We can all agree that the world of social media is pretty fantastic. Fantastic and expensive. While social media can be a very cost-effective way for organizations to engage audiences, market products and promote the brand; the tools and applications we use often leave a major dent in our social media coin purse. It’s no surprise that the most popular social media tools (iPhones, Macbooks and iPads) are not cheap–totaling over $2,000. (Not to mention the monthly cost of the iPhone). I am by no means insinuiating that we shouldn’t buy these products. Because I can promise you, the second I get a job I’m buying them all. They don’t just look trendy, they make engaging in social media must easier.
This post is dedicated to sharing tips (form a PC and LG phone user) on using social media on a budget. Here are a few tips I have found useful:

1. Use Twitter applications like TweetDeck or Seesmic and keep it open on your desktop at all times to stay updated on conversations.
2. Register your tweets and facebook updates to send to your phone as a text message alert. You do have to pay for the text, but you will be updated of status updates and announcements immediately.
3. Schedule your tweets with sites like Twuffer or HootSuite. So when you’re not connected, you can still provide content.
4. Follow hashtags and conversations on Twitter. Respond to questions and conversations as soon as you receive them so you don’t leave people hanging.
5. Finally, start a savings plan for an iPhone!

Clearly, the way we communicate with our significant others has changed. Today, thanks to Web 2.0, we have the advantage of reaching any demographic across the globe. Much like our physical relationships social media is a way for brands to reach out to audiences and build relationships with them. After all, relationship building is what life is all about right?

The birth of social media has changed how we manage our relationships online. Relationship management, as it pertains to social media interactions, is explained in Mike Troiano’s post on social relationship management (SRM) and in Jacob Morgan’s post on customer relationship management (CRM). SRM is also described in a business context as the activity of building, maintaining, strengthening and broadening personal business relationships with relevant people. It can also be seen as a form of customer service. A study on human relationships, (the Dunbar number) shows that humans have a difficult time maintaining more than 150 relationships at one time. In the case of social media it’s not about the quantity of social relationships—it’s about the quality.

This post is intended to provide insight on how to foster effective relationships online. Hopefully after reading you will understand what SRM is and know how to foster relationships using the web. I want to hear your thoughts! Here are some ways to build your social relationship online.

Meet and greet: Just like any relationship, you must learn about your significant other. Know your audience. Do you know where they hang out on the Web? Do you know what they like, dislike? Do you know their preferences? Figure out where they go and what they do in their freetime. SRM is about people, not about constantly talking about YOU. Don’t play the field. Remember, it’s not about reaching as many people as possible—it’s about reaching the right people.

Make the first move: It’s up to you to make the first move when in the courting process. Building relationships is tough in general. Building them online in real-time may seem even more daugnting and may even seem like a blind date. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your audience. Ask questions and be transparent. Your goal is to gain knowledge and understand your audience.

Take it to the next level: Social relationships should be in it for the long haul. As you get to know your audience better they will eventually see you as a friend-not a faceless brand. You can take it to the next level by engaging with them. Ask them questions, ask for feedback and provide valuable content. Eventually they can become a go-to source and can act as a brand ambassador!

Stay committed: Commitment is hard for many people. However, staying committed in your relationships shows your honesty and integrity—exactly what consumers are looking for in a brand. Continue to build on your relationships and build new ones throughout the process.

Roadmap to personal branding

February 19, 2010

Get your free e-book! Get your free e-book!

Personal branding is definitely a must these days with the current job market. Check out the e-book I wrote on personal branding: 10 tips for personal branding success! I would love your feedback. Tell me what you think!

Roadmap to Personal Branding

Customer Relations 101

December 29, 2009

The customer is always right–Especially when they know how to use facebook!

Recently a West coast supermarket chain, Safeway, posted a special facebook promotion exclusively for its fan page members. For a limited time, if you became a “fan” of the supermarket on facebook, you could be eligible for a free box of clementine oranges. What a deal right? Not really. Safeway created an unnecessary and negative buzz around their brand, due to a lack of communication and customer service.

Now I’m not one to complain about free swag, but Safeway provides a perfect example of what not to do when using social media as a promotional tool. The promotional post was vague and did not clearly state how the customer should register their coupon to receive the free oranges. After several customers posted some not-so-nice comments on the Safeway wall, the organization finally uploaded vague instructions with a broken link to a downloadable coupon. The promotion’s rules and regulations kept changing and frustrated customers continued to leave nasty comments. It seemed as though the supermarket chain planned the promotion as they went.

Much later that day, Safeway posted the customer services’ phone number, forcing confused customers to take the initiative. However, the customer service representatives and the store employees had no idea about the promotion. In what was starting to look like a scam, the promotion finally closed at the end of the day.

Organizations must use social media wisely and honestly. Facebook has proven to be a great way to increase awareness and to promote your brand–with a plan of course. Rather than a “plan as we go” attitude like Safeway, businesses and organizations must create thoughtful plans, free of mishaps and blunders. Here are some tips when using social media as a promotional tool for your brand.

1. Create a plan and stick to it. Prepare a “plan B” and responses to all possible inquiries or questions. A plan is not only thorough, it is a useful way to measure your promotions success.
2. Communicate the plan to all associates and ensure they comprehend the promotion.
3. Communicate the plan to customers via a social media platform. Enthusiastically foster conversation and discussion.
4. Monitor conversations and standby to answer all questions or concerns.
5. Take notes on strengths and weaknesses for the next promotional campaign!

I recently attended a young job seekers seminar presented by personal branding guru, Erika Penner. The talk was inspirational and provided great information for my upcoming e-book on personal branding. After feverishly taking notes throughout the lecture, I ran home and started working on my very own personal brand. As college senior, who is searching for a job in public relations, there is no time like the present to start my personal branding campaign. So, where should you start?

Here are a few borrowed guidelines from Erika, and a few of my own, that will help make your personal branding campaign a success!

1. What are your goals? What are you passionate about? Where do you see yourself in ten, twenty years? Write down a short-term and a long-term goal and post them in a visible place. Don’t just write your goals in a list. Phrase them in a professional manner as a “to be” phrase (e.g., to be recognized as a leader in the field of hospitality public relations).

2. What are your strengths? What are you good at? Be honest. A potential employer can tell if you are making something up. Make a list of what you actually do well — not what you want to do well. This can also be a part of your core mission statement.

3. Write a 15 word, or less, description of yourself as it pertains to the field that you hope to work. This statement should reflect your personality and effectively communicate what you want a potential employer to know about you. This is your personal branding statement. Personal branding expert Dan Schawbel recommends including what makes you compelling and unique. He also recommends including any area of expertise in your core mission statement.

4. Consistency is key. Developing a personal brand can feel overwhelming. Use your core mission statement as a cohesive foundation throughout your resume, cover letter, social media, portfolio and interview.

5. Cover letters should not read like a template. They should reflect your core personality and branding statement while remaining professional. In the first two paragraphs, highlight the qualities that make you stand out. Then acknowledge why you are the best candidate for the position.

6. The dreaded interview can be daunting. This category is so big it could warrant its own blog post. But, creating a personal branding campaign creates an advantage that will put you ahead of most candidates. Preparation is key in any interview. Research the company and interviewee. What is the company’s core values? What are the most recent news of the company? Ask specific questions to find out more about the organization and to show you are a thoughtful candidate. Always bring at least two copies of your resume and bring a list of references to share.

This is only the beginning of personal branding. To read more on this subject check out the Personal Branding Blog and read my upcoming e-book on 10 tips for an effective personal branding campaign.

Social media revolution

November 2, 2009

It’s not just a revolution. Social media has hit the fan, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.  Web 2.0 networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook and of course blogging are among the few online addictions that are changing the way we communicate. I must admit, I have fallen ill with the social media virus and it has spread faster than, dare I say, H1N1.

From a distance social media may seem like a trend that will come and go faster than one can say “re-tweet;” however, the essence of communication 2.0 is here to stay.

In a recent blog post titled “The Future of Social Media” on PR. 2.0, social media expert Brian Solis comments on the direction of social media as a tool for effective communication. He states that social colonization is the next emerging form of communication.  This phenomena allows users of Facebook and other social media platforms to travel across all networks with the same identity, data and connections. This will not only continue to revolutionize the way we use social media, it will also allow participants to practice transparency.

Social colonization is a perfect opportunity for students of public relations to engage with potential employers and fellow students. Social colonization is also a great way for organizations to listen to what is said about their brand, engage and network with others.

This post is a challenge to all individuals or organizations that are sitting on the social media fence. It’s now or never, so join us and engage with your audiences. You won’t regret it.

Brand building 2.0

October 29, 2009

scolding grandma

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Unfortunately, our mothers’ wise advice may not always apply to Web 2.0. Bear with me as I explain. Like never before, cyberspace has stirred up an open dialogue for anyone and everyone to join and participate. If your organization’s blog or personal blog has experienced negative comments, chances are you have a wonderful opportunity to build your brand image.

In a recent brainstorming sesh with ManneroftheMonth.com creator and editor, Mindy Lockard, we talked about building a professional brand online. We discussed the value of creating a PR plan, as well as a core message to refer to in every business decision. Negative blog remarks are an opportunity to engage with the public, talk with them and act in a way that reflects well on behalf of your organization.

Here are five steps to build your brand in the event of a negative comment:

1. Plan: Planning is crucial to effective crisis communication. Think about how your organization would handle a customer who responds negatively on your blog. What will you say? What will you avoid saying?

2.  Listen: Don’t jump to conclusions. Listen to what the person says and listen to what others say. Are others in agreement?

3.  Evaluate: Is he or she approachable or hostile? Evaluate the situation from as many perspectives as possible.
4.  Engage:  Converse with the person in a timely manner. Don’t wait too long and don’t act too quickly.

5.  Follow up, patch up and evaluate: When your company’s reputation is on the line, follow-up is key to patching up any blunders. Lastly, evaluate the process and prepare for next time!

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