Posts about Social Media

5 Content Marketing Tips for Start-ups

Entrepreneurs have a lot on their minds when doing a start-up.  Not only are they building a business, but because of being resource-challenged, they are also doing their own marketing a lot of the time.  Those who have marketing mentors will get some great advice on how to actually develop and execute marketing plans, strategies and tactics, but  for those that don’t have mentors just yet, here are 5 content marketing tips specifically for start-ups.

5 Content Marketing Tips for  Start-ups,

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1.  You are a Brand

If you haven’t had much of a personal brand before starting up a company, you will definitely have one now. And, depending on your business, you could be a real hot commodity for people.  This means that everything you do, there will be someone watching. With start-ups being super sexy right now, founders of start-ups are like the modern day rock stars. Everyone wants to say they knew you “when.”

This really is where the challenge/opportunity is. You can and will have influence. So, while you might not have thought about what you Tweeted, posted to Facebook, or shared in some forum previously, you now need to think about it. How does what you are doing/sharing reflect not just on your own brand, but your start-up brand? What will advisors think? What will potential investors think?

2.  Develop a Content Calendar

This is probably one of the big misses that many Content Marketers have.  Never forget to create a content calendar. Creating a calendar and mapping out what is happening will help you develop themes and key areas to focus your content marketing efforts.  Your calendar should also include what channels you will leverage, what paid media you will use and any influencers that you include.

Having a content calendar will really help you be focused and clear.

3.  Know Your Audience

If there is one constant I have for reminding people of how to do content marketing, it is to know your audience.  Exactly who are you targeting with your marketing? Where do they hang out? What language do they use? What information do “they” want. What information will help your audience? When you know this you need to tailor your language as well as where you share your content to meet audience expectations.

This also means writing for your start-up audience and not your personal audience. Going back to point #1, carefully consider what you create for blog posts for example. Remember you are not writing for your college dorm friends. You are now writing for your business audience. So, forget blogging about your past weekend adventures at the bars.

4.  Include a Call to Action

Great content is always helped with a call to action at the end of each post.  Be sure to always include one.

5.  Measure

Once you start publishing content, be sure to measure your results. What is working? What is not working?  Track your numbers and understand them. Measuring your progress will help guide you to make informed decisions about what is working well for you and your business, saving you time while also generating leads.

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US Airways and #myNYPD Demonstrate Need for Professional Community Management

Let’s face it, even with a decade of social media under our belts, there are still examples of social gone wrong.  Two of the latest examples are of course the absolutely terrible tweet from US Airways of a naked lady and the #myNYPD’s campaign, which was supposed generate some love going horribly wrong.  There are many examples, but these two latest examples really demonstrate why you need professional community management. US Airways and the #myNYPD Demonstrate Need for Professional Community Management,

A few years back, community management was all the rage.  Companies of all sizes were wanted community teams to manage their listening and engaging programs.  This of course became the style du jour when companies like Radian6 made it so much easier to not only aggregate all the conversations about your brand into one easy to reference location, but to also be able to respond (a.k.a engage) and workflow the conversations.  This was a phenomenal break through and made the whole process so much easier to do.  Unfortunately, many companies went overboard with their Community Teams, hiring far too many Community Managers, had too few metrics and too few hard core roles and responsibilities.  Before long, Community Teams were viewed by many as people just having fun and playing on social media.   That is neither the role nor goal of having a Community.  When done properly Community Teams save you money, protect your reputation and even find you leads.  Here are 4 things to help you deliver solid results (and create a team with purpose that can protect your brand):

1.  Identity Roles and Responsibilities

Community Managers need to have defined job descriptions with expectations made very clear.  This helps both the Community Manager and Management know and understand what is expected.

2.  Clearly Define Metrics

One area that I personally experienced was that many companies didn’t have any metrics set for their Community Teams.  When they were implemented, the buy-in and acceptance was difficult.  Teams felt that suddenly they had to perform and be robots.  This was not the case, but  the individuals didn’t like the expectations, that should have laid out clearly at the beginning.  Metrics can and do change over time, but you need to be measured and measuring your team.

3.  Training

This is an extremely important component.  We all assume that people have common sense and that they will or won’t do certain things. I am not sure of the behind the scenes scenario with US Airways and the individual that thought it was appropriate to ReTweet the photo of a naked woman, but either it was a case of a disgruntled employee, someone with zero common sense or someone who wanted to get fired.  Either way, you need to train your employees with the understanding of what your brand is, what your voice is, what is and is not appropriate.  In addition, you need to ensure that you have a clear escalation process in place to address rogue employees, errors in judgement and/or community members.  You need to act fast in these circumstances.

4.  Have a Playbook

A Playbook helps everyone understand exactly what they are doing and what they need to do while monitoring and engaging on behalf of your brand.  It also helps Management to have the confidence that there are proper processes in place.

For more information on Playbooks, feel free to contact me through TaylorMade Solutions.  We can help!

6 Tips to Protect Your Personal Data, Including Your Digital Exhaust

How much thought do you give to your personal information that you share on line?  With identity theft on the rise along with scammers of all sorts looking for ways to find our personal data weaknesses, we should be thinking about this a lot more than we do. We need to always be thinking about our personal data, including our digital exhaust.

6 Tips to Protect Your Personal Data, Including Your Digital Exhaust,

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There are many types of personal information that we leave behind, and it would seem that we do so willingly.  Sometimes we give up a significant amount of information just to get something for free.  Sometimes we put the information out there willingly not realizing what we are doing.  For example, I once had a coworker who not only put his birthday on LinkedIn, but he put his wedding anniversary and his home mailing address.  This is a lot of personal information given up completely voluntarily and is known as Digital Exhaust.  Digital exhaust is the information that we willing give out and leave behind when on line and downloading information, doing online purchases, playing games, adding details to our online profiles, etc.

At best, these little tidbits about our personal life tell people we know more about us.  Worse case scenario,  we have left behind so much information that we have basically given a full profile of who we are, where we live, what we do and what we like to do.  This is digital exhaust and many of us don’t even know that it exists.  In fact, there are many less than ethical people out there who will work to aggregate our digital exhaust and use it against us.  So, let’s get to the list:

1. Is Free Really Free?

Think about the offers that excite and intrigue you. Often times they offer something in return for you signing up for “something”.  But, like my mother always says, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  By filling out a form and/or downloading information, you are often asked for some personal details. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing.  Most reputable companies do this and they respect your data.  But, if you are asked for more than your title, telephone #, email, company name and information like this, think twice.  Ask yourself why they would need your birthdate for example?

2. You Want My Credit Card Why?

Ever get offered a free trial for something only to have them ask for your credit card info?  This is a personal preference, but anyone that  offers me something as a trial at no cost is NOT getting my credit card information.  If I choose to continue using the product/service, then and only then will I give that information.  Technology today is a wonderful thing and if they offer something for free for a month, they can easily cut me off at that point if I don’t pay.

3.  Birthdays, Anniversaries and Marital Status

Sure it is nice to get a Happy Birthday from someone, but why do you need to put this on your LinkedIn profile?  How many places is that “really” relevant.  At least on Facebook you can hide it.  For profiles like LinkedIn, and I love LinkedIn so don’t get me wrong, but you are already  willingly giving your workplace, the names of your schools, publications you have been in and much more.  Why in the world would you also give this additional information and make it public.

4.  Accepting Connection Requests

Certainly people want to build out their LinkedIn connections, but there is something to be said about quantity over quality.  Again, this is a case where you need to devise your own strategy to determine who you will connect with and who you won’t.  I recently wrote about LinkedIn becoming the next tool for spammers. I noticed that I was receiving a significant amount of connection requests from people that had no reason to connect with me.  With one google search, I realized my instincts were correct.  These requests were coming from people who were not being forthright with who they are.  I didn’t accept.  I have since learned that their accounts have been disabled. Good job LinkedIn!

5.  Public Profiles and Privacy Settings

Most social networks offer some level of privacy.  Always check and know your settings.  For example, to limit the exposure of my detailed information being used, my Public Profile for LinkedIn does not tell the entire story.  I chose what details would be public.  It is a great feature!

6.  Apps

You know the saying:  “there’s an app for that” and there probably is.  I would caution people on Facebook for example when playing games and using various apps.  While not all are like this, there are apps that require you to give up access to all your personal information, your connections, email and contact information, etc.  While you might choose to give up “your” personal information, your friends will appreciate you more if you don’t introduce them to risks!

These are just a few ways to help keep you safe while online.  In this case you are in the drivers’ seat and you can ultimately decide what you do and don’t release.  Anything that you would add to this list that I haven’t?

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11 Reasons to Celebrate LinkedIn’s 11 Years

First off, Happy Birthday LinkedIn!  As a Tween, you have a lot to be proud of!  So, let’s take a look at 11 Reasons to Celebrate LinkedIn’s 11 Years.11 Reasons to Celebrate LinkedIn's 11 Years TaylorMade Solutions

After starting out in Reid Hoffman’s living room in 2002 and officially launched on May 5th, 2003, the results are not too shabby.  Let’s take a look at the highlights:

  1. After one month, LinkedIn had a membership network of 4,500.
  2. LinkedIn operates the world’s largest online professional network on the with more than 300 million members.
  3. LinkedIn is used in over 200 countries and territories.
  4. 67% of LinkedIn members are located outside of the United States.
  5. Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second.
  6. The fast growing demographic is students with over 39 million (students and recent college graduate.
  7. LinkedIn is currently available in 22 languages:
      • English
      • Simplified Chinese
      • Czech
      • Danish
      • Dutch
      • French
      • German,
      • Indonesian
      • Italian
      • Japanese
      • Korean
      • Malay
      • Norwegian
      • Polish
      • Portuguese
      • Romanian
      • Russian
      • Spanish
      • Swedish,
      • Tagalog
      • Thai
      • Turkish

8.  LinkedIn has continued to evolve to offer products/services that professionals seek – for example a publishing forum for all users.

9.  If you include a photo with your profile, you are 11 times more likely to have your profile viewed.
Executives from ALL Fortune 500 Companies are on LinkedIn.

10. There are more than 1.5 million unique publishers actively using the LinkedIn Share button on their sites to send content into the LinkedIn platform.

11.  More than 3 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages.

With the increase in use and importance of LinkedIn for your personal brand, your corporate brand, have you thought about what your LinkedIn Profile looks like? If  you haven’t, you should and we can help.  For more information on LinkedIn Audits, contact us.

The Sunday Brief

Welcome to the Sunday Brief!  I have compiled a list of blog posts that I found particularly insightful and useful for clients and friends alike.  Sit down with a cup of coffee and check out this week’s Sunday Brief:The Sunday Brief

1. The Value of a Social Media Audit

My favourite post this week comes from Kathi Kruse, of Kruse Control Inc. She wrote about something very near and dear to me, the value of a social media audit.

I full heartedly agree that every company needs to do a social media audit from time-to-time.  In addition, don’t just have anyone do a social media audit, have someone who understands audience, personas, marketing and communications.  Remember, social media is not a strategy unto itself.  As a result, you need an auditor who knows and understand the bigger picture.

2.  Fight The Tyranny of Writing Authorities

There are so many books, blog posts and people willing to give advice these days.  And, of course I realize that I am one of them, so the irony of this is not lost on me.

However, that being said, I particularly enjoyed Jack Steiner’s  83,168 Mistakes Every Writer Makes.  It is a great read and tells you to listen and yet throw out advice at the same time.  The key take-away?  We are human and we need to have our human voice in what we write.  If we were to listen to every bit of writing advice, everything would be dull and boring crap written exactly the same way.  Love it!

3.  Times are Changing, are you?

Number three for me this week is sales-related.  Jill Konrath, always a good read, doles out interesting food for thought in My Boldest Sales Predictions – Ever.

Jill focuses on people learning agility.  I have to agree with her.  With our ever changing environment, those who are agile survive.  They are able to adapt more quickly and make the changes needed to be happy, productive and producing results.

These are just three of my top reads from this past week.  What would you add?

If you missed the posts I shared this week, you can view them here.

Social Media Measurement – Tips from the Experts

Despite social media being a part of our lexicon for more than a decade now, many organizations still struggle with incorporating social media because they just don’t know what to measure or how to measure the return on investment (ROI).  It doesn’t have to be complicated.  While at Radian6 I worked with many companies that were looking for the right measurements fortheir community teams, while also helping people understand just how you could measure the ROI of social.  There were a lot of great minds there and I am going to share with you some of the social media measurement that we used- tips from the experts.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Like any business there was a strong focus on measurement at Radian6, ROI and having the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The best place to start when looking to measure your social media ROI, is with your C-Suite.  It is essential to understand what is important to your executive.  Asking the right questions up front can save a lot of time and get buy-in immediately.  The following questions can get you started:

  1. What are the key concerns or issues of the Board of Directors?
  2. What KPIs are being used?
  3. How are you currently measuring Share of Voice and/or Share of Conversation?
  4. Where does reputation monitoring and management factor in?
  5. What resources do you have to monitor brand mentions and do brand engagement?

It is extremely important to remember that social media is not a strategy unto itself.  Rather, it is part of an overall strategy and must be thought about in the big picture context.  The questions above are intended to help you think this way. Focusing on social media alone is typically the reason that social media ROI has been not been definable and/or reached.  Thus some companies have become disenchanted with social thinking it does not provide results.  It bears repeating that social cannot be planned and/or considered in isolation.  The C-suite, Marketers and Strategists alike need to always be thinking about the big picture and the overall objectives of the organization.

Key Take Aways:

  1. Remember to focus on the big picture.
  2. Social media is not a strategy unto itself.
  3. Select measurements that are important to your Board of Directors and Executive.
  4. Don’t focus on Likes or size of networks only – see #1- 3 and repeat.

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Is LinkedIn the Next Tool for Super Spam?

Remember the email from a certain part of the world that offered us millions of dollars if we helped some widow or bank employee get unclaimed money out of the country?  Or, more recently how about those super annoying calls from people that claim to be calling from California because they somehow know that our computers are either not working properly or have been hacked?  Of course the best part of the call is that if we give them control of our computers they can fix it for us…ya, you know what I am talking about.  I found it ironic that some of these crafty souls moved from email to telephone, but now I fear that they have found a new medium: LinkedIn.  In fact, I can’t help but wonder if LinkedIn is the next tool for super spam.

I really hope not.  I love LinkedIn.  I think that it is a very well done social network for professionals.  It has been a very effective tool for networking and engaging with industry experts for me, as well as countless others.    Let’s hope that what I am noticing is just an anomaly, and that the spammers haven’t found a way to ruin it.  That being said, there are some ways that you can be on the look out for potential spammers; and some best practices that I adhere to, which will also help to deter spammers:

1. Make Strategic Connections – It’s Not A Numbers Game

LinkedIn next spam tool?

A sample of a request I received. This LinkedIn profile no longer exists. I would say that the spammers were shut down.

While some argue that you should connect with everyone who asks, I am not one who prescribes to this.  LinkedIn is an important networking tool and like in real-life, you don’t invite everyone into your private or semi-private life.  You want to build a relationship.

When I make connection requests, I do so carefully.  Equally as important is who I accept connection requests from. I don’t automatically press “accept”.  To the contrary!  I check out each person.  If I have met the person, that is one criteria for acceptance.  If I have not actually met the person, but I am in the same geographic region or industry, I will likely accept.  The probability is increased when we have mutual connections.

If however, I have never met the person, we are not in the same geographic location in the world, we are not in the same industry and we have no mutual connections, there is a very good chance that I won’t accept.

Key Take-Away:  Focusing on your industry and mutual connections is a great way to help get the spammers at bay.

2.  Play Investigator

If your goal is to increase your numbers, or if you don’t feel comfortable pressing the “ignore” button, do play investigator.  Take a look at the person connecting with you.  Does the avatar look real?  Or, does the quality seem a bit off. While this can’t be a guarantee that someone has set up a fake profile, potentially using someone else’s photograph, it is a symptom.  Google the person and the company that he or she claims to work for.  Can you find the company?  Better yet, can you find any reference for that person connected to the company?

What is the message that is being sent?  Is it one offering you a financial deal and/or benefit?  Like the phoney email sent offering you huge sums of money, this is yet another scam.

Is the person asking you to contact him or her via email to act upon this deal?  What is the email being used.  Is it a company email?  Is it a gmail? Is it a hotmail account?

Depending on how you answer these questions, you should also have a good indication about the validity of the request.

Key take-away:  don’t be afraid to check out the person requesting to connect.  After all, this is your professional network and you want quality connections – and no spam.

3. Take Your Time

Again, if you are not comfortable pressing ignore, but are suspect, wait a few days.  I recently got a request that not only offered me a financial deal, but the avatar was a bit wonky and I couldn’t find any reference to the company and/or the person when I did a search.  I did hit ignore and ultimately the spam feature, but kept the request for use in the blog post that I was going to do.  As I was writing this post, I thought that I would do one more check.  Sure enough, the profile is no longer available. Enough people saw the request for what it was and answered like I did.  The person or persons was shut down.

Key take-away:  being timely is important as it speaks to your personal brand; however, if you are uncertain about a particular request, waiting a day or two might result in action already occurring to fix the issue.

With a bit of due diligence we can keep the spammers at bay.

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Google+ Going…Going…Gone?

Late last week many Marketers were reminded that their profession is certainly not a science.  There is no one set of procedures or formula for us to follow. After all, we are dealing with human emotions and influencing behaviour.  While we know this, and with practice we become more skilled in our art over time, things still happen to that make us go “hmmm”.  With the announcement that Vic Gundotra, the father of Google+ was leaving the company, the chatter started on whether Google+ is going…going…gone?Google+..going..going..gone?

With all of the changes that Facebook has been making to its algorithm as of late, many Marketers were starting to re-evaluate how they could make better use of Google+. After all, the organic reach that for-profit organizations had enjoyed for years has been continually disappearing on Facebook.  In fact, Facebook wants us to advertise in order to reach our audience.  Even if fans, prospects or customers have “Liked” your page, there is no longer a guarantee that any of these people will actually see your special offers, updates, etc. without advertising.

So, based on all of this, Marketers were starting to look at Google+ through a whole new lens.  Depending on which study you follow or buy into, Google+ has a very respectable user base.  For example eBiz lists Google+ with having 120,000,000 unique monthly visitors.  That is nothing to scoff at. And, the numbers were actually growing.

Now, however we are left thinking and rethinking what to tell our clients and how to progress. It is uncertain whether or not Google+ will survive without Vic.  We will have to wait, watch and evaluate.  The story is not yet over.  I am sure that I will be writing about this very issue again.  Please stay tuned.

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How to Get More out of Twitter in 9 Easy Steps

How to Get More out of Twitter in 9 Easy Steps

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Risk Mitigation: The #1 Reason To Have A Workplace Social Media Policy

Social networking sites are everywhere, including the workplace. The number of problems I see each week with respect to issues arising from social media are astounding. They range from employee’s use of Facebook to  managers who recommend employees on LinkedIn  or reveal too much on Facebook. So, if you want to mitigate risk, this is the #1 reason to have a workplace social media policy. 

Clarence Bennett Social Media Policy

Clarence Bennett

There have been some other famous incidents of social media wreaking havoc in the workplace:

  • Greg Smith’s resignation from Goldman Sachs last month generated Twitter frenzy within minutes of Mr. Smith’s public electronic resignation post in the New York Times along with unproven allegations against Goldman Sachs.  Comments about Goldman Sachs continue to filter back to the Twitter hashtag #goldmansachs.
  • A part-time employee assigned to assist in cleaning up at the scene of a suicide in Ontario used his phone to immediately post photos of the deceased to his personal Facebook page with a caption identifying the workplace.
  • A New Brunswick teacher suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome after several former students posted false and defamatory content on Facebook.
  • A US IT staffing firm has sued one of its former employees alleging that she has violated the terms of a non-compete agreement through her conduct on LinkedIn by soliciting her former employer’s employees and clients and by communicating and connecting with a number of them by using the LinkedIn professional network.

In short, these are simply new variations of old workplace themes (i.e., defamation, violation of confidentiality, workplace bullying, harassment, non-competition and non-solicitation) but now with a global social media twist.  And then there’s that other issue of lost productivity and brand damage.  Employees may spend an excessive amount of work time on social networking sites and may also make derogatory comments about an employer, client or customer that can come back to bite.  If a business hasn’t already, it should revisit its existing policies to ensure that misuse is addressed accordingly and updated to include social media misuse.

Social networking impacts the workplace: 

social media policy and

Image courtesy of

  • People spend 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook;
  • More than 250 million people access Facebook through their mobile devices;
  • More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook;
  • 30 billion pieces of content is shared on Facebook each month;
  • 190 million average Tweets per day occur on Twitter;
  • Twitter is handling 1.6 billion queries per day;
  • Twitter is adding nearly 500,000 users a day.

If there is a marketing or information exchange use for social networking, we recommend that your policies don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Instead, think about what limitations should apply to those individual employees who do use your social networking and maybe have a clear plan on how to develop social networking so that it is effective for you.

My advice is to update your policy so that you can encourage good social media use while enforcing some boundaries. Some aspects of a good policy include:

  • Whether an employee can use social media on company time or whether it is limited to personal time;
  • Define acceptable and unacceptable activities/use;
  • Social networking must not interfere with work;
  • Employees must make it clear that their personal views are theirs alone and do not represent the views of their employer.
  • Integrate with workplace harassment and bullying policies;
  • Ensure employees respect confidential and proprietary information including logos, copyright or registered trademarks;
  • Make discipline for violating the policy explicit and that termination may result;
  • A review process that ensures employees are given an opportunity to ask questions about the policy;
  • Well trained managers.

Develop a policy if you don’t already have one which embraces social media while creating boundaries that protect your business and your ability to manage your employees. Also, as the technology continues to evolve, keep up to date and routinely audit your policy to ensure that it continues to be relevant and protect your interests.

For more information on Risk Mitigation, check out : Mitigate Business Risks: Implement a Social Media Council

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About Clarence Bennett:

Clarence is also a member of the Labour and Employment with the Fredericton office of Stewart McKelvey

Clarence’s practice has focused on counselling employers over a wide spectrum of labour and employment law issues.  He has been a commentator on CBC radio and in The Lawyers Weekly on labour and employment issues and is the Editor of Atlantic Employers Counsel, a quarterly Labour and Employment journal published by Stewart McKelvey

Clarence is a member of the Law Society of New Brunswick and a member of the Canadian Association of Counsel to Employers.  He also has a Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall with a specialization in Labour and Employment Law.

Clarence has appeared before numerous administrative and arbitration tribunals, Labour and Employment Boards, and all levels of Court including the Supreme Court of Canada.