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Category Archives: Social Media and Journalism

Animal Shelters & Social Media: The Beginning of a Beautiful Relationship

Photo Courtesy of chenected.aiche.org

This year’s October issue of DOGFANCY had a great article by Kim Campbell Thornton about how marketing and social media can empower shelters. As a public relations specialist and a supporter of animal shelters, I was glad to see that the use of social media within a shelter’s marketing plan is finally going main stream.  In my opinion, social media has been overlooked far too long in the animal shelter world and it’s exciting to see it being used more and more. The whole point of the article in DOGFANCY was to showcase how shelters are getting creative with their community relations plan to draw in more potential adopters while gaining community support.

Some of the creative marketing ideas that Thornton listed were:

  • “senior citizen discounts

    A child’s birthday party at the Humane Society of Huron Valley

  • fundraisers featuring bingo night
  • birthday parties for kids
  • furry speed dating
  • money-back guarantees
  • attractive professional photos
  • clever copy”(Thornton, 31)

Thornton went on to say that “outside-the-kennel” thinking is what will ultimately help shelters achieve their goals.

The Nevada Humane Society in Reno was highlighted in this article as their Executive Director Bonney Brown has come up with some very clever events. Some of those events are:

  • “a Valentine’s Day promotion including a three-hour Furry Speed Dating event
  • a 10-day Mardi Gras adoption promotion with a “Mardi Paws” parade featuring animals who had been in the shelter the longest and came with reduced adoption fees
  • a Presidents Day adoption promotion
  • an Arbor Day promotion where adopters received a free tree from a local nursery and light bulbs from the local energy company
  • a car dealership pays for Pet of the Week ads and people who test-drive a car get discounted pet adoptions
  • Moms get a special deal on adoptions on Mother’s Day
  • an Independence Day ice cream social
  • having the shelter stay open late on Halloween so families can come trick-or-treat” (Thornton, 32).

As for the use of social media, Thornton gave great real-world examples of how shelters are utilizing these free tools.

The Humane Society of Boulder Valley in Colorado utilizes Facebook to:

  • “announce events
  • post information about specific animals
  • request donations of needed items
  • remind pet owners of seasonal concerns” (Thornton, 32)

The Baltimore Humane Society uses Twitter to:

  • “call for foster homes and volunteers
  • feature pets for adoption
  • post YouTube videos of available pets
  • announce events and media coverage” (Thornton, 32)

Destroying the stereotype of a dark, damp, poorly-kept kennel is something social media and creative marketing strategies can accomplish for shelters.  As Brown said in this article, “Make the shelter a fun place instead of a place people dread” (Thornton, 32). If animal shelters will continue to embrace the new possibilities that social media and marketing can bring, I truly believe that more animals would find “fur-ever” homes-and isn’t that what it’s all about? 🙂

***If you’d like to read the article I received this information from, here’s the data for the DOGFANCY magazine the article was in:

DOGFANCY, OCT. 2012, Volume 43/Number 10***

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Rethinking the Press Release: Don’t Be Afraid to Be Different!

Mashable.composted a really interesting article the other day that went over four different ways to rethink the press release. Naturally this article caught my attention

Photo Courtesy of makeliterature.com

because I was always taught that there was a standard form for the press release. Jonathan Rick, the author of the post, wrote that, “Every year for the last ten years, someone has proclaimed that the press release is dying. While the rumors of its demise are exaggerated, they are not totally unfounded. That’s because the press release is, in fact, being eclipsed by digital alternatives that are more flexible, more interesting, and more relevant” (Rick, 1).  Rick went on to say that companies are looking at creative ways to present their news-such as using a blog post (Rick, 1).

Here are the four tips and examples that Rick gave of companies that broke the “press release mold” and found success with their efforts:

1. “Keep it human. Your stakeholders, and customers, prefer it that way!

  • The real estate company Zillow follows this principle well as their press releases are written in a conversational tone on their company blog.

2. Passion, even edginess, does not get in the way of your message. Passion actually shows personality, and that there’s a real person behind your press shop.

  • Patagonia-the outdoor clothing company-places their press releases on their Facebook group’s page as well as having a great blog on top of that.

3. Entertaining consumers is as important as informing them.

  • The British smoothie-maker company called Innocent releases both a press release and blog post (both of which are in different tones and writing styles). Some bonus features include: the press release is downloadable as a PDF, the blog post provides colorful video and pictures and the most interesting comments will win a free case of the product.

4. Make it personal. Comments from the soldiers in the trenches are more memorable than a few quotes from a chief executive.

  • ServInt, a web host, has turned single announcements into multiple opportunities. They were able to do this by splitting the story into parts and having different workers discuss how each point will affect the company.”

(Rick, 1-2)

The media is looking at creative press releases a lot more lately. If a company is able to successfully send the message they want to send while making the story fun and colorful, then the newsworthiness of the story doubles.

To read Rick’s entire article, click here.

The Conversation Prism: A Map for the Ever-changing World of Social Media

Photo Courtesy of theconversationprism.com

Chapter 18 of Engage! by Brian Solis focused on the Conversation Prism. To be honest, before reading this chapter, I’ve never even heard of the conversation prism. So, what is it you say? In 2007, Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas (of JESS3) created the Conversation Prism-the map of the social media “world” (Solis, 160). “What it offered initially, besides an organized view of the new web, was to demonstrate the sheer magnitude of the Social Web’s potential, activity, and overall reach” (Solis, 160).

The Conversation Prism contains 32 different categories of social media. They are as follows:

  • Social bookmarks
  • Comment and reputation
  • Wisdom of the crowds
  • Questions and answers
  • Collaboration
  • Social commerce
  • Blog platforms
  • Blogs and conversations
  • Social curation
  • Crowdsourced news and content
  • Streams
  • Nicheworking
  • Do-it-yourself and customer social networks
  • Blog communities
  • Micromedia
  • Discussion boards and forums
  • Social networks
  • Listening and targeting
  • Mobile devices
  • Attention dashboards
  • Business networking
  • Reviews and ratings
  • Location
  • Video
  • sCRM
  • Documents and content
  • Events
  • Music
  • Wiki
  • Virtual worlds
  • Livecasting
  • Pictures (Solis, 162-164)

As you can see, there are A LOT of categories. Most businesses don’t have the time needed to go through all of them to find out what areas they need to focus on. The Conversation Prism is a great tool! It can help companies get started with exploring what social media outlets there are besides Facebook and Twitter (which can ultimately lead the company to expanding their consumer audience). I am quite shocked that there aren’t very well-known tools such as this because it’s such a great resource!

Click here for more information about the Conversation Prism.

You Like Us! You Really Like Us! What To Do After Your Company Gets “Liked” on Facebook

Photo Courtesy of beonpage1blog.com

While browsing the Web the other day, I found a great article called “What Happens After the Facebook Like? 20 Tips to Engage Your Audience After the Like” by Pam Moore.  As the post’s title suggests, Moore gives readers 20 tips to help them engage with their Facebook fans. This post will outline what tips I thought were especially important for companies to know.

Accept a Facebook “like” as the start of a brand new relationship

  • A lot of companies see “likes” on Facebook as the main indicator of success with the social media platform. Companies who think like this are wrong! As Moore put it, “It is the first step the visitor has made in engaging with your brand. It’s up to you what happens next.” Don’t think that gaining “likes” is the only goal companies have on Facebook-this popular communication medium is used for much more than that!

Develop an editorial calendar

  • Staying organized and focused is key when it comes to successful social media usage. Moore suggests making a weekly editorial calendar to help plan out what you’re going to talk about with your fans and when. Moore goes on to say that “The editorial calendar and content should obviously support your plan inclusive of goals and objectives.”

Focus on value

  • What can your status updates offer that other similar companies don’t? Why should people “like” your brand? Moore asks, “How can you connect with the public personally and professionally?”  Making your content fun and unique will retain your company’s current fans and also help to gain new ones.

One size does not fit all

  • A “like” on Facebook can mean a lot of different things for the people involved. Moore said it best when she wrote, “By varying the types of content you post, you will increase your chances of engagement and action by your audience.” Diversify and your page will be on the path of success!

Overall, this article offered some great tips! You can read the rest of Moore’s article here.

The Rules of Engagement: How Companies and Their Employees Define Online Interactions

Photo Courtesy of socialmediadaily.com.au

Chapter 17 of Engage! by Brian Solis was very interesting because the chapter discussed what companies should and can do to make sure that the online interactions between employees and the public are positive.

Solis started out by saying, “With access to social tools, we are more influential than we realize, and that works both for us and against us. Without realizing the impact of a single update, employees are jeopardizing brand stature, reputation, and competitive edge” (Solis, 133).  How can companies help prevent both intentional and unintentional social media mishaps? By planning ahead and offering training to employees, no one is left out of the loop and the chance of an online crisis occurring is lowered.

Solis gave 23 tips for defining a company’s rules of online engagement. They are:

  • Discover what audiences have influence and find out how they function and what they need and want.
  • Participate with a purpose-not just anywhere.
  • Consistently create, contribute to, and reinforce service and value.
  • Focus on participating where everyone –both you and your audience- can gain from it.
  • Establish emotional connections to create deeper relationships.
  • Determine the brand identity, character, and personality you wish to portray – and match it to the individual persona of who’s in front of it when online.
  • Adapt the organization’s personality to the voice of the community in which you’re engaging.
  • Be aware of the behavioral cultures of the community and adjust your outreach accordingly.
  • Be a participant in the community you wish to connect with.
  • Don’t speak at audiences through messages.
  • Dig deeper to understand how the Social Web affects your business objectives.
  • Learn from each engagement.
  • Ensure that any external activities are supported by a comprehensive infrastructure to address situations and adapt to market conditions and demands.
  • Establish the go-to member of the company that will be responsible for identifying, trafficking, or responding to anything that can affect brand perception.
  • Do something! Don’t just listen.
  • Collaborate and earn connections.
  • Empower advocacy.
  • Embody the attributes you wish to portray and instill.
  • Don’t get lost in conversation or translation; ensure your involvement strategically maps to objectives specifically created for the Social Web.
  • Establish and nurture beneficial relationships both online and in the real world.
  • Un-campaign programs and ensure they’re part of a day-to-day cause.
  • Become a resource to your communities!
  • Give back, reciprocate, acknowledge, add value, and contribute where it makes sense.

(Solis, 151-152)

Following these points will give your company a strong start to a great social media policy and online presence.

A company that has social media policies and guidelines in place is going in the right direction. Giving employees an idea of what proper online interactions are is an important step in prevention.  “One might believe that common sense is pervasive and prevailing; I believe that common sense, however, is mostly uncommon” (Solis, 133). This quote really stood out to me in this chapter. Think about it, in today’s world, a lot of crises happen online and most of which could’ve been easily prevented if the persons involved had gotten knowledge about what to not do online.

There’s a lot you can do on Twitter!

Photo Courtesy of educationviews.org

I came across an article on socialmediatoday.com, that listed “42 Things to Do on Twitter Besides Tweet Spam & Coupons” and I wanted to discuss a couple of the suggestions that Pam Moore, the author, gave.

1)      Share relevant content that will provide value to your followers.

There are thousands upon thousands of people on Twitter that are looking for information that can help them grow in their desired career field… Be one of their resources and offer unique tips and information regarding a certain area of work. Doing so will not only help out others but you’ll gain a positive reputation as an expert in your choosen field.

2)      Join or host a tweet chat.

A lot of people that I know, haven’t participated in a tweet chat, yet and I am surprised that they haven’t. Tweet chats are a GREAT opportunity to connect with others on a similar topic of interest. They also offer a tremendous amount of learning opportunities (since participants are from all over the world, you’ll gain insights from various cultures and languages).

3)      Create a poll and gather input from your twitter followers.

Most people tend to think of Twitter as just a way to discuss what happened today at lunch but it really is a great tool for research! Since Twitter is short, sweet and to the point, there’s no fluff to cut through and data collecting is made a bit easier.

4)      Show appreciation and advocacy for those in your community.

Taking some time to support a great, local cause on Twitter is a great way to show that you care and are more than just about making money.

5)      Share inspirational content such as quotes or scripture. Did you know quotes are the #1 retweeted content on Twitter?

This is another great way to define the image of your brand! Inspirational quotes catch the attention of tweet browsers  and that retweet will spread the word about the company, too!

6)      Create themed days for morning or evening content. If you can inspire your followers, they may return daily to see what you have to say. For example, Monday could be Marketing Monday, Twitter Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, Facebook Friday, etc.

Be creative and catch the interest of your followers! If your content satisfies the needs of your followers and you’re able to present it in a unique way, they’ll continue to refer to your Twitter account for the information they need and want.

Want some more tips on what to do on Twitter? Click here to see Moore’s full article.

You are What You Tweet

Photo Courtesy of scoop.it

Chapter 15, of Engage! by Brian Solis, focuses on how one’s actions online are the building blocks of the reputation they have; everything they do “follows” them. To get a better understanding of how a reputation is made from your digital “footprint”, Solis recommends to go “…google yourself” (Solis, 121). There is more to those results then you might think! Solis said, “Pay attention to how these results portray who you are and what you represent today and also discern how these pieces of the puzzle establish your potential for accomplishing your short-and long-term goals” (Solis, 122). What kind of message do you give out with your Facebook statuses? How about your tweets? Do the messages you’re sending agree with your brand and its image? Remember that “Your actions and words online are indeed extensions to how people interpret, perceive, and react to the brand you represent” (Solis, 122).

So, how do you go about defining your “online” self? Solis recommends engaging in the social side of social media. How else will your public know you’re there if you’re not interacting with them? Solis said, “…our interactions and contributions earn keys that unlock the doors to future opportunities” (Solis, 123). Interact often and make connections! You never know who you might develop a realtionship with! Speaking of which, pay attention to what you are posting on your social media accounts! “This is your digital identity and your real reputation and it’s yours to define and nurture” (Solis, 123). If you want to make connections, you must show your followers that it’s worth the time to get to know you!

Branding is critical in both the “real” and “online” worlds. Everything we do has an effect on the type of reputation we are creating for ourselves. Solis discussed how companies use a monitoring and online reputation management (ORM) program to manage their online brand(Solis, 124). Having an ORM program is great because it allows companies to easily see what users are saying about them online(thanks to tools such as Google Alerts) and then they can compare that to what is being said offline (Solis, 124-125). The ability to monitor their brand “live” is a useful option as any prodromes that are spotted can be diffused and possible crises can be avoided.

So, the next time you’re posting something on Facebook, think twice about how that information can affect your reputation! Is your next Tweet productive for your followers or is it a waste of their time? Don’t let it be a waste of their time!