Here’s why I unfollowed 1,000+ Twitter users today

One small but important aspect of social media management is branding. But you knew that.

When I get a new account for social media management, the first thing I do is clean house on the “Following” section of their Twitter profile.

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away (let’s call it 2011), a marketing expert deemed that brands on Twitter needed to follow as many people as possible in order to get followers themselves.

I’m going to play a NOPE card on that one in 2016 (if you don’t get the  reference, click here).  Here’s why:

  1. The simplest reason? It looks unprofessional and spammy. twitter-1183719_640

2. Who you follow on Twitter should tell a story about your brand. Brewery? Follow other breweries. Boutique? Follow the accounts of the products you sell.

3. Who you follow should also be targeted. Use the Search tool to look for users tweeting about your product or service. Then, use the network to drive sales.

That being said, following a random account on Twitter doesn’t give that user the warm fuzzies — engaging with them does. Instead of following them, send them a tweet letting them know that you’re interested in them.

If you are taking the following route, Mashable offers some tips as to why people might not be following you back.

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How I stay organized in my digitally overloaded world

About a month ago, I was describing my job duties to a group of people. It wasn’t until I said them out loud that I realized that I really pack a lot into a day.

“How do you stay organized?,” one person asked? Good question.

I’ve always been organized (at least when it comes to work — my mother would disagree with that statement in my teenage years). It didn’t hit me that my organizational process was noteworthy until I started really thinking about it.

And what’s my trick? Pen and paper.

Yep — in a world where I’m designing websites and managing social media for a host of businesses, managing email marketing, writing web content and more — paper prevails.

Here are my tools:

A plannerimg_20160907_183429

A big, bulky planner with pockets and a hefty notes section. This year, I’m using Kate
Spade’s “gold dots” agenda. Small planners are OK, but it’s easier to be able to write line by line what you need to accomplish on a full size one.

To-do lists

I have a strategy when it comes to making to-do lists. First, make your list as soon as you sit down at your desk in the morning. FIRST. I mean before you check your email.

THEN, check your email. Add to the list as necessary.

Of course, some digital tools help me out as well:

Google Drive

I’ve blogged about the importance of Drive in my life before, but it deserves a second shout img_20160908_082722out.

Using Drive, I not only organize my initiatives for clients and marketing, but I’m able to share those things as well. For example, I use a simple chart to keep track of what social media management clients I’m working with — including number of posts on what networks, contact information and more.

Social media managers – you can download a template of my Drive chart here.

Google Keep

While to-do lists rank No. 1, sometimes you just don’t have a pen and paper on you. That’s when Keep comes in handy. The cloud-based list app lets you take notes on your phone and then see them later from any of your other devices.

And lastly, a few other tips for staying organized:

  • Keep your email inbox uncluttered. The delete button is your friend.
  • Take breaks. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I go walk a few blocks and get some fresh air.
  • Remember to make time for other things in your life. Being a workaholic can only help you to an extent. Schedule time for a workout, to see your friends and to veg on the couch.

 

Five ways to reach college students this semester

I originally wrote this post for Gazette Media & Marketing’s blog. 

The academic year is quickly approaching, and soon communities will be filled with new, temporary residents — college students.

The arrival of students for a new year gives small businesses and organizations the opportunity to market their products and services to a whole new generation. But, what’s the best way to reach them?

1. Make your campaign relevant.

What makes your product or service important to a college student? How can your business help a student through their stay in their new town? Think about what makes students tick and what products they’re excited about, and tailor your marketing efforts appropriately.

2. Reach them with video.

Videos are consumed online at a faster rate than ever before. According to a Forbes article, sites like YouTube and Netflix are extremely popular for students who stream video instead of paying for cable. Reach students with video in two ways: With content that draws them in, with subjects they’re truly interested in; and with advertising campaigns on popular networks.

3. Talk to them.

Visit campus. Hand out flyers. Let students know where your business is. Give them free samples — because let’s be honest, college students thrive on free stuff.

4. Hire student ambassadors.

Word-of-mouth marketing isn’t dead, and college students can be heavily influenced by their peers. By hiring brand ambassadors, young people can connect with prospective customers in a way that your employees may not be able to. Have these ambassadors post on social media, be present at campus fairs and activities and spread the word about your business.

5. Keep your social media updated.

More often than not, the current college-aged generation is visiting one of your social media accounts before they’re visiting your website. Make sure that you’re posting often, and posting interesting and engaging content.

Ready to take the next step in marketing to students? Get a hold of the Gazette Media & Marketing team at info@gazettemediamarketing.com or (724) 465-5555 ext. 285. 

Three tried-and-true Instagram tactics

I originally wrote this post for Gazette Media & Marketing’s blog. 

With 400 million active users, there’s no doubt that Instagram plays a huge role in any brand’s marketing strategy.

Instagram is useful in reaching a target demographic that’s been hard to connect with thus far for a lot of brands: Teens and young adults.

According to this post by Hootsuite, Instagram is considered the most important social network by more American teens (at 32 percent) than any other network.

At Gazette Media & Marketing, we’ve tried a number of different tactics on Instagram. Here are the three that we think are most important:

Consistent branding.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but often brands get on Instagram and post images just to post them. When you’re posting, think “how is this image relevant to my consumer?” Make sure your captions thoroughly explain why this image is important to the users you’re trying to reach.

And, keep a consistent tagline when possible. For example, The Indiana Gazette closes out Instagram posts with a years-old tagline, “In print daily, online always.”

Develop a hashtag campaign

Instagram engagement is driven hugely by hashtags. Research by Hootsuite says that posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6 percent more engagement.

On Recreation News’ Instagram account, we used the magazine’s tagline, #LivePlayDo, as an opportunity to solicit photos from users across the Mid-Atlantic. In just the few months that we’ve measured the campaign, it’s received over 1,000 photo submissions from adventurers everywhere.

Tip: Keep your hashtag short and sweet – it’ll be easier for users to remember that way.

Tag post locations

A small but mighty tweak to your strategy, research shows that posts with location tags have up to 79 percent more engagement on the social network.

How do you add a location? Make sure your smartphone’s location settings are active, and then the “Add Location” button on your post should work.

Posting later? No need to worry. Search the location you took the photo from by name.

PSA: Stealing photos is not OK

More often than you would think, I stumble across people using photos that they don’t have rights to on social media and in print products. This just happened this week, when a few coworkers and I attended an event only to find the program filled with images taken by one of our company’s employees.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Personally I would be willing to give most organizations permission to use photos for a good cause, and I think in a lot of cases my company and other companies feel the same way. But ask for permission.

Taking photos from a publication’s website is not only in poor taste, it’s against the law. 

Copyright by definition and under federal law protects original works of authorship. A work of authorship includes literary, written, dramatic, artistic, musical and certain other types of works.

I don’t believe that people create things with the intention of breaking the law, though. I think there is a lack of education surrounding Copyright and fair use. So, here are some pointers when looking for images on the web:

  1. Understand usage terms like “Copyright,” “Fair Use” and “Creative Commons.”

Here’s an article that can help with that. You’ll find that you, in most cases, will only want to be using images that fall under Creative Commons.

2. Properly use search tools.

Don’t, PLEASE DON’T, go to Google and right click and save the first image you see that you like. Because of the way SEO works, you’re going to see images from the most trusted outlets first – which means these images are most likely copyrighted.

Instead, under Google’s “Search Tools” option, choose “labeled for reuse.”

3. Use free stock photo sites.

I wrote about some of my favorites in this blog post. Sometimes, these sites aren’t going to have what you’re looking for. But it’s worth a shot.

4. Ask permission.

As mentioned before, if you’re holding a fundraiser or benefit event, an organization is probably willing to help you out. Look up an organization’s contact information on their website. If they’re not willing to give you an image for free, chances are that it only costs a few dollars for a digital copy.

But make SURE to give that company or artist credit for their work. Photographers, videographers, artists, etc. work very hard. They deserve it.

More: Follow This Chart to Know If You Can Use an Image from the Internet

Social media pet peeves: A list

Patience: That’s one of the traits I told students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s PRSSA meeting on Tuesday that social media managers need to have. As a social media manager, you’re going to see an abundance of complaints and sometimes an abundance of stupidity – and you can’t let it get to you.

But, there are a few things that erk me. Here they are:

Over-quoting tweets

Brands, news outlets and other accounts spend a lot of time crafting messages. While some tweets open themselves to commentary, it’s more helpful to a brand for you to just retweet it in the form it was meant to be in.

Automated thank-you tweets

Bot-generated tweets like “My best retweets this week came from … ” are incredibly aggravating. If you’re actually glad somebody shared your content, thank them as a human being.

When brands post links to retail items that DON’T actually go to the item

Now, I’m not actually in the market for an engagement ring (#foreveralone), but A GIRL CAN DREAM. Case and point, this engagement ring is my actual dream … but if you click on the link it’s nowhere to be found on the Brilliant Earth website.

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Post Hijackers

As part of my reporter duties, I spend a lot of time asking different groups around the community to weigh in on particular topics that I’m writing about. Sometimes, you’re just trying to write a nice, happy story, and people end up hijacking your post and turning it in to a complaint-fest.

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I asked Twitter what their own peeves were: