social media for business

You Can’t Outsource Authenticity

By Communications, Social Media

It’s a conversation I’ve had far too often; small businesses get overwhelmed by the responsibility of maintaining an online presence. They start to look for ways to outsource it. 

They ask:

  • Can I hire someone to post on Facebook and Twitter for us?
  • Can I hire someone to ghostwrite my blog?
  • What if we have an intern manage all our social media?

There’s a statistic we throw out fairly often, because it’s true and compelling:

Study Shows Small Businesses That Blog Get 55% More Website Visitors

The reason this happens is NOT because a blog is merely updated regularly — that’s important to be sure — but because the REAL, personal story of the people behind the business is what people connect with; not someone who is managing the account for the summer.

I get it if you need help. I completely understand feeling overwhelmed and like you need another member of your team to manage the production and posting of content on behalf of your business. It’s FINE to appoint someone to that role . . . but make sure it’s someone who is really part of the team. Someone who can really represent you in the public and social space and who others will happily see as representative of you and your business.

If it’s you, then it’s you. Suck it up and find someone to do some other piece of your business that’s it’s not essential you touch with your own two hands. But don’t try to have a surrogate social media manager. It just doesn’t work.


Don’t Overlook the Obvious: Using LinkedIn to Build Business Relationships

By Social Media

The other day I went to set up an event in Facebook for a tech group I’m in, and was interrupted by an email. The email had great deals on some pretty bags I wanted so I pinned them in Pinterest, then went back and bought one, which reminded me I needed some office supplies, so I went to another website and bought those. What was I doing again? I was so distracted that when I did create the Facebook event, I made it for the WRONG DAY. Luckily the group knows we always meet on Wednesdays, so they harassed me about my mistake and life went on.

I think of this stream of choppy activity as internet ADD and I generally don’t allow myself to fall into this spiral, but I can see how easy it is to do. If we, as individual consumers of content, have this problem, think of what a business deals with when looking at the broad array of tools, platforms and applications to use in support of their business branding and marketing.

There are solid, proven tools, platforms and networks: blogging is CRITICALLY important. A Facebook presence puts your brand in front of a potential 800 million pairs of eyes. Twitter is excellent for customer service and engagement and Pinterest has stepped into place as a serious contender for brands marketing to women.

But what about LinkedIn? Are we forgetting about the social network CREATED to foster business relationships? I assert that LinkedIn is the most solid, reliable place for individuals within companies to build a network in support of their careers and the brands they represent. It’s a professional space, so many of the concerns that plague businesses about the division between personal and professional are lifted. It’s been around a LONG time and the users who have realized its benefits have cultivated deep relationships using the tool.

Like all of us, sometimes the internet blinders are necessary. A plan to help your business stay focused and use the RIGHT tools at the RIGHT time is critical.

How have you used LinkedIn, lately?



Five Ways to Beware the Social Media Scammer

By Corporate Strategy, Media, Social Media

There was an interesting study released last year by Booz & Co. in partnership with Buddy Media on social media and marketing and its impact on job growth. Some highlights:

  • Virtually every company (96%) has plans to spend more on social media; 40 percent plan to spend “substantially more.”
  • As companies are building up their social media, much of their investment is focused on hiring in-house staff. Partners also will play a key role in supporting companies as they use social more widely.
  • The money spent on social media will primarily be shifted from other forms of digital advertising, so new expertise will be required.

Great, we’ve gone mainstream!

But I gotta say, I’ve been really bothered lately by these so-called “social media experts” and “social media marketing firms” that are cropping up everywhere. “We have a decade of experience with Facebook marketing,” they say. Really?? It’s only five years old. Trust reduced. “View our case studies,” they invite. Really? OK, it says here your team worked with the client to develop a Facebook and Twitter marketing strategy. Cool. But what did that strategy actually include? What insights did you gather that make it worth sharing and using as a promo? Are you just spamming our news feeds with promos, or are you actually engaging? Why should I believe you without evidence?

Um, I don’t. Trust further reduced.

My point here is that there are a LOT of people out there capitalizing on the ignorance and fear of those who don’t understand how to tap into the amazing potential of engaged, strategic, social media use. They need real help, and so might you. So here are some guidelines to help weed out the opportunists from those folks that can actually get your social media projects off the ground.

  1. Make sure they create and deliver a strategy, not just tactics. Social media without a plan is worthless. You need to determine what your business goals are, how social tools fit into those, how content fits into that and who will do what. There also needs to be legit measurement against actual business goals, not just a laundry list of “likes” and “retweets.” If your potential vendor glazes over when you ask about those, run away.
  2. Check references. Did they actually accomplish anything of value for others? Not just what their web site claims, but real accomplishments that map to what you’re hoping to do as well. Can’t find those? Run away.
  3. Does what they claim sound reasonable? Anyone claiming to have more years of experience with a platform than it has actually existed would be a example of a suspect vendor.
  4. Run away from specific promises. “We’ll get you page one on Google, guaranteed!” would be an example. Another would be “get thousands of Twitter followers right away!” These things are theoretically possible, but without strategy and patience it will either be fleeting, damaging to your brand, or both.
  5. Focus on the conversation, engagement, and long-term relationships. These are the hallmarks of all the best social media campaigns. A legit social media strategist will embrace these ideas. Scammers, not so much.

Lock your doors, set the alarm, hide the kids!  Or call someone who can really help.

Have you ever been the victim of one of these scammers?

Charlottesville Restaurants Doing Well with Social Media (Part 2)

By Communications, Social Media

In December of 2010, I wrote about the casual restaurants in Charlottesville that I thought were doing a pretty good job using social media  A plethora of others have opened and joined the social web since then, and those I wrote about at that time are still going pretty strong.

I was willing to go to the web to see what other favorites were out there.



[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/DanaMarieAdams/status/188286924383989760″]


[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/gingergermani/status/188292965612011520″]


[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/saw2w/status/188289299303768064″]

What do you think people like to see restaurants post?

Nothing frustrates me (or the common social media user) more than when they face a lack of responsiveness. A while ago I asked a grocery chain for the location of their food truck. I asked via Facebook. I asked via Twitter. I wanted to know THAT DAY. (I was hungry).

A week passed and I finally got a response.

Not good enough.

If you’re going to have a presence online in a local market as a restaurant serving the people in that market and the many people just passing through, you must have someone dedicated to being present online in that space.

Every. Single. Day.

I know, it’s hard. But gee, you have people eating in your restaurant every day. You have people cooking and washing dishes and serving in your restaurant every day. So get on it. Be present, and watch your business grow.

Now, who wants some delicious pork belly?

It’s OK if You Don’t Get It

By Corporate Strategy, Social Media

Hi, it’s Erika again.

I’ll be chiming in once a week to talk about what’s happening over at my side of the office. This past week I had the opportunity to meet with two companies who are each considering a social media strategy. One is planning to expand and would like to use the social networks to create interest in the new communities. The other is a new company at that initial stage of defining their brand. In both meetings, I heard basically this:

I know people are out there on Twitter, but I’m not. I don’t get it. What are they talking about?

I’m going to say something controversial here. Wait for it . . . . .

Not EVERYONE is on Twitter. Ahhh, that felt good. Oh, and not everyone is on Facebook either. Yep, I said it and it’s true. I mean, a lot of people are. The thing is that these business owners know that their customers are using these platforms. That’s why they’re talking to us. But just because they know they’re out there doesn’t mean that they “get it”. And that’s totally ok.

A big part of what we do is educate businesses on the value of social media, what tone/content is appropriate for which platform, the most effective ways of listening and monitoring, then creating a plan (with calendar!) for publishing content.  We also help you write your social media policy because ultimately, one of your next questions will be:

If we let an employee represent the company, how do we control what they say?

That may be another post for another day, but in a nutshell, you don’t want to completely control what they say because then it wouldn’t feel authentic. The purpose of having a policy is to set parameters, but the voice should be, and sound like a real person. They should be out there on the social networks following businesses and individuals who they can tweet back and forth with. This person could be an entry level associate. If they are passionate about your company, people will hear that in their tone.

So I’m excited about both of these companies. As we move forward, I’ll share some stories about the process (with their approval, of course). Was there a paradigm shift? Do they see the benefits of social media rather than the amazing time wasting capabilities? Or did they become social media addicts? I sort of doubt it, but I am looking forward to the new start. I’ll keep you posted.