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3 lessons learned from live tweeting

Yesterday I did my first live tweeting of an event. Well, I’ve live tweeted from conferences before, giving tidbits of what I’ve learned throughout the event, but this was different.

I was asked to join the Southern Miss Social Media Suite for the Men’s Basketball game against Middle Tennessee. Let me put this out there: I know nothing about basketball. I told the person who invited me this fact, but they were still confident I’d be fine.

Leading up to the event, I started to get a little more nervous about my live tweeting sports ability. What the heck am I going to tweet about? To add to it, I realized more and more people would be following me through this venture – people that I respect and look up to personally and professionally. No pressure.

After my first erroneous tweet (I gave credit to the wrong player for a goal), I was feeling a little down on myself. But, I corrected the mistake and moved on. Overall, it turned out to be a great experience – if for nothing else other than to give me some real live-tweeting experience. So, here’s what I learned that could possibly help you out:

  1. It’s all about the prep work

And I didn’t do enough. I should have brushed up on basketball slang, found out who our top players were, researched the opposing team, followed other Southern Miss fans on Twitter and more. Think about what/where/who you’re going to be live tweeting about and see what you can learn before the event that will aid your efforts.

  1. Atmosphere matters

Southern Miss sports had it pretty spot on too. We were located in a suite that minimized distractions and gave us a clear view of the court, coaches, crowd and scoreboard.

Atmosphere also includes the folks you’re live tweeting with. Are you sitting next to someone who’s going to distract you (because it takes a lot of concentration), or are you with people who are going to complement your efforts? I was seated between a friend of mine who also works in PR and a track and field coach. We each brought our own strengths to the social media suite and relied on others for support when needed. “Who just made that shot?”

  1. You’re going to mess up

And it feels awful. Things are happening so fast and your fingers are moving as fast as they can — something’s bound to go wrong. Depending on how quickly you catch your error (and how big of an error it is) you can delete it or address it. Either way, hike up your britches and move on!

Every new opportunity is a learning opportunity, as outside of your typical realm as it may be.

This was my first live tweeting experience, so I still have a lot to learn.

What are some things you’ve learned from live tweeting?

The importance of a social media plan

Everyone always talks about social media plans, but who actually does them? I mean isn’t the whole point of social media to be current news and information – how can you plan ahead for a future you don’t know about? You know who does social media plans: organizations who are successful on social media. It’s not a fluke that some of your favorite brands on social media are successful – they plan ahead.

I recently made my first social media plan. It was a bit overwhelming at first trying to figure out where to start, but I knew that all great plans started with research, so that’s where I began. I wanted to develop a social media plan for our local United Way. They’re starting a new marketing campaign to reach Millennials, so I figured I could help them out by planning the social media aspect of it all. So I researched Millennials, which social media they are one, which social media is most popular, how nonprofit organizations are currently using social media, recommended tips for nonprofits on social media, and more. Then I went into an in-depth audit of United Way SEMS’s current social media. With these two primary groupings of information combined, I felt educated enough to begin to make plans for United Way SEMS to be successful in their social media efforts. I didn’t compose tweets or Facebook posts, but provided a general outline that will help guide their efforts over the next four months. You can check out the paper here.

If you haven’t done a social media plan before, here’s a basic outline that will help get you started.

  • Background Research
    • Why should you even be on social media?
    • How is social media being used by other companies in your field?
    • How does your target market interact with social media?
    • How have other companies been successful in reaching this target market in the past?
  • Social Media Audit
    • Describe the organization; What is their mission? How is their social media managed?
    • How are they currently using social media? Breakdown each platform individually
  • Social Media Action Plan: Goals/Objectives
    • What does the company want to achieve?
    • What is the overarching marketing goal, outside of social media?
    • What are SMART objectives for each platform?
  • Social Media Action Plan: Strategies/Tactics
    • What strategy will you use to achieve this goal and these objectives?
    • What tactics did your research provide that indicate how the company can be successful on social media?
  • Measurement/Evaluation
    • What tools will you use to measure the success of this campaign?
  • Summary
    • What’s the big take-away from it all?

This is just the general outline I used to create my social media plan. I’m sure there are a million more ways to do it, each with their own pros and cons. I hope you too will take the time to create a social media plan, so your business can reach its fullest potential on their social media.

Do you have Favorite Words?

Just a few weeks ago a new social media platform was added to your potential communication outlets – did you know? It’s called Favorite Words, and has the potential to become a great tool for those of us in the communication field.

I signed up today to learn a little bit more about it and wanted to share my experience with you. If you’re considering signing up, I recommend jumping in. It’s free, so why not give it a shot?

My favorite thing about favorite words is that it provides me with a place to collect words to come back to at any time. Feeling bored? Scan your words and see who else shares the same interests. Need some creativity? Review your words to see what once inspired you and see if you get some more inspiration. Want to expand your vocabulary? This seems like a great place to start!

The important thing will be to keep the platform in mind while your going about your daily tasks. Hopefully enough people catch on that it can sustain, and we’ll always have a place to go back and look at our favorite words.

I don’t think Favorite Words is going to become the next big internet sensation. (I’ve said it here, so when that does happen we can all point at laugh at my bad prediction.) However, I think it has the opportunity to be a useful tool for those who truly work with words on a regular basis.

Check it out. Connect with me. Let me know what you think.

Why should social media be part of your New Year’s resolution?

At the start of the new year, it’s a tradition to set resolutions. According to History.com, this tradition is thought to date back to the ancient Babylonians, who made promises to the gods for a prosperous year ahead. While the idea of making resolutions has held strong, actually following through on a resolution has lost its luster. As a regular guest of the gym, I can attest to this and always look forward to March when the crowds get back to normal.

About a week into 2014 I realized I didn’t set any goals for myself. I felt a little guilty (if I don’t have an annual goal, what am I working towards in 2014?). On the other hand, when is the last time I actually set a realistic goal and worked towards it every day?

So while we’re already a few weeks into the new year, I’ve decided to make a resolution, and hope you’ll join me. It’s only four words, but sums up exactly what I want to do: use social media wisely. Why?

  • Make connections online that you would miss in person.
    Find the beauty in making international friends while sitting on the couch in your PJs.
  • Ensure your online presence is what you want it to be.
    Just because you aren’t involved in all of the latest social media trends, doesn’t mean you’re not online. Google yourself – you may be surprised in what you find.
  • Learn more about yourself
    You’ll be surprised what you learn about yourself when you decide to put yourself out there. I find myself asking even more often now “How do I want to be perceived?”

What are your goals for 2014 – and more importantly, WHY did you make them?

The Power of LinkedIn

I know LinkedIn has been around for about 10 years now, but I believe I’m just now finding the real power in it.  I used to just see it as a “Business version of Facebook,” which I still define it as to people who don’t know about it, but I’m finding it’s much stronger than that.

What does Facebook do for you professionally? Possibly get you in trouble with an employer? Aside from simply having a presence on Facebook for an employer to stalk you with, Facebook doesn’t do anything for you if you’re in a traditional business environment.  LinkedIn, on the other hand, not only provides you with an outlet for an online resume and allow you to connect with other professionals in a professional setting, but you can write recommendations (basically resume references) and even better – people can write them for you as well.

I’m working to build my LinkedIn site and hope other people do as well. I’m writing unsolicited recommendations (yes, it’s a little self-serving, hoping others will do the same), connecting with professional connections I’ve lost touch with and writing updates (professionally driven of course – no one on LinkedIn cares that your dog is the cutest out there).  While it’s very important to be skilled in your industry, those connections you’ve made throughout the years never hurt.

More power to you, LinkedIn!

(Still sending love to all my other social media outlets!)

Keeping Social Media Separate

I’ve seen people make fun of Facebook users for using the #hashtag and talking to their @friends, and I too admit I’ve made fun of them as well.  This isn’t Twitter people – that stuff doesn’t work here.  Then the good angel on my left shoulder says “But Catherine…what if they use something like HootSuite, or have their accounts connected?”  Okay, that makes sense.  Now I make fun of them because they are #lazy.

Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Instagram, YouTube…they all operate differently.  Sure, you can connect them, but I think people who do are missing the point of the various social media outlets.  Twitter works best with short (often witty) statements. You can #hashtag to connect your post to a topic and tag your @friends. Facebook gives you more room to share a quick story, go into a little more detail and it connects your friends differently. You can tell the same story on all of your different social media outlets, but because of the platform they need to be told DIFFERENTLY.

Example Story: My dog ate my shoe.
Twitter: I can’t believe my dog ate my favorite shoes! @Eaglfan81, did he get yours too? #dogproblems #timefornewshoes
Facebook: I was having a fabulous day, until I came home and found my dog ATE, yes INGESTED, my favorite shoes. Ugh! Shane, hide your shoes! It’s time for some new shoes, and maybe a new dog.
Instagram: The face of a guilty party, right @Eaglefan81? #guiltydog
Blog: Yeah…too much to write here…but you get the point.

Quit being lazy. Use your social media separately.