Hire Right For Social Media Success

creative concepts

Brands everywhere are looking for a social media expert, guru, strategist, manager, senior executive and/or visionary but because social media and the broader category of digital marketing (and all of its varied parts) is still relatively new to many, the job ‘needs’ list gets long and unwieldy because those hiring often don’t understand the different levels of expertise required based on present needs, long term goals and senior management’s commitment (or lack thereof) to building their online presence.  Here are some tips on finding what you need to make magic happen whether you are a brand or an agency supporting many brands online.

You know you need a Community Manager* when:

  1. You have no online presence and you don’t know where to begin.
  2. You, the founder of your company, have built your brand’s social media profiles which has helped to grow the business, but now you are too busy (thankfully) to manage all of the social media.
  3. Other people in other departments have been pitching in erratically to help build your brand’s social media presence but now you need to make a real commitment to social media in order to take your business to the next level.

*My definition of a community manager is someone who understands how the various social media channels work, is a great ‘social’ writer, knows how to engage an online community and understands basic marketing principals.

You know you need a Social Media Strategist* when:

  1. You have been investing time and money into your social media but you don’t seem to be making a dent in brand exposure or sales.
  2. Your social media really needs to support and lift your public relations and marketing efforts but you don’t know how to make that happen either.
  3. You have no idea who and what an online influencer is but you hear that building relationships with these people is a good thing, but again you don’t know the who, what, and where of blogger building.

*My definition of a social media strategist is someone who has come from a PR or marketing background who understands all social channels and could either be doing daily content too or will oversee the daily content producers. This person is able to peak their head above the daily work and put a strategy in place that is linked to the company’s overall marketing and communication goals.  They should also be able to build relationships with online influencers.

You know you need a Digital Strategist* when:

  1. Your website, social media, online ads, videos and all other web based assets don’t look or sound the same…there is no continuity.
  2. You need to go beyond social media and understand if online ads, social ads, native advertising and/or sponsorships will be good for your business, and then implement based on what your online research reveals, but you need help.
  3. You need to bring all online elements together for an effective 360° digital campaign but you have no idea how to do this.

*My definition of a digital strategist is someone who not only understands social media on all levels but then looks at the whole online presence in order to bring every element together so that messaging is not only clear but it moves present and potential customers to take an action like sharing (for greater brand exposure) or buying (to increase sales).

You know you need a Senior Social/Digital Marketing Executive* when:

  1. You have a department full of community managers and social strategists but no one to pull them and their efforts together while making sure all overall marketing and communication goals are met for the brand.
  2. You need a senior level executive on the management committee who understands every level of the digital horizon.
  3. You need a digital strategist who can also manage a team and a budget because you have now made a deep commitment to your brand’s expansion via your online presence.

*My definition of a senior social media/digital marketing executive is someone who has over 10 years’ experience in social media alone, digital, PR and Marketing even longer and whose expertise includes market analysis, strategic planning, client and team management, creative production, P&L management, and new business development.

While all of this can be confusing to anyone who doesn’t spend a lot of time mastering the digital space, take a moment to slow down and really assess what your needs are and take baby steps so you can achieve both your online and off line goals.

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, follow me @CreativeConsult

Dream Team Management Tips

Creative Concepts team

One of the wonderful things about running my company is building and managing a successful team…but wait, is it always great? No, but like everything else, I have learned a thing or two over the years and refined our communication and work flow processes so now whether we are doing projects for present clients or have a new client coming on board, we are a well-oiled machine as they say.  Here are a few tips for hiring and managing your dream team:

  1. When someone comes to Creative Concepts looking for a position, I always take the time to read their resumes and consider their background.  Most of my present day team came to Creative Concepts this way.  Hiring someone who has investigated your company and already knows they want to work there is half the battle.
  1. When interviewing a potential hire, I do what everyone does and ask about their background and what they want to do, but I also ask if they didn’t have a care in the world, what would be their most perfect job?  Answers I have gotten have ranged from writing to running their own PR firm which said to me that they fit into Creative Concepts but when one person said horseback riding, I wished her luck with her job search and said no thank you because I really do feel everyone should follow their passion and do what they love whether they work for me or not (and sorry, no horseback riding at this social media agency).  I did have one person submit her resume multiple times for a business development position…she didn’t understand that to sell social media services you have to have an online presence and understand at least the basics….she walked away mad but am I hoping she has found the perfect position that is more suited for her background.
  1. Once people come on board, I touch base with them often even if they are directly reporting to someone else within Creative Concepts.  I ask how things are going, ask what they like and what isn’t working for them.  Hearing their feedback allows me to learn if our process is generally working, but it also helps me to know if they will stick around which is important to know quickly because training takes time and money.  I also take these opportunities to learn more about them overall which helps me to understand their future path within Creative Concepts.  Writers, for example, all don’t head in the same direction internally.  We have one writer who has evolved into a client services role and another who is now Editor of all client content.  The fact that they are both doing what they love enables longevity within our firm.
  1. When we have new client work, those who have been with us the longest don’t get first dibbs on the work as it is given out to the people who best fit the client.  Seniority should never compromise our clients.  If everyone on my team is doing what they love for clients they can relate to, it actually saves money and the clients are excited by the work we produce.
  1. I believe in total flexibility as a manager.  I have a lot of moms who work for me which, as a category, is an untapped market still to this day.  These moms have different needs in their schedules based on what happens at home so if anyone on the team doesn’t have a client facing position, and they get their work done by the end of the day well in advance of deadlines and its high quality, then I don’t care about the how, when and where.  We have multiple communication tools that help us to stay on top of our work whether someone is in their car heading to a football game at 4pm or sitting in front of the computer in the office at 6am so it all works: clients, team and I are all happy!
  1. As per mistakes?  Everyone makes them!  I only bring on great people who take pride in their work so if a mistake is made, I am usually the calmer one between us.  I believe all mistakes can be fixed either with time or making a simple correction so as long as people learn from every issue, then I am good (if they don’t learn, then that is another case entirely).
  1. Because social media is ever evolving, I am very happy messing around with every new social network and every new approach but many on the team aren’t like me so I take the time to push them individually and drive them to learn and expand their approaches to their work.  At the end of the day, this makes most of the team happy and those who aren’t know to leave and find a slower unchanging environment.  Everything always works out in the end.
  1. And if you hire smart creative people, you have to allow them to do what they do best.  Once I trust they know the client and the goals, I always leave the work in their hands so they can do what I hired them for.  It saves me time and shows how much I respect them which I believe is motivating.
  1. Hiring ethical people who can be trusted is essential to every business so this isn’t necessarily the last item, it should just go without saying.

Every company is different of course and every manager has a different style so it can be hard to make magic happen every day but as long as you, the manager and leader, listen, respect, educate and appreciate those who work for you, you are off to a great start.

Happy managing!

Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, follow me @CreativeConsult

How to Find the Best Days and Times to Post on #SocialMedia

screenTiming is everything on social media. Run a campaign on the wrong day or time and it will be lost. So, how do you find out the best days and times to post on social media?

There are lots of factors that determine the best days and times of the week for your business. Factors like your industry, do you target businesses or consumers? Where do your target audiences go online? When are they most active? For B2B, it might be during the work week. For B2C, it might be weeknights and weekends.

Social Media Today recently wrote How to Find the Best Days and Times to Post on Social Media. They list a variety of tools to help gain insight on the best dates and times.

There are external social sharing tools such as Buffer and SproutSocial that let you examine your statistics and discover what your most effective posts were.

Internal tools give further insights for each social network. Checking your analytics on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus and other platforms will give you the data you need to determine what’s working and what’s not.

The following infographic from SurePayroll shows data garnered from top industry sources with the best and worst times to post on six platforms. For more information, check out their article Post, Pin & Tweet – The Best Time to Outreach.

Pull your analytics and test out different dates and times to determine what works best for your brand.

Post-Pin-Tweet-Best-Time-Outreach
Courtesy of: SurePayroll

 

Tips On How To Use Social Media For PR And Events

creative concepts, green closet

Like many who have been in the middle of social media since its inception, many of us know that Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and more lead the way when it comes to increasing brand exposure and reaching out directly to present and future consumers, but let’s look at how social media can be used as a support to your public relations and events efforts as well.

Public Relations Success Via Social Media

Because I do both public relations and social media at Creative Concepts, I often (but not always) have the luxury of working with these two communication tools simultaneously.  I literally have hundreds of examples of how I have used social media to further the reach of the more traditional public relations efforts but let’s turn to a ‘green’ cleaning client as a great case study of how social media can build and then support public relations:

An international eco cleaning company wanted to reach beyond the present ‘super green’ customer and appeal to a broader range of people with a focus on women specifically who weren’t necessarily zeroed in on sustainability in order to increase sales in the U.S.

I proposed a social media and public relations strategy that involved educating the consumer continually (vs. doing a one time “campaign”) about conscious living via an approach I called “Green Closet” which appealed to a demographic of a wealthier educated woman. The idea was to suggest that one could and should create a “green” closet by choosing high end fashion manufactured sustainably, staying away from fast fashion and reusing old clothes already in the closet, and of course washing all clothes with sustainable cleaning products made by my client.  Instead of doing the more common one-way brand messaging, I instead built a ‘Green Team’ of two very well respected eco designers, a world renown author and expert on Fast Fashion, an eco-stylist and more to act as spokespeople for “Green Closet” where one or all of the team lead with their passion for a more sustainable approach to fashion but they always included my client in the online and press conversations about living eco-fashionably 360°.

This was a public relations homerun supported by social media.  The Green Team contributed content to my client’s blog and social sites which helped to build online and offline buzz where I was then able to catch the attention of top media as the topic of a “Green Closet” told by our Green Team was both timely and impressive where the approach was educational vs. promotional.  Between sophisticated imagery and high level informative and interesting online content showcased on the brands’ and the Green Team’s social sites, the press bit at the story.  This is a great example of how social media (along with a timely and unique message) can be used to catch and then urge the press to take the story further.

Events Using Social Media (and PR) To Fill The House

Social media can be a huge tool when planning and promoting events, attending events or sharing brand messaging post event as seen with this client case study:

A client was opening a new franchise and needed to fill the grand opening event with potential customers.  And for anyone who couldn’t make the event, the client wanted to make future customers aware and excited about their services so potential new members would sign up sooner rather than later.

I proposed and then used a combination of Facebook (knowing their potential members were there), strategic partnerships with local mom bloggers (the client’s business was focused on families), and public relations to fill the house and get the word out about the new business.

With a three month lead time using the power of social media and then closer to the event alerting the press, we garnered over 20 press mentions locally, had 500 attendees in three hours, and got 200 families registered for memberships and/or classes.  Social media not only helped to inspire the press to cover the event but it helped to get the word out through multiple trusted channels which drove so many to attend and then sign up.

In closing, everyone who knows me lives with my passion for and belief in the power of social media.  The way I look at it, you just can’t go wrong whether you are leading with social media or supporting a public relations campaign or running an event!

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, follow me @CreativeConsult

 

How To Find Your Daily Balance And It Starts With a Glass Of Lemon Water

image flickr @liberato

Everyone on the face of the earth talks about finding balance.  Yes/No, White/Black, Ying/Yang….how do you do it?  When younger, I thought it meant taking big vacations, going to a spa and/or going dancing via the hottest nightclub, but when kids and a tightening budget didn’t allow for the extravagances, I found balance in the everyday smaller choices which, as it turns out, leads to a fuller more enjoyable life daily and lasts longer than the two week vacation I used to take.

Here are some balancing tips for your body, mind and soul.

Tips good for the Soul:

  1. I have two areas of focus in my life, family and work.  Knowing this makes daily and long term decision making easier.
  2. I say no a lot.  My priorities are always clear to me: everything I say yes to has a direct and immediate effect on my family (I will drive my kids to the bus stop in order to catch up with them vs. baking brownies for their teachers for example) or my business (I will spend extra unbudgeted time at meetings with a client vs. going to a random conference where I ‘might’ meet a future customer).
  3. On the flipside, if I commit to a yes, I will go to the ends of the earth to fulfill that yes.
  4. I believe in giving back.  By doing this unselfishly and for all of the right reasons, I have received unbelievable gifts from the efforts.  The process never ceases to amaze me.
  5. I am flexible; there are just some days I blow my daily plan because the unexpected pops up so I go with the flow knowing it’s all happening for a reason (and there usually is a reason I end up being grateful for in the long run)

Tips good for the Mind:

  1. Before I do any work in the morning, I peruse Flipboard (good for seeing the exact news sites I want all in one place) to check the international and U.S. news.
  2. I post to twitter any social media news that I find noteworthy which forces me to be up on my industry.
  3. I check email and get a grip on it before jumping into new work.
  4. I create a list of must dos so I have a basic plan for the day.
  5. If I have a big project to work on, I turn email off so I am not distracted.
  6. When checking email, I take an immediate action so it doesn’t spin out of control (delete, flag, or file it).
  7. At the end of the day, I make a list of must dos for the next morning.

Tips good for the Body:

  1. I drink a glass of water with ¼ of a lemon squeezed in before I get out of bed in the morning.
  2. I drink green tea with breakfast, black tea in the afternoon and decaf green tea at night (at a minimum).
  3. I work out 3x per week at a gym.
  4. I get 7 hours of sleep or more each day.
  5. I eat a mostly organic, non-refined sugar diet.
  6. I eat a meal or small snack every 2-3 hours.

Tips for Body, Mind and Soul Combined:

  1. I try my best to listen and hear what his not being said (helpful with kids, employees and clients).
  2. I try to take a walk outside 2x per week with my dog.  Between being out in nature and watching the joy of my dog, it’s a great way to start the day.
  3. I never lie…not even white lies!

Before I wrote this I didn’t realize I had such a long list of daily dos but it works for me.  What is one small thing you do that helps you find the ‘ommmmm’ every day?

(Image from Flickr via @liberato)

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, follow me @CreativeConsult

Visual #Content Marketing Tips

mobile device web usageWhether you are just getting started with a visual content marketing campaign or have a designer and run them regularly, these tips and tools are invaluable to keep in your content marketing toolkit.

Social Media Examiner wrote “How to Get Started with Visual Content Marketing” and provides a wonderful list of visual content creation resources that are valuable to have on hand.

Desktop tools such as Canva and PicMonkey allow for making quick visuals when time is of the essence and if your designer is not available.

One idea to save time is to create custom branded templates to share quotes or images and text in a campaign format.

One tip that could prove valuable for all members of the team? Creating an image library. Having an image library on hand allows for easy sharing and availability whenever there is a need.

When you are on the go and you need to create a visual image for your content marketing on the fly, make sure you have some of these apps at your fingertips: Word Swag, Videohance, Over and Little Moments. Try them out – some are only available for different operating systems.

What are your favorite tools for creating visual content?

Native Advertising: Who Creates The #Content, A Case Study

digital contentNative advertising is a hot topic right now but what is it and who creates the content, the sponsor or the publisher?  Well first, “native advertising is an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience” as defined by Wikipedia….basically sponsors pay to have their very branded content featured on a website that normally publishes unbranded, unbiased, reporter-like content like The New York Times, The Atlantic and similar or smaller sites like I mention below.  Many have been debating the pros and cons of native advertising for quite some time now, but I personally am already past the should-we or shouldn’t-we conversation as I already agree with the IAB and Edelman Berland research that says there is great value in native advertising.  So let’s move on and review the burning question of who writes the content: should it come from the brand or should the editorial staff from the publication produce it?

Because native advertising is still a relatively new concept, there really is no set answer on this question as each publication is wading through these new waters very differently, but I do have some experience coming from the brand’s point of view, so let me share a few case studies featuring one client (so same goals and roughly the same messaging for each example below) but different publications (who shall remain nameless) and their approach to native advertising:

Sustainability focused website: I approached a ‘green’ website on behalf of our client because their number of daily/monthly visitors was vast, content was high quality and their readers were very engaged plus their demographic was a young working professional which was very appealing to our client.  The only sponsorship opportunity with the site as per the founder was native advertising and so we jumped in ready to go.  I had a preconceived notion of how to approach sponsored content but they had their own way which was very unique.  They would pinpoint content on their site that fulfilled the following to be used again for native advertising:

  1. The site’s suggested content had already gone live and was successful by their measure (large amount of readers, high engagement….)
  2. The already live content theme was in sync with the brand

They had proposed that once the content was approved by my client, they would repost it with a small mention at the bottom of the post saying it was sponsored content with our clients’ name, logo and a small tag line. The idea behind the approach was that because the content had already proven to be popular within their online community, posting it again, but this time as sponsored content, would almost guarantee success (thousands of views) for our client.

Well, this stopped me in my tracks as I had never encountered this approach before but I was willing to give it a try.  So they sent their first content suggestion which included products that were in the same brand category as our client but a variation that our client didn’t sell so that was a no because we didn’t want to confuse present or new customers.  The editor said they would take that particular product out of the suggested content.  There were about three more edits that had to be made in order for our client to feel comfortable as a sponsor of their content; after all shouldn’t native advertising highlight unique features of the brand paying for the opportunity?  By the time we hit our next and final edit, the content wasn’t the same as what the site’s staff had originally produced and so we didn’t get to test out this native advertising approach because their team didn’t feel the newly edited content would deliver the views because of the edits.  And they still wouldn’t compromise by having our client produce completely new content for them or in partnership with them (my original request) even though we wanted to submit ‘green’ lifestyle unbranded (except for a company mention at the bottom of the post) content that would educate and help their readers grow their eco-lifestyle.

An unwillingness to compromise and to see that newly created sponsored content could be an asset ultimately took this project nowhere.

Mom focused website: Because I personally love this mom website because their daily content is top notch and they have thousands of readers, I was fine when they said that the only way they offer native advertising was for them to create the theme of the blog entry and write it up themselves after we provided some basic brand facts; they were keen on having all content on their site consistent and presented in the same style so I said let’s give it a try.  When they completed the piece, it looked great…awesome images, multiple client mentions peppered throughout the blog entry which ended up being a how-to piece for moms planning a fun party for their kids.  Couldn’t wait for it to go live…you couldn’t go wrong with this one, I thought!  But when it hit online, it was a fail.  No one really interacted with the entry, barely anyone shared it, it fell flat on all of their social media channels and there were no discernible increases of visitors to the client website or social profiles.  Was this because their readers didn’t really engage on a regular basis?  Didn’t want to engage with this content in particular? Was it because the content hovered between being unbranded (written by the site) yet branded (client name was mentioned all through the entry) so the reader didn’t know what to think?

It was a pretty expensive venture for minimal results and no insight from the site’s management, and so we moved on and continued to look for new native advertising opportunities.

Natural lifestyle focused website:  This is another website I admire for their numbers, their passionate mission and super engaged community so we took another chance on the native advertising idea for the same client.  This time we had to provide the content 100%.  We had to get the topic approved by them and all products included in our blog entry needed to be in sync with their site mission but other than that, we were truly a partner in this native advertising opportunity.  We provided content that was entertaining and instructional and not overly promotional and it was hugely successful.  The site made it very clear to their readers that our content was sponsored by putting us in another place on their website but regardless of being sponsored content, they linked to it often throughout their website and in their social channels.  Because their readers were clear that it was native advertising, they were able to move past that quickly and appreciate what our client had to offer in terms of tips and overall suggestions within the product category.  On the flip side, the website wasn’t afraid to present the sponsored content often because they knew from experience how to approach native advertising and because they ultimately understood the value of partnering with a reputable and well-loved brand which they smartly used to their advantage.

This was a successful and fruitful collaboration: the website proved once again to their readers they could by trusted by presenting a well vetted trustworthy brand openly while our client had the benefit of getting their messaging in front of a whole new group of potential customers.  A native advertising win.

Like everything else that is new, there are going to be publications and websites that get it and many who don’t but like everything else that is digital, if you remain flexible, listen carefully and are completely transparent about what you are doing, I do believe success will be had by all!

Image via Flickr @opensourceway

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts

 

 

 

Daily #Content Matters For Brands, Tips To Make It Work

image flickr @tessawatson

As I approach my tenth year working in social media, I often look at the lay of the land and think of where “blogging” was back in 2005 (before the words “social media” even existed) and where the art of doing business socially stands today.  I am both amazed at how far brands have come and shocked at the same time that many businesses haven’t come far enough.

What do I mean?  Well, for example, let’s look at the role that daily content plays not only in the social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, but its place (or lack thereof) in the overall marketing communications plan as an example of not seriously moving ahead with a brand’s social media opportunities.

After closely watching many larger brands via social media, I have noticed that there are some that spend their time putting together one-off online campaigns that are clever, eye catching, entertaining and very expensive.  The amazing creative and the efforts behind it might grab attention for the short term and even receive awards for their outstanding work, but will these same campaigns…

  1. Inspire loyalty in the customer?
  2. Position the brand as experts?
  3. Elicit trust?
  4. Create an impulse to think of the brand first when shopping?
  5. Ultimately sell products?

Sadly, many times the answer is no to these questions because there is often a big disconnect between the high level glossy promotions and the daily content strategy where in the everyday on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and more, you have the opportunity to be front and center with your customer and create content that answers the call of the above questions.

Daily social content should keep in mind the companies mission, short and long term marketing and sales goals as well as promoting the big digital and PR campaigns.  There should be a 360° approach taking place daily on all social networks where your brand has a presence. While this may seem like common sense, many brands with the larger budgets don’t take this approach and often miss a chance to build a long term consistent relationship with their customer which can be a huge driver in maintaining and increasing sales.  Client Bigelow Tea is a great example of how to invest in strategic daily content as noted in our case study:

 

So how does a brand find daily social media success?  Ask the following and share the answer directly or indirectly with every Facebook update, every Tweet, every Pin, every blog entry, every Tumblr post, and every video on YouTube:

  1. What is your mission?
  2. What do you sell (be specific…down to the smallest details…customers want to know everything)?
  3. What is the big deal about what you sell?
  4. Why should the consumer pick your brand over any other (without degrading your competition)?
  5. Does your company do good in the world by taking care of your employees, honoring the environment, or giving back in some way?

If every brand (or agency for that brand) fully understands that daily content is not random, you are ahead of the game, you will win against your competition, and you are the innovators still…at this point.

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts

 

photo credit: tjmwatson via photopin cc

 

 

 

#Content Marketing Tips To Help Your Business Grow

blog-327073_640Buyers are searching the internet for solutions every day. By utilizing a content marketing strategy, your business increases its visibility on the web.

Content marketing is becoming an important component of marketing strategies - 93% of B2B marketers now use content marketing as part of their overall marketing plan.

Companies that publish their own content and measure their campaigns are seeing increases in leads and sales.

However, determining content marketing ROI is still a challenge for most businesses.

Why custom content?

  • More than half of consumers are more likely to buy from companies that publish their own content.
  • B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month on average than businesses that don’t blog.

Mashable recently reported that while content marketing is a priority to many businesses, only 29% are effectively tracking ROI of their content marketing campaigns.

Captora’s new content marketing infographic shares new data on metrics of success as well as other content marketing tips like best days of the week to share content and more.

Review your content marketing plan and make sure you are measuring your campaigns with the metrics listed below.

 

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Image via Pixabay.

How Do You Or Your Brand Use Each Social Network Effectively?

image flickr @10chEven though we are in the day and age of social media and every parent is posting pictures of their kids on Facebook and professional photographers are
showcasing their work on Instagram, it still doesn’t mean that everyone or every brand knows which network to use and for what.  I don’t believe in “rules” so I won’t provide a “must do” guide, but I will share with you how I use each social network which might help you navigate the social streaming waters.

Blogging is the grandparent of social media and has huge value in my mind.  Whether you are an individual or a brand, a blog presents the opportunity to position yourself as an expert in your field.  Your blog entries need to be clear, concise and well written in order to be effective or you will lose your readers/customers. It’s an excellent SEO tool too so I believe every brand, even though it does take time and effort, should sport one on their website.  Our Creative Concepts blog is geared for potential clients so it’s simple and presents “how-to” kinds of information as well as up to date social media and PR news and has evolved over time based on the needs of the business and our clients.  WordPress and Tumblr are some of the most well-known platforms (and in my mind the best) but there are many out there to choose from based on your requirements.

I got onto Facebook literally years ago when Robert Scoble made a bold announcement that it was the next big thing.  I follow these kinds of announcements as more of a call to investigate but this time I agreed with him as Facebook truly did have potential.  Back in the day, I used the social network to rub elbows with my social media peers as they were the only ones on it, but over time my approach has evolved as has my community which is now predominantly family as well as past and present friends.  Today I share mostly kid news and inspirational images and videos.  I do post some client content but keep that at a minimum.  For Creative Concepts, each client page we manage approaches Facebook differently but to make an overarching statement, the social network is still great for consumer brands because of the capability to engage the customer and have them take an action successfully.

LinkedIn feels to me like an old castle.  It’s reputable and withstood the test of time and has the obvious great hall (aka newsfeed) but there are many hidden rooms (or tools) to uncover that could provide great value whether you are looking for more clients, searching for a new job, searching for employees, or positioning yourself as a thought leader and more.  It’s not always obvious what to do when on the site but if you spend enough time walking the hallways so to speak, you will find numerous gems of opportunity that will help you attain your business or career goals.  I only post business content here and do the same for clients.

Twitter is a whole bunch of fun for me and very useful.  I personally got onto Twitter much later than the other social networks because it seemed to have its own foreign language which I didn’t have time to learn.  But….once I finally immersed myself in Twitter culture I ran with it.  Here I chat about all that is social media, public relations and marketing.  I use it to share client content, to look for and report on breaking news and happily use it to access many of our media contacts who actually pay attention to their twitter mentions.  I can almost tell immediately how much experience people have with social media by checking out their twitter feed which is useful in assessing possible employees and future clients.  And speaking of clients, I still feel that Twitter doesn’t have as much impact as other social networks when it comes to driving followers to a specific action but it’s a necessity for live events, hashtag campaigns and basic brand exposure if your customer is on Twitter.

Pinterest is therapeutic for me which means I don’t really take it seriously and I have never gotten a business lead from it, but I do enjoy pinning to my boards as a break from any intense work I am doing.  I know that many bloggers drive traffic to their blog by using this network and it is starting to attract business types along with those interested in fashion, food, travel, weddings, interior design and more, so it does have potential like all social networks if you invest the time and energy into ‘working’ it.

Instagram is a great example (for me) on how you can begin using a channel one way, then engage in the network and then choose to use it completely differently.  When I first opened up my profile I kept it private as way to share photos with my family but later made my Instagram public and approached it like I did Twitter…it would focus on my social media and PR business. I have always loved taking photos and have had an appreciation for beautiful images so my business focus went by the wayside and I ended up only following top photogs (along with some close friends) and only posted my very best photos taken with my phone.  I have become more of a quiet observer unlike my presence on other social networks.

I literally joined Vine the day they announced the new app and messed around with it immediately.  I did a few client Vines but quickly realized that the time it took to produce a spectacular video was out of my skill range and so now I just watch hilarious Vines while waiting for something or someone…it’s pure entertainment (for me)!

To be honest, I don’t interact much on Google +, but I know there is great SEO value in posting content there so my team posts Creative Concepts and client content on a regular basis but we don’t stick around long enough to build it into a highly engaged community. There are many who believe that this network should be for both posting content and engaging with your community so as always do what works for you and/or your brand by testing it out.

I Snaptchat with my kids and find it hilarious but because the tools are not as robust as some of the other social networks and because my present clients chose to invest their social budget elsewhere, I limit my time here.

Totally used WhatsApp when my daughter traveled abroad but other than that friends and family don’t use it regularly nor do any of my clients…at this point I am waiting for the next international trip in order to get back on it.

Yik Yak is a crazy preteen/teen network (even though they say you need to be 17 to join) that focuses on anonymously sharing info and talking about others in a 1.5 mile radius.  It’s boring for me but lethal for teens as they are destroyed when called out by others (because most comments or ‘Yaks’ are negative).  This is a perfect example of the dark side of social media.

Foursquare, Four what?  Haven’t been on in ages but had some fun on it when I was using it actively.  Many stopped using this network as the rest of the social sites started to build their own location capabilities.

YouTube is hot of course and has huge reach (no other single cable TV network has this same reach for 18-34 year olds) but because I personally don’t produce videos, I don’t have my own channel and any client videos we produce go on their branded channel but don’t let that stop you from making the most of this very powerful and still growing social network.

Remember that this is not a strict guide on what every person or every brand should do within social media but more of an example of how you might approach the various social networks.  Here are a few closing tips that hopefully will help you get started on any or all of the above sites:

  1. Choose to be “social” where you are comfortable or where your customers are
  2. Test the waters by listening, posting and engaging to figure out what works
  3. Follow your instincts when connecting with others directly whether for yourself or a brand
  4. Walk away and return later (or not) from a comment if you can’t decide how to engage or respond appropriately
  5. Most of all, have fun reaching out to a present or emerging community in a meaningful way!

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts

photo credit: 10ch via photopin cc