Ode to the Birds – and maybe a Fail Whale

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Why hello there Twitter with the brand new bird -
slimmer and sleeker but you’ll never be heard.
You peek up top, ready to tweet -
It’s a shame most of these tweeple, I’ll never get to meet.

When you’re not there, I’m still not alone,
There’s a whale with a tale staring at my phone.
I can’t help but smile when I see that fish - Even though I’ve got the latest gossip and I just wanna dish.

My favorite of all, is that HootSuite Owl.
These big round eyes,  always on the prowl.
It must be exhausting being so wise,
Because half the time I log in it seems that he lies…

…asleep. shhhhh

Social Media and Blogging, Sitting in a Tree..

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Once upon a time people would create blogs for things like sharing family photos, chatting about life adventures, and maybe babbling about your favorite place to eat.  Sound familiar?  Facebook came around and a lot of those blogs got replaced with daily updates, likes, and the occasional unwanted friend request from someone you didn’t even like in highschool.

For many, blogs are fun.  Many people love the ease of popping images into a Tumblr blog.  Others are blogging about hobbies to keep personal updates and motivation.  When this becomes a passion, those bloggers look at the numbers and wonder how to increase them.  This is where it’s good to know just a little bit about social media and how to maximize what you’ve got going.

The Basics

Are you on Twitter or Facebook? You probably are, but is your Facebook account personal or private?  If it’s personal, there are a couple of different options depending on how much you’re ready to maintain.

* Utilize the Subscribe button and List features that Facebook gives us.  For example, I have lists for my family, close friends, as well as a list for the people in my professional life that I might not want to share all of my personal details or beliefs with.  If someone Subscribes to you, they will see all of your public posts, and not the ones closed to your particular lists.

If you go this route, remember to keep your work/personal ratio at least 1/10 posts.  You don’t want to spam your friends with all of your blog and work information if they have no interest in it.  So for about every 10 posts, create 1 that is work related.

* Create a professional business page.  Though this will be connected with your personal login information – it’s separate.  This way anyone that wants your information can opt in.  Just make sure to keep the content frequent enough that it’s worth your while.  Once your page is set up, you can use a tool like Networked Blogs that will keep your blogs easy to find on your business page.

Make sure to have sharing buttons somewhere near all of your blog posts.  A couple of good ones to look at are the Digg Digg plugin and SexyBookmarks is really popular right now. Bare minimum?  Make sure people can tweet it, share it on Facebook, and have a Google +1 button.  Why are these important?  They’re a call to action.  Instead of just reading content, people now have an easy way to share it with their own social networks.

Monitor your @mentions from Twitter.  You can run a quick search, or better yet, start using a tool like HootSuite to easily monitor all @mentions that come your way.  I prefer HootSuite because I can not only monitor my @mentions, but I can type in search terms like “Socially Amy” “SociallyAmy”, etc to help find people tweeting my blog.

Quick tip – occasionally search for your business name with a typo.  You never know what might have slipped by (or if it’s a common error!).

Network, network, network!

Do you follow blogs?  Comment on them!  Find the author on her social network and say hello.  Don’t stop there, check out who they follow and who follows them.  Don’t feel like you have to make best friends with everyone out there, but make connections with the people who you do enjoy.  If your blogs are similar, ask to share some guest content or offer to write some for hers.  Guest blogging is a fantastic way to get the attention of a new audience.

Be easy to find.  Make it easy for people to find and follow you on your own social networks.  If they tweet you – reply!  If they post on your blog, check out their own if they have one.  Whenever you communicate, be authentic.  Don’t be all “GREAT BLOG!!!!!” – talk about what you like about their blog, call them by their first name, and just be true to yourself.  I’m not talking about a 300 word answer, this is something you can do in 140 characters or less.

Quick tip : Make sure all your links work on your blog!  You might have a “Find me on Facebook” button but if the link is broke they might not bother to search you out!

Welp, Your Content is Boring.

Even if your topic is good, your sources are great, if your blog is boring it’s not going to get shared.  Add in images, quotes, or even quick tips to help spice things up.  In other words, add a little Pinterest to your blog (or put a little of your blog into your Pinterest page).

Even worse – your content might be great, but if your title isn’t catchy enough no one will even know about it.  That’s right – people DO judge a book by its cover (or a blog by its title).

If you’re tweeting, remember to use hashtags.  Run a few searches yourself to see just what people are using.

Quick Tip: Just ask!  There are tons of great people out there that are happy to share their knowledge. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know what they could teach you!

Like this post? Please share!  Got more tips – share those in the comments! Don’t forget, you can find me on Twitter @amygaerlan

Twitter: Beyond Signing Up.

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You’ve got your Twitter account started, you’ve made a few tweets and you’re wondering what to do now.  Is it really worth your time?  Depends on what you want Twitter to do for you, but I can honestly say it was worth MY time.

I like the saying, “Facebook is for people you know and Twitter is for people you want to know.”  Basically, spend your time on Facebook getting acquainted with your community like they were old friends.  Spend your time on Twitter like you’re at a mixer and you’re shaking hands and sharing business cards over drinks.

*Re-read your bio. Would YOU follow you?  Be interesting, post your image, and make people want to get to know you.  If you have a website – share it!  If you have two, add one in your bio and then enter the other below that.  There’s no reason to miss out on an opportunity to share your information.

* Start following others. Twitter is a fantastic resource for information.  Everything flows in real-time, and it’s the place to be if you want to hear the latest news or laugh at your favorite celebrity.  Don’t feel limited to just following your friends.  Most likely you’ll have more friends on Facebook when you’re new to Twitter.  Unlike Facebook, where you’re limited to only having friends that follow you back – you’re allowed to follow pretty much anyone you want on Twitter.  When you follow someone, they’re likely to notice, and you might just get followed back.

* Know your Twitter Tools You do not need to work in an agency to be familiar with tools for social media.  There’s a variety of tools out there, but two of the most popular for Twitter are Tweetdeck and HootSuite.  These tools let you manage your account (or multiple accounts) with ease and more options than Twitter by itself.

Tools like FollowBlast or TweetSpinner can be used to help you find and gain new followers.  TweetSpinner and ManageFlitter (among others) can help you determine people who don’t follow you back and purge them from your following list.  Personally I have plenty of people who don’t follow me back, but I find their tweets worth the heartache.

There’s more than just dashboards and following tools out there, but don’t feel like you need to know it all.  Things change all the time so try it out when you’re ready – there’s no rush.

* Hashtags - Don’t feel like every word needs to be hashtagged – let alone every tweet.  Tags are a great way to add yourself to an easier search (so if you want people to relate your tweets to economy news – make sure to tag #economy).  one quick rule about hashtags is that tags don’t count if there’s punctuation at the end. ie “#economy.”  This will not show up in a direct search.

* What the Klout? Klout is just one of the social media rating tools out there.  In the past few months they changed a few things and made a lot of people crazy.  Some people’s numbers dropped a great deal while the spam bots seemed to benefit.  Mine only dropped one or two – so I’m not sure what that makes me.  Is there still a reason to worry about Klout?  Not worry exactly – it still has its uses.  I don’t focus on the number itself.  If you tweet me and you only have a Klout of 10 – I’ll probably tweet you back.  However, if someone has a decent Klout score (30s to 40s) I know that they’re at least active on the channel – they’re using social media on a regular basis.

If I’m a business, I might seek out people with higher scores to give away perks and merchandise.  If a post happens to go viral – this also allows me to filter through to the people with influence to make sure that I thank them.  Do your best to thank everyone though – it’s just good manners ;)

If you’re using HootSuite - you can easily narrow a search by Klout score.

*Be social Probably one of the most important things is – don’t talk to yourself.  When I look at a person’s twitter page, I can tell right away if they’re social.  If someone takes the time to tweet you, retweet you, or share an article – thank them!  Be personal about it if you can.  Reach out to others and tell them what you liked about their article (or not). You’re never going to make friends just talking to yourself.

Social Media is Real Life

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We are surrounded by a world of technology and tools.  For many people, our mobile devices are an extension of ourselves.  Ask yourself this, when is the last time that you’ve left your home without your phone.  Did you have a small moment of panic?  Possibly turn back around?

As technology improves and changes, more and more tools become available.  When it comes to a social presence for your business, you look at everything out there as another means to get the word out about your business.  You immediately start thinking of strategies, wonder about ROI, and wonder if it’s actually worth your time.

First things first – yes, it’s worth your time.  Second, to get results, you need to expect to invest.  Even if you aren’t hiring anyone new, you’ll be investing your own time.

Creating strategies and posts is one thing, but while you’re at it don’t forget that the people behind the avatars are mostly all real.  If they weren’t, you wouldn’t be trying to get their attention.  What does this have to do with anything?

If you’ve ever worked retail or sales consider this.  There are 3 people browsing your section, and you’re the only person around.  Do you..

A) Stand where you are, holding the product just talk out loud hoping people are paying attention.  Never making eye contact or acknowledging any customer in particular.

B) Glance at everyone, and pick the person with the nicest clothes (assuming they have the most money) and give that person overbearing one on one.  “Hi, how ya doin, did you find everything OK?  Have you seen this? Would like to see this? Here, let me hold that for you..”

C) Quickly make eye contact and give everyone a little wave saying you’ll be right with them.  Check in with the person that was there first and make sure that they are OK.  While you are with each customer, you give them room to breathe, let them ask their questions, and then – when you know what they want, you steer them in the right direction.

While there are a few bots out there, behind those Facebook profiles and Twitter avatars are real people.  If they’re on your profile, you’ve already got they’re attention.  There’s no reason to jump up and down and tell them to “tell your friends how great we are!”.  Instead, get to know them.  Check out profiles, blogs, and anything of interest.  Generic comments will make people’s eyes glaze over, but if you can pop them with something short, sweet, and personal they will know that you took the time.

Quick tips:

Use names.  I’m not talking Twitter handles, find out the person’s name if it’s easily available and use it!

If someone comments on your wall, respond authentically!  Don’t respond with “That’s great! Tell your friends!”  More like “That’s fantastic Lori!  If you’ve got any photo’s we’d love to see, regardless, thank you so much for letting us know.”  Obviously depending on the details is how personal you can get.

Don’t sit and wait, feel free to reach out. Use searches with tools like HootSuite to help target your audience.  If you’re tweet stream is slow, find people in your demographic and make friends.  Don’t forget though, you don’t make friends by telling them to buy your stuff.  You make friends by commenting on things that are relevant to them in a non creepy way.  If you tweet for a grocery store for instance, watch the streams and see who checks into FourSquare.  Give that person a shout out.  “Hey Sherri! Hope you managed to grab the last minute snacks for your party! There was some great deals today.”

Good luck, and while it is still business…don’t be afraid to have a little bit of fun with it.

5 Ways to Help Your Community Manager Succeed!

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You may remember my last post – 5 Ways to Help Your Community Manager Fail.  I figured it needed a sister post to go along with it…so here goes!  I’ll be following the same guidelines but with a positive twist.  

You’ve done it, you’ve taken the leap into getting someone to manage your social media accounts.  You know that social media can not be ignored, and you figure you better follow the trend.  You’ve tried to do it yourself, or maybe you just don’t have the time, either way, after a long hard search you’ve found someone who you think can bring your social platform from failing to flourishing.

I know it’s hard letting go, so in case you have second thoughts, here’s how you can help your Community Manager succeed.  Together, the two of you can bring your accounts success, and you can breathe a sigh of relief because you know you can trust this person to watch for the “fires” that can happen in social media.

1) You hired her for a reason – this relationship should begin with trust.  Unless you picked up her resume at random, you have a reason to trust the person you hired.  That being said, the trust for managing your social media accounts needs to be nurtured.  Have her create some sample posts, and outline just how she intends on making a positive impact.  If she’s good at her job, she will jump right in with ideas and an action plan on how to jump right in.

2) Don’t delay! Yes, you are very busy but the longer you fidget, the more time is wasted.  While you might want to approve those perfect posts – you have no idea how your community will react if they’re just sitting in your inbox.  However, if you have concerns – voice them!  You want to make sure that she has the voice of your company right.  Working together continues that feeling of mutual trust and makes her feel involved with your company instead of just your social media.

3) Let her make a few posts.  You’ve given her the go-ahead and she’s started posting.  Do not expect miracles!  Just because she’s posting doesn’t mean that suddenly 500 new people will follow your page, engage, like, and share your posts.  Break down the analytics and have her show you what’s been clicked on, what hasn’t.  If you’re unsure about how a particular post ties in with the company – ask her! Most likely there’s a reason that she opted to post it.

4) Find out what your company thinks. It’s one thing if you like it, but find out what your employees think about it as well.  The more input you get, the better her work can be.  That being said though – even if everyone isn’t completely excited about it, follow the numbers.  If her numbers are showing success, there’s a reason for it.  If they’re not, then she needs to listen and revise strategy.

5) Numbers are important – but they’re not everything.  Unless she’s got a magic wand, any Community Manager should not ever announce that she’ll get you X amount of fans by a certain date.  There are ways she might be able to make that number, but she needs to be focusing on knowing your company, your voice, and the content before she starts spouting off numbers.  If you’ve got 100 engaged fans that are commenting and sharing – your community will grow.  That’s not discounting that she should always be looking at strategy and how to gain more fans.  Let her know if you think it’s too slow, she have something up her sleeve.

By now, your Community Manager will be content knowing that you not only trust her, but you respect her as well.  The two of you work together and have a mutual appreciation for all of the hard work that has went into this.  The more she appreciates you and the company, the more your social media will benefit from it.

In good conscience, you can know that your platforms have been improved, and now that you’ve found someone to manage it, you can focus on other things that need your attention.

5 Ways to Help Your Community Manager Fail

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You’ve done it, you’ve taken the leap into getting someone to manage your social media accounts.  You know that social media can not be ignored, and you figure you better follow the trend.  You’ve tried to do it yourself, or maybe you just don’t have the time, either way, after a long hard search you’ve found someone who you think can bring your social platform from failing to flourishing.

I know it’s hard letting go, so in case you have second thoughts, I wanted to show you how to make sure that your Community Manager fails.  This way, you can fire her with a good conscience.

1) Pretend that you trust her completely.  Tell her that you have blind faith that she will succeed, and you only wish you had found her earlier.  This will start her out confident, and ready to take on the world.  If she’s good at her job, she will jump right in with ideas and an action plan on how to jump right in.

2) Procrastinate. Find a reason to delay, and if you can, make it some silly reason like you’re just not sure about the Facebook logo.  It needs to be something out of your Community Manager’s immediate control.  This will make her anxious, but still excited because she knows it’s not her fault.

3) Let her make a few posts.  Once she’s made the posts, ask her what the purpose of those posts were.  Break it down and ask her exactly how it ties into your company 100% of the way.  Tell her that you just don’t get it, and that it doesn’t excite you.  Make a disapproving face, or write an email to make sure that she realizes that she is not off to a good start.

4) Inform her that others don’t like it. It does not even matter if this is true or not, let her know that someone, somewhere found her post irrelevant.  Keep a straight face as she starts to squirm and question what’s going on with her posts.  Limit what she’s allowed to post and how she does it.

5) Tell her that the community is not growing fast enough.  Even if the community has grown 5,000 followers since she’s started posting, tell her that you expected more.

By now, your Community Manager will be so frustrated by her limited creativity, and the fact that you do not appreciate it, she’s probably already looking for another job.  In good conscience, you can know that your platforms have probably been improved, but it will be back under your control once again.  You can fire her nicely enough, and while she might be bitter for a while, she’ll get over it.

All that truly matters is that you are back in the driver’s seat, and the world is your oyster.

The ROI of a Happy Customer

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Do you remember the days of self promotion before social media came around?  Instead of creating a public profile page or Twitter account, you made business cards and literally shook the hands of strangers.  While doing this, did you ever take the time to consider “What’s the ROI of this pack of business cards?” or “What’s my time really worth if I go to this social gathering?”

Probably not – because you knew that regardless of the investment, if you made one good connection it was probably worth it.

Day in and day out, community managers are trying to prove their worth to businesses.  “What’s really the ROI of that post?”  Sure, it’s great customer service, but what does it really mean to my business?

Customer Service

Ask yourself – what’s customer service really worth to you?  If you own a business you most likely have someone that can answer general questions, and is trained to fix mistakes.  Imagine if you walked into a store and not only was there no greeters, but their was no one around the store to help you out?  Yes, you could muddle around and find what you needed, but compare that to your average experience.

Same thing goes with Social Media.  Not all businesses have a presence, and while some do – they fail to respond to their customers.  UPS made an impression on me about a year ago, I had a bad experience and tweeted about it.  Within 10 minutes someone tweeted me back, took it offline to get my personal information and explained the entire situation to me.  While I was still grouchy about what happened originally I couldn’t help but be happy about the experience.

However, during the holidays a well known warehouse store somehow deleted my Christmas card order.  The woman at the desk was baffled and tried to call their customer service to fix it for me.  Not only could she not reach their customer service line (even though she was an employee!), when I went home very frustrated I discovered that while they have a very active Facebook presence (and no Twitter presence) they never responded to the many complaints on their page.

This totally baffled and shocked me.  I supposed that the company assumed they were so big that it really didn’t matter.  To them, social media is just about advertisement – not about human relationships.

Here’s the deal – great customer service is the best ROI you can get from social media.  You can tweet your deals all you want, and make your Facebook page an interactive advertisement, but that’s NOT why people are going to follow you.  Sure, people want to know what’s going on with your business; especially if you showcase special deals only available on your social platforms.  However, if someone complains and you don’t respond, here’s the deal, they complained on a public platform.  It’s not like getting a phone call from an unhappy customer, most likely no one will know except their immediate friends and family.  If you have 10,000 fans and someone complains, let’s say that 200 people see that complaint.  The unhappy person will probably also complain on their personal channel with their 300 or so fans, they might write a yelp review, tweet about it, etc.  Suddenly you’ve went from a one on one conversation to what could become a viral complaint.

Did you know that it’s seven times cheaper to serve a customer on Twitter than on a call center? (Data from SimpliFlying)

Another perk of having a constant flow of clever posts (while engaging with fans) is your fans have friends.  Simple stuff right?  This goes back to old school word of mouth, except now your customers have the potential to reach a lot more people.  So while your employer might not understand why you’re doing a “fun fact” that doesn’t seem relevant to sales – if the fans like it, they will share it.

If you own a store, you’ve probably never questioned the ROI of video camera surveillance or a loss prevention team.  Here, it’s the same concept.  You’re hiring one person, or a team of people to monitor your online presence.  If they’re good at their job, they’ll be jumping all over the online realm to find mentions of your company.  Unlike video camera’s though – this person has the power of human engagement.

If you want to achieve ROI, start with a goal in mind.

Before creating your social strategy – and before beginning to fire questions at your social media manager, you need to think about your goals.  What do you want to achieve with your online presence?

Not all social media activities will have a strict ROI or financial outcome.  Yes, you made that customer happy, but how do you show the owner that it was worth the handful of tweets to fix the outcome?  A happy customer will most likely come back, and even better, he’ll tell his friends how the company went above and beyond to fix the issue.

Regardless of the plan, make sure to have a measurement strategy in place. Whoever is doing your social media needs to be up to date on the latest tools, how to use analytical tools, and how to measure clicks.  If you are not measuring the activity, it is impossible to judge a true ROI.

Measurement alone should not be the only goal. The goal should be to derive actionable insights, and of course, to keep your customers happy.

 

 

Image from by StuffChicksDig

Learning From Others (Part 1)

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First and foremost, your social media presence should be your own.  You can choose to copy similar websites or businesses, but your audience is most likely not identical to theirs.  Even if it was, what they might be doing might not be the “right” thing to do.

While I firmly believe that your social media presence should be unique to you, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things we can learn from other companies.  I am going to do a 3 part series of some quick and easy lessons that you can learn from other companies.  If you pay attention to what’s going on around you, it can help you shape your own online personality.  The most important thing is to be true to yourself and your company.

Do utilize e-mail blasts in an engaging way to lead them to your website or blog.  Out of every newsletter I have ever signed up for, I have probably only consistently opened up the Zaarly newsletters.  I read (or glance) at most newsletters, but Zaarly knows how to rock it out.

Zaarly Newsletter Blast

Among all of the fun blog topics, Zaarly utilizes the core of their existence - their community.  By writing about fun and interesting stories of the people who use the tool, it brings in a level of realism.  The stories are all so unique and fun that the teaser in the e-blast just cannot go un-clicked – at least by me.

Don’t use your newsletter and blogs as advertisements only.  While I think it’s great to spread the news of new products or changes in the company – if every single blast to my email is just another ad, I’m going to unsubscribe.  I could give examples, but that wouldn’t be very nice.  I can forgive the newsletters, but when it’s a blog, that’s when I get grouchy.  Unless you have a product that I cannot live without, I will not be adding your blog to my RSS feeds.

Do utilize hashtags, and if you’ve got the cash you can try promoted tags.  Companies like HP always seem to have either a promoted tag or tweet going on.  Even if they don’t have anything promoted, you can always count on a search for #hp to come up with significant results – especially if there is a new product out.

Don’t forget that there is a very strong voice on Twitter.  McDonald’s very recently made the mistake of forgetting that there are a lot of people who either don’t like the company – or just enjoy making fun of fast food. In case you somehow missed the insanity, here’s a glimpse at how their attempt at#McDStories went horribly wrong.

#McDStories

Cute concept, except everyone under the sun has probably had a very bad story to share – goodness knows I could have jumped in on the hate bandwagon.  Not only that, directly after the very public embarrassment they jumped in with another tag #littlethings that happened to be the same tag a hotel was using the same day.  If you’re going to tag, do your research, and consider how it can be turned negative.

Why Walking My Dog Inspires My Blog Posts

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So you decided to create a blog.  Now what do you do with it?  First things first, you have to ask yourself, why are you writing your blog?  If it’s for yourself, do what inspires you – if it’s for an audience, do what intrigues them while trying to retain part one (be inspired).

It’s no mystery to those that know me.  I love to write, and I actually prefer to write fiction.  When I have that inspiration, I want to stop everything I’m doing and write it out as fast as I can because life moves too fast and I’m afraid I’ll forget it all.  However, blogging is entirely different.  Sometimes you have all the knowledge but can’t get inspired on how to write it all down.  Here’s where my dog comes in.

I might be writing a social media blog.  Trying to share tips, tricks, products, and all that normal jazz – but when I can’t pull it all together I know it’s time to unplug.  I’ll admit, with the ease of a smart phone, sometimes I want to jump on it while out with the kids or even walking the dog, but true inspiration comes with remembering that we’re human and regardless of where you live, there’s always something beautiful in nature.

Do you remember that scene from American Beauty with the plastic bag?  That scene caught my breath, because that’s how I feel about life.  To one person, all they might see is garbage – but in that moment, if you allow yourself, you can be taken away and enjoy the dance.

When I find that I cannot write – either for myself or for my clients, it’s time to unplug.  If possible, I’ll take the dog on the walk, and remember to just breathe in. I see the trees, the cracks in the sidewalk, and pass the old woman who works on her garden in the middle of December.  I wonder why she has toy trucks all over her yard, if she has grandchildren or if they are relics of her past.  I consider which street to walk down because there’s a fenced in dog that has probably never gotten to go much farther than that fence.  I always pity him, and wonder what would happen if he was released.  Would he be as angry as he seems on the other side, or is it all a farce because he doesn’t know anything other than protecting his property?  I like to believe that he’d be nothing but wagging tails and love, but I’ll never know I guess.

On one hand, my mind clears while I go on these walks, but on the other it fills.  It fills with curiosity and relaxation.  In a way I get my OM on (yoga speak) – but instead of focusing on relaxing the tensions away, I let my mind wander.  Once my mind is allowed to wander, that’s when the words can begin to flow again.

So if you find yourself staring at your blank screen, wondering what on earth to write – go find some inspiration.  Do what relaxes you, and brings that feeling of inner peace.  This includes if you’re writing for a client.  While you can force writing, it won’t feel authentic if it’s forced.

Learning the Business Through a Customers Eyes

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No one understands a business better than the person that put their heart and soul into starting it.  The owner of a business might know it inside and out, but that doesn’t mean that they know how to translate it to social media.

Missing Puzzle

Many try, struggle, and then decide to look for a little help – or worse, let their account go stagnant.  If you’re brought on, first you need to respect their attempts.  As you know, it’s one thing to make the page, it’s another one to keep it current and filled with interesting, engaging content.

When you write for a company, you need to take a deep breath and really learn their business.  A great way to do this is to do a social media “audit” (so to speak).  Personally, after first hearing about the business from the owner, I like to take a closer look as a customer.

Start with the webpage.  Get to know the in’s and out’s.  Does it flow well? Is it easy to follow?  Can you find everything with relative ease?  Don’t confuse this with a website audit which is much more in-depth - just make notes about what stands out to you as a consumer.

Then log into Facebook and Twitter and do a search for the company.  Hopefully the company is easy to find, but in some cases I’ve had to go back to the website and look for a link.  Once there, take note of the number of fans, how many people are talking about it, and glance at the posts to see the engagement.  As a customer, I want to see that the company responds to posts (especially complaints!), shares good information that I want to read, and is using social media as more than just another form of advertisement.

The next step is to use tools such as IceRocket to do a quick search for blogs.    With IceRocket you can search out mentions of the company.  Like I said, you’re going through this as a customer, so you’ll get information from blogs and forums that babble about the company from real experience.  Don’t get me wrong, some people are jaded out there, and sometimes there’s a reason for it.  Occasionally you might step into a company that has been bad in the past, and the new owners are trying to turn it around.  You’ll find all of this out while you search into the company.

TwilertObviously from this point, set up Google Alerts and Twilerts - if you’re using HootSuite set up searches for not only the company name but common misspellings.   By staying on top of what’s being said about the company, you’ll be able to create content that resonates with the people who love it.

One of the most important things I can say, is to find the authentic voice of the company.  Learn the heart of the business, and then learn how to translate that to your audience.  Start with what would catch your eye as a customer, but see how the audience responds.  What resonates with you might not be what really appeals to the audience.  Watch the analytics, adjust, and always keep the company message at the core of your posts.

How do you learn the heart of the business?

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