When Social Media No Longer Works Pt 2.

I wrote a blog earlier tonight called When Social Media No Longer Works addressing a pet peeve of mine and using the JLC as an example.

That blog, if you don’t wish to go read it, was about how organizations/venues/groups sometimes become an annoyance when they send out event invites for absolutely everything to the people who like or follow them.

I’d had that problem with the JLC (among others) in the past. Every time they announced an event I’d get an event invite. Which yes it’s an event invite, it’s really not hard to get rid of the notification and click Not Attending, Attending or Maybe, but still after the first dozen you get tired of them.

Now let me just say once again, I love the JLC and have total respect for their marketing and communication team. They do a great job with their marketing, especially their social media. Very few organizations put that much effort into their social media, answering questions, finding information, sharing information, asking questions, offering contests, engaging the audience in every way. How their marketing department works is probably why my resume has appeared in the department a couple of times over the years.

That post got me thinking about some of the mistakes that organizations make with their social media, or even their websites.

  • Stale Content / Lack of New Content
    It has always bothered me when I visit a website and return months later to find the exact same content. Websites should be informative and should spark communication. When there is stale information, it can be hard to put your confidence in it and it can make you wonder where else a company or organization is dated/lacking attention.
    Facebook & Twitter are more about the Lack of New Content. Information may not necessarily become stale, but there is a need for a constant stream of new communication in social media. Social Media is meant to be social. It is about engaging your audience and it is hard to engage your audience if you aren’t present creating a dialogue or the opportunity for a dialogue.
  • TMI – Too Much Information – if you tweet or share anything and everything you are going to lose your following. Tweeting or Sharing this way might be alright for personal accounts but, business accounts function a bit better when they focus on what they do best or things that are relate. Some information, while it may be entertaining, may not be valuable or relevant to those who follow what you are saying. Also if you post/tweet too much, you’re going to drown out everything else for your followers. You will make it hard for them to find other content that is important to them. Ultimately people will unfollow the few (you) for the greater good of the many if you are tweeting/sharing too much that isn’t relevant.
  • Broadcasting vs. Engaging – as I said, Social Media is social. Some companies start a Twitter Account and don’t follow anyone and post nothing more than links to their website or company focused updates or they create a Facebook Page and turn off the wall. Twitter and Facebook are about talking to people, or contributing content that can create a dialogue. These virtual environments are also about recognizing people, sharing information, growing ideas – in other words about establishing relationships and engaging communities. It is amazing the things that people can do if they engage in social media. There are a ton of initiatives that have gained momentum through social media, just in this area.
  • Forgetting – Creating Social Media and forgetting about it. If you are going to create a Twitter Account or a Facebook Page, use it. If you don’t use it it’s probably better to delete it, because a Facebook Page or Twitter Account that is not maintained is doing way more harm than good.
  • Lack of Response – If someone posts a question on your Facebook Page or @mentions you on twitter with a question respond to it as soon as possible. I had a recent situation with a local company, I tweeted them about a month ago with a question and got a response two days ago, this to me is not acceptable. Social Media has an expectation of immediacy attached to it. In Twitter I (personally) expect a response within 2 days at most. In Facebook, I give it a week at most to have a question addressed. After those periods of time I’m lost. I have either forgotten what I said, because it happened ‘so long ago’ or I’ve moved on to someone else who can answer my question. It’s basically customer service; how happy are you when you’re kept on hold for 2 hours? Or if you call a company and they don’t return the call? If it is a post on a Facebook Page that really doesn’t require a response, hit the “Like” button, that can show that you’re reading and paying attention to what is being said on your page.
  • Individual vs Community – Twitter is not really about the individual, well it maybe is, but only in the sense of the individual’s contribution to the community. If a company or individual on social media is all about hearing themselves talk (reading themselves write) there is no room for the community to participate. It is important to interact with the people around you in social media. Engage with what other people are saying, answer questions, ask questions, start a conversation or retweet a message. If someone you are following announces a success or something, congratulate them, share the success (if you think others who follow you would find it valuable), this builds a relationship; if you are there to support someone, they will be more inclined to be there to support you.
  • Listen! Twitter and Facebook are, in my opinion, a wealth of knowledge, Twitter especially. Some of the most interesting and intelligent people I know are people who I follow on Twitter (and if you follow me on twitter and are reading this, I probably mean you). The people I follow on twitter (and those who I don’t) come from a variety of backgrounds. It is amazing the knowledge and experience people have and who knows some of that knowledge and experience could help make your next project even better.
  • Over Following  (This is for twitter) – some people make the mistake of following everyone they come across. This is often in an attempt to inflate their following/followers numbers. If you are following too many people it is hard to filter the conversations and find the hidden gems that could be relevant or beneficial to you. If you do follow a lot of people, I highly suggest you use Lists and categorize the people you are following. This way you can focus on certain streams at certain times and follow along or participate in conversations.

These are just a few of the things I have noticed over time, but I will continue to add tips, tricks and mistakes for social media on this blog, heck I may even (or will likely) make some mistakes myself. I am by no means perfect, but I’ll keep trying to get close.

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When Social Media Marketing No Longer Works

This Blog entry will be about a social media pet peeve of mine that has to do with Facebook, “Like”ing and Events.

I am a firm believer in social media marketing. I think it has brilliant potential to reach audiences and connect people. That being said social media marketing only works as long as you are not annoying your audience.

This Blog post will look at something that the John Labatt Centre (and other venues) does in its social media marketing that bothers me. Now let me preface this by saying I love the John Labatt Centre (JLC) and applaud them for embracing social media in their marketing efforts. I have on numerous occasions purchased tickets and attended events at the John Labatt Centre.

I follow the JLC on Twitter and it’s great. I find out about events and concerts and get to offer suggestions when they ask the twittersphere who they should bring to the JLC next. So I have really have no issue with the JLC on twitter.

I “Like” the JLC on Facebook. In a number of ways I’m fine with how the JLC uses their fan page, but there is one aspect of their Facebook marketing that irks me. It’s their use of Events.

Every time that the JLC announces an event (often several at one time) they create an event page for the event and send an event invite to every person who likes their page. I’ve heard that FM96 is guilty of this too, along with other venues, groups and organizations in other locations.

I get the purpose of setting up an “Event Page” for a concert or event happening at the JLC and I don’t have a problem with that. Setting up an event allows people to RSVP and connect with other people attending the event. It allows the JLC to make announcements and updates for the event and from an evaluations standpoint the Facebook Event Page allows the JLC to do a quick analysis of the event attendance: who is attending, male, female, age group, who is interested, who isn’t interested. This information helps them to potentially streamline their other marketing efforts for that event to maximize exposure to the appropriate demographic.

My problem is that the JLC is sending out event invites for (seemingly) every single event. The JLC announces an event, or announces several events and I have little red notification flags and a scrolling list of events running down the right hand side of my Facebook Homepage. I think “Yay I have a message”, or that a friend has invited me to a party and most of the times it is just another JLC announcement that, as of late, means very little to me.

I “Like” the JLC page, so that I get all of their updates. When they announce a show through a wall post on their page, it shows up in my feed. When the JLC shares something it shows up in my feed. If it’s in my feed I can read it (and click on a link) if I want to or  simply scroll past it if I’m not interested. If it’s an event invite I have to clear the notification and RSVP to the event and it’s still in my list of events even after I RSVP “Not Attending”.

Now it’s been a while since I’ve created an event (and maybe this isn’t the case anymore), but I’m pretty sure there is a “Share” Button on the event page, so if the JLC creates an event and clicks “share” that story will then appear in the home feeds of all of the people who “Like” the JLC (providing stories haven’t been filtered by users). It simply appears in the feed, there is no notification, there is no event appearing in the event panel of my homepage, and there is no need for me to RSVP to it if I’m not interested. (If this isn’t an option, my apologies, but I still find these event invites a bit annoying.)

I have no issue with being invited to things by my friends, but being ‘blanket’ invited to absolutely everything a venue or radio station hosts annoys me. My friends are at least inviting me to things they think I will be interested in attending. An organization doing these mass invites though are inviting me because they’re trying to fill the seats and make money not because it is something I will likely be interested in. These mass invites are somewhat off-putting to me and they make my mouse wander towards the “unlike” option on a page.

The JLC hosts a lot of events throughout the year, several events each month typically. Smaller organizations that run a couple of events a year can probably get away with sending out event invites. A large venue such as the JLC that has numerous events annually (attracting diverse and differing groups),  will end up annoying its audience with these never-ending event invites.

The worst part is that it is a catch-22. I want to “Like” the JLC so that I can find out about events, see announcements and interact with other people who attend events, but I don’t want the notifications and event invites every time there is a new event. It makes me want to “Unlike” the JLC and simply rely on the twitter updates (that often get buried in my feed).

Like I said though, I love the JLC, it is a great venue that has brought in some great acts. I have great respect for their marketing department as well, they do a lot of great work, it is just this one little thing that bothers me. The JLC by no means is the only “Page” guilty of doing this, I’ve had friends complain of the same thing from their favourite radio stations or venues in their area.

Social Media is a great communications tool, but it no longer works (or isn’t as effective) if you’re annoying your audience.

My Dream Job

The phrase “dream job” has for some reason always thrown me for a loop. People ask me what my dream job is and I blank, or ramble on in a wishy-washy kind of manner.

I don’t know why defining my dream job trips me up so much. Maybe I’m afraid if say it out loud someone will take it from me, which is ridiculous because if I don’t say it out loud, no one is taking it from me, but I am keeping it from myself.

I think part of it is that I often been told that my dreams are unrealistic or childish.  For a decade now (since high school) my focus has been on finding a career and job that I love. I do not want to be one of those miserable people who dreads going to work on a daily basis and who lets their dislike of their job negatively impact every other aspect of their life. I want a job that makes me happy, but others have told me that I need a job that makes me financially stable. I don’t see why I can’t have both.

I want to be the person that looks forward to waking up each morning and going to work. I want to be the person who can’t help but brag about how great their jobs is. I want to enjoy the work that I do and feel like it is making a difference or helping someone else to be or do the best they can.

That’s what I love about technology, it has the potential to help people be or do the best they can. Technology has the power to bridge gaps and connect people in ways previously inconceivable. It is not the technology itself though, it is how people use the technology that gives it power.

I’ve had a computer in my house my entire life. I’m 26 (almost 27), so I’m not part of the generation where this fact would be the norm. My grade 8 graduation class prediction (by my class) was that I would be a computer programmer.

Well that didn’t happen, I fell in love with media and journalism in high school and followed that path to Brock University where I studied Popular Culture. While I was at Brock I met a 3M Award winning Professor named Barry Joe who taught classes on Computer Mediated Communications, which in 2003 was something still relatively new. It may not have new, but it was still somewhat ‘niche’ it hadn’t grabbed a hold of the mass market yet.

These classes combined the two things I loved the most, technology and communications. This was the path I saw my career heading down, I wanted a career in digital communications. During my post-secondary career, at both Brock and Fanshawe I was an advocate for Virtual Educational Environments. I believed that digital communications in an educational setting helped to elevate the academic experience. The traditional education model was Professors Lecturing or Dictating information to their students. Digital environments helped to collapse the educational hierarchy and allowed students to take control over the direction of their education. Digital environments offered students freedom, which gave them the confidence (often through anonymity) to ask questions and present ideas that they were otherwise hesitant to verbalize in a real life classroom

So what is my dream job?

Social Media Coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays would be great, but since that probably isn’t in the cards (at least not yet) my dream job is:

  • A job where I can help others (or a company/organization) achieve their communications goals through the use of technology (website, social media), and possibly traditional communications.

Arguably that would be an ideal position for me, but I wouldn’t mind a position that included that either or that included any/all of the following:

  • Communications Planning
  • Social Media Planning
  • Writing/Researching/Interviewing
  • Web Content Management
  • Event Planning
  • Graphic Design
  • Client Relations/Facilitation
  • Media Relation

In additional to these things I would really like to work with a company/organization that has a strong corporate culture. By that I mean work within a company where people know each other, interact with each other, help and support each other.  A place where people yes get their work done and are professional, but also know how to laugh and have fun. A company that is not only engaged internally, but engaged externally in  community initiatives or projects. A place that encourage continuous growth and development.

So if you know of any jobs that fit this description please feel free to comment below. Or if you have a job like this available, I’m your girl!

Job Hunting Blues

Today when I woke up I went through my usual routine. Check Facebook, check Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo, check Twitter and check LinkedIn. A tiny part of me is now wishing I hadn’t checked LinkedIn. I went into one of the groups I subscribe to and found an individual in my field talking about how difficult it has been to find work in London. I felt bad for the guy and could relate. I’ve had a rough time finding permanent employment myself. I am extremely smart, hardworking and talented, but my resume seems to lack those years of experience everyone wants. I’ve gone to interviews and made it to final two and been told my interviewers were so impressed by my attitude, my energy and my ideas (which they planned on using), but that the other candidate had X more years of experience, so they hired them.

So I went into the discussion to maybe offer some support and understanding to the man struggling to find a communications job here in London. I entered the discussion and found people offering suggestions of positions to apply to, all of which he gratefully accepted or replied that he’d already applied to the position. One of those position was a position I applied to the other night and immediately tweeted “Just applied to a job that I really really want. Fingers tightly crossed on this one #fingerscrossed #jobs”

After reading the conversation on LinkedIn and creeping his profile I feel a bit deflated. This job is one that I’ve basically been applying to since I graduated. It’s the perfect job for me. It’s the right environment, with the right kind of people, doing the work I know and love. I am now painfully aware that I am once again up against at least one person with vastly more experience than me, as he graduated university before I even finish elementary school. I wish him the best and hope he finds something soon, as I know how hard it is and he is clearly more than qualified for a good position in the field.

Maybe this time for me it won’t matter that I don’t have the ‘years experience’, maybe someone will see something in my resume and be so impressed by my interview that they can’t help but hire me over the person with X years more experience. I know I deserve the opportunity, I know I am good at what I do. What I lack in experience I make up for in drive and ability to learn. I didn’t graduate at the top class for no reason, I work hard and learn fast.

I guess though if this job opportunity doesn’t pan out, there are still the other applications I sent out to positions that I thought sounded interesting.  Hopefully one of the cool job opportunities I have found will pan out, though I fear there are over qualified individuals lurking there too.

But I will remain positive! I am a great catch!

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For anyone interested in my background:

I graduated from Brock University in 2006 with an Honours Bachelor of Art in Popular Culture. I then graduated from Fanshawe College in 2008 with a post-graduate certificate in Corporate Communications and Public Relations (CC&PR). I graduated from that program at the top of my class earning the London Life Student Award of Excellence, awarded annually at the IABC Virtuoso Awards to the student with the top GPA in the Fanshawe CC&PR program.

Examples of projects I’ve worked on:

  • Middlesex … We’re On the Way Tourism Guide 2010 (writer)
  • Me Inc. A Young Entrepreneurs Magazine (primary writer)
  • Middlesex Tourism Online Events Guide 2010
  • Middlesex Tourism Symposium 2010
  • London Chamber of Commerce Bell Comedy Auction 2008 ( Laff Your Assets Off)
  • Brock Blood Donor Campaign – with Canadian Blood Services (primary organizer)
  • Brock Residence Food and Clothing Drive (primary organizer)

I have also created numerous marketing materials for various businesses and organizations and run social media training for two not-for profits.

You can view my LinkedIn profile by visiting http://ca.linkedin.com/in/sarahcarruthers

Twitter Blue Jays – part 2

So last night I wrote a blog post about the benefits of Blue Jays being on twitter, which can be found here and I thought about it more today and thought of one more reason twitter participation could be beneficial to the Blue Jays, it’s actually an extension on the point I made about the players being ‘imports’ and fans not really knowing them.

Not only are the players imports, but they’re celebrities.  They make big bucks, play a game for a living and are in the public eye. When players are celebrities, fans tend to forget that they are people too and often feel free to be angry and mean when speaking of them, because well the players are celebrities and really what are the odds that an average persons comment is going to get back to a celebrity baseball player and really affect them.

Well previously that could more or less be assumed. Sure you’d have hecklers at the game, but players have learned to more or less tune out the negative in the middle of the game or when dealing with the media.

But now thanks to twitter, not only do the fans have access to the players, but the players are now open to the comments of the fans in a more real way. This became evident today when some individual in the twittersphere attacked a Blue Jays starting pitcher  for his rocky performance and fellow starting pitcher Brett Cecil stepped up to the plate to defend his teammate.

It is going to take some time for players and fans to adjust to this new level of accessibility, but I think in the end the Jays presence on twitter can help eliminate some of the ‘Haters’ if you will. If fans get to see more that these players are just regular guys, guys like the ones I went to school with (yes most of them are my age), then they will feel more compassion for them and want to support them. And I have to say I have been guilty of it. While I completely support and cheer on the Blue Jays sI have referred to Encarnacion as E5 a couple of times due to his frequent errors at third, which upon reflection, I now feel bad about. He is a real person, working hard at a job that is a lot harder than it looks and he is a person who is making sacrifices to live his dream and entertain the fans. So for my E5 comments, I apologize. When I played I had my own difficulties at 3rd, after playing 1st most of my years, it is not an easy position.

But yes there will still be the jerks out there who run their mouths, but I think fans will start to realize that these players who have been untouchable for so long are now touchable and can be affected by what is said. Fans will realize that these million dollar athletes are just your average guys.

In the mean time though, I can’t help but wonder if the Toronto Blue Jays organization/marketing team has thought about doing some social media training with their players or if they have. Yes it is the players personal choice to be on twitter (I assume so at least), but they are at all times representing the organization. They need to be aware of trolls and haters and how to handle and deal with those people effectively. Cecil did fairly well today, but you could tell he was getting a bit hot under the collar (which I understand why). But I think some social media training might not hurt for athletes, if they aren’t already getting it (though I am sure there has been some form of orientation on the topic.

Again though I want to commend all of the Blue Jays who are sacrificing things in their lives to reach their goals and commend them for the hard work they put in day in and day out in an attempt to bring a championship back to Toronto and the fans . Further I commend the Blue Jays who are on Twitter and making an effort to interact with players and bring fans back into the fold. You are doing a commendable job and the true Blue Jays fans are behind you and believe that you are going to succeed.

Twitter Blue Birds are really Blue Jays #jays #mlb

So if anyone reading this is following me on twitter (@Sadie_Liz) you will already know that I am a huge Toronto Blue Jays fan. You may also know that I am a communications consultant, who is big into social media.

This season many professional athletes have taken to twitter, creating accounts, interacting with other players and even fans. You can follow a list of professional MLB Players or follow a number of individual players like Toronto Blue Jays JP Arencibia (@jparencibia9), Jose Bautista (@JoeyBats19), Travis Snider (@Lunchboxhero45), Ricky Romero (@RickyRo24), Jesse Litsch (@JesseLitsch), Brett Cecil (@CEC0208) and soon to be reactivated Brandon Morrow (@2Morrow23). Turns out the Twitter Blue Bird is really a Blue Jay.

Last week JP Arencibia and Ricky Romero (I think it was) asked if they should try to get 2nd baseman Aaron Hill and utility man John McDonald on twitter. My answer was “Absolutely, Yes!”

Of course I would love to see veterans Hill and McDonald on twitter just because well, they are Hill and McDonald, what Jays fan doesn’t love those two, especially Johnny Mac, a fan favourite.

I’ve thought about this from a marketing and communications perspective though. I believe twitter can be hugely beneficial to a team like Toronto.

  • Blue Jays are not just a Toronto team, they are a Canadian team. The fan base for the Blue Jays is from coast to coast and twitter helps to overcome the geographical distance for fans
  • The Blue Jays organization is built on ‘imports’. Meaning that with the exception of a few (Stairs, Richmond, Lawrie) all of the players are coming from outside of Canada. Even if there were players from inside Canada, it wouldn’t be like Hockey where the Canadians come up through the CHL and World Juniors and are highly familiar to the Canadian Public. Twitter will give fans access and insight into who the Toronto Blue Jays players really are, it will humanize them beyond their celebrity status. And this is even more important for the guys who are just coming up, or who were acquired through trades. Fans got to know Doc and Vernon Wells and invested years into them and now they’re gone. Fans need to find new favourite players and Twitter will help speed and intensify that process.
  • Over the years a number of fans have disengaged due to the fact that Jays haven’t seen the top of the AL East since their back to back World Series Wins. This has caused a decrease in game attendance and likely merchandising. By having Blue Jays players on twitter engaging with fans or participating in ‘Twitter Parties’ on off days  (not something that has yet happened) Toronto will be cultivating a new group of fans or re-engaging fans who have long since disconnected from the Toronto team.I was a huge Blue Jays fan as a kid, and while I’ve always been a big fan, I’ve been more engaged this year than any other year because of the players who are on Twitter. I’m getting to know the players that make up the teams. I almost feel like they’re guys from down the street, or someone I know from somewhere, instead of celebrity athletes. I’m invested in this team, their wins and their losses, how they handle the wins and losses and in the personal details that they share through their Twitter accounts. I feel connected to these players and I want to see them succeed. I wish I could go to their games and give them the support that people always gave me when I was playing. If I am feeling this way, I can’t imagine others aren’t feeling the same.If people are more connected to the team and engaged by the players they are going to watch more games, buy tickets and go to more games, spend more money at the ball park or online in the Jays store, or contribute more to the Jays Care foundation because it is something their ‘friends’ value  and therefore they value.
  • John McDonald is probably the most popular player on the Blue Jays team, at least I would contend that he is because last season when a little boy could choose any player he wanted to throw the opening pitch to, he chose Johnny Mac and the crowd roared. Johnny Mac has been one of my favourite players since he arrived. I’ve always cheered for him and been thrilled when he gets to see playing time. There is just something about him that is endearing. He is the underdog, the average Joe. Last season some sports analysts said that he didn’t deserve his spot on the roster, but fans disagreed and so thankfully did Cito. Johnny Mac by everything the fans know, is the hardest working person on the Blue Jays team. He doesn’t play every day, but he works hard everyday to be sure that if he is on the field he is ready. When he is on the field it is amazing to watch him work and succeed. To see him excel when he gets a day on the field is like a win for the little guy, even though he is probably the best utility player in the league. Now take that and think of him from a Marketing Perspective. He is the Jerome “JYD” Williams of the Blue Jays. He might not be as outlandish as JYD is, but he is just as, if not more beloved by the Blue Jay fans across the country. John McDonald has more ‘star power’ within the Toronto fan base than probably any other Blue Jay, though JP Arencibia may be taking over the young female demographic, so having a beloved veteran like him on Twitter would be HUGE. He feels like a guy you’ve known forever for some reason. If he got on Twitter, he would have droves of followers in no time. Twitter would connect people that much more to the already most relatable guy on the team. Honestly how many Blue Jays fans wouldn’t want to find a way to make it to a game if Johnny Mac tweeted a plea to fans to come out and support the team. Or if Johnny Mac tweeted about Jays Care, who wouldn’t try to scrounge up some spare change or canned goods to help? Johnny Mac is a fan favourite already, I have a feeling that would translate to Twitter and fans would just be on cloud nine, and if marketing decided to use that to their advantage, well they’d probably end up pretty happy.Even if marketing didn’t jump on that, all of the players are invested in the team and the work the team does. They want the team to succeed, the want the causes they support to succeed. The players are passionate about their team and they want to see fans return to their former glory of the World Series Years, who wouldn’t. I know when I played baseball not only did I want to win, I wanted to have the crowd energized, it makes the game that much more exciting as a player. Every player they get on Twitter, especially the fan favourites like Johnny Mac, Hill and rising stars like JP Arencibia, Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow, the more fans are going to invest in the team emotionally and probably more importantly invest with bums in the seats, increased ticket sales and merchandise sales.

From my perspective the Jays already on Twitter absolutely need to be getting some of the other Jays on Twitter as well, especially fan favourite veterans like Hill and McDonald. It’s time to get this nation excited about the boys of summer and it has to start somewhere. If the players are pumped and have a never die attitude that is evident to the fans how can the fans not follow suit?

It’s time for the Blue Jays Nation 2.0!  Let’s go! Blue Jays! Let’s Go!