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The following is a guest blog post from MarketingMel Public Relations Intern Alex Quillin.

DogThanksI’m a 20 year old Advertising and Public Relations major at ETSU, so naturally, I frequent social media sites. I like Instagram and Facebook, and I have Twitter and LinkedIn, though I don’t use those as often. Classes taught me to use these sites to develop my professional profile, and my family expects me to keep them updated about various aspects of my life. But I did not realize how useful they can be until…

It was about 4 PM on a Friday, and I was unloading groceries. I faintly heard a “ma’m? ma’m?” in the distance and turned to look. At the top of my driveway sat a middle-aged lady in a golf cart with a precious puppy in a blue collar beside her.

“Is he yours?” she asked. “There’s no name on his collar.”

“Oh, no. I’ve never seen him before. He’s cute…”

“Well you can have him. I’ve been completely around the neighborhood and no one claimed him. I don’t know what to do with him.”

I looked at her. I looked at the puppy. I knew I could help her, I just didn’t want to fool with it.

“Will you take him and try to find the owner?” she asked.

“Oh, okay. Did you post it on Facebook?” I asked.

“No, I don’t know anyone around here so I didn’t think it would help.”

“Okay, I’ll post it… Come on little fella.” I said, instantly questioning my decision.

I took him inside and he started whining. Loudly.

I couldn’t believe I had gotten myself into this. I took three pictures of him and tried to put him in my bathroom, fearing he would run away if I left him outside. In the few seconds I took to upload the pictures onto the Facebook Local Yard Sales, the puppy had knocked over his water, managed to get soaking wet, and had escalated his whining level to an ear-piercing howl. “I found this puppy. Do you know who he belongs to?” I asked anyone scrolling through the couches and coffee pots.

Then I shut the gate to my porch, and let him outside. He sat on our chair there. I kept checking the comments on the posts. One lady wanted him if no one claimed him. Another wished me luck. Then I saw the comment that made me smile. Just two hours after I uploaded the pictures.

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It was him! The owner turned out to be a young boy. He was about 7, and he was so worried about his new puppy. His mom showed up at my door just a few minutes after we messaged each other. The next day, there was a knock at my door.

“Hi,” said a four-foot handsome fella. “Thanks for finding my dog.”

He handed me a card.

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Suddenly, I was so thankful I took that whiny little dog. And I realized just how useful social media can be.

AlexQuillin

 

Alex Quillin is MarketingMel’s 2014-2015 Intern. A senior at East Tennessee State University with a 3.8 GPA,  she is the first recipient of the recently created MarketingMel Public Relations Scholarship at ETSU. Alex plans to work in the field of advertising and public relations.

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Matt Overby, Executive Director of Summit Leadership Foundation

Matt Overby, Executive Director of Summit Leadership Foundation

Recently I’ve noticed a trend among my 30-something friends with young children. When it comes to social media, you can’t find them (or their babies.) One of those friends, Matt Overby, the 37 year old Executive Director of the Summit Leadership Foundation, decided, along with his wife, to “cut the social media cord” when their infant son was born last year. I was interested in why a very tech savvy, marketing-oriented leader would choose to do this. So I sat down to interview Matt and ask him about it. Matt has extensive training in the hospitality industry both at Starbucks and at Chick-fil-A, and he is a student of Leadership Guru John Maxwell. Our seven minute conversation is well worth the listen to see the insights into a young father’s mind as to why he did not want his baby on Facebook, twitter, instagram or any other public platform.

Although I had seen this trend with Matt and others, in researching this pos,t I found only one article about it called “No Baby on Board: Many Parents Keeping Info About Their Babies Off Social Media.” Ironically, after I left the interview with Matt I bumped into another young father and shared our discussion with him. This very tech-savvy dad told me he also quit social media when his first child was born. “Not with facial recognition,” was his comment as he shook his head “no” when asked if he posted his kids’ photos on social media platforms.

What’s been your experience with other parents of newborns? Are they staying on social media or quitting? I would love to hear from you.

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Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 4.26.53 PMSometimes busy executives can feel overwhelmed with all of the social media channels out there and what’s important and not important to know about. This week I assisted a client who’s re-entering the traditional workforce after years as a self-employed international consultant. In a one-hour session, we navigated the current and ever-changing landscape of digital communications.  This client was given a highly customized one one one tutorial using GoToMeeting (since she’s in D.C. and I’m in Tennessee). Her pre-submitted questions were as follows:

  1. Hashtags – Quite simply a hashtag is a way to “focus in” on a particular topic. It’s a really quick research tool to see what’s trending. One fascinating question that she had for me was “Can you own a hashtag the way you own a domain name?” I told her not to my knowledge and if someone with the same hashtag wants to use it they are certainly free and welcome to do so.
  2. LinkedIn- The client mentioned that her new colleagues immediately invited her to “LinkIn” with them once they knew they were going to be co-workers. Using LinkedIn in today’s business world is as common as a shaking hands. It’s a great way to see a summary of the other person’s credentials. Unlike most other social media channels LinkedIn has slightly more men. She asked why. My thought: Because men are more interested in “the business” (portraying resumes online and building a network) than women who are known to spend more time in relationship building. That’s my theory anyways and I’d welcome your ideas! Of course I showed her LinkedIn groups and shared that there really IS something for every business niche there. In her case starting her own private LinkedIn group (or Facebook group) for some of her key constituents could be a valuable way to stay in touch on a regular basis. It’s also important to give and to ask for written recommendations on LinkedIn. Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 4.16.43 PM
  3. Twitter- We reviewed the importance of social media tools such as Tweetdeck, Twitter Lists and Hootsuite when keeping up with the ever-flowing river of tweets. I likened twitter to a live mic in a broadcast booth and urged her to view every tweet as a public address. She should use these tools to see what she wants to see when she wants to see it. We talked about the changing demographics of twitter which originally started out as a 35+ channel, until the celebrities jumped on board. Now it is skewing younger. I personally love twitter because it reminds me of the AP “wire machines” that churned out news when I first began my career in broadcast journalism. If you want to know what’s happening in the world today, jump on twitter!
  4. Instagram- Extremely popular with the “tween” set, it’s been great fun for me to watch how the generation who are my son’s age (11/12 year olds) are embracing this social media channel. And they are NOT just posting photos. They are only too eager to make and share a variety of videos and use a variety of video apps to do so . I think what makes Instagram so fun is the fact that there are so few words and it’s all about images (and hashtags of course!)

I suggested she download all of these apps to her mobile devices in order to be able to access these channels on the go. That was a lot to cover in an hour for a re-entering C-Suite Executive. What are some of the things you would discuss or emphasize if you were training an executive on key social media channels and trends?

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The following is a guest blog post from Peter LaMotte at Levick. 

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CEOs typically understand that cultivating an active social media presence is good for business. Social media can expand a company’s influence, connect with a target audience, and boost brand awareness. What may be less commonly understood is how a few critical social media faux pas can alienate prospective customers and damage the reputation of a business.

Here are some of the most egregious mistakes business leaders and executives make through their approach to social media:

Too much “about me”

The onslaught of celebrity activity on social media conveys the impression that Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc., are all about self-promotion. Though this might be true for rock stars and movie actors, the same principle does not apply to CEOs and other executives. In fact, an abundance of posts and tweets exclusively about yourself or your business will likely drive potential followers away.

Social media focuses on engagement, creating conversations and connections across the blogosphere and elsewhere. It is not the venue for a hard sell.

“Social media is all about making connections and, just like in the real (rather than virtual) world, people will be more drawn to you if you actually listen to what they’re saying than if you try to force your message upon them,” says Jessica Routier, head of social media at IAC-EZ.

Not paying attention to content

An indiscriminate approach to content is another social media faux pas. Deluging your followers with posts and tweets of little value won’t achieve your business objectives. Quality content that addresses customer concerns or offers valuable “how-to” information (either about your product, service, or your industry in general) will generate followers and encourage people to come back for more.

“[Businesses] need to ask questions, share some humor, provide motivational quotes and ask for their opinions about products or services in your industry,” says Michelle Hummer, CEO of WebMediaExpert.com. “I do a random, ‘fun question of the day’ to get [people] involved.”

The most effective strategy is consistently posting valuable content and interacting with others online.

Failure to engage

 Whether you know it or not, people are talking about your business online. Failing to monitor and promptly respond to those questions, complaints, and comments is another critical social media faux pas.

“All too many companies still fail to realize that most customers, especially Millennials, look at social media channels as valid a form of interaction as a physical trip into a brick and mortar store,” notes social media columnist John Boitnott. “If you fail to engage, you’re missing a valuable chance to shape your image. Don’t let other people shape your reputation when you could be shaping it yourself.”

Businesses sometimes err by “venting” a grievance with a competitor or an unhappy customer on social media. They forget that once something is posted, it’s there forever – and their negative comments can resurface at any time and come back to haunt them.

Maintaining incomplete or poorly written social media profiles

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your online CEO or business profiles go unread. Not only are these often the first thing people new to your business check out, but a properly constructed profile (complete with industry-rich keywords) can help with your company’s SEO rankings — another way to elevate your social media presence.

At the very least, each profile you maintain on different social networks should include your physical address, a link to your business website, and some concise but user-friendly information about who you are and what you have to offer.shutterstock_162075236

Lack of comprehensive social media strategy

 As should be clear by now, a hit-or-miss approach to social media is typically a waste of time and does not benefit your business. Avoid these common mistakes when developing a strategy:

No coordination with other departments. Your C-suite social media efforts are most effective when they’re aligned with what other departments are doing (i.e. marketing, public relations, branding team, etc.). Leads generated by your compelling content can be converted to sales when they drive traffic to your business’ website. Don’t let these valuable opportunities slip away.

Failure to identify social media influencers. In every industry, certain groups or individuals wield significant influence over their followers and can significantly help or harm a business. Know who these influencers are and focus on becoming part of their community.

Neglecting to measure ROI. With tools such as Facebook analytics and Google Analytics, it’s a big mistake not to explore and understand what customers and followers enjoy (and don’t enjoy) about the content you provide. How can you hope to extend the scope of your social media activity and generate more likes and clicks without a sense of what’s working and a strategy to build on those insights and get more bang for your buck?

The real magic happens when you have a strategy,” says Brooke Howell of Reputation Capital. “If you’re running a social media program but you don’t know what you’re going to accomplish next month, you’re doing it wrong.”

Taking steps to avoid these faux pas will sharpen your social media marketing efforts and pave the way toward making more connections with prospective customers.

 

Peter LaMotte, Sr. VP, Levick

Peter LaMotte, Sr. VP, Levick

 

Peter LaMotte is a Senior Vice President at LEVICK and Chair of the firm’s Digital Communications Practice. He is also a contributing author to LEVICK Daily, where he routinely writes about social media marketing and online reputation management.

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Recently elected Criminal Court Judge Lisa Rice and Washington County Commissioner Katie Baker at an ETSU event.

Recently elected to Criminal Court Judge Part 1, Lisa Nidiffer Rice,  and Washington County Commissioner-elect Katie Baker at an ETSU event.

Our closely watched Tennessee Republican primary and in some cases, general election, is now past. The candidate I supported and worked for, Lisa Nidiffer Rice, won the winner-take-all Republican primary May 6 and was uncontested in the August election for Criminal Court Judge Part 1. Lisa had signed me to an exclusive agreement with her so I (gladly!) got to watch this August race from the sidelines. Here is my “outsider’s perspective” on the public relations that went into winning and losing our local races.

1. Y’all come! That’s NorthEast Tennessee to the core. When some people decided to exclude others, including their current state representatives, from a shindig featuring the governor, it didn’t sit well with the voters. Instead the voters made those “excluded” feel welcome where it counted: at the polls. My husband, a native of Erwin, Tennessee, is as down-home as they come. I recall him saying last week (in reference to a certain candidate) “Candidate ___ is a member of the cucumber-sandwich-and-white-wine-for-lunch-crowd.”  Ouch! A pollster couldn’t have hit it more squarely on the head.

2. Hard work and planning pays off: Congratulations Katie Baker, a newcomer to the field of Washington County commissioners who was truly omnipresent! Katie knocked on doors and went to every event she possibly could. I had coffee with Katie and my advisory board member Nancy Dishner when Katie first decided to run and was very impressed with her intellect and her genuine willingness to work for the people.

3. Communications skills are HUGE: I watched one of the winning candidates masterfully use his opponent’s campaign to his own advantage. He created a #noinvitationrequired hashtag when he was snubbed from the aforementioned party and regularly used his opponent’s own words to his advantage on Facebook.

4. Money doesn’t always win: Untold thousands of dollars from outside interests were poured into a campaign to unseat three Tennessee Supreme Court justices, alleging they weren’t’ “conservative” enough for the Volunteer State. In the end the judges, who were ethically restrained from advertising for themselves, prevailed. The big money lost.

Carter County electioneers during the May primary.

Carter County electioneers during the May primary.

5. Do not ever overlook Carter County! Carter County is pivotal in any local election. Carter County folks hold voting up with motherhood, apple pie and Friday night football. There just isn’t anything more important than going to the polls. The day I voted early in Carter County,  I drove my mother (a native of New York State) through the gauntlet of Carter County electioneers. She was stunned. Never had she seen anything like the encampments of eager, sign-waving campaign supporters. In examining poll results it appears at least one highly contested multi-county race was made/broken by Carter County voters.

6. Name recognition goes a long way: In two consecutive elections I have watched someone with tremendous name recognition (because they  or a relative had previously held office,) win. It’s simple: In politics and in life, you build a personal brand.

Do you have comments to add about what you’ve seen work effectively in campaigns, particularly at the local level?

 

 

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Johnson City Morning Rotary Club members present a check to the Salvation Army.

One of the best things I have done since going into business five years ago, was to join Rotary International. Specifically, I joined the Johnson City Morning Rotary in January at the invitation of my strategic planning consultant, Rebecca Henderson. While I have been a part of other civic clubs in the past, with its motto of “service above self” Rotary stands alone as a top-notch service organization. Just last week we presented our club’s quarterly donation to the Johnson City Salvation Army, one of many fine charities that benefit from the hard work and fundraising abilities of our members.

 

When my friend Vivian Crymble heard that I was now a Rotarian she and Dick Ray asked me to provide some Facebook communications tips for the club at the district level. Vivian is the district governor for Rotary 7570 (She’s over 85 Clubs from Roanoke, Virginia through Northeast Tennessee.) Both she and associate district governor Dick Ray have found these tips useful and I hope you will too!

  1. Each of the 61 admins of the unit pages needs to “like” the district 7570 page.
  1. The district page needs to “like” all the other unit pages and interact with the. Example: I posted a photo of Vivian on the Johnson City Morning Rotary page. It would be great if the district page could comment on that.
  1. Keep up to date cover shots; comment on other page’s cover shots.
  1. Be sure to tag people (the more people you tag, the more exposure the photo gets)
  1. Play off a theme. Example: This year’s Rotary conference theme at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia is “The Faces of Rotary.” Start X number of days before the annual conference and feature a “face” on a weekly basis.  Event-related posts gets people excited for the upcoming event and will get them “talking” online.
  1. Sharing posts from The District page as well as the District sharing posts from the unit pages will connect the two and should result in new “likes” for both parties.
  1. The more interaction the page has, the more exposure the page gets.  Get more interaction by posting photos, questions, event details, etc.)

 

I hope you find these tips helpful. Do you have others to add? What’s worked in terms of social media for your favorite club or organization, particularly when planning an event?

 

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MarketingMel talks with Carl and Bob on WJCW's Thinking Out Loud

MarketingMel talks with Carl and Bob on WJCW’s Thinking Out Loud

What are some examples of customer service you’ve seen in connection with social media that have worked well and worked effectively? That’s one of the topics we address on this  WJCW AM910 podcast of “Thinking Out Loud” with Carl and Bob (normally Carl N’ Dave but Dave was on vacation.)

I share a story of twitter being used to effectively manage customer service and a story of Facebook being used effectively on a political campaign.

Dave mentions Referral Key connecting him with potential voice talent work. We also discuss my “Three Ways to be a Shoo-in in Business and Politics.”

Enjoy this 12 minute podcast and please share with us some of your favorite customer service via social media stories.

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Theresa Decker, Jason Lamb, Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler on the social media and teens panel.

Theresa Decker, Jason Lamb, Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler on the social media and teens panel.

Recently I was asked to speak as part of a panel discussion on social media use and teenagers as part of a panel discussion at my church, Grace Fellowship Church. Below you will find the questions along with my answers as a parent and as someone who appreciates both the positive and the more dangerous side of social media. Of course Instagram, twitter, vine and Snapchat were named as some of the more popular platforms with today’s generation while Facebook still thrives among “old” people (read: parents.)
Introduction:
1. Before I share my interest in social media just a quick funny story about how the world is changing so rapidly. The other night I saw my 11 year old son doing what I thought was playing on the iPad and I asked him to put down the iPad and do his homework! Whoops! He said “Mom, I am doing my homework!” He absolutely was! He was  doing his vocabulary homework and looking up words on dictionary.com on the iPad. Point is: we must always be thinking in new and different ways and his version of how to do homework is quite different from mine (remember pencil and paper?)
I have worked in and around social media since 2008. As a parent I am very interested in staying on top of trends and keeping up with what is out there. I even look over his shoulder when he’s playing Minecraft just to see who else is or could be in on the game. I believe as parents we need to know who our children are communicating with online. It used to be we worried about the creep down the road at the playground but now that playground is a virtual playground and we need to be just as vigilant if not more so than before.

2. What has been the number one benefit of social media both in your
professional experience and your personal life?

My embrace particularly of twitter was a game changer in terms of getting me first interviewed by TV news when I first started my business and them actually creating a TV news series called “Social Media 101″ that aired on the evening news. I have been asked to do public speaking on many occasions because of my knowledge and use of social media. I have been asked to speak at conferences and on this panel because of social media. Sarah Kinsler and I will be attending a conference in Atlanta this week strictly on the basis of colleagues I have met through the #soloPR twitter chat I’ve been involved with since founding my business. In terms of my clients I have assisted my political PR clients with gaining a presence on social media for the past five years. Currently I am assisting Lisa Rice in her political campaign for Criminal Court Judge Part 1. At first she resisted going on Facebook because she uses it against people in court. Her view has changed now because she sees the importance of this new “word of mouth.” On a personal note Facebook enables me to keep up with dear old friends and family.

The MarketingMel team hammed it up when the discussion turned to #selfies.

The MarketingMel team hammed it up when the discussion turned to #selfies.

3. What has been the biggest threat/abuse/downfall of social media
that you have experienced?

The biggest threat/abuse/downfall of social media is probably the people who are using it for illegitimate means and who target cyber “victims.” You have to be savvy and I don’t think young children can always differentiate between good and bad. I also see how social media targets you by the demographics they have on you. If you don’t believe me, log on as someone else. I used to log on as a male client sometimes and would get completely different ads. I met a man at a conference who was considered a “god” of social media. He spoke all around the world on the subject. He had thousands of followers and “friends.” (Zuckerberg’s rewritten the meaning of the word friend) but this man tragically took his own life. The thing that absolutely makes me want to cry was the story of the young girl who had been cyber bullied and she took her own life by jumping off a tower. That was such a needless tragedy. BTW I make it my policy to never friend anyone less than 13 on Facebook. I just don’t want to have anything to do with a child that young on Facebook for many different reasons.

4. If you could communicate only one caution about social media to
parents, what would that be?

My caution about social media to parents would be that you must be vigilant. Do not bury your head in the sand. Find out who they are communicating with and what they are putting online. We all have a digital footprint that follows us from womb to beyond the grave. Make sure you know what platforms your kids are using and friend them and follow them.

Photos from our event were live streamed via Eventstagram.  We received very positive feedback from the parents who attended. What advice do you have for parents and teens concerning social media?

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