Getting Started, Socially

Spoke to a lunchtime crowd at the HFTP First Coast June meeting today. HFTP stands for Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals, or the people who oversee money & technology at private clubs & hospitality venues. Thankfully, a few marketing people were also in attendance, probably to play towards my comfort level since I was a filling in for a colleague.

My hospitality & club career ended when I was in college, but I have a few years of experience in the service industry and paid my fair share of bills in my early-20’s from tips earned as the beer cart girl. With that limited background to guide me, I pulled together enough of an overview and TIPS! to discuss at their lunchtime meeting.

Several in the audience today were CFOS, controllers, accountants and the like. These aren’t the people who will be posting status updates for their brand, so I spent more time on how to create the business case for engaging your current members/guests online. I wanted them to think about social media as a tool for online customer service and outreach. Responding & listening to your customers is much easier to make a case for, when your decision makers don’t view “social media” as essential.

Thanks to all who attended today. I’d be happy to hear your feedback and suggestions for future talks on this subject, and happy to answer any further questions you may have. (Like this one, that came up in the presentation…)

For the person who asked about Clubster vs. Ning…Clubster looks like a social network for members of professional clubs, who can link into their clubs’ community. Ning allows your club or group to set up a private social network powered by you and your community, that can live adjacent to your own website. I prefer to own my content, so I’d still lean to setting up a walled social network for my community through a service like Ning. Always do your due diligence to ensure you find what’s right for your company & members.

Hope to see some HFTP members at an upcoming Social Media Club JAX meeting. The next one is June 25th at Pablo Creek Library from 5:30-8pm (presentation starts at 6) and you can RSVP here.

Six Steps for Setting Up Social Media Strategy

I went through a “101” call a couple weeks back and it brought back the reminder of that, while some of us do this social media stuff 24/7, most marketers and small businesses are still just getting started figuring out what to do with their Facebook profile/group/page,  YouTube channel/video, Twitter thingy. A lot of people I talk to are hesitant to even set up social media profiles because they’re sure there won’t be much time to learn about how to use them effectively — much less actually see a return on their invested time.

I made a few notes while listening to these concerns and questions and afterwards followed up with the group with six steps to getting started with social media. I wanted to share it here too, to help you start building your toolbox.

Six-Step Process for Organizing Social Media Goals & Strategies

  1. Set your objectives for using social media. There are no “wrong” goals, as long as they tie into your other business objectives. Some objectives may include driving sales, raising awareness, creating online buzz, connecting with your friends/fans/customers or using the channels as additional outlets for marketing.
  2. Determine the resources you can dedicate to social media. If you have a team, great. One person, great. One half of one-half of a person’s time, sure. Just make sure that you’re allocating the appropriate amount of resources that are in-line with your overall business objectives.
  3. Decide what social channels help you achieve the objectives you’ve set and align with the resources you have available. You don’t have to have a presence on every social media website to be successful. PGA TOUR player Stewart Cink only uses Twitter, but he does so really well and is the most popular golfer on Twitter. Each channel (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) is unique in how the users engage, who uses it and even where its more popular. Pick the channel or channels that will reach the people you want to reach, fit with the resources and content you can produce and the outcomes you want to achieve.  [Hint: the Groundswell Social Technographics Profile Tool is a great resource to help you identify who & what your audience is doing online.]
  4. Don’t reinvent the wheel just for your social media profiles. Use the content you’re already producing for your website & newsletters (can go into Facebook notes, videos, photo galleries, etc). Make your social channels another extension of your plans for marketing, communications & digital efforts.
  5. Use insights from Facebook (Page Insights) and YouTube (Insights), as well as third-party sites like www.tweetcounter.com and TwitAlyzer.com to track your growth and successes. Hootsuite.com and Bit.ly let you track clicks on links posted on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. Measure everything and use the data to back up your gut instincts about what goes well or not as good as expected.
  6. Try new things! and share your successes or hardships so we can create a better community to help each other.

What do you think? I welcome any comments, challenges or additional tips that will help others get more comfortable with starting out, or resetting their goals for using social media to connect.

Get busy and learn!

I’m creating a new list of places to educate yourself about social media, social networking, digital marketing, PR 2.0 and whatever else you want to call it. This list is in the spirit of #followfriday on Twitter (which I’ve been tagged in but never reciprocated, sorry!) and in response to questions about where to find more about social media. This is by no means a comprehensive or final list — there is no easy way to rank the 900+ people I follow on Twitter and the (seemingly) 100+ blogs and emails I try to stay up with. (I’ve even avoided going back to Tweet Deck b/c I think it’ll take a day to organize all the people and keywords I’m following!)

I attempted this last year, in the form of my favorite PR blogs. In the [near] future, I hope to publish more specific lists for those of you interested in just social media, sports marketing, golf-industry, young professionals, corporate examples or something else. For now, though, here’s a list (mostly from the top-of-my-head) of where to start if you want to get busy and start learning.

Who to Follow on Twitter:

(tip- if you haven’t already, get to www.twitter.com and sign up. Follow these people and follow the people they are following and talking to. Follow whatever interests you, say hi to a few people along the way and make Twitter usable for you.)

What to read, whether on the site, in email or your RSS reader:

I’ve left off a ton of people who are probably just as deserving of a shoutout. Feel free to nominate more sources of wisdom and knowledge in the comments and I’ll update this list accordingly.

Know what your audience wants

From the “best thing I read today” files (courtesy of Clickz):

Widgets on a social network are different from those on a personal platform. This might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. The most successful applications on Facebook harness the social network. This includes music and video applications that allow users to see what others are interested in. Less successful are applications that are of value only to the profile holder. This is different from widgets on personal platforms, which center on the individual user’s needs. Both can benefit from adding true e-commerce, however. (For the rest of the “Widget World” article, click here)

The main thing I took from this paragraph? You have to know what your audience (users) want and be willing to give it to them. A headlines widget might be just the right thing for a personal blog or homepage. On a Facebook page, though, the app would be better suited to show what articles the users’ friends (using the same app) are reading, sharing and commenting on.

If you don’t know what your users want, ASK THEM. Go to the message boards, blogs and sites they are and become part of the conversation. Offer to have coffee, buy them a sandwich or arrange a meetup for happy hour.  L-I-S-T-E-N

In the spirit of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada, that’s all.

App of the week: FireFox v3 browser

FireFox3My 2.0 Tool of the week: FireFox version 3 browser

According to the download website it’s faster, safer and smarter than ever before. Firefox is my (and millions of other people too) web browser of choice. Everyone else has already downloaded it so you should too. Here are a few of my favorite things about using Firefox:

  • Firefox pioneered tabbed browsing
  • Automatically saves your session and prompts to restore it if the browser closes unexpectedly
  • Open platform allows developers to create helpful add-ons that make using the browser even better
  • Security and privacy settings are user-friendly and keep users safe while browsing
  • The new “Awesome Bar” auto-prompts from recently entered URL’s and recent history

Firefox 3 can be downloaded here. Once you’ve made the switch, the helpful Tips & Tricks on the Mozilla site can help you get started or learn something new about using the browser.

New: Favorite tool(s) of the week

In an effort to stop slacking on my blog duties, I’m going to start a weekly posting to highlight a “favorite tool.” These can be brand new or one of my can’t-live-without web tools (or applications) that I want to share.

I’ll start with a preliminary list of what I use daily that you hopefully already know about. If you aren’t familar, go check ’em out NOW. I won’t describe here, but if you want more info feel free to email me or ask questions in the comments.

  1. Twitter & Twhirl ( the desktop apps that puts my Twitter feed on my screen)
  2. FireFox Browser (Version 3 is out now!)
  3. Facebook (not just for college students!)
  4. Meebo (congregates all your IM programs into one)
  5. Pandora radio (the desktop app is HANDY)
  6. PGA TOUR’s Live Shot Tracking and Live Leaderboard Widget

Another tool I use almost daily, and am a BIG fan of, is del.icio.us. I am sick of getting emails with “so and so has sent you a link”, losing bookmarked sites going between computers, or printing out every article I want to save for later. You too? Then go sign up for del.icio.us. Once you get past the strange URL, you’ll find its a great tool for personal and workplace use.

The site allows registered users to save bookmarks in a list online. For each bookmark, users can edit the title, a description of the link and add tags for future reference. del.icio.us also has “social” features including allowing users to create networks, save links for each other and see what other people have saved as bookmarks (much better than emails, huh?). For an example, see my personal links at http://del.icio.us/ltbeyer

Last thing — if you have favorite sites or web tools you can’t live without, tell me (comments, Twitter, email, etc). I’ll be happy to check them out and share them down the road.

Social Media 101, by Me

Below is the presentation I gave at the Oregon Capital PRSA Chapter meeting today. It is titled “Social Media 101: Adding New Media to Your PR Toolbox.” Feel free to email me if you would like the notes or a PDF version of the presentation. I posted my favorite PR blog links below, so make sure to take a look at those if you are looking for gurus to follow. This list is full of them!

Please let me know what you think or if you have any questions, in the comments. Let’s talk!

PS – If you love the template as much as I do, check out more from Presentation Helper (UK) here