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Late last year, I shared my experience using the new Pages To Watch Function on Facebook, which was being rolled out to brand pages.
Some of its functionality has been enhanced in the last couple of weeks, so I thought it was time for an update.
New Location for Pages to Watch
The original location was above the page’s cover photo. You can still find it there, but if you go to your Insights page, then click on Overview and scroll down, you will see a larger version of the graph, with some additional features.
There are three new functions which have been added. They are useful if you are benchmarking your Facebook page against competitors or against similar organizations who aren’t direct competitors.
- You can see increase in growth of fans on the pages you are watching through the Total Page Likes Column and the New Page Likes Column, which is expressed as a percentage. Green is up; red is down.
- A new feature I like is the column which shows number of posts. For some of the smaller brands for which I track competition, I used to visit each of their pages individually and count how many posts they were doing per week, and then average it. This saves me a lot of time.
- A new column to track Engagement gives you an idea of how you are engaging with the fans on your page against your competition. You definitely want to be Brand #1 on this graph and NOT Brand #2.
There’s no doubt that Facebook will be trying to monetize this or work the data in some way to inspire you to purchase ads. So it’s anyone’s guess whether this feature evolves to be more or less useful.
BUT, if you are working with a client who is watching their competition in other facets of their marketing campaign, this graph does give you a snapshot of what’s happening. It is not in-depth by any means and it doesn’t give you any trends, but it can certainly spark discussions around your engagement level, your content strategy and channel integration.
Have you used this new chart? If so, I’d like to hear whether it’s useful to you and what features are most helpful.
Make it Easy for Brands to Find You
Are you a blogger with a story to tell? Do you think you might want to hear from brands who align with those stories? Then make it easy for us to find you.
You might think you’re “visible” because you have a Facebook page, Twitter channel and a Pinterest and Instagram account. But is that where you want to do business? Most brands want to reach out (at least in the beginning) in a more business-like fashion.
There are a few simple things that bloggers can do to be more discoverable to brands, to public relations people and to other bloggers.
My good friend and colleague Jennifer Hatton paused from a recent research project to post a “public service announcement,” which you can see below. She was reaching out in a bloggers group to which we both belong. There are more than 300 in the group – representing everything from diaper discussions and tourist destinations to marketing principles, home schooling and photography. We are bonded by the fact that we live in the same city. Some of us in the group are also communications pros who often connect with bloggers on behalf of a cause or brand. Jennifer is one of those “connectors.” And you can see by her post that she’s full of great ideas.
How to Help Brands Find Bloggers
- Have your actual real name on your blog.
- Better yet, have an “About” page with your real name and your preferred method of contact.
- Update your social channels to include links back to your blog or website
- Claim your Facebook page so your URL looks professional when copied.
- Provide a strong comment option on your blog; allow readers to leave name and URL as part of the commenting platform.
- When uploading photos to your media library, make sure to put titles and alt tags on all your photos, so when people share them on Pinterest, they are catalogued and linked to you.
- If you are researching bloggers in an area you don’t know, ask the bloggers you DO know, as you never know where their networks might reach.
The best tip from the group is worth a whole paragraph. And it came from Stacy.
Find Your Colleen
In San Antonio, we have an awesome resource in a very generous and giving blogger, Colleen McGinley Pence. She runs the San Antonio Mom Blogs which aggregates blogs from moms all over our region. At last count, she was indexing between 150 and 200 blogs and bloggers. She’s one of those people who thoughtfully and instinctively knows how to connect people online and in real life.
I have mined her site frequently to research and identify bloggers for outreach on behalf of several of my clients. If you’re really trying to discover and be discoverable, find that person in your industry, city or circle who will connect you to where you need to go.
Take a Moment and Make an Update
Take it from the bloggers who participated in our discussion yesterday—being discoverable is important for brands AND for bloggers.
Do you have a tip to help make great relationships with brands and bloggers?
Nearly everyone I know takes notes in some form or fashion. Most of us were programmed to do it as students, when we faithfully tried to hang on every word the teacher said in case it showed up on a test somewhere. If you want to make sure you are counseling your clients in their strategy, maybe a new note-taking strategy will get you there.
Research on Note-Taking
Educators call the first stage of note-taking a “regurgitate strategy,” If note-taking evolves to the next level, the person taking notes actually reformulates and interprets the information. In a Sept. 2005 edition of the WAC Journal, published by Colorado State University, Boch and Piolat found that note taking helps students to learn, but also helps them learn to write.
The authors also offer three benefits of note-taking. First, note taking aids in reflection, which allows the note-taker to synthesize the information. Second, it helps the note-taker remain attentive and finally, creates stronger connections to the material which is being noted.
“It contributes to the carrying out of a range of intellectual processes, such as making judgments, resolving issues, and making decisions. The taking of notes can aid time-consuming, real-time thought processes…” Boch and Piolat.
In Praise of A Notebook
I am a note-taker, but the veracity of my work varied greatly from day-to-day and project-to-project. Several years ago, I found myself with loose papers, scribbled ideas, and stacks of sticky notes of different sized and shapes all over my notebooks until Ann Quinn.
Ann is the Education Director for SeaWorld San Antonio and a devoted note-taker. She is a gifted teacher, but before she was a gifted teacher, she was (and still is!) a gifted student. Ann and I were in lots of meetings together and one day, I couldn’t recall part of a discussion from a meeting we’d been in and after consulting her notebook, she quickly and easily filled in the missing information. AND she made a copy of the page out of her notebook and dropped it off in my office. That’s when it hit me: Ann had a NOTEBOOK. One notebook, carried everywhere, with every meeting titled, dated and timed and all contents summarized. My approach to note-taking changed immediately because, I, too, adopted THE NOTEBOOK.
Note-Taking as a Strategy
In his piece on the Lost Art of Note-Taking, Michael Hyatt gives 5 good reasons for taking notes, including the fact that it provides “a mechanism for capturing ideas, insights and questions.”
Many of my Solo PR Pro colleagues are big on note-taking too, but using an actual notebook is not necessarily how they accomplish it. Many are using tools like Evernote and Notability or are making audio recordings of actual meetings from which to make notes.
Since adopting the “Ann Quinn Notebook Strategy” I find that whatever form my notes take, they give me a point from which to review my week. They assist me to follow up on to-dos and make assignments to team members. I can jot down ideas and concepts and the mere fact of writing it down, clarifies my work and my thinking. I can’t imagine life without my notebook.
Do you see a lot of relatively inactive pages and channels in social media? So many companies start with great enthusiasm, but before too long, they’ve abandoned their Facebook page or forgot their Twitter login or the person who set up the Instagram account has left and no one knows how to open it. A client once told me: “I just want to build it and then let it run by itself.”
The challenge is that these channels are organic and they change rapidly. To really use social media to engage customers, volunteers, fans or other key stakeholders, you have to be there – preferably with enthusiasm and a plan.
Chances are you have other marketing programs in development, some months or even a year in advance. Consider grouping your content related to those programs in batches to minimize your time commitment. This works for thinks like changes in hours of operation, events and activities that happen regularly around the holidays and cyclical events like your Spring Clearance or an Easter sale.
Be a Dart Monitor
Set an alarm on your phone or a meeting notice on your desktop or revise the notifications on the channels where you have the most traffic and “dart” in to monitor, respond to comments and resolve issues. This only works for small pages who are NOT doing their entire customer service outreach on social media channels. By doing this 2-3 times per day, monitoring becomes part of your daily practice.
Take the Analytics Tonic
There are a LOT of analytics that come with social channels. Set aside one hour each month to review the analytics, click through all the options and within 2-3 months, you will start to see trends and patterns emerge. It might even set you on the road to measuring the progress of your social channels.
Find a New Flame
Is it time to add another voice or different thinking into your channel? This is a sure way to breathe life into a stale FB page or static Pinterest account.
By creating content in batches, monitoring by “darting” into your channels, you won’t have to worry about “setting and forgetting” your social channels again. If you also take time with analytics and new voices, you might even see your channels grow.
What tools can you share for keeping your social media efforts fresh?
Five years ago today, I watched — along with millions of others — the news story unfold about the “Miracle on the Hudson.” Within hours, we knew what that phrase meant and learned a new name: Captain “Sully” Sullenberger.
It’s a miracle that the plane landed safely.
It’s a miracle that the Captain KNEW how to land the plane safely.
It’s a miracle that everyone walked away alive from that disaster.
These three facts alone are a good enough reason to celebrate five years later.
I will remember it for other reasons.
The reason I will remember this event is for validation. When this event happened, I was the communications director for SeaWorld San Antonio. We had embarked on an ambitious social media experiment which was not YET widely accepted. We were in the process of something crazy: launch a corporate blog, allow our employees to use Facebook and Twitter at work and take off the corporate gloves to allow certain, “highly trained” employees the ability to speak on our behalf. Like many companies in 2009, we were trying to figure out the “ifs” and “whens” of these new channels.
I showed that first photo from Twitter of the plane in the water and all the commuter boats rushing toward it, and I made huge predictions to the assembled team about how breaking news in the future will be shared on Twitter, Facebook and blogs.
Not that it was an original thought — many others were saying this, too, including Robert Scoble, Shel Israel and David Meerman Scott, among others.
I’m pretty sure only a small percentage believed me that day, but since the Miracle on the Hudson photos and story emerged from New York City in 2009, countless news stories have reached us first on social media channels, and second in traditional media channels.
Now, this story is part of my New Media curriculum in the Introduction to Mass Media class. The average age of the students is 19, so most of them don’t remember this event, much less its effect on mass media today. We take for granted that we will get breaking news on Twitter and Facebook, something we didn’t believe would happen just five years ago. But it did and we’ve got the photos to prove it.
Around the holidays, television viewers are treated to the full force of the personalities who, with great professionalism and familiarity, anchor our news shows – national and local. But something also happens around the holidays. Those same news shows have significant time to fill in slots with lower ratings and so the content – and how it’s delivered – changes significantly.
The fumbles and stumbles always make me smile because I know how hard it is to get everything right for live television. Those minor flubs remind us that it’s live television and that robots are not delivering the 6 p.m. news- yet.
What really makes me wince about this time of year is the seeming lack of preparation by some of the interview subjects. Where is their PR professional, helping them to prepare? Did you not run through the anticipated questions? Did you not discuss what the little light blinking above the studio camera means and where you should look when it does? Did you not discuss taming your hair, what shirt to wear, the need for shaving?
Even though our continuous onslaught of incoming media makes it feel spontaneous, there’s still a great deal of preparation which can and should be part of getting ready for every TV interview.
Here’s a couple of observations from my week of holiday television watching.
1. Finish your sentences.
I listened to a very long (6 minute) interview in which the man being interviewed about a new program for job hunters did not finish one sentence without stopping mid-sentence and starting another. About 2 minutes in, I left the room because I couldn’t connect the dots
2. Have a game plan.
Did you chat with the person who was going to interview you prior to the live portion of the interview? Of course you did. So instead of wasting time talking about the weather or a football game, use the time to get an idea of where he or she will start the interview. That way you have time to craft a semi-coherent answer to the first few questions, which will make you look so much smarter than that “deer in the headlights” look I saw the other morning. (PSST: those papers that the news anchor has in her hand – they are her QUESTIONS!).
3. Use Normal People Words
Sure, you’re familiar with the definition of ‘obsequious’ and can handle using the word ‘presumptuous’ in a sentence, but on television, it comes off as arrogant and disconnects you from your audience. Next time, use superior and arrogant instead.
4. Get Help!
This is what a public relations professional can do for you. It’s one of our finest skills. We can walk you through what the set looks like, who you will be speaking to, why you shouldn’t wear white and prepare you for how blindingly fast a three minute interview really is. We have strategies to keep you from being on the next blooper reel.
Three weeks ago, we were treated to an amazing opportunity to see –and hear — the Christmas at Belmont television taping which will air nationally on pbs stations throughout the country this week and next week. The event was held at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville and has been part of a partnership with Nashville public television for more than a decade.
If you’ve never been to a live television taping, they are great fun in many ways. There are many stops and starts to the flow of the performance for adjusting microphones and lights and the production team takes great pains to make sure every shot is just right. Even though it is “live,” numerous elements happen afterwards in what is called the “post” — the post production or editing phase of the final product.
The real reason we were there was to enjoy the contributions of our son, who is a music student at Belmont University, and was part of the event. But I got to thinking during one of the breaks about the powerful relationship between these two organizations – Nashville Public Television and Belmont University – and how rare it is to keep a program going and thrive in today’s business environment.
It’s unexpected for two organizations to come together for mutual benefit and create a product time and time again. It takes a lot of money. One hour television specials are not cheap. It takes a lot of passion. 700 music students, dozens of faculty, instruments, music and time to be performance-ready. But more than anything else, it takes really solid relationships.
This is the rare commodity in businesses today. It is easier to cast aside and find a new player or partner than it is to stick with and nurture the relationships you have. As PR professionals, we need to value and celebrate those relationships in our own organizations.
At this time of year, when we express our thanks to clients, partners and colleagues with cards and event gifts, it is equally important to take a moment and reflect on those relationships which advance our organization. The ones worth sticking around for ten years or more.
If you’ve stuck with me this long in the post, then you won’t mind some shameless self promotion in this call to action. Check your local PBS station to see when the latest production of Christmas at Belmont airs next week for the holiday season. Of course, I’d be happy to point out my son, but take a moment and think about what it took to put the production together. Then think about what you’ll do to advance your relationships in the coming year.
This is one of the most frequently asked questions by my clients. And one for which many seem to want a simple answer, like 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
A year ago, some social media consultants firmly stated that 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. was the ideal time to post on Facebook. Some even have specific posting rules, like this blog post which urges you to “post on the 9s” – 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
The real answer used to be far more complicated for small organizations who are managing Facebook pages without the benefit of scheduling and analysis tools, but now you can do it yourself and, if you take some time to test and analyze, can find out which posts get the best results when your fans are online.
This is easier now with one of the enhancements on your Facebook Insights for Company Pages. If you have a Company Page with 50 or more fans, you can see a chart like the one below by going to View Insights, then click on the Posts tab.
Example 1: New Fan Page
This chart shows a new page which has just reached 50 fans. It tells you which day of the week most of its fans are online and the second part of the graph shows the times which they are online. If you hover over a day of the week, you get an additional line of information which tells you the activity for that specific day. For this little page, the times of the week when most of the fans are online are:
Monday, 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Wednesday, noon and 3-6 p.m.
Friday, 3-6 p.m.
Example 2: Established Company Page
The second chart shows a larger page with more than 1,000 fans. For this page, the most number of fans are online during these days and times:
Wednesday, 4 – 9 p.m.
Friday, 3 – 9 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
These two pages have no “optimum posting times” in common. That’s why the Insights are so valuable. So if you are a doing your social media campaigns without benefit of fancy tools, try posting during those times and see if you are getting a better reach. To really test your theory, drop the stats for each post into a spreadsheet and you might even narrow it down further. But keep in mind that optimum posting times are not set in stone. The best day of the week or time of day can change from one month to the next. So what is the best time to post on YOUR Facebook page?
This week I read a new book called The Invisible Sale by Tom Martin, founder of Converse Digital and a longtime advertising agency professional. I first heard Tom speak earlier this year at the Solo PR Pro Summit in Atlanta, in which he talked about Painless Prospecting. That presentation became part of his new book. Despite its name, I highly recommend that PR Pros read this book.
What is the focus of The Invisible Sale?
This book focuses on using your website in a more meaningful way to empower the “self-educating buyer” with helpful information, in the form of blog posts, white papers and videos, to name a fe. Over time, The Invisible Sale advocates building a digital powerhouse to prospect and qualify leads and clients. Tom has figured out a system for doing all of this while running his own agency. He has used it for himself and for his clients.
I strongly believe it should be on the bookshelf of every public relations pro. It will change how you think about marketing your own business. It will change how you counsel your clients. Here’s why I liked this book.
Uniting Online Selling and Social Media
First of all, The Invisible Sale takes two disciplines within marketing — online selling and social media, and unites them into the useful compatible tools that they should be. When I work with clients to develop social strategies, they always want to know if their efforts are paying off. They want to know how this investment in time, money and resources will actually help their business. Far too many digital strategists will say “don’t ask questions, just get in the game.” Now, with Tom’s book, you have a blueprint for uniting and tracking these two disciplines together.
Telling, Not Selling
The second thing I liked about Tom’s book is he talks about helping instead of selling. This spirit of generosity –giving away what you know — is what attracted me to network in the digital world back when HARO was a daily email to a couple of hundred people and Twitter was where you could talk about issues, trends and new things. It is the main premise on which the Rackspace social media customer service team got its start under the leadership of Rob LeGesse. Now that there are millions more people “marketing” in the space, the spirit of generosity is often lost. Tom pulls us back there.
It’s STILL About Your Network
The third thing about Tom’s book which I found most valuable is that he emphasizes over and over again this very salient point: it’s about building a network. Tom doesn’t suggest that you abandon traditional methods of developing new clients (at least not right away!) and this is the key takeaway for public relations pros. Tom advocates developing volumes of content for current and potential future customers with each piece targeted to their needs.
Why PR Pros Should Understand this Book
Here’s the real opportunity for PR pros: we are perfectly positioned to develop this type of content. Many of us are the “writers” in an organization so turning the raw materials of our intellectual property into helpful materials is what we thrive on. If you are a solo PR Pro or part of an agency, you should be asking yourself: What have we done for our clients that WE or THEY could benefit from? And then get to work using Tom’s system to build your business.
Tom’s got the business track record to back up everything in his book: his Converse Digital firm has experienced double digit growth year over year during the worst recession of our time. Need I say more?
It’s that time of the year when families pack up everything they own and head out for the holidays.
Earlier today, AAA released their holiday travel forecast and the news is good: travel is down this year, so ONLY 43 million people are going to hit the road next week. Since you’ve been so busy cleaning off your desk before the trip, here’s a handy round up of key stories from around the internet, whether you are flying solo or it’s a total family affair.
Mom and former flight attendant Heather Poole has some great advice here about flying with your kids. I’ve always wondered about unprepared parents on planes, mostly because I always lived by the Girl Scout motto: Be Prepared. If you’re not yet, read 5 Tips for Flying with Kids before you go.
Another important source for information comes straight from the Transportation Security Administration. This post, from the TSAblog, has information for military travelers, a guide to what to bring and not bring onboard including very clear photographs plus contact center hours and details. Did you know the TSA has an app too? You will when you read their Travel Trips.
The Travel Channel has ten tips for surviving holiday travel, including some good information about days to travel and times of day to travel.
There may still be some time to save money on your holiday travel expenses. Check out what the smart people at Real Simple magazine have to say about that. My favorite is number three: don’t drive yourself to the airport.
If you’re a procrastinator, there are even tips for you from The Fiscal Times.
If you’re driving to your holiday celebration, AAA is always a great source for road safety.
If you’re one of those people who are concerned about road safety on particular days of the week and times of the year, take heart. This chart from safe motorist.com shows the worst days, months and times of day to drive.
Finally, here’s the word on the worst highways to drive all the time, which means they won’t be any better during the holidays.
Safe travels y’all.