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Action, Interaction and Reaction from the Ritz team

Are you ready to get engaged?

Posted: April 18, 2013 - 9:00 PM ET - by Elisabeth

Her version of “slapstick”was so entertaining and informative, our readers wanted to hear from Molly Watson again! She’s as engaging as always this week, sharing her thoughts on social media.

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The goal with social media is to “engage” with your target audiences and in doing so to establish credibility, build confidence, gain exposure and enhance reputation. Yet social networking still represents a black hole for many. Writing a blog, sharing online commentary, engaging on Twitter, Pinterest and in other social communities represent what initially feels like a big risk in an unfamiliar area of communication. What should I say? What if I say the wrong thing? What if no one responds?

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According to research conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project,
as of December 2012, 67% of online adults use social networking sites.

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Whether we like it or not, social media is powerful and influential, and here to stay.  It is increasingly important to understand whether and how it makes sense for your business and clients.

Understanding Your Audience

Like traditional media, the first step in effective social media planning requires an understanding of your audiences, to determine what sites you use and the type of content you need to develop or re-purpose. For example, women are mostly likely using Facebook and Pinterest; African-Americans, Latinos and adults ages 18-29 are more likely to use Instagram; urban residents are more widely using Twitter.[i]

Pictures & videos as social currency

Pictures are still worth a thousand words. Sites like YouTube and Flickr have changed the accessibility of visuals, making it easy to produce original material as well as repurpose events being recorded for other use – such as speeches, lectures, athletic events and ceremonies.

On creating content

YouTube is an online video sharing service that makes it easy to share videos by linking to them or embedding them in Web sites or blogs.  Most business leaders are very comfortable speaking, so recording a few minutes of her thoughts on a topic (i.e., a current news story) can be quick and effective.

On repurposing content

A big advantage of online resources is that you can reuse – “repurpose” – your news. For example, a strategic video message can be posted on YouTube and then used to enhance messages elsewhere – for instance, the video link can be posted on your Web site, Facebook, Twitter and more). This extends the life of the story and increases the number of people it reaches. Other examples of content that can be repurposed include footage of media interviews, lectures and news articles.

While it may initially feel overwhelming to tackle the world of social media, it can be an exciting medium to tell distinctive stories and build relationships where none existed before. The New Media world is hungry for well told stories. Exploring the options and choosing what works best for you will get you engaged.

[i] http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Social-media-users/The-State-of-Social-Media-Users.aspx

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You first …

Posted: January 24, 2013 - 10:15 PM ET - by Elisabeth

What does it mean to make a good first impression in a day and age when” following” and “friending” have replaced a handshake. Eye contact and appearance just don’t have the same impact on line, teleconferences notwithstanding.

As you make an increasing number of introductions online, are you considering the impact of your electronic correspondence, your social media profiles and even your phone manners?

  • When you send an email, does your subject line demonstrate your ability to the point succinctly and accurately?
  • Does your grammar and spelling indicate that you pay attention to detail or care enough about what you are sending to hit “Spelling & Grammar”?
  • Do you really need to let the person you are meeting/corresponding with know whether you’re : ) or : ( ? Some people think emoticons are fun and funny; others think they’re childish.
  • Do you take advantage of the brief bio space on social media forums like Linked In, Twitter and even facebook?
  • Do your social media platforms have a clear photo of you?
  • Are your contact details easily accessible?
  • Is your entire life on display on social media? Do you really want it to be? Are your social media posts something your boss or mother-in-law will enjoy as much as your buddies? Are you “humble bragging” or sharing?
  • Are your posts all about you? Do you interact with other people? Reply? Share? Retweet? Even with those who disagree or criticize? A little grace and consideration go a long way in making a good first – or lasting – impression.
  • If someone calls you, do they get a brief, but friendly, outgoing message? If they don’t, have you considered how your humor or rambling details might impress – or not – people who don’t know you?
  • If you get a machine, do you cut to the chase about why you’re calling and leave your contact details slowly and clearly?
  • If you reach someone live, do you stop to ask if you’ve reached him or her at a convenient time to speak before launching into your reason for calling?
  • If someone reaches you live, are you paying attention? If you can tell when other people are reading their emails, eating, etc., they can tell when you’re typing or chewing too.
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Spoiler Alert: Accident

Posted: August 9, 2012 - 5:00 PM ET - by Elisabeth

Traditional and new media sometimes struggle with the balance between getting the news out first and getting it right, but what is the impact of “citizen journalists” reporting on Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets? Timely, in light of … well, pretty much everybody’s complaints about coverage of the Olympics, this week’s blog post by team member Patty Keiler shares a lesson and poses a sure-to-be-interesting question.

While on vacation last week, I’d been secretly enjoying my poor cell phone connection. But while waiting for the coffee to brew on the last morning, I got the itch to see if Facebook would update. Surprisingly it did, and I immediately started scrolling. Several updates in, I saw where my second cousin was asking her “friends” to please pray for her mom and aunt because they were in a car wreck. I was obviously concerned for them, but tears took over when it later hit me that my cousin’s aunt would be my mom.

Her update indicated minor injuries, but I still felt scared and overwhelmed by how impersonal it felt to learn about this on Facebook — just behind a couple hundred other people.

Turns out, my mom — who lives two states away and routinely texts me with a head’s up that she’s going into a movie or church — and my cousin had been in a serious accident, but they were ok. My mom knew my cell connection was poor and she didn’t want to ruin my last day of vacation by worrying me. So, she was going to wait to tell me her news once I was home. But is that still a realistic option in the age of social media?

How many of you recently found yourselves cursing updates that spoiled a good night of Olympic watching? Or finding out about a new baby, a break-up or lost job via Facebook (or Twitter etc.)?

Be it good, bad, or just plain odd, we want to hear your stories. What were you surprised to learn from social media?

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“Time to make the donuts”

Posted: June 14, 2012 - 2:00 PM ET - by Elisabeth

A few weeks ago, I wrote about identifying “relevant and valuable” social media opportunities. This picture gives a funny, and surprisingly clear, view of various social media outlets.

A picture really is worth a thousand words!

I’ve searched the internet for an original source in order to give credit where credit is due. Unfortunately, I don’t know the origin. If you do, I would love to hear from you.

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Between hype and reality

Posted: May 17, 2012 - 5:30 PM ET - by Elisabeth

In Chicago this week all the buzz is about NATO, but not so much what this meeting means in terms of global politics, what might happen in Afghanistan or Russia’s missile-defense system. The buzz is mostly about the inconvenience to the city and our curiosity about the potential impact and spectacle of protests.

It’s hard to tell what’s hype, what’s reality and what’s really important.

It reminds me of the conversations I have – and the questions I get – about social media. Clients want to know how much inconvenience (additional time or resources) in exchange for what impact (engaged clients, increased sales, etc.).

The digital world has changed the way we deliver and receive information, and it can be overwhelming for business owners and marketers to sort hype from reality in determining which opportunities are relevant and valuable. According to a 2012 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll, 79% of small businesses surveyed are using word-of-mouth to promote their business, 63% are using their company website, and just 39% are using social media channels.

Planning your social media strategy shouldn’t be vastly different from planning your overall communications strategy. You really need to ask yourself a few key questions:

  • What do I need to say?
  • Who do I need to say it to?
  • Where do I go to reach them?

Once you can answer those questions, you can adapt your message and tools according to the channels you select. A tweet of 140 characters might reach a mass audience and a press release of 300 – 500 words can be tailored to reach specific journalists covering your industry. Do you know which of these options will have the greatest impact on your stakeholders?

A few more interesting statistics from the poll may help you cut through the hype:

  • Since 2010, the use of location-based social channels, such as Foursquare, among small business owners has nearly doubled from 5% to 9%; 25% of small business owners using location-based services believe that the application is important for sales generation, compared to just 2% in 2010.
  • Small businesses with a LinkedIn presence increased from 25% in 2010 to 31% in 2011, a jump of 25%; small business owners are increasingly using the social forum for networking with other businesses and gaining awareness from other businesses and consumers in the local community.
  • Small businesses with a Facebook presence increased slightly from 41% in 2010 to 44% last year.
  • Twitter presence dropped slightly year-over-year from 19% to 18%.
  • Only 4% of small businesses are using daily deal sites (i.e. LivingSocial, Groupon) for marketing purposes, led by leisure/tourism/lodging, of which 14% are using these sites; of those businesses using daily deal sites, more than 90% are running promotions at least several times per year.
  • Three in four (75%) small businesses surveyed have a website, about the same as last year, with nearly a third (31%) having a mobile website – i.e., one designed for viewing on a smartphone.
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