Category Archives: Facebook

Join Google+ … Before Your Fans Leave You on Facebook

Before I offer some Google+ strategies for specific businesses, let’s talk about why your fans are getting sick of your Facebook and Twitter Pages.  There is a big difference between an incredible brand and incredible social media.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that just because a page has a massive following that their social media is all that exciting to their followers.

Initially, social media was an opportunity for brands to show a little personality and interact directly with their customers.  But just like anything else, brands went from not having a clue how to do that to perfecting it to the point that everyone follows the same formula and posts are starting to look remarkably similar.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at posts about the 2012 Olympics by some top brands.

Olympics Facebook Posts

Don’t get me wrong, some brands still feature a unique social media persona.  Applebee’s Lunch Decoy is pretty darn clever and show’s a sense of humor you don’t always see on brand pages.  But just for fun, visit a handful of Facebook pages and count how many times you see the following posts from the past week: Caption Contest, Fill in the Blank, Open-Ended (but mundane) question, sweepstakes, or the celebration of a weird holidays like National Cheesecake, Chocolate, or Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Retailers are especially guilty of falling into a routine of formulaic posts that get plenty of Likes and Comments, but more so because the brand itself is so beloved – not because the content itself is all that interesting.  As you read through brand posts, start asking yourself, “If this was a small no name brand, would anyone respond to this content?”

In a weird sort of way, these are the types of posts that fans have come to expect on Facebook.  They’re easy to Like and comment on and there’s an unending stream of sweepstakes and contests.  Unfortunately, they’re also easy to tune out after a while when you see the same repetitive content in your News Feed.

Google+ is an opportunity to return to the foundation of what draws your clients and customers into Social Media Marketing in the first place – Authenticity and transparency.  In my opinion, exclusivity is key to Google+ strategy.  Offer an experience that fans and potential followers can’t get on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your website.   One strategy is to remove the veil to reveal a behind-the-scenes look at your business, your products, your employees, and more.

Tomorrow’s blog will offer some industry specific strategies and content ideas that you can start implementing on your G+ Page right away.

This blog is part of a week long Google+ series.  To read more about G+, choose any of the blogs below:

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Avoid Facebook’s Bad Side… Use an App – Facebook Sweepstakes: Part 2

Everywhere you look, businesses are advertising a new Facebook promotion.  We offered up a variety of contest ideas in our last webinar, Keep the Holidays Jolly with Social Media Marketing

These promotions are a Win Win.  Fans get the opportunity to vie for prizes and interact with their favorite brands, while businesses grow their fan base and engage in a fun way with their customers. 

What most people don’t realize is that there are very strict Facebook Promotions Guidelines. Ignoring these rules can turn an opportunity into a nightmare if Facebook suspends or deletes your account for violating Facebook Terms of Use.  Facebook apps have been designed to make your promotions look polished, while keeping you out of trouble. AppBistro lists promotion apps from several different creators at different price points.  Shortstack offers a free account option to get you started.  A good app and a basic understanding of Facebook’s Promotions Guidelines will keep you out of hot water.

This is NOT a Facebook promotion!

All of Facebook’s Rules come back to a single idea:  They do not want to be associated with your promotion!  In other words, make it abundantly clear to your entrants that Facebook does not sponsor or endorse your promotion.  Find an app that takes care of the fine print, like clearly stating that the info being provided is for you, not Facebook.

Your Wall is not the place for a promotion

You can’t simply post a promotion on your Wall or ask Fans to post photos or comments to your Wall as a condition of your contest.  Facebook considers this as using “Facebook features or functionality” to participate in your promotion.  Apps can create a special tab for entrants to do things like vote or upload photos so that it’s not directly on your Wall.

No “Liking” Allowed… or is there?

Let’s face it, the primary goals of a Facebook promotion are both to grow and engage your fan base.  Facebook says you CANNOT ask Fans to Like your Page in order to enter your promotion.  However, you CAN ask people to Like your Page in order to view more information about your sweepstakes.  Apps with a fan gate will require entrants to Like your Page in order to view the content on the promotion tab and then enter.  This way, you still get those new Likes without breaking any rules.

Don’t let certain words get you in trouble

Most apps give you the option of customizing text to explain your promotion.  Think very carefully about the wording of your promotion.  Facebook even differentiates between “contest” and “sweepstakes.”  If your winner is chosen entirely by chance, like a random drawing, then you’re holding a “sweepstakes.”  If your promotion requires any kind of skill, like playing a game or submitting photos, then you’re holding a “contest.”

Did you know that the word “Wall” falls under Facebook’s copyrights and trademarks?  When advertising your promotion, or writing the text for your contest app, play it safe and avoid using words like “Wall” and “Like” in association with your contest.

Collect Email Addresses!

When Facebook says they don’t want you to use “Facebook features or functionality” in association with your promotion, they are referring to more than just Likes!  You cannot notify your winners by posting on your Wall, their Wall, or even messaging them through Facebook.  You have to find an alternative way to announce the winner, like sending an email or calling them.

The rules surrounding Facebook promotions can be intimidating, but don’t let them dissuade you from coming up with your own promotions!  Contests and sweepstakes are an incredible way to attract new Fans, interact with your customers and make your Page a little more fun!  A simple app will help you avoid any pitfalls and remove a lot of the guesswork.   If you’re STILL unsure about what’s right or wrong, send us an email and we’ll point you in the right direction.  

Don’t miss out on Part 1: Nothing Says “Happy Holidays” like Free Stuff!  Facebook Sweepstakes

Nothing Says “Happy Holidays” like Free Stuff! Facebook Sweepstakes: Part 1

Nothing makes the holidays merrier than free stuff!  With the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, businesses are looking for inventive ways to catch your attention.  Facebook sweepstakes and contests are a Win Win.  Not only do you get a chance to win prizes just in time for the holidays, but businesses can get your attention during the busiest shopping season of the year. 

Here are 5 Facebook sweepstakes and contests to cover everyone on your shopping list and even spread some holiday cheer with others.  Don’t delay!  With the holiday’s just around the corner, some of these sweepstakes end very soon!


 Sweepstakes ends December 6th

Amazon has something for everyone and they’re hoping that their sweepstakes is too good to keep to yourself.  The Win With Friends Sweepstakes will not only award winners with incredible prizes (like the Kindle Fire), but let’s your friends share in your winnings.  When you enter the sweepstakes, you’re given the option to name 3 friends who will also win prizes if you win.  This is a Facebook sweepstakes done right because they offer their fans a sought after prize and a huge incentive to spread the word.


Sweepstake ends December 25th

Ghiradelli designed the ultimate chocolate lovers sweepstakes – a chance to win a year’s worth of chocolate.  Not only does a grand winner walk away with $500 worth of cocoa goodness, but they give you a chance to win prizes daily in a countdown to Christmas.  Ghiradelli made my list because not only did they find the perfect prize for their customers, but they offered an incentive to check their Page daily for a new opportunity to win.

Black & Decker

Sweepstakes ends December 18th

Here’s your chance to win any of the items from this year’s Black & Decker Holiday Gift Guide with the Match-and-Win Game.  Every day until Christmas, visit their page and attempt to uncover 2 matching squares and win some primo tools!  Black & Decker also came up with a smart way of encouraging you to tell your friends about them throughout the holidays.  Normally, you can play the game for one chance to win daily… but if you share the game with a friend, you’ll get two shots at winning.


Sweepstakes ends December 24th

You don’t have to be a pet owner to appreciate $10,000!  Petsmart’s Holiday Gift Grab is less about chance and more about skill.  They place 3 presents on your screen and point out one that you should keep an eye on.  With the speed that those presents start spinning and swapping you’ll lose the right box in a blink of an eye, so pay close attention.  If you pick the right box at the end, you win!  The Grand Prize is $10,000, but there are tons of other pet giveaways.  They give you 10,000 reasons to check back and play daily.

Home Depot

Voting ends December 14th

Home Depot’s contest is a special one because it truly personifies the holiday spirit of giving.  Their Gift of Good tab features photos of 9 military families who could use a little help.  One very lucky family will win $20,000 of much needed home services.  Click on the photos to read the family’s story and cast your vote for the family you’d most like to receive the prize.  Home Depot did a wonderful job of letting us know where their priorities are.  This is my favorite Facebook contest I’ve seen in a long time because just one click lets you do something very kind for a deserving family.

When it comes to the holidays, Facebook contests and sweepstakes are a fun way for customers to snag some incredible prizes and even spread good cheer.  They can help businesses interact with their fans during the most important shopping season of the year while building their fan base for the year to come. 

When it comes to setting up your own Facebook sweepstake or contest, be sure to follow Facebook’s strict rules or you could risk having your Page suspended.  If you’re thinking about creating your own Facebook sweepstakes, read tomorrow’s blog,  Facebook Sweepstakes: Part 2, for some guidelines to keep yourself out of hot water.   

It’s Time to Hire a Facebook Person When…

Entrepreneurs are exceptionally driven individuals, which often translates into a “Why would I hire someone to do something that I know I could figure out for myself” attitude.  Why would their Facebook Page be any different?  Facebook is free afterall!  As a business owner, when does it make sense to pay someone to manage your Facebook Page?  If you answer NO to any of these Facebook frustrations, it’s time to invest in some Social Media help.

Do you know how to gain followers?

You’ve created your Facebook Page and sent out the obligatory announcement to everyone you know.  Twenty or so of your friends and family members have “Liked” your Page…  Now what?  It doesn’t matter how great your posts are if no one is reading them.  Your Page will only be as successful as your ability to find and entice your ideal demographic.  

Do you have a specific Facebook goal?

Contrary to popular belief, amassing thousands of followers is not a goal.  It is the result of an effective Facebook strategy.  You have to ask yourself, “Why do I want people following me?”  Or better yet, “What would I do with them if I did get them to follow me?”  You must clearly define what you’re trying to accomplish with your Facebook Page, who you want to attract, and what you want them to do when they find you.  

Do you know who’s following you?

A large following is fantastic… but only if it’s made up of people who will actually buy your product or service.  When is the best time for you to post? Where are your fans located?  What percentages are male or female and from what age bracket?  Analysis removes doubt.  It confirms which parts of your strategy are working, and reveals which aspects need to be altered.

Do you know what to post?

Difficulty in this area usually manifests itself in two ways:  1) You go weeks or even months without posting anything or 2) your posts are primarily focused on new products, services or sales.  Stale or inconsistent posting may be doing your Page more harm than good.  Breathing new life into your Facebook Page could be as simple as learning what type of content will attract your specific audience.

Do you have better things to do?

You didn’t start a business because you wanted to devote all your time to marketing it.  You probably started a business because you had an idea, a product, or a service that you wanted to cultivate.  Facebook can be time consuming.  To be valuable, you need to determine which times are best to post and how to attract your ideal demographic.  Ultimately, most business owners agree that their time is better spent fine tuning their services or products than burying themselves in their Facebook Page.  

Business owners struggle with a combination of these Facebook frustrations.  Hiring someone to help with your Facebook Page can be as simple as a one-time consultation to point you in the right direction.  Others enlist a professional to manage everything from the Strategy and Analysis to the day-to-day (and often hour-to-hour) monitoring, content creation, and posting.  The question is not whether you could learn the ins and outs of Facebook Marketing.  The question is how much time you want to commit to your Facebook Strategy.   

Mark My Words. This is where Social Networks are heading – PART 2

Facebook and Twitter were two very different animals… until Google+ hit the scene.   G+ developed their network around the most popular features of Twitter and Facebook and addressed their deficits by creating Circles.  Facebook in turn stole the Circles idea.  Until recently, Social Networks have pretended that there’s no such thing as competition.  But when they roll out features that bear a striking resemblance to their rivals’, it becomes obvious that they’re paying attention.  They try to play it cool, but they are freaking out!  The new competitive pressure being placed on companies like Facebook and Twitter will completely shift the way they operate.

The more that each network resembles the next, the less incentives we have to create multiple profiles and visit each on a regular basis.  Dashboards like TweetDeck, SproutSocial, and Hootsuite allow us to check several profiles in a single place, but somehow lack the same sense of community provided by the networks themselves.  The bottom line is that few users will visit multiple networks every day and dashboards are just not as fun and community centric as the real deal.  So what’s the solution?  Social Networks will become more like dashboards.

I call this Open Architecture – meaning at some point, I will be able to settle on the network that I prefer but still interact with my friends from outside networks.  How is that any different than a phone company?  The plans, phones, and features that distinguish one cell phone company from another are minimal and easily copied – rollover minutes, touch screens, family plans.  Instead they compete on customer service, coverage, and market share to draw in customers.

I have been an ATT customer for almost 15 years (long before there was such thing as an iPhone).  They reward me for calling people within my network but that doesn’t stop me from calling my brother who has Verizon.  We each communicate over the phones and company we like the best, but we don’t all have to be on the same network to do so.

Social Networks will start taking a cue from the phone companies.  Google already allows users to post their G+ stream to Twitter and Facebook – essentially turning those sites into dashboards.  Facebook will fight this with every ounce of their being, and rightfully so.  (After all, they do have the largest market share when it comes to Social Network users.)  But at the end of the day, the Network that becomes the best dashboard, will get the most traffic.  Facebook will have to follow suit just like they did with their reactions to video chat and Circles.

I love competition.  Imagine how hard Networks would fight over you, the user, if you could easily transfer your profile, contacts, and photos to a different network of your choice – just like phone companies let you keep your number when you make a switch and help you transfer your contacts from phone to phone.

As a consumer I don’t want to be taken for granted.  I love seeing Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and imminent newcomers fight over my business.  Competition is a good thing.  The Networks that embrace it will become giants.  The ones that pretend it doesn’t exist will find they have a lot in common with MySpace.

Check out Part 1 of “Mark My Words. This is Where Social Networks are Heading

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Mark My Words. This is where Social Networks are heading – PART 1

I just learned that the small town I used to live in will soon have their own Social Network.  This is the type of town where seven degrees of separation should be more like two.  Everyone knows everyone and they’re all up in each other’s business.  I love this town, but when I read this email suggesting how necessary this Network would be … well to be honest… I had a pretty good laugh.  This is the type of town where if you sneeze, 5 minutes later, someone from across town will call you to say God Bless You.

No offense to Small Town, USA but when they start launching their own Social Network, you know the industry is getting saturated.   Just like any other industry this can mean only one thing.  We’re about to see a fundamental shift in the way Social Networks operate.  In addition to the niche networks that are town-specific, occupation-specific, or even beer-specific, the titans of industry are lining up to launch their answers to Facebook and Twitter. 

Only weeks after Google+ invites began hitting our email boxes, Microsoft “accidentally” revealed the home page of their creation, Tulalip.  Even as the tech obsessed debate the staying power of Google+, details are surfacing regarding Twitter cofounders’ next venture, Lift, for people who have potential – unlike the losers on all the other networks (I kid. I kid).  In the next two months, we’ll even see China’s version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, offered in English.

As more Networks come to the table, each struggles to create THE feature that will win over users…  or to STEAL the feature that is getting other networks noticed.  Not surprisingly, Facebook’s new Privacy tool sure looks a lot like Google Circles.  The more Networks try to stand out from one another, the more they resemble each other.  In a strange way, competition is leading to sameness.

People love to debate which Social Network is better?  But at their most basic level, each one is simply some combination of the following: Friends, Followers, Posts, IMs, DMs, media, Circles, Liking, and Checking In.  That’s it.  Each new network claims they’re something special compared to the others, but realistically, they’ve just developed a different combination of the above… or maybe they’ve just applied a tested combination to a different demographic – say Small Town, USA.

Competition is a relatively new concept for companies like Facebook.  I love seeing Networks work a little harder to satisfy users!  It makes companies better.  It makes them work harder to win over consumers and give us the features we crave.  But when competition leads to uniformity, it’s a game changer.  Most people will not regularly check in to three or four big name Social Networks and then throw in a couple Niche networks to cover their home town and their hobbies –especially if they’re the same thing at their core.  So how will this change the entire Social Networking landscape as we know it?

Check back for Part 2 for my prediction.  Then be sure to mention it to your friends so that when it comes to fruition they can call you a genius.

Google Plus You Minus Facebook

It doesn’t matter how good your Social Network is if you can’t build a hardcore fan base.  Google+ has yet to open to the public but has already mobilized an army of dedicated users offering rave reviews about its awesomeness.  So long as Google+ Beta is an invite only club, they continue to create a pool of Early Adopters who will commit their undying support for this new venture and create a buzz more valuable than any purchased advertising.  Google has cleverly found a way to grow their army of Early Adopters exponentially before ever officially launching their new network to the public.

Being an Early Adopter is a badge of pride and a difficult bond to break.  My husband STILL brags about the fact that he joined Facebook when it was called THE Facebook and required a college email address to sign up.  Twitter’s initial launch fell flat until they followed their small fan base to SXSW.  They didn’t just offer the tech savvy audience a sneak peak at the new network but the elite experience of giving it a spin at a once in a lifetime event. In both instances, the networks created Early Adopters who became their most diehard fans and biggest cheerleaders.

Google+ Beta is no different.  Everyone seems to be in agreement: It’s a polished, super simplified version of Facebook… and people LOVE it!  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve fallen prey to the Early Adopter Syndrome.   I know I’m not a hotshot, but when my Google+ invite finally arrived, I became a trendsetter (at least in my own mind).  I imagine this must be what motivates Apple fanatics to sleep outside an Apple store before a big launch just to be the first to have the new iWhatever.  Especially when they know full well that everyone and their mom will have one of their own in a couple days.

There is one more thing worth mentioning about the much coveted Google+ invite.  It doesn’t have to come from Google, just someone who has a Google+ account.  In fact anywhere you go online you can find someone willing to spread the invite love around.  So an invite is not just an invite, it’s the keys to the city.  It allows you to invite as many people (with gmail accounts) as you want.  Now you’re not only an Early Adopter but you get to allow other people to claim the same title.  While in Beta, it may not be open to the public, but it’s very much open to the public.  Even I’m guilty of sending invites to online strangers anxious to be the first of their friends to try it out.

It’s a brilliant move on Google’s part.  As invites spread like wildfire, it still maintains its exclusive feel making every new user feel like a trendsetter and thus developing a solid bond with the new network.  Being an Early Adopter means you get to be part of something big before it becomes big.  You feel invested and loyal.  My hat is off to the marketing geniuses behind Google.  Their Early Adopter plan is simple but genius – exactly how the first users describe Google+.

Facebook and Twitter Users Have Been Known to Get Around

Can you imagine Steve Jobs using an Android smartphone?  Me neither.  Betrayed Apple fanatics far and wide would crucify him if their heads didn’t explode at the mere thought of it.  If the concept of Jobs touching a competitor’s product seems so improbable, on what planet does it make sense for Facebook to have a Twitter page and Twitter to have a Facebook page?

As each other’s greatest adversaries, is it a respect thing?  Are their networks so widespread that not having profiles on each other’s networks would be like ignoring each other at a dinner party?  Perhaps they are recognizing each other as worthy competitors, like boxers bumping gloves before a fight.  Of course, after Facebook got busted planting negative Google stories in the press, it seems unlikely that Zuckerberg is all that concerned with propriety.

What’s so interesting about Twitter’s site on Facebook and Facebook’s site on Twitter is that for such innovative and tech savvy companies, their pages are pretty uninspired.  It is not uncommon for Facebook to go four or five days without tweeting.  Twitter’s Facebook page is no better – limited posts, no photo albums.  It uses only the bare bones Facebook features.  They don’t even bother modifying their wall.  At least Facebook features a couple jet silhouettes on their Twitter wall.  What little jet silhouettes have to do with Facebook, I’m not quite sure, but at least it’s a small attempt at customization.

Obviously both networks are there out of some sort of obligation.  They are on each other’s sites, but they don’t really want to be there.  Their pages are not out of respect for each other.  In fact, it’s not for their benefit at all.  It’s for yours.

Let’s revisit the preposterous concept of catching Steve Jobs using anything Android.  What is the major difference between Apple fanatics and Social Network users?   Apple supporters are in a committed relationship.  They are a devoted, stand-by-their-brand group of people – willing to wait in line for days prior to a product launch just to be the first to have the new iAnything.  They have chosen Apple and will stand by their choice no matter what new Android feature is unveiled.

Apple fans are brand monogamous while Social Media users flirt with every promising networking site that comes along.  Facebook has over 1 million followers on Twitter.  Twitter has over 700,000 fans on Facebook.  That’s just a tiny reflection of the total number of people cheating on one site with the other.  Most users are pretty brazen about their Social Media disloyalty sending Direct Messages to new Twitter followers that read, “Thanks for the follow!  Let’s chat on Facebook!”

Twitter and Facebook recognize that subscribers use both platforms and are not ready to choose one over the other.  Their bland pages on their competitor’s websites are their attempt to prove to you that they are okay with the fact that you are dating them both.  Realistically, they are each other’s direct competition and they don’t want you to have anything to do with the other.

This lack of tech brand loyalty is new and unchartered territory, forcing companies to be cordial and interact with each other’s brands in unprecedented ways.  Social Network subscribers are tough to tie down.  They are all about free love and using whichever site feels good at the moment and few are whole heartedly committed to one or the other.  Facebook hates being on Twitter.  Twitter doesn’t want to have anything to do with Facebook.  But they pretend to make nice for your sake as if to say “We don’t mind if you date other people.  We’re totally cool with that.  Watch how cool we can be!”

Know Your Audience

Since beginning a career in Social Media I have received many kindhearted calls, emails, and messages wishing me success.  My favorite was a Facebook message that read, “Congratulations Teresa.  I have no idea what you’re doing but it sounds like a great opportunity.  Good for you.”  While sincere in their thoughtfulness, my well-wishers were equally confused about my new endeavor. 

While I love the honesty of my friends and family, I realize that clients and prospects may not be as blunt when it comes to their understanding of Social Media and its power as a marketing tool.  They know they need to be on Facebook and Twitter, but they don’t exactly know why… or even how. 

We all know the old saying about making assumptions, right!  As a Social Media Marketer the same thing applies when discussing your arsenal of resources.  Potential clients may be missing out on the value you offer if they do not understand the fundamental benefits of the medium itself.

1.  Your clients do NOT know what Twitter is.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  Chances are most people you talk to have heard of Twitter.  They might even think they know what Twitter is.  Lord knows, breaking the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death before any major networks created both legitimacy and recognition.  But the bottom line is that when it comes to Twitter, there are two types of people: People who have been on Twitter and people who have NOT been on Twitter.

Before I joined Twitter, I just thought it was Facebook on crack!  I assumed it was an outlet for those people on Facebook who insist on updating their status to let the world know that they tied their left shoe… and then 30 seconds later follow up with an enlightening post about how they tied their right shoe, too.  Coincidentally, this image completely deterred me from joining or even checking it out.

When I finally signed up, I thought to myself, “Why didn’t anyone tell me what an incredible resource this is!”  I lost myself for at least an hour, looking at everything from Social Media and California tourism to Fashion and Celebrity Gossip.  It was a refreshing change from my usual Google search in that other people had taken the work out of the search itself – offering up the most relevant articles on the topics I was most interested in.

In a nutshell, people on Twitter know how powerful it is, how difficult it is to gain a quality following, build legitimacy and what a valuable resource it can be in positioning yourself as an expert in your field.  Those who are not on Twitter, have no clue.  Next time you sit down with a prospective client, before launching into the impressive Twitter campaign you’ve planned to amass a huge following, stop and ask the client if they’ve ever been on Twitter.

2.  Having a personal Facebook page, does NOT mean you understand the purpose of a business page.

Just last weekend, someone admitted to me that they know they need to have a Facebook page for their company, but they don’t entirely understand why.  The question always turns back to, “What am I supposed to do with this page after I set it up?”

I’d wager that Facebook is the most recognizable and widely used social network.  Most people are familiar with the personal side of Facebook, where you post pictures, wish your friends Happy Birthday, and occasionally rant about how much you hate bicyclists.  But using Facebook for your business is an entirely different ballgame.

The issue here is twofold.  In some cases, the nature of the business itself does not automatically lend itself to Facebook page purpose.  This is especially apparent with professional industries like CPAs or doctors.  They don’t have sales or events, so what in the world would they use a Facebook page for?  While this makes it very convenient for these professions to quickly dismiss the notion of a social media campaign, it reveals a deeper lack of understanding for Social Media Marketing.

Most businesses limit their vision of Facebook to an image of a billboard where they can publicize their current sales.  They don’t realize that their page should offer an experience to their customers – a setting to hold contests, post interesting factoids, and interact with their fans.  Businesses know they need to have a Facebook page.  It’s up to you to explain how to derive benefit from it.

3.  Most people only go onto LinkedIn to get a job… and that’s it.

I am completely guilty of this!  I joined linked in because I was unemployed and everyone told me I had to.  At the time, I posted my resume and a profile picture and called it a day.  It did come in handy when I’d meet someone who might know of a job opening for me.  I could direct them to my LinkedIn page, rather than kick myself for not carrying 20 resumes in my purse at all times.

But contrary to popular belief, LinkedIn is not just for uploading your resume!  Facebook may still be the place you to post your vacation photos, but LinkedIn has become THE networking site for professionals.  It is a powerful resource to promote events, generate leads, and gain recognition as an industry leader.  But to do so, it requires a level of activity of which most are unaware.

If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “Sales is a contact sport” you understand the secret to LinkedIn.  To benefit from LinkedIn, you have to join Groups, participate in Discussions, and check in regularly – Not just when you’re in between jobs.  It can be a large time commitment and requires consistency – which clients will gladly pass on to you if they can understand the benefit that can be derived.

I can’t really blame anyone for being clueless about Social Media Marketing.  After all, most people go onto Facebook just for fun… not because they’re getting paid to do so.  Social Media Marketing is still on the cusp of becoming the norm in advertising and PR.  We’re at a stage now where organizations and individuals recognize that they need to get into this arena but still struggle with understanding why.

A little bit of education can go a long way!  Your clients are paying you to know more about Social Media than they do.  In fact, just when your clients become familiar with Twitter, it will be your job to introduce them to the next big thing, which they will be inevitably wary of. 

Being a Social Media Marketer is just as much about innovation, creativity, and knowledge as it is about educating.  In fact, I would venture to say now more than ever, the players who understand the value of educating their clients will be enjoy the most longevity in this field.  Being ahead of the curve is one thing.  Bringing your clients along with you is another.  

Social Media: The Ugly, The Bad, and The Good

The very things I hate about Social Media are also what make it so successful.

The Ugly
A friend of mine, who will remain nameless, recently set up her very first Facebook account.  You wouldn’t believe how nervous she was to send her first status update.  Even after two other people reviewed it, she was convinced that her comment about the weather wasn’t witty enough or she wasn’t posting it properly.  Then she proceeded to check back every two minutes to see if anyone had made a comment.  Her fear of putting something out there for the whole world to see was quickly replaced with a feeling of inadequacy when no one else commented on her observation.

Personally, I think this fear of “doing it wrong” or not getting a response are the biggest factors discouraging people from posting online or really utilizing Social Media at all.  We’ve ALL heard at least one person say the following: “Oh yeah, I have a Facebook account, but I don’t really go on it that often.”  People are obviously intrigued by Social Media enough to not only check out different sites, but to actually set up an account as well.  So either they’re lying and they actually log in all the time, but mostly just to quietly stalk their exes or find out who gained the most weight since high school, or there really is something deterring them from returning to these sites.

The Bad
Social Media is rarely intuitive.  Sites like Twitter and Facebook are made up of awful labyrinths of terminology and unclear acronyms.  When I first got onto Facebook, I drove my husband crazy with incessant questions and rants about how annoyingly complicated the whole thing was: “What’s the difference between the News Feed and my Profile… and how do they affect my Wall.  Are my Wall and my Profile the same thing?  When I post a status update, where does it end up… on my Wall, my Profile, or the News Feed?  Are you SURE that if I send this message no one else will be able to see it?”

The first time you heard “Follow us on Facebook” was your first intuition to visit the page and click on the “Like” button?  Probably not.  Once I figured this out, I quickly switched over to a five minute rant (what can I say, I love a good rant) about how stupid that was: “Why not just have a button that says “Fan” or “Add to my Pages” or “Follow on Facebook”… pretty much anything BUT “Like.”  Facebook pages don’t have “Fans,” they have “Likes.”

When I joined up with Twitter, I went through the same ordeal of learning the proper Social Media etiquette, terminology, and acronyms.  I distinctly remember thinking, “What the hell is a DM?”  Then it’s a whole other world of #s and @s that came along with their own rules and protocol.  At first, I hated this!  I’m a pretty intelligent person.  I use to explain to CEO’s why their multimillion dollar 401(k) plans were not 404(c) compliant and how that could affect their fiduciary liability – and here I find myself struggling to figure out how to have or follow a conversation on Twitter.  Not only did I feel unsure of myself, but I hated asking anyone for advice because I was failing to grasp concepts that 6th graders had mastered in 3rdgrade.

The Good
Shockingly, the very things I hated so much about every new networking site that I joined are precisely why they’re so effective.  My first tweet felt much like my unnamed friend’s Facebook post.  It was uncomfortable, not witty enough, and I was pretty sure that I was doing it all wrong – and that millions of discerning strangers would see just how awful it was.  Then it disappeared into the vastness of Twitter, completely unnoticed – because let’s face it, unless your username is @CharlieSheen or @HowardStern, few really care about your first tweet.

Every time you join a new network, it’s like being hazed.  It’s an aggravating ordeal to become familiar with the terminology and etiquette – but the type of loyalty that comes from overcoming these obstacles is priceless.  In reality, The Bad and The Ugly are crucial to The Good of Social Media.  There’s some euphoric feeling that comes when the fog of mystification clears and you can navigate a social media site with ease.  The very fact that your frustration has changed to acceptance means you’ve invested enough time and energy to change your status from confused newbie to insider.  Not only can you speak the lingo, but you understand firsthand that not everyone is a part of the club – seeing as you were recently clueless.