Taking a Leap

Today I thought I’d write about something decidedly non-ridiculous: trusting yourself and taking a leap.

Some of us may be lucky enough to be in a very encouraging and empowering work environment, but I know there are a lot of others out there who are…not. It can be tricky to be in a changing field like communications/PR, and you may find yourself surrounded by naysayers (always makes me think of this: “What is this, Horseville? Cuz I’m surrounded by naysayers. Wordplay!” —Tracy Jordan) and people who just plain don’t like change.

You know what? Scratch that. That applies to way more than just communications/PR–just check out how many titles there are about dealing with and instituting change in the Business section of your local bookstore. Or Amazon, whatever.

This post is not those books, and I am no expert. What I’m saying is that sometimes you just need a little reminder that you’re on the right track. You’re doing the right thing. In fact, you’re awesome. Without risk, there is no reward. You have a goal? Go for it. What’s holding you back?

Take the initiative and do something that makes you happy, advances your career, and/or improves your workplace. You can do it!


Measuring Social Media Results

Ah, yes. We all love social media. Everyone talks about it, it’s definitely the best new thing. It does great things for your business…but just how great is it? How do you measure its impact on your business?

The biggest secret about social media is that there still isn’t one standard way to measure your impact or ROI (return on investment). Many people think that the more followers you have, the better you’re doing. More followers can mean broader reach for your brand, but it matters who those followers are. Are they the right audience? Are they engaging with you?

While there are many tools out there to help capture data, I think the most important thing is to get back to basics. Ask:

What are my goals? Who is my audience? What do I want them to do?

Make sure to keep the answers to those questions in mind when formulating your strategy.     If your goal is to increase sales and your audience is 14-16 year old girls, that will affect not only the tools you use (hint: they’re not on LinkedIn) but also the tone and message. You want them to go to your website to buy your product, but if you do nothing but post links to the things they should buy, you’ll get nowhere. This is why just measuring number of followers and clickthroughs to your website is too simple–you’re really using social media to create relationships.

If you’re interested in reading more, I recommend:

How the Pros Measure Social Media

2 ways to measure social media successfully

Measuring Social Media ROI: 3 Things to Consider

6 Ways to Measure Your Social Media Results


Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day

I promise, it’s a thing: Community Manager Appreciation Day is today. What’s a Community Manager, you say? According to Jeremiah Owyang, the creator of CMAD, it’s basically a customer advocate willing to help, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or in the comments on a corporate blog.

Social Fresh has created a handy little infographic based on their 2012 Community Manager Report:

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Keeping Up With New Media: Pinterest

Keeping up with all the new tools and networks that come out can be a really overwhelming task for some people (but not social media professionals….er…never).

I’d like to introduce you to my New Favorite Thing: Pinterest. Pinterest is basically a huge, lovely online magazine: users populate the site by grabbing images from the internet (with a handy “Pin It” button for your bookmark bar) or repinning images other users have posted. Those images are organized onto boards like “Wedding Ideas,” “For the Home,” and “Recipes to Try.” If you’re noticing a trend in my example board ideas, you’ve got the right idea: this is a place that appeals to the ladies. My Pinterest homepage is dominated by lofty DIY projects, aspirational style photos, and lots and lots of dresses. It’s really pretty.

Of course, as soon as the business world heard how popular it’s gotten–site visits increased by 4,000% in six months–everyone wanted to know how to use it as a marketing tool. While there are a lot of tips out there, the best one I’ve seen came from the American Express OPEN Forum blog: use Pinterest to promote a lifestyle, not necessarily a particular product. Pinterest etiquette actually forbids blatant self-promotion, so marketing there requires a broader view. Instead of posting a picture of a bracelet for sale in your shop, think about what kind of person your brand appeals to. Uber-fashionista? Retro-chic?

Your Pinterest boards can also reflect many different sides of your brand: just because you’re selling clothes doesn’t mean you can’t have a food board. Or a board of cute fluffy animals (Pinterest users love fluffy animals).

Check out some of the examples on the OPEN blog post to see how other brands are using it successfully, and of course, you can always follow me!

January’s Ridiculous Prize Goes to…Wedding Media

Wedding media (also called “bridal,” because you know it’s geared toward women) is a particular niche of media, both digital and print, that I’ve gotten a large dose of lately. Out of all the things out there that could have crossed the line (a silver bubble wand from Barneys as a bridesmaid favor! A “budget” post with a sentence that starts with “If your heart is set on serving caviar,”!) the one that did it for me was an ad that came on Pandora. I can’t remember which jewelry company it was for, but it ended with the phrase, “Because you shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to your engagement ring.”

It’s hard for me to put into words the way that makes me feel, but it is some combination of blind rage, sadness at the state of our culture, and insane laughter at how ridiculous that is. But this is where it all starts: marketing aimed toward women and girls before they even get engaged that makes no bones about telling them that they should have everything they ever wanted, cost be damned. That kind of message carries on throughout all wedding media, whether it’s directly from a company trying to sell you a ring/dress/venue/cake or not.

For the record: YOU MAY HAVE TO COMPROMISE. ON A LOT OF THINGS. When you’re planning a wedding, but also just in your relationship in general. That’s life, ladies.

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Social Media: More Than Tweeting About What’s For Dinner

I just had a really fascinating conversation with Patrick Pho, local social media guru and We Love DC author, and one of the many topics we covered was the perception that working with social media for your job means that you get paid to play around on Facebook and tweet about whatever. Which I already do, so why not get paid for it, right?

Unfortunately, no. What using social media in a professional setting requires is some understanding of traditional PR tactics, because social media is really just a tool. You need some content and strategy behind it in addition to understanding how it works. Both elements are equally important, as many old school PR pros are finding when they bring the ideas but their tweets come off as wooden and robotic.

What’s happening here is that communications/marketing is changing. Smart companies are using it to their advantage, and slow companies are still thinking social media is a fad, but they should probably have a Facebook account. Just because. But they’ll come around once they see that their traditional press release blasts aren’t getting the traction they used to, and the publicity value attached to newspaper articles is steadily declining.

In any case, whether you’re a personal social media user or doing it professionally, the bottom line is: under no circumstances should anyone be tweeting about their dinner.


Lions and Tigers and SOPA, Oh My!

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, SOPA (The Stop Online Piracy Act) is the internet’s favorite bad guy. Everyone is really freaking out about this bill–it was designed to combat digital piracy, but people are worried that it’ll do everything from kill the internet to censor free speech.

The latest news is that some really popular sites (Wikipedia and even CHEEZBURGER NETWORK! Gasp. Although good riddance to reddit, the feyonce’s favorite distraction) are going dark on Wednesday to protest the bill. If everyone didn’t know about the bill before, they will now, which makes it a brilliant publicity tactic. Kids who never cared about what was going on in Congress suddenly are twisting their hands over their favorite sites going down, and those sites are quick to point a finger at SOPA.

I just don’t get what everyone is so worked up about. Yes, SOPA hasn’t quite gotten it right. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be the end of everything we know and love, unless those things we love voluntarily remove themselves. At the end of the day, piracy is still a problem for content-producing industries, and the laws haven’t caught up to the technology. Congress should try again, and the internet needs to calm down already.