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I’m not a graduate yet, but I’m close!…Social Media tips from @ignitesma and an Elon graduate.

March 25, 2013

As a resource for content for this blog, I frequently check into agency blogs that are contributed to by employees. I love the passion from each author, as they combine their own interests with industry trends to help brand and promote their own agency.

In a recent clean-up effort of my bookmarks and tabs, I found I had marked this blog post Social Media Marketing 101 for College Grads by Kimberly Eller, an Ignite Social Media employee and Elon graduate. Her posting talks about the understanding of social media on a deeper level when applied to a social media or marketing firm.

I encourage all of you future graduates to read it regardless of your major, since social media is becoming a pervasive and necessary force to reckon and control in every field.

Ignite Blog Post

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Keep Calm and Keep Up with industry blogs

March 22, 2013

orange-keep-calm-signWith Twitter recently celebrating its seventh year, it seems that so much has changed in Web 2.0 since the introduction of “that platform with the bird that is only the status update from Facebook.” Since 2006, we have added Pinterest, BuzzFeed, GIF-focused tumblrs, hundreds of memes and a royal wedding. With so much constantly changing (I’m looking at you, Facebook privacy settings), how are we supposed to keep up with all the speculation and explanation? I think that it is crucial for those looking to enter the field and also those wishing to remain influential in the field to keep up with blogs and industry leaders. At the office, I dedicate a little bit of my morning each day to read a variety of sources (made simple by “Open all in tabs” feature of bookmarks) to remain in the know of the online world. I’ve summarized some of my favorite industry blogs here so that you can start, or continue, to

  • Mark Ragan and PR Daily – These sites provide useful and humorous insight into the PR world. With numerous lists and how-to’s published daily, I like to think of it as a BuzzFeed and Thought Catalog made solely for public relations practitioners.
  • Mashable – This site is best to keep up with technology news and announcements. It is also a great site to use as a search engine for particular products and brands.
  • FastCompany and Inc. – Although these have more a business focus, I enjoy reading about different aspects about corporate and small business environments. Both of these sites have numerous writers and there is never a shortage of new material.
  • socialmedia today – For the inner Web 2.0 geek in me. This site has great articles on social media trends for both individuals and companies alike. It’s a great go-to resource to see what’s the latest use or technique for all channels.

Just spending ten, twenty or sixty minutes scanning these sites each day will make your more knowledgable in the field to stay up to date with industry trends, news. I have a bookmark folder with about forty more sites that I frequent, but these are the most reliable that I’ve found for consistently updating new information. I also follow of the Twitter handles from these sites to get a quick look at their recent headlines and articles. Many of the writers for these sites are great to follow on their personal accounts as well!

A final hint: I’ve added most of these to my Google Reader. This app, with a GMail account, allows you to subscribe to your favorite blog and it will notify you of unread and new blog posts from all your favorite bloggers. It makes it even easier than visiting all the sites!

Let me know: which bloggers do you follow?

Don’t foul out online: Social media etiquette for upcoming graduates

March 21, 2013

As upcoming college graduates looking for full-time employment, my peers and I are constantly told two seemingly conflicting messages: (1) don’t be inappropriate on social media as employers can find anything and (2) have a strong online presence within the channels so that employers can find you. For some in my generation, the use of social media has a strong emphasis on the social.

graduates-for-social-media

So here we are, constantly teetering a line now through May:

How can you “be yourself” but “hide yourself” at the same time in preparation for the job search?

Below, I’ve broken down each platform with advice for how to best utilize them for your personal and career-hunting self.

Facebook

Facebook is one of the most dangerous platforms for users simply because the privacy settings and controls seem to get more convoluted and hidden each month. You also have little control of what others tag or post about you and what their privacy settings may be. Even if your photos are private, all it takes is a friend of a friend at your potential workplace to see a tagged photo of you at the bar that Thursday night.

  • Keep up with your privacy settings. This includes who can view your statuses, photo albums, profile pictures, and groups. It may be hard to keep up with the software changes, but sites like Mashable and other forums do a pretty good job explaining the impact of platform changes.
  • Still scared of what might be out there? Connect your Facebook with Simple Wash and let them do the work of finding potentially inappropriate comments, tags, and wall posts. They even link to the original post so that you can change the settings or delete it.
  • Keep on engaging! I’ve had some friends deactivate their Facebook accounts during job applications. But would an employee wonder what you are hiding if you are seemingly in the small percentile of our generation without an account? Facebook is a great place to engage with brands, fill in your timeline, and informally network with friends.

Twitter

This platform may seem more intimidating for some young professionals. We’ve all heard of employees getting canned after an accidental tweet from the wrong account or with inappropriate content. But I have also heard time and again that having a private Twitter account is almost the same as admitting that you are tweeting inappropriate content (perhaps about your not-so-PC trivia team name or some profanity about your sports’ team recent record). Never fear, there are still some tips to beat this battle.

  • It’s okay to have two accounts. I know some young professionals (with real, paying, parent approved jobs) that have a private personal Twitter account for their friends and then a public handle that they use to interact with industry influencers.
  • Utilize the networking tool that Twitter is! As stated above, follow and connect with influential people in your desired industry. They may have key advice or insight to help you on that interview or cover letter.
  • Think before you tweet. There may be a delete tweet function, but once something is online, it can always remain online.

LinkedIn

This is one of the best platforms for upcoming and recent graduates. It is the perfect place to showcase your internships, skills, interests and value. It is also a great place to learn from others in the industry, be it individuals, companies or societies (like PRSA). Still there are some pieces of advice that will show better “netiquette” while on this platform

  • Just as a printed out resume, don’t lie. Be truthful and proud of your accomplishments without boastful exaggerating. With the World Wide Web, almost anything is confirmable these days.
  • Use your manners when interacting with contacts. Don’t harass or spam your networks through this channel (or ever, really). Be polite when appropriately asking for connections or recommendations.
  • A recent feature of LinkedIn is endorsements, where anyone can endorse connections for skills. I believe that this feature may question the credibility of profiles and would suggest not treating it as Facebook “likes” or Twitter “favorites” with all your friends. Don’t endorse people unless you have seen these skills excel first hand.

Thoughts or concerns? Weigh in below!

Understanding B2B Marketing with Social Media

February 21, 2013

To me, understanding the uses of social media for achieving B2C  goals is a lot more clear than for B2B companies. Looking into companies and attempting to expand my knowledge of social media further, I decided to delve into B2B social media marketing to get to the bottom of it. Is it important? (Yes!) Do companies understand its importance? (Not as many that should, but it’s growing.) Where is it going in 2013? (Read below!)

A B2B company that I met with in the fall uses social media tactics to reach targeted businesses before they realize they are even looking for the product/service. By fully utilizing SEO, content pushing on Facebook, key influencers on Twitter, paid social media, and Google AdWords, this company frequently connects with other company key decision makers when they are just in the beginning stages of realizing they need this extra service. When I first learned of this type of B2B marketing approach, I was surprised and in awe. After researching the topic more, I better understand how this is possible and where this tactic can be taken in the future.

B2B vs. B2C

The biggest differences between these two marketing plans are the visibility of a campaign and the value of the end goal and sale. When Fortune 500 companies achieve their social media goals of reaching and engaging the consumers, it is very visible to the public not only through the channels but reviewed by Mashable, Radian6, etc. When B2B companies do the same with their client organizations, it is less visible. No one will be talking as much about business transaction success than how OREO stole the super bowl with their quick wit tweets. B2B companies may also keep their success of engaging key influencers or increasing reach quiet as a business tactic or to maintain competitive edge.

As another difference, B2B success can also mean a greater value of a sale or partnership. They are not convincing fans to stay loyal to a certain cookie, they are fostering and creating potentially million dollar business deals and contracts. This higher dollar value means more is at stake and that a typical “here’s a cute cat eating our product – share it” campaign will most likely not be the tactic. One website said that due to this, B2B social media is a lot less emotional than consumer targeted companies.

A B2B Marketing Plan

Once you’ve figured out what you want to do for a B2B marketing campaign, it’s important to understand specific aspects of your plan. Surprisingly, these are considerately similar to a regular social media campaign that I’ve planned for clients and accounts in my experience. Remember to strategically consider target audience (how will you reach those buyer personas?), key influencers (which platforms do they use most often?), and message executive (is it clear and consistent across all channels?).

Measurement has been the buzzword for long enough that it’s time to consider it among the steps with any marketing plan. With social media and B2B marketing combined, there becomes a wide range of tools, indicators and measurements to take in. These topped the list for measurement criteria in successful B2B marketing:

  1. web traffic
  2. sales lead quality
  3. social media sharing
  4. sales lead quantity
  5. direct sales
  6. qualitative feedback from customers
  7. SEO ranking

While SEO is further down the list, it directly impacts the top three items. Enhancing and increasing SEO is an active  role that a B2B company can take on to lead to more clients and better measurement results. And clearly, social media is within the top three. As with any social media plan, this will take consistent effort of monitoring what is being said and whom is being engaged to best utilize the other resources and traffic direction.

Where is B2B headed in 2013?

Let’s first look at some statistics:

  • 49% of B2B marketers plan to increase their marketing budget in 2013
  • 67% of B2B marketers plan to increase their digital marketing budget in 2013
  • 70% of B2B marketers plan to increase their spending on website development in 2013
  • 56% of B2B marketers plan to increase their spending on social media in 2013
  • 41% of B2B website traffic is driven by organic search

Keeping these statistics in mind, it is clear that B2B marketing is headed in an upward direction and is getting more attention from the C-Suite. While some clients are still being convinced that social media (earned and paid engagement) and SEO (organic recognition) is a must for Fortune 500 and small business alike, the budgets for such endeavors are growing. Understanding that almost half of B2B website traffic is driven by organic search, boosted by social media integration and development, this growing trend makes sense.

As more companies filtrate online channels looking for customers, they are found as target connections on the platforms by B2B organizations to help them boost their own client list. Thus, as B2C increases, B2B will be able to expand and prove its worth in the social online world. Luckily for most companies, marketing, websites, social media, and communications are all becoming stream-lined and fully integrated. This trend not only helps the managers of websites and channels, but keeps the message of the brand and company consistent. If I’ve learned anything with my Strategic Communications degree, regardless of B2B or B2C, messaging is the most important factor in an communications plan.

Want to learn more about B2B marketing? Check out these Twitter handles for tips and advice:

@Explore B2B@MarketingB2B@Savvy_B2B@btobsocialmedia

Sources used for this post: 

New blog post written for my agency!

February 19, 2013

At RLF, each employee takes turn writing for the company blog Orange Slices. In January, it was my turn. Part of my duties at RLF include managing the editorial calendar and content of the blog, so I had some fun “approving” my own topic. Since I was just finishing up school and seeing myself more as an employee than a student, I picked a relevant topic to me (and many other graduating seniors). Here’s my post:

 

Five things about public relations you won’t find in a textbook

Read. Take notes. Pass exams. Now what?  

As I finish up my last class at Elon University, it’s easy to assume that I am done with school. Done with over-priced textbooks,  done with vigorous note taking in Accounting 201, done with memorizing Supreme Court cases for my media law class. Done with learning and ready to jump into the field.

But in the transition from a student-and-intern mindset to that of an agency employee, I have found that this industry has many tools, tricks and tactics that cannot be learned in a classroom and that it will very much be a lifelong process.

1.     Each client’s definition of PR

In my first communications course, I was taught that public relations is simply positive relations. If it only was that simple. Working on different client accounts, my days at RLF are filled with much more than media relations. Maintaining relationships with journalists, branding through social media, researching competitors…and that’s all before my lunch break begins. Each client will have its own needs for a PR agency and will, therefore, set different goals and duties for the account team. Regardless of the textbook definition of PR, your agency was hired to further the client’s business goals.

2.     A focus on small business and niche clients

Most case studies that I’ve read for class feature Fortune 500 companies and their agencies’ successful PR campaigns. But for most of us starting out, giant corporations (and their seemingly unlimited PR budgets) will not be in the job description. Despite this, I’ve learned to prefer smaller clients with niche focuses. Working for a smaller agency, I’ve already gained experience talking with clients and have seen my work directly impact the client’s success. I also enjoy becoming a mini-expert on a range of topics, including marching band history, nanotechnology developments and even swimming puns.

3.     The learning curve of technology

In my classes, we skimmed various duties within the field that clients might require, and one simple word has proven to be deceivingly complex: tracking. Media tracking for each client requires multiple technological tools, Excel sheets and databases. At your internship you may have used three different platforms, all different from what you use on your first job. Hopefully, one of your skills listed on your resume is “fast learner.”  Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification and consult your notes. Sooner than you know it, you will be navigating Cision and crunching quarterly reports.

 4.     Diligence

Remember that time you had to read 75 pages of your media ethics textbook and you approached it with the “skim-reading” method? That is how most journalists will read the pitches that you’ve spent hours writing, editing, revising and distributing. You’ve probably spent a good week becoming an expert on a pitch idea and it will be hard to understand why everyone on the media list is not as excited as you are (for me, it was a pair of gibbons. Come on, who wouldn’t want to write about apes?!). It requires time and energy to pitch, follow up, further follow up and even further re-pitch, but once you get your first hit and secured story, it will be worth it. Oh, and it will also probably be time to follow up on another pitch.

5.     Thick skin

Continuing on the topic of communicating with journalists, thick skin is something you will need to build up. Sure your Introduction to PR professor might have mentioned this one day while you were day-dreaming about spring break, but now you’ve graduated and feel on top of the world. It’s hard not to feel unstoppable after accepting your diploma (and passing geology), but almost every PR professional out there has at one point been hung-up on by a reporter or opened a not-so-nice email rejecting a story pitch. Despite that, we keep going. We know the feeling that comes with reading one of your clients’ names in a national outlet, and that outweighs all the criticism.

You won’t find this information on any mid-term exam, but I would highly suggest taking notes for your career as an A+ public relations professional.

 

See the original post here.

Social Media sizing cheat sheet

October 23, 2012

Working on customizing your profiles or online platform for a brand? Use this social media sizing cheat sheet for Facebook, Google +, Twitter and even Pinterest!

These are a few of my favorite ads #socialympics

August 7, 2012

The 2012 London Olympic Games have adopted the name of the Socialympics due to the huge influx of tweets, posts, interactions, and especially campaigns involving the sports, the world, and an internet connection. After my favorite sports (and everyone else’s too) of swimming, diving, gymnastics (alright and a little bit of confusion at handball, water polo, and speed walking…), I’ve learned to appreciate the sponsors and advertisements surrounding the Games even more. Since a sponsorship agreement is so expensive (they pay for over half the cost of the Olympics!) the official committee is very strict in not allowing any other brands or companies to conduct ambush advertising. With that, the few that do sponsor then need to make sure their campaigns run as swimmingly as Michael Phelps.

I’ve decided that P&G has been running the best campaigns. They have a few different themes and formats in commercials and online but they all fall under the umbrella message of “P&G: Proud Sponsor of Moms.” In general, the campaign has included a website where you can thank your mom and see how many other moms have been thanked. They have a specific Twitter handle, @ThankYouMom, and encourage Facebook tags. You can see different people around the world who have thanked their moms on their Thank You Mom Tool. So far, almost 40,000 moms have been thanked on here through quotes, pictures, and anecdotes.

Here are some of the other sub-campaigns:

Kids:Even on the biggest stage with the eyes of the world on them, to their moms, they’ll always be kids.

 

Raising an Olympian

 

The Best Job: Being a mom is the hardest job in the world, but it’s also the best

Talk about goosebumps right? P&G also remembers to include some of the most popular themes and commonalities in Olympic sponsorship: sports, diversity, inspirational music and supporting the youth. They just get it all huh?

All in all, it’s a unique and sentimental way of seamless platforms storytelling and showing the pride of mothers, and how big of an impact that has on Olympic athletes and all children alike.

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