samantha scott, apr, public relations fort myersBy: Samantha Scott, APR

Social media day is coming soon (June 30!) and to celebrate I’d like to offer eight key elements of an effective social media strategy. Using social media to market your business can be tricky, especially if you’re working in-house and wearing lots of marketing hats. That’s why we’ve created this outline as a reference guide to make sure your social media strategy is on point.

1 . Setting Goals from the Start

The first step of any strategy is actually having one. Have a plan! The adage, “failure to plan is planning to fail” holds true with social media marketing. That includes having goals for your efforts. Without knowing what success means (increased web traffic, leads, audience growth) how will you ever know if you’ve made it?

2. Listening

Relationship therapists have long touted listening as a key element in successful relationships. As a business with customers, you have many relationships to maintain. Listening is a key component. It involves monitoring conversations about your brand, business, locations, etc. and protecting it.

3. Consistent, Fresh Content

Don’t let your channels get stale… Is the last video on your YouTube channel from 6 months ago? When was the last time you tweeted? To keep your audience interested and ideally engage them (likes, comments, shares) it’s important to post consistently and provide new, interesting, value-adding content.

BONUS TIP: Keep in mind the etiquette of each channel as a guide for your posting frequency. On Twitter posting up to 10 times a day isn’t uncommon, but on LinkedIn that would be overload.

4. Research your Audience

It’s hard to communicate with someone you don’t know. Other than basic demographic information, what do you know about your customers or prospects? Research them to determine the social media channels they use, their online and buying habits, their preferences and peak activity times, then connect with them there. If you already have an audience and contact information consider distributing a survey (Survey Monkey is free to use for up to 10 questions!) to ask for their feedback and interests.

5. Genuine Approach

Don’t be that cheesy car salesman with your content. Be real! People connect with people, trust people and buy from people. Make sure your content, responses and general presence on social media is genuine. If your content sounds canned or scripted your audience won’t respond to it and will be turned off.

BONUS TIP: When replying to reviews try to include the reviewer’s name and specifically mention at least one element of their comment. It proves you read it and care about their opinion.

6. Empower Your People

Every business or organization has ambassadors. Unfortunately most don’t realize it, let alone fully leverage them. Each staff person, board member, customer, etc. has the ability to be your ambassador. Are you empowering them to tell your story? Get your staff involved by sharing the links to your social media channels with them and asking them to follow/like them. Use your board members’ sphere of influence and encourage them to engage with your channels and share them with colleagues and friends.

BONUS TIP: Don’t just ask your ambassadors to post. Give them suggested content and/or memes to share. Give them the tools to complete the task. They’re more likely to do it!

7. Engage the Eye

The average attention span is 2.5 seconds! That’s it…. At a time when everyone and every thing is vying for your attention, it’s important to communicate quickly. Graphics offer an easy way to communicate your message. Plus, engaging and/or funny graphics are more likely to be shared than plain text posts. Get creative, take photos, share the experience of your brand/product/service.

8. Budget to Promote

Social media for business isn’t entirely “pay to play,” but if you want to ensure your posts reach your target audience members you need to budget accordingly. Even channels with thousands of audience members are struggling to have their content seen. Advertising expands reach and helps you control the audience (so the right people are seeing your brand). We recommend starting with just a couple dollars a day, measuring as you go and then refining as needed.

These eight key elements are sure to help increase the effectiveness of your social media efforts. Try employing them and see where it goes. If you can’t do it all at once, start small and add on. As with anything else, just be sure to set your goals and stick with it!

 

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In anticipation of Social Media Day on June 30, PTE is excited to share new features, changes and successful case studies regarding social media all through the month of June. Stay tuned!

By Lisa Davanzo:

Photo by Brian TietzGoogle+ changes for business

It has been my experience through the years that most businesses understand that they need to be active on Google+ but, not many people are familiar with how to maximize the platform to their benefit. With Social Media Day right around the corner, lets take a look at some of the recent changes on Google+.

WHAT’S CHANGED?

Google+ Circle sharing is gone. You may be thinking that you never knew it existed, much less how to share to it. The feature did exist and like other social media platforms, Google initially saw this as a way for you to organize your friends or “Plus-buddies” into groups and share conversations within those groups. However, Google+ Circle was never very successful due to the lack of legitimate users who took advantage of of this feature.

A few weeks ago the web started to buzz with speculation that Google’s big announcement was going to mean the end of Google+, however, the company announced the launch of Google+ Collections instead. This new feature allows users to organize and feature their photos in collections, much like its competitor Pinterest. However, Google has stated that the creation of this new feature began based on analyzing user behavior on the platform. In a sense, the feature is like Circle Sharing, except users are sharing content publicly rather than just to a set group of “Plus-buddies”. In fact, these Collections can be shared publicly, privately or with a set of friends – and you can follow Collections and see what they’re posting on your home stream. Google even has a featured Collections page that you can view by visiting g.co/collections.

Google-collections

Why is GOOGLE+ important?

Google is the #1 search engine in the WORLD. If you are a business, you probably want your website to rank well on this search engine right? So Google+ is important because it’s another way of showing the search engine giant what your business is all about. Google has stated publicly that they will begin factoring in Google+ profiles to their SEO rankings. The fact of the matter is Google is EVERYWHERE! Whether you use a Chrome web browser, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Play, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Earth, GCal, GChat, or even an Android phone, you’re connecting with Google. Now it’s more important than ever for marketers and businesses to keep a close eye on changes to Google products.

*As of October 2013 Google+ had 540 million monthly active Google+ users, and 300 million monthly “in-stream” users who see or visit the Google+ stream of content, according to Marketing Land. Unfortunately, Google has not provided Google+ usage metrics since then.

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ChristinaHello! My name is Christina Garcia and I and thrilled to be a part of the Summer 2015 Pushing the Envelope (PTE) Internship Program. I am a senior, graduating this December from Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) with a bachelor degree in marketing with a minor in advertising. While I currently live in Southwest Florida, I am originally from British Columbia, Canada. I moved to Florida when I was ten years old. Since moving to Florida, I have lived in Wellington on the east coast, but I eventually want to move back north so I can be in the snow.

Since my freshman year, I’ve been actively involved in the honors program, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, St. Baldrick’s Day, and the National Society for Leadership and Success. My participation in the leadership team in the honors program for three years as a cohort leader, a senator, treasurer and as the financial chair for the program has had the most impact on me professionally. I’ve also been the social media coordinator for St. Baldrick’s Day 2014 to promote the event and raise awareness to reach our goal of raising $10,000. We surpassed our goal by $5,000! I also have two jobs; one working as a server at Chili’s and the other as a tour guide at Florida Gulf Coast University.

When I was younger, people always described me as being a convincing person, so I figured marketing and advertising would be a good fit for me. Now, I couldn’t be happier to have chosen this path. I have experienced a variety of training at FGCU in my field. I’ve learned how to make an advertising campaign for a variety of businesses, analyzed brands and industries and made decisions on the results. I can’t wait to put my skills to the test at PTE. Once I graduate, I would like to work in an agency, so I will be taking every opportunity during my internship to gain experience in all fields of marketing and PR. I have not had the opportunity to focus on PR in my studies so far, so I am excited for the chance to write news releases and make media pitches during the next few months.

I am eager to learn from such an experienced team for the next 12 weeks and to be able to take the lessons I gain at PTE into my career once I graduate!

20150519_120803Hello, my name is Jessica McAfee and I am one of the newest interns for Pushing the Envelope (PTE) and I could not be more excited and ready to take on this amazing opportunity. I grew up on the east coast of Florida in a town called Jupiter. With my mom being a teacher at my high school and my dad being a well-known police officer in the area, I can easily say that people were always watching me growing up. In high school I was involved in the yearbook staff and was the section editor for my class during my junior year and co-editor-in-chief my senior year.

I am currently a rising junior at Florida Gulf Coast University and I am majoring in hospitality management with a minor in advertising. I chose hospitality management because I originally wanted to become a cruise director however, the older I got the less I wanted to work nine months out of the year on a boat. I have already had two amazing opportunities at two resorts in the Southwest Florida area: South Seas Island Resort and Naples Grande Beach Resort. Those were both great experiences for me and they helped me figure out what I really want to do with my career.

Last semester I met with my advisor and I told her that my dream career was to work in hospitality, but to also have a job where I can put my yearbook skills to work. She recommended advertising and I thought that was the perfect idea. At Naples Grande Beach Resort, I was able to sit with the marketing coordinator for a day and shadow her. After that experience, I knew that marketing and advertising was where I wanted my career to go.

In addition to my internship, work and school, I am also a member of the Phi Eta Sigma honor society and was recently appointed a seat on the 2015 leadership board. When I am not at school or at work, I enjoy spending my time with friends, reading, going to the beach, traveling, and going back to Jupiter to see my family and my two dogs who are the loves of my life!

I am so lucky to be able to have this opportunity and to have a hands-on experience in a public relations firm. My goals here are to get a general overview of the marketing world and to get a better understanding about social media marketing and public relations. I am so eager to learn everything and get a first hand experience of what it’s like to work at a PR firm.

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Photo By Brian TietzRole models come in all shapes and sizes, teachers, celebrities, older friends and the list goes on.  My role model just so happens to be my mom.  It may be cliché to call my mom the strongest and most hard-working person that I know, but those words ring true when I think of her.  Throughout my life, my parents have both collectively taught me so many life lessons that I carry with me every single day.  As I reflect on my childhood and the years leading into adulthood I want to share just a handful of things that my mom has passed down to me.

The highlight of my elementary school years was going to lunch and opening my lunchbox to find a note from my mom saying, “I love you” or “I hope you are having a good day”.  Looking back now I couldn’t tell you how many encouraging messages I have received from my mom throughout my life. I just know that there was one accompanying almost every significant occasion no matter big or small.  They would vary from wishing me good luck on the first day of a new semester, the day of a big presentation or step-by-step directions on how to cook without burning my house down. I often find myself practicing the same patterns when I’m the encourager for my friends. I see the potential that the people I love possess and want nothing more then for them to succeed in their endeavors.  My mom has shown me what it means to be a complete support system for those you care about and I am truly grateful for that.

Chelsea

Children all share a sense of invincibility to do anything they set their minds to.  For example, when I decided last minute to run for a student government position my mom supported me by staying up late to help me create campaign posters even though she had work in the morning.  As we grow older the ability to try new things and step out of our comfort zone often gets harder to do.  My mom has always encouraged my sister and I to push ourselves to the limits and to never let a silly fear hold us back from trying something new. Even when it was to apply to a college that would require us to move away from home, she insisted that we follow our dreams to get the most out of the experience.  I frequently notice that I always strive to try new things and I believe I also gained that from my mom.

I am so lucky to call such an incredible person my mom. In honor of mother’s day, thank you for everything that you do for me no matter the distance or time or day. I love you!

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