2019, social media

What I learned from the presentation “Social Media Strategy For Small Businesses”

Tonight I went to a presentation called Social Media Strategy For Small Businesses at Haven Collective. I heard about the event from the Robles Design email newsletter that highlights cool upcoming marketing-related events for entrepreneurs in Columbus. This event peaked my interest because I always like hearing from other social media pros and learning from their expertise. (If you’re not learning, what are you even doing, bro?) Carissa Richardson led the event. She owns her own company Kindred Strategy, after working at different agencies and brands for 13+ years.

She talked about the difference of organic and paid posts on social media. She made the excellent point that organic posts won’t grow your following. You need to put money behind your top performing organic posts and show those to a more narrow audience, such as a custom or lookalike audience (which is more targeted than using the Interests targeting.) I like to boost the previous week’s top performing post. This statement struck me because too often business owners think the goal of social media is to grow their following and that will happen if you post organically. False. You should strategically target your posts and invest in paid social media.

Carissa briefly talked about engaging with your audience and how important it is to respond. With that being said, she addressed the elephant in the room: what to do when, (not if) someone leaves a negative comment. She suggested to post a canned response that asks the person to take the conversation offline, like “We’re so sorry to hear you had a less than ideal experience with us. Please email debbie.gillum@brand.com so we can discuss this further.” She made the point that this sort of safety net policy in place can help leadership folks feel comfortable posting on social media. I would argue that posting a copy-and-paste response each time someone complains would fan the fire. It’s like if you called a company to complain about a service and instead of reaching a human you only got the automated voice. You’d get more mad. I think you should empower whoever is managing your social media to customize that response to address what they wrote. I’m still advocating that you take the conversation offline and follow that best practice, but I think canned responses make a brand feel robotic and can aggravate fans.

My favorite part of the presentation were Carissa’s steps to creating a social media strategy

  1. Define your social media goals. If you’re looking to grow your business your social media goal might be to increase your website traffic or grow your brand awareness and increase your post’s impressions and reach.
  2. Audit your current social media channels. Look out for duplicate pages, old accounts and take inventory of how many followers each account has.
  3. Build audience personas. Use existing data to create a fictional character of your customer. What are their needs? Pain points? Values?
  4. Choose your platforms. Check Google Analytics to see what social platforms are currently working to refer traffic to your website.
  5. Competitor Inventory. What are they doing? What can you do better?
  6. Establish your brand voice. This also involves creating your social media mission statement which is something like “BRAND creates social content to BENEFIT for AUDIENCE.” Example: “Volunteers of America creates social media content to help thrifty shoppers save money.”
  7. Develop a content strategy. A good idea is to post 1/3 Engaging 1/3 Curated and 1/3 Promotional. For curated content, keep a list of websites, blogs, authors who fit with your brand and subscribe to their newsletter. I like to set up Google Alerts for keywords related to the brand.
  8. Create a measurement plan. How will you track your success? I like to measure weekly analytics and one of my most important metric is looking at what post performed the best that week. That influences my future content.

Thank you to Yasmine of Robles Design, Carissa Richardson of Kindred Strategy and Haven Collective for working together to put on such an educational event.

social media, work, work sample

LinkedIn Paid Advertising

After merging with Indiana, Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana has been growing at a rapid pace and we have a lot of job openings right now. To assist HR with finding qualified applicants for these positions, I ran a paid campaign on LinkedIn from 12/27 to 1/2/2019, targeting people in Evansville, Toledo, Fort Wayne, Bloomington, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, and Columbus with the listed job function of Community and Social Services. (These are the cities we are hiring in.)

For the Text Ads, since you could have multiple variations, I used this as an opportunity to do some A/B testing with the language, the links and the creative.

Three of the Text Ads took people to: https://www.voaohin.org/careers  and three of the ads took people directly to the job listing page. I used a Bitly link to shorten the job listings page.  The top two performing ads pointed visitors to https://www.voaohin.org/careers  

Sponsored Content on LinkedIn. I made the image and wrote the copy.

We ran 5 versions of Text ads on LinkedIn and it’s clear the one with “We’re Hiring” in the headline performed best.

The Text Ad variations. The top performing ad had over 20,000 impressions and 14 clicks.

I definitely want to do more paid advertising on LinkedIn to recruit applicants and to do more A/B Testing.

2018, work, work sample

Giving Tuesday

Happy Giving Tuesday!   aka That-Day-Every-Nonprofit-Asks-or-Begs-For-Money

TL;DR: I was disappointed that we didn’t see more engagement on Giving Tuesday but now we have a new opportunity to do better with our upcoming End of Year giving campaign. 

I admit Giving Tuesday was a bit anti-climatic, what with all the hype starting, back in the summer. I subscribe to a lot of non profit marketing newsletters and I can’t count the number of emails and webinars claiming to spell out the perfect Giving Tuesday strategy. It’s like Black Friday for retailers.   (Side note to retailers: Cyber Tuesday is not a thing. Let us have this one day.) 
For this year, I admit we didn’t spend as much time as we could’ve strategizing about how to differentiate ourselves among the #GivingTuesday herd. We used a lot of the images that National (voa.org or Volunteers of America, versus the affiliate Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana that I work at) provided to us. I made a couple of unique images for us in Canva.  I didn’t use the copy from National exactly because I felt it wasn’t uplifting, donor centric or on-brand for us. I wrote my own variations. 
I spent like half of Monday last week sitting down, and scheduling out in AgoraPulse all our Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday social media posts. We’ve got two Twitters, two Instagrams, a Facebook page plus 9 thrift store Facebook pages- oh, and LinkedIn, so it’s a lot.  By the end, I was really proud of myself. I had laid out and scheduled in advance these important posts across all our channels. And, I did some boosting of posts and events on Instagram and Facebook as well as ran some Facebook Ads. We spent about $100. 
In my head, since I put so much time and effort into these posts and thought I did a great job, I naively expected to be overwhelmed with Likes, Comments, Shares and Messages saying “Wow this social media post changed my life!” (Just kidding on that last one. I’m not quite that delusional.)
Alas, it was pretty much crickets.  One woman did comment how she didn’t want to donate on Facebook and that she would donate “thru her nank.” I think she meant to say bank. Yeah, not the engagement I was hoping for.  

I told my boyfriend Nate about this on the phone today and saying it all out loud helped me realize that I can’t get bent out of shape over people not engaging or responding to my posts. That’s social media, ya’ll. That’s life. 
Keep in mind, these were mostly posts about giving, donating, fundraising. These were not the most hilarious, shareable, viral posts. 
Thinking more about it, we don’t typically do these hard-asks of “Donate Now!”  of our audience. I try to share meaningful and positive posts, celebrating our amazing supporters. I try to do the Jab, Jab, Punch method of sprinkling, or jabbing, helpful content and then here in November and December we do more punching with the Give Back posts. 

When one campaign ends, another begins. Giving Tuesday is out and now End of Year giving is in.  Okay, in an ideal world of butterflies and rainbows, I’d already have this campaign all figured out, but we merged our affiliate with Indiana this summer, I got a new boss, our team has grown and things have been hectic across the organization. All I can do is focus on the now. Today, I used a Creative Brief template that my old boss, Stephanie, came up with and that we used before. It’s helpful for me to use to spell out the

  • Goal
  • Objective
  • Tone
  • Creative
  • Deliverables
  • Look & Feel
  • Assets

 of the campaign.  I like to say that it helps me get my ducks in a row (this is my new favorite phrase. I just like picturing a bunch of scattered ducks and me herding them into a single file line.) 

On our nine thrift store Facebook pages, I shared this post to let folks know about Giving Tuesday and to ask them to donate online or on Facebook. 
2018, social media, Uncategorized

Our new thrift store employee

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This photo embodies what I think thrifty social media marketing is. The pic was texted to me by a thrift store manager this morning after I stopped in last week to say hello. Since I started a year and a half ago, I formed a relationship with her by coming into her store frequently. I listened, talked with her and got to know her staff. She knows she can send me pictures to post on social media. That’s easier for her than emailing the pictures to me or posting herself on her store’s Facebook page (yes, I trust her with her Facebook page.) She was telling me how they had a Justin Beiber cutout donated a while ago and the staff had some fun before the store opened taking photos of him.  I can’t be in the stores 24/7 to capture moments like this. I need managers and staff to know how important social media is and that I can’t do it without them. There’s something refreshing and authentic about a Facebook post with no call to action, no link to an outside website, and no filter. It’s just a photo that’s playful, relatable, funny and shareable.

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