Monthly Archives: September 2013

5 Common Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

Written by guest blogger, 

Mistakes. We all make them. Well, all humans anyway. But the great thing is that we can learn from them and move on. Even better, you can learn from others’ mistakes and avoid making them all together. This tactic can be applied to social media — a place where a mistake can haunt you.

Learn from these five common social media mistakes and help to avoid making your own.

1) Leave an account inactive.

When a consumer searches for your business or businesses in your area and comes across an inactive account, certain assumptions will be made. Either the consumer will assume you are no longer in business, that you don’t care enough about your customers to keep up to date information, or that you don’t understand social media. None of these are things you want consumers to think about your business so make an effort to post and update your profile regularly.Rachel Metscher Musings Five Social Media Misakes

2) Attempt too much.

It can be tempting to create an account for every hot, new social platform, but it’s not always the best thing for your business. Take a deep breath and really evaluate the social network to see if it can provide value for your business. Ask yourself questions like this: does your accounting firm really need an Instagram or would you be better served focusing all your energy on Twitter? Spreading yourself too thin across social networks will wear you and your brand image ragged.

3) Fail to use analytics.

How can you know if a social media campaign is effective if you don’t have proper measurements in place? It seems like common sense, but so many marketers and brands make the mistake of launching social media campaigns for the sake of launching a campaign. If you have proper measurement and analytics tools in place, you can accurately gauge which tactics are working and which you should drop. The time to read measurements may seem like it’s slowing you down, but it will save you tons of time and money in the future on potentially wasteful endeavors.

4) Talk without listening.

Social media is filled with chatterboxes who have plenty to say, but never listen. Don’t let your brand be one of those chatterboxes. The word social is built right into the name so it should be no surprise that you will need to actually devote energy to social interactions. Take the time to listen to what followers and customers are telling you on social media. Especially make sure you respond to any direct communication or you risk serious public ridicule.

5) Not taking the time to learn the mechanics of each platform.

I think we can all strum up some memories of people and brands making embarrassing mistakes because they didn’t understand a social platform. If the person handling your social media doesn’t understand which messages are private and which are public, you could run into some very big problems down the line. There also have been some examples recently of employees responsible for handling social media accounts mistook brand accounts for their own and posted inappropriate messages. Mistakes like this are sometimes unavoidable, but understanding all the mechanics will help avoid most of them.

Wendy Parish is a communication consultant and owner of Wendy Parish Consulting. She helps clients get the word out in a variety of mediums. You can find her writing smeared all over the internet at a variety of sites including Marketing Dive, DIY Insanity, and of course her tweets @ParishWendy. Her career has taken her to the U.K. and all over the U.S, but she now resides in Iowa and couldn’t be happier.

Why Content Marketing and Storytelling are like a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Last week, CMI hosted its Content Marketing World, where the concept of creating compelling concept was addressed in great detail. If you did not get a chance to attend, definitely check out the Content Marketing Institute Google+ page for some great information.  There were many takeaways, but the biggest for me was this: You need both the content and the story to convey

what your products and services solve for the customer.  It would seem that content marketing and storytelling are like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich: one without the other just isn’t a sandwich.

So what’s the problem?

What I see is company creating content such as datasheets, webinars, and case studies that address more of their needs to promote their interest than the customer. The issue is not the datasheet itself, but that the datasheet doesn’t paint the picture for the prospect of what she can expect from your product or service.

In fact, Forrester reported that 70 percent of the content B2B buyers read and study before making a purchase decision is actually found by themselves, as opposed to being given to them by marketing or sales. You need to tell a consistent story as to why prospective customers should buy from you.

How to make your content marketing and storytelling sandwich

Last month, I wrote an article for Brand Quarterly called, “Storytelling is the New Black.” I focused on how marketers can create content to address consumers’ needs through a structure storytelling outline.

There seems to be a constant commingling of ideas between content marketing and storytelling. I think Don E. Shultz said it best, “Content Marketing is the future of marketing. You must tell a compelling stories to engage consumers.

So how do you make your content compelling?

The first way to bring storytelling into your business is to make your customer the hero. Not to be trite, I often see many websites with more sales sheets than client success stories or case studies. Storytelling allows you to put your customer in the limelight. Share their successes and challenges. I used video to share industry insight by the folks (clients, employees, pundits) in my company who have been in the market and shared their experiences.

Social Media is another opportunity to connect with your market. If your followers are not re-sharing your content, then you are missing a huge opportunity to engage and connect. When you think about content you share on social media think in terms of your ideal client. What do they want to share? What type of information they need? What do they want to hear?

Most folks want to share photos, stories, links to articles that will help or teach them something new. Be the source of information people want to engage with. Charity: Water does an amazing job of telling the story of how bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations is connected to their donation. I love the page about sponsoring a water project that in great detail shares what a contributor’s donation actually is used for. Fantastic use of images, details to tell their story and how it contributes to the greater good.

What are the other ingredients for the content sandwich?

  1. Get Organized. Create a company-wide editorial calendar that shows what you will produce, who is producing, what it is about, when to expect it. This is key to actually creating and curating the content rather than talking about it. Especially for curating, what themes or topics do you plan to share?
  2.  Assign responsibility. Not everyone has the same roles in curating or creating content. I think of this in terms of a RACI chart. Assign roles in terms of responsibility: Responsibility, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.
  3.  Pull on the Same Rope. Everyone needs to be on the same page. Make sure you create a company-wide strategy. Otherwise everyone creates “content” and spams not only your clients, but also your prospective clients. Disorganization is a content killer
  4. Before You Create, You Participate. Before you start creating, really understand how your audience interacts and shares content in specific channels.
  5.  Think about your Buying Cycle. Develop content for each stage of the buying cycle: awareness, consideration, intent, purchase, repurchase (loyalty).
  6. Solve for the Customer (S.F. T. C.). You should create content that satisfies the clients’ needs not your ego.
  7. Get Creative. Think beyond the traditional white papers or infographics. How does your audience like to consume content? Twitter, Blog, Facebook? Test different types and see what works best.
  8. Measure your Impact. Don’t go through the process of creating content and not measure its impact. Where was it shared? How often? Did folks go back to your website?
  9. Don’t forget to Share. Sharing is caring. Most companies create content and never consider how to promote it. Plan for promotion early in the process.
  10.  Have Something to Say. In order to create authenticate, relevant content you should be sharing something different that folks want to read. In the words of a former executive I worked with, “you need actual thoughts to successful create thought leadership.”

Five Steps to Position Your Personal Brand Online

I am currently reading a book for an upcoming class that is a marketing and communications fundamental, Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout. It is a tremendous book for any communicator looking to learn how to cut through the noise of their respective marketplace. Reading this book, reminds me how professionals need to tap into the same principles to positioning their own personal brand online. But, how can you position your personal brand online?

Step One: Plan

Failure to plan is planning to fail.  Hillary Clinton

The first tip into positioning your personal brand is to know what you want it to stand for. My former colleague Sarah Hums, is working with her team of Oracle marketing advisors to better position themselves as leaders in their industry.

So, how do you plan?

Rachel Metscher Making Your Online Personal Brand

Image from

They outlined what they wanted to achieve in terms of personal goals. Next up for the team was to construct their individual personal brand statement. The team also evaluated fellow marketing experts in their industry to deconstruct what were the components to their personal brand. Loved this concept because it is important for all of us to step back and ask ourselves simple, but poignant questions on what we want to achieve.

Step Two: Build Your Personal Brand Statement

Kimberly Peters, marketing advisor at Oracle, shared some of her experiences with developing her own personal brand statement that steers her online activities:

  1. Don’t get overwhelmed. Engage with like-minded folks and see how they share their personal brand online.
  2. Be conscious. Kimberly shared that sharing information online shouldn’t be on autopilot. Be conscious of the information you share and make sure to add your insight. That’s the whole point of social media. Don’t forget the social.
  3. Take baby steps. Kimberly took small steps towards building her statement. She wanted to make sure she conveyed her modern marketing expertise, but also her personality. I think her Twitter bio is a true reflection of both personality and her work style: Mom. Runner. Photographer. Crazy Optimist. 10+YRS Marketing Geek. Work @EIoqua. Inspiring marketers on choppy waters to stay calm, sail forward, and be AWESOME!

Step Three: Build the Ship

Now that you have your plan and your statement, how do you build your brand from the ground up? Start building up your personal brand within your current network. If you are the go-to person for social media, use your knowledge to perhaps write a blog on your experience. Or perhaps submit a proposal to speak at your next professional organization conference.

Part of positioning is to get into your audience mind. Their perception is reality, so you need to get their attention. Perhaps your industry is niched and you can share best practices on how to be successful? Who wouldn’t want to learn best practices to avoid pitfalls?


Step Four: Spread the Word

Social media is excellent for building your personal brand. You can share 140 characters of nuggets or write a blog post on helpful tips. Maybe you create a Tumblr page of what not to do in your next #PR pitch?

Whatever your content poison is, make sure you share it socially. The key to building expertise is to share your stories. Everyone has something to share.

Step Five: Monitor Your Progress

You can’t measure your success if you don’t monitor your progress. The only way to monitor your progress is to revisit your goals (see step one) on where you started and where you are today. Maybe you do this every six months. Whatever your frequency is, measure your progress to make sure you are on target. Maybe you measure this by followers on Twitter or how many conference proposals were accepted.

Rachel DiCaro Metscher, director of advocacy and communications for Hobsons, has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. Currently, Rachel is responsible for Hobsons’ external communication programs, which include public relations, brand, website, and social media.