Posted in social media, Social Media Marketing

Managing your brand’s social media

I’ve been managing social media for my employer for three years now. This includes Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Who knew that little ol’ me would be the entire media department?

While that might sound flattering, it sure wasn’t at first. I had to learn lots of things the hard way and mainly through trial and error. The place I work for was pretty old school at first. Most of upper management rolled their eyes at the thought of needing a social media manager, yes even with me in the same room, while the president felt strongly that there was a need for this position.

My job consists of PR management as well, so I’m not all SM, but I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned along the way.

Create a social media calendar: Don’t just post as you go. Stay organized and clearly identify your strategy. This conveys a sense of transparency to your employer as well. It will also prevent them from posting if you already have it laid out. Well, for most of you at least. This can be a Google doc, or an Excel file.

Schedule your posts: I usually spend a whole day scheduling all the posts and content on our social media channels. It is time consuming, but scrambling each day is to disorganized for me, especially if you manage several SM accounts. Hootsuite and Later Gram are my go tos.

Check out the competition: Do you want to be different, creative, and unique? Sure. But you also want to know what you’re up against and what other industry leaders are doing. Fan Page Karma is a great tool to use to save time. Here’s a few to shop through as well.

Don’t be selly: Being overly promotional is the fastest way to lose your following in my honest opinion. I get it, this is your objective, but you need a creative execution. Limit these types of posts and make them informal rather than promotional. Share a photo submission, a 5-star review, media mention etc.Use compelling media: Whether you’re making an infographic on Canva or Crello, or using a GIF, really think about what will capture your audience’s attention. I mean, they are fed so much bullshit all day long, what is going to stop them from scrolling and read, listen, or watch? Identify this and deliver.

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Capture the office life: Don’t be afraid to share a photo from the Halloween costume contest at work, or the kitten found in the warehouse. This is what makes your page unique. Anyone can post a 4th of July ad.

Hop on the trending hashtags..sometimes: For me, outdoor patio sets and garden tools don’t always pertain to some of these national days, or trending topics. When they do, I use them, but I’ve never seen a big increase in followers or engagement by using them. BUT, using effective hashtags will do the trick. I use HashtagafyMe to pinpoint relevant hashtags and use those instead. Now that I am experienced in the industry, I know what hashtags to use.

Engage! You can’t demand engagement and not reciprocate it. You just can’t. The best way to find your target audience is by commenting on recommended/similar pages. For example, I regularly comment on viral garden design images. Gardeners and designers follow these types of pages and then click on my page. I also respond to the comments on my page, this increases the visibility of my posts among my followers. Take 10 minutes each day and engage, you will see the organic growth in no time.

Figure out what drives engagement: Every SM audience is different. It took me about 6 months to really figure out the days, at which resulted in the most engagement, along with the topics our audience loved. Once I figured that out, I was able to use it to my advantage.

Experiment: As I mentioned above, there is no one day/time/topic, that translates to every brand. You will need to experiment, a lot. Host giveaway, ask questions, publish polls, partner with SM influencers and don’t be afraid to take an L. Behind every loss is a win…eventually.

Set an ad budget: Whether you’re running ads on G+, Facebook or Twitter, you can only get so far organically. It took me over a year to get a social media ad approved by the CEO. I had a budget of $500 and after the analytics came in, social media ads became a regular thing. I’ve also learned that publishing ads through FB Ads Manager supersedes a typical BOOST, any day!

You will need to create reports: The success of your campaigns means nothing unless you lay it out. Your clients/employers don’t notice the engagement, new followers, or sales refered by the social accounts unless you Break. It. Down. Your social networks offer free reporting, or you can use tools such as Icono Square and Simply Measured. I provide a monthly report for my team, but this can be done bi-monthly or quarterly, whichever you feel works for your brand.

So there you have it, here’s my beginner’s guide. Ultimately, progress is better than perfection, so just get started and see what works for you. My brand’s page had less than 300 likes and hardly any engagement when I started. About 9 months later, we had over 12k followers and constant engagement. My biggest accomplishment is cultivating this following with zero ad dollars and without bots! Something uncommon during that time. Bots are pointless, because your social media campaigns should help generate sales, right? Well, artificial intelligence may be advancing, but last I checked, bots do not turn into leads, nor do they generate sales. You need real people and engagement!

Social media is changing daily, and while some may argue that Facebook is dying, there will always be a form of digital communication. Familiarize yourself with it, so that you can confidently represent your brand online.

What else can you add to this list?

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Posted in California News

What’s bugging Pittsburg?

As dusk creeps in, they come out, lingering through the night. A nuisance to many and ignored by others as they live in the shadows of our world. Cockroaches and water beetles have become more prevalent in the city of Pittsburg, causing trouble for business owners and residents.

Could it be the heat?

It is not uncommon for pests to come out as summer approaches. “As the weather warms up, they [cockroaches] breed more and you’ll get more of them… it’s important to know they like to breed in drains,” said entomologist Graeme Smith in an interview with Mortein, an insecticide manufacturer.

Some Pittsburg residents and business owners have noticed an increase in insects, primarily being cockroaches, along with moths and mosquitos. While some suspect that the increase is due to the new season, others say there is more to the story

“I usually see the [city] workers spraying the man holes every few weeks and this year, I’ve seen none,” said Ragbeir Gill, owner of Bonfare Market.

Gill and his partner say budget cuts have led to the discontinuation of sewage spraying, which kills cockroaches and larvae. The spray consists of BorActin, and latex paint, which the insect then carries to the nest and it prevents breeding.

“My biggest problem is cockroaches, they come directly from the sewers,” Gill has owned Bonfare Market since 2011 and says that this is the first year he has had to hire pest control to take care of the problem so that he can pass city inspection.

“If we don’t pass inspection, I’ll be fined. But the problem is caused by the bugs coming from the sewer,” said Gill.

On May 2, The City of Pittsburg denied all allegations of being tied into the bug problem and advised that the complaints be directed to the county.

Mosquito & Vector Control is a district service, funded by tax dollars and conducts similar services to businesses and residents free of charge. Their media representative, Deborah Bass, advised that no budget cuts have been made and all services are conducted on an as-needed basis.

When asked about cockroach treatments, Bass explained that the city should handle those particular cases.

May 30, Public Works Supervisor, Anthony Baldazo says, “Our spraying of man holes includes safe chemicals and will not be done on any kind of private property. Business owners need to hire their own pest control.”

June 17, Angela Lowrey with Delta Diablo Sanitation District confirmed that the city owns and is therefore responsible for the sewage man holes in The City of Pittsburg, “Some man holes may be owned by Vector, some may be owner by us, but the sewers are owned and operated by the city.”

On June 17, Director of Pittsburg’s Public Works department, Fritz McKinley finally chimed in on the topic, “I’ve been with the city for about a year and a half and we haven’t done any routine spraying. It’s not in the budget.” He could not confirm if the spraying was previously done as a preventative measure, but he did confirm that it is currently done on an as-needed basis. “We will be happy to address any problems, but they [Bonfare Market] need to call us. I don’t have any complaints on file.”

June 18, McKinley confirms that the last time they sprayed was in March of last year. There are no plans to spray the man holes this year as of now.

Co-owner of Bonfare Market, Ankit, who preferred to leave out his last name, disagrees with the policy.

“I’ve never heard of that, it’s the city’s job to do it. I pay can charges, rent, property tax, why should I have to call them for the spraying? I’ve never had to do that. Why is it just now a problem then?” To deter the pests, the two owners currently have pest control scheduled to come out monthly, but it isn’t enough.

According to Home Team Pest Defense in Pittsburg, “This is one of our busiest years and it’s not even summer yet. We have been receiving more calls than usual about spiders, beetles and ants. The over-the-counter stuff won’t work in these cases,” said the scheduling coordinator, Toni.

Currently, residents are doing what they can to keep their homes as pest free as possible. Marie Escobar has lived in Pittsburg for almost 20 years and says that she noticed an increase before the warm weather struck. “I hate these bugs! Moths, beetles, spiders, pincher bugs…it’s been aggravating me because they all come out at night. I bought bug spray from Walmart because hiring an exterminator would be too expensive, I’m on a budget.”

The insect problem will only worsen as the summer months progress. Insects such as cockroaches and mosquitos carry dangerous bacteria and diseases, which are transmitted through bites and feces. As cockroaches remain the most problematic, they are also the most dangerous of the bunch.

According Discover Magazine, “Over 30 species of bacteria have been found on the cuticle and gut of roaches, including those of serious medical import such as E. coli, various species of Salmonella and StaphylcoccousPseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae. These bacteria cause diseases such as urinary tract infections, dysentery, diarrhea, pneumonia, cholera, polio, septicemia and wound infections.”

It is no surprise that the vectors carry such harmful bacteria. Cockroaches feed off of human feces, toe nails, sputum (saliva and mucus) and just about anything, really.

As complaints grow, residents and business owners wait for the city to take action.

“I already gave up, I’m not happy about this, but I give up,” said Gill.

Update: Less than a week later, the City of Pittsburg sprayed BorActin to the manhole in front of Bonfair Market on Rail Rd. Ave. City workers explained that the process is a reactive measure on behalf of the city.

“I could see a difference the next day. I was getting worried I wouldn’t pass inspection next month because of the bugs,” said Gill.

If you would like to contact The City of Pittsburg’s Public Works Department about pests in your neighborhood call 925.685.9301.

Posted in Blogging, California News

Emmy® Awards Gala Social Media Coverage

There’s a new type of coverage today’s journalist must be experienced with. Why not add one more task to the one-woman-show?

It’s not all that bad, really. It’s something we already do.

Social media coverage.

At big events, we send photographers, reporters and videographers. But what about, instant coverage? I mean, what’s more instant than sharing a story on the web just after the show?

Tweeting, and posting in real-time – of course.

I volunteered at the 46th News and Documentary Annual Emmy® Awards Gala and this was a type of coverage I had never done. Professionally, that is. It was easy to catch on to, because I am always sharing just about everything from my own events, but it was definitely a learning process.

Myself and one other social media manager took on specific accounts, to make things easy. We stuck with the hashtags, #EmmySF and #EmmySFTV, provided by the marketing team and my job was to capture the behind-the-scenes stuff and mention our  sponsors here and there.

The only difficult task was keeping up with matching the winners’ names to their photos. There were sooo many to mention!! Also, groups of winners, (well, award recipients, no one is a winner) from both English and Spanish categories were called out at once and lined up to enter the stage. If one of the award recipients was not present, this jumbled up the order. Also, if someone already accepted an award, they could not give a speech, this also jumbled up the order as well.

Another task I struggled with, was tagging the appropriate people. I found it so hard to believe that some of the award recipients did not have Instagram or Twitter handles! Either that, or they are under different names – very likely. However, the show goes by quickly and there is not much time to research social handles. Instead I hashtagged names of people and news networks.

Providing social coverage and helping out with Facebook Live interviews had my adrenaline going, in a good way. You know what I mean. Being able to walk around the event freely to snap photos, videos and create Boomerangs, made the coverage flow flawlessly. The night went smoothly and everyone enjoyed themselves and interacted with the Emmy® SF TV social handles.

So if you’re wondering how the night went, you can catch a quick rundown here.

Posted in Blogging

“Get Out” movie review

The same producers who brought you “Insidious” and “The Visit” have teamed up with Jordan Peele for “Get Out.” In other words, we knew it’d be good before we even saw the trailer.

Resembling “The Stepford Wives,” this film has a common theme – everyone knows something you and the main character don’t know and the suspense leaves you on the edge of your seat.

Peele classifies his first film as a “social-thriller,” a new genre he coined himself and it is just that. The film was released in February of 2017, during such a divisive time in the U.S.

The main character, Chris, (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Katie, (Allison Williams) are a madly-in-love, young, bi-racial couple. The plot begins when she invites him to meet her family.

But this isn’t your typical meet-the-parents deal. Already hesitant, Chris agrees, as Katie has him wrapped around her sweet little finger.

Throughout the movie, Chris has a buddy he calls as things take a turn for the worst. He’s your average best friend you’ve known since high school. The writers make him likable from the very beginning.

The film takes you on a journey of interracial love gone completely creepy and wrong. From hypnosis, to the discovery of missing people, to organ stealing and a shady twist.

But does Chris make it out alive, or does he fall victim to hypnosis? What happens to Katie? You have to check it out for yourself. This eerie film is definitely worth making the trip to the theater.

Posted in California News

The ugly side of social media

Most Americans check their social media first thing in the morning. There are new Likes, views, followers, friend requests and mentions. Enough activity to make a person feel important and well, liked.

Social networks have also been linked to causing trouble in relationships, not just the romantic kind. The lack of face-to-face interaction has changed the way people communicate with each other. Distraction, isolation, illusion and a negative outlook on one’s self-image are all the result of the social media boom.

Are the above factors enough to contribute to rising suicide rates in the U.S.?

The big social media spike really took off in 2007 and the suicide rate went from 29,000 per year to about 37,000 by the year 2008.

This jump alone is a cause for concern.

This bumped suicide up to the list of top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S., knocking out Septicemia.

Suicide rates have grown by about 625 each year since then.

What changed exactly?

Data via Facebook & CDC

According to Diane Cvetic, Behavioral Science Professor, “one other significant event in 2007-2008 was the housing market collapse, which would be very likely to contribute to increased suicide rates. The biggest spike in suicide rates in the last century was back in the early 1930s during the Great Depression, so economic downturns are a well-known contributing factor.

Social media is linked to increased levels of social isolation, which increases the likelihood of suicide. Also, the recent live-streaming suicides on Facebook may glamorize suicide for those at risk and put them at higher risk. Demographics is key here. For example, suicide rates have jumped much higher for middle aged women than all other age/gender groups. Do middle aged woman have a higher rate of social media use?”

Well, let’s see…

 

While the recession ended in June of 2009, suicides rates continue to grow for middle aged women. Men between the ages of 25-34 dominate in suicide throughout the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Men are four times more likely to commit suicide, whereas women attempt suicide three times more than men.

The use of social media has opened up the door for discussions on how to kill yourself. People are live streaming self-harm videos, which make up for 58 percent of YouTube’s most-watched videos. Suicide pacts among the youth grow on a daily basis. The addition of cyber bullying is the final touch, to a recipe for disaster.

With these tools, suicide is becoming normalized.

In an effort to deter suicide, Google displays the National Suicide Prevention Hotline when searches such as how to kill yourself are keyed in.

Facebook has also teamed-up with a non-profit group in both the UK and Ireland, which provides notifications to the group when suicide-related terms are searched on the Internet.

There is no doubt that social media is an effective tool for information and communication, but there is no restriction on the types of messages conveyed and accessed.

The social networking tools which were created to bring us closer, appear to be doing the opposite and the vulnerable are the true victims.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/feb/04/facebook-in-numbers-statistics

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/datasources.html

http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/

https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/

https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-data-science/how-diverse-is-facebook/205925658858/

Posted in Blogging

4 tips to help create blog posts that don’t suck

Blogs are everywhere.

Your neighbor has a blog, the place you work for does and even news outlets have blog pages.

Readers enjoy them because they deliver information in chunks and typically include eye catching GIFs, videos and images.

BUT, no one cares about your blog post if they don’t see it.

Social media is the main source when it comes to these types of articles. The stories are shareable on just about every channel, but no one cares to click when they see just another blog post. 

  1. The story is as good as its title. 

Maybe not to the writer, sure. But when a reader sees, “When to use different shutter speeds” they keep scrolling.

Instead, the writer should use second-person pronouns to appeal to the reader on a human level. Including the words “you” and “your” in the title alone will make a huge difference in the traffic to your blog post.

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2. Make your reader cry, laugh, or even scare them.

Appealing to your audiences hopes, fears and emotions in general will help capture their attention long enough to click your story. When they share it, they are sharing the emotion it conjured up. Buzzfeed pulled this one off wonderfully in their story, 21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity.

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3. Catch them off-guard. 

Susannah Breslin, an award winning blogger, says to, “pick a niche that isn’t boring.” Her blog was called, The Reverse Cowgirl.

Young writers often select topics they think their audience cares about (guilty), when in reality, the story should be important to the author. When you truly care about what it is you are sharing, you pour your heart and soul into it. You put the effort in and go the extra mile. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a blogger, is that the deepest and darkest topics you touch on, bring the most interactions.

Of course you need to appeal to the audience, just don’t be so predictable.

4. Choose your images wisely. 

Lastly, imagery is everything. People don’t want to spend time reading a thousand word article. The convenience of blog posts is that they are considered to be snackable content. Don’t be afraid to incorporate GIFs, memes, brightly colored photos and snap shots of social media posts.

Social media has been a huge contributor to blog traffic and will continue to do so. But, you still have to do the footwork to get your blog seen.

What’s working for your blog?

Posted in California News

Arrest warrant for covering North Dakota Pipeline protests?

Amidst the widespread controversy over Colin Kaepernick’s  silent protest, Americans seem to have missed one that has been taking place right under our noses.

North Dakota’s Energy Transfer Partner planned to run a pipeline through sacred Native American burial grounds, within miles of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation’s drinking water source, according to Buzzfeed.

Most of the country has been oblivious to the outrage that has been taking place since the project’s approval in late July. Things took a dangerous turn when the protests became violent.

the-route

Energy Transfer Partner includes the following in their project mission statement:

“As an operating principle, Dakota Access Pipeline is committed to working with individual landowners to make accommodations, minimize disruptions, and achieve full restoration of impacted land. We will listen to and address questions from the community, landowners and other interested stakeholders about the project, proposed routes, landowner communications and more.”

However, their actions remain inconsistent.

Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota reached a boiling point, with reports of violent attacks on protesters by security dogs and numerous instances of macing,” according to a report on MotherJones.com.

The people of the United States did not see this story on T.V., no one was talking about it on the radio and social media continued to buzz with reports on Kaepernick’s jersey being number one in sales.

It was not until Democracy Now!’s executive producer and host, Amy Goodman’s report went viral, did the people learn about what was going on in North Dakota. Goodman was able to film the horrific treatment the protestors underwent that Saturday. The video spread over social media like wildfire and continues to grow in shares.

Because of the public outcry, the construction has come to a halt by the Obama administration. However, a warrant has currently been issued for Goodman’s arrest.

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Photo via Democracy Now!

“This is an unacceptable violation of freedom of the press,” said Amy Goodman in a statement. “I was doing my job by covering pipeline guards unleashing dogs and pepper spray on Native American protesters.”

How is this possible?

Goodman has been accused of trespassing, a misdemeanor offense.

According to North Dakota’s Century Code 12.1-22-03 criminal trespassing is defined as:

2. An individual is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if, knowing that that individual is not licensed or privileged to do so, the individual:

a. Enters or remains in or on any building, occupied structure, or storage structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof.

b. Enters or remains in any place so enclosed as manifestly to exclude intruders.

3. An individual is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if, knowing that that individual is not licensed or privileged to do so, the individual enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by actual communication to the actor by the individual in charge of the premises or other authorized individual or by posting in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders. The name of the person posting the premises must appear on each sign in legible characters. An individual who violates this subsection is guilty of a class A misdemeanor for the second or subsequent offense within a two-year period. 

As a journalist, Goodman is entitled to cover a newsworthy event, which took place publicly.

The warrant poses serious implications in regards to our Freedom of the Press and is still under investigation.