What’s a Social Media Manager and Why Should I Care?

But I’m a writer! Who cares about what a social media manager is!

What's a Social Media Manager?

I heard of the social media manager title years ago, but never considered I would or could be one. I figured it was for someone else, someone who went to school for new media or social media management (things that didn’t exist when I did my bachelor of journalism). But then my LinkedIn job suggestions started getting…obvious. Here’s a splash of what I see whenever I check in to see what’s new and who’s hiring.

  • Social Media Coordinator
  • Copywriter
  • Office Administrator
  • An Open Letter to _______’s Future Marketer
  • Client Success Coach
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Social Media Manager
  • PR Consultant
  • Marketing and Events Coordinator
  • Brand Publishing Specialist

Keep in mind these are the jobs posted in the past seven days in my area, which LinkedIn thought I’d be a good match for. If you’re a writer but have collected different skills, experience, connections, etc. you may have a different snapshot. But do you see what I’m talking about?

Two reactions come to mind I must choose between.

  1. Wow, this social network doesn’t know me at all
  2. When did I become a social media manager?

So I begin wondering, what’s a social media manager and is it different from what I’m doing now?

Well I’ll cut to the chase, all 10 of these postings are about the same. The type of work, the skills involved, the experience required, everything. No matter if it’s administrator level, coordinator level, or management level. Now that’s confusing!

This tells me a few things. First, I need to understand all the ways people think of the skills I have—calling myself a writer without attaching any of the other keywords strips out nine of these jobs. Wow. Yet all require the exact same skills. OK…

What now?


Wondering what a social media manager is? Want to be one? Here’s what’s in the social media manager’s toolkit.

  • Fluent in social—all social (paying attention to social trends, dos and don’ts, what’s hot and what’s not)
  • Strong writing skills (with a specialization in content marketing/copy writing)
  • A people-first approach to everything (a service mindset, which not only has you listening to your customers and industry chatter but being engaged in your community)
  • Graphically inclined (not a pro, but you need the basics of design and video production)
  • Comfortable with social selling (and understanding how this is done)
  • Competent at SEO and analytics (yes you will have to run campaigns and reports)
  • Confident public speaker (yes you will have to use Instastories and Facebook Live—you may even have to speak on a panelin person)
  • An understanding of human behaviour (you don’t have to have a psych degree but you do need to understand what works and what doesn’t, what people want and what they don’t)
  • Reasonable budgeting skills (show me the money! Er…show your clients how you’re spending their money!)
  • Adaptable (this industry is like a river—moving fast and constant, you have to keep up with the changes and adapt as necessary)
  • Curious and savvy (in order to succeed as a social media manager, you need to know what works—but if you’re ahead of the curve you’ll be able to move your clients’ business strategies forward faster and won’t be distracted by fleeting trends or vanity metrics)
  • Strong grasp of marketing (specifically strategy and digital, email, and funnel marketing)

If this seems like three jobs in one, you’re right. And if it seems like a lot of different skill sets wrapped up into one, you’re right again. But this seems to be where the industry is at these days and if you want to compete, you need at least a cursory knowledge of these tools.

Keep in mind the typical day-to-day tasks a social media manager executes each day are a little less overwhelming: writing and scheduling posts, running ads, replying to fans, and creating graphics.

See? Not so bad. However, the only way this works is with a strong foundation—a strong social marketing strategy. This is where the real value of a social media manager comes in. If you have good instincts and can build a great strategy for your client, you are going to see great results. So stay at it and invest in yourself!

Wondering what skills you need to be a social media manager? Anyone can schedule social posts and respond to fans. The real value of a social media manager comes in if you have good instincts and can build a great strategy for your client.

Are you looking to level-up your business on social? Need a social media manager? Let’s chat! Respond in the form below or message me on social. Let me know what problems you’re looking to solve and I’ll be happy to send you a quote.

Are you like me? Just discovering you’re really a social media manager (and that’s why you’re so tired)? I’d love to commiserate with you!

Going Viral: Creating Contagious Content

Have you ever wondering what makes something go viral? Is there a secret? What do viral-video makers know that you don’t? Learn the what and how of going viral and a few tips for what you can do to make your content more contagious.

Going Viral: The What and How of Creating Contagious Content

It was my niece’s first birthday and her mother threw a party, inviting the whole family to join in on the celebration. Everyone was excited to share in the festivities but the morning before the party, people began cancelling saying they weren’t feeling well.

But this was my niece’s first birthday! A big O-N-E!

With much pressure on, the family came together to save the party. Those who were feeling sort of better were encouraged to show up anyway and give my niece the party she deserved.

So they came.

And it was a lovely time. Good food, good conversations, good feelings all around.

Later that evening…

I haven’t vomited from being ill since I was a child. But vomit I did, from midnight till 8 a.m. the next morning. Who was the culprit? No real idea, since there were a few people at the party who weren’t feeling 100 per cent and we spent the day switching children, changing seats, and grabbing snacks from the same bowls.

And I learned I wasn’t the only one—most of the other non-sick party-goers spent the next day beside the toilet.

It all happened so fast. One moment we were minding our own business, living life like normal, and the next we were swept up into a wave of vomit-filled illness by no fault of our own except for attending the party and enjoying ourselves.

What happened? Our party went viral.


What does “going viral” mean?

Sans vomiting, going viral in Internet terms is seen as a good thing. It’s what happens when a piece of content (article, photo, video, etc.) is shared, copied, and otherwise spread across social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

How many shares does it take before something is considered viral?

I’m sorry to say, there isn’t an exact number. Viral status is achieved when the proportion of people seeing the content and then sharing it increases over what’s usual.

I know, could it be more vague?

Think of viral sharing like a secret. If you share a secret with someone, and that person shares it with someone else and then another, and another, then pretty soon everyone knows your secret. But if the person keeps your secret, that’s where the sharing ends. It’s safe, and no one knows about it.

The simple math of virality

Viral content is relative. When you share a piece of content on social media, how many shares is normal? If you see your shares go up from normal on a couple posts, you can consider those viral. However, if your shares go up and stay up—then it’s the new normal. Not viral anymore.

The more complicated math of true viral content

Of course, a few extra shares here and there doesn’t make a big impact. We want to know about the life-changing kind of viral content like Chewbacca Mom’s laughing video or Mandy Harey’s deaf singing audition for America’s Got Talent. How do you get those?

The next level of viral content

When you level up on going viral this is where stuff happens. On day one a piece of content is shared and you receive your regular likes, shares, and website visits, plus a few extras. This (according to ShareProgress) is called “first generation.” From there, a few of these first generation people share your content on their social channels and some of their friends check it out. They’re called “second generation.” By the second generation there should be more likes, shares, and website visits. Now it’s on the second generation of visitors to share your content. If a few more than the first round do this, then the third generation of visitors should be seeing your content. If this continues then you’ll see exponential likes, shares, and website visits. This is where things get crazy.

In the simple viral example, you’ll have a bump of activity and then things will go back to normal. In the next level of going viral, the momentum grows and keeps growing and, if you’re prepared for it, sends your life in a new direction.


How do I make something go viral?

Yeah, sorry. I don’t know how. Actually, I don’t think anyone does. No matter how many terms I Google, all I come up with is “there’s no formula, there’s no secret.”

But here are a few things you can do to help your content be ready for going viral.

People are more likely to share something if…

  • they have a strong reaction to it
  • they have a positive emotional response to it
  • they feel inspired by it
  • they are surprised by it
  • they find it practical and useful
  • they think it will help someone

Where to go from here

Before you write an article don’t think about what will or won’t make it go viral, instead think about what will help and inspire your audience. Think about what they’d like to read/watch/hear and then create it. Be genuine, be real, and be positive.

Here’s how Derek Halpern says it.

Positive uplifting content always gets shared. Remember, there’s a lot of unhappy people in the world, and while there are different reasons for being unhappy, content that is uplifting and inspirational helps people get out of their rut…even if it’s only for a few seconds.

I don’t know about you, but I’d sure like to help someone out of their rut today.

Going Viral: The What and How of Creating Contagious Content. Have you ever wondering what makes something go viral? Is there a secret? What do viral-video makers know that you don't? Learn the what and how of viral content and a few tips for what you can do to make your content more contagious.

If you need help coming up with content ideas or don’t know who you’re audience is, that’s where I come in. Drop me a line and let’s start a conversation. I’m here to help!

How to Build an Instagram Strategy

Today I’ll show you the basic outline for building an Instagram strategy. At least enough to get you started. If you want a custom strategy built for you, let’s talk. It’s one of my favourite client services right now.

Instagram Strategy

Everyone’s saying you need to build an Instagram strategy but it seem like no one is saying how, right?

I get it. The thing is, it’s hard as well as personal. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all photo-creating money-making Instagram strategy you can copy and paste into your marketing plan. I mean, people may tell you that and may even try and sell you that but I’m telling you, it’s something you have to build and customize to your specific brand.

BTW marketing plans, social media strategies, and branding are whole other discussions I hope we’ll talk about one day

But first things first, WHY should you use Instagram?

At this moment one third of Internet users have an Instagram account so there’s an excellent chance your target audience is here. This is an opportunity to showcase and promote your services and brand to people who may not yet know about you and all you have to offer.

Instagram is an ideal tool to build a visual identity, telling your brand story through beautiful images, intriguing captions, and appropriate hashtags. When executed well, Instagram can help you develop a deeper connection with your audience.

General Posting Strategy

As a brand (and yes, if you sell something, you’re a brand), it’s important to follow a posting strategy to help your audience know how to think about you. Why should they follow you? How will you engage, inspire, or motivate them? What are some ways you can deepen your relationship with your audience through the images you post?

Think about these questions and jot down some answers.

The best way to create a strategy is by focusing on one area of your brand; choosing a niche. When choosing a niche ask these types of questions: What can you do better than your competitors? What will your audience find interesting, inspiring, or motivational? What is important for your audience to know? Find these answers and you’ll have your niche.

Once you’ve brainstormed a few ideas try writing a paragraph about your brand.

Here’s my (current) write up as an example: For years, I’ve made a living off professional writing—marketing, blogging, tourism, journalism, and now helping others share their story. How did I do this? By becoming an expert at taking a pile of unorganized ideas and shifting and shaping them into powerful communication tools.

I recommend thinking this through before asking a social media marketing strategist to help you create an Instagram strategy. You know your brand and goals best and by getting clear on your goals and who you serve ahead of time, your chances of creating a laser-focused strategy are that much more likely.

Once you have your paragraph, think about what your Instagram posts should feature to showcase who you are and what you do. In my example, I aim to promote things I’m working on (freelance or personal), things I love (new discoveries, funny stories, interesting ideas, books I’m reading), and exclusive tips (for the freelance writer).

When thinking about what types of photos you’ll post keep in mind every post should drive people to your business and that your Instagram content is a reflection of your brand and core beliefs—your feed tells a larger story of who you are and what you stand for.

Jot down a few photo ideas before moving on. Don’t worry, these are still brainstorms for now.

Still stuck? Here are a few questions to help you.

  • What drives your business?
  • What are your biggest takeaways?
  • How will what you share enrich your followers’ lives?

HOW should your posts look, sound, and feel?

At all times your Instagram posts should speak to your audience, appealing to their interests. Your posts should engage them using thoughtful language intended to interest, inspire, or motivate them to take the next step with you. If you are promoting an event or contest take care to craft your caption in a way your audience will respond best—focus on the benefits instead of the promotion.

WHERE should you focus?

Your Instagram posts should focus on what your users will find interesting, inspiring, and motivational. What makes you or your business/services special and unique? What is there to discover? What would your audience be interested in seeing?

WHEN should you post?

Posting consistency is more important than how often you post. However, Monday and Thursday are higher use days for Instagram in general so these are good days to aim for. Once you have your strategy in place use a free tool like Iconosquare or Websta to analyze your followers and learn what days and times they’re more likely to use Instagram and adjust your posting schedule as necessary.

WHAT should your posts consist of?

All posts should contain a photo, a caption, and hashtags.

  • Your photos must be high quality, with good framing, and interesting content. Photos should be planned and edited with third-party apps
  • Captions should tell your audience a story. At every step, take the opportunity to draw your audience in and point back to your strategy.
  • A good practice is to create a list of 10-20 hashtag relating to your business, brand, and products and reference several from the list each time you post

Using hashtags is a critical part of your posting strategy. By finding and using the most relevant hashtags for your updates, your posts will be exposed to users in your target audience who don’t yet follow you. You should mix brand-specific hashtags with more general hashtags. Instagram uses hashtags to organize and categorize content so by not using or misusing hashtags your posts could go unnoticed.

Follower Strategy

The best way to gain followers on Instagram is by having a great profile. Here are the elements.

  1. Description. Your profile description should reflect your niche and give the user enough information to be motivated to follow you
  2. Portfolio. When a new user visits your Instagram account s/he will often view your photo portfolio before choosing to follow you. You want to make sure your portfolio is not only filled with beautiful images but reflect your niche. If the user visits your portfolio and your portfolio is off topic or contains weak/poor images, it could prevent new followers
  3. Photos. Your photos should reflect your brand’s online voice and emotion related to it

Before taking a photo ask the question, “what do I do better than anyone else?” Find or take photos supporting your answer.

Before posting a photo ask the following questions:

  • Does this photo showcase my talent?
  • Is this photo interesting?
  • Is this photo on-brand?
  • Is this photo beautiful?

If the answer is yes, post away! If you’re not sure, don’t post the photo.

Posting quality images is more important than posting often. Beautiful images increase your brand value in the user’s eye while weak/poor images decrease your brand’s value in the user’s eye.

Follower Tactics

Once you’re clear on your target audience, and have your profile description, portfolio, and photos in line then you can begin following other users.

Follow

Search Instagram and find as many people in your target audience using keywords. Aim to follow 100 or 200 people to begin. Many will follow back out of courtesy but even if users don’t follow back you have gathered a pool of users to draw photo ideas from. Try to find new people to follow every time you log on to Instagram.

Like and Comment

Another way to gain followers is by liking and commenting on photos. A good strategy is to like and/or comment on three to five photos every time you log on to Instagram. Try to be encouraging, positive, and upbeat.

Also remember to respond to your followers comments on your photos. A quick “thanks” goes a long way. Remember to @ tag the follower you’re posting to.

Repost

Reposting other users’ images is a great way to showcase your brand without having to come up with all your own content (or your own social media manager!). Not only do you highlight and support Instagrammers but you add beautiful images to your portfolio extending your brand.

You can use repost apps, take screenshots and repost yourself, or save the image on your computer and manually add it to your mobile device before posting. Just be sure to give credit to the user you’re reposting (@ tagging) and add relevant hashtags.

Hashtags

Adding popular hashtags to every post will expand your reach and expose your images and profile to new users.

Adding brand-specific hashtags to every post and encouraging followers to use it in their posts helps you create community and cultivate loyalty. When your followers use your hashtag it exposes your brand to their audience, with the added bonus of the user’s advocacy.

Cross Posting

Cross promoting your Instagram posts on your other social media profiles like Facebook or Twitter exposes your followers there to your Instagram feed. You can also use your Instagram feed to encourage users to find you on your other profiles, provided you are using beautiful images with an interesting caption to relay the message.

Conclusion

There is a learning curve to Instagram, but by following a posting and follower strategy will get you a long way. As well, learning a few basics about photography, utilizing third-party apps and filters, and reposting will help you create an engaging portfolio as long as you stick to your niche and showcase the best of your brand.

Everyone’s saying you need to build an Instagram strategy but it seem like no one is saying how, right?  I get it. The thing is, it’s hard as well as personal. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all photo-creating money-making Instagram strategy you can copy and paste into your marketing plan. I mean, people may tell you that and may even try and sell you that but I’m telling you, it’s something you have to build and customize to your specific brand.

Questions about building your Instagram strategy? Looking for a custom Instagram strategy? Fill in the form and let’s get a conversation started!

How to Find the Perfect Sunglasses without Breaking the Bank

Ready to find the perfect sunglasses? Save 50% on your next pair of spectacles or prescription sunglasses from GlassesShop.com using the code GSHOT50.

Glassesshopdotcom

On our last vacation, my husband and I spent, oh, 34 hours in different US cities on layovers. Sometimes we left the airport, thank goodness. But sometimes the airport’s proximity to things and the hours between flights didn’t line up and we explored indoors instead.

It’s funny what you get up to when you’re stuck at an airport. Here’s what we did.

  • Shopped hard for the perfect neck pillow
  • Judged restaurants by their seating chart
  • Attempted to sneak onto an airline-crew-only airport shuttle
  • Counted Starbucks
  • Counted steps between Starbucks
  • Tried on every pair of sunglasses at every kiosk in every airport

I read somewhere sunglasses are the one accessory that never goes out of style. I mean, yeah. Sunglasses are fashionable always.

And the kiosks prove this—there are no end to options. In an overwhelming kind of way. Styles, sizes, UV protection levels, lens options…and that’s all before talking about your prescription and pupillary distance!

But if you’re anything like me, sunglasses are a practical necessity for sunny days. They protect your eyes from bright light, they help prevent wrinkles because they keep you from squinting, and they help you see when driving into sunrise/sunset.

But I don’t need to convince you on the merits of eye wear.

If you live somewhere with available outdoors activities, there will be bright light and you will want sunglasses.

But how do you choose the perfect sunglasses?

Trying on eyeglasses is important because not all glasses frames are the same. And neither are faces. Some shapes look amazing on one person and horrific on another. And if they look terrible you’re not going to wear them. You’re throwing away money.

I love how websites help you buy glasses online by letting you virtually try them on. It takes the risk out of online shopping and gives you some cheap entertainment! I mean, I had a lot of fun choosing my new sunglasses.
Try it on

(See what I mean about choosing the wrong glasses?)

When you can shop online, try them on ahead of time, and save a bundle, I don’t know why we’re not all stocking up on sunglasses. I mean, unless you have time to try on every pair of sunglasses at every single kiosk in four airports. Then I suppose you aren’t looking for ways to speed up your shopping experience.

Or, you’re like me and choose the worst possible flight itinerary to save $400.


Readers of this blog! Use the code GSHOT50 and save 50% on your next pair of eyeglasses and/or sunglasses from GlassesShop.com. This includes your lenses but sale frames are excluded.

Freelance Writing Update: June 2017

Freelance Update June 2017

Freelance writing update: June 2017

I thought I’d share a few things I’m working on unrelated to this site or my social feeds. Sometimes I share links but I don’t speak much about the details of freelance life. This is in part because all the details happen before the post goes live and by the time I share it I’ve moved on to new projects.

However. At a recent event, I was reminded about how mysterious freelance writing is when you’re just getting started. So mysterious! Like, how does this writing-for-money-thing even happen?

While I can’t unlock all the secrets today, I will let you know a few things I’m doing and connect how I think they’re helping me move the bar along.

Social Media Panel: Golden Ears Writers

GEW-lobby-night

In May I had an amazing opportunity to speak at a writer’s group on a panel with fellow Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) members about social media marketing. This is my ideal topic, in front of my ideal people, in my ideal situation. I was thrilled to participate. I’ve spoken about blogging and social media before, but never about marketing. One of my goals for this year was to do more speaking so I’m happy this happened.

Yeah but, how did this happen?

Yes! Let’s talk about it! This happened because of pre-existing relationships. Like I mentioned before, this panel comprised fellow PWAC members. I’m a professional-level member of this organization and am active in our local chapter (alright, alright, I’m the current president too). What does this mean?

  • I network with professional writers in my area in person
  • I follow my colleagues on social media and support them with comments, likes, and reposts
  • I communicate with these colleagues by email, phone calls, texts, etc. to offer encouragement, ask advice, and connect
  • I help create opportunities for gaining experience, finding leads, and passing along opportunities

Yeah, but how did this happen?

Right. Well, one of my colleagues helps run Golden Ears Writers, an informal Maple Ridge BC-based writers group. I follow them on Facebook and I’ve attended gatherings in the past. I noticed the topics they cover and when an opportunity to collaborate arose (note: a gap in the schedule) I pitched the idea. We were a few months out so had time to gather participants, work out the subject matter, and promote the event. This was an unpaid opportunity, by the way, but we were encouraged to promote our businesses and sell our products at the event.

The evening was well attended and there were loads of on-point questions. It, like I said before, reminded me that freelance writing can seem mysterious and integrating a social media strategy can be plain overwhelming. I had a lot of takeaways from this experience and am looking forward to more speaking opportunities like this.

Blog Post: Tourism Abbotsford

Hikes-Walks-Screenshot

Here’s a blog post I wrote for Tourism Abbotsford about different hikes and walks you can do in Abbotsford. This type of article is called a roundup because it takes a bunch of different things and presents them together. A roundup of local hikes and walks is a great post for this site because someone looking for a hike or walk is probably Googling “best hikes in Abbotsford” or “Abbotsford walks” or “things to do in Abbotsford when it’s sunny.” If this post comes up then it not only summarizes a few great ideas, but gives the gist of what to expect so they can either do more research or cross things off the list.

A roundup post seems simple but usually is a lot of work to put together because you have a lot more options than goes into the post and you have to decide which ones make the cut. Also, you have to give each option an equal shake and highlight the same type of information in each point. Roundups are great for learning how to write tight (aka get rid of all the extra words; aka get to the point) and prioritizing information.

Yeah, but how did this happen?

Yes! This happened because I have pre-existing relationship with Tourism Abbotsford. I’ve written for them for a few years and so all this took was an assignment email and a deadline. Once relationships are rolling getting work is quite simple.

One further thought. This post performed well on social media and while I don’t know if there’s any correlation to me getting more paid work I don’t think it hurts. If nothing else it gets my name out there. Whenever I publish something I try and promote it on my channels and help it along.

Blog Post: Faith Strong Today

Passion-Happiness-Screenshot

This post was written a couple months ago and I wasn’t sure when it would be published. When it went live Faith Strong Today tagged me on Twitter, which is how I knew it happened. I have a casual relationship with this website and I can send them articles at my own pace (although I think they’d like monthly). It’s primarily a podcast network so although my articles help round out the site and strengthen their SEO, they’re not a priority.

OK, nice, but how did this happen?

You’re not going to believe it, but it was a pre-existing relationship.

Ugh! Again!?

I know, right!?

Before the website launched I was contacted about writing for them. We worked out what I’d write, an initial schedule, and a rate on a per-article basis. I won’t get into rates and contracts today but I will mention since we worked out a yearlong plan, I was happy to work on a per-article basis. I know some freelance writer’s wouldn’t work this way but in this instance, I was good with it.

This media company is based in Toronto (aka far away from me) but I’ve worked in a professional capacity (not freelance) with the company for years. I didn’t see this opportunity coming but if I did I would’ve pursued it as what they’re doing is up my alley plus is a neat opportunity to do lifestyle writing with a Christian worldview.

Magazine Article: Insight for Living Canada

Wisdom-Speak-Up-Screenshot

This isn’t a freelance article but I wanted to include it to add context. Because this magazine is related to my day job but it gets me freelance work.

Working on this magazine is something I’ve done for a few years and often I’ll publish an article in it. For the last year I’ve published one each month.

Right. So how did this happen?

I started at this organization working on their blog, unrelated to the magazine. Over time I was able to publish the odd article, but I did have to pitch a lot of ideas and even some of my accepted ideas never got published. It’s easy to assume if you work for a media organization they’ll just take all your ideas but that isn’t the case. Sure, you have a seat at the table and you have a better chance of publishing than a freelancer does, but it’s not a given.

In fact, working for the publication is maybe harder than being a freelancer because if the magazine isn’t well received you get all the blame. You get to read all the feedback. You get to respond to all the criticism. As a freelancer, I never know if an article is hated by the readers (unless they tag me on Twitter) and sometimes ignorance is bliss.

That’s nice. So how does writing for this organization lead to freelance work?

I said I write every month right? OK, so every month my name is in print and sent to thousands of people. The same article is also published online and promoted on social media. I don’t know how many eyes are on the page but it adds up.

What does it mean? Well, not a ton at first, but then one day a media company decides to launch a podcast network and they think, “Oh, doesn’t Robyn write? I think the stuff she writes would work on our site, let’s call her.” And another organization decides to publish a book and they say, “This topic Robyn wrote about is one of the chapters we want in our book… let’s see if she’ll help us out.” And then a writer fresh out of school reads my article and thinks, “I’m looking for work like this… I’ll write Robyn and see if I can hire her to help me get started.”

And if I’m smart and looking for opportunities, I’ll say yes.

Hope this freelance writing update, aka a peek behind the curtain, casts some light onto the mysterious world of freelance writing! Now get your name out there!