Webinar-ing with Hootsuite

IMG_0171I participated in a Hootsuite Pro Webinar called Essential Social Media Analytics. I chose this webinar because social media analytics, for anyone new to it, can be overwhelming. It’s difficult to know where to start and what to focus on. Hootsuite is considered to be one of the best social media listening/monitoring tools, so it made sense to participate in a webinar hosted by the company.

It was hosted by Tori Swanson, a Hootsuite Social Media Coach. There was no verbal interaction between the host and the participants, but we could send questions to her during the webinar through the chat board or Twitter. I asked a few basic questions to clarify some things she had touched on.

The webinar was really informative and went deep into the capabilities of Hootsuite. The application is impressive. It’s great because you can tailor it to exactly what you want it to be. If you are new at social media, you can stick with the basics. But if you are an expert and know analytics inside out, this tool is amazing. It has so many layers and so many ways to read analytics from every angle.

The host talked about using S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) goals when developing social media strategies, how to establish business goals and objectives, measuring social success, tracking ROI, and various analytics apps. She also got into some very specific stuff, like the difference between some URL shorteners (i.e. ht.ly vs. owl.ly), Riffle (Twitter insights), and Instagram’s analytic tool Iconosquare.

Thumbs up for this webinar. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about how to gather and understand social media analytics. It wasn’t too long, and it was accessible and informative. I would definitely attend another one like this in the future.

You can find more Hootsuite webinars here.

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Out of the Box

Prior to taking this course, my experience with social media was limited to Facebook. I have a Twitter account and have tweeted a grand total of 11 times in four years. I also have a Pinterest and Instagram account but, again, haven’t posted much of anything. So, almost every social media application was interesting or unexpected to me, the newbie.

And because I am not heavily active on social media for personal or business reasons, I had very little idea about the social media monitoring and listening applications. I had never taken the time to actually learn about them because, really, why would I? But eventually I did. And I was impressed.

The metrics and statistics, analytics and trends are all really fascinating. Listening and monitoring tools can tell you everything from where your traffic is coming from, to how long people spend on your site, to what they are saying about you and your site. These kinds of tools are priceless in that they are key to helping you continue to develop your site or blog in the best way possible. Nothing else can do that.

You need to know exactly what you want to monitor; what you want to focus on. Each monitoring tool has its own strengths and weaknesses. So you need to decide what to focus, do your homework, and then choose the tool that will work best for you.

Some of the tools that I stumbled across that made a good immediate impression were:

Hootsuite:

The dashboard is organized, streamlined, and easy to set up. It consolidates multiple social media networks in one place, which is helpful if more than one person is taking care of social media in your organization.

Tweetdeck:

This is very similar to Hootsuite, and very good for beginners. This dashboard is a snapshot of activity related to your Twitter account. It’s practical, easy to use, and free.

Google Alerts:

This is a great way to monitor web pages, publications, and blogs for any search term that you specify. The alerts are sent to your email.

 

Which social media listening applications do you like the best?

Personal Reflection

Storytelling has been around since the start. It’s found in every culture around the world and it’s what binds us. It’s essential for us to make connections and relate to each other. With storytelling, we find common ground. Without it, we lose what links us together.

Creating great digital content means turning out a good story. When that happens, the audience recognizes that someone is making an effort to make a connection; that there is a willingness to be open and share on a deeper level. It’s all about forming relationships. And in the age of social media, connecting, sharing and engaging are key.

The good thing about creating content that revolves around storytelling is that it is pretty straightforward. Most of us overthink when we write. We try to sound professional and well-versed. We use big, complicated words to impress. Our sentences run long. When, in fact, all we have to do is write a little more like we talk. (When in doubt, read something you wrote aloud to yourself. Or better yet, someone you know. If they grimace, start again).

Great storytelling can only help create top-drawer content if it follows some rules. One, know your audience. You need to tailor all of your content to appeal to your base. Two, have a plan in place. Strategize. Three, follow the basic rules of storytelling. And last, be real. Be authentic. Your audience will know if you are not.

We share stories. We listen to them. We repeat the good ones we’ve heard. And everybody has that one story they love to tell (no matter how annoying it is). Good storytelling will become great content. Don’t underestimate what it can do.

 

#EverySecond Counts

Years ago, I put my townhouse on the market. After the first open house, my realtor told me that most of the neighbours popped by. The neighbours. They had zero interest in buying my place; they just wanted to poke around a bit. Really weird, but not unusual.

We humans are naturally curious animals. What’s going on over there? What did so-and-so say to so-and-so? Where did you get that thingy? We can’t stop ourselves from being at least a little bit snoopy. Admittedly or not, we love to see how others live. We read the magazines that feature the homes and lives of people we don’t know and will never meet. We watch television shows spotlighting renovations and landscaping projects. How many of us subtly look into someone’s house at night when walking the dog? Just me? Oh…

Ikea Canada has harnessed this innate human behaviour and created its latest social media campaign. #EverySecond will hit you right in the feels. Its T.V. spot is a dreamy montage of people in their homes doing everyday things. We are the flies on the wall. And we love it.

 

It follows on the heels of Ikea’s “Long Live the Home” and “Home Rules” campaigns, but what sets this one apart is the fact that it uses consumer-generated content. The inaugural #EverySecond commercial features the photographs and videos of Canadians who have openly shared their personal, family moments with the rest of us. The campaign encourages everyone to do the same and offer up their own moments through social media.

All companies want – need – to reach out to their consumer base. Forging personal, open relationships with its consumer base is now a major priority for companies. They want to make real connections with their clients and make them feel seen and heard. Directly asking people to send in glimpses of their lives to possibly be used in future advertising is huge. Ikea Canada has consistently worked on their B2C relationship, using the idea of “home” as the spark.

Do People Know Your Story?

Do you remember those motivational posters that plastered the walls of our high school classrooms? My old high school had plenty of them. The message to do well and reach your goals – to achieve – was never lost during secondary school. And that’s fine. That’s what school is for.

But, if I think about what my greatest achievement is to date, I don’t have an answer. Not because I don’t think I have reached any goals in my life, but because I don’t think asking someone about their greatest achievement is a close-ended question.

Accomplishments are ongoing. They are always evolving and influencing each other. I think there are only a few people who can genuinely pick out one event – one instance – and definitively say that that was their greatest achievement.

It’s impossible for me to choose one thing. I have reached a lot of goals in my life and it’s really difficult to say which one is tops. Maybe it was the first time I finished a chapter book. Was it learning to swim? Or winning my first tennis tournament? I have some university degrees under my belt – could it be that? Was it getting married? Having a child? Or maybe it was beating my personal best time in a half-marathon? I’ve had great jobs and changed careers a few times – they have all provided me with experiences that I could say were my greatest achievement, but I’m apprehensive to do so.

Instead, I’d like my entire life to be my greatest achievement. This sounds very cheesy, I know. But I think the whole point of this existence is to never be satisfied – to keep exploring and setting new goals. I love the idea of looking back on my life and being grateful for the whole ride, not just one specific event. This is what keeps me moving.

Social Media and Kids

Every time I think about my daughter hitting teendom, my face does this:

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Image from theglow.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

It gets worse when I think about how social media will be a major part of her teenage years. And while I don’t believe in banning kids from social media land altogether, I do think (as do most parents) there needs to be limits.

And it’s not only Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter that we need to be aware of.

There is a boatload of apps that many parents (including myself until recently) don’t know about. I know a lot of moms and dads will get their hackles up over the suggestion that they don’t know what their kids are doing online. But let’s face it, kids can be naïve, sneaky, and risk-taking – a perfect storm for terrible social media choices.

I am not a helicopter parent. I think the idea of “stranger danger” is completely blown out of proportion. And I don’t coddle my child. But I really think social media has the potential to be really harmful if parents and kids don’t understand it or know how to use it responsibly.

Here are just a few of the apps that give me the shudders. None of them are directly aimed at the under-aged, but because it’s impossible to verify ages when registering, kids can easily use them.

Tinder

If you’re a grown-up, go for it. If you’re still in grade school, nope. This app describes itself as a new and interesting way to meet people, which really means a new way to hook up. And there is nothing to stop kids from using this app. Its anonymous nature can lead to cyber-bullying and the geo-location feature puts kids at real risk.

YouNow

A very weird website where anyone can make their webcam live so that others can watch them do mundane, everyday things and comment on it. Enough said.

YikYak

This app allows users to “yak” anonymously to the people closest around them (based on geo-location). Obviously, this can lead to some really harsh stuff that teens and young kids may not be able to handle.

Ask.fm

Used almost exclusively by kids, this app lets users ask anonymous questions about anything to other users. Again, this kind of app can open the door to harassment and cyber-bullying.

I love social media. Social networks and mobile apps are incredible ways to make connections and become a part of a community. But things can turn on a dime and kids can quickly get caught up in something ugly.

So what can parents do? I can’t give the best advice because my daughter is only two. Her social network is a gaggle of stuffed animals. They don’t say much.

But for parents of older kids, I think the best thing is to know what’s out there and insist on keeping the lines of communications open, even if it drives them up the wall.

What are your social media safety tips for kids?

Strong and Weak Organisations

GoPro

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Image from: scubaviews.com

Wow. Amazing social media strategy. If the goal of social media is to connect, engage, and share, then GoPro has done it well. This company makes cameras used mostly to film action videos of rock-climbing, skiing, kayaking, off-roading, surfing, and mountain biking. Even roller-coastering.

If you ever want to do anything extreme, but are too chicken (like me), you need to check out GoPro’s website and social media network right now. The visual content is so fantastic you will feel like you experienced it yourself.

The company’s website showcases some of the best pictures and videos from its community. Not only is this a great way to honour its customers and show its appreciation for their business, but it’s a smart, direct way to demonstrate the quality of its product.

Its Facebook page has almost 9.5 million likes and also features photos and videos of the day that are submitted by customers.

Like its Facebook page and website, its YouTube account is jam-packed with video content. But it’s not all extreme sports. Check out this GoPro-shot video of a frozen kitten coming back from the brink.

GoPro’s Twitter account, with 1.5 millions followers, also showcases videos and pictures. The company tweets regularly and receives an impressive amount of likes and retweets.

As you could guess, its Pinterest and Instagram accounts are stacked with images taken with GoPros and, once again, the content is fantastic. With categories like “Puppy Love”, “Underwater World”, and “Thrill Seekers” there’s something for everyone.

Nice job, GoPro. I’m sold.

 

Black Squirrel Books and Café

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Image from Facebook page

Black Squirrel is a charming used-book store in a downtown Ottawa neighbourhood. It’s has an urban-eclectic feel, is warm and friendly, and recently opened a café as part of the store.

It has loyal fans and is in a vibrant, pedestrian-heavy neighbourhood. But it has no social media strategy.

The store’s website is up and running, but the content is limited. As for social media networks, the store uses Facebook the most. It has 2,770 likes and posts at least every two days; sometimes a few times a day. It receives a fair amount of likes, comments, and shares.

There is a dead link to a Tumblr account on the homepage of their website.

It does not have a Pinterest or Instagram account, both of which would be great for a bookstore considering the fantastic visual content they could use (i.e. book covers, in-store events, other images related to bookstores). It does get a lot of mentions, though, and is tagged in many posts on both networks. Even more of a reason to start an account.

It also doesn’t have a Twitter account, which would be useful when trying to promote its in-store events, open-mic sessions, fundraisers, and book readings.

I think the Black Squirrel should use their Facebook activity as a starting off point for their social media strategy. It posts quite frequently and seems to have established a good relationship with customers through that network. It needs to expand their presence. Pinterest and Instagram are great opportunities to show off the visual aspects of the business. The store needs to use Twitter for promotions (any mentions on Twitter about the Black Squirrel were made by people who had in-store events).

Personal Brand

The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering. Tom Waits said this during an interview with Vanity Fair 15 years ago. Call him a curmudgeon, sure. But he does have a point.

Bad writing is a bummer, plain and simple. It also has a terrible impact on businesses and reputations and once that happens, the damage can be hard to repair.

You introduce yourself and your business to the world through communications: words, pictures, videos.

And if you want to be seen as professional, polished, capable, and reliable, good communications is absolutely key.

The best way to ensure that your communications products are in top shape is to hire a professional writer and editor; someone who can help you and your business stand out and connect with your clients in a meaningful way.

stand-out-from-the-crowd

Image from evotivemarketing.com

What sets me apart from other writers and editors?

I will help you shake off everything you thought you knew about communicating with your audience. A sharp eye for detail is one of my best strengths. I’m also a little picky, so I like things done right. Dropping the ball or falling behind is not a part of my work ethic. I will help you avoid hyperbole, bad grammar, and awkward writing.

Together, our focus will be on building your brand with the best communications strategy possible.

Social Media Trends for 2016

As we head into a new year, social media will continue to evolve. New trends will pop up: some will hit and other may fizzle out. Here are a few that are expected to take hold.

Monitoring

Businesses will spend much more time listening and monitoring their social media in the upcoming year. While many businesses have the “talking” part down, more and more will be keeping an eye on their monitoring tools. This is key to the success of a B2C company.

Reading

Facebook’s Instant Articles will have a huge effect on how people consume their news. Instant Articles are available through the Facebook smart phone app and make it much easier and faster to access articles than traditional links to news sites. Already, hundreds of publishers have signed on to Instant Articles, including the Economist and the Washington Post.

Shopping

Social shopping will take off. Users will be able to make purchases online without leaving their feeds. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram have all installed in-line buy buttons to provide the convenience of online shopping for their users. Social media shopping will find its feet and social commerce will slowly become a reality.

 

What social media trends do you predict for 2016?

Speak Beautiful, Be Beautiful

Dove has been very active across social media over the past few years.

It launched the Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004 to help “make women feel comfortable in the skin they are in, to create a world where beauty is a source of confidence and not anxiety.” Initially, billboards featuring images of regular women instead of models were used to market their message. After the campaign received a significant amount of attention and positive feedback, it moved into other areas like magazines and television.

Two years later, the campaign kicked off a series of viral videos like Legacy, Evolution, Love Your Curls, Little Girls, and Real Beauty Sketches. The videos all received a huge response, both negative and positive.

In early 2014, Dove launched the #speakbeautiful campaign in partnership with Twitter in response to the barrage of negative comments women were making about their looks on the social media site. Dove encourages women and girls to tweet positive things about themselves and the way they look.

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Dove’s Instagram account does not have many followers (only about 75,000), but the company does respond personally to what their followers comment about. They do the same on Twitter, replying to their followers and thanking them for being part of the community that they are trying to build with their customers.

Dove has taken some flack for their campaigns. But that is to be expected, especially with a huge company that makes huge waves in marketing. There will always be some level of criticism.

But, overall, I think the campaigns are very positive. I’m the mom of a toddler girl and I really have some concerns about how she will be affected by the media’s portrayal of women and girls. I respect the Dove campaigns because I think they are powerful and honest. And I’m not gonna lie – they make me tear up a bit.

Click on some of the links above and check out Dove’s video campaigns. What do you think?