I don’t get paid to fix privacy settings.

Happy new year!

I haven’t written a new post since April… and with that one I was all “I should start blogging again!” because it had been a month. Mwerp. So, not as a resolution necessarily, but more of a “this would be good for me” decision I made after talking to my brother about something unrelated, I’m going to get back at it… again.

I’ve been in my current internship for about a year and a half now, with a lot of the work I’ve done centering around social media. Oftentimes I’ll tell people that detail and their instant reaction is to ask me a random question about how to change their privacy settings or generally teach them about Facebook or Twitter. While I’m absolutely capable of doing those things, let me tell you about what I actually do right now; it seems like a good starting point since I haven’t written a blog post in 8 months.

When I say that “social media is a part of my internship,” I mean that I find content for our clients to post that is relevant to their industry/product. Sometimes I find the content and I’m also the person who posts it (one example is our client Texters– the link will take you to their Facebook page). I use the website Hootsuite because one person easily has access to multiple accounts, and the ability to schedule future posts; Hootsuite also happens to be the site my boss was already using when I started working for her, there are many similar sites. If you have your own business or use social media for more than your personal page you might want to check it out.

This picture is relevant because I mention Nike in the next paragraph, and I am proudly wearing my bright pink Nike's in this photo.

This picture is relevant because I mention Nike in the next paragraph, and I am proudly wearing my bright pink Nike’s in this photo.

Many companies have entire departments dedicated to social media (I’m always super impressed by Nike in this area), because one minor mistake can turn into a big mistake in a short amount of time if it isn’t acknowledged and fixed quickly– see my post about McDonald’s last year. Posts on Facebook and Twitter can’t entirely be talking up a product or company because people won’t pay attention to those for long, if at all, but posts still need to be relevant to the product/company.

Finding those relevant and interesting pieces of information is what I do. :-)

Spam-free Twitter?

Whenever I’m asked about Twitter my first reply is, “It’s a silly place,” similar to how King Arthur describes Camelot in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Trends change by the hour, and one mistake from a company can spread within seconds and quite suddenly become a news story. However silly a place it may be, Twitter is useful for sharing all kinds of information… with varying degrees of importance.

At the very bottom of the importance chain we find spam. Stupid, slimy, not-the-food, spam. Anyone who has ever had an email address knows just how frustrating spam is and, unfortunately, it is prevalent in the 140 million active-user Twitterverse.

Bale Milford and I have never been introduced... and I have no interest in his spam-y link!
And yeah... Middle-earth Podcast follows me.

So it was to my great delight when I read this article on Mashable that Twitter filed a lawsuit today against five of the major spammers. As stated by Twitter, “Taking legal action sends a clear message to all would-be spammers that there are serious and costly consequences to violating our Rules with their annoying and potentially malicious activity.”

Spam is generally an easy thing to ignore and avoid, but it sure is annoying and can really mess stuff up if someone mistakenly clicks on it. By suing five of the major groups creating spam, Twitter is not only sending a message to potential future-spammers but also to other groups not included in the current lawsuit.

Even if Twitter somehow loses the lawsuit, at least they made an effort to improve the quality of their space on the internet. The announcement was just made today and already there are thousands of happy tweeters spreading the news that Twitter is taking action against spammers. I think I’ll join their ranks.

The Pioneer Woman Knows Her Social Media

One thing I really like about my part-time-to-get-me-through-college job is that I get along really well with all of my coworkers. One of my favorites, Sonja, was the first person to introduce me to the blog The Pioneer Woman. Sonja encouraged me to take a look at it because the writer of the blog, Ree Drummond, was not only funny but she had great recipes and lots of photos to go along with each recipe.

Sonja moved away (thank goodness for Facebook!), but I continued to check into the Pioneer Woman every now and then to find new recipes or just stare at pretty food pictures, but she also has tips on gardening, photography, and homeschooling, as well as a couple other less specific “for fun” sections.

I mean really, look at that. Who wouldn't want to visit this blog all the time?

The Pioneer Woman is a good (extreme) example of how social media can be used for public relations, and to gain and expand an audience. Ree started with her blog, and when it acquired followers she created Facebook and Twitter accounts. Through these outlets people are able to share their finds with others and by word of mouth The Pioneer Woman became a well known blog. So well known, in fact, that Ree now even has her own show on the Food Network (also called The Pioneer Woman), and a cookbook coming out on March 13!

Nearly 400,000 people follow The Pioneer Woman on Facebook, and nearly 300,000 on Twitter. As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, interaction is essential to maintaining an audience and Ree constantly replies to fans in addition to starting conversations and posting new content to her blog, Facebook, and Twitter almost daily. If you have never been to this blog I encourage you to at least take a look… there’s so much to find :-)

Using Social Media Personally and Professionally

Last year I sat down with my adviser and set up a graduation plan. I could have arranged to graduate this spring, but I didn’t feel like I’d be ready for the “real world” that soon. I will instead be graduating Spring 2013, and I am happy to say that although my skills have improved immensely over the past year, I still feel that graduating next year is a good idea. Both in school and in my internship, one of my biggest difficulties has been learning to effectively use social media in a way that balances personal interests with career-type interests.

Mashable recently had an article, “9 Ways Students Can Use Social Media to Boost Their Careers“, which I found incredibly helpful. I have heard most of these suggestions before, but being able to read them and perhaps read a second time is helpful to me. Take a look at the article, but I’ll tell you the three that stood out most to me.

First, it is okay to still post personal stuff! If you’re a student and only posting career-related stuff it can make you seem unapproachable. Everyone knows that you’re going to have real-life friends as connections on Twitter or elsewhere, “but refining your language, highlighting content and information that’s more career-focused, and connecting and conversing with more people outside your immediate group of friends signifies that you’re interested in more than just the personal.”

This can remain true even when trying to be more professional! I also just wanted another post with a Dr. Seuss quote.

When I’m interacting with my family and friends, I tend to be heavy on sarcasm. Every now and then I come across someone who doesn’t understand it and I make a mental note to keep things straight-forward. I’ve been hesitant to be sarcastic online because of some past experiences with text messaging where people thought I was serious and that was 381% not the case; the problem with text is that there is no tone of voice. Anyway this article is clear that sarcasm is just fine if it’s something you would say to someone face-to-face; likewise if you would not say something face-to-face do not say it. Luckily for me, I’m generally a nice person and don’t say mean things :-)

Something I need to do more, and am encouraged to do so now that I’ve read this article, is interact with professionals online. It gives you a better understanding of the area, but also showcases that you already have a base knowledge and interpersonal skills. Interacting with professionals can even (will according to the article) get you a “once-over” from possible future employers.

I like social media, and I’ve learned SO much over the past year about how to use it effectively. The article on Mashable made me feel confident that I’m mostly doing it right, and good suggestions on how to improve my efforts. I hope you all learned something, too!

Extreme Savings… Great PR

At some point in 2008 I started noticing updates on Facebook from a friend in North Carolina all about how much money she had been saving with coupons. As time went by, and she learned more about combining coupons, the total amount saved grew to be unbelievable.

Desirae Young started using coupons in 2007 to stretch each dollar for her family. She now spends just $150 each month on food for her family of 3, and even has a stock room with everything from non-perishable foods to extra laundry detergent and cough syrup. She’s set for pretty much anything, and donates a lot of food and supplies to various people and groups.

Proof of one of Desirae's incredible shopping trips. Amount spent: $0.32, amount saved: $382.35

Desirae acquired a fairly large following of people on Facebook and would occasionally have contests with various prizes- from coupon books to video games- to give away. She has always been great about interacting with her followers and providing them with a lot of valuable information about couponing.

In 2011 she made an appearance on the TLC show “Extreme Couponing.” Her Facebook page now has more than 22,000 followers and she has been featured on her local news, as well as recently being on the show “Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers” (see it here).

Extreme Savings With Diva Desirae has changed quite a bit from when I first saw it in 2008, but is now a treasure trove of links to daily deals and printable coupons, giveaways and freebies. There is a link to “Coupon 101” for people who are beginners. She also has a YouTube channel with explanations to frequent questions and other information about some of her own shopping trips.

Desirae has done a wonderful job of maintaining her own public relations, even with the rapid increase in followers and amount of questions asked each day. She always has a positive attitude and is encouraging to people, reminding them that becoming an “extreme” couponer doesn’t happen over night.

By effectively managing her social media, Desirae is able to help people as well as maintain her reputation as a coupon expert.

Be the high flier! Know your audience.

All through college we students are told to do as much as we can to make resumés stand out to future employers. Internships, school groups, volunteering… anything to show that person who has likely just looked at twenty or more other resumés that you have something to contribute everyone else does not.

This is sound advice, but can also be incredibly intimidating. There’s always that one person in your class who you know is more creative, volunteers somewhere, and probably has at least three skills you don’t even know exist that show up on their resumé. That person makes you feel like the guy in “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” who was a high flier but his air balloon got caught in a tree.

With a world of competition, what can one need to do to really stand out?

One guy decided that the best thing he could do was write a blog post all about why he was the best candidate. Not only did he land the job, it caught media attention and got people asking whether the blog was a good idea or not (one example here). There are opinions on both sides; some say it was a great idea and allowed him to show off his knowledge, but on the other hand if a company says to turn in an application and resumé… that’s what you should do.

I think that, given the position, it made sense for him call on their attention in a nontraditional way. The company he was applying to, Radian6, manages and monitors social media. He used their own devices to show off his knowledge of social media and give examples of why he would be a good fit for their company. He’s that guy in your class.

In the world of Public Relations it’s important to know how to reach your audience. You can have the best message in the world and get zero results if you’re not using the right outlet. Not everyone is going to land their dream job by writing a blog post about it… sometimes it will need to be a blog post AND an impeccable resumé. If you know your audience, you’ll know what to do.

McDonald’s could learn from Domino’s.

About two weeks ago McDonald’s launched a Twitter hashtag that had less than favorable results. #McDStories, which they hoped would bring up all kinds of happy, fun memories at McDonald’s instead brought up a number of bad stories. Quoting one tweeter, “the hashtag became a bashtag”. Here are a few:

PRNewser had an article about this ordeal, “McDonald’s Had A ‘Contingency Plan’ For Twitter Promo Gone Awry“. The article explains that McDonald’s knew that having an open-ended campaign could potentially spread stories they didn’t want people hearing about, so the hashtag was promoted for less than 2 hours. The author goes on to complain that rather than just pulling the promotion, McDonald’s should take the opportunity to acknowledge there are numerous issues in their stores that need correction.

Specifically, the author uses Domino’s as an example. In 2009 two employees made a video about all of the nasty things they do to food. Domino’s knew they had to do something to recover and re-branded themselves. They launched a “Making it right” campaign that included a website, showusyourpizza.com, for customers to post photos of the pizza they receive from Domino’s. There are also commercials showing the CEO and others delivering new pizza’s to customers who posted photos of less than desirable pizza.

A statement from Rick Wion, the companies social media director, seems proud that the hashtag was not up longer than it was, and says that because they caught it only 2% of tweets regarding McDonald’s that day included #McDStories. There were still more than 1,600 tweets that were mostly unfavorable. Ignoring stories of rats, broken teeth, and food poisoning will do very little to help the companies public relations- especially the fact that there have been no apologies made to those people.

Twitter can be a highly useful tool for companies, but McDonald’s is only asking for stories instead of interacting with their customers. An apology through Twitter is worth much more than no apology at all, and McDonald’s failed to acknowledge their mistakes in any way besides stopping the promotion of #McDStories.

Yes, using social media is good!

Today I’m giving my thoughts on this post from SiteProNews about using social media as a part of a web strategy. If you don’t want to read it, here is a very quick overview. By which I mean here are the sub-heads:

  • A ‘No-Brainer’ for Charities
  • A ‘Must’ for Bands, Gigs and Events
  • Not Just Teenagers Any More…
  • Facebook as a Compliment to a Business Web Site
  • Developing a Fan Base for a Sporting Event.

I want to start by saying that I feel all of the points made in the post are pretty obvious. However, being that I have grown up while social media develops may make it much more obvious to me than to people who ignored it in the beginning and are just now trying to figure it out. There are many types of social media, so for someone who has little experience, perhaps the post is enlightening.

While obvious (to me), they are certainly good points about the types of information different groups might post to social media. What I think the article is lacking is an explanation of how easily it can be used for public relations purposes. The author mostly suggests providing content for followers to look at, and only slightly touches on the actual interaction of social media.

There are all kinds of social media just waiting to help groups interact!

It is called “social” media, after all, and a large part of why it is such a good idea for companies/brands/everyone to have it is because it allows people to interact in a way that web sites don’t come close to. Facebook and Twitter provide informal, easy to access places for people to ask questions, make complaints, and a lot of times say how much they love and appreciate something. Whoever is managing the page needs only give a quick reply (unless of course it is a major complaint) or even “like” the person’s comment and they feel good about being acknowledged by the company.

Providing content on a social media page is always good, but it’s even better when it prompts followers to give feedback and interact. Not only will it give a general idea of what followers are thinking, but it makes the content provider look good because they are taking part in two-way communication instead of one-way.

Something squirrely

I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to find out that the girls at Wild Squirrel had super powers. Not only do they make some of the most incredible peanut butter on the earth (really, it’s incredible), they manage their social media like it’s nobody’s business.

I first heard about Wild Squirrel peanut butter about a year and a half ago, then called Flying Squirrel, while reading the University of Oregon’s student newspaper on my bus ride home. In a nutshell, two roommates (Keeley and Erika) started making peanut butter in their apartment and gave it to friends in mason jars. Their friends encouraged them to sell it online, and one day it was featured on the blog Kath Eats Real Food, and things progressed.

Since then, they’ve grown wildly in popularity and can now be found in Market of Choice and New Seasons stores, as well as some independent stores in Oregon. They use Facebook and Twitter as their very own public relations outlet to let followers know when they’ll be sampling at different stores and new locations their peanut butter can be purchased at, as well as to interact with people and offer random peanut and squirrel facts to keep things entertaining.

I have personally tweeted these lovely ladies a couple of times (yes, I’m obsessed with this peanut butter) and they replied to both. Not only do they have an amazing product but they let the people purchasing know how much they appreciate it! They’re on top of answering questions and offering new ways to enjoy their product. Do these students-turned-entrepreneurs have good PR skills? No doubt.

My personal favorites!

I’ve been eating Pretzel Pizazz while writing this, and as you may be able to tell in the photo I’m nearly out of Curious Cocoa-Nut! I’m going to go remedy this situation, and if you have never tried this peanut butter I strongly encourage you to do the same. If you want to know more about Wild Squirrel, click here!