good – Target constantly rotates their stock. This is most notable in clothing (obviously enough).  But even if your business is not a clothing company, you need to change; maybe a better word is evolve. If you haven’t taken a look at your website with a critical eye recently, now is the time to do so.  Is it static or is it dynamic?  Are you displaying current information such as location, contacts, hours of operation, goods/services provided, and up-to-date links?  If you need help, contact theBrewRoom for a hand.  Sometimes its best to have an impartial person with whom to brainstorm and get a fresh perspective.  Make sure to update your social accounts along with your website!

Just because it’s a deal doesn’t mean it’s a good idea or you should offer it – Sometimes Target has too much to pick from.  This can get overwhelming, especially when clearance-time hits.  You just want ALL the clearance things.  So try not to pile on the specials or offer them constantly.  If you’re always offering a 20% off special, why don’t you just reduce the price by 20%?  Otherwise, it’s like the shopping equivalent of the boy who cried wolf; your customers are just building up an immunity to your deals.  Sure, there are certain buzz words that whip consumers into a frenzy, like “sale” and “just reduced,” so use them for their intended purposes.  It’ll make it more effective and have more of an impact when you have a sale (for real!) in the future.

So I want to know: what do you love (or hate) about Target (or another establishment)?  And more importantly, what do you learn from your shopping trips?

A Non-Definitive List About Twitter Lists

For how simplistic Twitter is, there are some amazingly productive things that you can do with it.  One of my favorites is creating lists.

  • You can break it down by topic: city specific, industry specific (ie: thought leaders, competitors, etc), frequent and/or regular customers, clients, employees, etc.
  • You can track important events.Twitter List
  • You can organize your thoughts.  This is especially helpful if you follow many people and/or many different kinds of people.
  • You can curate content.
  • You can track competitors (just don’t name your list “competitors”) and/or prospective clients (just don’t name that one “prospects”).
  • You can clearly prioritize your time spent online and optimize it.

You can do so much with the information that you’ve gathered from your Twitter lists.

  • You can interact with users more easily.  If you have a list dedicated to regular customers, you’ll be more likely to see a tweet and respond to them when you designate a listed category for them; they don’t get lost in the shuffle.  Remember-social media is social!
  • You can showcase the people you work with and align yourself towards.  When people go on to your Twitter profile, they’ll see all the Twitter lists you’ve created (granted, they have to be designated as public).  Then, they can see in your “Clients” list, who you’re working with, what you’ve done for them, and want to be a part of that list, too.  Exclusivity is a powerful motivator, my friend.
  • You can streamline your time spent on Twitter by clearly seeing everything laid out.  Instead of scrolling endlessly through your feed, you can just go to your “Thought Leaders” Twitter list, easily find their tweets, retweet, and respond to what they’ve said (thus stepping closer to being a respected leader in your industry as well).  You can catch up on what’s happening in your group of employees.  You can respond to complaints from customers in a timely fashion.

Here’s a fun post from Hootsuite about using a “Listmaker” account.  There’s a lot of really useful information there, so if you’re interested in furthering the power of your Twitter list, take a look.

And if the thought of all of this is too overwhelming for you, just contact theBrewRoom team.  They can set this all up and run it for you (or show you how) to reduce your anxiety.  Of course, you can always make a Twitter list of “anxiety-reducing people” that you follow.

How To Tweet

On Tuesday, I saw this tweet from Sam:

And I thought, “Tweeting about how to tweet is indeed a little pointless (good job there, Sam), but blogging about how to tweet isn’t!”  So I bring you Angelica’s Easy Steps for Tweeting, AKA: “How To Tweet”.
How To Tweet

  • Have something interesting to say.  Like I preached talked about in last week’s post, Social Media Needs To Be Social, you can’t just talk at people.  They’ll tune you out. Have something interesting to say and listen when others have something to say themselves.
  • Provide useful information.  I guess this is just another way of saying have something interesting to say.  If you have an event or a promotion coming up, the first place someone will turn to learn about it is through social media.  So tell your followers about it!  Give them pertinent information in a style that works for you.  Are you a restaurant with a new menu item or concept?  Tweet a teaser photo of the dish.  Are you a retailer?  Tell people about your new shipment of scarves and show them a few examples of how to wear them.  Bonus points if you include photos to enhance your message.
  • Take your followers behind the scenes.  We all know that one person who relentlessly tweets out every move they make.  True, it’s interesting to get a BTS look at your favorite brand; in turn, it’s fun to share with your customers what you’re up to, just don’t become overbearing.  This isn’t Facebook, so please don’t brag about your fantastic new car (okay, you can do it once).  Give your Twitter followers something with a little more meat (pictures of dinner are usually okay).
  • Reply, favorite, follow, and retweet often – and responsibly.  Again, this is a social medium; interact with your followers.  Reply to messages promptly.  Read your followers’ tweets and engage with them.  Favorite tweets that you find funny, interesting, or that you want to go back and reread and tweet about in the future.  Follow users whom you find interesting and also follow people who follow you, especially if they constantly interact with you.  Retweet what you think your followers would be interested in learning about.  Remain active throughout the day so that you stay visible in feeds – try to shoot for a handful of tweets a day so you don’t tip the scale of too much, but are still out there just enough.
  • Create lists.  This is especially helpful if you follow a lot of people and/or you tweet about different topics.  Organize lists by category, users, keywords, etc.  More on this next week!

So there you have it: some easy steps to follow that will show you how to tweet.  A tweet is a powerful tool if you know how to use it properly.  If you need help creating a strategy or using Twitter for social media marketing, just ask Sam!  He’s very active on the Twitter machine.  What do you think is the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re tweeting?

PS: You can follow Sam above or @theBrewRoom.  (#ShamelessPlug)

Social Media Needs to be Social

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that social media is, in fact, social.  Every time that certain car commercial comes on (you know, with the rep reading tweets and their hashtags), someone in the room with me asks, “What’s a hashtag?”  It’s a link to all the tweets in the world with said hashtag.  Then the inevitable, “But…..why?”  So you can see what people are saying (and jump into the conversation, of course)!  We’re so focused on using the Internet to throw information out into the universe that we forget the best way to use it; no one wants to be talked at, they want to converse.  Social media, and the marketing that goes with it, is virtual word of mouth.  It’s a conversation.  There are people constantly talking with and engaging other people.  If you want your business to be successful, you need to engage as well.

Let’s say I work somewhere like “Office Space.”  I have 3-5 on any given day asking me to tweet something, usually a promotion.  Of course, they all think Bill Lumberghtheir message is the most important one to disseminate (so it must be posted NOW).  Well, when you overload people with text and they aren’t getting anything meaningful out of it, guess what will happen to your message? It’ll get tuned out (or they’ll just unfollow you period).  Now, when Lumbergh comes back 5 minutes later to ask if anyone is talking about it, he’ll be let down because the answer is no.

Long story short: be social.  Show you care about the community that you’ve built:

  • Ask questions.
  • Answer questions.
  • Include comments when you retweet whenever possible.
  • If you need to promote services or events, do it in a way that’s natural and not pushy.
  • Mention people to get the conversation going if you have a piece of information that you think is of interest to them (just don’t be spammy; no one likes that).

And don’t forget to “listen” to the conversations.  It’s a two-way flow of information.  Don’t expect to get a response if you are not responding yourself.

Should Your Business Use Facebook Hashtags?

The internet is a-twitter (get it?) with talk about Facebook #hashtags.  I personally plant myself firmly in the “Hashtags are for Twitter” camp; however, there are great benefits for businesses using hashtags on Facebook.

So far, Facebook hashtags are relatively new and slightly limited in usage.  They are only workable on the “desktop” vFacebook Hashtagersion with Facebook hashtags for mobile being introduced in the future.  Also, the algorithm that distributes content on the news feed won’t be affected, which is good and bad; you can’t gain ground but you can’t lose it either.  Further, as Cotton Delo writes in AdAge, “Advertisers won’t be able to target people posting hashtags about a particular TV show or live sports event, and they won’t be able to sponsor a hashtag in the vein of promoted trends on Twitter.”

You can play with Facebook hashtags in other ways, though.  It’s a great tool to promote across platforms as the hashtag will now work between Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook.  You can use hashtags as you would in those other platforms and have it populate on Facebook in a meaningful way now.  While you can’t target people, you can track what they’re saying and adjusting your content likewise, ie: you’re able to stay relevant in the conversation.

The SEO implications are also important.  Previously, if you searched for a hashtag, Google (or whoever you prefer-I’m also solidly in the “Google” camp) would pull up results for Twitter.  With the inclusion of Facebook hashtags, though, you’re now potentially increasing your Facebook traffic.

Reports are mixed as to what exactly Facebook will do with this information goldmine.  Again, Cotton Delo explains, “Posting with a hashtag could be seen as a more tangible expression of affinity and could thus help to make graph search into a useful product.”  Rather than “liking” content, you can engage in a more meaningful way by actually talking about a brand.  She cautions you to take things with a grain of salt, though, in another writing for AdAge :

Facebook has a much steeper privacy bar to clear than Twitter does in terms of publishing user content. The vast majority of Facebook posts are private, meaning that the public ones eligible to be shown on hypothetical hashtag pages would be the tip of the iceberg of conversation happening on the platform.

So if you’re one of the chosen ones who has been included in the hashtag roll out, give it a spin.  I know theBrewRoom would love to speak with you about deepening your strategy on Facebook.  It couldn’t hurt to be an early user of this experiment on Facebook.

What do you think about Facebook hashtags?

Should Your Business Use Google+?

With all the buzz about the Google+ redesign, I’m sure you’ve heard that it’s more important than ever for businesses to use this tool.  From grouping users in circles to having a Hangout, there’s a lot of potential for one-on-one conversations with users.  So, should your business use Google+?Google+

Before I start, let’s get some terminology down.  Google likes to change things at random, so it’s possible between the time of posting and the time you read this, it will have changed again.  Long story short, Google+ is like a typical user-driven social media platform.  Google Places is a business listing.  Google+ Local is like a hybrid of the two.  For a nice long threaded discussion about this, check out the Google Groups Forum.

Even if you do nothing but update your business listing and claim it as yours, make sure you have some sort of presence on Google+ Local.  When you do, you’ll be able to update your address across all of Google-land.  That means one click to update your info on Search, Maps, and of course, your Google+ and/or Google+ Local page.  This also mean more “Google-ability.” Make sure that everywhere you list your address is consistent.  It’ll lead to a higher search engine rank and Google won’t be left guessing which is the correct website and address to display.

Similar to Pinterest, Google+ is a great way to foster a sense of community.  While you can absolutely share pictures, try to focus more on engagement than selling.  Satisfy your customers’ curiosity and share a sneak peek of new products or a behind-the-scenes view of the office.  Ask questions and respond to answers you receive. +1 people’s posts and comment on them.  Share relevant content with your circles.  You get my point.

Or start a Hangout.  It’s a great way of engaging with your users.  Group the people you follow into categories (Circles) and target content towards those Circles.  For example, use a Hangout to show VIP customers how to do a rockstar at-home facial or make a certain signature dish (leave out the secret ingredient or don’t–that’s your call).  Invite other users to be VIPs to get exclusive content, too, by signing up for your newsletter or posting online that they want to be a VIP (or any number of things that works for your brand).

Bottom line: Google+ is all about creating a great user experience and engaging with the user.  Just be authentic.  Nothing turns people off faster than blatant agenda-pushing.  Not sure if you have the time (or the ability) to pull of a Google+ creation and execution of your own?  Not to worry, theBrewRoom can handle that for you.

There are lots of fun and useful features within Google+ once you get to know it better. Start exploring Google+ today!

Should Your Business Use Pinterest?

Second in the series of “Should Your Business Use…”  If you missed last week, catch up on my recommendations about Tumblr!

Pinterest is a virtual world of visual stimulation where users can upload and bookmark, or “pin,” in a very public, very organic way.  Since it’s inception three years ago, Pinterest has exploded.  As of April 2013, there are 48.7 million users; of them, 80% are women and 67% have bought or found something they wanted to buy using Pinterest.  This place is a referral powerhouse.  So, should your business use Pinterest?

Well, do you cater primarily to a female demographic?  You do?  Excellent, keep reading!  (And eveNorstromPinterestn if you focus on men, you want to be on Pinterest.  I’ll get there.)  I mean, who wouldn’t find something to buy when you basically have a gigantic billboard of “I want this now!”  Veruca Salt would have a field day (not sure how many pins are of squirrels, though).

Sure it sounds like fun and games, but you have to be mindful of who you are trying to reach.  And in the Pinterest game, Nordstrom is winning with over 4.4 million followers.  Why?  They have a clear focus and a specific audience in mind.  And they are careful to monitor it.  Says Shauna Causey, Nordstrom’s social media manager:

We found that it’s a great way to not only share info but also learn about our community. Pinterest allows us to see what trends and styles the community likes based on engagement – likes and repins.  We view this as another way to engage with customers rather than marketing.

Now there is something worth noting.  While Nordstrom is using Pinterest as a way to gauge community engagement, they think of Pinterest not as a marketing tool but as a way to build a community.

BellsPinterestSwitching to man-land, the Bell’s Brewery Pinterest page is one of my favorites.  Sure they have recipes and decorating ideas, but it’s focused on beer, specifically their beer.  Yes, there are craft ideas, but they are beer crafts.  There’s also a board dedicated to happenings in Michigan (it would help to note that they are based in Kalamazoo).  Again, you see community engagement.  You also see a company who has a clear focus of what the page is supposed to do and who is using it.  It’s a perfect blend of Bell’s Brewery advertising with a general message of “this is for people who enjoy craft beer” in a natural, non-obtrusive way.  They highlight their best assets, but in a way that is very organic to what Pinterest is.

So even if you aren’t a boutique clothing store or a trendy cafe, you can (and really should) be on Pinterest.  Like I reported regarding Tumblr last week, this is a hub of visual marketing.  Still not convinced that “serious” businesses are on Pinterest?  Check out the New York Times.  They’re all in.

Oh, and you can keep up with my Veruca Salt habit here, the power behind theBrewRoom here, and the other stellar guest blogger here!

Should Your Business Use Tumblr?

What happened to Tumblr?  It has a couple hundred (million) users, but even then, it seems like it was almost a flash in the pan.  According to WSJ, Tumblr was recently purchased by Yahoo to bring a social networking presence to the company that is mostly used by an older customer base.  A Google Trends search makes it pretty clear that it’s the forgotten middle child of social media.  (Does anyone else appreciate the irony of using Google to report on something Yahoo-related?  Fickle internet..)  So even though it’s hovering in the shadows for now, should your business use Tumblr?

Tumblr’s users are in a younger demographic.  If you’re Newsweek Tumblrmarketing to that younger crowd, this could be a great tool.  But even if you aren’t marketing to a younger crowd, you can utilize Tumblr in an effective way.  Most notably, if you have highly sharable, visually appealing content or snippets of interesting text.  Newsweek, among others, does a great job of this.

It is primarily a visual platform; if you have pictures to share, this is great.  So why not use Facebook or Instagram?  Well, my friends, you can cross-post.  And you can reach more people than just those who follow you.  If someone likes your content, they can “reblog” or share it on their own Tumblr page, and so on and so forth.  So how is it different than Facebook?  You can tag your pictures, similar to Instagram, and let the viral nature of Tumblr do its job.

The simplicity of this platform is also appealing.  Instead of focusing on making your website visually stunning (let theBrewRoom do that for you), you can focus on making your content visually stunning.  Do you sell ice cream?  Post one mouth-watering picture a day and watch people go nuts.  Again, I understand that Instagram is the hub of “food pornography,” but you can cross-post!  Take that picture with Instagram and post it to Tumblr, too, for maximum exposure (pardon the pun).

The ability to curate content is also a nice bonus to using Tumblr.  You really can make your Tumblr page look like a museum full of attention-grabbing pieces.  On average, people suggest focusing about half of your social networking posts on curating content.  Here, you’re able to reblog other people’s posts and have them show up in with your content if you so choose.  Hence the “social” part of this network.

Sure you can use this as your sole website for your business, but I like to think of Tumblr as an extension of your brand identity.  The users are a little edgier, a little more tongue-in-cheek, a lot more visual, and therefore more likely to share things they find visually appealing on Tumblr.

7 Things To Remember When Posting For Your Business

Inspired by a list published on AdAge.com by Simon Dumenco, “9 Media Things That Should Be Immediately Regulated,” I hereby give you my list of 7 Things That Should Be Regulated When Posting For Your Small Business (or any sized business for that matter) on social media accounts.  Posting for your business can be tricky to navigate at first, but it gets easier with practice (and remembering these reminders).  Please note: there is no particular order because these are all important.  Well, except for No. 1.  That’s pretty important.

7. Henceforth, your posts shall only contain one punctuation character in a row.  If you’re announcing specials, you’re understandably excited.  As they say, “Use your words;” so, use your words to show your excitement, not your punctuation.  Exception: ellipses…http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/250x250/37006275.jpg

6. Henceforth, you shall use effective descriptors.  As Stephen King says, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”  Please refrain from making a three-line chain of really awesome, super-great, exceptionally excellent words to get your message across.  Pick one that best describes what you want to say and use that (and only that) word.  Vary them between sentences if you just can’t play favorites and want to include them all.

5. Henceforth, you shall not ramble.  The ratio of number of characters per post to percent of increased engagement varies between Ragan, Short Stack, and Linchpin SEO infographics, but they agree that posts clocking in around 100-150 characters (3 lines of a Facebook update) see more interactions on Facebook.  Similarly, about 80-100 characters are ideal for a tweet.

4. Henceforth, you shall not post willy-nilly.  Everyone (yes, everyone) will tell you to make a schedule of posts and stick to it.  Users will know what to expect on each day, and you won’t realize it’s 3:30 on a Monday afternoon and you haven’t posted anything yet.

3. Henceforth, if you must automate posts, know who/what/where/when.  Remember those companies that forgot to “un-schedule” their posts when the tragedy in Boston occurred?  Make sure you know what’s going where and when.  Also, try your best to be available to make a quick change should something disastrous occur.

2. Henceforth, you shall not bombard the general public with updates.  Remember the schedule I spoke of earlier?  If you use it, you shouldn’t be guilty of this.  Nothing turns people off faster than overloading them with too much content too quickly.

1. Henceforth, you shall be interested in others instead of trying to get them interested in you.  As the owner of the YaJagoff blog will tell you, you can get more people interested in you by showing interest in them.  Think about the last time you were at a networking event and someone was insistent upon forcing their accomplishments on you faster than you could suck down your watery, one-drink-ticket-per-person drink.  Don’t be that person online.