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Corporate communications + Public Relations Adelaide

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April 2013

Facebook photo inspirations part 2

Following on from a post I wrote last year on Facebook photo inspirations, I thought I’d share some more this week.

As you’d be aware, images stand out in the Facebook newsfeed and can really bring your business page’s status updates to life. Look for opportunities to share your stories with an image. [Stick with me and I’ll share some photo ideas later in this article].

Whether they are currently being penalised in tweaks to Facebook’s Edgerank is another debate, but for today, let’s enjoy looking at what some pages do with imagery which sets the scene for their brand and Facebook community:

Australia’s well known ice cream treat, Bubble O’Bill, has a high-profile Facebook  page, being amongst those Australian pages with the most fans.  For a long time, the page has been using nostalgia to engage followers:

Bubble O'Bill Facebook page image
Bubble O’Bill Facebook page image

It also uses its very recognisable ice cream shape to insert itself into classic images such as this (note the level of Shares and other interactions in the examples used in this post):

Bubble O'Bill Facebook page image
Bubble O’Bill Facebook page image

All of this makes for easy-to-interact-with images that inspire fans to ‘like’. Importantly, the images also remain on-brand, reminding us of the characteristics of this longstanding Aussie treat.

The Louie The Fly page uses a similar treatment for its mascot –  as an insect spray company, when you have an iconic critter like this at your disposal, it certainly helps for more creative imagery. Even better, when you can insert it into current events and interests:

Louie the Fly Facebook page
Louie the Fly Facebook page

But you don’t need a mascot or cartoon character to make Facebook images work for you.

The Supre Australia Facebook page shares very clever images which encourage sharing and tagging amongst its target audience. The images, memes and quotes may not appeal to you, but to the young girls who shop at Supre, they’re spot-on. There’s a good mix of ‘just because’ imagery to motivate sharing and boost engagement:

Supre Facebook page
Supre Facebook page

Supre also regularly posts images of what it’s all about – the merchandise. But note: even with product shots, the page is seeking comments and encouraging conversation.

Supre Facebook page
Supre Facebook page

Related reading: The problem that Instagram solves

Delving into a different realm – politics – the Facebook Page for  Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard offers interesting ideas for image use.

As well as the obligatory photos of the Prime Minister out and about with the Australian public, the Facebook page shares infographics putting across its view of its achievements. These are excellent props for its supporters to share on Facebook, also giving them ammunition for detractors or stats to share around their next BBQ:

Julia Gillard PM Facebook page
Julia Gillard PM Facebook page

You might call this propaganda. Someone else might call this darn handy.

Finally, Australian Bananas on  Facebook simply uses its iconic fruit in all sorts of situations to remind fans of the ‘power of the banana’ like this:

Australian Bananas Facebook page
Australian Bananas Facebook page

But it also inserts the banana into current affairs, so to speak:

Australian Bananas Facebook page
Australian Bananas Facebook page

Again, this makes it easy for fans to Like, Share and generally maintain a connection to the Facebook page and ultimately, the healthy “eat bananas instead of donuts” type messages the page is sharing.

A balancing act

The examples above all tread that fine line between engaging fans and supporting their business goals. You can post a thousand pictures of fluffy animals and get a lot of engagement, but if you’re not in the fluffy animal business, it does you no good. If you have a business imperative for using Facebook, make sure you’re supporting that with the photos and status updates you share – if not all the time, then at least some of the time.

Having trouble thinking of photo ideas? Take photos of:

  • Your employees at work. Share images and stories from your chef / receptionist / managing director / winemaker / leading hand / interns. You might have a particularly camera-happy staff member to feature in most. Use them as a mascot of sorts.
  • Your products and how they can be used; your products being modelled by customers or staff.
  • Your location and surroundings. Is it raining on your street today? How does the sun look on the vineyard? Is there a stunning sports car in the hotel car park? Has a new coffee cart parked outside the office today?
  • When you’re at a conference or work trip. Take images of people who are there, speakers, slides and the location.
  • Your desk and quirky items on  it. Just make sure there’s nothing confidential or embarrassing in the background!
  • Pets around the workplace or a mascot.
  • Customers – working with you, or showing off your product.

Have you seen a Facebook Page that shares particularly clever images? Share the links in Comments below.

Reminder: my next Facebook for Business class is on Wednesday 16 May.

The social media question that startled me

Occasionally a question from the audience can startle me and make me think.

I had the same question asked  twice during a rural women’s conference last week (during separate sessions, of course). That question was: “Do you ever take a break from social media?”

Quick answer: “not really”.

More elaborate answer: “I don’t feel the need for one”.

Even more elaborate answer:

I enjoy using social media. Yes, it’s my work but it’s also my recreation. And I think you’ll find a lot of social media professionals feel the same way.

If I grew tired of social media and felt the need for a break, sure, I’d take one.

But it helps me to relax.

The difference is, I switch off from my ‘work channels’ and ‘work persona’ and use social media for fun. I keep in touch with friends, I participate in Twitter hashtags while watching reality TV shows, I share Instagram photos of the world around me, I listen to music, I try new apps and so on.

I even find blogging recreational. Not everyone does – in fact, I often tell my audiences to treat blogging with caution because for some people, it can become onerous. But I’m that kid who kept a diary, who submitted articles to newspapers and magazines, who sketched comic portraits of her friends and who taught herself to type at age 12. So communication has always been in the ‘fun basket’ rather than the ‘too hard basket’ for me. Social media is like the lolly shop. I’ll take my laptop on holiday so I can sit down and blog (with a glass of wine).

Related reading: Content is king, do you hate it?

Don’t get me wrong. Social media is not my world. I spend a lot of time with my sons. I’ve been doing zumba for a few years, I read novels, I do the dreaded housework, I meet friends, I go to a lot of events, I do some voluntary and board work.  And not all of that is shared on my Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn accounts for followers to see.

Prakky's Zumba shoes
Prakky’s Zumba shoes

It’s an added bonus that, while I’m using social media for fun, I’m learning along the way, keeping up to date with how things work, how online communities tend to behave, new features, and so on. I’m in touch with what motivates users and what vexes them – because I am one.

There is one place I don’t venture. And that’s online gaming. I haven’t played Facebook games or inhabited a virtual world or used gaming apps on my phone. That’s where I’ve drawn my line – and of course, I’d never purport to be a commentator for that world. I’m afraid that’s where the time I spend online could balloon and – as a mother – that’s a personal boundary for me.

Do you ever feel that you’ve spent too much time on social media?

Please don’t spam me on LinkedIn

Coffee, not spam!
Coffee, not spam!

I’m all for using LinkedIn to “sell myself” and understand that others will use it the same way.

But there’s a way to sell  on social networks like this. And spam isn’t one of them.

What do I mean by ‘spam’? Let me take you through what happens …

  1. A person I have met briefly or not at all, sends me a LinkedIn connection request. If they live in Adelaide, I generally accept the request because there may be a chance that I work with them in the future, or they can recommend my expertise to someone else.
  2. Hours (sometimes minutes) later they send me a message saying they have a special 50% off fertiliser developed especially for that cactus that I’ll never grow because I kill all plants, even succulents and besides, cacti scare me. Or that they’re selling tickets to a breakfast next Friday and would I like the early bird deal (and I get disgruntled because I don’t find breakfast events easy and even if I did, your attendees aren’t in my target market and I don’t have two hours to spare to schmooze with them, eating rapidly-cooling bacon and drinking awful filtered coffee while everyone else there tries to sell their small business services to me).

So,  bam! I’ve opened the door and without any relationship development or thought to my industry and the work I do, they’re talking about themselves … and asking me for money.

You wouldn’t do that in a face-to-face situation, would you? So why do it online?

I’ve said this again and again in public forums and to clients: social media works best when you focus on warm networking, on developing real relationships and respecting the people behind the accounts.  And guess what? Warm networking takes time.

So how do you ‘sell yourself’ on LinkedIn?

  • It begins with your profile of course. Ensure it looks all schmicko, you’ve got a professional photo, and you’ve succinctly explained what you do.
  • Use the status update field to talk about what you’re working on, share articles of interest and – yes – share links to any events, special deals etc. That’s fine. At least you’re not intruding on our inboxes.
  • Roam beyond your own profile. Look at what others are saying, congratulate people who have new jobs, comment, like (and all the other Facebook-like things which have crept into LinkedIn).
  • Participate in LinkedIn Groups. Some are grand, some are bland. You might find a gem where you gain terrific information and make good friends. (Don’t forget to check your Group Settings or Email Settings to ensure you don’t get more email  notifications than you’d like … which can quickly feel like spam!)
  • Send a message to a connection and invite them to coffee. A genuine, friendly coffee invitation where you both talk about your work and get to know each other better.

You ‘sell yourself’ through your behaviour. Spamming your connections means you’re damaging your brand.

I’d love to hear about your LinkedIn experience in comments below.

Related reading: Don’t fret over your LinkedIn requests.

6 ways to find who to follow on Twitter

One of the early tasks of any new Twitter account is to find other accounts to follow.

You might be using Twitter for personal reasons or for business purposes. Either way, you’d probably benefit from finding Twitter accounts of interest to you, which share tweets you’d enjoy reading, and participate in topics you’d like to know more about.

This can be daunting to a  Twitter newcomer but in fact, finding others to follow is easy. It just takes an investment of time.

Twitter does provide you with suggested accounts to follow when you first sign up. Sadly, these can often be irrelevant to you (after all, Twitter doesn’t know you well yet) and sometimes United States and celebrity-centric. Over time, Twitter continues to serve up suggestions for Who To Follow (see the screenshot from twitter.com below) and these can be valuable, as they’re based on your current Twitter network. (If you follow Joe, Twitter might suggest you also follow Jane because Joe follows her. If you follow me … )

'Who to follow' suggestions on Twitter
‘Who to follow’ suggestions on Twitter

But that aside, you can take matters into your own hands.

Here are my top six tips on how to find interesting accounts to follow:

  1. Do an advanced search for topics that interest you, perhaps including the location of the Twitter account. For example, ‘wine’ near ‘Adelaide’ , or ‘football’ near ‘Melbourne’,  or ‘science’ in ‘Australia’.
  2. Look at one of your favourite tweeters: who do they talk to most?
  3. Look at one of your favourite Twitter accounts: who also follows them?
  4. Look at your favourite hashtags: who is contributing the most?
  5. If you’re in business, look at a competitor’s following and conversations: who could you follow?
  6. Look at Twitter Lists: are there lists you could follow, as a whole, or individual list members you could follow?

Remember, your Twitter experience is what you make it. It’s worth spending time finding great accounts to follow, which helps turn Twitter into perhaps the best information and entertainment subscription you’ve ever had.

Of course, don’t forget to follow me! https://twitter.com/Prakky

A communications plan with teeth!

Today I had a sensational experience at the dental surgery.

It was nothing to do with my teeth. The check-up didn’t hurt (much) and my teeth are in good shape.

What was sensational was this …

The dentist (new to me) sat with me, looked me in the eye, and chatted about my teeth and my general health for a few minutes first.

  • He asked me what I’d like from the visit.
  • He asked me if I needed information on costs.
  • He asked me about my weekend.
  • He asked me if I had any questions.

I’ve been to a lot of different dentists over the years. And while they’ve all had different communication styles and personalities, this one was by far the most communicative.

Sure, dentists have been improving their ‘bedside manner’ over the decades and have perhaps an unfair reputation for dishing out traumatic experiences. And I’ve had plenty of dentists who have asked me about my weekend. But this was the first time I felt a dentist had made a concerted effort to provide me with some ‘customer service’ and space to ask questions.

He may have had a communication checklist of some sort. Perhaps the industry is getting better at this sort of thing.

What this communication did for me was:

Prakky visits the dentist ....
Prakky visits the dentist ….
  • Set me at ease.
  • Help me get to know him.
  • Give me the confidence to ask questions.
  • Provide me with the confidence to use this dentist from now on.

Communications as a discipline is often seen as something ‘softer’ than other business practices such as finance, risk management, governance and so on. I wonder if this is linked to the traditional school practice of segmenting humanities, science and maths?

Yet good communications can mean the difference when it comes to staying in business, because it can 1) win new customers and 2) retain customers and shouldn’t be assigned to the ‘light and fluffy’ corner.

Many of my clients don’t have a communications plan. It’s not unusual. But if you can document one, it’s a sensational tool for your business. I worked in public relations for a few years (and corporate communications for many years) and a comms plan can help keep you on track. It provides you with ideas, and also lets you know when something’s not working.

A communications plan can include:

  • Your business goals and key messages
  • An outline of your target customer /audience
  • Ideas for how to communicate with them
  • Ideas for the news and content you’ll share
  • Ideas for stories you can pitch to the press
  • An outline of how you’ll measure results

I have one for my own business which keeps me on track. Of course, a lot of my comms plan revolves around my social media channels. In the case of  ‘customer service’ and this dental example, it’s a good idea to think about:

  • How you run meetings with clients
  • How to stay in touch with clients and encourage them to ask you questions
  • What sort of questions to ask clients to encourage them to share
  • The communication templates you have to help the process. For example, I have a ‘new client checklist’ for my own reference, to remind myself of the questions to ask and the knowledge I need.

The ironic thing about this dentist visit was this: I had a terrible experience at the reception desk. I was asked to fill in a form which included data they already had on me. Including my (unchanged) contact details. I asked if it was really necessary. They said it was, for insurance purposes. They absolutely had to have me fill  in – by hand – details their computer already had filed away. While the receptionist was sympathetic, it was certainly a frustrating waste of time that had me muttering about Yes Minister. I was prepared to tweet grumpy things.

But the demeanour and attitude of the dentist turned things about. It appears he’s recognised the importance of good communication. From a health professionals perspective, it makes for a patient who’s easier to work with. And from a pure business perspective, you know what? I’m returning for follow up treatment on Monday. And this social media consultant – who has been disloyal to dentists and ad hoc with visits – has a follow up appointment for Monday. And I’ll make sure he’s the only dentist I use from now on.

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