How to Build Community With Better Content

Creating interesting and informative content is a fantastic way to build a community within your target audience. Why is this important for your business? There are several reasons:

  • Content draws the right people to your company’s website by leveraging the right subject matter and keywords.
  • People share great content, and how much people share your content counts for how you rank in Google.
  • Helpful content builds trust. It shows your expertise in whatever your company is selling and gets your community excited about your brand. Content offers something of value to your audience before you ask for something in return (like an email address… or a credit card).

So what are some ways that you can do this at your business?

1. Blog Often

If you check out our friends from HubSpot’s Science of Blogging webinar by Dan Zarrella, you’ll learn some more specific reasons (like website traffic) why blogging frequently matters. Basically, switching from blogging once-a-month or once-a-week to every day will completely change the blogging game for you.

Hubspot and SEOMoz are two examples of businesses that create daily blog content, and hence have created communities and positioned themselves as experts in their fields.

 

HubSpot’s inbound marketing blog has helped build a community of marketers.

 

SEOmoz creates daily blog content about SEO, offering value to their community of marketers and SEOs.

We’ve recently shared some tips on how to organize your blogging team and how to set up an editorial calendar to scale this strategy for your business.

2. Monitor Social Media to Discover Your Community’s Pain Points

Understand the types of questions that your community members are asking on social media regarding your industry. Respond to those questions with good content. Set up a search terms and Twilerts for appropriate hashtags and industry terms. On Twitter, you can make conversational searches and see what people are really asking about. Here are some example searches:

  • “(industry keyword) + sucks”
  • “competitor + sucks”
  • “I hate _____”
  • “Is there a ______?”
  • “Anyone know of a ________?”
  • “What is the best ________?”
  • “How do you _______ with ______?”

To enhance your content even more, do some research with Google Insights to make sure you’re targeting the right keywords with your content. “Pain points” + keywords make your posts highly searchable. If they’re asking about it on Twitter, your community members are probably Googling for it, too.

3. Write a Decent Headline

So we make fun of link-bait headlines like “What Every Entrepreneur Could Learn from Justin Beiber” and the like… but you clicked it, and you ReTweeted it, didn’t you? Yep. Caught ya.

Clearly we don’t have to be this severe in our headline writing, but listen: There’s a lot of clutter out there and a ton of content being shared. If you write a headline that makes your content sound appealing and helpful to your community, you’re much more likely to get them to read it. See how Copyblogger and Problogger write great headlines for their content, but back it up with great content. They are role models to follow with this.

Most important: If you’re going to have a catchy headline like “10 reasons to ___,” first make sure they are 10 good reasons! No one cares about your catchy headline if your content is garbage.

4. Shake it up with different types of content

Offering a variety of content to your community is a great way to keep things fresh on your blog and keep your community coming back for more. It’s easy to get writer’s block when you’re writing about the same industry, products or company each day, but using a variety of tools and leveraging your community are ways you can continue to keep things interesting. Here are some content ideas:

1. Write how-to articles

2. Do a screencast of your product. Screenr is a free screencast-creation tool that helps you make Tweetable screencasts

3. List common mistakes in your industry and offer ways people can fix them

4. List hypothetical problems that your product can solve

5. Talk about recent industry studies and your take on them

6. Make an infographic

7. Dissect a couple key points from a webinar or ebook and repurpose that into blog content

8. Discuss a recent industry-related event or current news

9. Give takeaways from a conference

10. Do video interviews with community members and post them to the blog

11. Offer guest post opportunities to expert community members

12. Curate content from resources that your community cares about and do a “news-roundup” style blog post

13. Top-ten lists, Top 20 lists… Top 30…

You can also try digital storytelling tools like Storify and Tweetwally to offer a new way to show Tweets in your posts. So, if you had a particularly useful Twitter conversation with community members, include that in a blog post. Or, maybe refer to some great Tweets from a webinar, and refer to that in a blog post. These are two very beautiful ways to display that.

Here’s Tweetwally in action:

Here’s Storify:

Content is huge for us at oneforty. What has worked for us? We try a lot of different things and see what sticks. We blog every day, so we have the room to do that. If something didn’t work that great, we try again tomorrow (we don’t wait a month.) Some posts are more popular than others, but trying different things each day has given us the freedom to search for, and discover, what seems to resonate with our community. But that’s just my take.

How do you use content to build your community? Let me know in the comments!

Using Social Media in Regulated Industries

This post originally appeared on the oneforty blog. It’s being reposted here as part of my blogging portfolio.

Think selling social media to your boss is difficult? Try being a marketer in a regulated industry. You know what the benefits of social media are. Listening to customer conversations on Twitter and Facebook means engaging with and learning from current and potential customers, defining your brand and tapping into a major market research opportunity. However, there are significant restrictions with what you can communicate online.

What are some regulated industries?

  • Publicly traded companies
  • Finance
  • Healthcare
  • Insurance
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Spirits

For those of you working in these regulated industries, the first step in your social media strategy should be to understand what restrictions apply to you. Here is a brief overview and some examples of how some other companies are still getting involved in the conversation while complying with these important guidelines.

Publicly Traded Companies

Is your company publicly traded? You need to keep these restrictions in mind, including anything that applies specifically to your industry. The Regulations Fair Disclosure policy states that publicly traded companies release material information to investors and the public at the same time. If you don’t comply, charges of insider trading or selective disclosure could result.  Publicly traded companies should be mindful about about providing forward-looking statements.

A clearly-communicated social media policy for employees is essential for these companies.

For a few examples of social media policies at companies, read:

Finance

Promotions on social media from financial institutions have to be fair, clear and not misleading. Most of the regulations have to do with full disclosure of terms and features or availability of products and services (including pricing, rates, rewards, eligibility). Financial companies have to follow advertising rules pertaining to truth-in-lending and truth-in-savings and overdraft protection. This could affect how their social media strategy works.

Financial organizations must be careful of how they handle confidential information. Because of the risk of identity theft or phishing, financial companies should not use social media to collect personal information from customers or prospects.

Bank of America takes on the challenge of participating on Twitter as part of a regulated industry. If you look at their customer service account, @BofA_help , you’ll see they respectfully request that their customers not share account information via Twitter.

Bank of America asks their community not to share account numbers via Twitter.

Citizens Bank has a disclaimer in their Twitter background regarding this topic. Bank of America does as well.

Citizens Bank includes a disclaimer in their Twitter background about sharing account numbers on Twitter.

The risk for identity theft or phishing is all the more reason for these types of companies to be responsibly involved. Claiming their brand names on social media sites and making sure that they – not the scammers – are engaging with customers and defining their brands with great customer service (and not a PR backlash from a scam) is important.

Financial institutions are also usually required to keep copies of customer conversations. If there was ever a case for social CRM – this is it. Being able to connect Twitter conversations to customer profiles in an offline database with account numbers would be especially beneficial for this industry.

An especially helpful tool for these professionals would be Backupify – a social media and cloud data archiving tool. This would keep record of customer conversations from Twitter and Facebook.

Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical companies are in a tricky spot. The FDA requires that all reports of adverse effects communicated to a manufacturer are reported to the FDA.Comments made on social media accounts could count as adverse effects notifications that need to be reported.

You’ll notice that Pfizer’s Twitter account is mostly used for outbound news messages from the company. Communication of adverse effects could be a reason why.

pfizer Twitter

Likewise, Pfizer uses its Facebook page to share news with its audience, but the public is not able to comment or post anything on the wall.

Pfizer Facebook

There are some very logical reasons why adverse effect reporting isn’t as big of a threat as it may first appear. However, that doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t be prepared with a plan of how to handle it. If there ever was a need for social business maturity – all departments of an organization buying into social media, from marketing to safety to research and development to legal – this would be a situation that calls for collaboration.

Marketing directly to consumers is tricky, but some drug companies are choosing online and digital marketing to supplement or replace their face-to-face sales efforts when marketing directly to physicians. AstraZeneca uses AZ Touchpoints to engage physicians. Novo Nordisk, which sells insulin and diabetes products, offers medical professionals an insulin measurement app in the iTunes app store. Sanofi-AventisMerckPfizerGlazxo Smith Cline and Novartis AG all offer medical-related iPhone and iPad apps to market to doctors.

Insurance Companies

Health insurance

Healthcare companies need to be sure they are not disclosing personal information through social media communications. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) ensures that medical information is kept confidential and protects the privacy of patients. According to Jason Fall’sarticle “Leveraging Social Media in Regulated Industries,” there is a strict, government-mandated approval system for communications with the public. In his post, he points to one social media professional for an insurance company who is taking on the challenge with an innovation approach: Anticipating common questions, she wrote Tweets to be pre-approved by compliance officials so she could still communicate with people in real-time on Twitter.

Insurance (non-health)

Each state has different laws for home, auto, life and other insurance policies. For this reason, insurance brokers can only give out advice to people in the state in which they are licensed.

GEICO and Statefarm Insurance are both very active on Twitter and Facebook engaging with customers. A lot of their Twitter communication focuses on thanking customers for becoming/being a customer or answering questions. With its customer service account, @GEICO_Service , GEICO appears to reply directly to people Tweeting about accidents or flat tires and asking if they should follow up about their claims. I noticed several times they ask for the customers state. They also try to take the conversation offline with an email or phone call.

Geico customer service Twitter
GEICO helps people with their car insurance via its customer service account.

Spirits

The most important rule that alcohol companies must follow is that they only market to customers of the legal purchasing age, which as we all know, is 21.This is particularly challenging in social media because Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. are global platforms. When marketing on your company’s own website, it’s a little easier: You can at least cover yourself on this rule by requiring that visitors fill in a birthdate form. Twitter and Facebook for these businesses are a little more challenging as there isn’t this kind of control.

Maker’s Mark navigates this rule in a way that is responsible and yet fun and consistent with its brand. The phrase: “We’ve never been much for following the rules, but this one’s a must! You must be of legal drinking age to peruse this page” is found on their Facebook page and Twitter.

Makers Mark Twitter“We’ve never been much for following the rules, but this one’s a must! You must be of legal drinking age to follow us on Twitter!”
Maker's Mark Facebook page
Maker’s Mark marketing responsibly on Facebook.

Does this guarantee that all of their fans or followers are 21? Probably not. But just like the aforementioned industries, it’s their way of putting a disclaimer out there that complies with the market they are in.

How to Engage in Social Media as a Regulated Industry

Knowing these rules for your business or client before you establish a social media strategy is key. They aren’t reasons not to participate in social media, just all the more reason to have an experienced strategist guiding you. Some overaching takeaways for several industries seem to be:

1. Take conversations offline – For things like finance, healthcare or insurance, communicating with customers who have questions on Twitter is a great way to be helpful, especially if they are upset. Retaining a customer is, after all, less expensive than getting a new one, and social media is great for this. However, social media isn’t the best for having some public conversations that could involve private information like medical records or bank account numbers. When customer service representatives can take the conversation to another format like a phone call, that’s when they can best resolve any issues.

2. Have a clear-cut social media policy for employees – Zappos is well-known for it’s simple policy of “Be Smart!” Admittedly, that’s our policy at oneforty as well. When more intricate legal implications are involved, you may need something that covers more bases than that for your company. SHIFT Communications offers this PDF template for a social media policy guidelines builder to get you started.

What recommendations do you have for social media professionals in regulated industries? What companies do you see doing this well? Would love your ideas in the comments.

10 Tips for New Community Managers

This post originally appeared on the oneforty blog. It’s being reposted here as part of my blogging portfolio.

Community managers are becoming an increasingly important role for all types of businesses, from tech startups to major corporate brands. Most commonly, community managers are responsible for engaging current and potential customers via social media, growing vibrant and enthusiastic communities around their products and services. This is, however, just one kind of community manager. Some community managers facilitate conversations in private online forums, work with internal company intranets, or don’t use social media at all.

Community managers must strike a balance: externally, community managers are the voices of their brands in social media, serving as social media strategists,customer service managers, content creators, product managers and evangelists. Internally, they are voice of their communities at their own companies. Community managers bring the conversations they have with community members to the forefront of marketing, customer service and product discussions, epitomizing the value and function of a social business.

Because community manager jobs vary at each company, there is no one magic thing that makes a community management program work. But with more and more community manager jobs showing up every day, here are some tips for new or aspiring community managers, and maybe even some fresh thoughts that the seasoned community manager can benefit from.

1. Fish Where the Fish Are

When it comes to social media, it’s very easy to get caught up in tactics. It’s easy to think, “we need to Tweet” or “we need a Facebook page” just because. Establish your own presence, yes, but prioritize. Take the time to figure out what blogs, Twitter hashtags, conferences, meetups or social media platforms matter to your audience and be involved in those places.

2. Identify and Delegate to Your Power Users

Use a tool like Tweetreach to identify who your most engaged Tweeters are in your community. LinkedIn will show you your top influencers each week in your B2B community’s LinkedIn group. Leverage your most engaged community members from your target audience by offering them a guest post, curating one of their blog posts in a news roundup, or offering them a position as a community moderator in your forum.

3. …But Don’t Play Favorites Too Much

Loyal community members are great resources: They are the first people to provide feedback, share your content, and refer you to others. But make sure to keep an even playing field for new, quieter community members. Each new blog commenter or forum member matters. Challenge yourself by engaging with them too. It’s your job to build a community – not a clique of power users who make your job easy.

4. Say “I’m Sorry.”

Community managers are typically the ones running Twitter and Facebook accounts, and will be the ones responding to complaints. The book REWORK by the founders of 37 Signals covers the “how to say you’re sorry” point best. Their advice? “We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you” is BS.

If your service isn’t working and a community member is ranting about it on Twitter – trust us, you disrupted that person’s day and there was an inconvenience caused. No “may” clause is needed.

Like REWORK says, if you spilled hot coffee on someone’s lap, you wouldn’t say “I apologize for the inconvenience.” You’d say, “I’m SO SO sorry!” Speak in first person and be genuine.

5. Stay Calm. Keep it in Perspective

It’s natural to get frustrated or stressed out on busy days when responding to complaints online or answering a lot of questions. Remember: It’s just the internet!

Plus, your biggest critics can turn into your biggest fans if you successfully resolve any issues they have. Those that take the time to offer negative feedback will take the time to be your advocate. Get zen and keep this in mind.

6. Anticipate Common Questions and Know Your Product Inside and Out

Answering questions about your product or service through social media or email will probably be a major part of your job. Be prepared ahead of time. This is especially important if you work in a regulated industry in which you may need your Tweets or Facebook communication to have prior approval.

Anticipate common questions. Go over them with your product or support team to make sure you have your answers (including your 140-character ones) accurate.

7. Don’t Forget About Email

Email may seem old-school compared to sexier tools like social media, but remember: Every single Facebook “fan” or Twitter follower has an email address!Email is the glue that makes social media stick, and if you offer helpful content with an email newsletter, it can be a great way to engage your community members.

8. Engage Offline

Even with global, online communities, community starts at home. Connect with your local audience with a meetup. This is important because you can inspire evangelists who will vouch for you as they get to know you better as a local company, and as they get to know you face-to-face. Those people are most certainly connected to a larger global network through social media. This is where your first network of power users can stem from.

9. Your Social Media Accounts Are No Longer Your Own, But Your Time Is

Are you sure you want that social media job?

As the face of your brand online, people will inevitably identify you as the community manager for that company. The number of Twitter followers you have may grow, and you may begin to get more Facebook and LinkedIn requests from people you don’t personally know from real life. Even if you put “Tweets are my own” in your Twitter bio, people see your thoughts aligned with your company.

Be who you are and represent yourself online as someone you are proud of. Have a ranting Tweet or Facebook post you really really really want to send? I’m sassy, I can relate. Remember: We regret the rants we do post on social media, but when is the last time you regretted not Tweeting something?

Despite the challenge of personal/professional balance, take control of your experience on social media and don’t stop enjoying this. Use Twitter lists, Facebook lists and filters. Own your privacy, your time, your newsfeed, and your personal network.

10. Use the Right Tools to Be Efficient

Community managers where many hats.  Sometimes managing several Twitter accounts, plus a blog, plus delegating to an intern, plus responding to community members… it can be a lot to handle. Here are some of the tools that community managers from the oneforty community use, as featured in their Toolkits.

Rachel Happe – Principal at Community Roundtable – Tools she uses

Suzanne Marlatt – Community Manager at Edelman Digital – Tools she uses

Stacey Acevero – Community Manager at Vocus/PR Web – Tools she uses

What other community management tips do you have? Add yours in the comments!

How to Make a Content Strategy That Scales

What I’m about to share with you will shock my loyal readers and those who know me in real life because, well, I’m just clearly so friggen cool. But I was in fact a newspaper geek in high school.

Just for kicks, this is me when I was 17 with my BFFL Amanda, who ran the school newspaper with me.

Fast forward to 2010, I grew up, got health insurance and a desk job doing marketing at a startup. It was time to get serious about content marketing. Drawing upon my newspaper roots, I initially approached inbound marketing like a journalist, and honestly, this wasn’t the right idea.

I had an editorial calendar and listed the buyer personas I wanted to target with each post. To me, said personas signfied a section of a newspaper to be targeted each week. Usually, though, the content was ad hoc. Unless I was assigning the blog post to a guest poster, intern or freelancer, I was flying by the seat of my pants and just doing whatever it took to “crank out content,” do my best to hit a few keywords, toss on a catchy headline and hit a self-imposed daily deadline of 8 a.m. (Blog posts get more views in the morning and I wanted to move onto other tasks, after all.)

Creating content as a journalist is more about storytelling and covering breaking news. These somewhat apply to content marketing, but creating content as a marketer is a much broader perspective than simply taking each post day-by-day. Each Tweet, blog post and Facebook status can be thought about in a way that helps you use your time wisely. Each tactic is part of an overall content strategy that should be contemplated and measured.

Think of the Content You Push Out via Social Media

As a community manager, social media manager… (samurai…. whatever you call yourself)… you push out many different messages.

  • Tweets
  • Tweets with links
  • Blog posts
  • Hyperlinks to other content in blog posts
  • eBooks
  • webinars
  • Email newsletters
  • Facebook page posts
  • LinkedIn group posts
  • YouTube videos, Screencasts (Posted to Facebook page, embedded on blog post)
  • Slideshare presentations (embedded on blog post, Tweeted, shared on Facebook)
  • Photos (Twitpics, Flickr album or slideshow on blog post, Facebook photo album)

The key to a content strategy that scales is thinking about how each piece of content can potentially become another piece of content. This doesn’t mean linking your FourSquare to automatically update your Twitter to automatically update your LinkedIn and your Facebook. It means asking the question: “How can this article I’m linking to in this blog post I’m writing be used elsewhere in my social media marketing?”

To take that as an example, here are five content ideas that can be your answer:

  1. Got a sweet chart in that article showing off new industry research? Post just the picture of the chart to your Facebook page (link to the original article) and ask your fans for their thoughts about the research in the caption.
  2. Schedule a Tweet of the article.
  3. Post the link of that article to an industry-relevant LinkedIn group with your thoughts on it to show thought leadership. Join the conversation, yo.
  4. Include that article as part of a links-roundup email newsletter of industry news for your community.
  5. Think about what you liked about the article – it’s content? Research findings? Headline? Consider how you can replicate that style in your own original post.

To Create Content, You Have to Read Content

Reading is an important part of learning what your community or target audience wants to learn about. I use Summify to get a daily summary of the most popular news stories from my Twitter & Facebook community. Lucky for me, I have some low-hanging fruit, as that’s where my brand’s community is located for the most part too. You’d want to subscribe to a Summify for your brand’s community if that’s not a social media/marketing type of community. Cadmus is another tool that will show you the trending stories from Twitter. I still use Google Reader and segment my content into folders to stay sane.

Collect Ideas Gradually & Curate

I don’t sit down one day a week and decide what to blog about or assign to freelancers. I collect ideas throughout the week just by bookmarking articles in a Google Chrome folder. I curate this content by scheduling Tweets, and I do a “links roundup” style piece each Monday. This is a way to create another piece of content out of the Tweets we’re curating that drives traffic to our blog and to our CTA for an eBook download.

The links-roundup thing is all about how you frame the content. Here are a few examples:

For me, framing it as “10 tips to start your week” has been the most successful way (per pageviews and social shares) to execute this kind of blog post. But what works for my community may not work for yours, so measure and iterate until you find something that works.

Create Content From Content

It’s not just Tweets that can be turned into a blog post. Videos and photos from an event can also be used as a blog post. More importantly, think about how your blog posts can become more substantial pieces of content like eBooks, white papers and webinars that you can put behind a lead-gathering form. The blog post you write this morning is a chapter in an eBook you publish next week. (This applies mostly to B2B.)

Or, reverse that idea and consider how those eBooks, white papers and webinars can be broken down into smaller pieces of content to be distributed across your platforms, driving traffic to somewhere where they will fill out the lead-gathering form and download the content in its entirety.

An example from the trenches: I took an eBook about content ideas and broke it down into three smaller blog posts to give a “sneak preview” of the content, then had a call-to-action to get the full eBook. You could do this with a webinar as well. See how Chris Brogan did that here.

Design Your Editorial Calendar Accordingly

I’m still perfecting my editorial calendar and constantly strive to keep it somewhat organized and coherant for my (patient and awesome!) freelancers who keep up with it. I think an ideal editorial calendar should detail things such as:

  • Date (post due, post to be published)
  • Keywords
  • Categories
  • Buyer Persona targeted
  • Campaign
  • UTM codes for Tweets (I keep a separate Google Doc for these)
  • CTA
  • Notes/ideas on how to build content from content (IE, A “campaign” can be a week-long blog post series that becomes an eBook)

Again, this is much different approach to content creation than journalism because it’s a broader perspective. It’s not just saying “what’s the news to write about today?” or “hey we should do a blog post today.” It’s stepping back and asking “Why?” and very carefully thinking about how. This is a longer-term view of how your content fits into your marketing goals of driving leads. Although it seems like it requires more effort, it’s actually a much better use of your time.

How To: Use Social Media To Promote Your Gaming Site

Many continue to be hesistant when having to invest in social media marketing, not to mention independent monitoring tools and other means of measurement and improvement of their social media efforts. The fact you are constantly unsure concerning the value of social media, it’s not easy finding justification for investing money into it. It is hence critical to measure its success, but preventing failure should present even more interest to you.

Harnessing The Power Of Social Media While Promoting Games Online

Why? Because your goal is to use the potential of your game marketing endeavor to the maximum. And for this, there is nothing more inspired than harnessing the absolute power social media can have on your campaign. For example, Twitter is an amazing hot spot for young people, the ideal gaming targeted audience. Use it as your primary means of targeting your new poker and other side casino games you have just released. Create top-notch content, along with eye-catching images and your exposure figures will go through the roof. Insert short presentation videos to add even more excitement to your new game or gaming platform and absolute success is just a few more steps away.

If you specialize in various variants of the popular Texas Holdem game or your site is similar to the Ladbrokes Poker approach, you should have no problem promoting it via social media. These fellows have been on the market for many years and their accumulated experience has taught them never to undermine the power of social mediums for promotion purposes. This is why you can currently find them on Facebook and Twitter, keeping their fans entertained and newcomers bombarded with news the second their decide to follow.

Stay Away From Fake Followers

You need the real ones to make your strategy work; take a look at popular poker rooms offline and online and try to follow their lead. See what their visiting card on social media sites looks like and try to imitate their quality content and intriguing media content. Fake followers are prone to drive regular followers away if your content will not rise to their expectations. So focus on it and find your inspiration in all places you can think of. Start with the big actors in the industry; the Ladbrokes brand is one particular alternative you can pay close attention to. They’ve been around since 1886 when they started out as a horse race betting business led by two men and evolved into the gambling and gaming giant they are known as today. Their Poker web site is one of the most lucrative of all of their products, and the recent introduction of the mobile poker app for Android and Apple users is one of the signs they know how to keep up with the evolution of technologies and players’ needs. People using social media usually do it via apps they have installed on their smart devices, and they thus make for the ideal targeted audience for your mobile gaming apps as well. Keep the retweets going and generate Facebook conversation and sharing and keep in mind Twitter brings in a priority in search results that rely on account size.

Community Management is Not Digital Cold Calling

This is an excerpt from my guest post for The Community Manager. The Community Manager is a hot new resource for CMs founded by Jenn Pedde, Brett Petersel and David Spinks. They’re aiming to provide helpful tips for CMs via their blog, connect CMs to each other through local meetups and help companies find the right community talent through their job board. When I started as a community manager, this is the type of stuff that helped me scale up my knowledge quickly, and I’m happy there’s this all-in-one resources now to consolidate it. Check them out!

Contributing to marketing, PR and customer service fronts of their organizations, community managers often where multiple hats as they are on the front-lines of communicating with both current and potential customers online. Based on some questionable tactics I’ve seen on the Twitters recently, it’s the communication with potential customers that I feel could be improved.

Under the guise of “community manager” or “evangelist” by job title in their Twitter bios, people follow hashtags related to their product or their competitors. Then, they see people Tweeting on that hashtag or Tweeting about that topic, and they @reply them from something like a @john_company Twitter account, offering a sales pitch: “You should use my company instead!”

Well, no duh you would say that…You’re wearing the proverbial digital t-shirt!

Without building a relationship with a potential customer on Twitter first by having some other interaction other than a one-off sales pitch, this outbound approach doesn’t feel genuine to me. Also, I don’t think it is the most effective use of a community manager’s talents for the benefits of an organization.

Companies who approach community management and social media this way are actually off to a great start. They’re on social media, and they’re monitoring terms about their industry. They’re clearly listening, which is huge. I just think the way they are choosing to do outbound outreach to approach their potential community members is awkward. I’d rather see people draw the community to them with valuable content, thought leadership and helpful advice.

DJ Waldow, Blue Sky Factory’s awesome Director of Community offers helpful tips about email marketing along with the rest of the BSF team on the Blue Sky Factory blog. On Twitter, DJ will actually personally answer people’s individual questions about email marketing. It’s not about the product, it’s about thought leadership and being helpful.

See the rest of the post over at The Community Manager.

How I Got My First Job in Boston

This is a re-post of a guest post I did for Greenhorn Connect. You can find the original post here. Greenhorn Connect is a great resource if you’re looking to learn about the startup ecosystem in Boston. There’s things like a job board and events calendar to connect you to like-minded startupers in the area. Check it out!

I’m awful at math. In 1st grade we learned things like odd and even numbers. When other munchkins were ready for things like addition and subtraction, a perplexed 6-year-old Janet thought, “What the hell?” and scripted surprisingly well-articulated  essays about why I hated math during writer’s workshop.

Battling my “clinical inability to deal with numbers,” I always had to ask for extra help after class or do corrections on math tests in high school. I was pretty cool. My amazing mother reassured me on nights I actually cried over algebra homework that learning to work hard was preparing me for something later in life. It did.

This taught me to turn anxiety into action, that achieving goals boils down practical execution and that believing in yourself means trusting you that you’ll do what it takes to make things happen.

I’m from Buffalo, NY and I graduated from St. John Fisher, which is nearby in Rochester, NY. I moved to Boston right after graduation in June 2009 for a PR internship at SHIFT Communications. In August 2009 I got my first big kid job as an account coordinator for Kel & Partners. Every single day I feel lucky that I got to move to Boston.

Unless you’re a computer science major, finding your first job out of college is generally tricky. You have to get someone to give you your big break because you haven’t proven yourself professionally yet. That’s tough in any economy, and 2009 was NOT an ideal time to be looking for that first job. Let me be clear: The recession sucked.

But I did it. I got my first job and moved to the city I love — and I am not special. You can do it too. These are the specific things I did that worked for my job search to move to Boston, and I hope these lessons can help you as well:

1. Networking on Social Media

I joined Twitter in the fall of 2008 for Introduction to Digital Media class. I knew I wanted to be in Boston and do PR. I followed PR agencies and PR people working in Boston to learn about the job market. I read blogs and wrote about my job search and what I was learning about social media on my own blog. This helped me connect with the Boston PR scene even though I was still in Upstate, NY.

My passion for social media stems directly from the humbling generosity I experienced during this time. People I met through Twitter, who didn’t know me and who had absolutely no reason to invest time in me, answered my questions and offered candid advice. People commented on my blog posts and shared them and that built my confidence. I quickly realized that the connections you can make in social media are very real.

These people know who they are and all I can say is thank you. You really helped me. And I’m doing what I can to pay it forward.

2. Informational Interviews

Everyone told me the same thing: “No one is hiring.” I couldn’t get real interviews, so I did a ton of informational ones instead. I figured that way, they’d know who I was if they were hiring in the future. (It worked! That’s how I got my job at Kel & Partners.)

In February I went on spring break with friends from BC. I turned that into an opportunity to (skip a midterm and…) line up an intense day of 5 or 6 informational interviews. That day was great. I experienced that exhilarating hustle of Boston that people can take for granted after a while and that you don’t feel when you’re here for vacation. Boston swept me off my feet that day and I knew I would make my job search a success because I wanted to be here so badly.

3. Ignored the News

I was relentlessly bombarded with articles about the bleak job outlook for 2009 graduates. The media loves a good sob story. Early on in my job hunt, I made a deliberate choice to have a Pollyanna attitude about it all and focus on things I could control – my actions.

I couldn’t control the economy or what the government was or wasn’t going to do to help. I could have perspective: I could feel compassion for the thousands of people whose names I didn’t know who got laid off at companies across the country that were on the evening news. But I couldn’t let negative news get to me and slow down my momentum in my job hunt. So for the most part, I just ignored that news.

I recommend this to all job-hunting 2011 graduates. It’s fine to be aware of the challenge ahead of you, but leave it at that and keep moving forward.

4. Kept it Real and Took a Chance

Of course I wanted a “real job,” but I was acutely aware of situation with the economy. I took a leap of faith and moved to Boston for a paid internship. I trusted myself that I would do what it took to get a full-time job for after the internship once I got here. This prepared me for startupland, where many times you’re faced with uncertainty and you have to trust yourself that you’ll just do what it takes to make a situation work.

Who Ya Calling Entitled?

People love calling Gen Y entitled, like we think the world owes us a job because we went to college. I’ve read news stories about people suing their alma maters because they couldn’t find jobs after graduation. Now that’s crazy talk, son.

I never felt like anyone owed me a job. Sometimes I felt scared because I was in Boston alone doing this internship, my student loans were coming and I didn’t really know where my life was going. (I’m only human; it’s called being 22.) Then I thought about hypothetical people with real responsibilities like babies and mortgages who maybe had just gotten laid off, and I clearly stopped feeling sorry for myself.

Most importantly: My story is not unique by any stretch of the imagination.

I am one of millions of motivated young people who want to work hard. We’ll stay late. We’ll rise to the occasion. We aren’t afraid of an uphill battle.

When you think about the future of Boston, don’t think of the entitled Gen Y-ers. Sure, there are people like that – from every generation. But those are the minority, the particularly odd and special cases, and that’s why they get coverage in the NY Times.

There are many young people in Boston who are not acting like people owe them jobs. They’re creating jobs by building companies and enhancing our startup community. HerCampus, Greenhorn Connect, Bostinnovation, Gemvara and Dart Boston are all led by Gen Y-ers and are all here in Boston doing incredible things.

A blurry sense of opportunity in Boston drew me here, but the very tangible innovation and optimism in our startup community is what makes me want to stay. I couldn’t be more thankful to those whose advice helped me move here, and I couldn’t be more thankful to that anxious, mathematically-challenged college graduate who took a chance on an internship and moved to Boston on a whim. You did the right thing.

How to: Get Started in Social Media for Small Business

I was so excited that SCVNGR invited oneforty to be a part of its small business social media summer school series. On June 27, I stopped over to SCVNGR’s (very cool) offices to talk about tips for getting started in social.

Here are my slides, as well as a little cheat sheet of tactics and resources that I handed out. Feel free to pass along to clients, your aunt with a coffee shop, etc etc. Whoever you think would find social media 101 tips to be helpful.

Something I said toward the beginning of my talk was that even though there are so many platforms to participate in and tools to choose from, there are universal things you’ll need to do on each platform no matter what. So, my message was to just understand these ideas, and that way no matter what platform you’re thinking of participating in, you’ll know how to approach them.

These ideas include:

1. Claim your page on that platform – Complete all the information, and represent your brand. (I used the analogy of, you wouldn’t walk into high school first day without your shoes on. You shouldn’t step out into social media that way either.)

2. Listen & Respond – Chances are, people are already talking about you on social media. First and foremost, set up searches so you can find these mentions and respond to these people, whether they are saying positive or negative things. This applies whether you’re monitoring FourSquare checkins or Twitter mentions.

3. Be Genuine – A first-person, human voice works best. Some brands’ styles are more casual and others are more formal, but either way people like to know that it’s a real human behind the logo-avatar. That’s how you build relationships and make the most of social media.

Here’s the information:

How To Successfully Grow Your Startup

As you might already know by now, if you are familiar with the feel of my web site, I am passionate and highly interested by everything that involved startup management and development, and continuous business marketing improvement, to keep it short and sweet. I also enjoy everything in between and I always find this field extremely challenging, but at the same time, amazingly fulfilling and engaging. So today I decided to share with you some interesting views on how to grow your startup, no matter what field you might be involved in – but while putting the emphasis on the development of a startup moving company.     

 

Use Social Media And Web Analytics To Reach Your Goals

 

It might sound complicated and costly; but the results are remarkably satisfying and they are definitely worth every penny and every ounce of sweat. Start by hiring a specialist to do the job for you if you are clueless when it comes to the meaning of in-bound links. Use press releases to make your moving company’s services and competitive prices known, seen, heard and spoke of. Do everything in your power to promote your business. Take a look at your Facebook page or Twitter account. Does your business eve have those? You need to keep u with everything and everyone around you if you want to obtain your much-dreamed growth. Focus on the amount of time you are spending on your communication sessions with your clients, whether they are older clients you have catered to, current client looking for extra information on your offers and services, or potential prospects looking to see if you are a perfect match. Offer promotional links or nice discount deals; as a startup company, you are probably going to want to do everything in your power to earn people trust and providing them with top quality services on a market drenched in superior services is simply not enough. Folks love to lay their hands on some nice discounts and special offers, so make sure you tweet about all of these and focus on creating special Facebook and other social media platform campaigns that can attract large crowds.   

 

Analyze This… And That, And Everything In Between

 

Use Google Analytics and other similar tools to figure out if the visitors of your homepage solely choose to stick on that home page alone, never visiting the rest of your site. This is always bad for business, because it means you have noting interesting or appealing enough to provide them with something that can capture their attention. Look at the bounce rate and if you discover it is larger than 60 percent, you, my friend, are up for some problems. As long as you know for a fact that you have chosen the right type of keywords for your site, the issue of your homepage remains, and you will need to fix it soon. See if your homepage has the professional look people are looking forward to discovering, if it yells “trust us!” and if its content is updates, readable, attractive, and compelling enough, or if it simply confuses visitors who choose to leave.

 

For instance, speak about the full Oasis Moving and Storage array of services provided by this movers, offer quotations, information on all the detailed moving and storing options and ensure extra clicks on the site.