3 Ways to Boost Your Brand on Social Media

What’s Social Media to Us, the People?

When you think “social media,” what comes to mind? Your Facebook news feed full of ‘likes’ and ‘shares?’ Tweets and followers? Hashtags and Instagram filters?

Social media sites give us information and connectivity at the touch of a button (or scroll of a touchscreen). We, the social media junkies, crave the unfiltered voice and opinion that the social world allows us to share. We have a relentless desire for the anonymity and security we can have, both of which face-to-face communication won’t allow. We want the instantaneous feedback, the collaboration and interaction with the communities and content of our choice.

These are just some of the obvious qualities of social media. Just skimming the surface. Of course, when we look at social media from more than just a personal perspective, we dive into the social network society that has restructured human interaction and communication.

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And, What’s Social Media to Them, the Companies?

Social media are more than technology- they’re about building trusted relationships (Simon Collister) . This, especially, is important in the business sector. Social networking is an essential tactic that all companies and brands should be utilizing. A social media strategy will:

  • Build brand recognition
  • Help cultivate a community
  • Offer repeat exposure of a brand
  • Establish authority in a field
  • Build website traffic
  • Put your brand ahead of the curve
  • Give you a competitive edge over competitors

Social media allows businesses to become more engaged, and that’s exactly what consumers are looking for. Potential and existing customers look for social media accounts that stand out from the rest of the competition- companies and brands with accounts that are interactive and engaging. Brands that actively participate in conversations with their customers and listen to their feedback show loyalty and authenticity.

Here’s an awesome article by Even LePage on Social Media Engagement.

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3 Ways to Boost Your Brand:

Things Your Company Should Remember on Social Media

  1.  Engage, interact, involve. Your network is your net worth so interacting with people/professionals and communities is crucial. This involvement gives you and your business new opportunities and insight to ideas, competition and consumers’ demands. Engagement allows you to raise brand awareness and attract new customers while growing your audience and building relationships.  It’s all about communication, connectivity and influence.
  2. Listen. Listen to key conversations, on Twitter, blogs, company websites, forums, reviews, etc., and pay attention to the feedback customers are giving (positive AND negative). Listen to the competition, to the thoughts and ideas for new uses or applications of your product/service, and provide acknowledge (if anything), as well as answers, solutions and gratitude.
  3. Customer service is key. Be available and eager to communicate with your audience and consumers. Recognize any questions, concerns, problems/complaints and feedback from stakeholders- this demonstrates that your brand has an interest in their customers and shows a company’s authenticity.
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Oh Snap! Snapchat Admits Photos & Videos Won’t Disappear Forever

If you think your Snapchat photos and videos really disappear after those few seconds, think again.

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The mobile app’s popularity is largely driven by the fact that it auto-deletes the photo or video file just seconds after the receiver sees it, but, according to recent news, this feature has been a bit misleading; Pictures won’t disappear forever, and data is collected.

Since 2011, Snapchat has become one of the most popular and controversial social media apps on the market for iPhone and Android users. Teenagers, the largest demographic on the social app, can’t get enough of it. Investors love its $800 million value, and brands are embracing the photo-video-sharing service as a part of their social media strategy. Parents fear it, as they hear about the lawsuits and disputes over explicit photo sharing and privacy concerns, and hackers are easily having fun with it. Even with the unsavory reputation and growing amount of competitors, Snapchat was voted the Best Mobile App  at the 2013 Crunchies.

But, despite its popularity, Snapchat has a few kinks to work out. For example, Snapchat began 2014 with nearly 4.6 million users falling victim to hackers. This revelation was made after a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission, which accused the app service of secretly “recording user’ physical location,” (PRDaily) while their usernames and partial phone numbers were made available for download by hackers across the web.  According to Forbes, a database of Snapchat user information was uploaded to the website SnapchatDB.info. The site is now down, but before the shutdown, the text on the page warned that the leaked users’ names and phone numbers could leave digital clues leading to Facebook and Twitter accounts. A more recent incident involved a hacker who sent images of fruits along with the address of a spam website to users.

Snapchatwas forced to admit to the Federal Trade Commission that images sent through the app are not exactly permanently deleted. According to The Drum:

The FTC points out that third-party apps can be used to log into the Snapchat service, and because the deletion feature only functions in the official Snapchat app, recipients can view and save snaps indefinitely.

Here’s a “snap” of what Snapchat had to say about the incident in a recent blog post:

While we were focused on building, some things didn’t get the attention they could have. One of those was being more precise with how we communicated with the Snapchat community.

This morning we entered into a consent decree with the FTC that addresses concerns raised by the commission. Even before today’s consent decree was announced, we had resolved most of those concerns over the past year by improving the wording of our privacy policy, app description, and in-app just-in-time notifications. And we continue to invest heavily in security and countermeasures to prevent abuse.”

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The FTC also claimed that Snapchat stored video snaps unencrypted on the recipient’s device in a location outside the app’s “sandbox,” meaning that the videos remained accessible to recipients who simply connected their device to a computer and accessed the video messages through the device’s file directory.

A website up by Gibson Security lets users check if their data has been leaked. If an account has been compromised, the phone number associated with the user name will appear with the last two digits omitted.

So, before you snap any scandalous pics or unflattering videos, you might want to weigh out the consequences.

I’d Tweet That! Modern Media Relations & Why PR Needs Twitter

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Flipping through the chapters of Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals, chapter 15, “Media Relations Modernised,” caught my attention (not only because of the hideous spelling of “modernised..”). Written by Adam Parker, chief executive of RealWire, he discusses the importance of an organization’s social media presence and utilization of the unique communication tools that allow all parts of the organization to engage in relevant conversations (Parker, 129). In the social media world, PR practitioners play important roles, including acting as a “change consultant” and:

  • Advising
  • Guiding
  • Training different parts of an organization in effective and coherent social media engagement (to ensure associated risks are managed)
  • Being aware of broader conversations over social media as a whole
  • Responding to any reputation issues, internal or external
  • Converse efficiently and directly with publics (Parker, 129)

Though “traditional PR” is still very much alive and necessary for the practice- with personalized email pitches, press releases, print media and face-to-face interactions (who knew someday we’d consider that traditional?!)- PR media relations, or influencer relations (Parker, 130), has been and continues to be modernly revolutionized. With over 80% of journals actively on Twitter in attempts to share their stories more widely with media influencers (Parker, 130), there’s no doubt that interactions on Twitter are shaping some of the most vital conversations and interactions that relate to the media agenda as a whole.

Parker outlines which considerations should be applied in order to participate in and succeed in the professional Twitter environment, and which tools and tactics should be employed.

#1: Identify

  • Identify relevant media influencers via Twitter (this requires active Twitter participation! After all, it IS 2014).

*I totally agree with this one, even as an “emerging professional” (AKA, PR student). I follow several different PR professionals with careers that I someday will have, as well as PR firms and PR news accounts, all of which give me insight, advice and updates on the ever-changing world of PR.

  • Get involved: share information and engage in discussions. Remember: public relations is all about creating and maintaining beneficial relationships!
  • Look up current contacts. Media lists, my friends!
  • Search: use tools like Twitter Search,  Social Mention and Followerwonk to look for people who are relevant to you and your network.
  • Use curated lists: Listorious and PeerIndex are sites that list Twitter accounts that have already been grouped into categories. Boom, done. Easy as that.

#2: Listen

  • Most organizations today use some kind of monitoring system to alert them of relevant mentions of brands, products, topics and/or people when they occur on media outlets’ websites, as well as similar mentions within social media communities (Parker, 132-133).
  • Because the more accounts you follow the more congested your news feed will be, it’s important to filter your Twitter updates and activity by groups or topics in order to fully listen and be aware of important activity in your community.

* Twitter productivity tools, like TweetDeck and HootSuite, help you to view updates and streams side by side for easier following and listening. They also allow you to search for specific keywords and create columns on your dashboard or “deck” for categorizing different groups of influencers.

#3: Engage

  • Connect with influencers that are relevant to you and your community. However, it’s important to note that people with a larger amount of followers than those they follow are unlikely to follow you back. Ouch. If, and only if, they don’t follow you back, two problems arise:

Problem #1: They won’t see your tweets

Problem #2: You can’t send them private direct messages, because doing so requires both accounts to be following each other (hm, is this news to anyone else, or just me?)

Solution: Invest your time by engaging; get to know people you deem important to you and your community or network, and seek out opportunities to engage in conversations (listen and learn!).

If and when an influencer follows you back, it proves that you’ve demonstrated your relevance and investment in that relationship (Parker, 134). Remember: build and maintain!

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 So, let’s recap.

Twitter is in. Therefore, your professional presence on the social media site is vital. Many key conversations occur on Twitter, and your absence creates potential risk for missing out on that information, opportunities to learn from and join relevant communities, and missing out on playing a role in important pieces of information or updates that could shape an organization’s reputation.

Welcome to the modernized world of media relations, est. 2014. I’d favorite that.

Follow Adam Parker on Twitter @AdParker, or check out his blog here.

The Fundamentals. Social Media Style.

Just a quick post from inside the walls of Eastern Michigan University, kicking-off yet another semester (shout out to my fellow year-round classmates!).

This summer, it’s all about learning the Fundamentals of Social Media, and, clearly, getting fancy with WordPress. I’ll be reading, writing, posting, sharing, hashtagging, mentioning, chatting, tweeting, eating, sleeping, and breathing social media for the next six weeks. What could be better than that? Welcome to 2014.

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Three ways to nail your interview

EMU PRSSA

Fact: few things are more uncomfortable than a bad interview.

You have to sell yourself to a potential employer.

While you’re stuck in a room with your interviewer, it’s your chance to show your charisma, your experience, and your ability to adapt to the culture of the company. But, it doesn’t have to be terrifying. Here’s a few quick (but important!) things to remember on your big day to guarantee you’ll walk out with a smile.

1. Practice makes perfect!

Prepare in advance by researching a variety of interview questions. Jot down your responses. Highlight specific areas you want to emphasize, like your strengths, key skills, how you can contribute to the company or how you would handle a situation. Don’t forget credibility. Always provide examples or experience to support your answers.

Practice in front of the mirror (cliché, but helpful!), in front of friends or family, or even…

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PR Writing (Response #1)

One of my all time favorite cliches is “practice what you preach.” Ironically, I find myself doing a lot more “preaching” than “practicing.”

With that said, as I was responding to a post about being a “beginner blogger,” encouraging the newbie to write regardless of topic or experience, I realized that the link to my very own blog was chalk full of blank space. How hypocritical of me.

Because I wasn’t sure how or where or when to start blogging myself, I didn’t. I wrote one measly post and abandoned my site. What a disgrace to my passion for writing! I need to write, write well, and write often- kind of like, “give up, give in, or give it all you’ve got” (my favorite punchline, FYI).

I decided that because I’ll be responding to writing prompts/posts for my Writing for Public Relations class and want to save my responses anyways, I might as well make a post out of them for future reference (because, why not?).

  • Week #1: “Discuss which forms of writing that you are most excited to learn about, which forms you have the least familiarity with, and which forms you are most comfortable with.”

Written communication and the ability to efficiently disseminate information to the various publics is key for a successful career, not only in public relations, but in any business sector. Almost every text, blog or website that I’ve read pertaining to public relations and “what it takes” to become a successful professional in the field emphasizes the ability to write well. Even public relations professionals that I’ve spoken with have divulged to me the importance of writing effectively in their career each day. Bottom line: know how to write clearly and concisely about anything and everything.

Above all, I’m most eager to learn the professional writing forms in which I have little to no familiarity with, such as copy for brochures and reports. I’m looking forward to sharpening my PR writing skills altogether, becoming more fluent in succinct and informative writing. I’m anxious to become a more effective writer when it comes to writing for media and updating or informing specific audiences. I also like the idea of personal branding, and one of my goals this semester is to create “the brand of me,” by discovering and establishing my voice in my work, especially in blog writing. Because I’ve taken a course in journalism, I’m familiar and comfortable with writing press releases, though I would like to work on perfecting my ability to answer “so what?” and “who cares?”

Of all the writing forms, I have the most experience in writing for social networking and emails, and I spend a significant amount of time reading professional (or semi-professional) writing through numerous social networks (shout out to Twitter and blogging). Overall, I’m looking forward to dedicating my time and effort to practicing and perfecting my skills in all forms of public relations writing.

Three reasons why social media is essential to college students

My first post as a guest blogger for EMU’s chapter of PRSSA

EMU PRSSA

It’s 2013 and our millennial generation is working its way up into the “real world.”

Tough competition and high expectations in just about any career field force students to do more and go further in their efforts to meet the demands of today’s employers.

But, what does this have to do with social media and updating your Facebook status? Well, read on my friends…

Consider the contents of your news feed: what do you see or read as you’re scrolling through your home page? Does the flow of information benefit you educationally or professionally? Would you want your boss to see the pages and profiles that you choose to represent yourself, the pages that you “like” or associate yourself with?

If not, it’s time to reevaluate your friends, followers and the networks you connect with.

Think about it: social media is the world’s largest and most effective focus group.

There…

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