March 14, 2015

Q&A with Manny Ruiz, the man behind Hispanicize

Manny Ruiz founded Hispanicize in 2010, and has grown it into the largest gathering for U.S. Hispanics of its kind. The weeklong conference opens Monday in downtown Miami.

HispanicizeBy Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com


As Hispanicize opens Monday for its sixth annual weeklong event packed with workshops, speakers, awards and concerts all featuring U.S. Latinos, a lot of people may not know the unusual entrepreneurial journey of the man behind it all.

Hispanicize is the largest U.S. Hispanic social media and entertainment event of its kind, specializing in marketing, media, film and music, said its founder, Manny Ruiz. “What people really love about Hispanicize is that we are the one event that is laser-focused on the aspirations, opportunities and challenges of the U.S. Hispanic.”

Ruiz’s father was an early Cuban exile and his mother is a second-generation Cuban American: “I was born and raised in Little Havana and Hialeah, as blue collar as you can get. … My family didn’t have much in Cuba and they didn’t have anything in Miami either, [but] their work ethic has stayed with me … and kept me grounded.”

Today, Ruiz, 45, is the chairman and founder of the Hispanicize brand of platforms that include the annual Hispanicize event, the Latina Mom Bloggers network, Being Latino, Hispanicize Wire and the Hispanic PR Blog.

Before building his current grouping of media properties, Ruiz founded, led and sold Hispanic PR Wire for $5.5 million in 2008. In thinking about what his next project would be, he was inspired by South by Southwest, the big annual music, film and entrepreneurship event in Austin, Texas. The first Hispanicize was in 2010.

But here are some things you may not know about Ruiz. He almost flunked his senior year at Miami Southwest Senior High — twice.

“The shocking part of my second senior year was that despite a horrible academic record — I was 10 spots away from graduating last of my second senior year class — my high school principal believed in my investigative journalism work on the school newspaper so much she nominated me to be our high school’s [Miami Herald] Silver Knight representative for journalism,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz said he was moved to pursue journalism — he was affectionately known as “Geraldo“ in high school — after his middle school experience attending a corrupt and drug-ridden private school, Miami Aerospace Academy. It was ultimately the power of the press that got the place shut down, he said.

He then stoked that journalistic passion at Miami Southwest and later at Miami Dade College, which will install him next month in the MDC Alumni Hall of Fame, and at the Miami Herald before transitioning into marketing, online media and entrepreneurship.

The Miami Herald talked with Ruiz about his unusual entrepreneurial journey and plans for the 2015 Hispanicize, which opens Monday at the InterContinental Miami with an expected record attendance of more than 2,000. Here are excerpts of the conversation:

Continue reading "Q&A with Manny Ruiz, the man behind Hispanicize" »

November 26, 2014

3 reasons to invest in Latin American mobile content

By Joe Kutchera

It is no surprise that media experts forecast that mobile will overtake web traffic, because, well, it already has in the developed world. To get an overview of that trend, take a look at Benedict Evans’ excellent presentation from the WSJD conference: Mobile is Eating the World. As a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, his research led him to discover that we will have two to three times more smartphones than PC’s globally by the year 2020 and that Facebook already earns more in advertising from visitors to its mobile platform that to its website.

The implications from this sea change in media consumption are, of course, enormous, but probably even more so for emerging markets like those in Latin America. That’s why I’m excited to attend and present at the 2014 M2Content & Apps LATAM Conference in Miami on December 2 and discuss “Monetizing Social Media” as well as share the story of how Flipboard launched its U.S. Latino content guide.

Here are three reasons to invest in Latin American mobile content:

One, Latin America will “leapfrog” the U.S. and other “developed” markets in adopting mobile technologies and content.

“Last year [in 2013] at this time, El Nuevo Día in Puerto Rico was getting 30 percent of its digital traffic from mobile devices, with the remaining 70 percent coming from the desktop. This year [in 2014] according to deputy general director Benjamín Morales Melendez, those numbers have reversed. They get 70 percent of their traffic from mobile devices. It switched in less than 12 months.”

Craig Silverman, an award-winning journalist and Adjunct Faculty at The Poynter Institute, recently shared this story in his article “3 lessons in mobile, social and viral from Latin American newspapers,” about attending and presenting at GDA’s (Grupo de Diarios América) annual conference for journalists. Read his full article here.

Two, LatAm is currently the world’s fastest growing mobile ad market.

LatAm is uniquely placed to ‘leapfrog’ the US and Europe in not only innovation but also in total advertising spending. In addition, smartphone population will surpass Internet population in 2017, with around 240 million users across the region. Yet, in 2012, the region only accounted for 0.6% of global mobile adspend. So, in the years ahead, advertisers will need to start thinking “mobile first” and create “made for mobile” content and advertising formats.

For more details, take a look at this presentation from Telefónica:

Mobile Advertising in LatAm; The Myths, The Facts and the Future from Telefónica's digital services.

 Three, LatAm leads the world in time spent on social media.

“5 of the top 10 most engaged markets with social content worldwide are located in Latin America,” according to digital market research firm comScore. In addition, its recent report shows that “consumers in Latin America spent 10 hours online per month on Social Networking sites, doubling the global average time spent.”

The Wall Street Journal concurs, reporting that Brazil is “The Social Media Capital of the Universe,” reporting that, “By the end of 2012, Brazil was also the biggest market outside the U.S. by number of unique visitors for YouTube, and one of YouTube’s top five markets by revenue.”

More recently, eMarketer reported that Latin American countries are among the fastest-growing Twitter markets worldwide, showing that “Emerging markets around the world are driving growth for Twitter, according to eMarketer’s forecast of worldwide usage of the microblogging service. And while the two fastest-growing markets worldwide this year—Indonesia and India—are in Asia-Pacific, the rest of the top five are in Latin America.”

Joe Kutchera is the head of Latin American and US Latino partnerships for Flipboard and helped launch both its US Latino and Latam content guides for the mobile application, which has over 100 million active users. Joe is the author of two books and writes for Fox News Latino, The Huffington Post and MediaPost. He will be speaking at 2014 M2Content & Apps LATAM Conference, Dec. 2-4, 2014 in Wynwood, at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse.

November 23, 2014

Digital marketing firm Nobox flexes ‘social muscle,’ goes all-in on Latin America

 

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com / Photos by Charles Trainor Jr.

NOBOX1100FOUNDERS CTJ (2)In the rapidly changing world of social media marketing, simply collecting “likes” on a company Facebook page is so yesterday.

Today social marketing is about combining social science, technology and media in creative ways to create messaging on multiple platforms that resonates with consumers so deeply they are moved to share.

Nobox, a Miami-based technology company and digital marketing agency, calls it “social muscle,” a strategy the company embraced about three years when Nobox pivoted its entire focus to human-to-human marketing through social media.

“It was a big move because back then social marketing was in its infancy, but we knew the future of marketing was in social,” said Jayson Fittipaldi, president and chief creative officer of Nobox, who co-founded the company with Carlos García. “Social is the center is of everything we do.”

Nobox was founded nearly 14 years ago in Puerto Rico and moved to Miami in 2004. Since its transformation into a social-media-focused marketing company by early 2012, Nobox has grown to 37 employees, has operations in Sao Paulo, San Francisco and New York as well as its Miami Midtown base and has grown its annual revenue fivefold to about $10 million. With a focus on consumer technology, travel and Latin America, Nobox has attracted marquee clients such as Sony PlayStation, Netflix, Samsung and Marriott.

“The way we have been able to fivefold revenue is we have focused on what we know best,” said Carlos García, Nobox’s CEO. “We consider ourselves to be marketing hackers. Our client base is looking to execute their marketing in Latin America. “

Continue reading "Digital marketing firm Nobox flexes ‘social muscle,’ goes all-in on Latin America" »

November 20, 2014

Give Miami Day's goal: $5 million to make the community better

Givemiamiday

The Miami Foundation staff cheers after reaching a milestone last year.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for this important message: Give to your favorite nonprofit today.

By Carli Teproff / cteproff@maimiherald.com

Nearly 16 years ago, Keri Brooke Heiken lost her life in a horrific car accident as she and four friends headed back to the University of Florida after spending a weekend in South Florida.

Since her death in 1998, her family has worked to keep Keri’s memory alive by giving $2,500 scholarships to high school seniors who have helped the community and want to make a difference in the world.

This year, the Keri Brooke Heiken Foundation, which in the past has held dinner and raffle fundraisers, is reaching out for donations in a new way.

It has joined The Miami Foundation’s Give Miami Day — a 24-hour period in which donations can be made online to more than 500 charities. The blitz begins 12:01 a.m. Thursday and runs for 24 hours.

“It’s an opportunity to reach a lot more people,” said Keri’s mother, Lori Heiken. “We have been working hard to spread the word.”

Give Miami Day, now in its third year, has gained popularity with each campaign, with more and more charities coming on board. This year, Give Miami will include 115 new charities — among them Goodwill Industries, the South Beach Chamber Ensemble, the South Florida SPCA Horse Rescue and Honor Flight South Florida.

Miami Foundation CEO Javier Alberto Soto said the momentum has been incredible. This year the foundation, a philanthropy incubator that helps charities with their fundraising, has even planned a block party from 6 to 9 p.m. in the West Plaza of the Miami Marlins’ stadium in Little Havana to give people a chance to mingle.

“I think we have created an event people look forward to each year to make our community better,” Soto said. “It’s about civic pride.”

And the pride has been contagious.

Returning charities including Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired Inc., Miami Herald Charities — which benefits the Wish Book project — and Shake-A-Leg Miami have been blasting the message through Facebook and through other social media platforms.

The Arsht Center, which is raising money for its Arts Education programs, has planned Dance Party on the Plaza to spotlight Give Miami Day and has encouraged the staff effort to raise money. Others including Heiken will hold an open house to thank supporters.

The way it works is simple: People can visit givemiamiday.org, look at the profiles of each charity and make a donation. Donations between $25 and $10,000 will qualify for a bonus for the recipient, distributed based on how much is raised and how much is collected in the bonus pool. The Miami Foundation, Knight Foundation and other sponsors have contributed as an “incentive” for giving, Soto said.

There are also about 20 prizes throughout the giving period to boost donations. The gifts include the $1,500 Early Bird Gets the Worm prize for the organization that receives the most individual gifts from midnight to 1:30 a.m., the $500 Good Morning, Sunshine prize for the organization that receives the gift made closest to the official sunrise at 6:43 a.m., and the $500 Giancarlo Stanton Home Run prize for the organization that receives the gift made closest to 1:54 p.m. celebrating the Miami Marlins all-time career home run leader.

Last year, Give Miami Day received more than 10,000 individual gifts and raised $3.2 million to support 407 local nonprofit organizations. The Greater Miami Jewish Federation topped the leader board with $207,362.

Soto said the goal is to continue to have an “impact on South Florida.”

“There are a lot of charities doing a lot of great things and we want to recognize that.”

To Donate

What: The Miami Foundation’s Give Miami Day

When: Thursday through Friday

How: Visit givemiamiday.org and either click on the charity of your choice or search through the database. Donations between $25 and $10,000 qualify for a percentage of the bonus pool.

Social media: @MiamiFoundation on Twitter and Instagram and #givemiamiday.

For more information: givemiamiday.org.

 

September 22, 2014

Startup Spotlight: Splyst

Splyst

Photo by Peter Andrew Bosch/Miami Herald

Splyst

Headquarters: Miami, at Pipeline Brickell.

Concept: Splyst is a platform for discovering and sharing content that revolutionizes the way people interact with information. The social network leverages machine learning to curate personalized real-time Internet content for its users and gives them the ability to share that content with their follower base.

Story: Recent University of Miami grad Travis Montaque founded Splyst as a sophomore. He conceived the Splyst concept after he found a study that showed 75 percent percent of people spent more time searching for and sharing information on the Internet than they’d like to, and he realized that younger demographics relied heavily on social media as a primary means to acquire information.

Fed up with inefficient, unreliable tools to receive and share Internet content, he set out to develop a platform that would change the way people would receive and share things they found interesting. Montaque was managing two Chick-fil-A franchises at age 19 before launching into entrepreneurship. At 21, he was invited by former President Bill Clinton to give a talk to world leaders at the Clinton Global Initiative 2013 Annual Meeting on solving the global youth unemployment problem through entrepreneurship.

Splyst’s application learns its users’ behaviors and brings them what they want to see, allows them to share their reactions with friends using emojis, and allows users to collect what they like. Enjoy browsing new content on the ‘for you’ feed or follow your friends and see what they have recently reacted to.

Launched: August 2014.

Management team: Travis Montaque, CEO; Mike Ojemann, CTO; Keisuke Inoue, VP of Data Science.

Number of employees: 9

Financing: Raised a $570,000 seed round.

Recent milestones: Splyst released its iOS application in the Apple App Store on Aug. 4; formed high-profile strategic relationships in New York; closed an additional $270,000 in financing; acquired John Fanning, co-founder and former chairman of Napster, as an advisor.

Biggest startup challenge: Building a team of individuals with the correct competencies, personalities and motivations. “Everything fell into place afterwards,” Montaque said.

Next step: Splyst just opened its Series A round seeking to raise $2 million to scale up the company and achieve massive adoption.

Strategy for next step: The company is in discussions with several large media and technology firms and intends to partner with them to accelerate user adoption.

Advisor’s view: “It has been amazing to watch an energetic college kid with an idea hire a team, build a product, close investors, put a product in the market, and have real customers and users flock to it, all in an incredibly short period of time. It’s exciting,” said Fanning, chairman of Netcapital who advises Montaque on strategy, relationship introductions, connections to capital, recruiting, product development and marketing.

“The biggest challenge is getting support from the Miami community. Most companies who are able to achieve the success Travis has already achieved simply just move to Silicon Valley because they already have the people, support and infrastructure to get your early-stage company to the next level. People in that community like to have the companies within driving distance of their own office. It’s a long drive to Miami,” said Fanning. “Travis believes in Miami and has found a few great people to support him, but he needs more or he will simply have to move the company."

Posted Sept. 22, 2014

Read past Startup Spotlights in the Startup Spotlight category of this blog.

 

September 18, 2014

Social media startup Everypost raises seed round, plans product expansions


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To fuel its product expansions, Everypost, the social media publishing platform, raised $850,000 in seed funding from Miami-based Krillion Ventures, NXTP of Buenos Aires and Handmade Ventures of San Francisco, as well as  angel investors in Miami, Silicon Valley, Argentina and Brazil, the Miami-based company announced Thursday.

Led by CEO and co-founder Fernando Cuscuela, Everypost plans to use the funding for product development, including a web version of its social media publishing tool that it plans to launch in October and tablet versions for both iPad and Android. It will also ramp up marketing and advertisings over the next 12 months, mainly in Latin America and U.S. markets, Cuscuela said. 

With an average user growth of 10 percent a week, Everypost not only makes it easy to schedule and share content on all your social networks at once but it allows you to quickly customize the post for each network. It also helps users post quality content by giving  photo filters and trending hashtags, and allowing them to search and curate content from different sources right on the platform.

Cuscuela


“We have active and enthusiastic users who are contributing to our success by sharing their suggestions and even translating parts of the app so that we can offer it in more languages,” said  Cuscuela, adding that Everypost is offered so far in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, French and German. “Our international collection of investors is also providing invaluable support and guidance.”

That would include Alexandre Hohagen, VP of Facebook Latin America and based in Miami, Stefano Zunino, who heads Digital Worldwide for JWT, Miami-based Nobox CEO Carlos Garcia and Mark Kingdon, an early investor in Twitter and Fab.com. “Everypost’s mobile-first business approach was a smart move, allowing them to offer a tool that competitors just aren’t ready to compete with,” said Kingdon, who recently moved to Miami from New York and is one of Everypost's newest investors.

Cuscuela moved his family here in 2013 as part of the first accelerator class at Venture Hive. The team has now grown to 12 – nine in Argentina and three in Miami - and Everypost plans to soon hire business development and marketing managers in Miami, Cuscuela said.

"Everypost has an exceptionally talented founding team with long-term vision and global ambition. We believe that their easy-to-use, time-saving social media publishing solution is a must-have for brands, bloggers, journalists and professionals," said Melissa Krinzman, managing partner of Krillion Ventures. "As their lead investor, we look forward to helping them realize their potential.” 

Posted Sept. 18, 2014

July 30, 2014

Running a social media contest? Our top five tips.

Echo herald blog supersocial (1)
 

By Susan Linning

SusanLinning_001 rt2So you want to run a contest on social media??  Isn’t that interesting.  Everyone else wants to do the same thing.  And they want their contest to be way more successful than yours – producing more likes, higher engagement, increased brand recognition and awareness and more…well…sales.

What’s the value of running a Facebook contest? How will a contest help a business market itself? How do I make my contest different?  How do I make it stand out in a sea of rhetoric? 

We hear it over and over. Business owners know the importance of having a solid social media presence, but many are still trying to understand the benefits of running contests.

Review our top five tips, below, and get your brand’s contest to the top of the list, with the highest engagement, traffic and likes/new fans/followers. 

 1.      Choose the Type of Contest that Meets Your Goals

What kind of contest best suits your goals, objectives and target market?

 Sweepstakes  - Anyone can enter by simply by liking your page and/or supplying their email address.  These contests quickly build likes and your email distribution list (marketing’s holy grail). They also provide a huge boost to brand awareness. Prize is critical.

Vote Contests - Get consumer feedback. Let your fans/followers choose your next product tag line, product offering, logo, t-shirt design or just enjoy the increased engagement with fans voting on a fun idea. 

Photo Caption Contests - Ask entrants to caption an image you choose. This is a simple, engaging way to get people talking and sharing your photo and it also increases brand awareness and page likes. 

Essay Contests - Get specific feedback on your products and/or services.  Require entrants to write a few words on a topic you choose (i.e. Why would your mother love spending Mother’s Day at “Her Favorite Beauty Bar”?).  This provides a better understanding of why clients come to your spa/salon, what they value, etc.  Prize is critical, as the entry method is more complicated and time consuming. 

Photo Contests – Increase user generated content by asking entrants to submit a photo of themselves using/wearing/trying your product, or before/after images of the use of your product/service.  The entries to this contest can later be used for blog material, website information, etc.

 2.     Contest Prize is Often Key

The contest prize often determines the contest’s success.  Most people will first determine if the prize merits the time and energy required for entry.  If you have a high-value prize (over about $300), the more you can require from contest participants.  If your prize is lower-value ($50 - $300), the contest requirements must be simple and entry must be easy.

If your prize is on the less expensive end, it is wise to have the contest run over the short-term (no more than two weeks).  For a high-value prize, your contest can run for weeks and even months.  

It’s beneficial to your business and brand to make your prize brand-related.  That means giving away gift cards for your products or services.  And while the retail value of the prize might be $500, the cost to you is obviously far less. This isn’t true for those contest prizes that are third party purchases (iPad, AMEX gift card, air travel, etc.).

3.     Make Contest Entry Simple

Complicated entry process = guaranteed fewer participants.  Make your contest stupid-proof.  Advice you can take to the bank:  most people are impatient and don’t want to spend much time thinking about your contest.  Dumb down the contest entry to make it achievable for a kindergartner.  ;)

 4.     Promote the Contest

Spread the word about your contest. Use Facebook promoted posts, FB ads and ask fans/followers to share the contest on their personal pages.  Add a contest promo banner/cover image on FB, TW and G+ pages.  Cross promote the contest on all social media platforms, websites and through dedicated email blasts.  Create a unique hashtag for your contest (critical for Instagram contests):   #JumpingJackFlashContest  #BoiseGreatGiveaway

 5.     Post Contest Follow Up

Send an email that includes all entries to those who participate in the contest.  Later, post and email an image of the winning entry or a photo of the prize.  Follow up with posts on all social media platforms showing winner receiving prize or the gift certificate being mailed, etc.  Post teasers for future contests to keep momentum going and fans/followers engaged. 

 Why run a contest anyway, you might ask?  Here, we give you the skinny:

1. Get more fans, followers

2. Increase brand awareness

3. Generate new emails and leads

4. Develop user-generated content (UGC)

5. Crowdsource your product development

6. Impact sales

7. Launch a new product or promote an event

8. Obtain greater insight into your fans’ and followers’ preferences, opinions

9. Drive more traffic to your ecommerce store

10.  Exposure.  Exposure.  Exposure.

Susan Linning is president of ECHO SOCIAL MEDIA + MARKETING of Miami, which develops and executes social media and integrated marketing strategies, creating custom content and maintaining pages on social media platforms. ECHO also provides blogging and copy-writing services.

Search this blog for past columns by Susan Linning.

 

June 26, 2014

Speakers, parties, networking on tap for Social Media Day Miami on Sunday

On Sunday, June 29, social media professionals and enthusiasts looking to find inspiration and expand their knowledge will once again swarm the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County for Social Media Day Miami 2014. Popularized by Mashable, Social Media Day is an international celebration of social media that attracts thousands of meet-ups across the world.

 The free conference celebrates the art and craft of social media through presentations benefiting the beginner as well as advanced user. Panel discussion topics include best practices for digital marketing; reaching Hispanics, using social media metrics to target your audience; journalism and social media; the role of mobile; personal branding; and measurement and ROI. The event will take place throughout the Arsht Center’s campus, with registration being held at Knight Hall starting at 11 a.m.

Dan McCabe, director of Kevin Bacon’s 6 Degrees Foundation will give the closing remarks, along with a briefing on the foundation’s mission of using celebrity influence through social media to highlight happenings throughout the country. Attendees will have the opportunity to socialize with the online community offline while enjoying music, hors d’oeuvres and drinks at the open bar happy hour mixer sponsored by Liqs at The Nest proceeding the event.

Now in its fourth year, Miami hosted one of the largest Social Media Days in the country in 2012 and 2013, and this year is expected to grow even larger, with more than 900 potential attendees. Mashable has named Miami as one of the top five cities to attend a Social Media Day event this year.

“Social Media Day showcases speakers from many perspectives throughout South Florida, and gives their audiences a chance to meet offline," said Grant Stern, SMDayMIA organizer and President of Morningside Mortgage.   

Mashable launched Social Media Day in 2010 as a way to recognize the digital revolution unfolding in homes and workplaces everywhere. From Australia to the Philippines, all the way to Sri Lanka and Morocco, countries come together every June to participate in this global movement.

Social Media Day Miami is being organized by local social media industry leaders including Grant SternNatascha Otero-SantiagoJames EcholsAnnette PeikertBrenda Leguisamo, Annush MacLeodChristine de la HuertaKarl NyberghHeather LopezSandi AbbottLee HodsonCynthia K. Seymour and Deb Hopkins.  The event is sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, rbb Public Relations, Keurig, and ONE | Sotheby's International Realty.

If you are interested in attending Social Media Day Miami please visit www.smdaymia.com

Attendance is free with registration, while tax-deductible donations are encouraged.

Social Media Day Miami Schedule 

  • * Sunday, June 29
  • * Venue: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County
  • * 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Registration
  • * 12 – 5 p.m.: Social Media Day Conference
  • * 5 – 8 p.m.: Happy Hour Social / Networking Mixer at The Nest

 - Submitted by Social Media Club of South Florida

May 11, 2014

8 tips to help businesses survive a social media storm

By Tasha Cunningham

TashaWhen US Airways accidentally sent a tweet that included a pornographic image to a complaining customer last month, the company committed a major Twitter gaffe. When the New York Police Department asked the community to tweet pictures of New Yorkers interacting with police officers using the hashtag #MyNYPD, the department didn’t expect the backlash that ensued. Instead of tweeting positive photos, the public posted images of the New York Police Department enacting the controversial stop-and-frisk policy, Occupy Wall Street protesters being taken down, and officers manhandling citizens on the street.

These debacles illustrate the fact that even major corporations and public agencies aren’t immune to social media blunders. And neither are small businesses. Rebounding from a social media disaster is difficult when you’re doing it on a national stage like U.S. Airways and the New York Police Department. For a small business, a social media faux pas can lead to lost sales, erosion of customer loyalty and loss of credibility.

So what should a small business do when faced with a social media crisis? Here are eight strategies (including a Starting Gate Extra at end) to help you manage and move past it.

1. Don’t panic: As a small business owner, when you’re faced with a crisis, your natural inclination is to panic. Instead, take a deep breath and keep calm. Remember that if you manage the crisis the right way, you will be able to come back from it without a major loss to your business.

2. Don’t delete: If you posted something that has gotten a negative reaction from your followers or fans, you might think that deleting it will make it all go away. It won’t. Instead, it’s going to look like you’re avoiding the consequences of your mistake. When the New York Police Department purged its Twitter page of the less than flattering photos using the #MyNYPD hashtag, it only kept the negative conversation on social media going longer. Resist the urge to delete. There are times, however, when deleting is appropriate, as in the case of US Airways and the tweet that featured a pornographic image. If what you’ve posted has been deemed racially offensive, sexist or pornographic, it is usually better to delete the post than leave it up.

Continue reading "8 tips to help businesses survive a social media storm" »

March 11, 2014

11 signs your social media strategy isn't working

By Tasha Cunningham

TashaToday, small business owners are busier than ever trying to run their companies while handling marketing and sales, too. An important part of marketing today is social media. For many small business owners, the world of social media is still foreign territory, and finding the perfect strategy that actually works can often be difficult.

So how do you know if what you’re doing is really hitting the mark? Here are 11 signs that your small business strategy isn’t working. If you’re doing any of the things on this list, chances are your strategy is falling flat and you’re missing prime opportunities to use social media to engage, inform and promote.

1. You delete negative posts.

Negative posts about your brand can be shocking, scary and hurtful. One of the key mistakes small business owners make is taking negative comments personally. Most often when you see a negative post about your brand, the person posting isn’t talking about you. They’re talking about your product or service. Instead of hitting the delete button when you see something negative, think of it as an opportunity to engage. But make sure that you directly address the negativity head-on. Don’t try to sugarcoat your response.

For example, if you own a delivery service and a customer makes a negative comment about your company because their package was late, don’t panic. Instead, let the person know that you will direct message (DM) them with a response and take care of the issue. Once the issue is resolved, go back to the original post and let your followers know you’ve handled it.

In 2011, a Harris survey looked at customers who posted negative reviewed during the Christmas season. The survey found that 68 percent of customers that left negative reviews got a response from the business they were reviewing. As a result, 18 percent of them became regular customers and made additional purchases. Of the customers who received a response from their negative post, 33 percent of them actually posted something positive after and a whopping 34 percent deleted the original negative post.

So don’t ignore negative posts. Deal with them directly, and you might just turn a negative into a positive!

2. You don’t have a solid company social media policy in place.

Most small businesses don’t have a formal social media policy in place. If you’re in that boat, you really should take the time to develop one. Think of it as a road map to helping your promote your brand better on social media. If you define procedures and protocols upfront for how often you’ll post, who will maintain the accounts and how you will handle negative posts, it makes it a lot easier to run your accounts and spring into action quickly when something goes wrong.

3. You’re on autopilot.

Most social media platforms have an automated message feature, but it doesn’t mean you have to use it. When many social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook were first introduced to the public, the automated message feature seemed like a convenient way to thank people who followed you. Today, automated messages are widely considered annoying and impersonal. Instead of sending the same message to every new follower, take the time to send personalized thanks when you can.

Remember, you don’t have to thank every follower, but it’s a good idea to thank those that stand out. For example, if you own a restaurant and the food columnist for your local newspaper starts following you, you may want to reach out directly to establish an ongoing dialogue rather than letting an automated message do it for you.

4. You’re not tracking what others say about your brand.

Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking that consumers only post about them on their brand page. In reality, consumers post about brands everywhere — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and review sites, to name a few. While it’s a great idea to monitor your own social media accounts to see what people are saying about you, it’s an even better idea move to using a social mention tracking tool to find out what people are posting about your brand around the Internet.

Social Mention is a great free tool for doing this. Visit http://SocialMention.com to check it out.

5. Your updates are sporadic.

If you’re not updating your social media pages on a regular basis, you’re missing out. You don’t have to post multiple times a day, but you should at least make a few posts a week to keep your followers, who are essentially your customers, engaged and excited about your brand.

6. You don’t know the difference between a reply and a mention on Twitter.

Did you know that if someone posts something on Twitter and you start your response with @, you’re limiting the number of people who are going to see the reply? For example, if @customerx posted something about @xyzbusiness and that company starts their reply with @customerx, it will only be seen by the customer and the business. That’s a reply. To make sure it’s seen by all of your followers, add a period in front of it like this — .@customerx — to make it a mention.

7. You overuse hashtags in your posts.

Not every word in your post needs to have a hashtag. In fact, hashtagging every word is going to make your post harder to read. Instead, use hashtags sparingly. Try not to use more than three per post.

8. You don’t proofread your posts.

Grammatical errors make your posts hard to read and reflect poorly on your brand. Proofread everything you write before you post it.

9. You only share things related to your brand.

This is a cardinal sin of social media. Remember that your purpose is to engage and get to know your customers. Your brand isn’t the only one they follow, and it’s certainly not the only thing that is of interest to them. Be sure to spend some time browsing your customers’ page, find out what things they like and leave positive comments. This is an excellent way to foster lasting relationships with your customers online. It also shows your customers that you are interested in them, too.

10. You make it hard to retweet your content.

It’s a fact that Twitter gives you 140 characters to post, but it doesn’t mean you have to use all of them. In fact, you should leave about 20 or so characters that can be used by others who retweet your content for the “RT @customerx” that will automatically be part of the retweet. This makes it easier for people to share your content quickly with no hassles.

11. You don’t retweet your followers’ content.

While you definitely want to make it easy for others to retweet your content, you also have to spend some time doing a little retweeting yourself. Find content from your followers that you find interesting and take a minute or two to retweet it. Remember social media is a two-way street and engagement is the key to success.

Tasha Cunningham is a principal in the Cunningham Group, an award-winning communications firm with offices in Miami and Orlando. She writes about how small business owners can leverage social media and other online tools to grow their companies