Archive for ‘Technology’:


Confession of a Social Media Consultant

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

By Brad Wester

secret-1142327_960_720 I’ve been a freelance social media consultant for several years, and I have a confession to make.

The power of social media is a myth.

You know that great idea you have for your next Facebook post? It’s probably worthless. I’m not trying to be harsh, and I’m not saying you have terrible ideas, but take a moment to think about it. How many people are going to see that post? Hint: not enough.

In 2015, Facebook organic reach dropped from an average of 12% to under 6%. This trend has continued in 2016. Facebook’s organic reach is low and continues to drop. Reaching less than 6% of your audience isn’t powerful. It’s time to stop posting and hoping for the best. It’s time for a plan.

The power of social media has always been a myth. The true power is in the planning – it’s in the development of a social media strategy.

Posting on social media without a strategy means your posts may be missing your targeting audience. You may be posting at the wrong times, creating the wrong content and using the wrong call to actions. You could be using improper tracking methods or relying on the wrong metrics to show success. Without a social media strategy, you’re at risk of wasting time and energy that could be spent more effectively on other parts of your business. You may even be hurting the future success of your Facebook page due to poor performance now.

Having a fully developed social media strategy is essential and should include the ability to track and analyze data in each step. Tracking data will allow you to determine what social networks you should focus on, what type of content is most effective, if it’s more effective to create a wide variety of content, simply promote high performing content to a larger audience and even how much you can afford to spend on promoting your high-performing content.

More social networks, including Instagram and Snapchat, are creating algorithms to determine what content to show users. These algorithms will continue to decrease organic reach and increase competition, driving up the cost of effective social media marketing. Developing a social media strategy will help you rise above your competition.

It’s time to stop posting and start planning.

 

Byline

Brad Wester is a freelance digital marketing consultant specializing in helping small businesses create engaging online experiences that generate leads and drive sales. Follow Brad on Twitter: @wester_brad.

New Resource (Book) for Millennial Job Seekers

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
Photo Credit: Bolla Photography

Photo Credit: Bolla Photography

As a PRSSA professional adviser and PR student mentor, I often get questions about job searching, professional networking etiquette, cover letters, interview preparation and follow-up, and résumé writing (as well as personal branding).  Those questions are typically prefaced with “how do I …” and followed by “will you read what I wrote and give me feedback”.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I get incredible joy and satisfaction from helping and mentoring PR students and gladly do so; however, I can’t count how many times I’ve thought that I should write this stuff down so I could just send a ‘canned’ response to some of those frequently asked questions—just to save time.

 

Last Fall, I was contacted via Twitter by Danny Rubin who had just completed a book called, Wait, How Do I Write This Email? and subtitled, “Game-Changing Templates for Networking and the Job Search”.  He knew (from my bio and various social media activity) that I do a lot with PR students and thought it might be helpful. A free book? Um, yes, please! Then I completely forgot about it until a couple months later when the book arrived in the mail along with a personal note from Danny. After skimming through, I knew within minutes that this book is as good as GOLD to, not just students but young pros or really anyone—especially those who’ve been out of job search mode for some time.

 

Around that same time, I was planning the PRSA St. Louis annual Career Development Day and thought this would be the perfect opening keynote topic. Fortunately, we were able to bring Danny in for the event to speak and do a mini-writing workshop and it was so helpful I wanted to share with you a few takeaways.

 

Use the power of storytelling in your cover letters , bio, etc. (even during the interview) to make you stand out from the crowd.

  • Lead with a compelling personal story—an anecdote that you can relate to the job skills required.
  • Stories, told properly, will capture the reader’s attention and keep them reading.
  • Unique details matter!
  • A personal story will leave a more lasting impression and makes you more memorable.
  • Starting and ending on the same story (a technique that professional journalists use) demonstrate that you “get it,” and that you know how to apply these tactics in a real-world setting.

 

So how do you do this? I’ll share an excerpt from Danny’s book (Chapter 9: The Power of Stories) where he steps the reader through the six parts of a storytelling cover letter.

 

Danny’s outline for the storytelling cover letter:

  1. Open with a line that places readers into the story. Grab their attention and make them think.
  2. Include concrete details about the story. The more specific you are, the more colorful the anecdote, the more memorable you will be. Quantify your results—provide hard numbers when appropriate.
  3. Demonstrate how the story applies to the job by referring to the job description—making sure the anecdote reflect the person the company is looking to hire.
  4. Show you did your research and understand how the company fits into the marketplace by explaining how you will help the company grow its business and make it more successful.
  5. Share more of your qualities as they relate to the story. Again, referencing the job description, touch on qualities you know the company admires and show how you would be a good cultural fit.
  6. Mention your story one final time and bring the cover letter full circle.

 

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, Danny offers up more than 100 templates demonstrating various scenarios and taking the guesswork out of applying these techniques.

 

Do you have an example of how you’ve done this effectively that you’d care to share with our readers? Or additional thoughts to offer?

Cross the Generational App Divide by Discovering Improvement Points

Monday, October 13th, 2014
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flickr user Jason Howie under CC BY

It happens all the time: older generations just don’t get the latest gizmos kids these days are using. What doesn’t happen every day is when there’s a conversation about it in an editorial space and the publication makes that conversation public.

That’s what news site Quartz did last week. In talking about payment app Venmo, writers under 30 said they used the app all the time and that they and their friends found it incredibly useful. The response from the over-30 crowd: “Why?!”

Venmo allows users to pay their friends for split checks, rent, whatever. The fact that one of your friends paid another can show up in your feed, like social media, or the payments can remain private. The over-30 participants in the chat remained bewildered as to why under-30s would want such information shared and why they would connect their bank account with an app in the first place.

As an under-30 myself, I’d never heard of Venmo and would probably never use it. But the over-30s in this conversation missed a crucial point, one that is frequently missed when talking to and marketing across generations: It doesn’t matter if you don’t get it, because people use it anyway.

In August The Atlantic published some findings about the most popular apps by generation, and while everyone’s top apps include Facebook and Pandora Radio, there’s a surprising (or not so surprising) difference between age groups. People over 55 play solitaire and use Yahoo! Mail, people 35 to 54 use Viggle and still play Candy Crush, users 25-34 still use Skype and have the highest Netflix usage, and people ages 18 to 24 use Kik Messenger, Snapchat, and Ifunny :).

This makes plain what most people would expect: Just as different generations respond to different words and messaging, they use different apps and interact with their smart phones differently. The Quartz discussion makes clear that for public relations pros and marketers, it’s important not to get caught up in thinking “why would you use that?” but instead to focus on the facets of popular apps that draw in users of specific age groups and leverage that understanding to reach an ever broader audience.

The most important thing to focus on is what does the app improve? Most apps that resonate with users will improve an existing procedure. Kik allows you to message your friends while also browsing news and games. This improves chatting by not forcing users to switch apps all the time. Venmo makes it easy for kids who don’t like to carry cash to easily and immediately pay each other back.

You might not be an app developer, but analyzing app use across generations can help you figure out what users and generations value and then speaking to those values.

Your Guide to Style Guide Apps

Thursday, October 9th, 2014
Guide to Style Guide Apps BurrellesLuce Ellis Friedman Public Relations PR Software Media Monitoring Press Clipping

screenshot of The Writer’s style guide app

One of the keys to consistent messaging and brand voice is having an in-house style guide, even if that guide is just plain ol’ AP style. The drawback to style guides is that, frankly, few but the wordsmiths reference them and they’re not always super accessible (who wants to carry around AP Stylebook or wade through docs to find the in-house guide?). Luckily, there are apps for that. In searching, we only found three of them, but they should be able to at least cover your basics. Here’s our mini-roundup of style guide apps.

AP Stylebook 2014

AP style is the stalwart style guide of newsrooms and the jumping-off point for most corporate style guides (at least in my experience). If you don’t want the bulk of the old-school paper version, AP has you covered with their iPhone app, though at $24.99, it costs more than the paper copy.

The app covers all your favorite spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, and style guidelines and includes audio along with phonetic pronunciation guides.

The Writer’s Style Guide app

This new (and free!) Android and iPhone app puts a lot of your most burning language and usage questions right next to your Facebook app. It’s got plenty of handy entries about hyphens, ampersands, and more, but be aware that it is its own style guide and is British (for example, they prefer the British “per cent” over the American “percent,” and both of them over “%”). But it’s got great information, a section where you can input your own writing for a readability analysis, and even a fun writing trivia quiz.

APA Reference Guide

APA, aka the American Psychological Association, has its own manual of style, and its own app ($2.99) of the manual. OK, this one might not be as immediately helpful to public relations pros, but the style guide is used by a number of scientific and academic journals and textbooks.

Do you have another writing or style guide app you use?

In the Digital Age, What Is Private?

Thursday, September 4th, 2014
Digital Age What Is Privacy BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring Public Relations PR Software News Clipping Press Clipping

flickr user FutUndBeidl under CC BY

Could your kid suffer repercussions because of what you post on Facebook? That would be a yes, if you’re Ashley Habat, a mom from Florida whose son was expelled from preschool because of negative comments she made about the school on her Facebook timeline.

While Habat said the post was “private to [her] friends only,” she tagged the school in the post. “Why would you expel a four-year-old over something his mom posts to a private Facebook page only people on her friends list can see?” Habat asked.

Aside from the fact that tagging the school means it’s no longer just the people on her friends page, this story from last week ties in to the broader dialogue of what is private in the age of social media. Should we have the expectation that what we post on social media is absolutely private?

We shouldn’t, if we want to be savvy social media users. The Internet is not a private place, and screenshots and cached images mean that even deleted postings never die. This permanence can mean longer-lasting damage to personal reputation the reputation of the poster and the subject of their posting.

But you can also have private things online that no longer remain private thanks to malicious third party, as we’ve seen this week with famous female celebrities who had their personal photo streams hacked and the pictures leaked.

So what’s a savvy, everyday Internet user and public relations pro to do?

Think before you post – Always. You have the right to say what you think, just exercise prudent judgment about how it would reflect upon you if it were no longer private.

Enable every security setting you can – You also have the right to do what you want (within the confines of the law, of course) with your photos and content on your phone, email, and social media. But take as many steps as you can to prevent it, like two-factor authentication and better passwords, but know that even those steps might not matter much when it comes to hacking.

Value the privacy of your audience – It’s great to want to personalize brand experience, but because privacy is such a sensitive issue, campaigns should not be creepy or give the sense (or actuality) that the audience’s privacy has been invaded.

How do you define and protect your online privacy? How can organizations strive to protect the privacy of their audience?