You Don’t Have to ‘Like’ Me to Read This Blog Post

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If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably wondering why the weird title. And no, I’m not going to go all clickbait (pulling a bait and switch) on you and talk about something unrelated. But if you use Facebook for your business, you’ll shortly understand the blog post title’s significance other than to grab your attention.

Effective November 5th, Facebook is banning like gates and the ability to force visitors to “Like” a page in order to get access from a tab’s content.

Per Facebook’s developer blog page:
You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.

If you ran contests or promotions in exchange for Facebook ‘Likes’ in the past, maybe it’s time to re-think how your approaching the use of social media. One way to push forward? Why not continue to run contests but – and this is important – not ask for likes. It stands to reason that brands can still create strong calls to action to their audience and give them reasons to organically become a fan.

Still reading this blog post? Thanks. And no, I don’t need you to ‘Like’ me to read any of my future blog posts.

Social Media Managers: Don’t Forget the Importance of Social Selling!

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I recently had disappointing customer service experiences when communicating with two hotels via social media. My parents were visiting Chicago and I wanted to plan some fun things to do.

I sent Facebook messages to the hotels basically asking if I can give them my money. I wanted to reserve a table at one hotel’s rooftop restaurant and to find out about spa days at another hotel. The former told me to contact another email address and the latter asked me what date I was looking at and then failed to respond when I gave them the date. It meant we booked with other places instead.

I was surprised by this experience. Both hotels have a fantastic social media presence in other ways; sharing eye-catching, engaging content on a daily basis. Yet, they didn’t seem to understand the importance of customer service too by failing to respond to users’ comments and private messages in a timely manner.

At Gossip Genie, we’re very focused on using social media to generate sales for clients. If I was managing the social media accounts for those hotels, I’d make sure prospect customers were made to feel important and were given all of the information that they needed to hopefully secure a booking.

Current and prospect customers are increasingly using social media to communicate with brands and it’s now at the point where if a company doesn’t respond, they will have a black mark against them – make sure that’s not your company!




Does Social Media Belong in PR?

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I’m originally from a PR agency background and there was often debate about whether or not PR agencies should look after clients’ social media activity, too.

In many ways it makes sense: PR teams should understand a client’s key branding messages and its most newsworthy products; they can share the press and blog coverage that they’ve secured and they should understand what they can and can’t say on behalf of a client.

However, do PR agencies possess the technical knowledge required to deliver social media strategies? Are they on top of trends and do they understand how to use social media monitoring tools? Are they too focused on getting ‘free’ exposure and fail to recognize the importance of, for example, paid-for Facebook advertising or compensating bloggers? From my time at Gossip Genie, I understand these points are all vital if you want to deliver a successful social media campaign.

That’s not to say social media marketers don’t need PR skills – they certainly do, and I think all of the Genie team do a great job of combining both skill sets.

There are times when I read about social media gaffs in the news and I’m speechless. Gaffs that seriously lack PR skills and the ability to understand what is and isn’t appropriate to say on behalf of a brand. Some airline social media teams, for example, appear to need PR training.

Finnair was heavily criticized recently when it sent the following tweet on the day of the MH17 tragedy:




Of course it’s important to reassure customers, but by saying ‘Your safety is our top priority,’ it suggests Malaysian Airlines don’t take the safety of their passengers seriously by flying over Ukraine. Perhaps a carefully-worded statement on its website might have been more appropriate. What’s worse, is that Finnair was lying – the airline had been flying over Ukraine, with a Twitter user quick to share a flight path image from Flightradar as proof.

Finnair continued to deny it then suddenly backtracked to say it now wouldn’t fly through Ukraine airspace. Meanwhile the Twitter sphere went to work criticizing Finnair for its mistake.

This incident is yet another important reminder that communications and social media teams must be carefully controlled, especially during a crisis.



DITTO: A Place to Virtually Try On Glasses or Sunglasses

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I usually have a hard time finding glasses. That, or I just don’t know how to pick them. I got my first pair of glasses in third grade (when I decided to cut my own bangs the day before school pictures) – and needless to say it was the 90s so they looked like this:

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 4.17.02 PM

I’ve never really had great success finding a pair of frames that fit my face. I got a pair from my eye doctor a few years back that I really didn’t like to wear anymore so I went online in search of a website where I could try on frames before purchasing. After perusing through a few different websites, I found the best one for trying on designer glasses and sunglasses: I’m a sucker for free shipping and they have a 90-day return policy which was also something I was looking for because I didn’t know if I’d like the glasses I picked out or not.

I went ahead and used the webcam in my laptop to capture a  180º view of my face so I could see what the glasses looked like on me, including if my head was turned. This was probably my favorite part of the process, turning my head back and forth and laughing at how real I looked in their “try-on” frames. I tried on a few pairs, all of which were great brands not available at my local eye doctor. You can even have other site users vote on their favorites or post to your Facebook page to have your friends vote on them. Here are a few I tried on, excuse my serious expression (:

Frames 3 Frames 2

7 for all mankindMy favorite pair were the 7 For All Mankind 728 frames in Tortoise ($148) so I ordered those and they look just like they did on me as they did on the website. DITTO will even put in the lenses for you too as long as you give them an updated prescription from your eye doctor. The glasses came in 3 days in a cute little box with a lense wiping cloth. The process was so easy, I’m already thinking which pair I’m going to get next.

DITTO glasses

Elizabeth glasses DITTO

Try on your own pair of glasses or sunglasses here. They periodically run promos and giveaways on their social channels too, so make sure you like them on Facebook and follow on Twitter.



Community Managers, THIS Guide Was Made For You!

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“Sharing is caring” is a popular phrase in the social media industry; some use it from an outbound marketing perspective, but I on the other hand like to think of it as an endearing catchphrase that provides a great sense of solidarity amongst Community Managers alike as we share tips with one another. Managing a community is one thing, but trying to stay afloat with the latest and greatest of social trends is a full-time job in itself, which is why Sprout Social has created a guide community managers will be happy to read (and share)!


Sprout Social recently introduced their Community Manager Field Guide (#CMFieldGuide) on Twitter for community managers to share their tips ranging from social media to ways to unwind and avoid social media burnout. I was honored when Sprout Social asked me to help kick off their field guide, and the tips and insight from other community managers that followed made being a part of this series much more sweeter.

One of my favorite tips comes from Humara Kausar, the Community Manager for health and nutrition company GNC:

humara kausar, community manager, gnc

Photo: Sprout Social

Whether you’re first starting out in community management or a seasoned veteran, the Community Manager Field Guide is a great resource to hang on to as it continues to evolve! And be sure to check out the other great tips from the other featured community managers!

Want to be in on the action? Share your own tips by tweeting @SproutSocial with the hashtag #CMFieldGuide!

World Cup in Brazil Set to Break Social Media Record

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It’s World Cup time! I’m originally from England – the home of soccer or “football” as we call it – so this is a big deal in my sporting calendar.

I grew up in Newcastle upon-Tyne in the North East of England where many people live, sleep and breathe the local football team, Newcastle United – although, I’ve always preferred watching England play because I like to feel a bit patriotic and we’re not patriotic enough in my home country!

The FIFA World Cup in Brazil is set to be the world’s most mentioned event ever on social media – far surpassing the Super Bowl and the Sochi Olympics – according to a study by Adobe Systems.

The words “World Cup” alone have seen 19 million social mentions across 196 countries since June 2013 – this is more than the total social mentions during the entire tournament in South Africa four years ago.

U.S. viewers are expected to be a small percentage of the conversation, with only 7% of Americans planning to follow the tournament closely, according to a Reuters/Ipsos survey. This isn’t surprising because other sports are far more popular here. However, with TV networks set to screen every game, it will be interesting to see if people here do get caught up in the World Cup fever and these statistics prove to be higher.


Social media channels are fueling the World Cup buzz in ways we didn’t see during the South Africa tournament, too.

Twitter has gone all out for it, incorporating a ‘hashflags’ feature which allows users to tweet an emoticon of a country’s flag, as well as a set of new, algorithm-driven timelines for fans. While Facebook has launched a Trending World Cup page (see above) which features an interactive map of over 84 million fans so far and includes a special feed with real-time updates and posts.

Whether you decide to watch it or not, you might find it difficult to login to social media channels and not see something World Cup-related. And if you end up watching an England game, please cheer them on – we’ll especially need support if the game goes to penalties (we have the worst record in shoot-outs)…




Perch: An Easier Way To Spy On The Competition

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When diving into social media marketing, thorough self-evaluations are a necessity when assessing how a brand is perceived online – part of that assessment includes the vitality of competitors and how/where they’re headed. It’s not uncommon to see many of your favorite brands NOT using social media – the same can be said about small businesses. Whether the hesitation is due to a lack of resources or simply because the brand does not see tangible results, there IS one way brands can make the most out of social media with just a few minutes per day and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Perch is a new app that gives smart brands the ability to conduct surface-level competitive research with a fluidly housed platform and easy-to-use interface. How does it work?

perchGet a bird’s eye view of reviews, social posts and promotions – for you AND your competition – all in one place. Listen to your local marketplace and discover how to improve your own social media and marketing.

Instead of jumping between Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Foursquare, and various other social sites to track what your competitors are up to, Perch curates competitor data all in one place.

Whether you’re a first-time business owner using social media for your brand, or a seasoned pro working for an agency, Perch provides a nice platform for competitive research giving you a better glimpse at not only how your target market is being influenced by the competition, but also how audiences are responding.

Get Perch for free at:
Apple App Store or in Google Play.


Viewpoint: I’m a Social Media Addict

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socmediaaddFor some of us who work in social media, the term “social media burnout” is all too real. Headaches; sleepless nights; mood swings: there are many times where I don’t want to look at another post, another tweet, or another ‘like,’ but in the end, I always find myself gravitating towards my mobile phone and/or laptop, eager to pick up where I last left off. Tiresome as it may seem, being “connected” is an addiction for me.

Do you find yourself in this position every time you’re about to go to sleep?
article-2335775-1A24D961000005DC-610_634x410Unfortunately, I do… but I’m promising myself to be better about it. All those late nights staring at my phone brought me to ask myself: Am I addicted to social media?

Like social media burnout, social media addiction is real, and you don’t have to work in the industry to experience it firsthand. In a 2011 experiment to document the realities of addictions to social media, CNN producer Kiran Khalid tries to spend five days off social media. As a challenge, she vows not to read or post updates while on vacation and also locks her Blackberry away in a safe.

Some moments from Khalid’s 5-day experiment include:

  • “Resisting the urge to cheat — it’s daunting dining alone, without an electronic companion — I take out my journal and start writing about my day. So far, so good, I think.”
  • “Every time I go for a swim, come back and lie in the warm sun, I reach for my BlackBerry that’s not there — it’s become second nature.”
  • “This [reggae party] would be exponentially more amusing if I could tweet it or take a picture and post it to Facebook, but I resist the urge.”
  • “So I cheat, sort of. I opt to e-mail a group of close friends to let them know about this life-altering upgrade, you know, in case they went looking for me at the wrong resort. One friend immediately replies, ‘Aren’t you supposed to be off the computer?!'”
  • “OK, so that whole “I don’t miss social media” stuff isn’t true.It’s been four days since I logged onto my accounts and I’m anxious to see what my friends are up to and fill them in on my reclamation-of-sanity tour here in Antigua.”

Nearing the conclusion of her trip, Khalid reminisces:

“…I feel rested–I do think there has been a beneficial disconnect.”

Khalid’s takeaways are some many people can relate to, but don’t actually realize it. I’ll admit this to the world: I’m a social media addict. Writing this blog post has given me another platform to reflect on how it is altering my life. I’m not trying to generalize, and it should be noted that not everyone who works in social media (or anyone for that matter) experiences ‘burnout’ or has an addiction; many people know how to balance their lives – maybe I’m just all over the map?

But it stands to reason that many are deeply connected in social media and need to find a way to disconnect somehow, whether it be for one day, one week or one month. Why? Because there is a world outside of social media. Because conversations carry great weight when they’re had in person. Because it enables people to get outside and appreciate what the world has to offer – exercise, anyone?

When Harvard is conducting studies about social media addiction and videos about social media ruining our lives are going viral, it should alarm you a little.

How am I going to start my detox? For starters, I’m going to use this blog post as a reminder that there are places to go, people to see and things to try… that don’t need to be shared on social media. I urge you to do the same.

* The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.

Katherine Heigl and the tweet that could cost Duane Reade $6 million

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7th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball, Private residence, Brentwood, California.

We all know that celebrities have an enormous influence on social media.

Some of the most followed people on Twitter include Katy Perry (over 52 million followers), Justin Bieber (almost 51 million), President Obama (over 42 million) and Lady Gaga (over 41 million) (view the ‘Twitter Top 100: Most Followers’ list here) and a brand can benefit from incredible exposure if a famous person tweets about them.

But brands must be careful when trying to gain exposure off the back of popular celebrities.

Last week, the movie star Katherine Heigl (star of 27 DressesThe Ugly Truth and The Big Wedding) filed a $6 million lawsuit against the drug store chain, Duane Reade, for tweeting a paparazzi image of her carrying two Duane Reade shopping bags, along with the following text: “Love a quick #DuaneReade run?  Even @KatieHeigl can’t resist shopping #NYC’s favorite drugstore.”

The complaint stated that Duane Reade “misused and misappropriated the photograph for its own commercial advertising, distributing the photo with Duane Reade’s own promotion slogans on its Twitter and Facebook accounts, all without Ms. Heigl’s knowledge or approval.”

This might initially appear outrageous… Why should someone who lives their life in the public eye expect privacy in this way?! However, it could be argued that in its tweet, Duane Reade falsely presented Heigl as a paid celebrity endorser – despite the fact that she wasn’t receiving any compensation for the use of her photograph in this way.

It will be interesting to see the verdict of this lawsuit and what it means for social media marketers. In the meantime, the Heigl incident is an important reminder to think carefully before tying celebrities into your social media content.

A safe way to gain exposure through celebrities on Twitter could be by attempting to have the right kind of conversation with them. If social media managers are timely and think carefully about the wording of their tweets, it is possible to grab the attention of influential tweeters. The Pharrell and Arby’s exchange during the Grammys 2014 is a great example:



This Film Could Be The Blockbuster of 2014 Thanks to Social Media (Part II)

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Eight months ago I wrote a blog post about how social media had the potential to help one film become the blockbuster movie of 2014. The movie? X-Men: Days of Future Past. And for the past eight months millions have been on the rollercoaster ride of a lifetime that are X-Men director Bryan Singer’s tweets.

Bryan Singer is no stranger to Twitter. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Singer explains why he chose Twitter to connect with his fans:

“I decided that the next time I got myself involved in a movie that had a huge amount of attention already that I would use Twitter. As a way of connecting with fans, principally. And also as a way of clearing up misunderstandings so that people know. You know, they may hear that an actor is cast or hear somebody is going to be in it, but until I say it’s so, that’s the confirmation.”

And so far, the results have paid off for Singer and parent X-Men owner Fox Studios.

Far removed from even showing an actual trailer through traditional media, Singer and Fox Studios went where everyone is – social media. And over the course of eight months, we’ve seen a bevy of behind-the-scenes photo tweets from Singer, mini-teasers on Instagram from the film’s official account, a viral video about the antagonist’s company and lastly, a very well thought out marketing idea titled The Bent Bullet that suggests Magneto (one of the film’s characters) was the individual who assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

And all of this buzz was for a film that had yet to release a single action-packed trailer and promoting solely through social media. What are critics saying? Forbes contributor Scott Mendelson agrees that the X-Men mini-teasers show the future of marketing:

In this age of saturation-level marketing often months in advance, where copious trailers are followed by copious television spots and a deluge of online clips, Fox must be and should be commended for holding back.”

While that is great praise from a marketing standpoint, the other side of the coin asks how effective has the film’s social media marketing strategies resonated with moviegoers? Popular movie/TV database Rotten Tomatoes has it’s audience’s ‘want to see’ percentage at one hundred percent!

Social media has played a huge role in the marketing of X-Men: Days of Future Past. It not only gave fans a real-time look at how the film was being made, but the real win is the word-of-mouth marketing that was spawned without the help of traditional media – who says social media doesn’t work?!

The film is now in post-production and opens in theaters on May 23, 2014. Will it become the blockbuster film of 2014? I’ll let its newly action-packed trailer do the talking…