Thursday, June 9, 2016

Social Media Marketing 101: What Steampunkers Can Teach Social Media Marketers

(The following post originally published May 15, 2016 on the Janusian Gallery weblog).

Last weekend, we walked the Watch City Steampunk Festival in Waltham, MA. (Yes, as in Waltham brand watches.) In full costume:

(Photo credit Santo Wiryaman) to promote our two Steampunk-themed print-on-demand collections (here and here).

During our lunch break, we attended a lecture on "Steampunk 101." One of the presenters -- let's call her Alice -- wore a theme-appropriate dress made of fabric featuring an interesting oversized pocket watch pattern. But what fascinated me even more was when she said that she couldn't purchase steampunk costumes with her 21st century mindset. Instead, when she went shopping for such outfits, she focused what "Elizabeth", her steampunk character, might like and wear.

Does this tactic sound at all familiar? It might if you use personae to help you plan and execute your social marketing plans. Fundamentally, a persona is an archetype of your target audience. Personae are tools to help software developers and marketers see things from the perspective of the customer and end user. Personae are useful, because many people are predisposed to think that the most intelligent, reasonable people in the world are those who are most like themselves. Personae help designers and marketers "get out of themselves" and see the world from a different and broader perspective.

Here, Alice understood that she and "Elizabeth" had different needs and desires, that they lived in different worlds. She didn't let her own preferences dictate what was best for "Elizabeth." While Alice may not have selected the "pocket watch dress" for herself, it was entirely appropriate for "Elizabeth."

As marketers, we sometimes talk to our audiences the way we want to be spoken to ourselves. But that's not always what our prospective customers want or need. For example, if the target audience for one of my products is of a different gender, generation, and socio-economic background than me, I'm not going to try and engage him the same way I would someone my own age, gender, and background. So I create a persona for "Connor" (or adopt a persona used earlier by the original designer/developer) and add enough details that I feel I know him. Among other things, I include his job, the neighborhood he lives in, the types of activities he enjoys, his family and friends, his spending habits, and his use of technology /social media. I find a photograph of someone who I think "Connor" would look like. As I draft my marketing plan, I think about whether this is something that would resonate with "Connor" and any other personae for the product. I think about how to attract his attention and get him to take action on what I write. Moreover, I try to figure out not only how to make him a customer, but also get him to like my product so much that he taps into his circle of influence and evangelizes on my behalf.

While the use of personae is not a guarantee of marketing success, it is a useful addition to the savvy social media marketer's toolbox. And while we were ultimately more successful at the Steampunk Festival at being photographed than selling our products, Alice's comments helped remind me what I should be "watching" out for as I promote my products.


Lynne Guimond Sabean is co-founder of Janusian Gallery. She first began using personae in the early 2000s, while working for an Irish software company. E-mail her at janusiangallery@gmail.com

Social Marketing 101: Effective Marketing with Personae, Part 1

(The following post originally published February 21, 2016 on Janusian Gallery's weblog.)

The concept of personae (archetypal users of a particular product or service) is familiar to anyone who has been involved in software development at any time during the past 30-35 years or so. However, the usefulness of personae extends far past simply making computers more properly serve humans.

As a designer of print-on-demand products, I use personae to help me select which stores to open, which collections to make, which products to create, and how to better market the products I create. This article -- first in a series on the use of personae -- explains the history of personae and provides some examples. Future installments in this series will describe in greater detail how personae can be used effectively to create and sell better products/services and why the use of personae is so much more than just "making pretend."

 

But First, a Short History

The earliest reported use of personas as a software design tool dates back to the early 1980s and is credited to Alan Cooper of Cooper, a leading design consultancy. At that time, Cooper was writing a project management program. As part of the development process, he imagined himself as a typical user interacting with the program. Cooper found that wht we would call "play-acting" allowed him to prioritize user requirements and decide what was necessary to include in the program. Later, as a consultant, he incorporated the idea of personae into all his company's projects. While some encouraged him to keep the concept of personae a secret, he knew it would be inevitable that others would discover the technique. He disclosed what he knew about personae in a book he published in 1998, reportedly so that he could contribute meaningfully to an industry about which he was passionate. (Source.)

Today, the Cooper website serves as an example of not only technological excellence, but also marketing superiority. Its web site is crisp and written in an understandable, consistent manner. Graphics are used in a spare, meaningful manner, not just as "eye candy." Its weblog is seamlessly integrated into its web site. Blog entries are seemingly made only when there is something important to say, rather than daily/weekly. (Take that, social media pundits who insist that daily/hourly updates are the only way to go.) Rather than asking questions at the end of each entry, Cooper merely includes a comments section and states that it's trying to "advance the conversation." (Take that again, social media mavens who seem to think that readers won't "engage" unless prodded with an obvious prompt question.) The company's e-mail addresses are engaging and casual ("hello@", etc.) It is clear that Cooper values and respects its customers. And importantly, more than 30 years after first using personae, the company still evangelizes about them. Long after marketers realize that consumers don't want companies to be their friends any more than teenagers want their parents to be their "besties", savvy creatives will continue to use personae to design, market, and sell products.

 

Analysis of a Persona

At its essence, using a persona is the process getting out of your own preconceptions, so that you avoid the trap of creating and marketing products only to someone just like you. You put yourself in someone else's shoes and learn / discover what motivates them. And the more you know about that someone else, the easier this is to do. For example, which of the following fact patterns do you think would be more useful in helping you design a new refrigerator?

PERSONA #1

SUZIE HOMEMAKER. DOB: 1/25/1986. M. HH income: $110K/yr. 1 car. New England.

PERSONA #2

ELIZABETH LOUISE BARRETT . Elizabeth is a 30-year old mother of three active young boys. She lives with her husband Steven in a Georgian colonial in Fairfield, Connecticut. She and Steven met in graduate school and both have significant outstanding student debt. Both come from large families and love to entertain friends and loved ones at home when they have the opportunity. While in college, Elizabeth hurt herself playing women's rugby and has lingering back pain making it difficult for her to bend down. The family is living off Stephen's income until the boys are old enough to go to school, at which time Elizabeth plants to re-enter the work force. Steven works long hours and leaves all the household purchasing decisions (including appliance purchases) to Elizabeth. Elizabeth studied nutrition in school and prides herself on creating nourishing meals. She buys groceries every few days, selecting only the freshest organic produce. She dreams of totally redoing her small kitchen (perhaps opening up the entire first floor), but knows that current finances won't allow it. So she creates several Pinterest boards with her ideas and reads every article she can find on Houzz about kitchens. Her old refrigerator is on its last legs and she knows they'll have to buy a new one soon. Because she's already done her homework, she has a very good idea of what she wants and won't compromise when it comes to feeding her family.

 

Persona #2 is far more useful and not just because it's longer. First, the name of the fictional user is more realistic. Her backstory is also comprehensive enough that the designer should know that "Elizabeth" likely won't buy a refrigerator with a bottom freezer (due to her bad back.) She is a knowledgeable buyer who loves kitchen design (as evidenced by her use of Pinterest and Houzz), so a low-quality, ugly refrigerator isn't going to cut it, even though she's on a budget. We also know that "Elizabeth" would probably love an advanced crisper (to keep the veggies she buys every few days farm-fresh.) Because they entertain often, a design that holds large serving platters and pans is a plus. And because Elizabeth's three young sons will become three ravenous teenage boys within the life of the refrigerator, the design should be rugged and spacious. During the design and marketing process, it's much easier to imagine what "Elizabeth" might think about a suggested feature or price point. By thinking about the needs of a fictious person, companies can better understand what real people need.


Personae help designers and marketers figure out why someone would want to buy/use a particular product or service. But as with real-life customers, personae can have different, sometimes conflicting needs. For instance, consider these other potential refrigerator buyers:

PERSONA #3

JUSTIN ALEXANDER CONROY. Justin is single and in his late 20s. He works in the high-tech industry and makes $75K a year. He lives on the third floor of a historic brownstone with an elevator, narrow stairs, and obsolete wiring. He doesn't like to cook: never learned how and doesn't want to learn now. He eats most meals at trendy restaurants that he selects more for the atmosphere than the food. He never brings the extras home. Justin goes to the gym four or five times a week, usally after work and before dinner. He keeps 3-4 frozen dinners in the freezer, in case he's too tired to go out. Most of them have freezer burn, but he hasn't noticed yet. When he grocery shops, Justin never uses a list and mostly buys items like cheese, crackers, and grapes to serve with the wines he started collecting a few years ago. He also keeps a few breakfast items in the place, just in case he has an unexpected overnight visitor.

PERSONA #4

MARVIN AND PHYLLIS WHITTAKER. Marvin and Phyllis are both in their mid-60s and have been relatively happiliy married for more than 40 years. Even though they never had children, Phyllis never worked outside the home. They bought their first refrigerator together as newlyweds and two more after that. They are snowbirds and spend November through mid-April at their condominium in Florida. Marvin is a "gadgets" kind of guy and surprisingly tech-savvy. Many of the features in their home can be controlled by his smartphone. Phyllis, on the other hand is technology-adverse and likes things "simple." She doesn't like having to ask Marvin to turn on the hall lights with his computer. She also thinks things were made much better 20-30 years ago and prefers to fix things than replace them.

Clearly, the needs and wants of these individuals differ, even though they'll all be in the market soon for a new refrigerator. So how does a smart marketer reconcile and leverage this understanding of his or her target consumers? Stop again soon and find out....

- Lynne Guimond Sabean


Personae photos provided under a Creative Commons license by Pixabay.

Social Media Marketing 101: Developing a Google+ Presence

(The following post originally published January 25, 2016 on Janusian Gallery's weblog.)

We have a confession to make: when we began our pre-launch activities for Janusian Gallery, we intentionally overlooked Google+ as a social network into which we should invest our energies. There were many reasons for this. First, we saw Google+ as little more than a failing Facebook rival. Next, our owners had thriving Facebook presences and their Facebook friends weren't on Google+. Third, we were building our web site, this blog, and several print-on-demand stores at the same time, with no employees or other assistance. And finally, we were trying to establish Janusian Gallery on several social networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, Tumblr, YouTube, etc.

While we kept Google+ on our radar, we just keep pushing it further down the list. Although we read some articles including Google + in the "Big 4" social networks, we noted that a significant percentage of the people ranking them there were either affiliated with Google or had some other good reason to keep Google happy. We also hated how Google made us create a Google+ profile to post our YouTube videos.




We recently started paying attention to our Google+ profile, for many reasons. Our web site is relatively complete. We've been blogging here for months. Our Zazzle stores are gaining traction. We have so many active social network presences that we started using content management software to schedule our posts and post them simultaneously to multiple places. But the main reason we wanted to become active is that we read that Google ranks Google+ posts high in its own search engine results and we wanted to find out for ourselves whether this was true.

Below is a visual tour of our current Google+ presence, to show you how intuitive the interface is and how easy it is to establish a strong online presence there.

HOME / ABOUT

 




POSTS

 

This feature should look familiar to anyone who posts Facebook status updates.




COLLECTIONS

Although Google+ lets you create collections on just about any topic that strikes your fancy, we elected to create collections for each of our Zazzle stores. In doing so, we're using this feature in a very similar way to our "showcase pages" on LinkedIn.

 


Once you publish a post, you can move it to one or more collections:


And here's what it looks like once the post is displayed within a collection. Collections can be customized with your choice of color scheme and photo, which helps reinforce your brand.




PHOTOS

 

Having "eye candy" helps us sell our print-on-demand products, so we love being able to feature our designs here. Note that each image includes a link to the corresponding Zazzle page. This particularly helps us on Pinterest, Instagram, and Flickr.




VIDEOS

 

We love how easy Google+ makes it for visitors to find and play our YouTube videos.




REVIEWS AND COMMUNITIES

 

There's also a default section on our Google+ page for reviews. We haven't received any (yet), which is why we didn't include a screenshot. Google+ also encourages its users to engage with each other via Communities. Like Collections, this is a relatively new feature.




THE BOTTOM LINE: After nearly abandoning Google+ as a failed Facebook rival, Google has resuscitated it with new functionality intended to distinguish it from Zuckerberg et al. While several social media pundits were quick to diss Google+ prior to these additions, some of them just may be underestimating Google. Social networks like Facebook are attempting to "throttle" organic content, in order to make money off paid advertising. However, this paid content still has to make it through the search engine algorithms in order to be found by their intended audience. And guess who owns arguably the premier search engine? While it remains to be seen whether our own organic content fares better when posted to Google +, it doesn't hurt to try. Content management apps like Hootsuite make it easy for us to post content to Facebook and Google+ at the same time.



Are you paying attention to your Google+ pages? If so, how do they play a part in your social media marketing campaigns? What do you think about Google+'s recent enhancements? Will Google+ ever poses a serious threat to Facebook?Send us an e-mail or leave a comment below.

- Lynne Guimond Sabean

Social Media Marketing 101: Leveraging LinkedIn for B2B and B2C Marketing Success

(The following post originally published on Janusian Gallery's weblog.)

Earlier this week, I spoke with an otherwise knowledgeable woman about the social network LinkedIn. She wrinkled her nose and said, "You know, I looked at that site because you mentioned it before, but I just don't get it. It looks like little more than a bunch of resum├ęs and I honestly don't see what use it has... besides using people you might know to get a job."

Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you happen to be this person's competitor), this misconception is not all that uncommon. Today, LinkedIn, which reportedly launched a year before Facebook in the early 2000s, is far more than just one of the respective elders of the professional networking online community. It is currently a valuable medium through which you can promote your company and its products/services to an affluent, highly-desirable market of key decision makers. You can use LinkedIn to effectively generate leads, build your personal and corporate brand, and grow your revenue. LinkedIn is also a great source of competitive intelligence: odds are, your rivals are leveraging it to target your prospects as you read this. Reporters also actively use LinkedIn to find story ideas and contacts.

Many companies encourage their staffs to have an active presence on LinkedIn and create LinkedIn "connections" with each other. If your organization has a LinkedIn company page, are your employees following it? (Note that companies have "followers", rather than "connections". This distinction appears to reflect the difference in the types of online business relationships which may be formed on LinkedIn.) This article assumes that your LinkedIn personal profile accurately represents your professional status and will instead focus on helping you make the most of your company page. Even so, a fair amount of the suggestions below can also apply to personal profiles.

LinkedIn is generally more formal and professional than other social media sites, so you'll need to approach marketing there differently. (For instance, the hard sell that you may see on Twitter and other networks is particularly frowned upon.) There are two ways to promote your company on LinkedIn: passive marketing and active marketing. Passive marketing is a more "organic" approach: you post relevant content as you create your company page and hope someone sees the value in it. You wait for followers, rather than seeking them out. You let the market reward you for your content... if they can find it. Passive marketing is like dropping a leaf into a river and letting the current take the leaf wherever the water goes.

Passive marketing is becoming less effective over time, as companies become more knowledgeable about social media. LinkedIn also seems to be experiencing many of the same "problems" as Facebook and other social media, where viewership of non-promoted content is significantly down. This decline is great for the social networks themselves, who can make (a lot of) money by offering paid "premium" services. But this downward trend also makes things exponentially more difficult for the small company working on a shoestring (or non-existent) promotional budget.

Active marketing, on the other hand, is more like navigating that same river in a canoe: you get to decide where to steer the boat (although there are no guarantees on how far you'll get or how smooth the trip will be). Examples of "active" LinkedIn marketing include posting relevant status updates, participating meaningfully in LinkedIn groups (or creating one of your own), and publishing articles of interest to your followers. You can also pay to have your posts and updates distributed to a wider audience.

If your staffing resources allow it, consider further expanding your LinkedIn presence. LinkedIn also allows you to have "showcase pages," which are child pages to your company page. Showcase pages, as their name suggests, allow you to showcase different aspects of your business and develop focused content that is geared to a narrower audience. Like company pages, LinkedIn showcase pages can also be "followed".

Your company page should have the same look and feel as your company web site and presence on other social networks. Pay attention to your visuals (including your page banners, logos, and status update graphics). All should be high-quality, relevant, and attention getting. Reasonable minds differ as to how "regularly" to update your LinkedIn status. While some sources recommend posting updates at least once a day, the type of business you operate, the size of your staff, and your target audience may ultimately require a different frequency. There is a general consensus, however, that company pages which haven't been updated in months reflect poorly on the organizations managing them. If you commit to updating your company page, be sure to do it on a consistent, ongoing basis. Also, consider developing certain content exclusively for your LinkedIn audience. Write with an eye to creating conversation, engagement, and conversions. (After all, the whole point is to have someone do something after reading your content).

You can also use your LinkedIn company page to promote your organization's trade shows, seminars, conferences, webinars, launch parties, special events, and more. Be sure to include a logo and link to the event site. Build excitement through your status updates. Send direct messages to your target audience through LinkedIn. Develop a list from the e-mail addresses listed on your connections' LinkedIn profile pages and let them know what's going on. Publish updates to your followers and contacts as additional information becomes available.


THE BOTTOM LINE: LinkedIn is the gold standard for professional networking sites. It has matured into a venue through which serious B2B and B2C commerce can be conducted. Clever marketers can continue to leverage its free features and strategically use LinkedIn's paid features to reach their target audiences with razor-sharp precision. Also, LinkedIn company pages have been known to rank high in Google search engine results, helping your prospects find you. Your well-maintained LinkedIn company page can extend your branding program and favorably distinguish your company from its competitors.

- Lynne Guimond Sabean


Does your company have a LinkedIn company page? We'd like to hear about it.

Is a Social Media Marketing Backlash Inevitable?

(The following post originally published January 13, 2016 on Janusian Gallery's weblog)

Years ago, child psychologists advised parents to treat their children as friends and peers. The children then grew up and told the parents: "I already HAD friends, I didn't need you to be one. I really just needed you to be my mom and dad." There are already signs that online audiences are having analogous feelings about the companies with which they interact: they want business organizations and executives to assume their dutiful roles and competently perform the tasks entrusted to them.

Years ago, a well-intentioned PR team decided to give its company's brilliant but stoic president a "makeover", one which in retrospect was probably more suitable for the lead singer of a rock band than for an IT executive. The intent was to make the president more "approachable" to young computer developers. Turns out that both the company's customers and its Board of Directors felt more comfortable with a level-headed, predictable, "solid" person running the company from which they were buying product and services, not a guitar god. The fallout, as you might expect, was rather ugly.

Likewise, your customers already have personal friends; they don't need you to be their online "bestie". Don't get me wrong: there's a lot of good to be said about social media marketing. It's largely fixed what was once one of the biggest flaws about doing business online: the then-inability to cultivate the intimacy of face-to-face interaction. However, there's a danger of the pendulum swinging too far in the other direction: do you really need to see real-time video of your lawyer's niece's First Communion or the photo of your dentist's breakfast cereal (that he later turned into what he thought was a clever meme)?

Some of this unfiltered social media content is bred from the trial-and-error process of embracing new technology. And it's nothing new. When people put up their first web pages back in the early- to mid-1990s, nothing was too mundane for publication. Even the most trivial statements seemed revelatory and vital when posted to the "Information Superhighway." But eventually the online user community decided for itself which content was most valuable to it. The same should happen -- and is already happening -- as people become increasingly exposed to social media content.

As social media marketing continues to mature, the pendulum may correct itself and swing back closer to the middle again. Companies will still actively engage audiences online. However, they will do so in a more refined and sophisticated way. In other words, executives and companies will act like business professionals again, not teenage "guitar gods." And when/if this pendulum swing happens, content descriptors like "thoughtful" and "measured" may become compliments again.

- Lynne Guimond Sabean

What is ***your*** vision of the future of social media marketing? Leave us a message below.

Social Media Marketing 101: Snapchat for Business: Sell Your Stuff Without Showing Your Junk

(This article originally published January 7, 2016 on Janusian Gallery's weblog.)

Snapchat is a popular free social media application that allows users to send public and private photos, video, and messages from smartphones. It is an irreverent app facilitating "instant expression" and, up until recently, has been used primarily for casual and very personal purposes. Snapchat content "self-destructs" within seconds after viewing, unless the viewer takes a screenshot of it within that very short window. The videos and images can be embellished with filters and doodles.

Snapchat is wildly popular with teens and young adults. This, of course, has piqued the interest of marketers wanting to reach this demographic. Unlike other social media, however, Snapchat has a checkered background: the temporary nature of the photos and videos facilitate "sexting". (The application started to clean up its image when it released Snapchat "stories": snaps that can be broadcast to followers and viewed an unlimited amount of times in 24 hours before they disappear.)

One reason Snapchat is so popular with young people is that the content is viewed as "authentic." For its users, Snapchat is about the "now", not a perfectly-choreographed or pre-scheduled version of things. There are no comments, no "likes". Something happens in real time and then it "disappears." Snapchat, then, expresses "identity in the moment." Also, the app can be wildly addictive: the ephemeral quality of snaps creates a sense of urgency, which drives users to create even more content.

Does Snapchat have a Legitimate Business Use?

The groundswell of Snapchat users has many marketers salivating. But before deciding how to incorporate Snapchat into your marketing programs, you should first consider whether to do so. Two key threshold questions are: "Are you targeting the under-35 crowd?" and "Is it important for your company to look cutting-edge?" If not, then Snapchat is probably not the best use of your marketing resources. If the demographics are a solid fit, however, then you should at least learn a little something about the app, even if you aren't sure if it's right for you.

Incorporating Snapchat into your marketing plan is not a decision which should be made lightly. Any corporate missteps are likely to be noticed (and punished) by users with a bloodhound's nose for "authenticity." The following is a list of some current pros and cons of using Snapchat for business. (Because things change so quickly, these may not all be significant issues by the time you discover and read this article.)

Pros:

  • Early-entrant advantage = less competition.
  • Benefit from fresh visibility and availability for new audiences.
  • Its tech-savvy audience is ready for online interaction.
  • Because posts exist until they are opened and viewed, users may pay more attention to them.

Cons:

  • App still hasn't shed its earlier reputation as the "show your junk" app.
  • Higher learning curve that other types of social medi.
  • Not many companies are using it at this time. (But this is changing daily.)
  • It is harder / more time-consuming to create meaningful content. (The mechanics of this are beyond the scope of this article.) You likely won't be able to repurpose your content from other social media.
  • The ephemeral nature of snaps / stories / messages means that you have to be diligent about posting and responding to posts.
  • It is harder for your company to get discovered on Snapchat than on other media. (It's more word-of-mouth.) Most companies aren't prepared to post their Snapchat address on their corporate letterhead just yet.
  • Google doesn't index Snapchat content, so frequent posting won't affect your search engine ranking. You also won't be able to use Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of your Snapchat campaigns.
  • Recipients can't share your posts with others. If you're looking for your content to "go viral", other social media apps are better suited to faciliate this.


The Bottom Line:

Social media (and social media marketing, by extension) continue to evolve in response to the trends and interest of their users. Smart companies understand this and keep one eye on the future. An informed decision not to employ Snapchat for business purposes is much better than simply dismissing the app before adequately investigating its worth as a marketing and communications tool. The app has enough traction and eyeballs that it should not be ignored, even if you have no short-term plans for its use in your marketing mix. When (and if) to use Snapchat to market your business is not a "one-size-fits-all" decision. Instead, it should be made after careful evaluation of your unique target demographic, business plans, and marketing resources.

- Lynne Guimond Sabean

Are you using Snapchat for business purposes? Leave us a comment below.

Social Media Marketing 101: How to Use Facebook Like a Grownup

(or "Developing an Effective Online Business Persona")

(This article originally published December 19, 2015 on Janusian Gallery's weblog.)

Just how important is it to keep your professional and personal profiles separate online? Should you (or ***must***you) revise your personal profile on Facebook to make it match your professional one on LinkedIn? I've been thinking a lot about these and other questions recently. While I have no definitive answers,* here's what I think after reviewing a number of personal Facebook profiles of people I respect both personally and professionally.

Everyone has a personal brand (regardless of whether they wanted or intended to create one).
So spend some time thinking about what kind of online personal reputation you want to have and whether that reputation is at odds with your professional persona. While clients understand that the professionals with whom they interact have lives and interests outside the office, you still want to come across to them as someone who is reliable, trustworthy, and competent. (And don't underestimate how many people Google their associates, vendors, employees, potential hires, and clients!)

If you take only one thing away from this article, it should be this: stop what you're doing right now and immediately categorize all your Facebook contacts into lists. Take all your acquaintances, clients, and pure business associates and put them into a pure "restricted" category. Anyone who is not in your new this restricted category is a full Facebook "friend" by default.

Next, review your past posts for anything that discusses sex, politics, religion, or drugs, as well as anything that might embarrass your professionally or is purely very personal. Change the settings to those posts to "friends" or "friends, except restricted" as well. Anyone in the "restricted" category can no longer see those posts. (Alternatively, you could delete the posts: I "prune" my Facebook posts regularly.)

After that, adjust the settings for all future posts to "friends" or "friends, except restricted." If you want a particular future posts to include your entire Facebook network, you can manually adjust the new post distribution accordingly. Otherwise, your new posts will have a more narrow , "safer" distribution.


Write a description of how you want people to see you online.
My own list includes adjectives such as "clever", "bright", "funny, "creative", "talented", "competent", "knowledgeable", "interesting", "generous", and "caring." This list creates the framework for the personal brand I want for myself. Before I hit the "post" button, I try to think about how the post fits my description. Sometimes it doesn't, but I post it anyways. But at least I've done so intentionally.

And while we're talking about post content, you may want to consider posting more original thought and fewer memes /shares (especially if your job involves analysis, research, and/or fact-checking). Gandhi, Jesus, and Buddha likely only said a few, at most, of the statements attributed to them online. Also, check snopes.com before forwarding that "you'll never believe..." news item. (Most of them aren't true.) If you want to share a pre-existing news item, take the time to add a brief note on your share about why why you like the news item or why your friends would be interested in it. Remember, you're a thought leader, not a follower.

Also, we don't really need to see your "fun test" results: all it tells us is that you give away your personally-identifiable information and/or e-mail address to any app that asks for it. If your job involves the prudent exercise of discretion, this indiscriminate sharing could work against you.


Your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles do NOT have to be "matchy-matchy".
This is a controversial position. But I give people enought credit to know that I don't wear a skirt suit to garden, volunteer, camp, or attend a baseball game. (Go, Giants!) Even though Facebook is attempting to close the gap between personal and professional personae by putting more emphasis on their members' present and past jobs, most people still use LinkedIn as their professional social network and Facebook as their personal one. I enjoy seeing on Facebook pictures of lawyers hiking and artists at black-tie dinners. Activities and events that may not be appropriate to post as LinkedIn updates are perfect for Facebook and make great conversation starters the next time I see someone. The two sites can and should be different.


And on a similar note, respect the differences between various types of social networks.
Not every LinkedIn update is appropriate for Facebook, just as every Twitter tweet isn't appropriate for LinkedIn. Don' t tie your multiple social network accounts together. (While some prominent social media marketers advise otherwise, let common sense and "the sniff test" be your guide.) Learn the appropriate posting frequency and content type for each network and observe the local culture. Every friend or follower decided to "friend" or "follow" you for a reason. Respect that decision and make it worth their while to continue their online relationship with you.


Finally, your "friends" are your friends, not your sales prospects.
(Especially if you organized your Facebook contacts the way we discussed earlier.) Several hard-core marketers will vehemently disagree with me on this, but here's why they're wrong. Imagine sitting across the table at dinner with one of your good friends. She is telling you about her family and other things important to her. When it's your turn to talk, you say something like this: "Sorry about your dead grandmother. Do you have enough life insurance to protect your family in case it's something genetic?" Every time your friend tries to change the subject, you start the sales pitch again. You're not engaged in a conversation at this point: all you're doing is hard-selling.

This is exactly what you do when you use your Facebook personal page as a business page. If you have a business, create a business page on Facebook and promote your offerings there. Or broadly promote your business expertise on any of a number of other social networks designed for business, including LinkedIn. There's nothing wrong with occasionally sharing your business posts to your personal Facebook page: your true friends are interested in your professional life, too. But act in a way that reminds them that you see them as more than a wallet.


What are your best tips for expressing yourself online without compromising your professional reputation? We'd love it if you shared them below.

- Lynne Guimond Sabean


* and you shouldn't believe anyone who claims to have a definitive answer on online personae, because there is no "one size fits all" solution

Social Media Marketing 101: How to Write Better Tweets

(This article originally published December 10, 2015 on Janusian Gallery's weblog.)

Twitter tweets are a great way to publish just-breaking news and information about your company and its services. Since the social network was established in 2006, Twitter's features and the way it is being used have both changed significantly. For example, mobile device use has become more ubiquitous over time, adding to Twitter's ability to immediately convey information and opinions. Yet at the same time, new tools have emerged to allow users to schedule their "spontaneous" tweets in advance. Followers have seen just about everything on Twitter and are more sensitive to obvious marketing efforts there. What your target audience continues to respond to, however, is content that encourages engagement and lively exchanges with its creator (and the greater online community). Audiences also respond to helpful information that's freely given "with no strings attached." While people may provide their e-mail address to get a "special report," they typically won't give up most information about themselves without a reasonable expectation of receiving something of far greater value in exchange for that information.

 

We know that you don't have all day to spend on your social media programs and that your main focus is properly on the products and services you sell. So here's a list of the hard-knocks lessons we've learned so far from our own Twitter experience... with no strings attached:

Keep it personal (within limits.) Social media is all about personal relationships -- even though they may be created and nurtured online. While your followers may be sitting in front of a computer or using their mobile device to contact you, they still want to get to know you as a person, not just as a brand or sales critter. Speak to your followers the way you would a trusted friend. But at the same time, be smart about what you post online. For example, don't give out confidential client information or your own trade secrets. When in doubt, imagine yourself at dinner with a new acquaintance and your tweets are how you speak to him or her. Would you spend the entire time hard-selling? Would you share information even your best friends don't know? Let common sense be your guide.

Strike the right balance of content. You'll want to mix it up: some links to articles you wrote yourself that your followers will find useful and/or interesting, some retweets of other people's content you think your followers will find useful and/or interesting, some original soundbytes your followers will find useful and/or interesting... notice a recurring theme? While it's alright to occasionally use Twitter to sell your products and services, don't overwhelm your audience with a never-ending series of tweets that are nothing more than links to your product page. At best, you'll annoy your followers; at worst, you'll lose hard-earned followers. (We learned this the hard way on Black Friday.) Even if your followers stay, they'll learn to ignore your relentless sales pitches as nothing more than white noise.

Retweet the right way. Don't just mindlessly republish to your followers: try to add a brief reason of ***why*** you think the retweet contains valuable information to your followers. This establishes you as a thought leader and an authority, not just an information "middle man" or "traffic cop". (We're guilty ourselves of quick retweets from time to time, when its either that or no tweet at all. But we try to add valuable context wherever possible.)

Be nice and polite (at least most of the time). We try to always thank new followers in a tweet referencing them by Twitter handle / username. We do this for many reasons. First, out of all the millions and millions of possible people and organizations to follow, they chose us. We're flattered and grateful and we don't take it for granted that they'll always follow us. Second, it lets our other followers know we're growing and introduces them to a business that ***they*** may want to follow, too. And finally, the "thank you" tweet shows up on their Twitter feed and introduces THEIR followers to ***us***. A high percentage of our new followers appreciate our "thank you" tweets and like and/or favorite the message. This means more exposure for everyone. When is it time to put away the white gloves? When someone is engaging in clearly libelous activity or cyberbullying. Stand up for yourself, but know when to let it go. As the old saying goes, "Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon - no matter how good you are, the pigeon will still crap all over the board and strut around like it won anyway."

Don’t link all your social media accounts together. Many social media marketers will likely disagree with our position on this, but we're still digging in our heels. While some people like the convenience of sending out information once and having it show up across their Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts at the same time, we think it's lazy (and that it shows, kind of like sending out a pre-printed Christmas card without adding a hand-written personalized message inside.) What might be the perfect posting frequency on Twitter may look unprofessional or "crazy stalker" to your LinkedIn followers. Plus, each social network has its own personality and community: there is no one-size-fits-all solution. If someone took the time to follow you on Twitter, make it worth their while to continue to do so.

Be smart about who you follow. Unlike some others, we don't think we necessarily have to follow everyone who follows us. If someone "unfollows" you simply because you won't follow them back, they were never following you for the right reason to begin with. The tweets of everyone you follow will show up in your own feed, which could make it harder for you to locate and use the valuable content. Don't make it any harder on yourself than it has to be. We follow people and organizations because they intrigue us and help us further our mission. And we especially love people who favorite and retweet our content: we blow them lots of online hugs and kisses.

You do NOT have to tweet non-stop. Some marketers will tell you that you only have 2, 5, 10 or 20 minutes to capture someone's attention and that after that time, the tweet is useless. While that may be true for riding the "trending" wave, it's not always an accurate conclusion. For example, when I look at someone's tweets before deciding whether to follow them, I go back 6 or 8 months to ensure their tweets won't "junk up" my feed. Several times, I've found valuable articles and advice there. Never underestimate the long-lasting value of your tweets.

Use the "delete tweet" function to clean up your tweet chronology. Again, this is advice that many marketers would disagree with. However, there are many reasons to edit your tweets ruthlessly. For example, if you discontinue a product, there's no need to keep tweets regarding it. Or if your company has changed positions on something, delete the earlier-inconsistent tweets: it's just confusing to everyone. Hire/promotion tweets about someone who later left your company are other good candidates for deletion. It's a good idea to review your tweet chronology by reading it start to finish the way a new follower would. Do your postings send out the right message? Are your tweets laden with typos? While you can't edit tweets, you can always delete the misspelled entries (and repost them with everything spelled correctly, if the tweet is still relevant.) We also perform "revisionist history" across all our social network accounts (like Facebook and Instagram) for these same reasons.

Understand that it's impossible to please everyone. Never compromise yourself or your company trying to assuage the feelings of a few disgruntled followers. Again, this is like playing chess with the chicken. And when you think about it, do ***you*** agree with everything you read online?


 

What lessons have you learned from being on Twitter? Please share your experiences below. We'd also love it if you followed Janusian Gallery on Twitter at @janusiangallery.

 


Lynne Guimond Sabean has more than 20 years experience marketing a variety of products and services for companies of all sizes. She is co-founder of Think Janusian (www.thinkjanusian.com), which offers social media marketing services to artists and other businesses.


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Social Media Marketing 101: Introduction and a History of Internet Marketing

(This article originally published December 3, 2015 on the Janusian Gallery weblog.)

Most articles today on social media marketing make broad pronouncements that it's not a question of whether to use social media, but rather to what degree. The trouble with this stance is that while social media marketing is past its infancy, it's still not as familiar to most companies as is the traditional marketing models they've been using for years. You may have jumped onto the social media bandwagon so as not to be left in the dust. You may generally understand that social media is about putting a personal spin on your marketing messages and providing information that your clients and prospects may find useful. But you may not be sure how to proceed.

You probably already know that in order to put together an effective social media program, you should have more than just a vague concept of how social media works. And you recognize that you'll probably want to have more than have a basic understanding on why social media marketing is appropriate for your kind of business. The best social media programs are, interestingly enough, put together in a very similar process to traditional marketing and promotional programs, even though the tools and messages may be different. More specifically, great programs -- no matter how they are executed -- involve:

  • a good degree of self-knowledge about the company / product/ service being promoted
  • specific marketing goals (for example, a certain number of sales, getting the word out on a new product, branching out into a new geographic area, recruiting employees or affiliates, announcing an award or other recognition). Always have a reason to reach out.
  • clear and accurate messages supporting those goals
  • understanding which advertising and promotional tools will help get those messages out
  • tailoring messages (and the tone in which they're delivered) for the media used
  • measuring the results of promotional efforts
  • understanding that these efforts build upon each other and may not always achieve immediate results, and
  • willingness and ability to change plans as circumstances make it wise to do so.

 


 

A Brief History of Internet Marketing, From Personal Experience

To assemble an effective social media plan, it's helpful to know understand the evolution of Internet marketing as a whole and get a feel for how social media marketing took on such prominence over time. In the mid 1990s, I began promoting products and services on the World Wide Web for an international trade magazine publishing company. At that time, the Internet was still being used primarily by academics for research purposes. To this very day, I distinctly remember being lambasted one day by the editor of one magazine for, among other things, "tarnishing the magazine's brand" and single-handedly "bastardizing the Web." I was told that the Internet would never be accepted by the educated and sophisticated people using the World Wide Web and to go back to "real marketing."

I didn't stop internet advertising, of course, and that editor's elitist and ultimately incorrect short-sightedness still amazes me to this day. I also changed companies shortly afterwards and began working for a "web presence developer" run by far more visionary people. There, we developed very basic first-generation web sites for forward-thinking companies who knew they should be on the Internet, but didn't know where to start.

Over time, more and more companies joined the Internet bandwagon, with various degrees of success. To be heard over the "monkey chatter," advertising messages became louder and more forceful. As you might expect, this heavy-handed approach turned off many of the intended recipients of those messages, who learned to tune them out. Smart Internet marketers learned that the messages most likely to he heard were those which were delivered in a personalized tone and which provided useful information (not just a call to action.) Enter social media marketing and "content marketing".

While some social media marketers pat themselves on the back for "inventing" social media marketing, the idea of reaching customers in a personal way is nothing new. Consider, for example, Bob Ross, the billowy-haired, soft-spoken "Happy Painter" whose PBS episodes are being discovered and enjoyed today by new generations of audiences on Netflix. According to various sources, Mr. Ross apparently participated in the show for free, in order to reach people who might be good prospects for his line of products for artists. It was a great idea in the perfect incubator: PBS has very strict guidelines on how companies may present themselves on the station.

So for decades, smart businesses have been offering useful information to clients and prospective customers, for the purpose of establishing the company as a trustworthy thought leader. This means that social media marketing really isn't a radical departure from what you've already been doing and that you likely already have a good foundation upon which to base a social media program. While there is a learning curve, it's definitely manageable.

The next installment of this series will address social media vehicles you're probably already using - such as LinkedIn and Facebook - and offer tips on how you can use social media more effectively to promote your products and services. And even while social media marketing is about the personal spin, we'll also discuss how to keep your public and private online personas separate.


Lynne Guimond Sabean has more than 20 years experience marketing a variety of products and services for companies of all sizes. She is co-founder of Think Janusian (www.thinkjanusian.com), which offers social media marketing services to artists and other businesses.


Like this article? We'd love it if you shared or bookmarked it. And to make sure you don't miss an installment of the "Social Media Marketing 101" series, please consider adding this weblog to your RSS feed.