Image: Adam Katz Sinding/Le 2ieme
Have you seen the latest round of articles decrying tech neck? This is the 21st century affliction whereby spending too much time looking down at your phone and scrolling through your social media feeds supposedly leads to premature neck wrinkling.
As an avid reader, I’m up in arms.
My neck wrinkles are hard-earned, after decades spent devouring a book every week or two. Not to mention all the newspapers and magazines I read. And while I have tried to suspend my reading material from the ceiling (not), it does make page-turning onerous.
Seriously, isn’t it time we stop looking down on social media?
Yes, social media can be a bad thing. It can be alienating. It can give cowards and bullies a safe harbour from which to throw stones….and goodness knows it can eat up hours that could be devoted to more productive and active pursuits.
But as someone who spends a lot of time on social media, for personal and professional reasons, I think it’s time to stand up and declare, “Social media ain’t so bad!”
Chances are if you’re reading this, you saw the link on Facebook or Twitter. In that case, I’m preaching to the converted. My favourite kind of audience.
I know people who remain resolute and proud that they aren’t on social media. Really?!? In this day and age? Today, social media is not just about keeping up with your friends and the Kardashians. It’s not just the new watercooler, it’s the new connector, the new advertiser, and the new town square. It’s the place to learn about everything that’s going on in your community and in the world.
Speaking of friends, I have made many via social media. We all know about re-connecting with olds buds, but I’ve met new people, and become friends with them, as a result of social media. We actually get together in the real world and have coffee and stuff. One such friendship has led to numerous business opportunities. I know others who started out as strangers following each other on Instagram, then met, and said “hey, I like your feed,” and now they run a business together. True story.
Social Media connects me to my community, my city and my world. I get a lot of my news by learning about on it first from social media. (Twitter.) I get caught up on the latest pet videos on Facebook – best mood booster! And I keep tabs on what’s new in the world of fashion, design, food and travel. (Instagram.) It also keeps me in the loop about local events, ones I may not hear about otherwise. Gallery openings, Improv shows, interesting seminars and classes, you name it.
Social media has also encouraged me to give back. Send me an email requesting money and chances are, it will end up in my junk folder. Snail mail? Hello recycling bin. But when I scroll by something like this on social, I often stop to take a look. I’ve donated to charities and relief organizations running large-scale campaigns; to pet owners and people who desperately need money for treatments and surgeries; to friends and acquaintances who are crowd-sourcing various projects. (Not an invitation to hit me up for cash.)
I admit I have wasted buckets of time on social. Funny pet videos, ridiculous quizzes and Buzz Feed’s Tasty videos are my weakness. But I also use it to save time and money. I’ve booked an AirBnb because I saw a friend advertise it on Facebook. The hotel would have cost me way more. I learn about discounts, sales and special offers for my favourite brands and stores. And of course, we’ve all seen people hawk stuff on FB too. Speaking of which, does anyone want to buy a pair of brown suede booties, size 7? #Impulsebuy.
Does social media have its negatives? Most assuredly. But as with any tool – a hammer, a plow, a pen – its benefit is all in how you use it. If you’re not on social media, I fear you are missing out.
This post was first published on #mybackyard.
Are you feeling that seven-year career itch? Or maybe it’s hitting you after just three or four years? I’ve done it a couple times, leaving established, well-paying jobs to start something new. I know firsthand how difficult, stressful and anxiety-inducing it can be, especially when you’re not exactly sure what comes next.
During my last system upgrade, I spent about six months waking up with 3am panic attacks, wondering what would become of me. Eventually I realized that just thinking about next steps wasn’t helping. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When in doubt, or even when in stasis, my number one piece of advice istry something different. I stopped analyzing and started doing.
Take a Class
I can’t express how life-changing it was enrolling in some UBC Continuing Education classes. It felt cathartic to be out of the house, meeting new people and exercising my brain. Even if it’s a class in Portuguese or underwater didgeridoo, unrelated to anything you want to do, it will get you thinking in new ways. For me, it opened up a world of possibilities, if only in my mind, which is where I needed them to exist most.
Reach out to your Network
I made the mistake of reaching out before I knew exactly what I wanted to do. That led to slightly awkward coffee dates where acquaintance threw out random employment suggestions, much like mother trying to entertain a bored child. (“Why don’t you go play outside?”)
What I was hoping they’d say was, “Hey, I have this amazing job that you’ll love and be perfect for!” Didn’t happen.
It’s much more productive to reach out to your network when you have some direction. Don’t have a network? No problem. That’s what LinkedIn and friends of friends of friends are for. Most of my contracts have come from word of mouth.
Announce Your Intention
Related to the above, as any self-respecting Instagram feed will tell you, manifest your goals by speaking them aloud. (Just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean it isn’t true.) Decide what it is you want to be and start announcing it, even if you feel like a class A imposter at first. It will only ring false to you. Plus, the more you say it the more you feel an obligation to live up to it.
Harness your Past Experience
When I first started working in social media and public relations, I was dejected because I felt like I was at the bottom of the heap at the age when I should be a veteran in my field.
It took me time to believe that while I was starting out-ish, my previous experience and knowledge counted for a lot. I had 20-years of contact building, creative thinking, story-telling, project management, and writing experience. Granted, if I’d gone back to Med school I would have been back at Biology 101. But most of the time, we have a wealth knowledge and a skill-set that we are bringing to the table. Focus on this and sell the s#*t out of it.
Come Down Off Your High Horse
By the same token, you are kind of starting over. You may have been the all-mighty and powerful Oz at your previous job but the curtain has been pulled back and now, the emperor is wearing no clothes. (Maybe I need a Mastering the Metaphor class?)
I took on, and still do, some junior assignments. One, it’s work. And money is nice. And two, I learn something from every opportunity. That has become my litmus test: Will I learn something from this experience? If the answer is yes, I take it on.
Competent, hard-working people who go above and beyond their job description rise to the top. No question. (As long as they’re not jerks. Then all bets are off.) I see this with interns: those who are eager, who do their own jobs with competence and vigor and also volunteer to assume additional responsibilities, they all rise quickly.
When I take on work that seems a bit above me, I simply get up earlier, work longer and harder to figure it out. I ask questions, I research, I scour the internet for examples and tutorials.
Acknowledge your Mistakes
Every night before I fall asleep I review the day, running through the things I did well and the things I could have done better. It actually stops me from beating myself up over mistakes. I just vow not to do it again.
And when all else fails, I frequently revisit this great article about reinventing yourself by James Altucher, who is infinitely wiser than I am. And, I remember this:
“Every day you reinvent yourself. You’re always in motion. But you decide every day: forward or backward.”
This post was first published on #mybackyard.
I manage a number of social media accounts for a variety of businesses, including my own. Hands down the most important thing I've learned is to share good content. At this point, that should go without saying. And while this list is by no means exhaustive, I have learned a few tricks additional that have helped me connect with and grow audiences.
1. DO LISTEN TO YOUR AUDIENCE This is probably the most important of my dos and don’ts and it’s also the most difficult. Most of us like to talk: it can be a lot harder to listen.
The same applies to social media. It should be a two-way street. That means not just responding to questions you get on facebook, but actually keep track of what your followers and customers are interested in and what they’re talking about. And then start thinking about how you can be a part of that conversation.
LISTENING also involves tracking conversations that you aren’t even a part of, reviewing metrics regularly, keeping a sharp watch on which posts resonate, when they're most likely to be seen and which platforms are working best for your business.
2. DO SHARE CURATED CONTENT
Curated content is content that you did not create yourself, that is not about you or your business, but that you think would be of interest to your followers and customers.
Why share this stuff?
Marketers know that by adding value to the lives of their consumers via helpful or interesting content helps build relationships with them. Remember, it’s about finding, “cherry-picking” and contextualizing that content for your audience. Social media experts recommend the 80/20 rule: 80 % of your content should be CURATED and only 20% should be marketing related.
3. DO CREATE A CONTENT CALENDAR
A content calendar is a schedule of what you're posting, when and where. (I.e. which platforms.) In a perfect world, you should make a new calendar each month, taking into account upcoming events and special dates or holidays.
Do this not is just for your customers - who like to know what’s coming and when - but also for yourself. A content calendar allows you to be more organized and it gives you a framework for what you’re doing on social media.
After I decide what content I’m going to share, I like to use Hootsuite to schedule it. But of course, there are other scheduling options.
4. DO BLOG
Blogging is a way to create content for your website, allowing you to connect with your audience on a regular basis. Blogs also build up the amount of content you have on your site, turning your website into a resource for your clients.
Search engine rankings are affected by the amount and quality of content you have on your site. Finally, and most importantly, blogs drive traffic back to your website, where your audience will hopefully check out your services and other offerings.
5. DON'T OVER-POST
I think we’ve all unfollowed people or businesses that inundate us with too many posts. (See point #2) For small businesses, aim for posting on Facebook 3-5 times a week. On Instagram maybe 4-6 times a week. (And please, pretty please, don't post five versions of the same thing.) On Twitter you can and should post more frequently because of the way the feeds work - there's a good chance your tweet will be missed.
6. DON'T FORGET ABOUT PICTURES AND VIDEOS
Considering the mountain of information we’re assaulted with every day, you want to catch people’s eye. Photos and videos do a much better job of that than text alone. I’m going to go out on a limb and say 100% of your posts should have an accompanying photo or video.
Think about this: 87% of interactions on Facebook occur on photo posts. A tweet with a photo is 35% more likely to garner a retweet. Further to this…
7. DON'T POST DIRECTLY FROM INSTAGRAM TO TWITTER
With Instagram, it can be quite handy to use the share buttons and post directly to other social media sites. While Facebook will display a photo shared from Instagram, Twitter will not. It will only come up as a link to your Instagram feed. You are completely losing the benefits of having a photo attached to our tweet. Yup, it's a bit of a pain, but go directly to Twitter and repost there, with your original photo.
8. DO BOOST POSTS
Due to FB algorithms, it is becoming increasingly difficult for all your followers to see all your posts. We're all feeling that pinch. Boosting posts is a great way to increase your visibility without having to spend a lot of money. I’ve seen followers and engagement SKYROCKET after spending as little as $25 to boost a post.
(All this could explain by Facebook's share price has also skyrocketed recently, but we'll leave that for another time.)
9. DON'T FORGET ABOUT LINKEDIN
LinkedIn is still the world’s largest professional social network. And while it is popular, users tend to check it less often than both Facebook and Twitter. (Only 30% of users log on every day.) But because people and companies post fewer status updates on LinkedIn, if you post here, you'll stand out. Of course, not all content is appropriate for LinkedIn: stick to business-related content, and professional news and information.
10. DON'T IGNORE NEGATIVE COMMENTS
This brings us back to the beginning of my list - listening to your audience. If a comment is rude or inappropriate then yes, by all means ignore it or even delete it. But don't forget that social media isn't just a useful marketing tool, it's also a very important customer service tool. By addressing those negative comments, showing that you take criticism and complaints seriously, it helps build trust with your customers.
When it comes to social media for business, it's important to play the long game. It takes time to see the benefits at work, so don’t be discouraged. Social media just one of many tools that should be in your communications and marketing arsenal. But it can be a very valuable and cost-effective one.
A press release is a document that informs the media about what your company is doing.
Crafting a good press release is extremely important. It can get you free publicity, which in turn can increase brand awareness, breed goodwill among your customers, increase sales, etc.
Secondly, some news outlets, especially online ones, will post or print the press release in its entirety. So making sure that press release is eye-catching, relevant and newsworthy, not to mention “ready to publish” is key.
Here are my top tips 9 for getting that news release right.
1) Have a good story.
Journalists will want it to be a newsworthy one. Focus on that word. What is new here? Why would a news organization or a blogger want to cover this story? What makes it relevant to their readers or viewers? Some common reasons to issue a press release are to announce a company event, launch a new product or to announce a new hire.
2) Open with an eye-catching headline or title.
Journalists get inundated with press releases. Plus, they’re on a deadline, which means they don’t usually have a ton of time to kick up their feet and peruse piles of press releases. You want to catch their attention as quickly as possible with a notable title. Think headlines in the newspaper.
3) Write it like a news story.
News stories are not editorials, filled with flowery language, an abundance of adjectives or written in the first person. (First person can be used within a quote, see below.) Focus on giving the reader the facts, based on the five Ws: who, what, where, when and most importantly, tell them why should they care.
4) Don’t bury the lead.
The opening sentence or paragraph should contain the most pertinent information. In news, this is called the lead, essentially what you’re leading with. You don’t want to bury the lead – the point of the whole thing - ¾ of the way down the page. So don’t back into your story. Get right to the point.
5) Beware of sounding too promotional.
Editors are looking for newsworthy stories and they don’t want to do your advertising for you. Avoid sounding like you’re selling something. Yes, we know you actually are selling or promoting something (that’s the whole point!) but try not to sound that way.
6) Keep it to one or two pages.
Just as most people don’t read an entire newspaper article or blog posting, most reporters do not make it through an entire press release. If they do, congratulations, you’ve caught their attention! Keep it to a page or two.
7) Include a quote.
Humanize your press release and include a quote from a key player in the organization, like the president, CEO, community-relations manager or someone else who can speak for the company. Use the quote as an opportunity to add more facts. “I’m so happy that we are launching this new product,” says CEO Betty Boop. This is not a good use of a quote. Try: “This product is going to make the live sof working mother’s so much easier, says CEO Betty Boop.
Also, when quoting someone, stick to the word “said” as per above. Verbs like “expressed,” “stated,” “implied,” are just not pro.
8) Proofread, proofread and proofread again.
Do not rely on spell check. My favourite proofreading technique is to a) read the document out loud or b) get someone else to read it as well. Grammatical and spelling mistakes just make you look unprofessional.
9) End with information about the company.
This is where you give the brief overview of what your company does, an “about us” section. It’s also known as the boilerplate. Right below this, include specific contact information. Not your company’s general phone number but a specific person and their direct email or phone line. When a reporter wants to reach out, make it easy for them to get in touch.