Social Media at Work: Pros share what’s hot, funniest/worst social media stories and the next big thing
What hath social media wrought? For one thing, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and the panoply of other new media have leveled the business playing field. For another, they have given rise to an entirely new industry. Social media professionals (please, not “gurus”) can and do assist companies with everything from blogging to interacting with customers, teaching new technology, and how to best showcase their goods and services, from text to photos to shooting and posting videos.
Nick Nerbonne of FINE Design Group said one of the lures of social media is that it allows customers to understand small businesses more easily. Social Creature Consulting’s Katrynia Strikwerda said another is that anyone can utilize it, making posts on Facebook or Twitter. But as professionals, they say they can be more exacting: helping clients focus on the best media for them, or managing, even creating the content.
We asked Nerbonne, Strikwerda and other social media pros for feedback on their experience with the various tools of the trade. Here’s what they had to say.
Biggest/most recognizable client: While we love to create content for our clients, teaching and empowering them to take the reins is our absolute favorite. Some of the teaching seminars we have enjoyed the most were in working with Home Depot of Northern Michigan and Grow Benzie.
Education: Attended Grand Valley State University
First got into social media: I have an extensive background in marketing from when I lived downstate. A friend approached me and asked if I would be interested in ghost writing content for a company she was working with. Before I knew it, we were working for many business contacts we had made and then their referrals.
What’s next in social media: Many changes have been made in how businesses can promote themselves on social media platforms, with many of the big players making businesses pay to be seen. Good content is more important than ever, so companies need to be even more clever and educated on what they are posting and how they are boosting those posts. We are also seeing more and more social media platforms spring up. It is important for a company to know who they are and what platforms will be most effective. Most often for businesses in northern Michigan, having the time to invest into promoting their business on social media is limited, so it becomes crucial to know who they are and who their audience is, what networks they are on and how to most effectively engage them.
Biggest piece of advice for local small businesses: No. 1. Be authentic. You company has a very distinct brand. Be your brand. Support the things you are passionate about. People like doing business with a business that is who they say they are.
No. 2. Be consistent. While it is hard sometimes as we get caught up working IN our businesses, it is very important to step outside that and work ON your business. Have a marketing strategy, and plan it out. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. If it isn’t written out, and scheduled out, it often will not be completed.
Funniest and/or worst social media story: Once we had a client who posted from her phone onto social media sites quite frequently. One of her children accidentally posted a “Frozen” video to her business page. She called us in a panic as she didn’t know how to delete it from her phone. We logged on and deleted it within minutes.
Favorite app/next big app: Our team loves Pages Manager. It gives you real time alerts on what is happening on your fanpage for Facebook.
Biggest/most recognizable client: MollyMaid, M*Modal. Locally, Chateau Grand Traverse
Education: B.S. in Journalism from Bowling Green State University; MBA in Marketing from Davenport University
First got into social media: I started my career in newsrooms working as a reporter, online editor and digital content producer. A large part of my job was to engage with our audience and break news on social media. I really cut my teeth on the art of social content at KENS 5 in San Antonio.
What’s next: At Oneupweb, we were finding that our clients were not posting or promoting the content we were providing in a way that would maximize exposure. Especially in the past year, we have expanded our services to include original photography, in-depth content calendars and video in order to help our clients make the most of the content we are producing. Social media is a very visual environment. Content is far more than just text on page.
Biggest piece of advice for small business: Don’t just promote your products. Instead, use social media to give a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Use photos and video to engage with your audience. At the end of the day, it’s customer service. Also, know your audience. Small businesses likely don’t have the resources to maintain five different social channels on a consistent basis. Dedicate your efforts to one or two channels that work best for your brand and your customers.
Funny/worst social media story: I think a lot of brands overthink social media. While familiarizing myself with one of our clients, I learned that the sound a bagpipe makes is known as a skirl. Well, that sounds a lot like squirrel. We decided to Photoshop a squirrel playing the bagpipes. It’s a “squirrel skirl.” Believe it or not, it was one of our most popular posts. It’s always smart to keep it simple and silly, if your brand allows it. Social media is supposed to be fun. That’s why people use it – to be entertained.
Favorite app/next big thing: The last few years we saw an explosion of sharable photo content in Pinterest and Instagram. The next big thing is sharable video content. Facebook is doubling down on its video platform. Snapchat is seeing incredible growth. Video is a great way for brands to engage with their audience, and mobile phones and apps are making it easier than ever before. The trick for many brands, though, is conceptualizing videos that are both relevant and worth sharing.
Biggest/most recognizable client(s): Edson Farms, Black Diesel Coffee Bar (Ann Arbor), Truck Stop Organics
Education: BA, University of Montana; MFA, New York University
First got into social media: I was running a client’s blog, and they asked if I could run their social media, too. So I did a ton of research on platforms and strategies and started doing that, as well.
What’s next in social media: I think for brands, the idea of telling a more complete and entertaining story of their customers, services, products, and approach to the world is absolutely necessary. There is so much advertisement sneaking into social media, such as boosted posts and sponsored content, that users start to be repelled by that kind of behavior from brands. Brands need to work harder to produce and deliver engaging and authentic content that is worthy of people’s attention without paying for it.
Biggest piece of advice for local small businesses: Figure out why you started the business, what you provide to people that is wonderful and unique, and base your brand story and content around those fundamental ideas. Also, pick a medium that makes sense for your target customer base.
Funniest and/or worst social media story: Once I had a conversation with a client about personal views versus business views, to help define which content is appropriate to post on the business account and what kinds of content should stay personal. When I got to my desk the next day, I saw a derogatory post about an election candidate from their business account, and I spit my coffee all over my screen and keyboard in shock. We had an additional conversation and got it figured out. But I thought that was really funny, and certainly a common pitfall of social media for business owners.
Favorite app/Next big app: Snapchat. The app itself has features that are engaging to the user – the next big thing will be apps and platforms that chase users with the user experience they provide while people are using the app. Snapchat is also developing great programs for brands and live events to connect in a special way with fans and customers. It’s really exciting from a marketing standpoint, and as a regular user of the app.
Education: Telecommunications and Film, University of Utah
First got into social media: I was in the right place at the right time for the emergence of social media as a marketing channel. As the Digital Marketing Manager at Crystal Mountain, I managed the resort’s YouTube channel and, yes, its MySpace account. In 2008, as Facebook launched Pages and Twitter began to grow in popularity, I established a presence for Crystal on those channels and refined content strategies as the communities grew.
What’s next in social media: The evolution of social communication is moving more and more toward video. Instagram has expanded its limit on video length from 15 seconds to 60. Facebook has launched Facebook Live and a new Slideshow functionality. Twitter users can live stream their experiences via Periscope. Snapchat enables users (and brands) to share video content in real time while curating “stories” that can be viewed any time. As technology continues to progress, we’re likely to see major social platforms continue to roll out more interactive, real-time capabilities.
Biggest piece of advice for local small businesses: For local businesses looking to leverage social media, the first step is to understand your audience. Learn as much as you can about where your customers spend their time online and craft your strategy to reach the right people at the right time with a message that demonstrates how your products and services align with their lifestyle.
Focus on quality, not quantity. One post that offers value, captures users’ attention, and receives strong engagement will do more to help you accomplish your business goals than multiple messages shared hastily because you thought you should post something on a given day.
Amplify organic content with paid advertising. Facebook’s “boosted” posts product can have an impact at a good value for small businesses, adding additional reach and engagement for important content, for as little as $5.
Funniest and/or worst social media story: We’ve been fortunate to avoid situations that would qualify as a “worst” social media story (knock on wood), so I’ll share a fun interaction we had with social media celebrity Wil Wheaton – also of Star Trek the Next Generation and film and television fame (“Stand By Me,” “Leverage”) – through our client, Anchor Brewing, based in San Francisco. Wil is a well-known craft beer enthusiast, and one day back in 2012 he was having fun with his two million-plus Twitter followers who were creating memes from an image of his Star Trek character, Wesley Crusher. We tweeted a response to Wil from Anchor Brewing’s Twitter account, which Wil then retweeted to his sizable Twitter community and proceeded to engage in a conversation with the brand. Anchor’s relatively new account (launched less than a year earlier) received hundreds of new followers and some nice exposure with a new audience.
Favorite app/next big app: Right now we’re seeing consistent success with Instagram. Its visual nature keeps things simple, making it easy for users to view and interact with content. The online environment will continue to change and evolve, but the engagement rate we’re currently seeing in our clients’ Instagram communities is far outperforming those of other social channels.
Biggest/most recognizable client: Interlochen Center for the Arts.
Education: BS Business Administration, Michigan Tech
First got into social media: As a client strategy manager for an internet marketing agency.
What’s next in social media: Increase in specialized social networks segmented by occupation/industry/interest. Not a one-size-fits-all network. For example, a closed network that limits membership to only dentists, or only roofing contractors. Membership must be approved and credentialed.
Biggest piece of advice for local small businesses: Optimize your business listings in Google My Business and Bing Places to make it’s super easy for potential customers to learn about and find your business. In social media, make sure the vast majority of your posts are informational and not sales-focused.
Favorite app/next big app: Wrike – project management software.