Businesses Taking a Stand…and Posting it. Gasp!

My Facebook feed has been overrun with the latest business to take a stand on their beliefs and the cries for a boycott have begun.

If you haven’t been paying attention, then let me give you the lowdown.

Nike has decided to feature Colin Kaepernick in their 30th anniversary ad campaign. The main image causing much of this stir is the one below. It is also quite notable that they did this only four days before the start of the 2018/2019 NFL season.

Kaepernick tweet

Image from Colin’s Twitter Feed

If you are unfamiliar with Nike – or only know them as that shoe brand with the swoosh, then this would seem rather surprising to you. And the comments I have heard (or seen rather) go right to the Trump propaganda machine that kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful.

(**If you are unfamiliar with the purpose of the NFL players peaceful protest then please see this video from current Texas Senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke who explains what they are protesting and his thoughts. I happen to agree with him, but that’s another blog for another time.)

There is a point to this rambling…stay with me here.

There is a book by the founder of Nike called Shoe Dog. If you have never read it, then I suggest if you are upset or confused by their move, that you do so. I have read it, so let me say this – this is NOT surprising in the least. Nike has been built on their athletes and they have a devout loyalty to them because in the beginning their athletes were the reason their brand blew up the way it did. Without their athletes they would be nothing. So standing behind them? Not shocking.

So the real question here is this – how will this affect their brand?

There is an old rule of thumb in marketing – no publicity is bad publicity.

The rules haven’t really changed much with attraction marketing. If anything, it has actually proven that ALL publicity is excellent for brand awareness. Nike is seen everywhere, on every NFL jersey, in basketball, on the feet of everyday people walking the streets, but when was the last time you really had a discussion about them?

My guess is today…or maybe yesterday.

In social media this can easily be converted into some social listening, finding your most loyal supporters – those that think the way your brand does. If your brand is struggling to find a foothold on social media, I will always suggest bucking the norms and posting something a little bit more controversial.

Yes. You will get some flack for it, but on the flip side, you will get noticed, your VW-082018-01engagement will increase and you can be more real with your brand.

Almost all of my brands tell me to stay away from religion and politics on their social media and so we respectfully do so. But I have a challenge for those that are trying to find their voice – your beliefs are your beliefs, whether everyone believes the same or not, and your customer is not everyone’s customer, a bit of authenticity and real truth is a refreshing thing today.

(Caveat – PLEASE be respectful of everyone and be kind. Anonymity does not give us a blank check to be cruel human beings.)

Now don’t go posting something controversial just because…actually, go for it. It’s a great test if you want to see how far you can get in the fire.

Happy marketing my friends and please leave a comment below or get in the discussion by requesting to join my new Facebook group – Embracing the Power of Social Media Marketing.

 

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Instagram Scammers Exist

The other day I received a rather odd email. Someone had sent me a message stating that they had “boosted” my last Instagram post and that I should head over to my account to check it out. If I liked what they had done then I could have all of my posts boosted for ONLY $9 a week!

Don’t you love that? The all capitalization to get you to act immediately, like your time will expire if you don’t fall all over this offer right now. And it seemed like such a great deal…

The whole thing freaked me out.

First – how did they “boost” my post?

This was actually pretty simple to figure out. They didn’t have access to my ad account and there weren’t any kind of stats for the boost, so I know they didn’t go through the normal advertising platform. I looked at the accounts that had liked my post because yes, it had definitely gotten a LOT more attention that most of my posts. Instead of 50 or less likes (don’t judge, my Instagram account has restarted a dozen times), I had gotten over 110 in a very short time span. SEEMED great…but then you realize that the accounts aren’t real.

My best guess is that this particular user who emailed me, he said his name was Brad, had created a hundred plus fake accounts or had a pod of people that worked together to go and like my post. It then had the appearance that my post had been “boosted”.

email from insta scam

This was the email in question…quite a few red flags went up on this one.

It of course has not happened again. I did not email him back and fall for the bait, but I also immediately started to think of all the precautions I need to ensure are on my accounts. I run quite a few accounts for clients and my passwords change somewhat frequently, but just in case, it was time for password updates and a thorough security check of my Instagram and Facebook account security.

Since Facebook is linked to my Instagram accounts it was important to check there and before anything else, always change your email password. The biggest thing with scams is that if you have been hacked your email is one of the quickest ways for them to get to you and screw every account you have.

Need a new password? They email you a link. Convenient for hackers…horrifying for those that have been hacked.

This is also why I whole heartedly believe that two step authentication is extremely important for EVERY social media account and email. It may be a pain in some instances, but the slight inconvenience of it is worth it in the end.

A few more notes on fake accounts/scams on Instagram.

If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. This is the same rule of thumb with influencers. Have you ever seen those accounts with a TON of followers but very little interaction from their fan base? No comments, barely any likes…nothing.

That is a tried and true sign that that particular individual is either A) not real or B) bought their followers.

VW-043018-02True influence is not a popularity contest – it is people interacting with people. Those that have created a content and value rich account and seek out interaction with their followers. On Instagram and every other account – a fake influencer is really only a few steps away from a scammer. They don’t want you to know they aren’t real and will ask you to pay them for their opinion or give them free stuff.

Don’t fall for it. You are not a commodity and you are more than your product. It takes time and effort to build a solid following on Instagram and every other platform. Put in the work, engage with others and put out valuable content…it will be worth it.

Best of luck on your marketing journey!

PSST….looking for tips and a community to help you build a stronger marketing strategy for your brand? I just opened my group on Facebook, Embracing the Power of Social Media Marketing on my VENTUREWRITE page. All business focused individuals seeking successful success with social media marketing are welcome!

The Case of the Missing Social Media Marketer….

There is something to be said for taking a break from social media.

It’s almost a nice little respite, a vacation if you will, from the world around you. It’s living in your own bubble and focusing on the life in front of you, not worrying about whether this moment is Instagram worthy or something to be shared with all of your “friends” on Facebook.

If you haven’t done it in a while, then I highly recommend it.

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This is where I was mentally…on a beautiful beach, isolated in a little hut with no WiFi

There is one problem though, which may not be a problem for most, but when your life and your business revolves around social media, it is the living breathing entity that literally pays for your groceries and the roof over your head…at some point, you have to go back.

To be clear, it’s not that I haven’t been on social media at all for the past couple of months – but I haven’t been posting as ME.

I dipped out of Instagram all together for a while – worried I wasn’t getting my brand just right. Then I stopped posting anything organic on my own business Facebook page…it became a beautifully branded page – but not terribly exciting, with little to nothing organic and authentic.

Here is the insane part of all of this…while I understand that taking a break from social media is actually good and healthy, as a business person it can be suicide. I tell my clients this ALL THE TIME. I legit will have conversations about how you need to post more organic content, how they need to send me more information about their businesses to create more high quality, authentic and true to their business content, not just pretty images we create and articles we find for them.

I. KNOW. ALL. THIS.

But yet I have been stalling. Paralyzed by the worry that maybe my brand isn’t just right, that maybe my message will be off just a little, that maybe the worry of being not perfect enough will cause a backlash of some imaginary sort. It is a paralysis of analysis and it’s held me in its grip as I rationalize that I am too busy with my client’s pages and accounts…I don’t have time to work on my own business’s social media presence.

That of course is crap.

It is really about the “compare to despair” situation that Cara Alwill Leyba so accurately talks about in her book Girl Code. (Excellent book by the way.) And that is also why so many people categorize social media as the devil in the room. It causes us to focus on everyone else and shifts our focus from the everyday to creating a “perfect version” of the everyday. One that is truly unsustainable and honestly, who wants to be perfect all the time? Not me – being perfectly imperfect is my every day motto, so why not be that imperfect me on social?

I have Facebook live moments where my son comes running in as I’m attempting to explain a complicated situation or technique, or I don’t speak exactly to a script…often I come up with my Facebook live subject mere moments before I go live because that is the most pressing topic at the moment. Yet I stalled on Instagram…and stopped posting the fun part of my job. I kept it under wraps, seemingly just for me.

That was good and bad. See, I want to enjoy with others the insanity of business. It’s not all cupcakes and rainbows and navigating social media is at times a CHORE. It can be hard – a Facebook ad may fail. A picture or video may totally flop. But that’s OKAY. It’s all a part of your brand and really, there is nothing that cannot be deleted.

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There is only one main rule that I have when posting on social media. If you wouldn’t say that to a person’s face, then you best not say it at all. Social media may be getting a bad rep right now, but it’s not the tool, it’s the people behind it. I pledge to use my knowledge to share and educate and to spread kindness. Because if we are being honest, social media needs a bit more happy sparkle and a little less hatred out there right now.

So, I’m back, I’m excited and ready to spread a bit of happiness and social media knowledge – because, damn, did I learn a lot on my hiatus!

I cried while watching the March 4 Our Lives…Social Media can work Miracles

Lots of tears. Happy tears. Sad tears. Tears of pride. Tears of frustration. Tears as I stared at my almost 4 year old son and tried to impress upon him the courage of the young men and women who were taking the stage, one after the other, with messages of love and frustration. Speeches filled with passion and purpose.

And then I wanted to scream in frustration the next day at the pundits on TV. The adults who were jaded. Those who kept saying “So now what? They made a march happen…real change in harder” or to the pundit on CNN who said that they should “learn CPR” instead of work for change in Washington. (Yes, that was said by former senator Rick Santorum – side note, CPR doesn’t work on your dead friend lying next to you from a bullet wound, but sure Rick, you try that.)

MFOL poster

Image from MarchForOurLives.com

Social media made this happen and it’s only ONE of the many movements to have been made real by people coming together for one passion and purpose. I know that there has been a lot of negative news about social media – the stealing of information, the negative affects it can have on your psyche, how it can be an overall negative aspect of our lives.

But I present to you another side – the positive side of social media…the side that can and has moved mountains.

It’s funny, we fret over and over about our information getting released to the public in one form or another and yet I was reminded by my husband that not so long ago, there were these books printed that had every persons name, phone number and address listed and then dropped on every person’s doorstep. (That was called a phone book for all those kids out there.) Now there is a panic when information, seemingly innocuous at first glance, is shared without our consent. Before I start getting hate mail – I’m all for regulation of  the social media industry and the platforms. What can be done with our information, how it is shared, etc. Yet I think we need to take a step back and instead of being hate mongers…think about how much good has been done in the world.

A small child dying from cancer just wanted to meet one of the Marvel Avengers – a TV personality made that happen. Chris Evans (Captain America) and Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) were reached via a Twitter storm with fans all over the place tagging every Avenger they could think of.

The uprising in the Middle East could never have happened without social media or a resurgence of the MeToo movement. The coming together of minds with a like minded goal – sometimes it can be geared towards hate, and unfortunately they get most of the coverage, but many, many times more they can be geared towards love.

Love What Matters (@lovewhatreallymatters) is one of my favorite social media profilesLove What Matters to follow on Facebook. When you ever have a moment of doubting humanity, check it out. It is nothing but the kind acts of people in the world. They do exist and they really are in the majority.

Social Media gives us a platform to share everything. It allows people to come together with others who shared a purpose and a cause worth fighting for. The NRA used to be a very strong opponent and massive lobbyist in Washington. I know that they are still a formidable opponent for those who are for gun legislation…but the children of our future are leading the way. They have a platform to spread the word and what they want.

So I ask the jaded adults out there…a walk across a bridge started a movement once before that ushered in a time of change. Why do we question a movement started by those affected by tragedy, who are demanding change, because that bridge is being walked online?

MFOL Register to voteIf you are interested in the March 4 Our Lives Movement here is the info:
Hashtag: #MarchForOurLives
Twitter: @AMarch4OurLives
Instagram: @marchforourlives
Facebook:/marchforourlives
Website: https://marchforourlives.com/

Hashtags & Getting Social on Social Media

I have many clients where the first question they ask is, what is a hashtag and why on earth do you need it?

WHY? Because it may be the greatest gift ever given to people who want to share the same experiences. Really. That little # might be one of the best little tools ever to be invented…for those who love to interact on Social Media.

Let me back up for one minute.

If your idea of Social Media is to just post about yourself and how awesome your VW-022618-02company is, then you are missing the SOCIAL aspect of Social Media. (You should also stop reading this blog, because I’m mainly going to be talking about the massive benefits of getting out there and interacting with your prospective clients and customers.)

Back to the point…

Hashtags are keywords that help you get in on the conversation. (For more information on just what a hashtag is and how to use them effectively, check out my blog on the topic HERE.) That is the key piece here and focus of this blog – getting in on the conversation.

This week is an excellent example of how to jump into the social fray because the Twitterverse is all kinds of crazy with the current political atmosphere. The current US President just fired his Secretary of State and there is a major political battle in Pennsylvania that has turned into a nail biter. Combine that with a planned school walk out, a poor dog dying on United airlines (yes, this happened and it’s horrifying), Pi Day, Stephen Hawking passing away and a new movie from the world of Harry Potter….you have a VERY BUSY social calendar to keep up with and it’s only Wednesday!

And that is my point.

At any given time, someone, somewhere is sharing about a subject that you may be passionate about. Are you a Veterinarian, dog walker or heck, anyone who has a dog? The United Airlines conversation is somewhere where you can share your opinions. How about anyone involved with customer service? Join the United conversation and talk about employee training. Maybe you don’t want to get involved in the controversial topics – head to entertainment or your hobby.

Are you obsessed with fitness, love personal development and leadership books (guilty as charged), enjoy wine and beer, sports of every season, video games…there is literally a conversation going on about just about every topic at any time of day, EVERY DAY. And hashtags? They help you find them.

Twitter is the best place to find out what is the trending topic of the day. If you travel to Twitter you will see what is trending (based on your preferences) at the moment you look. If you look 2 hours later, there will be a different list, changing every hour (or minute) based on the day and what may be happening. Besides the list (located on the right hand side of your home feed) there is a Moments tab at the top of the screen that will allow you to see the trending stories of the, you guessed it, moment. Click on one of those stories and you will see the top tweets that are associated with it. At any time you can respond to one of those tweets, re-tweet it or use it as a source for information to file away for a later date.

There are a couple of other reliable sources that I use for this purpose besides Twitter.

You can determine popular hashtags for a specific subject by using top-hashtags.com or hashtagify.me. Hashtagify.me looks like it has launched its latest beta version and at first glance it has some excellent promise for being a very helpful tool in finding hashtags, and their relevance, to you and your brand. There is a paid version that offers more perks, so review to determine what may be helpful for your brand.

So now you have your top hashtags…you are ready to get social!

WAIT! Don’t start just yet…spend a little bit of time “listening”.

VW-020518-02I know, I’m being contradictory, but while people are out there, ready and willing to engage in conversations, they are also sharing their opinions, about you and your industry at large. They are supplying you with important information. What do they want from you? What is important to your potential consumers? Remember 96% of people that are talking about your brand online don’t actually follow you on social media. (via CoSchedule) They are out there, talking and waiting for you to respond to them.

So spend a few days recording data. What hashtags truly affect your ideal client? This is a key aspect and one of the main reasons why I love hashtags. You can dial in on the big hashtags, but then start looking at what hashtags your customers are using. For example – are you an interior designer in Chicago? Then the #interiordesigner would be important, along with #interiordesign, but what about #chicagointeriordesigner or the suburbs of the ideal clients you are looking to attract – #lakeforestillinois, #lakebluff, etc. (I go into this a bit more in my previous hashtag blog I mentioned earlier.)

Once you have spent a little bit of time listening and have identified the topics that you are both passionate about and others that you believe are important to your potential clients and customers, add something of VALUE to the conversation. Either respond to another person’s tweet/post or use the hashtag and put your own thoughts out there. And remember, don’t tweet or post and run. Keep tabs on the conversation and respond to comments, this is the FUN part!

Often we focus so much on the posting part that we forget that Social Media was intended to be a medium for people to connect, share opinions and relate with one another.

Enjoy being on Social Media – it really is so much more than a Like or a Follower!

Politics, Social Media and Marketing

I’m sure I’m going to get some haters with this post…but I have to write it, because this is driving me crazy.

To be clear and set the precedent, if you don’t know me, I am a political junkie. I will consume way more political news than is healthy (by most people’s standards, clearly not mine). I do my best to broaden my views, taking in both conservative news outlets, liberal and pretty much everything in between. I want to know what everyone is saying, whether I believe it or not is something entirely different…and that, my friends, is the heart of the matter.

Saying that social media in and of itself has had a negative effect on society and politics in general is pure BS in my opinion.

Has it informed more people? Yes. Has it forced people to get involved that may have never done so? Yes. Has it forced us to live more through a little handheld device? Maybe, but that’s off topic. Has it changed people’s opinions?

That’s the true question.

Because we have NO WAY OF KNOWING what may have changed a person’s mind.

It was the Fake News.  (I can’t tell you how much I hate that phrase.) People have spread false rumors since the beginning of time. They share what they are deeming facts, but we know really aren’t the case, or we would if we did our own research. Dynasties practically lived off of fake news, but they used to call it propaganda. Today, we call it marketing.

Yes, I just did that.

Build Relationships…Be more than a Marketer

Marketing is basically crafting a message to share your beliefs. About a person, a product, a theory, a state of mind. It is sharing YOUR opinion (or a company’s) of how wonderful something is or is not and how it may or may not benefit someone. Some people do it amazingly well, some not so much. Some can tell you that Coca-Cola is good for you. That the sweet taste will go straight to your head and make you feel alive, not sugar filled and give you a gut.

See, it’s easy to flip the switch. To flip the message.

Did social media make me think that Coca-cola was the best thing since sliced bread? No. But maybe it caused me to taste it, try it out and then make my own decisions.

Because that is what social media and all media allows everyone to do. In the United States we are free to say whatever the hell we want, for better or worse, we have free speech for a reason. That free speech allows us to say things and for others to determine if they agree or disagree.

Did the presidential race of 2016 get ruined by social media or the Russians? No. Was the voting body affected by the messages that were shared? Absolutely.

We are all affected by every message we take in. The billboards around us, the commercials on TV and YouTube and the sponsored ads on social media. Not only the social media ads but the real tricky posts – the ones that get you thinking – the ones that look like they are from legit friends or acquaintances. The ones that have the chance to persuade you just a bit.

But they won’t change your mind. That’s up to you.

Publishing a Book Can be Terrifying

I’m not going to tell you that writing a book is hard. Anyone who can write (and even those who can’t with good coaching) can write a book. I truly believe that. Really! I know it seems improbable and even impossible to some to even fathom writing down anything, let alone enough about a subject to fill 100+ pages. But you can do it.

That being said, there are certain parts of writing the book and really launching the book that are just more terrifying.

So why the hell did I do it? covered in pillows

Simple. What I have been deep diving into for the past four years deserved to be shared.

Social Media Management for Small Businesses can be easy or REALLY difficult depending on the business and the resources. I know that. I have seen the challenges everyday that small businesses go through, hell, I have a hard enough time attempting to keep up with my own social media! (Yes, I realize that this should be a focus…stay with me here)

It takes TIME and PATIENCE to create a brand online while you are fighting like hell to build your products, launch your services, just respond to customer emails and orders. I know this, I have watched this process multiple times in varying industries – so I couldn’t keep everything I have learned to myself.

My joy is to watch businesses succeed, whether I help them or they help themselves – I know that small businesses and entrepreneurs make the world go round.

So why was it terrifying to launch the book? Honestly, because there is a point, no matter how many times you tell yourself that it doesn’t matter, that you want people to not only find it useful, but to like it. Simple.

fairy jumping

Scary…but absolutely invigorating to jump off that cliff.

Yet, when we put it all together, isn’t that what we are doing everyday with our businesses? Seeking others who will like our brands enough to buy what we sell? I know that that is exactly what I am doing online everyday.

It’s a scary cliff to jump off of – working in a space that you have never even ventured to move into before. The absolute joy of seeing your published work available on Amazon, and the abject terror of saying, “What if I get a bad review?” I HOPE it doesn’t happen, but I don’t KNOW that it won’t happen.

The process for actually writing the book wasn’t the hard part…it was the editing, the worrying it wouldn’t be good enough, the pure panic that it wasn’t worded just right in one portion or maybe I mentioned myself too many times, or possibly my use of the word “yet” was just one too many to count and could annoy.

In the end I decided that it was good. Parts were great. Parts were going to need to be VW-022618-04updated. But everything that I had to offer was going to help at least one person, one small business, and that my friends, was worth ALL of the effort.

Looking to check out my book? Here is my shameless plug and the link to purchase. If you are reading this on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 you can still download it for FREE on Kindle until the end of the day. 😉