Social Media Should be Just That – Social

How many times have you liked a post by a company or a brand you follow, commented on it, or asked a question – and received no reply?  I have, many many times.  And I don’t like it.  In today’s world, where it’s very hard to keep someone’s attention for more than a couple of seconds, we should appreciate fans and friends who actually take the time to engage with us, showing us that they appreciate the post, or are interested to find out more about it.  That’s why next time when someone comments on your post, take the time to say thank you and respond back.

What’s the purpose of being on social media, if we don’t want to be social?  That was our belief at LA76 since the very beginning, and when I saw this quote by Ryan Bonnici, I immediately adopted it!  We should always keep it present.

The ultimate goal of social media is to be just that – social – and we want to hear from our audience, learn what they like and dislike, and keep creating cool stuff for them to enjoy.
Ryan Bonnici, senior director of global marketing at HubSpot

Customer Is Not Always Right, But Customer Is Always Heard

the customer is not always right, but the customer is always heard

I’ve been listening to the Social Media Marketing podcast for several years now.  In the latest podcast with Jay Baer as a guest, Michael Stelzner and Jay have been talking about “Dealing with Unhappy Customers”.  Jay Baer’s new book is called “Hug Your Haters: How To Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers.“, so the conversation has been fun, filled with case studies and other good stuff.

At the social media workshop I had with MTSU students a couple of weeks ago, we talked among others about Trip Advisor, and how to reply to negative comments.  One of their questions was “Is the customer always right?”, and I loved Jay Baer’s quote:

The customer is not always right, but the customer is always heard. – Jay Baer (tweet this)

Baer says – and at LA76 we practice this religiously – that you need to answer every complaint, in every channel, every time. And when you reply, have empathy, be kind, be human. It’s harder to be angry at a person, than at a company. By receiving a human response to people’s complaint, problem or query, you can most often convert the unhappy client into a happy one, or at least provide what you need to solve the problem and give yourself / your company an opportunity for a second chance.  Your reply to any comment, especially negative one, will be viewed not only by the person you’re replying to, but the entire community, so by showing that you care you communicate much more than just this  one response to an unhappy client.

The other day I saw on Mashable a brilliant Trip Advisor reply from a coffee shop owner to a very unhappy client.  It happened at Bennet’s Cafe & Bistro in York.  With 432 “excellent” ratings on TripAdvisor, it’s ranked 11th out of 696 restaurants in the city. It’s been called “lovely,” “excellent,” and a place that offers “gorgeous” meals in recent posts.

One customer, however, bucked the trend. Hannah C. from North Yorkshire was so angry she was charged £2 for a hot water and lemon she took to TripAdvisor to vent her fury in a missive entitled “Over-priced and very rude staff.”

“This place is absolutely awful,” she began. Hannah, who was “on a tight budget,” took umbrage at the cost of her drink and got into an argument with a waiter about the price of lemons versus the price of a pot of tea, which she claims the waiter said is the same.  “To show just how ridiculous this is, my friend ordered a slice of chocolate cake which was £1.90,” she added. Hannah left the “dreadful place” vowing never to go back.

Screen-Shot-2016-01-14-at-11.42.45

In response, the manager decided to break down the economics of running a cafe for the money conscious customer, to explain why she actually wasn’t “ripped off.”

“You entered the cafe and the waiter showed you to your seat, gave you a menu, waited for a time and then took your order. He entered it into the till, collected a cup, saucer and spoon and took them into the kitchen. There, he selected a knife, chopping board, got a lemon from the fridge, cut off a slice and put it in the cup,” the response began.

The manager continues to break down the waiter’s tasks, estimating that serving the customer took two to three minutes’ work, before continuing:

Screen-Shot-2016-01-14-at-17.10.44 Screen-Shot-2016-01-14-at-17.11.30 Screen-Shot-2016-01-14-at-17.12.02

I wanted to copy you the direct link to the review, but it looks like that after this got viral, the unhappy reviewer removed her review.

What do you think, do you agree that the customer is not always right? Are you listening to your customers, and replying to all comments, positive and negative ones?

Social Media Marketing Workshop with MTSU Students

social media marketing workshop in cabo san lucas with MTSU students

LA76 Strategic Design owner Romana Lilic had the pleasure of collaborating with Middle Tennessee State University, MTSU, in the past month.  A group of students, mostly coming from the field of marketing, public relations, advertising, but also leisure, tourism, sports and history, came to Cabo San Lucas by the guidance of Professor John Bodle, School of Journalism, MTSU, to get some first hand experience in their field of interest from professionals and businesses, to exchange knowledge, and not the least, enjoy sunny Cabo San Lucas.

During the four meetings with students, we focused mostly on the communications and social media marketing aspect of business here in Cabo San Lucas.  We talked about the overall communications process and dealing with clients. During our social media workshop we learned how to create a social media plan and editorial calendar. We created editorial calendars for  real clients from different fields of industries, and drew examples how they can apply what we’ve learned to their environment, knowledge, and companies they work with.

Besides learning about marketing, social media, public relations, advertising and business in general, the students had a rich program of getting to know the local culture, food, history and nature. They went snorkeling, deep sea fishing, snuba diving, parasailing. They visited the famous Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo, and learned how to cook real Mexican food with the locals. Not to forget, they shortened their cold Tennessee winter for three sunny weeks in Cabo.

Personally, I loved how engaged, interested and willing to learn the students were. I loved their fresh perspective on Cabo, business, and living, their enthusiasm and humor.  It was our pleasure being part of MTSU’s Study Abroad program, and we look forward to it becoming a tradition!

Thank you for everything John, Vanessa, Sawyer, Sydney, Chelsea, Kimberly, Diana, Montana, Shira and Rachel!

#IAmTrueBlue

11 Favorite Things in 2015

Casa-8-Chileno-Bay-LA76-Photography

2015 was a fantastic year, and our plan is to make 2016 even better.  Here are just some of our favorite things in 2015, in no particular order of preference:

  1. Blog strategy we created for Pisces Real Estate proved very successful; it generated 3 real estate sales, resulting in more than $1 mio USD. There’s no better proof that a good blogging strategy works!
  2. Another blog strategy that took off in the last two years is for Luxury Villa Collections. Their local guide to Los Cabos and travel tips are driving the visitors through the roof!
  3. A10 architecture studio and their collaboration in CapaLab with a social housing project in rammed earth was a winner in at least two categories. First, they helped provide a solution for sustainable social housing for the most affected by Hurricane Odile in Los Cabos. Besides that, their Casa O was selected to be presented at the Venice Biennale 2016. Well deserved! Media outreach we did for the project resulted in several top publications as well.
  4. We’re proud of our clients Pisces Sportfishing – in the last year alone they won several fishing tournaments; among them  Los Cabos Billfish Tournament 2015 with the largest tuna, two wins at the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot 2015 and the Los Cabos Big Game Charter Boat Classic. Pretty great fishing year, and well deserved! Read the news here.
  5. Our social media client and friend, writer Madison Lake published 2 books in 2015 (that’s six books in total for her). Unexpectedly, one of the books was dedicated to our owner, Romana Lilic – we’re so honored. If you haven’t read any of her books yet, you can start now. Find them here.
  6. Capella Ixtapa received another series of accolades in 2015: Ranked #5 “Best Hotels in Mexico 2015” by U.S. News & World Report; Ranked #6 “TOP 25 Hotels in Mexico” by TripAdvisor; 2015 Ranked #8 “TOP 25 Hotels for Romance” in México, by TripAdvisor; Ranked #6 “TOP 25 Luxury Hotels in Mexico” by TripAdvisor; Ranked #3 “TOP 25 Best Services Hotels” in México by TripAdvisor. Top!
  7. International media strategy for Acapulco Chairs brought them to the biggest Canadian daily, La Presse Canada. See the feature here.
  8. 176% increase in Facebook followings for Captain Tony’s thanks to a well-planned and executed social media strategy and great collaboration toward the same goal with the client.
  9. Branding projects for Alma Vallejo Cabo Makeup and Hair Professionals, and Indigo Pilates Studio.
  10. Collaboration with Middle Tennessee State University, MTSU, and creating a social media workshop for students during their 3-week study abroad project in Cabo San Lucas.
  11. Traveling all around Mexico with Pink Palm Photo.

At LA76 Strategic Design we are grateful for all our clients and business partners, and look forward to amazing 2016 together!

Social Media Tips: Get More From Meerkat and Periscope with Katch

live-streaming-apps-katch-meerkat-periscope-LA76-Strategic-Design

If you love Meerkat and Periscope, but wish both of these apps would offer more functionalities than ‘just’ live streaming, try Katch!
Katch enables you to easily record, permanently archive and automatically publish your broadcasts from either of the apps with one tweet.  

How Katch works:
– Sign into Katch.me and connect it to your Meerkat or Periscope accounts (or both)
– Open your favorite live streaming app
– Add #katch hashtag to your title
– Tap the Twitter icon so Katch can see your stream
– Katch starts recording your stream, including your comments and hearts
– After you end your broadcast, @KatchHQ will send you a link on Twitter
– Tap on the link to view your replay
– You can play, fast forward and rewind your video
– You can also view and scroll through all your comments
– All your broadcasts are stored permanently in the cloud.

Katch is a free app, sign up for it at www.katch.me.

If you need help with your live video marketing or social media marketing strategy, email us at info@LA76.com. We’d be glad to be of help!

Pinterest Marketing Infographic

30 reasons why Pinterest will rule Social Media in 2014

Half of the year has already passed, and if you are not using Pinterest for your business yet, you are missing out.  But why should I use it?  This Pinterest marketing infographic shows 30 reasons, among them:
– 70 million users worldwide
– out of 20 million active users worldwide, 79% are from the US
– there are 2.5 billion monthly pageviews
– Pinterest attracts 1,090 visitors per minute
– International traffic in 2013 has grown 125%
– Pinterest user stays on the site for 15.8 minutes

Pinterest-Marketing-2014-01a
Pinterest-Marketing-2014-02
Pinterest-Marketing-2014-03
Pinterest-Marketing-2014-04
Pinterest-Marketing-2014-05

Source: Omnicore

7 Pinterest Tools to Improve Your Blog Traffic

7-Pinterest-Tools-to-Improve-Your-Blog

If at first glance Pinterest seemed only a pastime where you can collect recipes and ideas for house decoration, Pinterest proved to be so much more than that.

In the past year while doing monthly reports for my clients, Pinterest never failed to prove that it is the strongest referral source, in many cases even stronger than Google!  According to Shareaholic, this visual social network draws more referral traffic than YouTube, Google, LinkedIn and Reddit combined.

With that in mind, if you are not doing so already, consider including Pinterest in your social media strategy in 2014!

Here are 6 Pinterest tools and plug-ins to get more value out of your pins.  Add these to your blog to optimize it for great traffic results.  Besides those, don’t forget to pin beautiful photos / interesting images!

1. Feature Rich Pins

Enabling easy pinning from your website or blog is crucial to enhance your Pinterest reach.
Pinterest offers five different types of “rich pins” on your blog that will make your content pop.

– Try product pins for your online shop.
– Try recipe pins for the food blog.
– Travel related businesses should consider pinning their pins to the map.
– Bloggers devoted to feature articles or news stories should check out article pins.  The resulting content has a bold headline, site logo, and relevant clip, all serving to draw readers to click on the pin.

To enable rich pins, go to rich pins and click the “Get started!” button at the bottom of the page. Follow the step-by-step directions that result, and, once it’s approved, your blog’s content will be a touch more impressive.

2. Pin it button for images

Add this handy little Pinterest plug-in (Pin it button for images) to your site to make it easy for your visitors to pin your content to Pinterest.

Don’t add the plugin if the hover-over pin button would conflicts with other pop-ups or features on your page.  If adding the button makes your site too cluttered, it might just get lost in the confusion; in that case, it’d be better to leave it out.

3. ‘Pin it on Pinterest’ button

Another way to encourage pinning is to add a “pin it” button to the bottom of your posts.

With the Pin It On Pinterest button, you not only get a clear “pin it” button at the end of every blog post, but you also get the opportunity to customize what the resulting pins will say.

Right within your dashboard, you can create a custom description for the picture the button will pin.  Though there’s no obvious downside to the “pin it” post footer button, it still should be used strategically.  Think first before making it yet another of the many “pin it” buttons everywhere on your site.  You don’t want to annoy your readers. Choose which locations will draw the most attention, and focus your Pinterest buttons there.

Alternative: For our website and lifestyle blog I use Really Simple Facebook Twitter Share Button, which shows Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and other popular share buttons within one setting – that way I don’t need to install several different plugins to enable my readers to share the content on their favorite website.  The plugin offers easy customization in the Settings menu.

4. Pinterest Widget

Want to point your blog readers to your Pinterest page to increase your followers? Get the Pinterest badge widget plug-in.  This helpful plug-in adds a widget to your site that links visitors to your Pinterest profile, shows off your most recent pins, and displays your follower count.

The Pinterest badge tool is definitely a bigger and more obvious way to promote your Pinterest profile—which for some bloggers might be overkill.  This widget is best used when you are focusing on pumping up your Pinterest following.

5. Pinterest Follow Button

Another way to point readers to your Pinterest profile is with a simple button. The Pinterest Follow Button plug-in offers various styles, from a red “Follow Me on Pinterest” button to a white square icon with the Pinterest logo.

Add the plug-in to your WordPress blog, and customize it to your tastes.  Most bloggers have social media buttons on their sites, so the Pinterest button is nothing new; what’s more, it’s not that difficult to install, even without a plug-in.  Nonetheless, adding it with this plug-in makes it especially easy.

Note: if you don’t want to focus only on Pinterest, but would like to promote sharing on other social media channels as well, see my note “Alternative” in point 3.

6. Pretty Pinterest Pins

People react to the visual content in astonishing 80%, so work that to your advantage.  If you are a blogger that wants to heavily promote your Pinterest profile, with Pretty Pinterest Pin you can display your two or three most recent beautiful pins in your sidebar?

The Pretty Pinterest Pin widget automatically creates large, eye-catching clips of your pins to display on your blog. However, since the badge can seem large and a bit flashy, some bloggers might not want to use it.

7. Use Canva to Create Beautiful Pins

canva

Canva is a simple, drag-and-drop, design software that’s completely online (I also love their iPad app!) and free to use.  Canva’s own library is home to hundreds of awesome and professionally designed social media templates created by their team of designers.  Canva social media templates can be used on not only on Pinterest, but on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube and Instagram as well.

What we love about Canva is that they already have predetermined optimal sized for each network; so you just click on the social media network that you’d like to create an image for, and they’ll offer you plenty of templates, where you can add the text, add your own image or use any from their library (they have free and for purchase images available). Check them out, I’m sure you’ll find it a very useful resource. (Featured image of this post was also created with Canva).

Do you use Pinterest and promote it’s usage from your website or blog?  What are your favorite tools or methods?  I’d love to learn about them in the comments below.

I got inspired to do this post after seeing the Shanna Mallon’s post on PR Daily, and especially because of the results we are achieving with the Pinterest traffic we are achieving for our clients. Photo source here.

Social Media Trends 2014

“Social media is no longer passed over as a fad or something that’s going away any time soon,” Brian Solis said about social media’s move into the mainstream in 2013.  “Social media is now part of our fabric of society, like mobile phones and computers – it’s a staple of our everyday life.”  And what will social media trends bring in 2014?   Several social media consultants and media are already writing their predictions; and below is my summary on what I think might affect your social media activities in 2014.

In 2014, expect a shift in priorities: a bigger focus on social media monetization, user-generated content, a great acceptance of sharing information, and more.

An infographic from WebDAM (see below) offers a glimpse of what the new year will look like for marketing departments. Hint: Content marketing will be everywhere.
– Almost 80 percent (78 percent) of chief marketing officers think custom content is the future of marketing, and nearly 50 percent of companies have content marketing strategies.
– Make sure a blog is part of your strategy in 2014: B2B companies that blog produce 67 percent more leads than those that don’t.

Keep an eye on social media next year, too:
– More than half of all marketers (52 percent) found a customer via Facebook in 2013, and 43 percent of marketers found a customer via LinkedIn.
– It is predicted that social media marketing budgets will double over the next five years.
– Emails with social media sharing buttons increase click-through rates by 158 percent.

Social Media Trends 2014

1. Investment in Social Media Will Become a Necessity, Not a Luxury
While I’d argue that investing time and resources into a social media strategy is most definitely a necessity in 2013, I believe the tipping point in public sentiment from ‘should have’ to ‘must have’ will occur in 2014.  Businesses are already coming to terms with the need to integrate their social media efforts with their content strategy, and are seeing the impact of social media in terms of lead generation, referral traffic, and revenue.  As businesses see these very real and measurable benefits, I believe we’ll see a move away from assigning social media tasks to existing employees, and see even more companies hiring social media strategists or full-time social media managers.

The benefits of social media are many, but they include:
– Improved social signals (which are a factor in the search ranking algorithm).
– Company branding
– Improved brand awareness
– Word-of-mouth advertising
– Increased customer loyalty and trust
– Improved audience reach and influence
– Social media is also one of the three pillars of SEO.

2. Businesses will learn how to better monetize social

“The big question everyone wants answers to is how does social media make money?” Solis said.  “Everyone thinks that if these platforms don’t make money at the outset, it’s not a viable platform, and that’s not true.”
Neither Twitter nor Facebook made money in the beginning, but Facebook has found a way – quarter after quarter – to beat revenue expectations.  Expect social platforms to generate new revenue streams and try new things as the sector sets a precedent for the best new ways to make money.

3. Google+ gains momentum

While Facebook continues to lead the pack in terms of number of active monthly users (1.15 billion at last count), Google+ is quickly gaining steam, and in fact, now has the second highest number of monthly users (343 million)
With Google using the platform to collect personal information (think demographics, location, etc.), Google+ should no longer be thought of as ‘just’ another social network.  It’s increasingly proving itself to be an integral part of Google’s grand scheme in terms of SEO, social signals and providing a more personalized search experience.  This is especially apparent with the importance of Google Authorship, which I project will be one of the key components to Google’s search ranking algorithm by the end of 2014.

4. Facebook gains respect

After Facebook’s IPO flop last year, investors remained skeptical of the social network.  In 2014, that will change, Solis said.  “Facebook will finally be regarded as the powerful digital platform that it is. It’s incredibly undervalued because investors haven’t known what to make of it, and many of them probably don’t even use Facebook,” he said.  “The same will probably happen to Twitter.  It has tremendous room to grow into its own and will probably follow the same path as Facebook.  The market will be a little wary and leery of it until it starts making money.”

5. LinkedIn Will Become a Major Player for B2B Business Growth
Still holding steady as the #1 social networking site for professionals with 238 million users, LinkedIn isn’t just sitting on its heels.  With the launch of its Influencers program, LinkedIn is positioning itself as not only another networking site, but as one of the largest sources of content creation and curation for professionals.  As it grows and attracts even more users, the advantages of being “linked in” will become enormous for B2B marketers.

6. Image-Centric Networks Will See Huge Success
We’ve seen a consistent trend in 2013 toward sharing through image and video, rather than text-based content.  Visual content will increasingly become a critical piece of any solid content strategy, and social networking site Pinterest will continue to shed its reputation as a ‘women’s only’ network and become an integral part of retailers’ marketing strategies.
Other image-based social media sites like Slideshare, Tumblr, Path, and Mobli will continue to grow, and businesses will need to become more mindful about the ‘sharability’ factor of photos on their websites and blogs in order to derive significant benefit from their social media content marketing efforts.

7. Social media users will be comfortable sharing more

As people start to live a digital lifestyle, they open up and become less concerned about privacy.  “We don’t lose the desire to have privacy.  We change the value proposition of what it is.  The more we share online and the more people react to it, the safer you think it is to continue sharing.”  This is good news for Facebook, which has started pushing users to share more often.  The social network recently allowed teens to share posts publicly and removed a privacy setting that prevents people from finding you.

8. User-generated content becomes more important

“Next year will be the year that retailers go bananas over user-generated content,” said Apu Gupta, CEO of the social analytics company Curalate.  Expect to see more initiatives like the one from Urban Outfitters.  The retailer encourages customers to take photos of themselves in its clothing and to post them to Instagram with a hashtag.  The company moderates the content and picks some photos to include in a gallery that links to the pages where you can then buy those looks. “Not only is user-generated content free, but they’re interested in it because every business wants to measure the ROI of social,” he said.  “This is a really easy and effective way to do that.

9. SoLoMo.
“SOcial, LOcal and MObile.”  Accord­ing to the Adobe 2013 Mobile Con­sumer Sur­vey, accessing social media is the num­ber one mobile activ­ity today.  Where do they do it?  In their local backyard.  How do they do it?  Everyone has a smartphone.  Do you know how to market via social media?  Do you know how to advise your clients where to market via social media?  If the answer is a resounding ‘no,’ quit going to those writing workshops and pick up something on digital.  It’s no secret that today’s consumer is defined by reach, location and mobility.  The secret is where are you when they figure that out themselves.

10. We’ll Witness the Rise of Micro-Video
It seems that writing 140 characters and taking 3 minute long videos is becoming too tedious for many of us. Micro video to the rescue!  With the emergence of micro video apps like Twitter’s Vine and now Instagram’s video sharing feature, we’re seeing even more movement toward real-time video sharing.  And not just any videos; with Instagram allowing 3-15 seconds per video, and Vine allowing precisely 6 seconds, users are even more likely to create and share videos from their smartphones.

11. Content is Still King.
Want to know why I heart Google?  With its zoo of Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird, they are forcing PR professionals to be better writers.  If you can’t diagram a complex-compound sentence (with a conceivable amount of panache), you may have problems.  Review the four aforementioned trends coming to a PR agency near you in 2014.  Social media?  PR and SEO?  SoLoMo?  Micro-everything?  They all require gripping, relevant and strategic content.  Content is becoming less about text and more about direction to a visual or a CTA.  Need lead generation or better traffic?  Content creates organic SEO and an open door for paid SEM or a good PPC campaign.  Content creates information.  Good content creates positioning.

social-media-trends-2014

What do you think social media trends will be in 2014?  I’d love to hear your comments below.
Sources: InformationWeek, MediaBistro, Forbes, Ragan. Infographic.

Instagram Video vs Vine: Which Mobile Video App to Use?

instagram-vs-vine-feat1
Image via Techcrunch.

Shortly after Twitter launched their mobile video service Vine, Instagram introduced their Instagram Video.  While clients often ask me what is better, if they should use one, the other, or both, the answer, in short, could be: depends.  It all depends on what you want to achieve, what kind of short videos are you (or your social media manager) able to do, and on the social media strategy that you already have in place.

Here are some of the differentiators between both, Instagram Video and Vine, which might help you decide on which video app functionality to use:

instagram-vs-vine
Image source: Techcrunch. Since they published the article Instagram enabled video embed and importing functionality, that’s why we corrected it with YES.

What I like about Instagram is that with 15 seconds you can create slightly longer videos, that you can add filters (although I realized that I hardly use them) and that you can import the video from your phone stream (it doesn’t have to be taken at the moment).

I think importing videos functionality has its pros and cons.  I like the importing function because sometimes it just feels better / easier to record the video with your phone’s camera.  I often take videos at the ocean and with the wind blowing too hard, the beautiful scenery becomes difficult to watch with the scratching sound of the wind – in such cases I find it useful to be able to correct the sound on my computer, and then upload to Instagram.  It would be very useful if Instagram adds a sound editor function as well.  On this point I like Viddy and Videolicious apps where you can add music to your videos from the app itself. With importing video functionality I wouldn’t like to see on my Instagram feed a flood of videos done professionally, and then uploaded to Instagram.

What I like about Vine best is its looping functionality, which can turn a 6 sec video into an endless stream of let’s say waves at the beach, sunset, fashion defile and so on. I also like it because of the creativity it encourages.  Many brands have embraced Vine with stunning, creative and fun videos, which I believe brings them closer to a new audience.

For example, Burberry, a 156 year old global fashion brand, has fully embraced Vine as part of its social media strategy, using the platform to showcase the runway show from AW13 London Fashion Week show:

LA76 Strategic Design’s Creative Director @MADianito has Vine as well, and I love how creative and fun is this post:

Which mobile video app are you using, Instagram or Vine? How do you use it? Which functionalities you like best? I look forward to hearing your comments or questions below.