Zooms Are ZZZZZZs Without a Chat Stirrer

screenshot of zoom attendees on video: Why Your Zoom Needs a Chat Stirrer by Really Social

I’ve worn many hats throughout my career, and especially as a social media / digital marketer. From graphic design to copywriting, project management to training, and a whole lot of other stuff I have to be good at to do what I do, my hat collection is vast and vibrant. Thus it was pretty thrilling when I got the opportunity to add a new, very custom hat to my collection of capabilities.

The Chat Stirrer

I’m known at the company where I work as someone who likes to liven things up in the Zoom chat window. I mean… yeah, why not? Considering on any given day I attend no less than six different Zoom calls, all of varying lengths and topics, I look to that chat window as the answer for my ever-shortening attention span.

Apparently I’m not the only one! Due to my history of mixing things up and inspiring conversation in chat windows, I was asked to attend an executive webinar as (what I lovingly and I think wittily enough dubbed) the Chat Stirrer. Swap out two letters and we’re talking about something completely different, so let’s stick with my quippy title.

Granted, I’ve been asked to put my social media chops to use for a myriad of odd or unique purposes before, but this request was perfect for a social media pro: someone who is used to navigating fast-moving online conversations using words without the help of vocal tone or body language, who is able to keep the conversation civil as well as focused enough on the topic at hand, and who is able to type really fast. (I clock at about 110 wpm these days; how about you?)

So I accepted the request and jumped into this special executive Zoom as its designated Chat Stirrer. And, now that the experience is already experienced, allow me to share my learnings and best practices.

Stirred, Not Shaken

  • Touchbase with the organizer(s) for expectations. The day before the webinar, I had a quick call with the host/organizer to understand the topic, the arrangement with the presenter/speaker, the duration, and the attendees. We established a back channel (via Teams) outside of the Zoom in case we needed to communicate, and she ensured that I received a panelist access link to the Zoom so I would have visibility on all comments and chatter.
  • Do your due diligence if leadership will attend the Zoom. Chances are that the person organizing the webinar is not someone who is a C-level or executive leader of the company. And, not to stereotype (but here we go), individuals in those roles typically are in a corporate/boardroom mentality and not keyed in to the ways of social interactions online. The Chat Stirrer and the event organizers can safely assume the leadership has never hung out on subreddits or dug deep into a Facebook Group comment thread or joined a Netflix watch party. Their reaction at seeing an active chat window underway while a presentation is happening may be that attendees aren’t paying enough attention (because how in the world could they if they’re typing/reading comments at the same time as someone is sharing slides on the screen?). A bit of education about today’s reality of digesting content through multiple devices/screens will serve you and the event organizers well, plus it will allow the chat engagement to be what you all intended: a way to retain attention and promote learning of the material through synchronous discussion.
  • Prepare some ice breakers for the pre-show. Remember that attendees to a webinar are likely coming directly from a different Zoom and/or from being head-down in a ton of work (or, let’s be real here, they’re fully intending on multitasking their attendance in this particular webinar). If you can engage them in the chat right off the bat, especially in ways that aren’t the usual “share who you are and what you do here,” chances are you’ll keep their focus in this webinar which so many took the time to plan and possibly pay a speaker to present. Prompts like “Where are you joining us from today?” or “If you step outside right now, what’s the weather like where you are?” are a couple of my go-to starters (though I always have others so things don’t get stale).
  • Drive chatter to the wider audience. At the top of the webinar, and periodically throughout, remind attendees to change their audience in the chat to “Panelists and Attendees.” Zoom is weird in that it defaults the choice to “Panelists” only, which means a person’s comment in chat would only be seen by the organizers rather than the entire attendance. Your roole as the Chat Stirrer can help them remain in the larger discussion by changing the dropdown at the bottom of the chat window as they join so it’s all set for any time they publish a comment.
  • Drive conversation in the direction of the topic (avoid offramps). The goal is to keep engagement going in the chat, but you don’t want to deviate too far from what the speaker, presenter, or panel is covering. After all, the goal is to come away from the webinar having learned something, so getting too chatty about ancillary subjects can make you seem as if you’re rude and/or going rogue. If you notice the chat is straying too far from the subject, ask a question or opine on the presenter’s point to bring it back in line. This is why a social media professional is a great Zoom Chat Stirrer: their skills at community management, moderation, and engagement are perfectly suited to controlling a live chat environment.
  • Avoid being too corporate. Chat is just that: it’s chatting. It isn’t public speaking, it isn’t presenting a report, it isn’t pitching; rather it’s a casual conversation that carries meaning. If you as the Chat Stirrer are too formal in your typing tone, attendees will feel less inclined to type their own comments or opinions. It’s crucial to make everyone in the chat feel they are on the same level of participation in what they can bring to the discussion. Remember that, regardless of title, most adults read at an eighth grade reading level. And even if your webinar is for a lineup of your executives who all earned their MBAs or higher, consider this: do you honestly think they use boardroom-speak in their every day conversations and texts? Prompt engagement via words that a person uses in their normal, everyday, casual speech.
  • Reinforce the topic using chat prompts. If a poll pops up during the webinar, ask people to share how they responded in the chat, and make sure you share to create the safe space for them to divulge their answer. Sure, the speaker and panelists can see the aggregated responses which is interesting on its own, but carrying the discussion deeper in the chat about how people answered and why is even more interesting! Often what happens is that, even as the speaker is making very salient points, the experiences attendees feel comfortable sharing via chat can increase the learning taking place.
  • Debrief afterwards. Once the webinar has ended, get with the organizers and/or presenters to review how the event went. Was the chat activity helpful overall? Any feedback for improvement for next time? Any insights seen in the chat discussion that should be incorporated in follow-up notes or distribution?

Here’s the wrap-up and final takeaway from this whole experience: Zooms, while a great tool especially these days, can get boring FAST. Any person who doesn’t want their Zoom to turn into a snoozefest or a call where it’s clear that every single attendee is doing something else, or wishing they were, should ensure that that simple yet handy chat feature is kept lively and interactive. TL;DR version: enlist a Zoom Chat Stirrer.

Got thoughts? Drop them below! I’d love to hear what you think and if this is something you’ve done, failed at, or want for your next Zoom call.

(This blog article, though it may seem like it, is in no way sponsored or paid for by Zoom. I just thought it’d be helpful to link to them throughout considering they are technically the social media platform of the COVID-19 year.)

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?

How Being an Influencer is Like Riding a Bike


When you read that word, what’s your first reaction? You may be very “meh” about it but, if you’re from Colorado like I am, cyclists conjure up any number of varying responses from both sides.

“They’re so reckless on the roads!”

“Cars need to make room for us, too!”

“Why are they biking on the sidewalk???”

“Why are you running in my bike lane instead of on your sidewalk?”

“Ugh, can’t they bike somewhere else? I can barely pass them!”

“It’s called ‘sharing the road!'”

As a somewhat-regular cyclist myself, I get the polarizing effects of how bicycles mix with today’s walking and driving traffic.


How about this one? So many feelings arise at the casual or intentional use of this word, and it means a slew of things to many:

“Earning money for social media power.”

“Having hundreds of thousands of followers.”

“Speaking at XYZ conference every year!”

“Offering great insights about <insert topic here>.”

“Providing value over begging for acclaim.”

It occurred to me, in the odd way my brain often works, that cycling is a lot like being a social media influencer.

Did I lose you just then? Stick with me a bit and see if this starts to gel as I describe a few ways this makes perfect sense from spokes to social.

The good ones.

Being a good cyclist isn’t about wearing the right gear or having the slickest bike; it’s about moving in harmony with yourself, your bike, and your surroundings.

A good cyclist doesn’t just want to enjoy the ride and make it home in one piece (body and bike). They also want to respect the pedestrians, motorists, and venues along their way in an effort to generate respect in return. They get that riding recklessly or acting like they own the road or path doesn’t foster a good future experience for anyone.

A good influencer is like that harmonious cyclist: enjoying the momentum, but also recognizing the other forces and individuals which add to the experience. Good influencers acknowledge that they didn’t get to where they are by sheer force of their awesome talent, wit, or looks. They welcome sharing of the spotlight and know there’s more than enough road for everyone.

The bad ones.

Ah, even I can venture into hating on my cyclist tribe when I spot these pedal-pushers. Their behavior always gives them away: dodging in front of cars and pedestrians and often causing them to brake hard or fast to avoid a collision; riding two or more across a narrow bike line on a roadway; gesturing obscenely at cars who, while obeying the traffic laws, expect mutual obedience from the rider.

A bad cyclist makes all of us look bad. When new rules or pathways are put into effect to make cycling easier, their behavior causes everyone else to moan about the latest concession. Their brazenness at forgetting car-beats-bike-every-time while daring others on the road to challenge their way forward is ridiculous. Their ignorance of speed limits through pedestrian-heavy areas is enough to make me want to swear in their general direction.

A bad influencer awakens the same response. They think every opportunity should be about them and for them, and sharing credit or spotlight is out of the question. They only befriend other names with large followings, forgetting they weren’t always so popular and had help to climb the recognition ladder. They treat the three steps onto a stage as a chasm which now separates them from the lowly unwashed audience they once sat in.

The dumb ones.

These are the special set of cyclists which don’t just inspire anger—they cause harm through their ignorance. By ignoring the proper safety gear or function of their bike, each ride is taking many lives onto their dubious handlebars and hoping for the best. (We all know how well that works.) They can’t be bothered to be careful as long as they feel cool and are seen coasting through life along with the other trendsetters.

And yes, there are dumb influencers. Void of much original thought, they rely on retweeting or borrowing platitudes pushed out by their peers so they can show a timeline with content. They don’t do the hard work of learning the rules or practicing the basics which lead to greater growth; instead, they tout their Klout score as evidence they should be recognized (which instead may just mean they need something other than tweeting to fill the hours). Worse, they find clients to pay them for professional work, but their lack of real-life knowledge and execution turns yet another customer into a non-believer of social media. (No, really, thanks so much for leaving this trail of carnage behind you.)

By spoke or social, we need to do better.

Look. I’m a huge believer in cycling. If you had asked me five years ago if I saw myself turning to two wheels to be my main source of recreation and exercise, I’d have laughed myself silly and gone back to eating chocolate chips by the handful (it’s a personal problem). Who would have guessed the bike paths and Colorado scenery would so strongly beckon and prompt me to keep pedaling into a better existence? Yet I know that venturing forth requires my preparation and diligence with each outing.

I’m also a true addict of social media and believe it can do far more good than harm. But that relies on each of us wielding it well and being good influencers. Whether you have 25 or 25,000 Twitter followers, you influence. Someone out there is reading what you publish; feel the weight of that responsibility. We’re in a time when anyone can become a publisher with global access; misusing that power thanks to ego or ignorance is downright dangerous for the entire industry and its dedicated tribe.

The thing is, it’s not hard to be good. All it really requires is taking that moment to feel beyond your own selfish drive and acknowledge that you share this planet with other beings. That’s really it. Once you remember the road ahead isn’t paved just for you, being a good cyclist or influencer makes the way forward clear.

If it doesn’t, well… please just promise to steer far away from me geographically and socially. If you’re a bad or dumb cyclist, you threaten my ability to make it home alive to my family. If you’re a bad or dumb influencer, you threaten the people I call my family who happen to exist for me on the internet.

Want to cycle with me in Denver or check in about the type of influencer you want to be?

Comment below or tweet at me.

3 Types of Content You Need From Now On

Remember right about this time last year and the types of content you worried about?

Think back to a simpler time when all you really worried about as far as your content was your monthly blog, a newsletter, some links getting shared out by your profiles, and maybe an infographic every so often.

Those were the days, weren’t they? Livestreaming was mostly for people who attended conferences or worked for celebrities and political campaigns. Your SEO, paid social campaigns, and Google AdWords took care of your online traffic. Organic (unpaid) social media was really just window dressing.

Those were the days. | Really Social Blog

Times have changed.

Not only has livestreaming advanced at a breakneck pace in the last 12 months alone, but messaging apps like Snapchat (I mean, really like Snapchat) have completely blown up. New ways to connect with your customers have placed themselves in the landscape of social media, and now your brand must keep up to compete.

Going forward and for the foreseeable future, these are the three types of content your business needs to plan in your marketing and sales strategy.

Scheduled Content

Many types of content fall in the realm of what you can add to your social posting schedule.

First, there’s the home-grown content you create and publish yourself. Your business blog, newsletters, white papers, how-to videos, testimonial features, case studies, etc. These items may be time-sensitive or evergreen, but they live on your digital property and can be shared out to your audiences to entice them back to your website to complete valuable interactions.

Second, you have curated content to share. These are the articles, videos, infographics, and other news-like content created by other entities which you can also schedule and share. The key is to ensure the content meets three criteria:

  • It doesn’t sell a competitor’s product or service;
  • it does reinforce for your customers why your product or service is valuable to them;
  • it’s timely and credible.

Buffer queue (image) | Really Social Blog
Snapshot of Buffer queue of scheduled posts.

OK, that’s actually four criteria… glad you were paying attention! So will your audience when you routinely provide them with resource articles and knowledge that ultimately reminds them, “Hey, this article about X was shared out by Company Y. It’s about time I ask them about helping me with X, since that’s what they do.”

One last thing about scheduled content: it’s OK to post content if you’re not on that social platform right at that second. Just like sending out your newsletter at 9:30am every 1st Tuesday is OK even though you might not be sitting and looking at your Gmail tab right that second. Scheduling and a degree of automation is perfectly fine–IF your goal is to engage authentically with the results of that scheduled or automated content.

Which leads us to the next type of content…

Active Content

This is the part where you should be what you were born to be: human.

Social media is a long game of marketing. Trust and credibility build as you show your humanity in real-time on social media because, in the long run, it’s all about relationship.

Social really is like dating. If you seek a lifelong commitment and partnership with another being, your best bet is not to create ties after a hasty date when all the other person did was hand you a flyer describing why they’ll be valuable to you. There’s no proof in that pudding; instead, you’re taking it all on assumption and a heartless pitch.

Tom Hanks You've Got Mail GIF | Really Social Blog
With or without the dramatic preparation, you can BE on social.

However, if you take your time and learn about the other person through familiarity, faithfulness, and authenticity, ultimately you’re ready to commit because you’ve seen evidence of a great relationship on the horizon. Yet none of that walking-into-the-sunset can happen if you never really get a taste of how the other interacts in real-life.

And we’re back to how you need to be on social: BE on social. Read other people’s posts and like them. Share them if they’re relevant. Comment to get a dialogue going. Tag others to draw them into the chat. Discover a new article and share it while describing why it struck a chord.

You can’t schedule this type of content. You have to be present and actually live a bit on the platforms you’re using to draw attention to your business.

Did we say “live?” Well, since we’re on a roll, let’s tackle the last and newest type of content you need to use…

Live Video Content

Surely you saw this coming, right? Livestreaming, social video, live video marketing… it’s being whispered (and sometimes not so whispered) about everywhere as more brands take to their video apps each day.

And there’s no wondering why. Back in 2011, the average U.S. adult spent 21 minutes watching digital video. This year, that’s going up to one hour and 16 minutes of watching video on digital devices. Your customers’ eyeballs are lingering longer on video content, and each platform places live video at the top of their algorithms (a.k.a. formula for your feed).

Livestream video can’t live in the scheduled part of your content (aside from letting people know when you’ll go live) simply because pushing “Go” requires at least one person to be there and ready to host the livestream. It also needs its own category aside from the active content we mentioned earlier because it really is in its own ecosystem of content and engagement.

  • Live video is fully interactive, inviting real-time questions and comments by viewers.
  • Live video goes farther than typing or swiping words to another user through active social; your face, voice, and environment are transparently evident to all who watch it.
  • Live video is unproduced and uneditable; what you say is what they get. It’s the most real side of your business you can present, other than welcoming customers into your store.

If you’re stuck on how to get started with livestreaming content, check out our other blog post for some ideas. Here are just a few:

  • Introduce your team who works behind the scenes.
  • Demonstrate how to locate your place of business (like Google Maps with a tour guide).
  • Make important announcements with the added bonus of Q&A from the audience.

The anomaly of the bunch is…

Stories. These are the apps and features which have swept through Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Facebook itself, and even other apps like WhatsApp and Tango.

Stories (or, in Messenger’s case, Days) are a type of hybrid content between Active and Live Video. They are active in that you can’t schedule them to post or upload in the future; they have to be created in the moment. They are live video in that Instagram Stories has a live option, and you can actually get on a live video chat through private Snaps and Facebook Messenger. That, plus we’re all predicting it’s only a matter of time until each of these Stories-friendly apps adds livestreaming to their capabilities.

So that’s yet another type of content you need to consider, since your customers have them all in their hot little hands to use and watch during their average one-hour-16-minutes of digital video per day.

It’s all going to be OK.

This may sound incredibly daunting to a business leader or marketer for a brand who is wondering right now, “HOW in the world will I possibly get all of this content done?”

Chances are some changes need to be made. These digital types of content and ways to engage with your customers are incredibly effective. Even better, they are cost-efficient, time-saving, and humanizing for your brand. Whatever you’re doing now, there are likely ways we can build a new way forward as you bring these types of content to your customers.

4 Ways to Avoid Political Social Media Snafus

Social media is a mighty tool for sharing ideas. Gone are the boundaries which used to keep our political beliefs in a safe little bubble. Now, thanks to technology, we can pop the bubble and unleash our opinions into the air to join a far larger conversation.

Every single human being who can access the internet for the purpose of sharing opinions also opens themselves up to the consequences of sharing those opinions. It’s called your digital footprint, and anyone who can access the internet can also find what a specific person is posting about.

You must navigate the social space wisely. Here are four ways to engage online about hotter political topics without setting yourself up for failure.

Use Audience Options

Sharing on social media is about connecting with other people. Knowing who will see your posts is therefore key to whatever your strategy is, even if you’re a standard user hopping casually into a feed and sharing a link. Let’s run through your options with the major social apps:

  • Facebook Profile. Facebook currently lets you set the audience for each post as you share it. Your options are PUBLIC, FRIENDS, ONLY ME, or a custom FRIENDS LIST which you can set up or which Facebook can automatically put together based on your friends’ common details. Public posts can be seen by anyone with internet access; posts to Friends can be seen by those individuals only.
  • Facebook Page. Every post shared from a Page is public, to your Page’s followers as well as anyone with internet access. While you can set your Page to allow posts to target the feeds of specific audiences, each post can still be seen by the general public.

  • Facebook Group. If your group is an OPEN group, every post can be seen by group members as well as anyone who searches for and finds the group. If your group is a CLOSED and SECRET group, every post can be seen by the group members only.
  • Twitter Profile. Every Tweet is fully public. Regardless of who follows your Twitter handle, every Tweet you post can be seen by anyone on the internet.
  • LinkedIn Profile. Your LinkedIn posts can be set to PUBLIC, CONNECTIONS, or PUBLIC + TWITTER. Public posts can be seen by anyone with internet access; posts to your Connections will only appear in the LinkedIn feed of your connections on LinkedIn.com.

LinkedIn Page post targeting screenshot | Really Social
Use targeting for your LinkedIn Page posts.

  • LinkedIn Page. Every post shared from a LinkedIn Page is PUBLIC. However, you can set posts to target specific LinkedIn users based on Industry, Company Size, Function, Seniority, and Geography.
  • YouTube Channel. You can set visibility of your uploaded videos to PUBLIC, UNLISTED, OR PRIVATE. Unlisted means the video is generally available provided a person knows the link for the video; Private means the video is only viewable through a direct invitation to specific individuals.

YouTube visibility settings screenshot | Really Social
Set visibility on each of your YouTube videos.

One important thing to keep in mind is that, regardless of where you share your posts, anything you publish online can be captured via screenshot and cached into memory. Even deleted posts run the risk of being grabbed, saved, and distributed beyond your selected audience. That’s why you should always “pause before you post,” because you will ultimately own whatever you share—for better or worse.

Find a Private Group for Sharing

We all know the moment well: when you have a very strong idea to share and, if a soapbox sprouted right out of the ground in front of you, you’d be tempted to step right up and start in.

That is the absolutely worst moment you could choose to share your opinion online. In the heat of the moment, you might push “publish” before truly assessing your audience, the ramifications of your opinion, and if your idea thought is based on fact instead of feeling.

Instead, seek out a community where you can safely float your thoughts with trusted participants. Will this prevent disaster? No, but it can provide you with a bit of a buffer for sharing your opinions without tossing a grenade into your feed.

A few places you can gather with your groupies:

  • Facebook Messenger;
  • Facebook Groups;
  • Slack channels; and
  • message boards*.

*If you’d like to create an anonymous profile, a message board may be your best option. As with any interactions online, use judgment when it comes to sharing personal information.

Quick note: I don’t share these suggestions to help you create your own echo chamber. My goal is always to educate and promote knowledge, and hearing or reading the same spectrum of opinions can’t compare with learning from those who disagree with you. When seeking or building a community, encourage diversity of perspectives. You may find your opinions being challenged by others yet, if anyone remembers taking debate in school, that’s the best way to learn to defend your beliefs with facts and logic. Additionally, you can learn how to engage thoughtfully rather than rabidly ram your opinions through without attempting to change minds.

Check Sources Before Sharing

Social media is notorious for bringing us updates in the moment; being the first to share an amazing link or meme is incredibly satisfying and brings all of the eyeballs to your feed.

The ability to reach so many with content which might sway minds is an immense privilege (I know when we’re talking hashtags and reaction faces, that may seem a bit lofty, but it’s still true). Before you click Share on a post, you can take action to ensure it is authentic:

  • determine the topic of the link and try Googling it for a second source;
  • check the link’s source and look around at other content to perceive agendas or leanings in a specific direction;
  • use Snopes.com to verify if a story is current or true; and
  • go the extra mile and seek a link which refutes the one you want to share.

What? This all takes too much time! You’re right, it takes time and effort… and critical thinking. You have a lovely brain and should use it to its fullest capacity. When you share an erroneous link, you’ll ultimately wish you had taken the time to double-check your source.

Monitor and Guide Your Staff

The more individuals you have on your time, the more you need to keep an eye on feeds. As much as you want to trust your team to always carry themselves well online, let’s remember that we’re each human and can make mistakes.

Empower yourself and your team with the following resources:

  • provide training to your team for using settings on their personal social feeds to share wisely;
  • write and implement a social media policy laying out guidelines for what and where your staff can share online;
  • adopt a clear system to remind, warn, and enforce social media best practices; and
  • set up monitoring of your brand online to be alerted when your company is mentioned.

Remember that your goal is to help your staff use social media to benefit the brand, not to penalize them for their personal use. Given the right tools, your team can be your mightiest asset in building your online reputation.

I’d love to help you get started with better brand and reputation management online, especially during critical seasons in our nation. Click below to connect with me for a complimentary Discovery session.

Let’s discover!


4 Ways to Use Livestreaming in 2017

You may be thinking the last thing you’d want to do is get on a live video. I get it. Really, I do.

There are tons of reasons to not go live. You may not like your appearance. What will you say? What if you stutter or misspeak? What if no one watches? What if you start getting spammed by trolls? What if you think it went great, but the higher-ups don’t like what you did?

Fair enough. Those are all completely valid reasons not to go live. For 2016, those excuses worked just fine and held off the inevitable. But guess what?

It’s 2017. Time to livestream.

Your content is probably pretty good… maybe even great. Your audience and fans may have loved it thus far. But here are some hard facts about why video matters to you:

If you’re into anecdotes, I have one for you: regardless of what I’m broadcasting about, every single Facebook Live video from my Page has achieved at minimum 3x more reach and engagement than every other type of post.

In our weekly #LetsLivestream chat + broadcast, we welcomed nuggets of wisdom by Brian Fanzo, each of which reinforced why livestreaming is going to continue to be a big deal into this new year.

Now that you’re taking livestreaming seriously (begrudgingly or otherwise), let’s break this down: it doesn’t have to be hard to go live. No one is expecting you to take to the camera like a 30-year broadcasting veteran. In fact, the more authentically you livestream, the more your fans will want to interact.

To get you started, here are 4 ways you can easily plot your livestreams into your brand’s strategy in 2017:

Demonstrations & How-To’s

You’re the expert at your business, so naturally you understand how your products and services function. Remembering that your customers aren’t yet experts is important to how you perform your sales and service. Figuring out how to translate what’s in your brain into something they can use is always a challenge.

Livestreaming video can give you direct access to show your customers, in real time, how to use what your company provides. As you use live video to demonstrate, viewers can comment, ask questions, and even share the video with their friends and fellow customers.

YOUTUBE is a natural platform for videos which provide how-to instructions and demonstrations. As the 2nd largest search engine, next to Google, your branded and instructional livestreams can be watched and circulated repeatedly.

Issue your press release via a livestream video | Really Social Blog
Be.Live launched their livestream community site via Facebook Live press release.

Announce News

Not so many years ago, hiring a public relations expert or using a press release tool was the proper way to get the word out about your business or brand. You’d have it written up, complete with headline and eye-catching information, and issue it in the hopes that news outlets or journalists would find it interesting enough to “pick it up.”

Welcome to the future! Now companies can generate their own news by publishing announcements and deliver it to the masses through social media. By announcing your major updates via livestream, you can hold your own press conference to established brand fans and potential customers and connections. Take questions, provide links, and tag/mention any partners who collaborate with your company.

TWITTER is an outstanding choice for announcing news with its instant connection to journalists, news outlets, and just about everyone. You aren’t restricted by friends or connections on Twitter, and now you can #GoLive from within the Twitter app.

Broadcast Events

When your brand holds an event, you have a unique opportunity to give your customers a new level of access. Instead of reaching you via phone, email, or even social media, they can now shake hands with the staff who serves them and the masterminds behind manufacturing your products.

However, as with any event, you will inevitably have those who would like to attend yet can’t make it. You may also have customers on the fence about attending your events to partake in the activities. By livestreaming teasers and highlights of your company’s event, you can increase anticipation, promote attendance, and give access to your audience.

PERISCOPE is well-established as a platform for livestream events. With its connection to Twitter and the ability to go fully public to anyone online, start broadcasting your event and field comments, questions, and remind viewers to share to their circles so more can partake of the access.

Look to Your FAQs

Whether or not you have a list of frequently asked questions, you know the ones we’re talking about: you can recite the answers by heart because the queries happen so often. A FAQ is the perfect place to start for when you don’t know what to go live with.

Mine your reviews, online comments, customer service cases, and sales notes to learn what most customers ask as they discover your products and services. Once you go live with the question and answer, you’ll have a timeless resource—via video—to refer your customers to when they need answers.

FACEBOOK is a natural fit for engaging with just about anyone (since just about everyone uses it), and going live with the goal of explaining concepts about your brand will serve you well. You can go live from your Facebook Page, a Profile, a Group, or even an Event.

Still not convinced? That’s OK.

But do me a favor: will you at least lurk a bit in a place where we chat about live video and why it has tons of potential?

Watch on Twitter   Watch on Facebook   Watch on Periscope

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!


Who’s Who in Social Media? Beth Johnston | Social Bridges

Beth Johnston is “Who’s Who in Social Media!”

May kicked off with a bang as Really Social interviewed Beth Johnston, a Colorado-based social media business woman and a fellow Colorado Woman in Social Media.

Watch the entire Laugh & Learn Blab episode below, or click here for our biggest takeaways as we learned what makes Beth and her business—Social Bridges—tick!

The Takeaways

Rachel Moore (RM): Can you talk about the 2-3 things you do with social media through your business?

Beth Johnston (BJ): My core service is the “done for you” service: business owners are good at what they do and not necessarily good at marketing or social media. They give it to me and say, “Beth, please do this for me.”

What I’m finding, and what I’m really enjoying, is coaching and teaching! I’m an instructor at Colorado Free University and I’m really enjoying that. I didn’t think I would!

RM: What is your favorite platform and why?

BJ: Pinterest is probably my favorite platform so I must stay away from it. I have to set the timer for my phone and the alarm has to ring; if not, 2-4 hours will go by.

What I love about Pinterest is that it’s not so much a social platform, because the users that are there are creating things of what they want to be in the future: they’re planning their wedding, their house they want to build. Most other social media is about how fast someone can like a post.

RM: If a movie were being made about your life, who should play you and why?

BJ: For hotness factor, Jennifer Aniston. One of my favorite people to watch is Melissa McCarthy. She says things you wish you could say, and she does things you wish you could do. I think I want Melissa McCarthy to play me in my feature film… which is coming out in June. (laughs)

Beth was a pleasure to have as a Laugh & Learn Blab guest; watch the entire interview to learn more about her and Social Bridges!

If you’re interested in a guest spot on Laugh & Learn by Really Social, click here to get started.

#ReallySocialTip: Use Location in Social Media

Use location-capable social media profiles.

Even if you don’t plan to use a social media platform, you can still create a profile or handle on that tool—especially if you have a business location!

Customers who visit your physical location can “check-in” or “tag” your location on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Foursquare. This capability cues their friends and followers to check out your profile, and thus introduce potential new customers to your business.

Need help with how you can be tagged or “checked-into” on social media? Give us a shot.

Who’s Who? Valerie Morris of Tintero Creative

March kept us on our toes as we welcomed, and then re-welcomed, Valerie Morris as our Who’s Who in Social Media guest! As the founder of Tintero Creative and a founding member of Colorado Women in Social Media, Valerie provides us with more than just her own background; any business owner or innovator will benefit from her words of wisdom.

Click below to watch our interview with Valerie, or scroll down a bit for a few takeaways.


RM (Rachel Moore): Tell us briefly about yourself!

VM (Valerie Morris): “Sure! I started Tintero Creative a few years back, and I live and breathe content marketing all day long… I am all about helping brands build their influence online. A huge piece of that is social media—that’s probably the biggest chunk of what we do—and it also involves blogging, written content, graphical content, infographics, logos.

RM: You are the founder of Tintero Creative. What fostered that idea?

VM:  “The word ‘tintero’ is Italian for ink well. That’s where the feather pen of my logo comes from. It kind of goes along with the concept of telling your story, but I’m also a very kinesthetic learner. There’s something about having a tactile nature of writing with a pen that I kind of like.

I love learning; I loved school. When I got out of school, I started my career in architecture… and I was bored stiff… I was seriously thinking, ‘Is this all there is?’

We ended up moving to Nashville, and I got a job at an ad agency. I started that job and realized I loved it. I got a taste for what could be done with social media, and what could be done with marketing.”

RM: Do you find that you still have to educate clients and others about how social media supports SEO?

VM: “Yeah. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad advice out there about SEO, and a lot of people who have been burned by different programs. You can come in and suggest something, and some people— based on past experiences—aren’t going to invest money in things you know are going to be helpful. If you’re in favor of investing in SEO for the growth of your business, but you don’t have enough funds for it, Payday Loan Helpers are always open for your financial needs. All you have to do is to repay on time to have a clean record. There’s a huge piece of education there. Sometimes you just need to let it go. I think the digital community is starting to become more well-rounded.”

RM: What are your thoughts on hosting your online properties solely on social media rather than a website?

VM: “I think you should have your own website! You own your website. You have control there. It’s your domain; your place!

At any moment, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Pinterest could up and decide, ‘We’re going to shut down.’ All this time and effort you spent building this platform… they own it all. I think having your own website is key.”

RM: If a movie were being made about your life, who should play you, and why?

VM: (after Googling for the name) “Emily Blunt! I really like her. I’m kind of an introvert, and I feel like she’s not necessarily super flashy, but she definitely has some sass and attitude when she needs to. So I feel like that’s kind of who I am.”

If you’re interested in being a guest on Who’s Who in Social Media by Really Social, click here to get started!