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Social media is about content, not puffery

Social fakery

Don’t be caught with fake, puffed up numbers.

I resisted the urge to go out as a consultant for a couple of years. Why? It’s tough to get through the fakes. The people who swear they can get you instant results for $10 a month.

Social media is fun, rewarding and can bring business and brand awareness to your company. It’s just all those screamers out there. And, as it turns out, people who swear by their huge social media followings aren’t always to be trusted, according to this report from Forbes. Included in the article is this excellent quote from colleague Steve Farnsworth;

The social media industrial complex is fraught with digital marketers and consultants who puff up their abilities and accomplishments. I tell my clients to be honest in their marketing, and in turn strive to walk the talk.

Truth, brotha…

Shea-Cahir Consulting is a new venture. I’ve joked with friends that this firm will only stand on my previous achievements for so long, and it’s the success of the clients we land that will lead to success of the firm. We won’t promise magic, nor will we engage in trickery. We won’t promise thoroughness, only to provide one-size-fits-all drivel. We don’t reinvent the wheel, but we will help you pick the wheel that best fits your business vehicle.

The work and the past success are real. I guided Princeton University to new social media heights. I guided Waddell & Reed and Ivy Funds through a massive compliance labyrinth. I gave the University of Kansas School of Engineering a social media voice that continues today. I worked with Apple and iTunes on a trend-setting marketing campaign for KU’s Lied Center.

I did these things for employers. Now, Shea-Cahir Consulting is building a social media presence – and a successful firm – from the ground up. It only fits that we’re doing the very thing for the firm that we’re going to do for clients.

Yes, our Facebook page has 37 followers; the Twitter feed has 13 followers (although my personal feed is nearing 400!). That’s OK. Because we’re walking the talk. Why not join in and see where we can take your company?

Contact us for information about services.

 

A note to my daughter: Never air dirty laundry on social media

Sometimes, things just go too far. And what both of these girls (and their families) have to deal with now is that this all is visible. No matter your privacy settings, expect that all activity in social media will survive. This provides a lesson for all companies on social media: Be careful because any mis-step will be seen by somebody.

PSA: Keep Your Personal Drama Off of Facebook or It Could Get Ugly…

Playing by numbers: Fake clicks undermine social media campaigns

Fake clicks

A teen in Indonesia provides fake social media clicks. Photo by Associated Press

Interesting article in the Los Angeles Times about companies paying for fake clicks on social media sites in order to artificially build credibility and buzz among their followers.

This news isn’t surprising, especially because most companies incorrectly overvalue “likes” and “follows” as success in social media. The reality is that success in social media needs to be measured in the same way as all other marketing efforts – by the number of dollars brought to the company.

Social media has huge value for brand management and awareness, but contrary to popular belief, most users never have this thought, “Wow, I will buy that product based on the number of likes Brand X’s Facebook post has today.”

While building an audience is a big part of any social media campaign, companies must focus on winning real users who will lead to real business, rather than obsessing over the number of likes or followers each account has.

In the long run, companies that buy fake clicks get little value for their money, and they risk getting hit with a big public relations backlash if they are discovered. In the end, it’s just not worth the half-penny per faux click.

Making Facebook friends with Applebee’s

Applebee's

Mmm, chicken tenders.

The subtitle of this post should be “A reminder that engagement doesn’t just happen.”

This story of journalist Chip Zdarsky and his long, funny relationship on Facebook with the local Applebee’s is well worth the read. The interaction between Zdarsky and the local eatery is funny and positive, and kudos to whoever is doing the social media for the restaurant for staying on message and trying to promote the Applebee’s brand throughout the exchanges.

However, the big takeaway from the article for social media marketers can be seen in this quote from Zdarsky:

I started digging deeper on the page and noticed it was, well, pretty barren of comments. It just seemed like whoever was in charge of their social media kept putting up new photos and trying to engage conversation and was left with a whole lot of nothing.

The person running social media for this Applebee’s did an admirable job of trying to bring people to the restaurant’s account, with little return on their time. So the question has to be “could they have done something different?”

In short, yes.

One of the biggest misconceptions of social media management is that engagement comes automatically from asking questions of the audience and letting the magic happen. In reality, most people who follow a brand’s page are looking for three things: News, deals and customer service.

Brand pages that have a mature, established audience can add question or poll posts to their strategy and get engagement. The goal of a post such as “Our Three-Cheese Penne goes great with ___ for a perfect Pick ‘N Pair combo” is to get users not only answering but debating. User X loves one dish and comments about it, while user Y loves something else. They (and others) begin to debate the merits of their favorites, and the restaurant gets a ton of positive feedback with little effort. In the end, each user is more likely to go to the restaurant and order a new dish.

Followers of this local restaurant – rather than the Applebee’s corporate brand page – are most likely looking for daily deals and coupons. To build engagement, this page might need to understand that communication is going to be more one-way than not for a while. And that’s OK.

(Side note: Question posts were horribly ineffective during my time at Princeton University, and many financial services companies find that asking open questions can backfire more often than not.)

The goal of any social media presence is, in the end, to get more money in the coffers and more people in the business. Not every Facebook page is going to be Starbucks or George Takei, where every post earns thousands of likes, comments and (most importantly) shares.

Success is engagement. If that means changing course midstream, it’s always worth a shot. Either that or get some publicity from Buzzfeed and The Atlantic. No problem, right?

If your business is looking for the right strategy to build a successful social media presence, contact us at Shea-Cahir Consulting today.

Comedy is difficult… especially on social media

Twitter

Think before you tweet.

By now, you’ve read about “The Tweet Heard Round the World,” by public relations executive Justine Sacco. It’s pretty short and sweet.

Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!

The outrage related to this is well-placed. It’s racist, classist, really inappropriate, and just plain stupid.

However, there is a more business-related reason that Sacco was fired, and it provides a lesson to all companies.

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A risky but ingenious social media response

Responding to negative comments on social media is a risky proposition. Most people either avoid diving in or they do it wrong. When I was at Princeton, we engaged most people and tried to get to the bottom of the negative response, but sometimes that just won’t work.

Facebook done right.

Facebook done right.

This customer, and the response from the company’s COO, are an amazing example of customer service and brand management online. This was a risky response, but in this case, the tone and sincerity were perfect, and the company gained more customers than it would have by leaving the one angry customer’s post alone. My favorite part:

Your voicemail stated ‘it is the holidays, you should be working’ and your email stated, ‘Instead of doing my Christmas cards and enjoying the holiday spirit I was dealing with this.’ Perhaps you need to spend a bit more time embracing the holiday spirit. You see, my employees were home with their families doing their cards, baking cookies, etc. Family first, product second.

Well done. Well done, indeed.

Staking your place when the stream’s current rushes by

Trying to catch the best tweets, posts and pics.

Trying to catch the best tweets, posts and pics.

A short post today, but an important one.

Life is getting tougher for online marketers and brand managers. The days when friend numbers doubled monthly and followers clicked on every tweeted link are going away. And quickly.

I don’t think things are quite as dire as this report from The Atlantic would have you believe, but there is one really salient point in the article:

This is the strange circumstance that obtained in 2013, given the volume of the stream. Regular Internet users only had three options: 1) be overwhelmed 2) hire a computer to deploy its logic to help sort things 3) get out of the water.

As someone trying to make the stream work for my clients, this reality reflects a strategic tenet I’ve held for a long time: Quality outweighs quantity every time.

The days of being able to tweet 40 times a day to build a following are gone. So, too, are the days when tagging and SEO and SMO were a magic search elixir. The stream is judgmental. It has filters. Some from users, and more from distributors. The point is, your social media content has to be better than ever.

None of this is to say that social media is impossible. Far from it. At this point in social media’s evolution, however, the work needed to create quality, engaging content, is more important than just handing it off to whoever has 10 minutes free. Social media needs to be treated with the same importance as print, radio and TV were before them.

Free Guaranteed Success! and other social media sales myths

That headline sounds great, but what's hiding when I click through?

That headline sounds great, but what’s hiding when I click through?

My wife and I don’t argue about much, but there is one thing that has driven a wedge between us recently: grilled-cheese sandwiches.

She cooks hers differently than me, and I apparently do it “wrong.” While we might never agree on the method for grilled-cheese success, we can both agree that there are many methods (mine it totally the best) that can end up perfect for a person’s taste.

Such is the way with social media. Anyone who says there is a perfect template for “writing the perfect blog” or “hitting a viral home run” is really just trying to sell you something. Sure, they might have some good tips, but if everyone wrote the same content in the same way, wouldn’t that eliminate the unique-ness of all content?

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Cracking the social media news feed code

Choosing the right words makes a difference on social media.

Choosing the right words makes a difference on social media.

If you run a business with a website, you’ve either spent some time or money on Search Engine Optimization. It’s actually quite a simple concept: You add tags to blog posts, you write headlines that include keywords, you work on something called metadata, and BOOM you’re content is on the first page of Google when people search for your industry.

It would appear that Twitter and Facebook are moving toward a more SEO-like world with the changes in their news feeds.

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