Social Media Success; Learn how to use Trends, Hashtags & Yourself and have Real Conversations

All people, in business and personal life, prefer to be talked to than at. Live interactions can define your reputation as a friend, foe, pro or troll to your communities far more so than the scheduled content you create and distribute across your “strategic #social channels.”

Want to use social media to grow your online presence?

Be a “friendly professional,” someone who has all the answers and others want to use as a resource, but don’t forget to also just be human.

#Marketers and other communications specialist use countless strategies, tools and working hours trying to start “human conversations” when real conversations are happening at a rate of +/- 10,000 tweets/minute, all day, every day.

#TBH –  I am an opinionated person, but most of what I share from my public accounts  is non-combative.

#SocialMedia is a huge part of my personal #brand and I make a concerted effort to reduce spamming my social #networks. I used to believe an objective, quantified tone helps combat the stigmas that all #WomenInBiz, tech, #finance, etc., face, and that if I showed human emotion, somehow humans would like me less.

But that changed a few nights weeks months ago (ah the joys of personal #blogging). I was scrolling through my social feeds when, percolating through the #software community, a newly trending hashtag caught my eye.

It was a #poetry challenge. Comical, casual and lacking any real reward besides community #BrowniePoints. The contributions coming in from other users inspired me.

He said

He said “quick,” and I was. Getting in on the trend early is important for maximizing the impressions and engagements you receive. Also, being the early bird to a trending worm makes you seem totally on top of your industry/topic’s game.

Their off-the-cuff #haiku[s] legitimately made me #LOL and helped inspire the oh-so-clever ideas (#imho) in my head that demanded to be written, shared and smirked at – at least I thought so.

A few ideas popped into my head right away, one of them actually exited my fingers and appeared in my #twitter text box. The #tweet was ready to be sent to strangers and appreciated by new friends. I took a quick glance for typos and without any further consideration hit send. I’d done it, I’d shared my own #DevOpsHaiku and tagged an #IndustryLeader or two I hoped (without expectation) I could stir a chuckle from.

I just couldn't stay away. I had the taste for a trend and my personal brand was getting unprecedented awareness through the mentions, retweets and replies of those far highter up the social latter than I.

I just couldn’t stay away. I had the taste for a trend and my personal brand was getting great awareness through the mentions, retweets and replies of those far higher up the social ladder than I – for making them laugh.

The rewards for actually drafting and responding publicly with my own #creative content, without first suffocating myself in doubt and revisions, blew away my expectations

I almost immediately found myself engaging with two of the very personalities I, plus tens-of-thousands of others in the #SoftwareDelivery/#Development world, avidly follow – @joshcorman & @RealGeneKim. Not only them, but C-levels from my #PR clients engaged with my posts positively and we were able to humanize each other a bit more – something that can be difficult when in #B2B relationships separated by time zones.

Restricting yourself to strictly content creation and distribution may allow you to reach the customers you’re targeting but not the humans want to talk to.

TL;DR: Find a trending hashtag that interest you, explore the conversation and speak up when you’re inspired to: Throughout this blog post I provided several #hashtags, hyperlinked for your convenience. There are also a variety of tools available for tracking current trends.

If you want to get social on social media, don’t blindly use keywords, hashtags or #SEO strategies to get placed into conversations you’re not present in. You’re perceived as legitimate when you provide a unique, individualized perspective. It may be as simple as hashtagging your location (e.g. #SanFrancisco, #Austin & #Boulder) and joining the local chatter happening around you; attending a live event and using its hashtag to connect with others there, or contributing to an online #TwitterChat.

Entering any conversation is the first step to leading it.

 “I Thought You’d be older” – Life as a Career Driven Millennial

I manage the internship program that I was once a student of at the office I work. I put a lot of effort into the program and invest a lot of time in my interns – often who are older than me.

“I thought you’d be older,” were the first words uttered by one of my previous interns when they first met me in person (we ran the interviews over the phone because she was coming from out of state for the summer).

I shrugged it off with a laugh and a handshake, but the interaction has stuck with me now months later. What I should have responded with was, “nope, I’m just more driven than you thought.”

Since I was accepted into the Journalism school at CU Boulder, a career that allowed me to write and communicate complex messages was my objective. Now that I have the career, my focus has not changed – It’s still on my career.

I do well at work and move up the ladder quickly because I work my ass off. I work my ass off because I care about what I do and take pride in improving myself and impressing my bosses and clients. Working hard is fun for me
and trying new things is a passion – My success is just the side effect of doing both of those things at the same time.

I tell all my interns who ask about how I landed a job at my small PR agency the same thing: “Solve a problem we didn’t know exist.” 

If you have extra time, or 15 minutes till the clock strikes 5 p.m. and nothing to do, don’t waste that opportunity to look beyond what you are asked to do. You see things in a unique way, apply that insight to a solution.

When I was an intern I was constantly sharing ideas and potential solutions to the roadblocks and challenges I saw my supervisors facing. When I became a PR assistant, I did the work of an account coordinator whenever possible. When I was an account coordinator, I volunteered to take on account executive tasks. Now as a account executive, I reflect the actions of senior executives but with my own insights and twist for process improvement.

Always be looking for ways to streamline and improve not only your processes but also those of your coworkers. You should want everyone and everything to be performing as best as possible. Every idea doesn’t always work out, but an attitude like that gets noticed.

I hope that intern, who is just two years older than me, left my internship program with enough experience, intellect and inspiration that she is also greeted with surprise by potential employers who expected someone somehow more “aged” based off the competence she displayed.

Being ahead of the game means you’re one step closer to winning it.

That’s not to say that standing out from the pack doesn’t put a target on your back or sometimes put you in positions you’re unfamiliar with and alone in. I often suffer the infamous “imposter syndrome,” or find myself thinking, “I can’t do that.”

But, it is when you are faced with those feelings of self-doubt that you know you are doing exactly what you should be in that instance. If you think you can or cannot do something shouldn’t matter, know that you are going to give it your all and do your best best. Instead of focusing on the doubts of those whose expectations of you are low, like my intern was of me, ground yourself on the expectations you have for yourself and deliver noteworthy results.

By filling the roles you take, you grow into them. Take risks, see holes you can fill and always search for opportunity. Fear is a sign that you’re doing it right.

A Few of my Favorite Hashtags – Public Relations, Tech and Women Kicking Ass

I follow and use a lot of hashtags, but I’ve noticed a core group of those I find value in
frequently in the different aspects of my social lives plural. All of them are poppin’ on
twitter and other social spheres currently and track awesome conversations and ideas on the topics I am interested in for my job’s sake, my client’s sake and even/especially my own (except maybe , which should be the most so).

I recorded them here for my own brain mapping experiment, but I encourage you to check them out yourself. They all hyperlink to the most popular/current tweets about their topic.

Join the conversation: Favorite an idea you never thought of, retweet an idea you stand behind and/or respond to someone’s idea that inspires your own!

My Industries 
, , , , , , , , , , ,  and .

My Clients’ Industries  –
, , , , ,  ,  and .

My Passions () –
, ,  and .

[Infographic] & [Useful Reminder] – How to Write & Create Content for Publication

This is an infographic on tactics I already know, have known my entire writing life, but never have the time (or patience) to carry out –

Fear not the ugly rough draft, sleep on it and always have another pair of human eyes review your final copy. 

One piece of advice not previously articulated to me stood out, tip no. 5: “Write to one person.” This is an incredibly insightful manner to avoid the “idea clutter” that often builds up in a writer’s mind and creative processes. Identifying one person as the reader allows better focus on the main message you are trying to convey.

You can’t write content that’s valuable to everyone, so figure out one person/identity that embodies the audience your objective is to reach. Tell a story to that person catered to their tastes and designed to invoke your desired reaction.

If I had to select one person this post would be for… it’s someone just like me – New-ish to the game, trying to produce quality content that compels in a business environment.

That tip and the content in the below infographic come from the amazing Everybody Writes by Anne Handley, a great guide to writing “coherent, useful pieces of content that engage audiences.”

Continue reading

Invest in the [Unpaid] Intern; See Real ROI on Time Spent Educating.

Inexperienced interns may not produce work worth paying for… yet.  Your experience, time and guidance should get them there, that’s the whole point.

Hands holding map

An internship should serve as a career roadmap. Lead interns through situations and challenges. Guide them to succeed in a paid, entry-level position at your business – whether you plan on hiring any new paid positions or not – and any similar organization in your industry.

The role of the “Unpaid Intern” isn’t glamorous. Often given pain-staking busy work or remedial tasks that a company would never pay for, interns only gain what they are given. On the other side, when managers don’t invest time in those who they don’t invest money, they risk losing talent they can’t be bothered to foster.

I can speak first hand on this, from both points of view: Just last year, January 2014, I started at the public relations (PR) agency that currently employs me as an unpaid intern. I now run our internship program. From hiring, management, and exit reviews, I work to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship between the agency and interns as I was given.

Do whatever you can to make sure your interns know you appreciate them even though you're not paying them. I always enjoyed being sent home with baked goods from meetings.

Do whatever you can to make sure your interns know you appreciate them even though you’re not paying them. I always enjoyed being sent home with baked goods from meetings.

Eager, high-potential applicants can be hard to find when searching for unpaid interns, particularly if you do not operate near a large population of students required to complete internships for credit. At the end of an internship, students often hope to be hired by that business (I clearly did), and rightfully so.

Whether or not you’re hiring, if at the end of three-to-five months working for your agency/brand, an intern does not have the skills you expect from an entry-level position at your company, it’s not they who have failed but you have failed them.-

So if you can’t offer applicants monetary compensation, how do you draw in interns with strong potentials and work ethics?

To answer that, I will explain what attracted me to apply to my agency’s unpaid internship a year ago. These three concepts have become commandments I strive to provide “my” interns (also sometimes lovingly referred to as “my ducklings”):

  1. Guarantee real, applicable work experience
    – The research they conduct, the relationships they build and the content they create are all essential to our clients’ campaigns and interns know their contributions are acknowledged, appreciated and acted on.
  2. Make clear that intern’s feedback is sought after
    – Even on first interviews interns are introduced to, and engage with, the agency’s principal(s) and account execs. From the very start, they are encouraged to ask every question and share every idea.
  3. Dedicate consistent and frequent time to one-on-one training and education
    – While I do look for interns that can work independently with confidence, it’s recognized that that confidence must be curated through thorough explanations, constructive training, reinforcement and two-way communication.
It is important to sit down and

It is important to sit down and “chat” with your interns. Make sure they know that you appreciate their help and you’re genuinely intent on making it as rewarding as possible. Both intern and employer will only get out of each other what they are willing to put in.

It’s the third point that I am most concerned with as I write today. Training and then challenging those whose only goal is to learn isn’t typically difficult, especially when -as I mentioned before- they hope to become an irreplaceable asset and secure a paid position at the end of the internship.

If I am following through on No.1 in that list – Guarantee real, applicable work experience –  I’m requesting interns to complete tasks that can range anywhere from intuitive to incomprehensible.

As an intern, being abandoned and to accomplish something you never have before can be overwhelming and ultimately a negative experience that results in sub-par, often unusable, work. However, it’s managements fault for tasking an individual who’s never tread water to essentially swim upriver.

Don’t like the work you’re getting from your interns? Instead of going back to correct, edit or completely redo a task that, up until that point, has essentially been a waste of everyone’s time, show them what to do and be clear on what is expected from them – format, deadline, strategy, style etc.

Don’t just spend time on the “how,” but also the “why” behind what you are asking your interns to do. Knowing the motive and final objective of a task brings it up, out of the weeds and provides a much higher level of understanding, which in turn produces better results for the entire team.

Trust me, the more time you spend teaching and working with each other, the less time either you or your intern will waste.


I remember my own internship and the first time I was asked to “write a few tweets” to be published by a brand (/any profile that wasn’t personally mine). I had something like 22 followers; only +/-40 sent tweets over the entire three years I’d had my handle and no idea how to craft a tweet that had a purpose. Instead of leaving me to flail in the wind, time was taken by those who asked something of me to explain how to do it best.

Now, I have over 1,800 followers, constantly tweet about the tech industry and can eyeball 140 characters from across a room. I use my followers as a resource for my clients and to increase my own online presence and industry savvy.

The me that “didn’t understand the point of Twitter” and thought social media’s only value in PR was in B2C is gone. I unknowingly buried that naivety in tweets or retweets in an organic, yet orchestrated effort to build myself and reputation in a new field – all while simultaneously managing numerous different clients’ entire social media campaigns.

If I’d spent my internship making copies, transcribing webinars and running out for coffee, instead of diving headfirst into real PR/social media work, I wouldn’t be followed by top reporters and analyst in my clients’ markets, or have developed the passion for digital engagement strategy that fuels me at work.

That’s great for me, sure, but even better for the agency that helped me create it.

By using the time I was unpaid, untrained but inspired to teach me the skills they pay employees for, my learning curve cost the company $0.00 in paid training and my supervisors were able to mold a dream account team member (if I do say so myself) how they wanted. The very first day they paid me, I was already familiar with their clients, the agency’s roles/organization and an established social media persona.


Too cool for school(ing) from me? Never, but soon my interns will be able to fly solo!

Too cool for school(ing) from me? Never, but soon my interns will be able to fly solo!

So now, as my ducklings complete their first month (eight whole days) in the office, I realize I may have to stop [secretly] calling them such. I was more than happy to let them follow me around, copying my methods to understand more about the work someone in my position does. I’ve spent the majority of my Tuesdays and Thursdays working with them versus my own assignments and soon that investment will pay out. They are becoming increasingly self-sufficient, eager-to-impress assets to the agency. Both well on their ways to become highly employable, PR/social media professionals, I’m confident in mine and the agency’s commitment to the interns we bring in. That very role launched my career and I enjoy giving others the same opportunity.

I was compelled to write this post on behalf of all the unfortunate, inevitably broke interns getting little-to-nothing out of the wasted hours spent as subservient afterthoughts. I remember what it’s like to be the almost-too-motivated, unpaid intern, working feverishly to simultaneously display their value and construct it at the same time. That was made possible for me by approachable supervision, a collaborative work culture and mutual respect throughout the organization.

If you can’t offer interns money, offer them everything else possible. Imagine regularly coming into a workplace where you are assigned grunt work, receiving zero compensation, feedback or applicable experience and gaining zero real work experience or professional relationships – That ain’t right.

Ultimately, if you have no empathy for interns and plan on milking the free-labor tit with no intention to further interns’ professional skills, I can’t stop you. However; the Feds can and will. It’s federally mandated that any unpaid internship provide educational value to the student that outweighs any advantage the business reaps.

Six Legal Requirements for Legal Unpaid Internships:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees but works under close supervision of existing staff.
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion, its operations may actually be impeded.
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

For more information on the legalities of unpaid internships turn to Forbes here.

 

How To Live Tweet at an Industry Conference – Five Key Considerations

Prepare images ahead of time if you have certain messages you know you want to convey throughout an event. I created this image for my agency's blog post on its involvement in the conference.

Prepare images ahead of time if you have certain messages you know you want to convey throughout an event. I created this image for my agency’s blog post on its involvment in the conference.

Studying the results of last year’s efforts and what I have learned since, I came up with five basic considerations to always keep in mind when sharing for/from/about an industry event similar to DOES.

  1. What topics and ideas is your audience most interested in?
    First and foremost, you want to share what people care about. Share tweetable tidbits from conference sessions, behind the scenes photos and secrets, trends you notice and other personal observations that provide your audience access/visibility to the event in some way they wouldn’t have without your help.Don’t tweet: “So-and-so is taking the stage to discuss [insert session title from conference pamphlet]”
    Tweet: “Loved @SoandSo’s take on______ ! “[insert quote from speaker]”Dont tweet: “There is a post-conference happy hour happening in the main lobby now.”
    Tweet: “Any hour w/the awesome folks at [insert event hashtag] is a happy hour. Come say hi to me in the main lobby now!”

    Don’t tweet: “The main stage is set up and ready to host the brilliant minds at [insert event name].”
    Tweet: Can’t wait to hear all the geniuses that will take the [insert event hashtag]’s awesome main stage” + an actual photo you took of the stage.

  2. What topics and ideas are your client/boss most interested in promoting?Maybe you are just at an event for yourself, or because your company sent you to learn and absorb what you desire to.
    More likely, there is some sort of objective. Whether you are tweeting on behalf of an event (as I do), on behalf of someone else (a thought leadership strategy), or as a representative of a company present at an event (think sponsors), you must strongly consider what is it that those paying for you to be at an event care most about publicizing.At DOES there are several breakout sessions every day, that means four or more amazing sessions compete against each other at the same time, multiple times a day. While there may be topics you’re personally drawn to and want to cover, you must keep in mind what topics are most relevant your objective.Is anyone from the organization you are representing speaking at the event? – You gotta be there. 

    Are any of your client’s customers/partners present at the event? – You should be talking about that.

    What statements being made directly relate to the fields your client is involved in?
    – Have a reaction that is inline with organizational messaging and objectives.

  3. Is what you are about to share a coherent thought, understandable to someone not in the room?
    One of the most valuable aspects of sharing live updates and content via social media at an in-person event is that participants no longer have to be “in person.” To see what is going on at an event and involve themselves in happening conversations, all users need to do is log into twitter, facebook, instagram etc.
    But remember, that is all they are doing. They do not have the same visibility as you and they likely don’t have access into the information being shared that doesn’t make it to their social feed. If you are trying to drive involvement, don’t share content that is illogical from an outsider’s perspective.Include as much context as possible and try to ensure that what you’re sharing is a complete thought and could stand on it’s own

    Dont tweet: “Holy crap what a great session.”
    Tweet: “Holy crap, the entire [insert event hashtag] crowd just lost it when @[insert speaker handle/name] shared their results: [insert useful soundbite, shared stats, ect.]”

  4. Are You Fast and Focused?
    When sharing content live, there is always a rush. You are moving fast trying to listen, type and read at the same time. This is when serious mistakes get made. If you are halfway through writing a tweet and you can’t remember with certainty what was said, don’t tweet it – certainly don’t attribute it to anyone who may resent being misquoted.You have to focus on what was said while listening to what is being said. If a speaker starts a phrase like “The one thing you must consider when…” and then ends up on a tangent, never completing the thought, never complete the tweet.

    People are very aware of their social media profiles and presence, if you misquote someone badly enough to change their meaning you risk being called out on social media yourself – something one only enjoys in a positive light.

  5. How can you drive the most engagement from your micro content?
    Just because you are moving fast, doesn’t mean you have to move dumb. As always, you want to drive your content to as many relevant people as well. As with regular social sharing, this is greatly aided by the use of proper hashtags and handles.More often than not these days, conferences will have an official hashtag and publicize that at least somewhere in a program – if not more flagrantly. USE IT. Sending a tweet from a conference without its official hashtag sends the tweet to your followers, not those specifically interested in following the event.

    Also, if a speaker is worth his weight in stage time, they will have a social media presence and twitter handle. Find those ahead of time. Often an event’s program may include speaker handles, however this is not always the case. Come prepared with handles and hashtags identified and ready for use.

“Dear Gen Z”- From a Millennial

Hey Generation Z,

Many of you may have a hard time grasping the concept I am about to introduce to you, too used broadcasting your every waking moment to every waking person to recognize the idea of “unwanted attention,” but please, repeat after me:

“STRANGER DANGER”

I know, I know, that’s totes cray to hear.

I’m aware it’s super serious that you have as many followers on twitter as you do Instagram, while maintaining twice as many friendships on Facebook than people you’ve met in your life.

But are you aware that sharing your name, birthday, contact information, bikini photos, and hourly geotagged updates with people you don’t know online can be dangerous?

Not everyone No one you’re not at least acquainted with should have access to, or frankly want access to, every minute decision you make during your pubescent life. This may change when you’re old enough to have valid opinions and rational thought processes – Networking with strangers on social media is literally part of my job description, but the kinda of attention I’m seeking is professional and guarded, not flippant and promiscuous.

Gen-Z-Claire-Madden_Infographic_McCrindle

Your generation is using technology over 10 hours a day. If you hypothesize that an average seven-hour school day, plus eight hours of sleep should be spent without technology, there isn’t enough time left in any single day for you to be on screens for 10.5 hours! To reach that number, technology must be a part of, or interferring with, nearly every part of your youthful daily lives.

When I was young the internet was new. Chat rooms where the only social networks, and there was nothing more terrifying to a 90’s mother than a chat room. Daily warnings from parents and teachers reminded kids that it only took your initials and an area code and a white van would soon arrive at your door (or school or bus stop) an internet boogeyman would snatch you up and sell you to internet pornography (porn being the other principal bane of 20th century parents).

The internet is no longer new. I realize you likely completely missed myspace let alone are completely unfamiliar with the goings-on inside of a good, old-fashioned chat room. Luckily for you, I recently scoped out a classic anonymous chat room ‘for funsies,’ so you wouldn’t have to.

Just as it was 15 years ago, the majority of fun is being had at females’s, or other minorities’, expenses. Sexual harassment and bullying still dominate conversation – Ah, felt like the good ol’days! 

Chatroom Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 9.12.40 PM

Just a snippet of what genius, thought-provoking idea exchanges you can partake in online in public chatrooms!

Just because you were born retina-screen-in-hand and have never lived a life without war doesn’t mean you are innately ready to combat the dangers of online predators and professional scam artists.

The white vans and boogeymen of my yesteryears are still thriving. Thanks to MTV and the hilarious show that inspired this post by countlessly showcasing the rampant naivety online, in 2014,  Merriam-Webster had a second definition to attribute to the term ‘Catfish’.

Catfish Definition

“Fraudulent or deceptive purposes” has proven to be a widely open category of crazy schemes and online villains with incomprehensible motives and apparent time on their hands… http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/catfish

I’d like to think that most of your generation is more aware and grounded in reality than the victims I watch fall prey to fake profile pictures and con artists on MTV, but apparently the majority of American pre-teens and teenagers didn’t wisen up about contraceptives until 16 and Pregnant aired on the network.

Internet Trolling Goes Far Beyond Catfishing

What’s worse than getting humiliated on your homies’ favorite TV Network? Getting your identity stolen, your computer hacked or worse – those of your parents.

If you truly are of Generation Z, congratulations on your youth and lack of real responsibility. It must be nice having someone else’s credit card stored to your apple account…

Q: What other information is out there about you or your family, where?

Think about all the things you do and say online besides run your parent’s phone bill up with underaged Tinder Premium subscriptions and CandyCrush in-app purchases. What information is out there about you and your family because of you, and where?

A: Chances are it’s everything and everywhere.

If a 1997 creeper with a van could find my friends and I just from an area code and initials in a screename, what could a 21st-century criminal do with all that you’ve made available?

Just a thought,
Halie

P.S. – Before you send that snapchat, remember one thing: SnapChat saves and *owns* all of your photos and private messages long after they’ve disappeared from your own phone.

P.P. S- Oh yeah, did I mention: Brands may be using your information and personal pictures to sell their sh*t.

YEAH – The corporate creepers you share your information and pictures with by engaging with their brands via social media (e.g. tagging them in a photo you took of their product, commenting on a link to their website a third party shared with you or even allowing a company to follow you) immediately claim commercial use rights your posts if you mention their brand, making it impossible to “pay respect” to a company or product without also paying personal information.