Tag: social media

It’s Time I Had Some Time Alone

It’s Time I Had Some Time Alone

I contemplated not writing this week, because lord – you guys have had me BUSY this week. Glory be! But then, as I sat sending out end of day emails and making my list for shit to do tomorrow, a song came on.

 

Now before I get too much further, I want you to know that I am a HUGE believer in the arts moving you. Sometimes it takes you back, sometimes it takes you forward and forces you to take action – hence why I am here, writing a blog when I should be thinking about what I am going to make for dinner.

 

It’s going to be a pizza night and I don’t care

 

Who remembers Myspace?

 

Okay. First, yes – it is still a thing (I KNOW, RIGHT?!?)

 

Second, I LOVED Myspace. It spoke to my artsy-fartsy soul in ways that “plain old” Facebook just couldn’t.

 

We all know how *that* worked out, but I digress, Myspace. Yes.

 

Three Miles Of Back Road

 

I’m pretty sure my Myspace is still out there, untouched for nearly 15 years with equally outdated artwork and probably with my tag line of “She’s Three Miles Of Back Road” (I didn’t try to log in, so those that are active, please let me know).

 

This is a line from one of my favorite bands growing up, when I formalized my let’s say “eclectic” taste in music. But I made it my tag line because it spoke to me.

 

It was how I felt about myself.

 

Bumpy, With Unexpected Turns

 

Growing up in what I still affectionately call, “The Middle of Nowhere,” I KNEW what three miles of back road FELT like. But I also know what it *could* FEEL like.

 

I knew it could be exhilarating and fun but could equally be dangerous.

 

That can be downright scary when you stop and think about it.

It’s just more FUN in a manual

 

I’ve driven 5-speeds since I was 18 and intend to drive a *true* manual transmission as long as I possibly can. The years between 18-22, I drove my little 5-speeds up and over the mountain, taking me from home to work and back again.

 

Weather at times made this trip fun and I have some great stories about trips over that mountain that are not for the faint of heart. While this was not always the case, I sometimes needed to take some back roads that would lead me to Route 75 and then my final few miles of back road to home.

 

Because of this, I endured quite a bit of ribbing for my choice in vehicles. But I have only gotten stuck once in my life and have had quite a bit of fun doing shit no car *should* do.

 

Oh, the Stories I *Could* Tell

 

The Child does not appreciate it when I tell him some of the stories. He understands the gravity of some of these stories as I have been in many car accidents, of which one I was at fault and his father has been in two since the Child was born. He has seen the very real affects of driving and the inherent dangers of such.

 

I also understand that for him, driving holds a very different position for him. For me, it meant freedom. Freedom to blast my music, put the window down and let the wind take hold of my hair. It took me to a different place, and at times, continues to do so.

 

So, there I am, pounding out end of day emails, listening to Amazon’s Feel-Good Classics when BLAM! A blast from the past knocks me on my ass and send me into a fun little rabbit hole.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It

 

It’s one of my favorites from one of my favorite bands and wouldn’t mind learning the lyrics, because as I have found, they throw some fun stuff in there if you are listening.

 

And that’s when it struck me, somewhere between those three miles of back road and realizing there would be no way I could ever sign that song without A LOT of practice, that what they were singing about gained significantly more meaning over the last two years.

 

We’re all figuring out this new world that we’re living in, certain of one thing: if you are sick, stay HOME.

 

That leaves a lot up in the air. And doing the most basic of human things is now something that takes great consideration, not only for ourselves, but for others.

 

Looking Ahead

 

Something as simple as an itchy nose has brought us to explaining and apologizing. While this may feel odd and awkward at times, it tells me that we’re starting to figure shit out.

 

We’re testing the waters of “people-ing” again and after what we’ve experienced, there’s bound to be some bumps in the road.

 

It’s. Expected.

 

So, for the next few weeks, I want you to take it easy on others because EVERYONE is stressed af and EVERYONE is struggling in some way this season.

 

But more importantly, take it easy on YOURSELF. You’ve been through a lot. You deserve a break. Allow yourself the time to do so in the next week and half. I’m going to need you bright eyed and bushy tailed for 2022. We’re going to do some amazing things together.

 

 

 

There’s Too Much Internet in MY Real Life

Our journey through the digital divide has taken us through the realm of individual accounts and your Top Ten, and then through the ads we see and Pages we engage with and things we can do to help those organization and businesses during what is typically a really difficult time of year for them. Now, we are heading into the point where the Internet and the Real Life collide – Groups.

 

In real life, we create our own groups of people we communicate with – friends, family, co-workers, other business owners, the list can go on and on. Likewise, in the digital space, the list can be expansively never-ending.

 

Facebook has Groups for just about anyone and on any topic – such as the infamous Colony of Ants or the Aldi Red Bag Chicken “that’s so good, it has its own Facebook Group” have breached the digital space and moved into Real Life through our conversations about these two distinct yet very different Groups.

 

Groups are the water cooler chats in the 21st century; and while some Groups may be punny or fun, not all are. Some are meant to be informative – such as the local Community and Neighborhood Groups.

 

Not all Groups are created equally

 

As I tell our clients, not all Facebook Groups are created equally. That is why you will see some with more members, more activity, and more drama than others – and for better or worse, these are QUALITY groups because they attain what the algorithm is looking for most – that sweet, sweet engagement.

 

Just like how your Top 10 is defined by your engagement with others, and the Pages and Organizations you see on your Newsfeed is based on your engagement with them, Groups are equally determined by engagement. The only difference is the number of people who regularly engage with the Group and your personal engagement within the Group.

 

In a Group setting, we have the ability to speak to more people. Which can be incredibly effective if you are new to an area or looking for something specific in an area. But, often, we as individuals will do things in a group setting that we wouldn’t do by ourselves or in real life.

 

This can explain why at times, Facebook Groups can be a bit more drama filled, or individuals will say things in a Group setting that they would not feel comfortable doing so on their own personal Page. While this may be the case, we must remember that in the digital space, these things can become dangerous.

Data Privacy? What’s that?

 

Facebook has long been a source of controversy when it comes to data privacy, and the stickiness of the ads we see on our Newsfeed is HIGHLY indicative of just how much information is known about us as individuals.

 

I don’t mind telling you that sometimes, Facebook hits the mark closer than anyone else and it can give even me, the creeps at times.

 

Now, that is not all together a bad thing. If we’re receiving information that is important to us or make more educated decisions on the area we live in or making a large investment – these things can be downright helpful.

 

However, frequently, we do not understand how all this information is coming to us, nor do we understand the intricacies of Facebook Groups and in the digital space, where it’s the little things that make a big difference.

 

Groups Help Us Connect With Our Community

 

There are two significantly different types of Groups: Private and Public. Private Groups are those that can only be seen by those on Facebook, those who have been invited to and accepted the Group invitation and any applicable Rules associated with the Group Page. Public Groups are just that, including open to anyone who is not on Facebook.

 

While Private Groups offer a bit of added security, it should be understood that when communicating within that Group, you may be communicating with those you do not know in real life but share a mutual connection in the form of a shared topic of interest. Conversations are typically thematically driven, based on the type of Group you are in.

 

Public Groups are typically community based and include such Groups as the “What’s Going On/What’s Happening In” Pages. In these Groups, you will find events, local news, and individuals looking to learn more about the area, looking for recommendations, or posting about lost/found items.

 

Finding “Quality” Groups

 

Now, I hear you, some of these local groups, make you shake your head in wonder sometimes. They can be just a hot mess of comments and side conversations that when taken into context of the original post, may have very little, if anything in common.

 

While this seems like it is a hot cluster mess, and in some regards, it can be, it’s important to remember what feeds the algorithm – that sweet, sweet engagement. So even though, at times these things seem like a dumpster fire, they are actually working quite effectively because people are communicating with one another.

 

These Groups give a greater sense of what is like to live in a particular town or area, which is vitally important to not only those looking to relocate to an area, but also to those who live in the area. Having these Groups that are active in the local community builds on our sense of community by keeping us connected on one device that the majority of us own, and on the same platform that a whole lot of us use every day.

 

The Shear Convenience of It

 

With Facebook recently taking over as the Top Social Media platform by average monthly users (overtaking YouTube), it is evident that while our engagement of this platform has dropped off in the last few years, our usage has only increased. With more people using the platform and less engagement feeding the algorithm, Facebook has recently implemented new techniques to get us to engage with that which we engage with most – Groups.

 

Not only has Facebook added a direct button to the Groups in which you personally belong to between the Home and Notifications buttons, the social media giant has also added badges and “Community Awards” to increase engagement on Group Pages – the latter of which has been found on a local community Group Page within the last month.

 

Our local usage of not only this platform, but others, is evident in the quality of the Groups and the availability of algorithmically driven “enhancements” meant to increase our already high rate of activity on these very Pages.

 

Local Groups Are POWERFUL

 

The ability for information shared on our local Group Pages to expand outside of our region is a key step in marketing a business, organization, or event in this area. Even more than this, what we consider to be small town, local events – such as the fountain being damaged – has reached national news sources and this wasn’t the first time an event in this area has captured national attention.

 

This is directly related to how much time we spend on our devices and online, specifically on social media. Now, this is not necessarily a negative thing, as through this, we ARE more connected to those we care about and our local community. We ARE more engaged with one another.

 

Which means, whether we like it or not, we’re going to come to a place where disagreements happen, boundaries are pushed, and at times, mob-like behavior occurs. Shit gets said that wouldn’t be said in real life.

 

And then we get all hot and bothered over something said on the internet like it’s SRS business. Where it bleeds and festers into other areas of our lives. Leaving us questioning not only ourselves, but other’s motives over SHIT said on the Internet.

 

It Is SRS Business ‘Yo

 

Here’s where shit gets exceptionally real:

 

Not only are Public Groups visible and readily available to anyone, even those not on Facebook which means we are inherently going to be speaking to an unknown audience – take a moment and think on that – Private Groups can be exponentially more dangerous, simply due to our usage.

 

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles titled, The Facebook Files where in one article specifically found that the adjustment made to the algorithm in 2018 made the platform a more divisive and angrier place to be. Which, if you haven’t checked my linked articles – was about the same time Facebook saw a distinct drop in engagement rates.

 

Fun times, right?

 

Hold onto your hats, cuz true to form, Facebook has fun little ways of distracting our attention when they’ve done something that has caused some unwanted attention.

 

Within A WEEK of these articles publishing, Facebook launched the Community Awards (feel free to open those links now but come back cuz we aren’t done yet).

 

And this is NOT the FIRST TIME Facebook has launched something new when they are in hot water.

 

But Wait! There’s More!

 

That is without touching “Meta” – which is a WHOLE other ball of wax where if we don’t get this shit under control, we’re in for an even worse wild ride than we’ve already been through.  I don’t know about you, but I’m about f-ing done.

 

So, here’s what I want you to do this week. Take a look at the Groups you belong to, start with those that pop up in your Newsfeed and notifications. If they are local, check to see if they are “quality” local groups and look at the privacy settings – it’ll be right by the name of the group. If it is Public, go forth eyes wide open and personal shit sealed (don’t give out your phone number plz!).

 

If it is Private – Look over the Page carefully, especially if it is a political, spiritual, or religious and look for any inconsistencies or “bleed” over from these specific categories, or any “us vs. them” derogatory type posts. These are usually topics that have little if any, bleed between in a traditional setting. Think about how these things work in real life, that’s how they should work online too.

 

As such, thematic Private Groups tend to stick to their theme and are usually primarily for entertainment and have little bleed over. Look for these inconsistencies.

 

Those Pages that do have a “bleed” be it political, spiritual, or religious and a high engagement rate on these types of posts are exceptionally dangerous. As they not only fuel lines of division and have crossed the barrier into real life, they also feed the algorithm as a positive reinforcement – meaning that you will then begin to see more and more of that type of posting, creating more division, more anger, and more isolation on your social media feed which will then begin to affect your real life perceptions as well.

 

Pretty Sweet Deal, Huh?

 

Which is the LAST thing we need after the year plus we’ve had and coming into the “happiest” time of the year, which for many – it’s not; and it’s time we stop pretending.

 

It’s time we stop pretending. Period.

 

This shit has the ability to cross into our real lives.

 

And we carry it around with us every where we go with our handy, dandy little tracking device.

 

That holy shit, for many of us, we’re closer to than our best friends.

 

Think about the shit it knows….

 

So, here’s the deal, now that I’ve hopefully taken the wool down from your eyes a bit, you’ve found that you have a *bit* more control than most would have you think. From now until the end of the year, I am offering free copies of my thesis, “You’re Doing It Wrong: Using Facebook for Personal Profit and Pleasure” for anyone wishing to get a “head start” onto where this blog is headed.

 

I will personally print these out and deliver or mail them to you. During this time, you are free to ask me as many questions as you would like.

 

Please be aware of two things: Symbiotic Marketing will be closed from December 24-January 2. This is my personal time to be with family, if I respond, please respect my time.

 

Secondly, after December 31, 2021, a change in fee structure for new clients will take effect in reflection of inclusion of PR and Training services.

 

Your business and what you do with it is an investment. It’s time it’s treated as such.

Eyes Wide Open: Starting to Take Back Some of Your Personal Power on Social Media

Last week, I wrote about ads, and mentioned that not all ads seen are on social media, but those that are on social media can be a bit “stickier” than others. This week, in our journey through the digital divide, I wanted to come back and discuss this a bit more because in the land of social media, these things take on new life.

 

Ads can be just about anywhere, and today, many of us choose to pay a little extra so we don’t have to watch or listen to them. The shear fact that over a relatively short period of time, we’ve gone from doing things during commercial breaks to paying for less commercial breaks tells me that we are so inundated with ads, we’re exhausted by them.

A Land of Light and Sound With No One Seeing or Listening

 

For a small business owner, the thought of creating something that can compete in this landscape is daunting to say the least. It looks downright bleak. Desolate.

 

So, we attack the devil we know – social media. And try to learn how to work the algorithm while finding our own voice. Which is rarely a smooth or easy process.

 

And for those who are uncomfortable in this setting, it’s often written off for other avenues – such as print or radio rather than working in collaboration with. This then, leaves a distinct disconnect in conversational traffic and often a disruption in the business functions – i.e. the shear act of doing business can be exponentially more difficult simply due to a lack of digital presence- website or otherwise.

Stuck in a Scarcity Mindset

 

This time of year is a particularly difficult time for many small businesses as we struggle for a small piece of the holiday spending pie.

 

This time of year may very well set the business for success or failure in the New Year as spending drops significantly in the first few months of every new year.

 

Every sale, matters. Every interaction, matters. Every person who walks through the door, matters more than any of us fully realize. And after the last year plus, these things matter even more.

 

Adding fuel to this fire is the shear fact that to advertise in any capacity during this time of year, inherently means a higher cost – not only financially but energetically too.

Discounting Ourselves

 

We’ve been trained as individuals to be on the “lookout” for the best deals this time of year. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, and all the pop-up events that happen through December 24th are meant to do one thing – drive spending, typically through the “art of the deal.”

 

Now this is not all together a bad thing if your spending is going back into someone or something you feel passionate about. I’ve spent some serious dough on something that I have wanted without blinking an eye.

 

But as a business owner, I can tell you that I have fallen into the discount trap more often than I’d care to remember. Discounting in the business owner’s mind means discounting our goods or services but at the end of the day, what we’re really doing is discounting our VALUE.

 

From skimping out on business necessities, discounting merchandise, to discounting our own time – we are DISCOUNTING our own value.

 

Which stinks and makes us feel like shit.

Small Businesses ARE the Backbone to Every Community

 

While those of you who read this blog may be wondering what kind of tangent I have gone off on, I want you to know the realities of the battle for your attention every small business owner faces.

 

Things like billboards, radio ads, and even some digital and print marketing ad campaigns are simply outside of the budget. That is why we are almost relegated to a website and social media presence, and even then, these are not always easy to attain or maintain.

 

This is why you will inherently see less ads from small businesses and when you do, they appear to be of lower quality or mass produced – because at times, this is what can be afforded.

Now that doesn’t make the ad spend right – I’m looking directly at you small business owners. Spend your money wisely and intentionally. Treat it as the investment it is.

 

So, what we have when we’re online, especially on social media, is a great mixture of corporate (like Wal-Mart/Wish/Amazon) and large to medium-sized, fairly well-known local entities (like WellSpan/Orrstown Bank/Martin’s Potato Rolls) popping up either as Low Hanging Fruit or Sticky ads, depending on your usage.

 

Stand Out Against the Noise

 

Now, here we have the small business owner. Trying to find their footing in what could be a most precarious time no matter how you slice it. With as much knowledge of how to use social media, or really any form of digital media, as you, my dear reader.

 

To say that we don’t know what we’re doing is an understatement. Because as you will learn through our journey into the digital world, unraveling one string leads to another knot. This journey, however, is very similar to other journeys many others have taken.

 

There’s a reason why so many small business owners compare their business to their child. Because to a very real extent, it is. We’re literally following along by the seat of our pants and hoping that the decisions we’ve made are wise. And if not, our child/business will tell us by shitting the bed (not always metaphorically speaking) in and around the age of 3. We, like most parents, hope to have that shit under control by age 5.

 

Rely on Your Tribe

 

I tell you all this, dear reader, because YOU have a very important and integral role in not only what you see, but also in how well you can help these businesses achieve truly free advertising on their end, that builds and extends the local community experience as a whole.

 

That’s some pretty cool shit right there. Especially when you can do this by doing something you’re already doing any way.

 

Feel those feels because that’s some powerful shit right there.

 

Think BIG

 

There’s a reason behind all this local growth. The capacity for a Page to hit over 100K in Franklin County alone is not difficult. The capacity for that Page to then speak to a greater, larger overall audience is then that much easier to accomplish when proper steps are in place.

 

Think about what that could mean for the small local, non-profit organizations who’s mission it is to raise funds to support our community.

 

Think about what it could mean for voter turnout in our local elections.

Think about what it could mean to the small business owners in our community if more people knew about their goods and services.

 

That’s some pretty big shit.

 

And You, you as an individual, have the power to start making these changes happen. All by scrolling on social media and doing what you do.

 

It Really IS That Simple

 

Two weeks ago, I asked you to start looking at your Newsfeed for your Top 10. [I’d love to hear how that’s going for you btw – hit me up on socials and let me know] This week, I want you to do the same for local organizations and businesses that are important to you.

 

Search their social feeds and see what they’ve posted recently. Throw a like, a comment, or a share up there – just be sure to not share too much – no one wants a Spammy Cathy. And even though these things are weighted differently, you can do a lot with just a few likes and reactions. Trust your gut.

 

Now, here’s the sweet part for you – the more you do this, the more you will see from these organizations and businesses.

 

Ever miss out on hearing about an event until it was too late? Not. No. Mor’.

 

And that’s not only powerful shit, but some pretty sweet shit too.

 

Now go out there and help the local guy out. We need it and a few likes and hearts can show our Pages to others who may not know about us that need us.

 

It’s all about those connections. And my dears, that is what social media is all about. Creating and maintaining those sweet, sweet connections that you love to see.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room: Terms and Conditions Apply

It’s taken me a minute to sit down and write this week’s blog and for a while I wasn’t sure what was going on in my head – it’s not that I’m short on ideas, my sudoku puzzles show that I’ve been thinking quite a bit but the act of sitting down and formulating these ideas into a workable concept seemed a bit out of reach for me. And that’s when it hit me – I’m avoiding the elephant in the room.

 

That Giant Elephant that Everyone KNOWS exists, but few address it head on

 

My friends, it is the official beginning of the holiday season and every single thing we do seems to remind of us this fact.

 

Need to grab some milk? Gotta walk by the holiday section first because it’s right out front for everyone to see.

 

Heading to work? Every billboard and radio ad is trying to sell you on their holiday cheer.

 

Scrolling through social media? Everyone and their damn brother is talking about what they are thankful for.

 

We “Should” Be Happy

 

It’s a near constant reminder that this time of year, is supposed to be the “happiest” time of the year, yet in reality many of us find ourselves in a scarcity mindset where we overbook and overextend our time and finances to show others how much we care.

 

By January, we’re exhausted and usually a bit more in debt than we had been previously and not exactly setting ourselves up for success in the New Year and then wonder why our resolutions are so difficult to stick to.

 

This, like mentioned in the previous blog, sets up a vicious cycle where we are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. And this is when digital can become dangerous.

 

Let’s talk about those Wish Ads

 

Remember how it only takes ONE second for the algorithm to register your attention? Because of how much or how little we share on Facebook, the ads we are shown can be HIGHLY individualized.

 

This becomes dangerous in the hands of advertisers because ads are created to address two functions: build the brand awareness and address/answer a “pain point”

 

A large yellow M and certain chime reminds young and old that there’s a place to go when we’re hungry

 

But ads aren’t just to remind us of a place we can go when we’re hungry. That may be how they function, but not how they work.

 

For ads to work, they need to utilize our emotions while fulfilling their function. This is why ads are longer – in 5, 10, 15, 30, 60 second integrals and sometimes longer on streaming channels – to give them time to engage our emotions.

 

Ads are meant to capture, maintain, and engage our minds

 

The more we hear, see, and recognize a brand, the more we establish and emotional connection to it by the pain point solution offered. This is where two digital giants of the modern age reign supreme: Google and Facebook.

 

As the top used search engine and the top used social media platform, these two know a good thing when they have it – a space where we both research future purchases and where we ask friends and family for their recommendations, all from the convenience of one portable device that 85% of Americans own.

This is why we feel like our phones are “listening” to us – because they kinda ARE

 

It just isn’t in the way we always think. And that’s when the creepy feeling starts setting in.

 

As a marketer, I enjoy “playing” with my Google algorithm, asking it to “find the REAL me” like it’s a digital version of the game show, To Tell The Truth. But Facebook, damn. There are times I feel like just posting that I bought the damn thing in an effort to stop seeing those ads.

 

Like an algorithm “reset” for ads

 

And what’s wonderful, given time, ANYONE can do this – without having to share on Facebook that we purchased the damn thing UNLESS WE WANT TO.

 

Take a moment and feel that power, that feeling of control. Envision it, think about what that could look like – because like any planted seed, it takes time to grow.

 

Now to begin, there are some things we need to know going in:

 

  1. Not all ads are created equal

Some ads are what I call the “Spaghetti at a Wall” type and can encompass anything from low-rate insurance to pay-day loans. These are typically found on websites and are listed as “sponsored content” and can be found either cleverly concealed within the text itself or at the bottom of the page. Spaghetti ads frequently use “bait and switch” tactics to get you to click on the “articles” which are nothing but more ads.

 

Next up are the “Low Hanging Fruit” – goods and services just about anyone needs. This includes insurance, banking, clothing, food, service utilities, housing, etc. These are ads you’ll see again and again and can be so familiar that the brands may poke fun at one another on Twitter (and elsewhere).

 

Finally, there are the “Sticky Ads” – those that when you stop to think about it, make you go hmmm. These are the ones to be on the look out for. There’s a digital link somewhere and is frequently tied to a “real life” interaction.

 

  1. Yes, your phone is listening to you, but often not in the way you think

Ads are a reflection of what we search for, who we communicate with, and any of our shared connections – be it financial distress, basic human needs, or something more tangible or emotional.

 

The Spaghetti ads, if treated as anything, should be for a good laugh at their attempt.

 

Low Hanging Fruit can also be humorous at times but all in all, they are fairly easy to block out unless it’s during the Superbowl.

 

Sticky ads are sticky because of the convenience of our phones and the software and hardware built into them to function. Every time we have our Wifi, Mobile Data, GPS, or Bluetooth on, our phones are sending and receiving signals. Now, consider how many of us have the voice command system on – Siri or Google (and BTW, Facebook has one too).

 

And all that is before we start searching for the “best” whatever, comparing two different products, or searching for somewhere to eat nearby. All before a conscious emotional connection can created.

 

  1. The idiom of “what has been seen, cannot be unseen” will take on greater meaning

This phrase is as old as the internet because in the early days, there was quite simply, a lot of shit that could be seen. And not always, ideal shit at the ideal time. So, once it was seen, it didn’t need to be seen again. Period. Done. Still in the memory bank and doesn’t need to be revisited.

 

As you begin to start to look at the different types of ads, you’ll start to notice some consistencies outside of the branding, consistencies that associate the ads to the 3 types: Spaghetti, Low Hanging Fruit, and Sticky.

 

Your brain will start to automatically process these without you needing to think about it and categorize them based on what is already known. Which allows the thinking brain time to find these digital connections that make the sticky ads so sticky.

 

  1. We are continually being sold to and sold

This last bit of knowledge is the double-edged sword of convenience in digital. People go to great lengths to have an ad-free experience when online and only then come up with less ads getting through. Most of us don’t have the time to devote to this experience, and for some of us, it’s a price we’ll happily pay for said convenience – in the “devil you know” kind of way.

 

But remember, the devil’s we “know” and how much they know about us. When you stop to think about it, it’s quite a lot and for some, that’s quite scary.

 

Now, I find the scary things are a whole lot less scary once we take the time to learn about them. Like how a haunted house is a whole lot less scary once you see the mechanics that go into making it. You might come out with more questions, but you’ll definitely come out seeing things differently than you did before.

 

Going Forward: Start Looking At Your Ads

 

So, this week, I want you to do something that is going to feel strange and counterintuitive – but I guarantee you isn’t – I want you to start looking at the ads you see when your on your phone. Start recognizing where they fall – Spaghetti, Low Hanging Fruit, or Sticky and begin to categorize your Sticky ads.

 

By categorizing your Sticky ads, your brain will be able to process them faster and you will begin to see more intentional ad placement for you.

 

Now, if this has made your skin crawl just a bit more than you thought, you can take this a step further by asking yourself if the Sticky ads are based on demographic information (age/race/sex/location) or if it is related to a search, an online chat, or an in-person conversation. If it is the latter, be sure to fully close out of running apps on your phone. Hitting the home button is not enough.

 

Know that the idiom of what has been seen cannot be unseen has ruled the internet for so long for a reason. The lessons to be learned are not always pleasant, but it’s best we go in eyes wide open.

Let’s Get Started: Breaking Down the Digital Divide

To begin our journey through the digital divide, we must first look at how we are using and consuming digital media. As I discussed in the previous blog, we have quite a mess on our hands – with negativity spreading rampant on social media, leading to all kinds of concerns from mental health (in the form of anxiety and depression) to real world violence – what we have is a problem.
 
Right now, our problem looks like either a large on-going math equation that has yet to be solved, or a hoarder’s house that may become condemned if it isn’t cleaned out – choose your gross.
 
And if you have the distinct pleasure of needing to use social media for work or business, that gross scale multiplies like rabbits in spring. Is it any wonder why, we as business owners, simply do not want to devote our time to this succubus?
 

And that, my friends, is where we become stuck.

 
Our personal feelings toward these platforms and media bleeds over into our professional voice, whether we realize it or not.
 
Those who are less comfortable with their own news feed, their own friends list, their own experience on social media will inherently be less comfortable in finding their voice in the same platform in a professional setting – be it a professional or business Page.
 
Leading to inconsistent posting and lack of overall awareness.
 
Which then leads to a lack of following and lack of engagement.
 
Which ultimately leads to a scarcity mindset within the digital sphere, leaving business owners “fighting” the algorithm and struggling with where and how to best invest marketing dollars.
 

It’s a vicious cycle.

 
Much like how my anxiety, when not in check, will lead to depression, which then fuels my anxiety, this issue can also seem to be cyclonic in nature – almost like a tornado of shit, destroying everything in its path. But what is a tornado other than extreme energy brought about by significant shifts in pressure?
 
I think I speak for everyone when I say that 2020 was the epitome of significant shifts in pressure, as I have yet to find anyone who isn’t suffering from pandemic fatigue in one way or another. Our energy is depleted because we’ve been so wrapped up in these shit tornadoes, that all we see around us is more of the same.
 
Exhausted seems to light of a term for the way we’re feeling, not only individually but collectively as well. We’ve worked in ways and conditions none of us ever expected. We struggle with an overarching fear because so much has changed so quickly, we’re now afraid to become “too comfortable” in our own surroundings.
 
So, we shut down. Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, we just don’t have the energy to do anything but shut down.
 

And this is where digital can become dangerous.

 
Because an algorithm’s base function is to show you more of what you consume, to keep you coming back for more, even when your own satisfaction may be diminished, so it can “learn” more about you. The more the algorithm “knows” about you, the more “tailored” your unique experience is.
 
This becomes a dangerous area with those who are uncomfortable with the platform and sharing information as it leads into two distinct forms of extremism: Ghost-like behavior and Soapbox behavior. Whether you are engaging primarily in reactions, gifs, and avatars or treating your profile page as your own personal soapbox, you are creating a vacuous state for your algorithm.
 
As it cannot learn more about you, your experience will be much more simplified and based on known information: your gender, location, age (all of which is given to start an account) and anything that has captured your attention for ONE second or longer.

 

ONE second is all it takes and then you’re inundated with Wish ads.

 
But it’s more than just those kooky ads that make you stop and look, it’s also political and spiritual posts. It’s posts that touch our core values and beliefs. And while some are from real-live people with honest and pure intents, not all are.
 
Some are cleverly created ads meant to fool the eye, leading to more of that product or service to be seen and then purchased. While others are significantly more dangerous, especially when personal profiles and bots are involved.
 
Bots are nothing more than fake profiles. The account is set up to look like a person but isn’t. While most of us have heard, or maybe even know someone who has set up a fake account, the bot’s function is to interact with the algorithm and find other profiles to extort information from – Real profiles, from Real people.
 
Creating a chain of bots, all interacting with the algorithm as real people can spread like a virus within those who are uncomfortable with the platform because, so little is known about them as individuals. And from here, it spreads out into those networks, where even if only 10% of an individual’s friends list picks up that bot as a friend, it grows exponentially to the next network, and the next. All feeding one person’s ill intent.
 
And like the shit tornado this tends to be, this then feeds into our professional and businesses pages as rarely is the person of ill intent located in or near our own backyards. Then rather than a local awareness, our pages are now shown on a global scale and potentially outside of your sales radius.
 

And we’re back to where the vicious cycle began.

 
Stuck. Frustrated. And above all, tired. So, freakin’ tired.
 
But we must start somewhere, so let’s start with what we know. Whether tackling an algebraic equation or pile of shit, we all start with what we know, so let’s start there.
 

Look for the Good Shit.

 
This week, I want you to begin a review of your friend’s list. See who gives you the most joy when you are on and spend some time on their profile. Most people have a Top 10 that they really want to spend time with and keep in touch with.
 
Find your Top 10 and engage with them. Comment on a post, share something to their profile that is important to the two of you, or just hit them up with a message. Really make it a point to connect with them and watch your Newsfeed and notifications start to change – because it will.
 
It’s important to find the pleasure first, because what we need to do is to clean up after this shit tornado. To find the lessons that need to be learned and grow from them. We are going to grow through what we’ve gone through, but first, let’s focus on the positive shit.
 
Go spend time with those who give you happiness and communicate with them. It’ll start to feed your algorithm the good shit you want to see from the people you want to see it from.
 

You’ll begin to take away the power of the bots and they’ll naturally start to drop off.

 
And if this gets your OCD tingling, or would like to take a more definitive step toward eliminating bots from your friends list, I suggest taking the Spot The Troll quiz and reviewing your entire friend’s list to see if anyone fits the profile of a bot and then drop them like they’re hot.
 
Know that little shifts and changes make for significant long-term changes. These lines of division weren’t created overnight but the more aware we become and the more we focus on real-life connections, the more positive and beneficial the experience will be overall for everyone.

I’ve Been Quiet: Here’s Why

It’s taken me a while to write this. In fact, I started and stopped several times before scrapping and starting over completely. This is partly because I have so many things running through my mind, so many wonderful things that I cannot wait to share, yet I struggled with how to share these with the current social media campaign. The campaign, in my mind, seemed to be regimented, but still valuable. I was stuck wanting to continue to provide valuable content, yet my posts were becoming exceedingly long – a bit too long to read on social media in my personal opinion.

 

These posts, it seemed in my mind, to take on more of a blog feel to them, just broken up into segments throughout the week. But I hadn’t written a blog in over a year. They have just been sitting on my WordPress site with nothing uploaded or transitioned to the Wix site that went live a year ago this month. Where to even begin with such an undertaking inherently meant that I needed to address these two significant issues – I have a WordPress site with old, outdated branding that matches all of the print material I have yet to update, and a Wix site with the new branding, and a distinctly different feel from the older, more widely known version.

 

While each of these sites hold value to the business in varying capacities and spoke to similar audiences, the voice was inconsistent across different digital platforms and in real life encounters – those outdated business cards have a different email address and website from what is on social media. Which then brought in another layer to this ongoing pile of shit that I knew needed to be addressed, but it’s difficult to address these things when you’re busier than you’ve ever been.

 

Symbiotic Marketing is currently working on more websites than we have ever had, our social media approach has shifted to a more coaching than management approach, as businesses and organizations have found the importance of speaking to a specific local audience with resounding success for clients, and for the first time ever, the business has been financially able to support not only my own family but also organizations that are important to me personally.

 

To be a primary sponsor for both Pride Franklin County’s Taste of Pride and the Franklin County Literacy Council’s Puzzlemania is simply a dream come true. But there’s more than just the ability to support my family and support those organizations with whom I personally believe in. There’s also the intangible things that bring purpose to what Symbiotic Marketing is doing and keeps me moving forward every single day.

 

These include seeing my clients excitement as a project comes together, whether in person, Zoom, or over social media fills my heart with such joy that I can barely put it into words. And watching my clients grow and become more comfortable with their own voice through the power of social media and be able to then extend that into other digital areas fills me with such pride that it’s difficult to stop me from smiling all day long. Because through this process, their business is growing with them. They are learning and understanding not only the value of digital, but also how all these pieces fit together with the real world around them.

 

And that, my friends, is my ultimate goal – to be able to show others how and where digital and the real life collide and what we can do about it.

 

I am OVER hearing about how the algorithm negatively affects us, like we are pawns in an elaborate game of chess. It is such complete and utter BULLSHIT that we, by the shear means of communication, are now relegated and controlled by these devices – and it isn’t our fault. So few of us know what we’re really doing when we use them because no one taught us.

 

And how could anyone? We’ve been legit holding on by the seat of our pants just trying to keep up with how quickly technology is progressing – if you would have told me 20 years ago that all that music I was downloading on Napster would be readily available ON MY PHONE any time I wanted, I would have made some smart remark about crack. Sitting high and mighty with my T1 line and 2G phone that could text (oh my!), I digress and firmly date myself but I believe a point was made for those with whom I want to speak to. There’s no way any of us could have seen this coming, yet we’re here and it’s time we do something about it.

 

That’s where my personal experience comes in. I was there when Blackberry’s were the THING because they were the ONLY THING. I went through the Palms, Windows, and then Android and Apple devices because I was not only one of those loathsome cell phone salespeople, I was also a repair technician. And I was good at what I did. Until the shift to Android/Apple user, I managed the top performing service center and top performing store in upgrade sales for my region. I was the second to last manager left go before all the stores closed a year later. I was top in my field because I knew the importance of showing others how to use their phones and how I could help them make the most of their phones and plans.

 

It hurt when I was left go. Not only because it was 2011 and the job market was bleak for someone with my qualifications, but because I had built and maintained relationships with small, local business owners for over six years. I looked forward to seeing certain characters coming through my doors because I knew there was going to be a story and it would always be great. All the while, I would be someone that they could come in and talk to, not only about their phones, but their businesses and lives. I learned a lot from them and to be suddenly taken away from all that hurt a lot.

 

Grieving the loss of these relationships was incredibly difficult, and through this, I took a rather convoluted journey of experience that has lead to just such a wealth of knowledge into the intricacies of running, maintaining, and working in a small business and non-profit areas that is both extensive and often shocking even to those who know me well. Through this process, I grieved not only the loss of that particular position, but other positions as well as several of the small businesses I worked with, closed, or moved out of the area. One of which, I started a month after opening and stayed on until the very last shift. I still consider those that I worked with there family, because that’s what we had.

 

I tell you this because I want you to know where I’m coming from. I want you to know that I’ve been there, and when I started Symbiotic Marketing, I did so with eyes wide open and created it to be a voice for the voiceless. To stand up with the small business owner and show others the power we have in our local communities. And in that, we need to break down some of these barriers that has lead to our ignorance of just how powerful we, as individuals and business owners can be in the digital space. Because right there, is some POWERFUL SHIT.

 

That’s the feel-good shit that keeps you up at night in all the right ways.

 

That’s the GODDAMN I LOVE WHAT I DO moment.

 

That’s the THIS RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW moment.

 

Because dammit, after what we’ve all been through, don’t we deserve MORE of these moments? And the freaking time to ENJOY and celebrate these moments?

 

I’m all in. But here’s the thing, this is going to take some time. So, over the next few months, you can expect to see and hear a new voice from Symbiotic Marketing that reflects not only my own personal experiences and knowledge, but also the expertise of Isaac Gudgeon whose innate understanding of marketing and visual story telling is simply incredible. While I am realigning with my strengths, Isaac will be showcasing his with not only the digital aspects but also the print aspects that need to be addressed for Symbiotic Marketing as well as our current client load.

 

With that in mind, starting today, you can expect a weekly blog that is written to help you break down this digital divide that has left us ignorant and feeling used, abused, and unheard – because all that is BULLSHIT. And we don’t need that shit where we communicate. It distracts and takes away from all the good shit out there.

 

I’m telling you this, because sometimes what I have to say is going to piss you off. I’m going to touch a nerve and I want you to know that is a part of the grieving process. That is a place that has yet to heal. Treat it as a broken bone, only you know when it’s time to work through the pain. Seek help if you need it, you wouldn’t walk around with a broken leg, please don’t do it with your emotions. That shit builds up in the body and comes out in all sorts of unhealthy ways, and frequently in ways most would not expect.

 

In my last social media post, I shared an old meme – What has been seen cannot be unseen. This is my goal for the blog going forward. It is meant to make you think about how we relate to digital in the world around us. It’s proven to be some powerful-ass-shit, so what would it mean if we could take back some control over what we see and how we see it? What would it look like to have a social media feed that complements your real life and another that complements your professional life? What would it look like to be able to use digital media as an extension to real life rather than an intrusion?

 

Think on that a bit. And know that we are working on addressing our own marketing issues, but like anything of value, it takes time. I’m going big or going home, and I work from home. Let’s do this thing.

WE’RE BACK! And Accepting New Clients!

WE’RE BACK! And Accepting New Clients!

It has been 10 weeks since I’ve sat down to write a blog, and it’s crazy to think that much time has passed! I have had the pleasure of speaking with so many individuals, organizations, and businesses through the COVID-19 season, keeping up with the weekly writing simply became too much for my plate.

With this, I cannot express how grateful I am to have been granted this opportunity to speak to so many people in such a short period of time. I hope that the insight and direction I was able to provide brought clarity to your questions and helped you brave through the storm.

This has been an incredible time for growth for every individual I have spoken with. But with that, I heard time and time again of the entrepreneur’s struggle with Facebook. What’s more, is that most entrepreneurs feel that they are alone in this struggle between personal profiles and business pages. Let me shout this from the roof tops: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

I have heard this from every single type of business owner you can imagine, from marketing individuals (yes, us!) to store owners who operate successful business pages. The disconnect is incredible and what’s more, it is having significant effects on our mental health.

Who hasn’t taken a break from Facebook?

This year, this has been compounded by a multitude of factors, but one fact remains. Facebook is where people go for local information. New groups and pages sprung up between February and April with a wealth of activity and engagement. These pages are continuing to reach significant numbers in the local area.

This information is then being shared from these pages to individual profiles. The spread is real, and individual voices are carrying farther than ever before. Yet, I am seeing on my newsfeed that business owners are struggling with how to manage it all. Scheduling tools help with business profiles, but we all have our own personal pages too. It’s a lot, and I’m seeing more and more business owners going dark on Facebook.

I get it. The negativity is overwhelming. The comments and conversations can flow and grow without us even realizing it. We need to get away for a bit. And that’s okay! But entrepreneurs cannot and should not be completely silent on Facebook. Think of your profile as a networking opportunity, it is your spotlight to show how great you are in every single area of your life.

You should get something from your time spent online!

That is why, starting today, Symbiotic Marketing is not only officially accepting new clients, but also offering a new service to help you find your voice on Facebook, Facebook Coaching for Entrepreneurs. This service is geared for the professional in each and every one of us rather than our businesses. While each session is custom tailored to your specific needs and goals, you can expect the following areas to be discussed:

  • How to build your brand without losing your identity
  • How to best use your algorithm for maximize social capital potential
  • How best to confront negativity on your newsfeed
  • What to say on your profile and remain professional
  • Ways to increase your social capital with Groups
  • When to transition your profile to a page
  • Creating personal goals for engagement
  • Finding an identity on Facebook and why you should have one
  • How to find who you are speaking to when you post
  • Effectively using your audience for increased social wealth
  • Speaking to your target audience from your profile
  • And more!

We are very excited about where we are going as a company in 2020, as this is only the beginning of some really cool things coming to Symbiotic Marketing. We’ve spent the last three years showing you what we can do, now we are ready to begin to teach you our ways. One thing is clear, no matter what business you own, the entrepreneur must put themselves first.

Your business may be amazing and do wonderful things, but where would it be without you?

Ladies and gentlemen, we MUST put ourselves first to be able to do the things we love. It was not an easy decision for me to take a break from writing. I love to write and I love to communicate with you! But I have to put my own needs first.

In February, I told a group of women that when the airbags are deployed, we have to put ours on first to be able to help others. I had no idea how true those words would ring in my ears just a few short weeks later. Yes, I shut down paid operations for you, because I could not bring myself to charge for services during the crisis we were facing.

But during that time, I learned a great deal about myself. I found that I have to take care of myself first to be able to care for you. I went dark on Facebook but not because I needed to get away from negativity, but because I was working.

Working on me, working on finding myself and my joy.

While little was shown publicly, those that I worked with have worked hard but the results have been incredible. Individuals have been able to show themselves as leaders in our community simply by posting on Facebook.  As entrepreneurs, we cannot be silent any longer. The winds of change have come.

You should know the percentage of your friends list you are speaking to when you post. You should know your personal reach and engagement figures. You should know who you are speaking to and who you are not. You should be comfortable using your own Facebook. The choice is yours.

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Speaking to Your Audience During COVID-19

I struggled on what to write this week. If I should write this week, and if I did, what would I write about? Because I’m sure, like you, my mind has been thinking about all of the things. But in opening Symbiotic Marketing up as a resource to all businesses and all individuals during this time has been a blessing to me. While many are struggling to find their footing and are looking to the only platform we have now – digital – and this is something Symbiotic Marketing was built on and uses daily. I’m saying we are blessed because we have the background and we have the knowledge, but by opening up our services to everyone, I have been able to continue doing what I love and that gives me great peace.

So, with that being said, this week’s blog is going to be focused on speaking to your audience right now on digital platforms, specifically your website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. I will touch on some things and give you some ideas of what you can do. If you need help, reach out. Because while we are all scrambling, we can also pull our resources together and help each other out. I am going to try to be concise and to the point, but as we all know, that may or may not happen. If you need clarity, please ask because your audience is acting very differently right now and needs to be treated differently.

Restrict All Sales Speak

It may be tempting to drive traffic to your digital outlets when talking to your audience online right now – that’s what they were put in place for! But here’s the thing. Like you, many people aren’t working right now and don’t know when they can expect to return to work. For anyone living paycheck to paycheck, this is an incredibly trying time and the stimulus cannot come fast enough.

While some may be “lucky,” my family included in this lot, to have someone who is considered essential and life sustaining and with this pandemic.  Our finances are more secure, but at what cost? Our family members are out working every day with people who may or may not have this illness and may or may not bring it home.

And the overarching fear that we all have, no one knows how long this is going to last or what toll this is going to take on our health care system. The stories are scary. Trying to remain informed is scary. We aren’t sure who or what we can trust right now. Our very sense of security has been shaken. This is why toilet paper and food are being rationed. And this is why any attempt at sales will fall flat right now.

Drop The Pretenses

The fear is too great right now. Too consuming. In addition to this, many are feeling frustrated. Frustrated because they can’t work or because they must work. Frustrated by the closed stores and lack of supplies. Frustrated because we just don’t know. We need a sense of order for our society to function properly and that has clearly been upset.

We need something we can control to bring back a sense of normalcy. And right now, there’s just a whole lot that is out of our control. As business owners, we always have something that we can be doing. But individuals, they may not have that luxury (if you want to call it that). As a small business owner, you have resources available that you use to operate your business. Think about how you can transition what you do into how you can help someone. And this does not mean instructional how-to things, you also can help someone emotionally by bringing a sense of togetherness and community.  Think outside of the box. Again, if you need help, reach out.

With this, you need to drop the pretenses that everything is okay. Because it’s not. Whatever your personal thoughts on this matter may be, empty shelves at the grocery store say otherwise. It’s okay to talk about COVID-19 because it is relevant. It is on people’s minds. But your page is not the place to spread the fear and frustration. Focus on positivity, long-term vision, and helpful information. Now is the time to build your brand and you will have to let down some pretenses to do it.

Speaking to Your Audience During COVID-19

Website

It is imperative that your website be clean and easy to use right now. It must drive any traffic you have coming in, to their purpose for being there. While it is a personal choice to make any adjustments to your website in light of COVID-19, know that if they are coming, there is a reason for it and clear direction is necessary.

As this is an ever-changing event, it is your socials that will be of key importance. Take the time now to make any adjustments you want to your website, but the main focus should be on reaching your audience where they are right now, and that is all over social media. Currently, audiences are making adjustments on all of the platforms but their main intention, their main source of use, has remained the same. With that, let’s dig deeper into social media.

Facebook

Facebook has traditionally been “all the things” about life, literally, ALL THE THINGS. But it has maintained its focus on connecting people, getting to know one another, and communicating. While some have already used the platform to bring people together for a common good – look at all the new groups forming and informative pages. You must take the time to evaluate and reach your audience on this platform now if you are on it.

This can be done many ways based on your specific business and your options are really limitless. Status updates, shares, photos, videos, Facebook live videos, YouTube videos, Zoom meetings shared to Facebook Live. In these, everyone knows that most people are working from home right now and with that comes certain, shall we say, unexpected complications?

Everyone I have had a video chat with this week has had the opportunity to meet Sir Barnabas AKA “Barney,” my pug poodle mix. And it’s okay! Because that is life right now. A few weeks ago, this would have really bothered me but now, we’re all in this boat together. It’s okay. And know that while everyone is getting a sneak peek into what it’s like in your home, you are getting a sneak peek into what it’s like in their homes too. No one has their shit together. Drop the pretense and embrace the chaos.

Instagram

Like Facebook, Instagram is dropping some of the pretenses. Things do not need to be as polished, but it does need to remain positive and informative. Everyone is struggling right now so anything upbeat, helpful, and true insight on what you are doing to help yourself are all things being discussed on this platform.

How this transitions into what you can discuss on Instagram about your business, is just that – helpful, positive, and let people in. We are social creatures and need socialization to survive. This is where you can dig more into your why, what you do in your business, and why you do it and go personal. This is the time you can make a really deep connection with your audience.

Twitter

Twitter has remained news and opinion focused. If you use this platform, try to stay news focused, informative, up to date, and pay close attention to trending hashtags and how they may be used to support your brand. This platform may be very time-consuming right now and can easily start to affect your mental health. Be careful of the amount of time spent on this and any other platform. If you are starting to feel tired, negative, irritable, frustrated, hopeless, angry, or any other negative emotion, it’s time to hop off and do something less stressful. Bake some cookies, Netflix and chill, anything that can give you a sense of peace.

LinkedIn

Rather predictably, as businesses nationwide started to close and transition over to virtual platforms, LinkedIn’s audience behavior took quite a hit. Thankfully, with the small business loans and grants that are being offered, this audience is finding their feet again. Again, helpful and informative are what this audience is looking for. We’ve had a lot of shit thrown at us in a short period of time, so make it easily digestible.

Just Be Real

While this is a broad overview, the sentiment remains the same. We’re all in this together and no one knows what to expect. This is a time when the full power of what social media is and what it can do for us as individuals and us as business owners can be realized. The way we work may very likely be forever changed from this. At Symbiotic Marketing, we were already set up to be primarily virtual, we were set up to work from our homes remotely and we have resources we use to make this work for us. But many of you are struggling because you do not have this in place. Let us help you.

Our proverbial masks are being taken down. There’s no where to hide. And why would you? You are a business owner. You are born to stand out. You are born to make a difference. You’ve got this. Throw your cape over your shoulder and just be real. That’s all anyone is looking for right now.

What, How, When? Social media etiquette explained

If I have learned anything in life, it is that at times, it is going to be hard. Some of the most beneficial lessons we can learn come from a hard place and sometimes, it’s that hard pill that we need to swallow. And, this may be a hard pill for some to swallow. But it needs to be said. Ladies and gentlemen, I need to discuss social media etiquette.

I get it. It’s hard knowing how to get people to look, actually LOOK at what you are doing. Knowing that you have less than a second to capture someone’s attention is beyond daunting! Add in trying to increase your page following, because more must certainly be better, and it’s easy to become so frustrated and overwhelmed you aren’t sure what to do. And that’s just your business page.

As a business owner, you inherently will have two accounts on Facebook and potentially two on LinkedIn. What to post, where to post, and how to share are all important because they affect your brand awareness. Likewise, who you are friends with and who you follow on your personal page affects your brand. Whether we like it or not, as the owner of the business, we are the face of the business. How you interact with those you follow, and how they interact with you says a lot about you and how you run your business. With that, let’s get into those hard truths.

1. For the love of all that is holy, leave dirty laundry offline.

This may seem like a given, but dirty laundry presents itself, even when we do our best to filter it. This may be someone shooting off on your page, responding to a comment in an ugly way, or even a negative review.

If it is something directly related to your business, respond in a respectful way (even though you may feel very differently) and offer to take the complaint offline. Period. “I am sorry you have experienced this. I will call you to discuss how we may be able to resolve this issue.” Keep it respectful and professional and most importantly, take it offline.

If it is related to you personally, you should remain respectful in your response but take the conversation to a more private space if necessary. Something as simple as responding, “I’ll PM you,” lets those who can see that conversation know that you have boundaries of what you will accept publicly and what you will not.

We all have that one relative who just won’t stop. Redirect to a more private area and save some face. Know that no matter what, some dirty laundry is going to come out at some point. How you handle it matters because nothing just “goes away” in digital.

This is not to say that you should not have opinions and show them online but keep it in check and don’t go overboard. When you start to feel emotions coming up, get offline, regroup and then come back to address it. When you are frustrated and angry, the socials are not the place to be until you can respond in a logical manner.

2. Be aware of who you are friends with and who you follow.

This is such an easy one to fall into. The more people on your personal page, will transfer to more people on your business page, right? Not necessarily. And, it may actually hurt your brand. Here’s the hard truth, people create fake accounts to snoop. We all know someone who has done it or have heard of someone who has done it. But it is more than that, especially this year.

There are things called “bots.” These are NOT people but look like people online. They often have posts shared to their newfeeds and are tagged in the posts. They rarely post themselves, and when they do, it is primarily directed toward an overall theme. If someone looks highly stereotypical in the type of posts shared to them or they themselves share and do not post anything personal – no status update, it is most likely a bot.

We are going to see an increase of bots this year because it is an election year. These are “individuals” who post highly politicized posts and posts associated with those values. The issue with these is twofold. First, by friending a bot, allows it to work like a virus and send requests to all your friends. Others will be more likely to accept it because you have, so it must be legit, but it isn’t. This discredits your integrity. Bots happen on business pages. They shouldn’t happen to personal pages.

Secondly, who you interact with says a lot about you. While you should have a diverse list of friends, it should be reflective of who you are personally. In accepting a request from a bot opens you up to more bots sending requests. This is why people make Facebook sweeps and clean their friends lists. They want to see from the people they care about (this comes back to the algorithm) and if you are someone who falls victim to bots frequently (we can see who our “mutual” friends are…) you may become unfollowed and you would not know.

A good rule of thumb to follow, if you think you may have received a request from a bot, do not accept it right away. Look at their newsfeed and something seems “off” let it sit for a few days. It won’t go away, but it will give you time to think about whether or not accepting this request will be beneficial for you. Come back to it later and if it still doesn’t seem right, it’s probably because it isn’t a person.

3. Be careful with emojis.

Oh, emojis. Aren’t they fun…? Here’s the thing. Emojis are meant to enhance and complement text. They are meant to show the emotion behind the words typed. This is an issue that many of us have faced. How to transfer tone and emotion through text alone is difficult, because while we (the one who is typing) is trying to be effective in communication, emotions don’t always transfer through. What’s worse, is the reader (the person who is responding) to what was written, may respond in a very different manner than what was expected.

I am sure I am not the only one who has written an email that I thought was very clear and concise and to the point, to have it received differently than I expected. We first tried to combat this with self-created emojis – colon, dash, closed parenthesis for a smiley face or carrot, 3 for a heart. But this has transformed over the years into the emojis we know today.

Now we have hundreds of emojis to choose from. Literally, anything and everything we can think of, including poo. Even more so, we at times, choose to not respond with any text, but rather just an emoji to show our emotion. This completely acceptable depending on the situation. Other times, we intermix emojis with our text, and that is acceptable as well, but only in small doses. This is important, because when we are online, we are looking to read what has been written. This is the expectation.

When you mix emojis throughout your text, or use them incorrectly, it not only makes what you are saying difficult to read and more likely to be dismissed, it also reeks of dirty sales. This is a ploy that has been used by many multi-level marketers (MLM) to help sell their products. If you are an MLM and don’t mind being associated as such, go for it. Just be aware that your posts are difficult to read and may not be read. If you are not, you should stop NOW.

The issue with this, is that by presenting yourself as an MLM through your use of emojis, you are presenting yourself and your business that you are not professional and that you may not be in it for the long haul. Let’s be honest, we have all met someone who has joined the MLM bandwagon, sold the product for a bit, and moved onto another. This is not saying that all MLMs are bad, because they aren’t. But the expectation has been set, lots of emojis throughout a lot of text sends a message that you may not want.

This is what too many emojis reads like.

4. Business should start with business and transfer to personal.

This one also seems to be a given, but it’s so easy to share from your personal to your business page – what can be the harm? This comes down to a fundamental issue. You are the face of your business, but your business needs to stand on its own. You are more than just your business and that’s how people know you. The goal of branding is that people know your business first, that is your brand awareness, and you secondly. The brand you build is the business you will have.

This is incredibly important. If you do not focus on your brand, you will be perceived as mixing business with pleasure. That is not to say that you cannot find pleasure in your business, hell, you should! Why else would you be doing it? But with that, you should start with your business first, and then share to personal. With this, you should also be speaking to two very distinct audiences and using two distinct voices, your professional voice and your personal voice.

What I mean is this, every week, I publish this blog and share it to my socials. I start with the business pages first, because I am building on that brand. I want all the work I have put into building the brand to be associated with it. I also write to the specific page audience in a professional tone. Then I share it to my personal page, using a personal tone.

Additionally, if you are sharing information about your business to other pages (such as groups), see if you can join the group from your business page. Some, not all, allow users to be able to do this. Not only does it continue to build on your brand and brand awareness – because you will be again addressing the audience in a professional tone, but you will also be free of spamming your friends and followers. Here’s the hard truth, if you only share from your personal page to these groups, any friends who are also members of the same group you shared to, see that you posted to that page. Now, consider how many groups there are devoted to things happening in the area and how many of your friends may be following those pages as well. It adds up quickly. And if your friends and followers see you are personally posting about your business to these other pages, especially in rapid succession, it looks like spam.

 

5. Posting, Commenting, Sharing

Professional Voice on Personal Page

While it may be tempting to share every post from your business page to your personal page and simply adjust your tone for the audience, you want to be careful of overwhelming your friends. The truth of the matter is that you are a different person in the eyes of different people. Yes, you are a business owner and that is a large part of your life. But you are also a friend, a colleague, a family member and these are your friends and followers on your socials. They follow you because they want to see all of your aspects. Not just one. No one likes to go to dinner with someone who only talks about one subject, and that what social media is, a place to catch up and connect with loved ones. Don’t be that person.

Remember, you are speaking to two very different audiences on your business page and your personal page. What you post on your business page should be specific to building your brand and increasing your brand awareness. It needs to be different from what you share on your personal page because again, you are building a brand that should stand on its own. Let me say this again – The brand you build is the business you will have.

With this, share highlights of your business page to your personal page. Treat them as you would sprinkles. Sprinkles are great on any sweet treat, but you wouldn’t want them in your salad or on your burger. So, be picky and choosing what you share to your personal page from your business. By sharing the exciting stuff, people will be more likely to see what you have going on. Use this to drive them to your page if they aren’t already there. And if they are, then they are working for you every time they engage with your post.

Here’s the truth, every time one of your friends likes, comments, shares your post that you shared from your business page, it widens the overall reach of your initial post. This is how friends and family support your business online whether they are aware of it or not. Increasing your reach organically in this way increases the likelihood of an increase in your page audience and more importantly, a quality increase in this audience.

These are individuals who are interested in what you are doing, the more you can direct them to your business page, with highlights of what you have, the more likely they will be to interact with your page going forward. You want them there, give them a reason to go there.

Professional Voice on Business Page

As a business page, you can follow other businesses as your page. By following other businesses as your page, you are building on your brand awareness through their brand awareness. No small business owner succeeds in isolation. There’s a reason why we have our own community and this needs to be reflected online as well as in person.

Liking a page as your page and then sharing highlights from their page, not only shows that you care about your community, but also increases your overall page reach. Sharing events is an excellent way of increasing your page reach because they inherently can increase engagement through more options.

One may like, comment, or share but also mark interested or going, all of which are engagement and are weighted differently within the algorithm. Remember, these are the figures you want. Sprinkle in other’s stories within your own and your page will begin to show the diversity your personal page should already have and from this, begin to stand on its own.

In addition to this, you will want to post specifics about your own business. That is the point of having the page to begin with! In posting about your business, you will want to be sure that you are posting frequently enough that you are not overwhelming your audience with what you have to offer. Having specials, events, and sales are great, but be sure you do not undercut your brand to be able to do so. Your business encompasses more than sales, share about what you do but also why you do it. Give helpful tips that you have learned. Discuss topics that would interest your visitors and they will likely come back for more.

Personal Voice on Personal Page

This is where things can get sticky for many, especially right now. Not only are we in an election year, when tensions rise, but we are also facing a global health concern. Tensions are high and emotions are all over the place. Every SINGLE one of us has an opinion and right now, it’s hard to keep that opinion to ourselves because these topics are forefront on everyone’s minds.

Here’s the hard pill to swallow. If you choose to discuss these topics, do so knowing going in that you are setting up for a debate. You will need to be prepared because if you do this, you need to be firm in your stance yet open for discussion. You need to be ready to admit when you are wrong, because that may happen. You will also want to be aware of trolls because you will be opening yourself up to them. Let me be quite firm, DO NOT ENGAGE WITH TROLLS. YOU WILL NOT WIN.

Your safest bet is to take a middle ground or keep your opinion to yourself. Because in addition to this, you need to pay attention. People will be ready for an argument and sometimes, some rather unexpected results may happen. Try to put out fires when they are small and respond to each comment individually if possible. Fires spread quickly when emotions are high, and a small fire now can lead to pretty significant repercussions down the road.

These topics aside, what should you post on your personal page? Everything you feel you would want to share on your personal page, just be aware that portions will be reflected on your business. This returns to how you present your business in a positive light, if your business page is on point but your personal page says there’s something wrong, there’s something wrong.

Here’s the thing, we all have those not so great moments in life. And some need to be shared, but not all. Personally, since starting this business, I have seen a great deal of loss in my personal life, which I have shared in some capacity on my personal socials. I did this because this information needed to be shared. But not all information needs to be shared. Often, during these periods of loss, I was struggling with other stressors, both personal and business related. This information was not shared, because it was not necessary.

Friends and family will respect that you are going through a lot but do not need to know everything on your plate. Although your emotions may be all over the place, it does not need to show publicly. In these times of difficulty, it may be best to take some time off from digital. People will understand and accept that you may need to “go dark” for a bit to regroup.

Or, you may choose to regroup publicly, and find posts that speak to you in a positive way. You may see on my Facebook page, that during some of the times of loss, I posted a lot of motivational and uplifting memes and posts. These were as much for me as they were for my friends and family. There isn’t a one size fits all option, but both are acceptable. Just be aware that if you go dark, you will want to put a time limit on it because people will want to know you are okay.

Outside of this, post anything that speaks to you on a personal level. Share photos from your life, tag your friends and family, share status updates about what you are doing, share other’s posts that are meaningful to you. Tell people about you, who you are and what interests you. If they like you, they’ll want to know more about you and how they can support you.

 

For more small business marketing insight, check out our previous blogs and come back next week when I will discuss what we mean by brand awareness and how to use it effectively in your business no matter how small you are.

 

Presentation is EVERYTHING (Part 3): Building A Sense Of Community

Oh, the struggles of understanding digital media, especially social media. There are so many things to learn and terms that seem to intertwine with other terms, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin, let alone how! And yet, you know you need to use it and it adds to the frustrations you already have, some of which were discussed in the first two blogs in this series: Presentation is Everything and It’s All About Convenience.  So, let’s start simple and build on what we already know.

Where to Begin?

To know where to begin, you need to first know which platforms you should use to reach your people, your target audience. Knowing who and where they are will help narrow down the platforms you need to think about. While we advocate that every business owner should be on Facebook (research shows that about 7 in 10 U.S. Adults use Facebook), there are other platforms that can be just as powerful, if not more so when used correctly. But do you need to use them? That depends on whether or not your people are there.

With Instagram and YouTube showing great success, especially for influencers, these platforms seem to be an easy way to find easy money, if only we knew how to do it…and then there’s all the others, Snap Chat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter – it’s a lot to consider. But is that where your people are? Instagram and Snap Chat are popular in younger age groups, 18-24 and Twitter users also, tend to be younger, and have higher education and incomes. So, if your business gears toward older adults, you need not consider these platforms.

If your target audience includes a younger demographic, then you need to consider how you will speak to that audience because each platform has a different means of communicating with others and needs to be respected. Not only will you present your business in a poor light with your inexperience with the platform, but you will also feel all of the frustration from the time spent for little return.

Speaking to The Audience: Facebook

To understand how to effectively communicate with people on these platforms, we need to know how they work. Let’s start with the big one, Facebook. People use this platform more than any other to keep in touch with friends and family and be in the know locally. It is highly centered around the idea of digital communities. Photos, videos, memes, events, updates, and shares (both personal updates and friends) are all centered around creating a sense of community digitally. This is why you can tag individuals, places, and even check in at events.

Groups are becoming more and more popular on this platform as well, which again builds on this sense of community. Facebook speaks to all the aspects of life, from the not so great moments to celebrations, it’s all there and discussed openly and frequently within these communities. In speaking with this community, you will want to have a clear idea of both who you want to speak to and where they are located. Other than that, your options are fairly open, just be sure to follow the 80/20 Rule and focus on your brand first.

Speaking to The Audience: Instagram and Snap Chat

Instagram also has a sense of community. However, this platform is focused on visual components – photos and videos with supportive text. As visuals are the key component of this platform, “stories” are very effective. Stories are a compilation of visual information that support your brand. While this may sound a bit complex, in reality, it is quite easy.

Let’s say you have an event coming up or something you want to promote. Creating a story can help boost interest by sharing photos with text and emojis that show for a 24-hour period. In creating a story, you can build excitement, but you are also using a key factor in how this platform is used, you are engaging with your community.

Because the communities on this platform can be so diverse, hashtags are used to associate with other pages as well as other communities on that platform. Such as if you have a restaurant in downtown Chambersburg, you may use #chambersburgpa to reach others who may also be interested in that community. This helps build your brand recognition within that community and builds on your own brand awareness, all in the same locale. Remember, it’s not just who your people are, it’s also where they are.

As hashtags are used heavily on this platform, it is acceptable to use up to 30 different hashtags! That can be just a little overwhelming. Determining which hashtags to use that support your brand may take some time. It comes down to some good, old fashioned research. Search for different hashtags, and see what is posted to them, does it support your brand? If so, make note of it and use it for future posts. You can also see what hashtags other businesses like yours are using and use it for your own business.

To keep posts clean, you can put your top hashtags (those that relate most with your business) in the post itself (up to 10) and any additional in the comments. Lump them together in packages of 10. This keeps everything clean and is less overwhelming for the follower to decipher.

Instagram is known for being a bit perfection forward and positive. Things posted on this platform should be uplifting or showing at your best. Presentation matters here. With this, you will also want to be aware of who you are following. Who your business follows says as much, if not more, about your brand than what you post. So be sure who you follow on this platform also supports the brand you want to build.

Snap Chat also shows stories for a 24-hour period but is used in a very different way from Instagram. Snap Chat is much more of a slice of life, it’s moments during your day and often funny. Let your silly side show and share moments of your day. People on this platform are looking for real, not glossed over like Instagram.

This platform can also be used to promote events and specials, but you should use it for more than that to keep your audience engaged. Share moments in your day with photos and videos with supportive text, emojis, and stickers, or have some fun with it and use a snap filter to become a pretty princess, a puppy dog, or even a scary monster, the possibilities are really endless. Snap Chat offers a great deal of filters that you can add to your post including based on your location – where you took the picture. Again, like Instagram, this can help build your brand awareness within your community both physically and digitally.

Speaking to The Audience: Twitter

Twitter, like Instagram, also uses hashtags but in a very different way. Yes, they are still searchable, but on Twitter they “trend.” This means, those who are using that platform are discussing a particular topic. This platform is much less focused on community, although that aspect is still there. Rather it focuses on discussing something that is on people’s minds.

Twitter is very news-focused and because of this, the majority of tweets come from a small portion of the users. With this platform, you will want to address things that are current and keep your audience up to date. You will also want to be aware of who you follow, because like Instagram, this says a lot about your brand.

This platform is known for being clear and concise in messages. Previously, you were limited to 120 characters in a post, including hashtags. This has now been increased to 240 characters, but the expectation remains, you should say what you need to say.

Supportive photos and videos are used on this platform, but it is focused on text – what you are saying. Conversation is key on this platform and with that, you will need to “talk” to or “talk about” others to your followers. This can include a shout out to another business in your area for a job well done or posting an update about something someone else has going on that supports your brand.

While this sounds a bit muddy, it really isn’t. It all comes back to what we do. Business owners know other business owners. We’re the ones who are asked, “Do you know someone who…” because yes, we probably do, and we probably know several! So following businesses on your account, especially those that relate to your brand and support what you do, and either retweeting (sharing) their posts, or tagging them in a post not only helps build their brand but also your own. It also starts a conversation, which is what Twitter is all about.

Speaking to The Audience: LinkedIn

We should all know what LinkedIn is used for, it’s where the business people are! But how we communicate with business owners is very different from how we speak to the general public. Treat this platform much like you would a networking meeting with a lot of people you know.

Tell them about what you have going on in your business, share posts or links that relate to your business, and if you own a business, create a page for it. This solidifies yourself and your business on this platform, it gives validity to what you are doing. It shows you mean business. Post business specific topics on your business page and share these to your personal page.

In addition to this, you will also want to maintain the sense of community. LinkedIn recently added different reactions to posts, which helps build on the sense of community the other platforms use and it is becoming much less of a sales dumping ground. So, post things specific to you or your business, celebrate others’ successes, comment on their posts. It’s the little things that matter.

LinkedIn also recently started using hashtags, which as we know, has worked for other social media outlets as a means of searching for information and communities. While there is no limit on the number of hashtags you can use on LinkedIn, you want to be aware of the community you are speaking to. Business owners don’t have time to go around looking up hashtags to determine if it fits the brand and on LinkedIn. Nor do we want to see a lot of hashtags in a post. It looks spammy and we all know how spam filters work. Keep hashtags concise and no more than 5.

Speaking to Your Audience In A Positive Light

Now that you know who is where and how to start a conversation with them, you need to know a bit more about who you are specifically talking to so that you can present yourself and your business in a positive light. From here, it is quite simple. Each platform, including YouTube, offers insights on your specific audience. These are the people who currently like or follow your page. And you can know a lot about them by looking at your insights. You can see their age and location, both of which are key in speaking to them.

Think about this, we all have a variety of people in our lives, from young to old. But we speak to them very differently, even when we’re talking about the same thing. Sometimes it’s simplifying the language to something they would understand, but often, we do this because of our relationships with those around us. Generally speaking, we talk differently to those within our age group than we do other age groups. But more than that, different age groups have different frustrations.

The frustrations experienced by a 25-year-old man may be very different from that of a 40-year-old woman. Whereas one may be looking for options to finance a first home, the other may be looking to refinance a current mortgage. While one business can speak to both these individuals, how you speak to them should be reflected in who you are as a business and how you speak to that age group.

Let’s return to the restaurant. A restaurant can service one frustration felt by many different ages, hunger. Sometimes choices are made based on convenience, what’s quick and easy. But often, decisions on where to eat are a bit more. Something as simple as deciding where to eat can be downright difficult! But as you have found, being concise and clear in what you say, who you say it to, and how you say it, can make all the difference.

So, with this information, start with who you have. Look at your audience, who is already on your page. How old are they? Where are they? How would you speak to them in person? Sometimes it helps if you can think about a specific group of people you know personally, try to be as diverse as possible. Once you have that group, think about their frustrations and how you have a solution for one of their frustrations. Now post about it – sell that 4.99 foot-long! But also, be sure to understand the community you are speaking to. What are their expectations for your communication? Do they want text or visuals? Do they like hashtags or not so much?

In addition to this, you should also be aware of how close your current audience is to that of your target audience. If there’s a discrepancy, you will want to focus your branding on speaking to both audiences while speaking to each individual audience. Yes, you can sell a foot-long to a lot of people, billboards do just that but you will also want to speak to your current audience. Post something later in the week that will play on a frustration – too tired to cook, need something fast and easy because the kid has practice, haven’t gone grocery shopping – and use it to promote the deal on your foot-longs.

But it’s just a little more than that. Because you must be more than just that on social media. These are digital communities. And you need to be a part of that community, an active part of that community, to have it work for you and build your brand. To do this, you are going to have to give a little bit of yourself, tell a little bit more about what you do and why you do it. You’ll want to be aware of who you are speaking to and how they communicate. You will want to meet their expectations and when you do, that’s when things start happening. And that’s when it’s time to get excited, because it will start to reflect in all other areas of your business.

This, like everything else, takes time. And in that time, you still have a lot to do. Come back next week when I am going to finish this series by discussing how you can present your business in a positive light in your digital presence – we’re talking websites and SEO!

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