The Foundation of Social Media Success

Each social media site has its own unique personality, community and features. If you’re not familiar with it, the first thing to do is watch, listen and learn. But to use your time well, the key to success is knowing what you want to achieve by using social media. If you don’t know where you want to go, it’s hard to know if you’ve gotten there.

gears with yellowhighlighted gear in centerThinking through your goals will help you determine which social media sites, strategies, content, visuals and stories to use to achieve success. And what metrics to measure to gauge how you’re doing.

That is why the first foundation I help clients think through is their goals and most important audiences. For example, do you want to:

  • Increase customers, clients, donors, or members
  • Build community with current customers
  • Educate  a specific audience about something
  • Increase visibility for your organization

For more details check out my article on how to Create Your Social Media Plan for Success.


Giving Thanks to the People You Care About

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the opportunity to give thanks to the people who make a difference in our lives, whether special mentors, colleagues, or friends.

thank you

Who made you smile, supported and helped you this year? How can you make a difference in their day? Think about what would mean a lot to them. Here are some quick ideas:

  • Send them a handwritten note
  • Write a recommendation or endorse their skills on LinkedIn, tweet a call out complimenting them, write on their facebook profile, post an Instagram photo thank you, etc.
  • Comment on and share their blog posts
  • Introduce them to someone you think they would enjoy meeting
  • Take them out to coffee or lunch
  • Share a book or article related to their interests or goals. Or share music in the genre you know they love
  • Support a cause that is important to them.

This is also such a great time to give back by reaching out to help someone the same way others have done for you. I have learned so much from people I have mentored and it is very fulfilling to see them reaching their goals and happy.

Consider volunteering for causes you care about, or promote the nonprofit in your community and on your favorite social media site. Think about how you would like to make a difference in the next year.

Building strong relationships is one of my core values. My article Tips for Building a Strong Professional Network offers more ideas like reviewing your network periodically for how to strengthen it.

Who have you thanked lately for the difference they make in your life?


7 Quick Tips for Overcoming Procrastination

It is so easy to slide into the rabbit hole of procrastination, especially when big projects are looming, your calendar is overflowing with meetings, and your devices keep pinging at you. The urgent, everyday stuff like email and social media can lure us away from what we know is most important. Never does “getting organized” seem as alluring as when there’s something you’re uncomfortable or hesitant about doing even though you know you need to.

stop_buttonTry these ideas for beating the temptation of time wasters:

  • Each morning (or the night before) plan what you will get done today that will help you meet your most important goals. Be realistic about what you can accomplish.

  • Do your most creative work when you feel most fresh. Avoid looking at email and social media or taking non-urgent phone calls during those times. Close out of those programs, use the mute button, and focus.

  • Commit to an output goal or number of hours doing something on a consistent basis that helps you meet your bigger picture goals. This makes it harder to “accidentally” not make progress because of everything else that got in the way. For example, I’m going to write  for 3 hours every day without interruption, in two different time slots. Or I’m going to reach out to a minimum of 10 X-type of people through at least X emails, social media messages, and phone calls each week day.

  • Set time limits for how long you’ll spend doing more routine tasks like answering emails or posting on social media. Use a timer if it helps.

  • Are you trying to perfect something that wasn’t meant to be the next Mona Lisa? If you find yourself honing something endlessly, for example crafting the sixth version of anything, consider if you’re caught in the grass blades which is preventing you from looking at the forest. Seth Godin’s points out that there comes the time when you need to execute and complete the stepping stone projects that help you get where you want to go.
  • Reward yourself for meeting your goals or coming close, whether it’s meeting friends, reading that novel, or watching a fun movie.

  • Is your procrastination your brain or heart’s way of telling you something? If you find yourself elbows deep in cleaning out your desk or closet and you haven’t gotten your most critical goals done, ask yourself what is holding you back. Are you avoiding it because you feel uncomfortable doing it, are unsure of how to do it well enough to meet someone’s standards or your own, or is it taking you in a direction you don’t really want to go? Experts like Chris Brogan speak eloquently about pushing yourself to focus and execute or re-plan your strategy.

For more ideas, check out my recent article 12 Time Saving Hacks for Busy Professionals.

What are your strategies for overcoming procrastination?


12 Time Saving Hacks for Busy Professionals

Here are 12 of my favorite ways to save time, with special attention to social media and marketing. For those times when you might feel tempted by the lure  of procrastination, also check out my 7 Quick Tips for Overcoming Procrastination.

The Big Picture

1. Keep your goals top of mind. Is what you’re doing right now helping you to accomplish your goals? What can you stop doing? (Check out my blog articles ClockSaving Time and Effort to Free Up Energy for What Matters Matters Most and How Do You Know When It’s Time to Let Go of a Product or Service for tips.)

2. Partner with other noncompetitive organizations and leaders to amplify your efforts and compare experiences. Just be judicious in picking the right collaborators and watching your time spent.


Social Media, Marketing & Your Brand

3. Monitor mention of your brand and related keywords through free tools like Google Alerts, Talkwalker and Social Mention. If you do an advanced search in Twitter it automatically saves your search parameters make it quick and easy to repeat.

4. Staying on top of the news in your industry and profession is critical but easier said than done. Use a news filter like Feedly as a central place to read your favorite sources. Follow the topics, companies and thought leaders you’re most interested in on LinkedIn and Twitter to get quick updates.

5. Use Twitter Lists to filter your specific information needs. A Twitter lists is simply a list you set up of Twitter users. You could set up a list of media, competitors, clients, members, donors, etc. How-to instructions from Twitter are here.

6. Judiciously schedule social media posts through a free tool like Hootsuite or Buffer. Schedule your Facebook posts directly through Facebook as a number of experts say the Facebook algorithm favors this approach vs. using an external scheduler.

Scheduling Caveats:

  • Be prepared to change your automated social media posts in case of a crisis or national event that inadvertently could make your tweets or posts seem inappropriate or poorly timed.
  • Also, I do not recommend posting your tweets to Facebook as they tend to look out of place. In general, it’s best not to post the same wording to several social media sites as you should try to vary what you post where and word them differently suited to the tone and environment of each.

7. Focus your social media efforts on a few sites where you will best reach your most important audiences and goals unless you have staff to cover more. Spreading yourself too thin trying to cover too much ground without the resources to do it well can be counterproductive.

8. Review which kinds of automated alerts and emails you get from LinkedIn Groups, Twitter, Facebook, et al to make sure they match what uses your time and serves your needs best.

General Productivity

9. Pause and review critical emails, tweets, and  posts to make sure they are accurate, sound appropriate, and are typo-free. Watch out for errant autocorrects on your devices to avoid embarrassment. This might sound counter intuitive, but spending a few minutes or waiting to send that critical email or post could save you a world of time and angst later.

10. Do your most creative, thought intensive work when you are freshest. Group similar activities together to be more efficient, such as email, social media/blog commenting, reading. Try to tackle, delete or electronically file items as you go through them so you don’t spend time on them more than once, and answer things that can be handled with a quick answer. Also group errands in similar close proximity together.

11. Put time slots in your calendar for important activities that you want to get done like networking for when it is easiest to fit it in (for example Friday afternoons). Try out a productivity tool like Evernote to organize your notes, projects, and tasks and syncs across your devices.

12. Keep a workout bag stocked and handy to make it easy to get exercise to give you more energy, a fresh outlook and staying healthy. If you travel frequently, keep your cosmetics bag stocked and ready to go to save packing time.


Reinventing Yourself Continuously Essential in a World of Constant Change

As an eternal optimist, I see change as an open door to learn and explore new possibilities. The reality is the world is changing at a much faster pace than in the past. If you want to stay essential and feel fulfilled in your career and profession, continuously exploring what is new in your field and how to evolve your perspective and skills is critical to your success.

stairway leading to an open door and blue sky

Embrace change as an opportunity. Avoiding change is a path to extinction as companies like Blockbuster and Borders learned when it was too late. No one wants that to happen to their career, which is why learning and change is such an important part of a personal branding plan.

For more tips on personal branding, check out my article 10 Ways to Manage Your Professional Brand, Reinventing as Needed.

Anticipating Where Your Field is Headed

What trends do you see in your profession and sector? How are technology and new ways of thinking disrupting your business? Ingraining an explorer’s passion will keep you nimble, scanning your horizon for opportunities and threats and seeking innovations.

Do you want to disrupt or be disrupted? Imagine if Borders had acted thoughtfully and promptly to buying and downloading books online when Amazon first started to become popular. What if they had created a clever, useful e-book reader early on? What if Blockbuster had anticipated that video stores could become yesterday’s news and figured out a game changing way to manage video streaming? Now the collaborative economy with success stories like Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft are disrupting traditional businesses starting with hotels and taxis.

What can we do individually to find intrigue in change and imagine how we can re-engineer our careers to take best advantage of the changes? And not be left behind as changes inevitably impact our profession and industries.

After all, creative individuals help drive the change and the innovations that disrupt and to put it more positively, improve, create and enlarge our worlds. Far better to be driving change than see it drive by us.

Find the mentors and network you need to help you learn and grow. And to be part of the change rather than having change pass you by. Don’t wait for a crisis to network, reach out regularly to interesting people you admire or who have expertise you can learn from. Connect people to each other and seek out opportunities to mentor others.

Watch for success stories and what you can learn from them. Businesses, nonprofits, and people who have expertise, skills and success you admire. Read up and reach out to them. What can you take from what you learn and apply it to your organization and career?

How can you update your skills or apply them to other interests you have?

A video store evolves to a cell phone repair store

A video store evolves to a cell phone repair store

10 Ways to Manage Your Professional Brand, Reinventing as Needed

You are your own career planner and coach. Gone are the days when we could rely on others to guide our career, waiting for the next obvious step on the ladder. This is probably for the best, since who knows best where your best interests and dreams lie than yourself? We are all responsible for our own destiny and careers.

In a world of constant change, we are likely to change careers multiple times. Which gives us a world of opportunity to use our strengths and skills to explore different fields and options.

fireworks burstBuilding your personal brand based on your unique strengths and passions is critical to success. What do you want to be known for? What do you care about?

How does your plan for your personal brand fit in with your organization’s goals?

Think about your strengths and weaknesses realistically and aspirationally.  Do you enjoy what you are doing now? What do you want to do long term? What do you need to get there? What do you need to learn?

Seek out how you can be truly helpful to others. Most of us don’t feel comfortable trumpeting our accomplishments (though summarizing them in a well articulated LinkedIn profile is certainly appropriate). Sharing useful information can highlight your strengths and abilities in the best way possible.

Reading advice that helps solve your potential customer’s problems is a much better way to convince them you’re awesome than your just telling them how great you are.

Continuously reinvent yourself. What trends do you see in your profession and sector? How is technology and new ways of thinking disrupting your business? Make sure you are constantly learning and staying up to date, especially in the areas you have identified as your strengths and what you want to be known for. Find trusted sources of information, follow thought leaders and experts in the field, and attend virtual or in person professional development.

Also check out my article Reinventing Yourself Continuously Essential in a World of Constant Change.

Find the mentors and network you need to help you learn and grow. Don’t wait for a crisis to network, reach out regularly to interesting people you admire or who have relevant expertise. Connect people to each other and seek out opportunities to mentor others.

Explore different social media sites to see which are most relevant to your interests and needs. Having a presence with a strong profile and engaging with like minded people will benefit you with community, networking and reinforcing your personal brand. Just keep in mind what you most want to project as strengths and skills while engaging.

Emphasize conversation and sharing useful information rather than trumpeting how great you are or pitching whatever you are selling. Listen and learn the tone, style and jargon of each social media site before you start posting. Sites like Social Media Examiner provide great tips to help familiarize you and summarize the latest changes to the various social media sites.

Create and share content in your area or aspirational area of expertise. Use a combination of  sharing other people’s content (always crediting them!) and writing  your own. Be realistic about what you have time to create, such as tweeting tips, guest articles, your own blog, slide decks, webinars, and podcasts.

Connect with people online and in person. Starting with a strong LinkedIn profile, build a strong network. Find interesting online discussion groups, Check out related LinkedIn or Facebook groups, tweetchats (scheduled twitter chats on specific topics identified by a #hashtag), and webinars or Google Hangouts. Many professional associations  and universities host online discussion forums for their members or alumni. Periodically schedule in person time with key contacts.

How to manage the time crunch, aka when am I supposed to have time to do this, too?!? I shared tips for assessing what needs to get done versus things to let go of in my post Saving Time and Effort to Free Up Energy for What Matters Most.

10 Ways Prof Brand

An Entrepreneur’s Social Media Plan for Success

This post was originally published in Entrepreneur on April 22, 2014, at

Social media can give entrepreneurs the same opportunity to build community and engage customers as their better funded competitors. But when time and resources are limited, it’s crucial to laser focus social-media efforts to achieve goals: Do you want to drive sales, generate qualified leads, build relationships with current customers and bloggers in your industry? And of course figure out how you can measure it.

For entrepreneurs needing a little help developing their social media plan, here are a few tips.

Be crystal clear on who your target audience is. Determining your target demographic is imperative for success (without customers there are no sales). Make sure you have a clear image of who you exactly what to reach. Make sure you know them inside and out and are familiar with their interests, needs and biggest challenges. How does your product or service solve their problems? Also look at influencers in your industry, as they can play an important role in reaching your audience.

Which social media sites are they on? Determine where these people like to socialize and stalk them. If you’re tightly staffed and have limited funds to contract help, it can be difficult to actively engage in a variety of sites. In that case, pick two or three sites — preferably the ones that are used most often with your audience — to do well. You can always add more sites later.

Plan your messaging strategy. Make sure your branding strategy and story brings your company to life. That said, keep in mind, it’s not about you or your brand, it’s about what your customer likes and wants. Connect your customer’s interests and challenges to your content and how your products or services can help them.

Don’t use social media to just talk about your business or product.While it is okay to sprinkle in a few tidbit here and there, no one wants to continually hear about how awesome your company is. Instead, provide useful information and news related to your specific audience’s needs and interests. Also, share related content from other sources, not just from you.

Mix it up. Feature a mixture of different kinds of content — from news to practical tips and humorous stories. Emphasize by using visuals such as images, photos, videos, infographics and slide decks.

For example, Citrus Lane, which sells subscription packages to parents of young children, shares entertaining, fun visuals on sites like Facebook, as well as provides deals, contests and handy tips.

Keep your website as your home base. While social media is imperative, make sure your website remains your anchor. (Also, don’t neglect building your own opt-in email list.) Post original content on your site along with guest articles in places your customers and influencers visit. Then use social media to share the content and drive traffic to your website and sales or lead pages.

Continue reading

Create Your Social Media Plan for Success

What is the best way to use social media to increase your organization’s revenue, and communicate with your current and prospective customers, donors, clients, members? Maybe you’ve been using Facebook or LinkedIn for quite a while but you’re not sure it’s doing anything for you. Is it worth the time? How do you know if you’re doing the right things?

You need a simple, straightforward plan for social media success. If you’re like me, you don’t want to spend months thinking through a complex plan that is too complicated to execute in the first place. You want to get moving and see action and results.

Here is my outline and tips for developing a clear social media plan that drives results.

mapping through a maze

Map these components out, involving anyone in your team who plays a role in your social media presence or you think would add value to your discussion.


Your Goals: What are the two or three most important goals you have for your social media presence? Do you want to increase revenue of a specific product(s), attract new members/donors, prospect for clients, build community with current customers?

Your Audience: Picture who you most want to reach and as much information as you can about them. Age range, preferences, needs, interests, etc. What kinds of words and expressions resonate with them? What are their biggest problems keeping them up at night that you can help solve or at least share some levity or understanding of? What do they care about? Which social media sites are they most likely to spend time on (as opposed to just having a profile and don’t visit regularly)?

What is the most important message, story and/or theme you want to articulate? Use a mixture of kinds of posts and messaging, that include serious, funny or tongue in cheek, behind the scenes, and very useful content that helps solve your customers/donors/members’ problems. Always keep your goals and brand in mind. Share content from other organizations so you have a wide mix not all egocentric about you. And minimize how much you post that is “salesy.” Only a small percentage should be sales oriented, the vast majority should use a useful content approach or sharing content from other reliable sources.

How does your messaging and social media goals fit in with your overall marketing, communications, and public relations plan for your organization? You want a consistent look and feel visually, as well as in message and tone. Your social media posts and communications should support and integrate with what you are doing through other channels.

Brainstorm images, videos, polls, and questions you can feature that reinforce your stories and messaging. Social media is very visual and interactive.

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Social Media SOS: Help! Do I Have to Be on ALL the Sites?! Am I Doing the Right Things?

I hear this question all the time: With so many social media sites and so much information swirling around about what you are “supposed” to do online,  does it mean I need a presence everywhere? How do I know what to say on all these sites and understand them all? Can I just post the same thing on all of them? Oh, and how am I supposed to get anything else done?! And is this really going to help increase my sales, revenue, donations, number of members, or fill in the blank?

It’s enough to give anyone a panic attack, especially given how busy we all are. Whether you’re a small business, nonprofit, practitioner, association, or entrepreneur, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done as it is. But what people share all the time is their nervousness and growing dartboard_successfulrecognition that social media can be a powerful tool and not having at least a modest presence and level of knowledge could leave them at a huge disadvantage. In fact, harnessing social media strategically can and has given many small organizations or practices a big jump on their competition, even those that are much bigger.

So what is the answer? Start with what you are trying to accomplish, who your audience is, and what your business goals are. Then prioritize which social media platforms and approaches will be most worth your time and effort. Step back and think about what is the right answer for you and your organization. Check out my article on developing a quick and straightforward social media plan, but in the meanwhile, here are some tips:

Prioritize Your Time. Be realistic about what you can accomplish with the resources you have. Do you have staff who can spend time on this or should you be seeking some outside help? It’s better to really engage well in one or two social media sites that hold the most promise for success then spread yourself too thin and not do a good job on any of them. Or to accidentally ignore comments your receive online because you didn’t have time to notice them.

You can have some modest presence on a site like Google Plus for the sake of enhancing your SEO (search engine optimization) so that your content is easier to find when people do keyword searches on Google. However, it’s hard to do Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter well if you’re only going to pay attention to it a couple of times every month or two. You can casually use them, but will you be accomplishing your goals?

Use the Right Language and Don’t Say the Same Exact Thing on Multiple Sites.  Think about who your most important audience is, what their needs, interests, and problems are. Use words and expressions that resonate with your audience. Customize what and how you say things to the culture and environment of the site you’re posting on. Tools like Hootsuite allow you to post to different social media sites in one convenient place and listen to  and engage in online conversations. But using Hootsuite to broadcast the same message in multiple places without sensitivity to the unique environment of each place can make your postings seem out of place or at the least not as effective.

Spend time “listening” and learning the culture of each site you want to engage in and the typical practices and style of each. For example Twitter has a very different feel than Facebook or LinkedIn. Small touches can really increase your success.

Think creatively about imagery you can use to engage people and express your story and message. If you spend time on social media you’ll see the increasing usage and impact of images in all formats, including photos, graphics, and videos.

Compare What Other Organizations are Doing.  You can get great ideas looking at how different organizations are using the same social media sites you are. Especially watch what similar kinds of organizations are doing, though you can also learn from organizations in different fields and apply it to your industry, especially if they seem to have similar goals.

Please Share Your Experiences. Which social media sites are you focusing on for which purposes? Has that helped you use your time and effort wisely? I would love to hear about what is working for you.


Facebook Conundrum: How Do I Ensure My Content Gets Found?

With constant changes in the Facebook algorithm and news feed functionality, even the most committed social media fan could get a headache trying to keep up and make sure your audience sees your content. It is disheartening to spend time thinking about what to post on Facebook only to see your numbers and engagement plummet. To say the least, it can leave you unsure whether there is any point to the time you put into it.

stand out from crowd globe imageFacebook changes in December and January that are decreasing many Facebook pages’ reach raised the latest round of worries and debate about its impact and what to do next. To learn more, check out this excellent Social Media Examiner podcast with experts Michael Stelzner, Mari Smith, and Jay Baer. Three great recent articles are Your Five-Step Strategy to Improved Facebook Engagement & Growth by Carrie Morgan, 18 Ways to Improve Your Facebook News Feed Performance by John Haydon, and Facebook to Marketers: Stop Using Text Updates to Game the News Feed by Jon Loomer.

Focus on Your Audience, Goals & What Works

So what should you do? What matters most is whether the people you are trying to reach are on Facebook, and that you use your time well to reach your organization’s goals.

Think carefully about the messages you want to convey. More importantly, what content and information does your audience need and want — when they are on Facebook? Is your content helping to solve their problems, entertain, and/or provide useful information they need?

red arrow climbing to top of white stairsAlmost no one visits your Facebook page after “liking” your organization. Your content appears or not in a person’s news feed based on the infamous Facebook algorithm which they regularly tweak.

One consistent component of the algorithm is that people see the most content in their news feed that they have already liked and engaged with. So after liking your Facebook page, they will see your content if they regularly look at your posts and more so if they like and/or comment on them.

What people like varies by them as individuals (obviously) but also by organization. What works great will be different for a nonprofit that helps people with diabetes or cancer, a professional membership association, accounting firm, tech start up, restaurant, or a contractor/supplier to other businesses. Each situation is unique which is important to remember when reading the latest news about plummeting Facebook numbers.

In reality, over 1.2 billion and counting people are on Facebook, some much more actively than others. So for most organizations, Facebook still has tremendous value as part of your communication plan. The question is how to best use your time on it to reach your goals and engage people.

A critical part of using your time well is to regularly monitor your stats through Facebook Insights, which provides data about how your Facebook page and posts are doing. Pay careful attention to:

  • How many people are viewing, liking, clicking and commenting on your content.
  • Which days of the week and times of day are most and least popular?
  • When are they on Facebook?
  • Which types of posts are working best – links (in which you enter a link in the What’s Happening? post prompt and Facebook populates a preview), photos with what kinds of copy, text only posts, etc.

When you see news that Facebook has tweaked the algorithm or other features recently, watch your organization’s data closely to see over time whether the above patterns are changing. Because it doesn’t really matter what’s happening in the broad world of Facebook or Organization XYZ – what matters is what is happening with YOUR organization’s facebook metrics.

Globe with a computer start button on itAlways keep in mind what you are trying to achieve through your Facebook presence. Building community, driving traffic to your web site/blog, selling product.   How do you measure it? What does success look like? But be realistic – Facebook pages don’t go from 10 to 10,000 fans in a week or a month. It takes time to attract fans and build a vibrant community.

Just remember that Facebook is not the place for blatant selling. Sharing useful content related to your brand and mission, entertaining and helping are key. Understanding and respecting the environment and culture of Facebook is important. Check out my articles 8 Tips to Build A Large Facebook Following and  8 Ways to Develop Facebook Content That Drives Engagement and Sharing for more ideas. You may also want to test advertising on Facebook which can be done very inexpensively. One of my favorite resources for Facebook advertising is expert Jon Loomer’s blog.

Keeping Up with Facebook Changes

The reality is Facebook will continue to change and evolve which they have to do to stay relevant and keep their audience. The most efficient way to stay up-to-date is to follow a few proven experts who are quick to blog about evolving changes and tips to maximize your efforts. Here are some of my favorite sources for Facebook news and tips:

question mark buttonJon Loomer – in addition to Facebook overall, he is the go to expert on advertising on Facebook, and shares regular videos and podcasts, often with guest experts, in addition to his traditional blog posts.

John Haydon specializes in nonprofit marketing and social media, but his tips are handy for anyone.

Mari Smith shares the latest Facebook news and tips on her Facebook page at

Social Media Examiner covers the range of social media, shares concrete tips and advice usually with great examples and clear screen shots, and features a Who’s Who of expert guest authors.

Andrea Vahl offers advice and tips on Facebook and other social media sites. and are two sister web sites by Media Bistro with the latest Facebook news.