How Can I Be Social in a Political Powder Keg?

We’re navigating dicey waters nowadays. With politics assuming as large a role in our feeds as quizzes and recommendation posts, engaging online continues to call into question what each of us believes and how (or if) we should express it via wifi.

There are all sorts of arguments for or against verbalizing political opinions online:

“I do business with my connections and don’t want to alienate a customer.”

“I can’t separate my politics from the rest of my posts.”

“Today it’s more important to stand for something than to stand for nothing.”

“It doesn’t change anyone’s minds anyway.”

It’s a hot mess out there.

The time for you to decide how you’ll navigate the social-political waters out there is now, if not already long past. But if you’re just now reaching the point where you need to plot your path forward, here are a few crucial considerations for you:

1. Decide what you’re willing to risk. Speak out or stay silent: either way, you stand to lose or gain something.

You may be thinking, “If I simply avoid sharing or engaging in political topics, they’ll never come up again.” That’s a fairly naive stance to think that your political sway is never going to impact your customer or your relationship with them.

Also, we aren’t just talking about business risks. Your moral compass, and whatever direction it points to, plays a huge role in shaping your motivations, your goals, and your results. If you decide to force your business endeavors in a different direction than your compass, that’s also a mighty risk to take.

2. Drop your assumptions. This one is tough, because we humans love to assume!

Whether or not you decide to allow your digital persona to wade into political waters online, you’re naturally prone to putting other online users into a box based on what you know about them—which is usually just a drop in a very large bucket.

Stop assuming things about others and using those assumptions when you interact. How awkward is it to find yourself typing and publishing a pat statement about why another person is wrong, only to have them come back with how you were wrong first

Instead, ask questions. Ask a lot of questions. By putting a ? at the end of your post, you instantly assume the role of listener, of one who wishes to understand instead of to attack, and of a learner who can be taught. (Also a very human trait.)

3. Own and stick to your beliefs. Once you know what you stand for, grab the wheel  with both hands and hold on for the ride.

In this uncertain landscape, one thing is the gospel truth: you will always encounter someone who passionately disagrees with you. The very definition of belief is “trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.” Talk about a huge foundation on which someone stands! So if yours is threatened or you threaten someone else’s foothold, things are bound to get tense.

This is where research and true facts (as opposed to alternative ones) come in. Have credited research and statistics to back up your beliefs (to make your footing more obviously solid to others). If you can’t find the stats… well, perhaps you have another quest ahead of you.

4. Don’t be ignorant, don’t be an asshole, and above all don’t be an ignorant asshole. Yeah, this just went PG-13, but I’m willing to stand behind that statement.

You will win over exactly no one good if you are a jerk about it. I know, it’s very tempting to go for the zinger where you mentally (and ‘fess up, even literally) fist-bump yourself for your drop-the-mic comment.

But if your victory comes at the cost of unnecessarily embarrassing someone or, worse, ejecting them from a discussion when everyone could actually have learned something… what exactly did you win here? A momentary feeling of superiority?

Instead of going for the kill, think bigger picture and higher road and go for the change of heart. It may feel less satisfying, and the discussion may not even have a pat result for you, but you just planted a seed instead of decimating the growth which could be just ahead.

You can do this.

None of us is perfect at this. That darned human condition ensures we’ll always stumble and experience the awkward of interacting with other carbon units. But hopefully these general guidelines can help you put your best foot – or keystroke – forward with a fair share of confidence and, in the long run, who knows? Our world could become a better place for everyone.

How do you choose to interact online when it comes to politics?

4 Must-Have User Experiences for Conferences

It’s conference season… again!

Seems like just yesterday you were unpacking from the last one, and yet it’s probably already time to line up flights, lodging, and logistics for the next big event. Conferences are a huge part of any business professional’s aspirations, agenda, and budget. So much goes into pulling off a successful multi-day event, so these are just a few ways your conference will leave attendees planning for next year before your final keynote this time around.

Use a Conference Hashtag

In virtually every social media platform, a hashtag is an anchor for conversation, topics, and resources. By searching for a specific hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or even Google, you can immediately enter a thread of comments by any user of the hashtag and engage in a very targeted conversation.

Your conference hashtag is free to create; all you need is creativity and brevity. Your hashtag should immediately identify your conference and be short enough to quickly tap into a tweet. For instance, if your conference is about CRMs, your hashtag could be #CRMcon17 (topic + shorthand for “conference” + the conference year). Also, although you just saw me use letter case in the hashtag, it won’t matter what case a user goes with when they add your hashtag to their post. That’s another beautiful aspect of hashtags: they really are the perfect user-friendly magnet for any topic.

Really Social Blog | SXSW (image)
Anything that goes on at SXSW is connected by the #SXSW hashtag.

If you’re interested in creating one of those branded emoji hashtags we see on Twitter, that’s a different story and price tag. You’ll need a minimum $1M commitment to get Twitter to help you create your own emoji hashtag.

Share Wifi Options

There’s a reason just about every business where customers may linger posts their wifi password or shares it on receipts. As we traverse each day with our mobile devices, wifi access can make or break our productivity. Naturally, we digital consumers tend to gravitate to spaces where wifi is easily accessible.

Your conference will be a home-away-from-home for at least a day or two for all of your attendees, presenters, and vendors. They bring extra chargers and batteries because they know that they’ll be a digital nomad during your event. Some may bring their own hotspots to ensure their connectivity, but your standard conference attendee will be on the lookout for easy wifi access so they can stay connected with your event while staying productive at the job where they aren’t physically in attendance.

Unfortunately for event organizers, hotels and convention centers see the value of holding widespread wifi close to the chest and only releasing it when they are paid a large fee (sometimes in the five figures for just a few days). And it makes sense, to a degree: providing free wifi at a Starbucks or in a hotel room (where you may have one to 30 people trying to hop on) is a far cry from giving free wifi to over 200 people across several thousand square feet of space.

For your conference, you’ll want to make wifi access one of the first things you address as you negotiate with venues for your event. Once you’ve locked in the contract and have attendees booking their lodging, it’s too late and you could be stuck either paying a larger fee or – worse – having zero wifi access for your event.

Conference attendees, if you’re balking at the ticket price for your favorite conference where you know they provide wifi access so you can stay productive and connected, slow your roll a bit. Good things what to know cost money, and wifi is just one of the many costs involved with putting on a massive event. Click here

Create a Community Group

Women attending Collision 2017 are already connecting & learning about each other.

You’ve got a stellar line-up planned with multiple tracks of content for your conference attendees. But attending sessions, watching panels, and quickening pulses over your rockstar keynote speaker are only one small part of your conference experience.

Networking opportunities at conferences are the ultimate takeaway for attendees. Whether you welcome rookie visitors who wear their wonderstruck-yet-wallflower expression through lunch on the first day or conference veterans who know exactly when and where to get in line for the morning coffee cart, each person hopes to meet or maintain a connection which lasts beyond the unpacking of their suitcase back at home.

Therefore, give your attendees ample networking opportunities before they even get through TSA security by setting up a social media group where they can congregate online. If your group is set up before registration even opens, you can add the link to your confirmation emails so they can immediately take action and build their excitement for the purchase they just made.

Set up a consistent posting schedule for your group and, if you’re short-staffed, enlist a few trusted participants to be group moderators who can keep the energy going and the conversation focused. Your mods can share breaking updates, tips for getting the most out of the conference, insider perspectives, and helpful resources where needed.

And let your attendees shine! Let them make introductions, share why they’re attending, find lodging and event buddies, plan to Uber/Lyft to parties… you get the picture. Your conference will be chock full of excited vibes, and your attendees will be part of a community which carries far beyond your event.

Based on the audience and purpose of your event, you can set up groups in any number of platforms (though I recommend focusing on just one): Facebook, LinkedIn, MeetUp, Slack.

Provide a Paper & Digital Schedule

You’ve got a website home for your conference (if you don’t, let’s chat, because that’s on the 101 level). It’s a fabulous conduit of information, which you can rapidly update and publish, and used effectively can be key to the user experience of your attendees.

(animated gif) reaction to Amazon AWS outage | Really Social Blog
Pretty much how everyone felt on Feb. 28, 2017. #AWSoutage

However, digital is not infallible. Remember when Amazon S3 imploded and half of the internet went down? Suddenly we all found out which of our favorite sites and host servers were on S3 and which weren’t, because for several hours we were halted in our tracks from accessing anything.

You may have the most gorgeous conference agenda imaginable, mobile-ready and responsive on your website, just waiting for a user to click through and be guided to their next session. But when factors like web hosting, battery life, and lack of wifi figure in, your fantastic online schedule may be rendered moot.

Thus it behooves you to have printed agendas at the ready. If that makes you heave a big sigh of resignation, I get it. Printing anything with an uber-short shelf life in this day and age seems incredibly fruitless. However, when it comes down to your sessions being half-full (or less) because the Starbucks across the street was more tantalizing than trying to navigate to your agenda, having some printed schedules posted and available for pick-up makes a ton of sense.

Note: In both print and digital formats, make sure your schedule—simple or complex—is very easy to decipher and find time slots. Particularly for your attendees who are flying solo, they may have to carefully select which session gives them the most value. Being able to compare topics side-by-side for a time slot is a great benefit you can offer through the schedule layout.


What did I miss?

Post your favorite conference user experiences below so we can all watch, learn, and enjoy our conference season!

Also, check out what we can do for you at your next conference appearance.

Con like a boss in 2017!

Why Private Messages Should Be Your #1 Goal

Social media has been a great tool over the years to spread the word.

We’ve all become very savvy at typing a post, creating an image or video, generating a hashtag or two, and scheduling or publishing posts that share content out to whatever audience is relevant to us.

For a while, that process seemed difficult. Now many people are very skilled at creating outbound content, and businesses are either executing a social media strategy themselves or hiring someone to do it for them.

The problem arises when individuals, brands, or businesses assume that social media is a one-way hose used to distribute their content to other people. Their communication goes in one direction: outward. In fact, social media was never intended to be used only for outbound, and times are reminding us of that reality.

Enter the private messages.

We’ve seen social platforms begin to invest mightily in the ability for users to interact with each other privately.

Facebook recently made mighty steps and investments to develop Facebook Messenger, even going so far as to push Facebook users to a dedicated messenger app instead of using the feature within the standard mobile application.  There’s even a dedicated website just for people to use Facebook Messenger to connect with each other.

Snapchat is now second place only to Facebook and is used primarily as a messaging app. Users are encouraged to connect one-on-one with each other through private snaps or messages.

WhatsApp is another messaging service that allows people to connect not just through text but also voice, video, and emojis.

These are just a few of the top competitors for the messaging space, and more features are constantly being rolled out to enhance user experience: encryption, creative tools for self-expression, and third-party discovery apps to help users find each other based on interests.

Image - private messages in Snapchat
Private Snaps or messages in Snapchat are the ultimate relationship goal.

Why are private messages important to you?

Because they eradicate that notion of the one-way content:

  • Private messages are the intake conduit for your customers, your friends, and your fans to interact with you authentically.
  • They are opportunities for you to create relationships and generate rapport with the people who are vital to your livelihood.
  • Private messages are what connects us as human beings, one to another, and often removes or exposes higher agendas so that genuine relationships can be formed.

If the message (ha!) still isn’t getting through, let’s paint another picture:

Let’s pretend or assume you run your business or mission from a brick-and-mortar location. You’ve got great signage: a fabulous looking sign over your entry which can be seen from the highway; an attractive storefront; clear messaging to show visitors where to find what they need; even an overhead announcement system to alert customers of special deals!

If a customer walks up to you and asks you where to find the sunflower seeds, you do one of two things:

  • Let them finish their question, and then respond by telling them about your July 4th sale on garden shears… or
  • Ignore them completely as you continue snapping pictures to share on your brand’s Instagram account.

If you cringe at that visual, we’re on the same page. This is why private messages are vital: they’re equivalent to a customer approaching you to interact. You have an open door to win their loyalty, provide a resource, and create a relationship that lasts.

Or you could keep working on that next great outbound post.

A special message

For brands and businesses which have been primarily focused on outbound-only messages and have not yet focused on incoming private messages: STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING.

Jon Stewart's head explosion animated GIF
89% of social media messages to brands go ignored…

You’re missing the forest for the trees. You’re casting your line into a vast lake without realizing the fish are trying to jump into your boat. You’re spraying down everything around you with your one-way hose and completely missing the opportunities of people trying to reach back to you.

Recent statistics indicate 89% of brands on social media never respond to incoming comments questions or complaints.

Do you get what this means?  The opportunity is now for you to set yourself apart and be that presence which responds to each person with relationship as your intention.  For your potential and existing customers and followers, relationship wins every time.

 

If you need help with how to set up your processes for responding to private messages and even public comments received through social media, let’s chat. I promise to answer your message. ??

Which social media should I use in 2016?

Sure, we’re halfway through the year 2016. Yet, considering how rapidly the social media landscape changes, taking a look at your plans for the rest of the year is always a wise idea.

 

Business vs. Personal Social Media

Before jumping into the gems below, you should ask yourself if you intend to use social media for business or personal goals. While the recommendations provided here will certainly benefit a business or brand, your personal approach to social media may be similar depending on what you want to accomplish.

You have a myriad of choices in tools and platforms, so zeroing in on the ones which work best for your goals and strategy is very important. Let’s take a look at the best in social media:

Facebook Live is easy to use on the most popular social media platform worldwide.
Facebook Live is easy to use on the most popular social media platform worldwide.

Best Livestreaming (Social) Video: Facebook Live

The year 2016 has been the year of livestreaming video. While tools like Meerkat and Periscope led the way in 2015, newer tools have entered the scene to increase competition and reach more audiences.

If you’re wondering where to start with livestreaming or social video, Facebook Live is the best choice.

With few exceptions due to industry and audience, Facebook Live is an easy first choice to enter into livestreaming content.

Best Image Sharing: Pinterest

Pinterest is an exceptional platform for ecommerce through visual sharing.
Pinterest is an exceptional platform for ecommerce through visual sharing.

Visuals are a must-have in your social media posts today, and the two primary platforms for sharing images are Instagram and Pinterest. When considering which to use, Pinterest has more going for it than Intstagram from a marketing perspective.

In light of Instagram’s new algorithm to show posts based on their engagement formula, as well as the cost to advertise and late rollout of native analytics, Pinterest is a safer bet for your visual marketing. That’s without even mentioning the ability to buy products directly from a Pin!

Best Engagement Marketing: Snapchat

Snapchat Geo-Filters by Really Social
A Snapchat geo-filter can drive traffic, generate brand awareness, or celebrate an event.

Today consumers want to do business with fellow human beings, and social media which amplifies real people vs. an overall brand or logo wins the day. With that in mind, few can still argue against the growing power of Snapchat for authentic engagement marketing. That’s largely due to Snapchat being a messaging app, though today it is being used for much more.

  • Snapchat’s brief duration of video Snaps (up to 10 seconds) which only last for 24 hours on the app demands attentive engagement between Snapchat friends.
  • Friends who view your Snapchat stories can then chat to you privately for one-on-one questions, advice, and establishing a authentic relationship.
  • Even if you don’t create Snapchat stories or have an account, you can promote your event or brand using a very affordable Snapchat geo-filter which can be seen and used by Snapchatters.

Before You Start, Know Your Goals

You’d never jump into a body of water without knowing what’s in it or how deep it is, right? The same applies to your social media marketing strategy.

Each platform, or pool, is different, and therefore some platforms will help you swan dive into success. Others will cause you to flop painfully. The recommendations above may work great for many businesses and brands, but the beauty of social media means there is usually another alternative to try.

Which platforms do you think are the best for 2016? Respond below and share to keep the debate going!

 

An Ounce of Automation is Worth a Pound of Engagement

There is a battle waging in social media against automation.

On one side, there’s the crowd I have dubbed “engagement purists” who believe every single social media interaction should be done in real time. No rules, no automatic messages, no bots. You either post as a real person in the now, or you don’t post at all.

On the other side, automation thrives with a vengeance by “automation addicts.” These folks use apps and programs for one-and-done social media posts, auto DMs, and an endless stream of sales pitches going out to any new followers.

Use an ounce of automation.

Of course, there is much space between the two polar opposites in this fray. In the space between purists and addicts, there live the “happy hybrids.”

We believe a little automation can go a long way. We know the ill effects of too much automation, yet we also realize our limitations as single, unique individuals who only have the standard 24-hour day (some of which must be used for catching some shut-eye).

When used effectively, an ounce of automation can lead to a pound of engagement.

 

Let me paint you a picture to describe what I mean…

Imagine your last (or next) networking event or party. When you encounter someone you don’t know, do you find yourself using the same introductory words and phrases?

Hi, I’m Rachel. How are you?

It’s great to meet you. How did you hear about this event?

Nice to meet a fellow business pro! What’s your specialty?

What’s wrong with this approach? Not one darn thing. We all have our go-to introductions when we first meet someone in real life. Why would it be different on social media? In these tools which are hailed as true engagement and relationship tools for marketing and communication, real world methods of communication can be implemented within each platform’s unique parameters. Think of it as the difference between a handshake (Facebook) and a business card (LinkedIn).

That said, there are ways to use and abuse automation in digital communication.

 

How to use automation effectively:

 

  • Follow up any automation with real engagement. A real person needs to be part of the process, preferably most of it. Even if an automated post or email gets the ball rolling, insert a live pulse into the conversation as soon as you can.
  • Respond to every inbound message. Every single one. You can’t automate custom follow-up with your audience, nor should you. Once a follower makes the choice to engage with you, reward that intent with respect by engaging in kind.
  • Customize any automated efforts to each platform, each audience. Show that you really do care by tracking your followers’ interests, likes, and dislikes on any platform you use to engage.

 

How to abuse automation detrimentally:

 

  •  Send the exact same message to every single person, every single time. Ignore the uniqueness of each follower through laziness and self-importance by delivering the same verbatim thought to each one.
  • Ignore messages and fail to respond to followers or friends. If you wish to alienate friends as well as followers, simply pretend incoming messages and questions are of no value.
  • Leave the automation on when the world goes off the rails. In times of crisis and tragedy, keep your automated posts of “buy this” or “click that” going while virtually everyone else is focused on helping their fellow humans.

 

What do you think? Are you an automation purist, believer, or a hybrid of the two?

Click the tweet above to vote, or share your opinions in a comment.

Yes, You Can Repurpose Your Snapchats

 

In my monthly Blab video session focused on What’s Happening in Social Media, we naturally circled around to the topic of Snapchat.

MANY thoughts percolate about this platform and its benefits, drawbacks, and the essential fad behind it. Yet one question arose which I am determined to answer for you today:

Can I repurpose Snapchats for marketing?

Yes. Yes, you can.

Snapchat screenshot: download/save your Snap once it's captured. (#ReallySocialTip)
In addition to geofilters, you can also download/save your Snap right after you capture it.

 

There are at least two ways to save your Snaps (that’s what you call each snippet you create for your Snapchat Story) to reuse elsewhere:

Save Your Snaps Individually

Once you’ve captured a Snap, the next screen shows you the result (which might be your still image or a really annoying loop of the video you just snapped). Along the bottom, you’ll find a download symbol which, once clicked, will save your image or video to your phone.

Save Your Entire Snapchat Story

Let’s say you’ve snapped off several incredible videos and images to tell your daily Snapchat story. You can download the entire thing!

  1. Hop into your Snapchat app.

    Save/download your entire Snapchat story with one click. (#ReallySocialTip)
    You can download/save your entire 24-hour Snapchat Story in one click.
  2. Click the purple + in the bottom right corner to get to your Stories screen.
  3. Along the top, you’ll see a pie-chart image of your Snaps and “My Story.” Click on the triple-dot column on the far right.
  4. Now you’ll see a download symbol. Click and save your Story. Done!

Please note that, because Snaps last for 24 hours before vanishing, you’ll need to download your Snaps before the clock strikes the same time on the next day. However, that’s better than losing them instantly into the vortex of Snapchat history!

What’s the point?

You wanted to repurpose your Snaps, right? Imagine the applications. If you’ve taken the time and care to snap off some great moments which don’t need editing, now you’ve got a ready-made video which can be shared on your website, blog, and social profiles.

As for how I repurpose my Snaps, creating a quick & authentic video for my weekly Really Social Today newsletter has become, well, a Snap! I create a quick outline of the Snaps (scenes), record them (including retakes), and once I’m done I can download my Snapchat story and upload it right into my YouTube channel.

Your Turn

Now that you know for sure you can repurpose your Snaps, list off your ideas for how they can make your content marketing a Snap! (OK, that pretty much meets my cheese quota for the day, but you get the idea.) Share below!

 

Cool Heads Are Better Than Fast Fingers

Back away from the keyboard. Slowly.

fingers hovering on keyboard (image)
Hold up there, hoss.

With everyone communicating online, human beings can tend to lose our civility while hammering out our feelings on a laptop. When you’re on the receiving end of passionate words, and particularly if you know how to use words with a vengeance, your first reaction may be to construct your own masterpiece of vitriol to lob back across the digital space.

Don’t go there.

Even if you don’t perform customer service via the typed word, taking the high road while engaging online is the absolute best practice all day, every day. Even if it means leaving the laptop or departing from your desk for a few minutes to grab a milkshake or some chocolate, maintaining a digital rep that is calm, cool, and collected is completely worth the wait. (And now you know my secret keys to peace.)

3 Ways to Respond

  1. Stick to the facts. In the face of heightened emotion, your best bet is to address the details with truth and sources.
  2. Get another opinion. An objective pair of eyes on your response can ensure you are reducing snark while saving face.
  3. Pause once more before posting. You’ve got your perfect response ready, but give it another moment before hitting the Post button.

 

What are your tips or solutions for avoiding reactive responses? Do you need another set of eyes on your drafted reply?

Find Really Quick Tips like these by following @Rachel_Really on Twitter.

Are You Really Ready to Duplicate Your Content?

Over the weekend, Hootsuite shared out their blog post, Why We Sent a Single Tweet 44 Times. (Great headline, right? My neck involuntarily pitched my head sideways when I spotted it.) Mission accomplished, because I clicked to read the blog.

Hootsuite discusses the practice of repeating (duplicating) content because “how people use social media, particularly Twitter, has changed. It has developed into a discovery channel where audiences come to find content.” They refer to Guy Kawasaki, a social media monolith who supports repetitive content sharing in his social practice. (I encourage you to read the Hootsuite blog, in spite of what I’m about to type; they have great tools and insights for social media marketers.)

Don’t Dupe Just Yet

I don’t think everyone should take to their social media plan and hone their Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V speeds – at least not yet. Here’s why: both Hootsuite and Guy Kawasaki have no shortage of followers: 6.73 million and 52.8 thousand, respectively – and that’s just on Twitter.

When you’ve got an enormous following you’ve already cultivated, resharing the same content can make sense because due to the sheer numbers of your followers, the statistical probability that most of them will see that one tweet posted just that one time is uber slim.

So what if you’re not Hootsuite or even Guy, and you’re still building your audience? This is where I stick with the notion that social media is still first and foremost a conversation at heart – especially if you’re still cultivating your followers.

Date A While Before You Dupe

Think about it: you meet a new person for coffee or lunch. The other person, for the most part, likes what you say and share, and so you make plans for a future date. If things go well, you create a regular relationship to where they feel you are credible and interesting. Even if they don’t adore 100% of what you share, they stick with you through the months and even years. At that point, once you’ve developed the relationship, you’re far more likely to be forgiven a repeated thought tossed in amidst the rest of your riveting material.