by Sherry Heyl
Most business owners and managers of all types of industries and of all sizes have accepted that social media is not only not a fad, but has become essential to how business gets done. However how it fits in with their business and the work they do and where to start and who should help them seems to be a few of the ongoing nagging questions.
Although the answers to these questions are dependent on each individual’s situation, needs, and goals, below are a few things to think about.
Do I Need This Big Complex Strategy that Agencies Keep Pitching To Me?
What are you are wanting to do with social media? Some of my clients just want to tip their toes into the social media ocean and the best place for them to start is by learning what all the sites do and how they can use them. The strategy can come later. Some clients are building out a business strategy that depends on an engaged community. If they do not start with a strategy they have a very high risk of not having enough resources to meet their needs, upsetting or turning off the people who’s support they need most, and constantly having to change direction.
Somewhere in the middle of these extremes are the clients that already have a solid business strategy and good processes and want to integrate social media into their business step by step with the ability to create the strategy along the way.
Do I Need to Hire Someone To Manage This For Me? If So, Who?
Do you already have someone handling your communications? If so, social media can and should be integrated with those communications. Social Media should not be seen as an add-on, but as an evolution to what you are already doing. However, social media does open up new doors for sales leads, extends the reach of your brand, and enables you to gain an immense amount of business intelligence. These new opportunities can help you grow your business. As your business grows your business processes change and your staffing needs to change. These are a few of the things you need to consider as you are building out your social media strategy.
What Should I Expect from My Social Media Efforts?
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Social Media is about connections and communications. The tools are not magic, the magic happens with what you do with the tools. You get to decide what to expect from your efforts but your effort has to align with your expectations.
A social media consultant who has been around the block a few times can help you set appropriate goals and identify ways to measure success.
There are also a few other things you can anticipate.
1. Social Media tends to act like a mirror. You will begin to see a reflection of yourself and your business as you begin to work your social media channels. This can be rewarding or it can be disturbing. Either way you will begin to get a clear view of what works for you and what doesn’t.
2. There is no comfort zone in social media. The tools you get comfortable with will change or go away. The ideas you think are trendy will prove to be quick fads, and the humans online will continue to be human.
3. You will become more knowledgable about your community, your world and yourself. You will be introduced to new ideas and innovations and be inspired. You will be driven to learn more and more.
“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” – Robert Frost
by Sherry Heyl
We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. At least we hope so.
My Facebook newsfeed is still lit up with political posts. Half of which expressing reasons why we should vote for one candidate or against an amendment, and the other half pleading that people stop with the political posts.
Social Media and Politics is actually fascinating to me, not just how the campaigns are run, but how much people decide to share or not share with their friends and acquaintances. It seems that people are willing to express their opinions in digital mixed company in ways they would not do in real life. One reason may be because online we have supporting information at our finger tips as opposed to having to rely on our memory and knowledge. Another reason, I believe, is that people really think that their voice makes a difference – not just their vote, but their voice.
Does it?I have taken some informal surveys and found that people are more active and knowledgable about politics because of the ongoing conversations on social media. That’s a good thing. We need more people involved. Of course I have personally found myself having a lesser opinion of someone because of the way their arguments were presented, not for their arguments, but the presentation of them. That is definitely the dark side of discussing politics. I am also sure that business and personal relationships are a bit strained when political opinions are so different. But isn’t someone’s political opinions and how they present those arguments a good insight into who they are? If it was not the political discussion that strained a relationship, surely something else would.
Personally, I think discussing politics online, respectfully, is not only a right, but a responsibility. We need to talk things out more especially with people of different views. We should not live in our own little silos. And as annoying as it may get at times, it does not mean it does not work. None of us like commercials, but they obviously work. How much more effective is having facts and opinions presented by friends, family and peers.
Provided by: Open-Site.org
By Sherry Heyl
The person who initially introduced me to social media waaay back in 2005 just announced that he is quitting Facebook.
He is not the first person I know who has expressed that the sugar high of social media has crashed. In fact, for the past couple of years I have been going through my own highs and lows. Considering I made social media my career choice I could not just quit. Instead I have been forced to think through what is going on in me, in society, and in business and what I want to do about it.
During a business meeting a couple of years ago I was asked what my contingency plan was after social media peaked. I tried to explain that I was anxiously awaiting for that day to come so we can get down to the real business of social media.
You see, the creation of social media is very much like the discovery of how to make fire. Stay with me here.
I can imagine the first man who figured out how to make fire. To everyone around him, and probably to him, it seemed like magic. Very quickly his tribe recognized that the ability to create fire would change everything. I bet the “fire makers” of the tribe were highly compensated. I can also imagine there were people in the tribe who were afraid of the fire and thought that people should not use fire.
I can imagine the many experiments the tribes attempted with fire. I wonder how many people were burned, and how many fires spread beyond the control of the tribe. It must have been an exciting and dangerous time.
As time passed, more and more people learned how to create fire and fire became no big deal anymore. Everyone moved on. But did humanity stop using fire. Of course not. We just use fire now when it makes sense to. Are there still fire specialists? Yes! They blow beautiful glass creations, cook wonderful meals, or save our property from being destroyed.
Just like fire no longer seems like magic, many of us are no longer thrilled with the magic of social media. But that does not mean social media is going away. No. We are just going to use the tools that help us do what we want to do instead of expecting the tools to do magic for us.
So where does that leave me as social media consultant? Well there are still many people who are just learning what all these tools are and I expect that will continue to be the case for at least a couple of years. However, when I show people these tools I get the most joy from seeing their creativity unleashed, new relationships discovered, and newfound courage developed.
I love empowering people and that is how I will continue to use social media and the ever growing number of digital tools. Just like a glass blower uses fire to shape glass I will use social media to help people shape their dreams.
by Sherry Heyl
What a week! and it is only Wednesday.
When I got started in Social Media I gave myself the title Idealist. I saw a vision of the many wonderful opportunities the open web was going to bring. That was a long time ago. I have been slapped multiple times with a healthy dose of reality. Especially this past week.
The lessons of the week have been very enlightening. In a short time I found myself explaining the three issues I have with the current state of social media in such a way that I was able to see how these three issue are related and how they are hurting us from truly embracing the opportunities that social media offers.
1. Social Media Has Been Hijacked by Marketing and PR
Social Media was not created to be a channel for marketing and PR. It was created by innovators who desired a way to collaborate with each other. They needed tools and so they created the tools and offered them freely, or mostly free to anyone who wanted a platform for conversation and collaboration. That WAS the dream of social media when I got started. Now the dream is to drive traffic to your website, get word of mouth marketing, make a video go viral, create buzz, and so on and so on.
Need evidence of this? Just look at the latest articles that claim that your social media manager should be under 25. What can a 25 year old do for you? Well they know the language, they know the tools, and they can spit out your message. But they are not the people making business decisions nor do they have the experience to consult with the company about what business changes need to be made based on conversations that are happening online. No, social media does not have the respect that it deserves yet, so it has been taken over by loud mouths, aggressive sales people, and spammers which now vastly outnumber the type of innovators, entrepreneurs, and change agents that gave birth to the social web.
Jim Collins was wrong, Good is not the enemy of Great, Fear is!
Social Media is still foreign to many communicators. Some fear the technology, some fear the openness, some fear making a mistake, some fear the idea that people get to talk back. This fear can no longer stop them from being a part of social media. It is no longer a choice. Communicators are being directed to have a social media presence, but having a presence does not mean embracing social media. For many it means outsourcing social media responsibilities to someone else who can be to blamed if anything goes wrong. It means using social media channels to do business the same old way, connecting with media outlets and institutions and avoiding any and all contact with individuals. It means doing as little as possible and then pointing out that their social media efforts are not working as well as traditional messaging. Meanwhile, scrappy little start ups and courageous thought leaders will continue to be disruptive causing more fear and uncertainty among those who are too scared to truly dive in.
3. Left Brain Thinking
My frustration from the beginning has been how often organizations embrace the new technology without considering the new skills and approaches that must come along with the technology. On the flip side, many people I know who develop new technologies believe all they have to do is build a great tool and it will be successful. We have seen enough great tools fail to know this is not true. Look at absolutely every tool that Yahoo! purchased such as Delicious, Upcoming and Flickr. Great technologies that they thought would bring them social media success just because they enabled users to be social. But without ongoing innovation and a nurturing community manager all of these great tools are disappearing. More recently RIM (Blackberry) purchased two of my favorite tools Gist and Tungle. Guess what…Gist is going, going gone.
Why does this happen? I am currently reading the book, A Whole New Mind, which does a good job explaining how our traditional celebration of left brain thinking (engineering, number crunching, logic, SAT stuff) is starting to lose some of it’s spark as we are starting to realize that we have evolved to a point when beauty, empathy, and nurturing communications is required.
That is what social media requires for us to move forward; a desire to create, collaborate, and connect. A desire to nurture our right brain in spite of the logic of our left brain. A desire that is strong enough to overcome fear.
Social Media has empowered many people to live a life that was not possible 10 years ago, myself included. It has also forced people to make changes they were not ready for and caused a lot of anxiety. And as we have all seen it has given power to voices who do not know how to appropriately use such power.
It is a messy messy place, but it is not going away. I can only hope that we, as the human race, continue to evolve to a place where we can take advantage of the opportunities that were envisioned when these collaborative tools were created.
by Sherry Heyl
Last summer as I was watching The Voice an idea hit me. What if we put teams of people together to compete on developing and implementing a social media strategy. After a few months of bouncing the idea around I teamed up with Jake Aull and Terry Coniglio and The Change Challenge was born.
The Change Challenge was made up of 4 teams of 4 volunteers that supported 4 different sponsoring nonprofits. Led by myself, Terry, and Jake the teams received hands-on training on developing a social media strategy and integrating social media into business processes. Ultimately The Change Challenge was a competition where each team was judged based on Creative Problem Solving, Goals Met, and a Sustainable Implementation.
A couple of weeks ago The 2011-2012 Change Challenge volunteers celebrated their incredible journey with an awards breakfast.
A special thanks to our judges:
- Dr. Naveen Donthu, Department of Marketing Chair, GA State University
- Jeannie Ericson, Executive Director, Integrated Media Association
- Cindy Cheatham, VP Consulting Services, GA Center for Nonprofits
Congratulations to the Trees Atlanta team for winning The 2011-2012 Change Challenge.
Comments from the judges:
- “Goals were well defined and met.”
- “Their focus on a content calendar was key to creating a sustainable implementation.”
- “Everything they did seems very creative but logical and well thought-out”
Trees Atlanta team included: Abby Schwimmer, Kent Jones, Sara Cheshire, Elyse Klova, and their nonprofit sponsor Bethany Clark
Pictured below is Ashlee Lindo from the Adpative Learning Team and Tori Vogt from the Atlanta Mission Team
“I applaud the team for persevering through all their challenges. Their flexibility and creativity kept the idea alibe.” Judges comments related to the Atlanta Mission Team.
“A lot of good came from the project in terms of understanding what kind of effort must go into a real social media campaign.” Judges comments related to the Adaptive Learning Team
Pictured below, the Emory Center for Injury Control team: Michael Mumper, Kirka Mugo, Dan Schlossberg, Kristina McInerny
“Really thought through where you want to go and the opportunities to expand” Judges comments related to the Emory Center for Injury Control Team.
This was an incredible experience and I sincerely appreciate and am still in awe of the dedication and hard work from everyone that was involved.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead
by Sherry Heyl
Last week, all through my Google Alerts I kept seeing articles from around the web praising Gap’s social media guidelines as the model to follow. I saved a couple of the articles so that I could review them this weekend, take notes, and help my clients model the success that so many thought Gap had found.
I just read through Ragan’s highlights and learned that the actual policy is not public for me to review. However what Ragan is celebrating as the success of the policy is exactly what I tend to tell my clients does not work.
If you have heard me speak, you may have heard me tell this story, but here it goes again.
Throughout college, which took me 8 years, I worked at Bennigan’s as a waitress. Many people who are younger than me do not know what Bennigan’s is, but if you have seen the movie Office Space, this was me…
We were told that if we served alcohol to people who were under-age, the restaurant would get fined and could be closed down and we could lose our job.
Now let me relate that message to one of the messages in the Gap guidelines…
“These guidelines are important—because if you don’t follow them a few things could happen: your posts can get deleted, we could lose customers and investors, we could get in trouble, or, worst of all, you could even lose your job … So do the right thing, stick to the guidelines.”
Here was the problem. As servers we got really busy. We were working for tips. And overall we were not real loyal to our company. So if we were too busy to check an I.D. we did not check an I.D.
In any corporate job your employees are looking out for themselves, trying to solve their problems, and more often than not seeking to establish their own voice online. They are not loyal to your brand.
So what should you do?
Stop thinking that your social media policy should focus on your corporate brand and start helping your staff consider their own personal brand.
In Florida, which is where I worked as a waitress, they decided to make each server individually licensed to sell alcohol. We each had to go through a certification training and if we were caught selling alcohol to someone under age or anyone who should have been cut off, WE as individuals could get fined, go to jail, and lose our license to sell alcohol.
We all started taking the time to check IDs which in turn benefited the restaurants.
If you focus your policy and training on helping your team to protect their personal brand and not focus so much on your corporate brand, your team will pay attention to what you have to say and will even appreciate your willingness to look out for their best interest. I call this the “brand you” campaign. I have been saying for years, and repeated it just recently, but if you want to protect your brand in the age of social media you have to go beyond your social media policy.
by Sherry Heyl
You need time to research the web, get to know the people you want to connect with, develop your message, and build relationships based on mutual trust and values.
You need money for advertising, landing pages, applications, multimedia, and any other flashy gizmos.
There are very few organizations that have very much time or money to dedicate to a social media campaign. Oftentimes they wil contribute what resources they can, watch their campaign flap around like a fish out of water and then declare defeat.
If you have little time and money, it is best to double up on one and go little to none on the other. There are many free sites and tools available and most campaigns can be run without spending money on advertising, landing pages and so forth. However you will need to double or maybe triple the time you spend creating content, engaging in dialog, and promoting your efforts throughout social networks. You will also need to allocate time upfront to develop realistic goals and milestones that map to your actions and results on a weekly basis.
If your boss knocks on your door and tells you there is an event happening next week that he wants you to promote via social media, and you do not already have an engaged community you can work with, ask for a big check. You can be successful in social media within a short period of time if you are able to buy some attention. This is more than buying advertising space, you will need to get some creative folks involved as well.
If you find yourself without time or money and with a demanding boss who wants to see this social media stuff work, no need to fret. Set up appropriate expectations. What can you get done in a week and how does the value of what you accomplish relate to the ROI of traditional communications. For example can you find the right people are twitter to mention your initiative? Can you align with a partner who has a large Facebook fan base? Can you make your initiative news worthy and get the attention of the media? When it comes time to report your results, highlight how social media outperformed the expected results of traditional communications. For example your Cost Per Impression in social media vs traditional advertising might be much lower. Also explain how social media efforts can be even more successful give more time or more money.
However, if you start spending the time upfront to build and nurture your community the majority of your work will be done when you boss ask you to work miracles without a wand.
- to be prepared is half the victory.
Miguel de Cervantes
by Sherry Heyl
I wrote this post in October of 2006. Five years later I think it still serves as a good reminder.
“Let us speak, though we show all our faults and weaknesses – for it is a sign of strength to be weak, to know it, and out with it…” -Herman Melville
To define Social Networks, it is appropriate to turn to Wikipedia. Despite the ongoing debate regarding the accuracy of wikipedia, it is the approriate source to turn to because it is built by a social network of people who willingly share their knowledge and insights for the common good of raising awareness and understanding.
The wikipedia definition I find appropriate is: “Social network analysis (related to network theory) has emerged as a key technique in modern sociology, anthropology, geography, social psychology, information science and organizational studies, as well as a popular topic of speculation and study. Research in a number of academic fields have shown that social networks operate on many levels, from families up to the level of nations, and play a critical role in determining the way problems are solved, organizations are run, and the degree to which individuals succeed in achieving their goals.”
Put simply, Social Networks are about how individuals communicate and interact with each other in their quest to reach a certain goal.
Well, it seems simple until you look up the definition of communication. There seems to be an unlimited amount of studies and types of communication as well as communication barriers.
Yet people have a great longing to be heard and to connect with other people who understand them and share similar interests. Perhaps that is why there seems to be an unlimited amount of social network sites popping up and being populated at an unprecedent speed.
Seth Godin has created a great chart (link has since died) that monitors the growth of the top social sites. For those who are seeking to profit from such sites, watching Seth’s chart may feel like watching stocks being traded.
But have your consumers and clients gathered on these sites just so that they can become an easy target for advertising?
A little over a year ago, I started to observe that people are tired of being sold to, but everyone is longing for a connection. I wrote an article titled “Technology Redefines the Role of Sales and Advertising” which was the catalyst that launched this company.
What I was discovering and have since discovered is that the Internet has evolved in such a way that we are able to find and connect with people of like minds and like interest. Through simple searches and peer to peer connections people are discovering vast amounts of information, entertainment, and inspiration that is relevant to them. They are developing trusting relationships with people from all over the world and communicating ideas, sharing secrets, and getting advice.
Those of us in marketing (myself included) exclaimed, “wow! focus groups, behavior targeting, improved metrics, and word of mouth marketing on steriods.” But these sites were not originally created to segment us into groups of target audiences. These sites are intended to be a community.
As stated in The Cluetrain Manifesto, “The Internet became a place where people could talk to other people without constraint.”
For the most part, those participating in online social networks welcome the targeted ads. It helps pay for the space they are playing in and they can discover new services and products of which they talk about and share ideas and stories about.
The question is, are the advertisers listening? There is a great conversation going on, and it may be relevant to you. You can join in if you follow the rules of authenticity and sincere interest.
The marketplace has never really been B2B or B2C, it has always been about p2p, people to people and the relationships and trust they develop. The Internet is bringing us back to that reality.
by Sherry Heyl
It’s that time of year;
- The ringing of the Salvation Army bells
- The opportunity to donate food as you buy your groceries
- Events that require toys for tots as an entry fee
Whereas all of these activities are successful because they make it easy to give, they seem to lack the personal touch of knowing who you are supporting, where your gifts are going, or how you are changing lives. They also require enormous effort to attract partners and volunteers to be everywhere shoppers and party-goers are.
Even though the end of the year is a time of giving both for altruistic reasons and for tax reasons, it is also a time of great competition for dollars among nonprofits. The smaller nonprofits need to be extra creative within very tight budget constraints.
My client, Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation, has created a campaign that is creative, compelling, entertaining with a personal touch.
It starts with a video, Santa Claus Needs New Eyewear.
The video is funny, showcases the work that the Lighthouse does, and has a call to action. The Lighthouse produced this video by showcasing the talents that existed in their own building. The lyrics were written by a staff member and the vocals were provided by another staff member.
The call to action is for you to visit their holiday website Check It Twice. At the website, instead of just asking for a donation, the Lighthouse has developed a holiday gift catalog where you can choose the amount you would like to give by choosing the gift you would like to give. Not only does this make your gift more personal, in one snapshot it also tells the story of all the work that the Lighthouse is involved with.
While you are the site you can also read the touching letter from Gary who continues to be a productive member of society thanks to the work of the Georgia Lions Lighthouse.
Not only has the Lighthouse developed an entertaining campaign that is seeking end of the year gifts, they are also effectively enhancing the community’s awareness of the work that they do all year long; work that not only makes a difference to the lives of individual clients but also makes a difference for the whole community.
by Sherry Heyl,
About a year ago I was offered the gift to work with Liz Hayes, the Marketing Director for the Center for the Visually Impaired, to build out their social media strategy. Liz is one of those amazing clients who is not only a sponge for information and ideas but also someone who will effectively implements those ideas.
The past couple of months Liz and I have had the opportunity to co-present at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. At a presentation yesterday Liz was able to showcase how all her hard work insocial media is paying off .
Each time I speak to a group of nonprofits I start by asking a few questions.
1. What is your mission?
Practically everyone can answer this question….by rote memory.
Because the mission statement is usually memorized, it is too common that people have to think for a moment about why their mission is what it is.
3. Who have you specifically helped?
90% of the time this question is answered with a statement that sound like it is right out of a marketing brochure. “We have helped 25,000 people who have found themselves without the means to….blah blah blah.” There is nothing to pull at my emotional strings in such statements.
The statement that more the 7,500 soldiers have died in Afghanistan does not have the same impact as hearing about the soldier who had only 2 more weeks left in Afghanistan before he could come home to see his newborn daughter but was killed while on the side of the road changing a tire for a stranded citizen.
4. How does what you do impact my life?
This question almost always stumps my audience. The typical answer is that they are there if I or anyone I know ever need them. That is great, but how are you going to raise money when the only people who know about you are the people who need you? The goal of this question is to help my audience see how what they do has a larger positive impact on society as a whole and that we all benefit from their work and therefore we all have a responsibility to support them.
This is the consultation that Liz has run with at CVI. The CVI Facebook page is full of personal stories, valuable resource information, inspirational stories, and stories of how CVI impacts society as a whole . And it is paying off tremendously.
In a year her community has grown to over 400 members – which is a strong following for a locally focused nonprofit organization. However what is so impressive is the 25% of that following is talking about CVI to their friends.
And what are people talking about? Personal stories of the impact that CVI is making on people’s lives and on society.
Jack and Luke are four years old, visually impaired, and on the path to a lifetime of learning and adventure as braille readers. You can help Jack, Luke and CVI clients of all ages with the vision to see beyond their disability.
What is the secret to CVI’s success? Liz would tell you that before she post anything on Facebook she thinks about who it is for, why they would care, and what action they would take. She always puts herself in the shoes of her community first.