Friday, July 31, 2015

10 Qualities of Successful Social Media Managers

There are as many titles for those of us that work in social media as there are people doing it. And that number, in both instances, is growing daily! Whether call ourselves “Social Media Managers,” “The Person that Runs Social Media for X-Brand” or “Community Managers,” we all have a lot in common.

So what makes for a successful Social Media Manager? What do you aim to look for in the people you hire for this highly exciting, super busy, changing-as-we-speak position? This position didn’t exist even as recently as five years ago – do we even know what we should be looking for?

Generally speaking, you are looking to your social media manager to be the voice of your brand (and often the face, as well). This is someone that espouses who your company is, and often represents the first impression people will have with your brand. Therefore, the person will stand for what your company as a whole stands for and not only understands and buys into, but understands your brand’s overall strategy and objectives.  

Here are 10 qualities I believe people need to possess, in order to be successful managing social media for a brand:

1.      Someone who is friendly and responsive: Social media managers are conversational, able to speak with people from all sorts of demographics, and enjoy doing so. They draw their energy from their communities and are highly attentive to the members of their communities daily. They look forward to discussing a variety of ideas and topics, and are timely in their responses to comments and questions.

It's true. We are always on our phones.
2.      Someone who is highly passionate: Exactly what they are passionate about can and will vary, but they need to be able to tie into their passions, and those of their communities. They enjoy social media and enjoy their job and the work they do, and it is evident through their communications. To get other people excited about something (i.e. your brand!) you need your social media staff to be just as excited. Excitement is contagious!

3.      Has experience in online/digital communications: I see people discussing this on Twitter a lot lately, in highly charged chats and direct messages. The idea that “everyone is a consultant these days.” You want someone that doesn’t just have a Facebook and Twitter page set up. In my opinion, you want someone with experience. A person who isn’t just learning on the fly as they go along, but someone that has a proven track record of success online. You get what you pay for, right? If you want to get the best, I believe it’s in your best interest to hire someone with at least 2 years of experience leading communities, putting together and tracking online campaigns. Remember, someone with less experience might have a much more amazing personal Facebook page, but that doesn’t mean you should automatically trust them to run yours for your business.   

4.      Someone with a passion for constantly learning: It goes without saying (but does it, really?) that your social media manager is staying on top of what people are talking about: reading blogs, subscribing to feeds, learning all they can about social media and technology, and helping to ensure they know not only what tools, apps, and media are available to them and your brand, but more important what is coming. If you’re not a step ahead, you run the risk of being 10 steps behind. Are they just as consistent in looking to learn more about themselves? About other people? It’s not brought up often, but something I always admire in social media/community managers is the quality of self-awareness and confidence. These people don’t have to be told not to go after shiny new objects all the time. They know how to take time and vet opportunities. They are patient, realizing that while social media is constantly changing, they don’t need to follow the crowd. They are strong enough in themselves to be willing to openly engage with people, making their voices heard, without worry about being disliked for having an opinion.

5.      Has a thick skin: I think this is a continuation of #4. It’s a long road to social media success. It’s hard, takes a lot of time and isn’t all puppies and sunshine. (and anyone that says it is, or makes it LOOK like it is 24/7 isn’t being as transparent as they’re most likely telling you they are) You’ll make mistakes. You’ll send out errant tweets for your brand, thinking you’re still signed into your personal account. It helps to find someone who is calm under pressure, realizes not everything is an emergency, doesn’t have a lot of drama surrounding them, and isn’t found on most days crying under their desk. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the voice of doom and gloom for those of you looking to get into community management positions – it’s one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. I thrive on the daily excitement of my online communities. I am just being realistic and trying to manage expectations from the very start.

6.      Does not call themselves an expert or a guru: Self-confidence is admirable, yes, but not when it is seen as ego, or is entirely misplaced. I was talking to someone about this the other day and mentioned that I think “ego is the enemy of influence.” Overconfidence prevents people from asking questions, admitting and being willing to learn what they do not yet know. I’d take a step back from anyone with the words guru, expert or maven in their online bios.

7.      Possesses analytical skills: Here’s another one that is really more of a two-parter from #6. Social Media is a “must” for pretty much any and every brand, but it’s not EVERYTHING. A good social media manager realizes that social media isn’t the “be all end all,” but another element in your overall marketing mix. Your social media should always be a part of the larger plan, the overall company strategy. You want your social media manager to keep tabs on what is and is not getting you closer to your goals every single day, and going back to having a thick skin, is able to adapt in a moment’s notice when necessary.

8.      Has clear motives: For better or worse, there is a rather low barrier to entry for social media professionals. In today’s digital world, anyone can simply call themselves a social media consultant and begin consulting people. And they are. It is increasingly easier to become “internet famous” these days. Some people are pretty obvious in their goal to become an insta-celebrity, but there are people (admittedly, I’ve fallen prey to a couple) that hide it too well, and only disappoint you once you realize who they really are. I’d recommend finding someone that is in it for YOU, for your brand. And by that, I mean someone that realizes it’s actually not about your brand at all! Contradictory? Maybe. Absolutely necessary? Without a doubt. True social media “professionals” recognize that everything they do needs to be done for the consumer. The people without whom, you wouldn’t have a brand at all. I look to people that are rarely talking about themselves, whose accounts are not devoid of @ replies solely pushing out their own content, those that believe in their brand and the fact that their brand was founded on the ideals of helping people.

9.      An understanding of how people think: I’m not saying we have solved the Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus conundrum. But success in social media is tied into finding emotional connections with people and your manager needs to be able to do that. Not by phoning it in or saying what they think people want to hear, but via truly connecting with people hearts first and then their minds.

10.   They are insomniacs: Just kidding. Kind of. This might be the only time those of us that struggle to sleep have found an outlet for our late-night lives. Social media management cannot be done by someone looking to keep 9-5 hours. Social media doesn’t sleep, but that doesn’t mean your manager can’t. It just means that they need to be able to manage their time better than most people. Can it be intrusive into our lives at times? Perhaps, but I think it's all a matter of perspective.

Your turn! This is by no means an exhaustive list. Tweet me at @lucyrk78 and let me know what qualities YOU admire in social media managers? What do YOU think makes them successful?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Blog About Not Blogging

I feel guilty. I haven’t blogged in two solid weeks. I was on a great streak- feeling inspired and fulfilling a goal of blogging every day. Then I went on a two week business trip, and didn’t blog once while I was gone.

Runyon Canyon
Was I out doing amazing things while I was gone? Some of the days. I had the opportunity to work two really fun volleyball events, meet celebrities that were playing and other professional athletes…I got to work with my team that I don’t get to see as often, now that I don’t live in Los Angeles anymore. I went hiking in Runyon Canyon, one of my most favorite places. I ate the freshest sushi and a more delicious burrito than I can get here in Chicago. I swam, tanned, shopped and worked. Hard. Often.

Then I traveled to Boulder for a meeting with my entire client team, as well as my bosses. People flew in from around the country and we learned, planned, presented, ate and visited.

There certainly was time for blogging. I certainly thought about blogging. But I thought more about not blogging. I have always been vocal about making a case for not creating editorial calendars, preferring to “let inspiration strike” and find blogging topics from being fully engaged and present within my online communities. But can you also be fully present, and stock up topics to write about when you’re “busy” and not fully inspired to write? Or for the times you’re out living your life so completely and are so present that you’ve got the ideas in advance? Don’t I always tell people “You’re never too busy. You make the time for things that are important to you?” I’m big on consistency – I tell my clients it’s one of the most important items in your marketing plan. So where was my consistency in blogging?

Jayo Invitational
Would it be an excuse to say that during these two weeks I was making new experiences to come back and blog about? Isn’t that what THIS blog is about, after all?! Or, and this would be the most surprising to me, am I actually a creature of habit? Someone that can only write if I’m sitting in this office, in this chair, in my own home? Can I only write here? Whoa. Isn’t the unpredictability of life as a marketing director what drew me to marketing in the first place? How many interviews have I gone to, and how many late night discussions with others in my industry have I had where we’ve all sung the praises of our lives and chosen career, for it NOT being the same every day? Not knowing precisely where we’d be or what we’d be doing each day?

Perhaps it’s egotistical to feel guilt for not having blogged. Perhaps none of you even noticed. This blog isn’t my job. I do it for fun, to share ideas I hear people talking about wanting to know more about, to muscle up my writing, the same way I do when I run or lift weights. I wasn’t overwhelmed with work while on this extended trip, nor was blogging not a priority. I simply didn’t write. I don’t have a deep explanation for why I didn’t, nor do I want to make any excuses. I have read many blogs where the writers have apologized for not writing or posting in the past week, month or longer. They report feelings of guilt over that, too. Should we be feeling guilty for something we do for fun? Should “fun” make us feel bad, when we’re not doing anything wrong? At all? Doesn’t every single workout plan in the history of workout plans tell you to take rest days? Should bloggers not get that same break, without feeling poorly about themselves for taking it?

This blog isn’t an obligation, nor would I continue it if it ever began to feel as such. I don’t post every day just for the sake of it. Even during my “blog every day” goal period, I would miss one day at times, (but never more than one) if I wasn’t inspired, or didn’t feel I had anything to say that was different than everything else that was being blogged about, or if I didn’t think I had anything to put out that might help someone. I woke up this morning excited to write. Excited to share these thoughts, get them down on paper, and the idea of people responding and sharing their own thoughts with me on taking blogging breaks and discussing these ideas with others excited me. Isn’t that what blogging is really all about? The creating and sharing of ideas?

I’ve written the line “I have a renewed passion for writing and my blog” and then deleted it a few times. What if I don’t blog again this week? What if nothing inspires me enough to write about? What if these last two weeks were too long of a break and my (creative/writing) muscle memory has been lost? Why am I feeling anxious about blogging tomorrow, and not relaxing in finding the joy blogging today?!

Maybe it all comes down to acceptance. How many things do I feel guilty about RIGHTTHISSECOND? How many do YOU? Not working out enough, eating that chocolate chip cookie, even though it was the best thing I’ve ever eaten, not blogging enough…can we even feel guilty for feeling guilty for any of these things? Are any of these things all that significant in the grand scheme of our very full lives? No. Truly, they’re not. We deserve to be happy. And do things that make us feel GOOD, not guilty. Today, I will work on doing more of those things.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Meerkat Breaks From Twitter & Adds in Co-Stars in Massive New Update

Live streaming app Meerkat rolled out several major updates Wednesday morning, including the ability to sign up on the platform through Facebook instead of Twitter, a feature they are calling Cameo that lets you invite those watching your stream to take over that stream for 1 minute, and a final update, giving users the ability to save streams in something called the Meerkat Library rather than simply on your phone. All of these are huge improvements, and as we always talk about, things they have listened to users asking for.

The mingling with Facebook is a biggie. When Meerkat first launched, users would only be able to sign into Meerkat via Twitter, and could tweet out that they were streaming. Then Periscope arrived, and Meerkat was cut off from Twitters social graph. This new update now means streamers have the ability to sign up via Facebook registration, not even needing a Twitter account. It will also help those already on the platform to find their Facebook friend’s streams. It was only a matter of time before Meerkat partnered with Facebook, they had to find a way around the blockade Twitter forced upon them.

I believe the real “game-changing” update is the introduction of Cameo, however. With Wednesday’s update, Meerkat added the ability to invite anyone watching your current stream to take over. If the chosen viewer accepts, everyone watching the stream can see that user make a “cameo” appearance during your stream for up to 1 minute. Since inception, I have watched many users want to be able to toggle between the original streamer and someone watching. This makes engagement grow faster, as it gives the chance to have more of a “normal” conversation between streamer and viewers. With one streamer, it is more of a broadcast, but Cameo has made Meerkat much more inclusive, adding to more of a community feel. For brands, Cameo is ripe with marketing possibilities. They now have the opportunity to have their sponsored athletes, celebrities, and influencers appear on their streams, to speak directly with their community.

The biggest problem I have noticed with Meerkat is how regularly it drops streams. Though this update has promised “bug fixes and stability improvements,” I still watched interrupted streams as quickly as last night.

Currently, this update is only available in the App Store and on Google Play. There has been no mention of a date when Android users will be able to take part in these new additions.



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

10 Ways Brands Are #DoingItWrong On Social Media

There’s a big difference between “being on social media” and “being social on social media.” Just because you are on social media as a brand, doesn’t mean that you can’t still be yourself, and still be social. In fact, I would venture to say that as a brand, it’s even MORE important to be your authentic self, despite being “behind the logo.”

In today’s digital world, social media is often the first experience potential consumers have with your brand. More often than not, they are going to your social media profiles first, before even visiting your website. Knowing how to use your profiles is of utmost importance in getting consumers to get an affinity with your brand. You can build trust through social, and trust leads to lasting, loyal consumers. Unfortunately, many brands are still missing out on this opportunity.

Done right, social media can be a game changer for your business. It can be the difference between a consumer choosing your brand over another similar product. It can be effective in finding your audience, engaging with them, and winning them over. Unless you’re making some very common mistakes.

If you are currently struggling, all is not lost! Let’s look at some common mistakes I see brands making on social media:

1.      Jumping in without a plan: If you are going to do anything ever, you think about it first, right? You want to do something, you have to have a “why” you want to do it, goals on what you’d like to accomplish by doing said idea, and at least some thoughts on how to get there. Without a plan, with realistic achievable goals, how will you know if you’ve done it?

2.      Auto-DMs on Twitter: Don’t. Just don’t do it. Never ever. Send a personal message or don’t send out anything at all.

3.      Thinking “It’s not you, it’s me”: No. It IS you. The collective you. Social media isn’t about you broadcasting your message or talking about yourself 24/7. All your content should be focused on your community, your audience, your consumers, your end users. Think about who you want to reach by using social media and tailor every message to that person. Yes, person – as in, I believe your content should speak to people as individuals, not throwing out words and blogs and tweets and posts en masse. Everything you send out or post should be addressing someone’s needs.

4.      Posting the same message to all social networks: Do all of your friends offline hang out in the same spot all the time? Do you have certain friends you see at some places and other friends you see in completely different places? Social networks are no different – you have different communities on each platform. People like Twitter over Facebook or Facebook over Instagram for various reasons, so you’ll need to tailor your content to each platform. Twitter only allows you 140 characters, but LinkedIn and Facebook don’t set that limit. So why post the same abbreviated content when you don’t have to? If you post the same message everywhere, you’re missing the opportunity to connect with people that don’t respond to certain platforms nuances. Also, why should I follow you on more than one network if I’m just going to see the same message everywhere?

5.      You aren’t responding quickly: When someone takes the time to contact you, whether it be for a positive or negative comment, respond to them. And FAST. I like to keep myself to under an hour as a response time. Social media gives us the idea that someone is monitoring profiles every hour of every day. While that’s not always the case, I’d recommend having part of your plan include a way of monitoring and listening to what people are saying, and developing a way to respond to them in as timely a manner as you possibly can.

6.      You are inconsistent: Consistency relates to quality and trust. Think of your friends – do you have one that you would call “flaky?” Someone that cancels plans at the last minute, doesn’t call or text you back as soon as you’d like them to, or someone you have a great night out with and then don’t hear from for a month? Don’t be that guy on social media. Let your community and consumers know they can rely on you.

This WAS a pretty great snack...
7.      Brands are forgetting to show personality: People respond to people. People are what makes up companies, and people are who is at their laptop or on their phone posting to social media sites. So why do some companies sound robotic? By offering opinions and taking part in conversations, you are able to emotionally connect with people and that will draw them in so they want to do business with you. Post things about yourself, add value to people’s lives. Help them. Answer questions. Be interesting and interested in other people – I promise, they will then be interested in you. This doesn’t mean you should share pictures of your breakfast every morning, but if you have a spectacular pancake, bacon sandwich or green smoothie to share, post it!

8.      Sell! Sell! Sell! No. Don’t. If you walked up to me at a concert I was at, said hello and introduced yourself, that might be enough for us to begin a relationship of some sort. I would realize that we shared common interests, and a simply “Hi! How are you?” would show me you were interested. If you walked up to me at the same concert and introduced yourself, then immediately tried to sell me concert shirts, I’d be pretty turned off. It’s not any different online. Social media isn’t an advertising platform, nor is it a commercial. It’s a…ready for it? SOCIAL NETWORK.

9.      You are expecting overnight success: Does it happen? Sure. But for most of us, building, growing and nurturing communities takes time. Allow yourself that time. I’m willing to bet that your best friends took time to get to know, right? Again, no difference online. Invest the time it takes, it will be worth it.

10.   You tell me! I get all my inspiration from my social media communities – I’d like YOU to tell ME what #10 should be! Tweet me @lucyrk78 and let me know?

Friday, July 3, 2015

You Don't Need to Unplug To Find Happiness

It was around 1995 that I first logged onto AOL and within the first two years, began finding people to chat with in online groups. I found people that lived in Chicago, or that played Scrabble, and occasionally flirted with some flirts that most likely were the original Catfish. I would spend hours talking to these stranger-friends. I hadn’t been all that popular in high school but online, I had a fresh start to meet people that weren’t already in unbreakable cliques.

I went to college, had a busy life filled with theatre, work, studying, new friends and family and didn’t spend much time online. There was so much to learn and so many new people to meet and new experiences to be had and I tried to take advantage of as much as I could.

Then came Facebook, and I was back to spending much more time online. In 2008 I joined Twitter and while I didn’t delve in nearly as much as I do currently, I was spending a considerably more time online.

My favorite times are when I go to a city and leave feeling like I know everyone there. Chicago, although it’s my hometown, has always felt like that to me – welcoming and friendly and much smaller than it appears. With all the people I’ve been able to meet in over 20 years online, when I travel, I am able to recapture that feeling as I meet my online friends offline and the world continues to shrink.

Do I spend so much time online that I neglect my friends and family and offline relationships? I have never had someone come to me for an Internet Intervention. I can put my phone down and focus on people I am with (for the most part) and not feel an overwhelming sense of #FOMO. At the same time, do I ever go a full day without at least one Twitter chat? Actually, I do. Most Fridays I don’t attend any, but I certainly see everyone in my groups with multiple chats on other days. I don’t lose sight of the people that are important to me, my family, my dog…but I also know that I have extremely close friends on social media that are just as dear to me, if not even more so, than some people I spend time with offline. So what is the difference really? Offline, when you want to see friends, you meet them at a restaurant or a coffee shop. Online, you meet them in a chat or a DM or a group. Either way, we are still going where we need to be, to keep up the relationships that are important to us.

On a professional level, I can’t imagine going a day without checking my email. I’m not sure that anyone that runs their own company or works at an executive level in any company truly ever unplugs or “goes off the grid.” To me, that is irresponsible. I believe that the stress of wondering what you might be missing negates any freedom or imagined peace of mind you might be attempting to regain my turning off all electronics for an extended period of time. How many times have you gone on a vacation and come back to more emails than you can possibly answer your first week back? How serene does that make you feel? Exactly.

If I’m a customer and having problems with something or need to reach a company, I’m going to be pretty put off when I receive an out of office reply, more so if it doesn’t offer me an alternate person to reach in the first person’s absence. In an age where transparency and immediacy has become the norm, why would you make your company unavailable to it’s consumers? The very people that make up the sole reason you still have a company?

I’m not suggesting you stay tethered to your laptop and phone 24/7. The beauty of today’s increasing world of remote workers is that your time is taken into consideration. I understand that you, like me, may be working remotely and therefore your time really is your own. Do I still expect replies to my correspondence in a timely manner? Absolutely, and I will offer that to you as well. But I may take an extra hour during the day to walk the dog AND have a leisurely lunch, and might only check my email twice during both of those times.

I tend to believe that if you can only find moments of serenity when you are entirely removed from any and all thoughts of your job, perhaps you are not in the right position. Personally, I can find many other things besides email and social media to distract me, if I’m not truly in the moment, no matter where I am. Similarly, I am also able to find peace when I need to. And that doesn’t mean I take off for my own Walden Pond, ignoring everything around me. Peace for me comes in learning to live in the real world, which is made up as much by people online and off. It means accepting my life as it is and me for who I am, and not seeking a technological black hole to hide in, away from all of you. And the irony? Where to people come first, to tell everyone else about their time “unplugged?” Ah yes. Twitter. Facebook. Text messages. How many times have you seen someone unplug, just to come and immediately ask, “Who missed me?” You know you’re coming back. We know you’re coming back. Is the break one big ego trip?

We live in a digital society. New technology pops up every day. Would it not be better to find the best way to live in the world we um, live in, than to pretend we’re somewhere else? Or not try to escape our current lives and learn to find the balance?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

7 Simple Ways To Build Trust For Your Brand Using Social Media

Every day on social media you see people talking about the importance of brands learning how to engage with their consumers, be more “human” and above all, be honest and transparent. Think about your life – how long would you stay friends with someone you didn’t trust? Would you continue to keep working on building that relationship? The same goes for brands. In order to grow their consumer base, they must build relationships. And those relationships must be based on trust.

Social media has leveled the playing field, opening up the opportunity for small brands to have the same chance of reaching as wide an audience as larger, more established brands. Trust goes a long way in cutting through some of the “noise” on social media, helping even start-ups gain attention and interest of existing and potential consumers.

Here are 7 ways brands can begin to build trust with their consumers using social media:

1.      Quick and Responsive Communication: If I am happy with a company or a meal or customer service I’ve received, I am more likely to go straight to Twitter with my comment. I am less likely to fill out a comment card. I have my phone with me at all times, so it’s much more convenience to simply pull it out and type out a quick message to the company. Studies show that if someone has a bad experience, they will take to social media first to communicate their complaint. If brands receive a complaint via one of their social media channels, that is a great opportunity to quickly address the consumer, take ownership of the complaint and see what they can do to remedy the situation. I believe that most issues can be resolved and less consumers will be lost if brands do this in less than 5 hours from the time they received the message. This also shows on a larger scale to more people that the brand is listening and concerned with what people are saying. If handled correctly, a well handled complaint can often turn into a great testimonial for the brand.

2.      People Buy From People: People often talk about being the same online as they are offline. In my opinion, that’s the only way to be. You are only one person, and if you are the face behind a brand, you are trusted to be for a reason. There is nothing I can think of that would make a good case for making a different persona online. If you want people to trust your brand as they would a friend, you have to speak with them as if they were your friend. Being yourself on social media also helps in keeping a consistent voice. If you are friendly and engaging one day and the next day you are simply selling your product with every message, people are going to be confused by your messaging and confusion leads to mistrust.

3.      Create More Often Than You Curate: People who are looked at to be thought leaders have many people that trust them. While sharing posts on social media that you have not written is very common, if that is all you are doing, you are essentially showing that your brand has no original ideas of its own. You become more of an echo than someone to be looked to for answers your consumers are seeking. If you aim to truly gain respect and trust, you will need to show you can post timely original content that is relevant to your audience.

4.      Be Transparent: This does not mean you should reveal company secrets, but the more you show you have nothing to hide, the easier it will be for people to trust your brand. A good example would be, if someone posts a complaint on your brand’s Facebook wall, do not simply delete it. Address it, and leave it up on the timeline to show that you have nothing to hide and no matter what, you will listen to what people are saying and will address it.

5.      Be Accountable: We all make mistakes. You may have forgotten to send something out on a certain date, making a shipment arrive late, or you may have tweeted something that perhaps offended people. Don’t ignore or make excuses for these occurrences. Acknowledge that you understand what you have done wrong, and do what you are able to, to right the wrong as quickly as possible.

6.      Be Helpful: Remember, this is not about YOU. This is all about your consumer. By being a member of the community, and using social listening, you will find out what your consumers are seeking to find out, or what questions they may have. This is what should drive your content. Being someone’

7.      Do Not Auto-DM on Twitter: Just don’t do it. No. Matter. What.

These are just a few of many ways brands can build trust on social media. Remember that without your consumers, you don’t have a brand! Focusing on gaining the trust of your community as well as expressing gratitude for that trust will help you develop and deepen relationships, ensuring your business continues to grow.