Public Relations Arsonist at MindFire Communications Inc.
Born and raised in Germany, I moved to the United States in 1998 at the age of 16. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in journalism I worked as a business reporter before transitioning into PR in 2006.
These days I specialize in strategic public relations and social media programs. Some of the clients I’ve worked with include: Hitachi, John Deere, Modern Woodmen of America, MidWestOne Bank, APQS, RK Dixon, the American Rental Association, CRST International, MobileDemand, The University of Iowa, Frontier Natural Products, and many others.
Specialties: branding and marketing strategy, PR & social media strategy and implementation, copy writing, content development, social media advertising, analytics, branding, and content marketing.
I’ve spent a fair amount of my time over the past nine years helping MindFire clients develop, manage and measure social media marketing programs. While we’ve got clients in all kinds of different industries and on many different platforms, I’ve seen companies struggle with a similar set of recurring themes. Here are a few things I’ve learned that just might save you a headache or two…
Put your brand first
It’s no coincidence that “brand” is the first item on my list. It’s so important to have a solid understanding of your brand position, messaging and personality when you’re putting yourself out there on social platforms. Sure – you can throw together cute cat memes, inspirational quotes or pictures of your team potluck, but if you’re not able to clearly connect those things back to your brand, then you’re missing the boat. In fact – then you’ve just become one of those accounts that puts meaningless “stuff” out there … and we all know what happens with that.
Social media is a great way to bring your brand to life and give it meaning in the eyes of your audience. If you don’t have a clear understanding of your brand, that’s going to be hard.
Figure out your “why”
WHY are you on social media?
So many businesses have started social profiles without answering this question – and they are no doubt floundering and wondering what the fuss is all about.
For a marketer, social media is just one – of many – ways that you can reach your target audience. But just like any other marketing tactic, you need a strategy that clearly outlines how the platform will help you achieve your overall marketing goals. Otherwise you’re just wasting time and money.
What are your objectives? Who are your trying to reach? How will you measure success?
If you’re managing a social program for your brand, you better know the answer to these questions. And if you don’t, stop what you’re doing and hit the reset button. It’s ok to hold off on posting for a while. If you’re going to do it, do it right!
Social media is not free.
Yes, it doesn’t cost a thing to set up a Facebook or Instagram account, but an effective social media program is far from free. Getting it right takes planning, strategizing, creative insight, project management and internal resources. In addition, many of the larger social platforms – like Facebook – have become pay-to-play platforms where an ad budget are essential to connect with your audience.
Sidenote – Facebook’s recent announcement about its news feedchanges are a prime example of this and should be required reading for anyone managing social communities.
Set ownership at the company level
Prospect: “Can you help us with our social profiles?”
Me: “Sure, we’d love to. We’ll need to get ‘under the hood’ to see what you’ve got going on. Can you give us admin access?”
Prospect: “Sure, how do I do that?”
Me: “Just assign MindFire admin rights or send us your account info.”
Prospect: “Well, the person who set up the account left, and I’m not sure how to get into the profile.”
This happens all. the. time.
If you’re going to set up social accounts, make sure that ownership of those accounts does not reside with one single employee. Otherwise, you’re going to be in an uncomfortable position when that person leaves and you’re stuck trying to track them down and ask them to please hand over ownership rights to you. (Especially not fun if the employee left on bad terms!)
You wouldn’t let a former employee walk out the front door with keys to your building … this is your online reputation, people!
Talk less, do more
If someone leaves a comment on your post or asks a question, don’t spend all day (or longer!) trying to figure out the best way to respond. When you’re on social, your audience expects – demands – a quick response. If you’re going send it up the chain and take two days to deliberate about the best reply, then you might as well not respond at all.
This is a big challenge for larger companies that have not created a framework for their social program that empowers employees to respond to comments and questions without first getting approvals from 5 million people (j/k…but not really). If you do the legwork and planning in advance, you should have no trouble handing over the reins to your team and entrusting them to respond on behalf of your brand without constant reviews.
Don’t be afraid to try
The exciting thing about social is that offers you the opportunity to try new and exciting things without having to shell out a ton of cash for a high-production TV spot and airtime. It gives you the freedom to try new things on a relatively small scale and then gauge its level of effectiveness before developing it further. Listen to what people have to say, be nimble and then adjust your strategy accordingly before you move into the next phase.