Christmas Caring via Social Media

Christmas time has long been the time of year when people come together to help others. From Christmas Hampers to people facing adversity in their lives, communities around the world can be found supporting their neighbours in need. We see these stories, almost every day, via our Social Media channels. Someone sets up a Facebook Page and the support starts pouring in.

So, why aren’t the organizations that have been supporting those in needs doing more to reach out, through their Social Media channels?

It’s About the Story

When you see the story about someone in need, showing up in your newsfeed or stream, it is almost always connected to a heart wrenching or heart warming, story. It is the story that drives people to give, often generously, to show their support. It is the story that grabs the attention of media and other Social Media users. It is the story that leaves people cheering forNAAGCharity a positive outcome.

Organizations that support those in need, throughout the year or just over the holidays, have hundreds of stories like these and the successes that they have achieved in making a difference. Many of the newer organizations, or efforts, often make good use of Social Media, but some of the older, more established, ones are lagging behind and suffering as a result. These organizations have even more to offer in the story. They have a history to share.

It’s Not a Competition

In my own community, Christmas Hamper Funds and Food Bank Drives  abound, during the holiday season. Almost like clock work, within a couple of weeks of Christmas Day, the news paper features a story about one of our local organizations saying that they may not have enough donations to support their hamper demands and, sadly, they point to other local efforts as “taking away” from theirs. The thing that stands out is that those other local fund and food raisers are using Social Media to draw attention to their work, while this older, more established, organization relies heavily on their “we have been doing this for decades” presence in the community. Communities grow and change and the days of “but we have always been here, so people will come” concept has to change with it.

Reach Beyond Your Community

My favourite example of Social Media making a difference in giving, happened in 2011. Dave Reynolds (@TheDaveReynolds), a local radio personality, held his annual food bank drive to fill the depleted shelves of the organization. Using his ever growing Social Media reach, he engaged his Social Media community, as well as his local one. The telling of the stories of need and success, both on air and online, had a profound impact on his effort. So much so that a goal of filling a 40′ trailer with food, turned into a filling of THREE trailers with food and money donation in the thousands of dollars. People from as far away as Europe and the Caribbean were donating funds to help support those in need in a small Vancouver Island community. So much food was gathered, that the local shelves were so full, there was enough left over to fill the need of another, even smaller community, with empty food bank shelves. Thousands of people gave, engaged in the story presented to them.

Reach a New Generation

If you go into most community support organizations or fund raising events, there is a distinctly “older” group doing a lions share of the work. Beyond the time they may have available to lend a hand, they also have a more personal connection to where they live and drawn to lend support, by friends, family and colleagues through real life communication (Service Clubs, etc). Millennials, however, are more often that not, engaged in similar conversations and groups, only online. Traditional methods of engaging new volunteers are missed, because those volunteers are, quite literally, not where they used to be.

An organization, like a Food Bank, can make great head way by building a Social Media presence and filling that presence with news, information and, most important, the stories of those in need and how they are able to make a difference in those lives. While many will tell you that “organic reach is dead”, during the holiday season it is alive and well, through people sharing the heart warming stories of making a difference in the lives of complete strangers.

In the 21st Century of giving, Social Media has the ability to turn the Global Village into your local support.

Social Media in Politics

Social networking has changed the way we communicate, interact with brands and how political candidates effectively deliver their messages to their voters. It has the potential to shift society, to affect campaigns for every industry and help reach thousands of customers in a cost effective way. Social media is the answer to getting your message out, and best of all, a social presence means results and those results are measurable. It helps to create new relationships, retain loyal supporters, and deliver your campaigns message effectively to your constituency.

Proof in Action

I have had the opportunity to manage several politician’s social media strategies, to help build their online presence and ultimately recruit as many local constituents to their campaigns as possible. I worked for approximately 3 years for BC Environment Minister Mary Polak as her social media manager taking her social media from minimal to being named the 3rd most influential politician on Twitter in BC by Hill & Canada's PM Harper delivers a speech in OttawaKnowlton. Mary created this position for me in her constituency office in Langley and was the first MLA in the province to have such a position. Most MLAs who had bought into the importance of social media usually had their constituency assistants do it at the side of their desks.

Our goal was simply to be innovative about reaching the most number of constituents through social media channels whether Facebook , Twitter or any other sites. I have been actively engaged in politics since I was 14 years old or half of my life so I have gained insights and experience on the day to day life of politics.

What the Future Holds

As we enter into 2015 and begin to think about the upcoming federal election in the fall of 2015, we must reflect the present avenues of public discourse. Social media has opened the accessibility to our elected leaders significantly so we can tweet or comment and get a response or hours. Social Media has also enabled elected officials to engage the public on the most pressing issues of the day to hear what the public is saying about these issues. Social Media has also made politicians even more likely to make their public mistakes even more public. Their sharply worded tweet can be the next mornings headline if they don’t handle even response carefully.

Here are my top 5 tips for politicians, their staff and their upcoming campaign teams.

1) Always practise “safe tweeting”. Always think twice before posting or have someone else even a stranger look at your response to get their feedback

2) Have a social media strategy to identify your goals and objectives but also your main themes

3) Always answer. If you want your social media to be effective then please actually answer the question the best you can. Don’t give spin or a politician answer.2000px-Canada_Fed_election_2011_Ridings.svg

4) Be human. Don’t always post serious or issues based posts.

5) Use social media year round and not just during elections. This will ensure the public knows that your social media efforts are not just an election effort but a genuine effort to engage.

Social Media has the potential for political candidates to not only reach a wide range of constituents but also provide an opportunity for an ongoing dialogue in our modern democracy. While many commentators suggest that Obama won because of his online strategy including social media, his online strategy was part of a greater strategy to get a movement elected. Social media has the potential for incredible offline benefits so consider it and use it.

- This post was submitted by Todd Hauptman, a Public Relations Consultant, based out of Kamloops, British Columbia

 

From Zero to Viral

For as long as I have been coaching and talking about Social Media, I have been saying the same thing; “Viral Just Happens“. You cannot plan to make it happen. You cannot develop it. One day you are going to create something that resonates with people online and “whoosh!”, off you go! I have seen it happen dozens of times and it is always fascinating.

And Then it Happened to Me.

 

I typed a post, over my morning Cheerio’s, with the idea that a few of my friends might find funny. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was WHEN I was posting it. You see, the post was about the local ferry system, a hot button topic at the best of times, but even more so at the time I posted. The province was also in the final week run to municipal elections, so people in communities around the coast of British Columbia are watching and reading the Social Media streams about issues that are important to them. Then my 100 word rant hits the stream. 2 hours after the initial post, I returned to my Facebook account to find 800 Likes and hundreds of shares. Uh-Oh.


People are Commenting. Now What?

Late in the evening of the second day the post was online, I was watching the Likes on the post tick over like seconds on a clock. While I was stunned at the reaction to the post, as a Social Media Coach, I was pondering a more important question; now what? I have all these comments to react to. I have hundreds of shares to look at. I have people sending me friend requests like a flood and mainstream media is calling by any means possible. All of it made me realize that creating viral isn’t nearly as important as managing viral. If something you post does go “BOOM”, not having a plan to deal with it makes it an almost wasted opportunity.

So, I dug in and focused on what’s next. I watched the notifications and focused on the comments, versus the shares, looking for comments that would be of value to engage with conversation. I didn’t Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 10.56.01 PMignore the shares, though. I would look for shares on news pages, organizational pages or pages of influencers, then drop a comment on those shared posts. It was time consuming, but had value in that it helped push an already viral post to go even further. I also made sure that any media involved in covering the post, were also sharing it with their audiences. Leveraging the growing network of people and making sure that as many of them remained engaged in to the conversation as possible. Then there was the continued addition of new (and relevant) posts, to be added, in order to enhance the topic.

Traditional media plays a very big part in the marvel of viral. Television interviews with media, such as TV (CTV, Global, CHEK News) and Radio (CKNW 980, CFAX 1070, CBC and CHED 630) and even the local paper, help spread the word even further.

All of this work paid off, but my personal FB Profile Page was becoming impossible to manage…..so, on to the next phase.


Give Them What They Want.

After spending time reading and replying to so many comments and posts, I found that people were liking, sharing and commenting on the post because it was their chance to voice how they were feeling. I also discovered that there was NO way that I was going to be able to focus and manage the conversation, via my personal Facebook profile. So, after gathering my content, I created a Facebook Page that featured all the content and conversations around the subject of my original post, plus giving those who had been following the conversations, a place to add their own. Prior to the launch, I put out teaser posts and thoughts around what the “next phase” of the conversation was going to be, encouraging the tens of thousands following the conversations to stay tuned for something more for them to engage with. As I had hoped, this, too, resonated with the audience.

 

But, What If It’s Not Your Post?

 

It’s not uncommon for people and businesses to try and take advantage of a viral post. My original post was plagiarized within almost an hour of it going online. While News Jacking is not rare, it is rare that it is done effectively. In the case of my post, there are plenty of people and businesses that could leverage the viral nature of the topic, for their own ends. In a post about News Jacking Opportunity, Jordon Caron writes about how businesses can find opportunity in the viral conversation, by doing more than simply inserting themselves into it. In some cases it is possible to become a follow up story on the back of the original, simply by applying some good old fashioned customer service, in a very public manner.

As I write this, I am well into my second week of the post driving conversation. The new Facebook page past 1400 Likes in less than 48 hours and the comment stream continues to grow, by the hour. If there is a lesson to be learned, from these 100 words that lit up yet another dialogue about the Provincial Ferry Service, it is this; You can go from Zero to Viral in no time at all. Engage and Hold On.

 

 

The Return of the Facebook Groups for Business

It was not so long ago that Facebook Groups were slowly being abandoned for the Facebook Page, as businesses discovered they could make “fans” of their business and market to a broader group of consumers. In time, Facebook Groups slowly disappeared into the realm of high school reunions, community garage sales, and the bottom of the business priority list.

However, as the Facebook Page environment grew, so did the attraction of those who’s sole purpose in life is to market and sell. Then Facebook discovered that there was some real money to be made in the advertising market. Suddenly, the “free” aspect of marketing via Facebook Pages began to disappear. Most importantly, the marketers of the world, unfamiliar with Social being anything more than the 3-martini lunch with a client, began to erode the Social out of Social Media. Connecting with their audience became impersonal, one-way, conversations. The “Fans” became more and more disengaged and less and less likely to share their love of a product or service.

Re-enter the Facebook Group

In a recent post on Steamfeed.com, Social Media Manager Keri Jaehnig (@kerijaehnig) wrote about the 10 Reasons to Use Facebook Groups for Business. In it she touched on the key advantages of have a Facebook Group, such as Nurturing Relationships with Brand Ambassadors and having Conversations for Membership Programs, but one point, in particular, catches the eye of the business owner who has watched his/her organic reach slowly disappear from the Facebook landscape; Easier to be Seen in the Facebook Newsfeed.

Haven’t you noticed? That Community Buy and Sell, that youare a part of, seems to always end up in your newsfeed. Same with the Lost Pets group, or the Star Wars Fanboy and Fangirl Group. These are groups that share your interest and you are more likely to see them roll through your feed than the Paid Ad for latest line of vacuum cleaners, especially if you engage in the groups posts and conversations, on a regular basis.

Meshfire and its Firestarters

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 2.36.18 AMSome companies, like Seattle based Meshfire, have used their Facebook Group to  not only build up their supporters, but they have also been using the platform to bounce ideas and create new features via that select audience of users. For instance, the analytics data feature is a direct result of them asking the group “what would you like to see added to Meshfire?”. That is a powerful tool, when it comes to building brand loyalty and ambassadors. The company even has a name for their Facebook Group followers (full disclosure; I am one); Firestarters!

Why Now?

I asked Keri Jaehnig why she thought now was the time to write this post about Facebook Groups for Business. “I think businesses are getting frustrated by Facebook’s changes and the decline of organic reach”, she says. “They are looking for an alternative and this is a great one”. “What is great about Facebook Groups”, she continued, “is that it allows for a much more personal, one-to-one, interaction with the brand and other members who are part of the group. It is also easy to cross over conversations started on a Facebook Page, to a Facebook Group, in order to expand on the Pages content.

The difference between a person who Likes a Facebook Page and a person who Joins a Facebook Group, is also something to consider. Says Jaehnig “your ideal Facebook Group member is a person who wants to amp up their knowledge, who are, perhaps, involved in a niche that your brand or product fills, who are open to (and willing to share) new ideas and, most of all, are active participants in the conversations”. In marketing, the Holy Trinity of Consumer is the one who Uses, Shares and Talks about your product or brand. Imagine a large, focused, group of them doing just that!

Can a Facebook Group be a good marketing tool, though? Yes, says Jaehnig. For all the reasons mentioned, before. “You have a group of Ambassadors, who are engaged, even passionate, about your brand. By encouraging them to share your events or share their experiences / passions about your product or brand, you are tapping into their Social networks, even outside of the Facebook environment. It is the New Organic.”

What was really interesting about Jaehnig’s post was that it almost didn’t come to pass. “I was really nervous about posting it and I was hesitating about hitting the ‘publish’ button. I really wasn’t sure how it was going to be received”. That is understandable, considering every huckster in the stream is now showing people “How To Build A Facebook Ad Campaign That Will Guarantee Results”. Much to her surprise, it was not only well received, it was REALLY well received, being shared more than 5500 times since it was posted on September 29th, over 5x the number of shares on her other Steamfeed posts. “I was in shock,” she said. “When I saw that even the Social Media Examiner shared it, I was over the moon!”

Facebook Groups do still have a Con to go with all of its Pros; it is still Rented Space. This means that Facebook could change it’s mind about how its Groups are used, accessed or find their way into your Newsfeed. Until that time, however, businesses should look at Facebook Groups as a new way to re-engage those Fans that they worked so hard to get.

 

Welcome to Social Media Camp Blog 2.0

That's me on the left.

That’s me on the left.

Welcome!

Welcome to the New and Improved, Twice as Awesome, Feature Full, Raucously Fun, Information Infused, Social Media Savvy, Social Media Camp Blog 2.0!

Um. Yeah. OK. That may be just a little over the top. Actually, the only thing that is really new is me. Your Friendly Neighbourhood SMCamp Blog Editor.

Where We Have Come From

When the SMCamp Blog went live a few years ago, it quickly grew a following of Camp attendees and Social Media curious. In it’s second year, an editor was taken on and stable of authors approached to create readable and engaging content. I was pleased to be a part of that original group of authors and it was great to see how the blog was able to create an online buzz about the event. Last year, however, the focus changed a bit and the blog took a place on the back burner, gone, but certainly not forgotten.

In the post conference review, the organizers decided that the blog should return, to not only help add to the conversation online, but to generate a buzz around the annual Social Media Camp event, itself. Not a small task. To revive a dormant blog is never easy, but reviving it in a world where there are so many great blogs with some even greater content, is daunting. So what’s a rookie editor to do.

Where We Are Going

Well, we are going to focus on making sure that we are supplying content from some of the best people in the Social Media industry, not to mention content from rookie writers, looking for a space that can help them launch their scribblings into the InterWebs. We are going to add dynamic content, such as working with the Victoria based podcast “John, Paul & Mic” to further discuss featured posts on the blog. We are working with some of the incredible writers in the steamfeed.com stable of authors. Most important, we are going to have content from some of the many great speakers that have done Keynotes and Workshops at Social Media Camp, sharing some of their knowledge and insights on what makes Social Media work!

Finally, we want to hear from you, our soon to be loyal readers! We want to know what you would like to see in our posts. Tips and tricks, explanations on new features in existing platforms or new platforms. Marketing strategies, engagement strategies, lead generation or customer service techniques. Ask and we will look to find an author with that expertise! We also want to hear from bloggers interested in guest posting on our blog. We are only too happy to help launch the newest blogging sensation!

Social Media Camp is the largest Social Media Conference in Canada. My job is to help make a blog that matches that prestigious status. LET’S GO!

Sean Smith
Editor
The Social Media Camp Blog

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Expecting More from Traditional Media

At a recent Chamber of Commerce event in my town, I had a chat with the Operations and Sales Manager for a local radio station. As we talked about Social Media, it was completely obvious that he really didn’t care (and certainly didn’t understand) about the power of Social Media. In fact, when I gave an example of how Social Media improves the reach of their streaming Internet signal, being heard in markets as far away as Europe. He actually said “so what? Where the value for us being heard in Europe”. Honestly, I sat gob-smacked for a moment, as I wrapped my head around a sales manager not understanding the value to some of the businesses that contract to the station for advertising. “How about EVERY tourism based business that advertises on your station”. Suddenly, the light went on.

Doing it because the other guy is

Slowly, pretty well every form of traditional media (radio, TV, newspapers, etc), have jumped on the Social Media band wagon. Most, however, do it only because their competition is, without a strategy or focus, or even a goal. The Operations Manager I was speaking with was very pleased with the fact that their iPhone app had been downloaded over 12,000 times, but entirely missed the fact that this app was being downloaded to mobile devices. You know, those devices that have at least one Social Media app that a user can share what they are doing. Right now. Like listening to the radio station.

Their Websites feature Social Media links for people to access, yet there is little engagement or activity, mainly because their Social Media channels are managed by someone that has the task as a second or third hat. This one station has almost 2,400 “Likes” on their Facebook page, with virtually no conversation, or interaction with followers, on things they post, making you asks “why is this here?” Twitter is even worse, with fewer than 600 Followers and little in the way of interaction with those followers and, as I lead into the point of this post, virtually no discussion about the businesses that advertise with them.

The Ad Puzzle is Incomplete

Some of my personal business clients have virtually abandoned traditional media in favour of Social Media. I don’t recommend it, but they have obviously seen the value of their own engagement on Social Media, over the ROI on what they spend on traditional advertizing. While I suggest ways that they can leverage that traditional advertising with Social Media features, they decide against it. Why? Because those traditional media outlets are not helping them with that aspect of their promotion. It is an opportunity lost, because traditional media players cannot understand their place in Social Media, especially in smaller markets. Without a Social Media marketing plan or strategy of their own, it is nearly impossible for traditional media outlets to help their clients integrate Social Media into the advertizing package. Without traditional media understanding how Social Media helps create brand advocates through shared conversations, the chances of them adding it into their advertizing packages becomes even more unlikely.

The Field is Wide Open. RUN!

Social Media being used by traditional media is still relatively new, with the only real hurdle being the convincing of the old school owners, managers and talent. What is needed is to make sure that the old school does feel that their way of doing things isn’t being replaced, but rather being enhanced. Larger market traditional media has always fared better than smaller market, but now the field is being leveled by all outlets being able to reach the same numbers, globally. Here are a few ideas to explore, in order for traditional media outlets to leverage Social Media, rather than to simply use it.

  1. Feature Ads on Facebook Pages. Local radio and newspapers can feature their advertising clients, by simply adding images and links of their clients brands into the daily Social Media conversations.
  2. Tweet “Today’s Morning Drive/Show Time sponsored by @brandx in #mytown. Listen Live at www.ourstation.com”
  3. Engage with users that are WAY outside the traditional reach of signal. A conversation with a listener / reader on another continent generates interest that supports clients that want to access that market.
  4. Dedicate a staff member to working the Social Media channels, in conjunction with on air talent, reporters and sales people. They manage the conversations created by others and add the appropriate advertising client when the opportunity presents.
  5. Create a Social Media policy and marketing strategy that INCLUDES the advertising clients, and live by it!

Social Media is the best way to create new audiences for traditional media companies, as well as enhancing the experience for those who already follow. Make the effort to share that exposure and experience with your advertising clients and a whole new market opens up.