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Archive for Social Media’ Category


Comments Off on The Certifications You Need to be a Digital Marketing Expert

The Certifications You Need to be a Digital Marketing Expert

Jennie Ford

Jennie Ford

Stevens Strategic Communications (SSC) is thankful to have hard-working and results-driven employees. When it comes to working in the digital age, continued education is even more critical. We encourage our employees to embrace opportunities that enhance their talents and deepen their skills. One of the most educated and driven women on our team is our Director of Digital Marketing, Jennie Ford. Since joining our company, Jennie has been laser focused on growing her pool of knowledge and expanding her department’s capabilities to provide our clients answers, exceed their expectations and blow their minds with fresh and creative tactics to engage their target audience.

Staying up-to-date in the quick-changing realm of digital marketing is more than a full-time job. With social media strategies, search engine optimization, pay-per-click campaigns and analytics, it seems that there is always something new to learn. Jennie knows the importance of staying current and she is on top of it even encouraging everyone at SSC to embrace learning opportunities as they arise.

Jennie realized early that Google Analytics can tie PR success to client website traffic. With Google Analytics certification in hand, she can track key metrics and understands the best ways to implement changes to improve campaigns. Along with certification in Google AdWords Jennie has certifications for HubSpot, Hootsuite, Woo-Rank, Search Marketing, Marketing Measurement & Analytics, Marketing Copy Writing and Email Marketing.

No matter what direction digital marketing takes, we know Jennie will stay one step ahead. If you want Jennie to discuss your digital marketing situation with you, she has a wealth of knowledge that she loves to share. Send your questions to her.

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Comments Off on Five Reasons to Create a Social Media Editorial Calendar

Five Reasons to Create a Social Media Editorial Calendar

Social Media Calendar

It is always easier to reach your destination when you know where you want to go. Social media editorial calendars can map your social media strategy down a successful path. Not convinced? Here are five reasons why social media editorial calendars work for us and why we suggest adding them to your social media strategy.

1. Organization

With all of the content available online, it is easy for your target audience to feel overwhelmed and get lost in a sea of information. With a clear and effective editorial calendar, you can determine what information is worth sharing with your followers.

Events and timely news should always take precedence over other topics. Without an editorial calendar your day-to-day posting can easily become disorganized and ineffective. It is important to maintain your focus.

2. Key Messages

Provide useful information. Yes, entertainment, enlightenment and education are essential for most brands. Yet you also don’t want to lose sight of the core mission of your organization. Social media should be an extension of your core values and business practices. Regardless of what your mission is, use social media to reinforce that message with your followers.

3. Scheduling/ Timing

If insightful posts are made on Facebook and no one reads them, is it a worthy post? Scheduling when to post can be just as important as the content. Editorial calendars help you determine the time. With use over time, you will gain insights as to when your audience interacts most with your posts.

Use analytics to understand when your followers are active, and when they are likely to interact.

4. Collaboration

Many larger organizations are starting to engage social media teams. Social media management is something that smaller organizations handle by people in various departments. When there are multiple cooks, in the kitchen it is important to make sure everyone is working from the same recipe. A social media editorial calendar will ensure that no matter what the size of the team coordinating your social media campaign, you will be successful.

5. Approvals

Team collaboration is much easier when there is one person to ensure key messages are conveyed and your brand is maintained and/or strengthened. Social media editorial calendars make that task easier by collecting all the posts in a single place to gain approval before they appear online.

No matter how big your organization is, social media editorial calendars can and will simplify your social media presence, while maintaining your brand and increasing your search engine optimization.

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Comments Off on Four Ways to Connect with your Social Media Followers Offline

Four Ways to Connect with your Social Media Followers Offline

A Group of People Collaborating in a Coffee Shop

Social media management can be time consuming and expensive. For many the real value isn’t something they can clearly see. If your goal is to turn likes into more bricks and mortar customers, or you want to get a sense of a return on your investment, consider these ideas.

1. Exclusive Offers:

Typically, your social media followers are already customers. However, they may have not returned to your brick-and-mortar location in some time. Now, you have the opportunity to invite and reward your followers with special savings or an exclusive event. You can target offers to your ideal audience through Facebook’s exclusive offer program. For example you can send a special offer invite to new online customers that have not checked in at your store, people who have not interacted with your business online, or brand advocates who have recently visited your location and checked in.

Once you determine the followers you want to target, send them a special code or coupon to use in your brick-and-mortar location. This will allow you to track what traffic has come from your social media pages. You can also offer a special sale to all of your followers or encourage people to connect with your social media pages while in the store for additional offers and extra savings. The old “blue light special” is having a rebirth on social media. Exclusive offers generate business and are easily tracked with analytics.

2. Host a Tweetup

A tweetup is a social gathering of people exclusively organized on Twitter. Now that mobile devices are more prevalent, the power to stay connected is in the hands of your customers. Tweetups can be somewhat difficult to organize, but with a strong Twitter following they can be very effective. You need to give your followers a reason to stop at your location with a special event. Take advantage of the mobile world when you are making changes to your store, expanding or offering new products.

A tweetup will require you to host an offline event with clear times and offers at your store. We suggest inviting as many customers and prospects as possible to this event and do most of your outreach on Twitter. You can also offer exclusive savings codes, prizes or rewards for your Twitter followers. During the event encourage customers to connect on Twitter, tweet about the event and use a specific hashtag. Use of an event specific hashtag may result in your event or business trending on twitter. You will be able to record how many people were interacting on Twitter during the tweetup, and the special offers will allow you to track how your tweetup translates to sales.

3. Giveaways

Social media giveaway contests are great ways to get customers to interact with your website and social media pages. When you offer a prize that is redeemable in your physical store, then your social media followers will start to walk through your doors. There are endless contest opportunities that you can implement across social media platforms. We suggest special offerings to a follower that hits on a landmark number, for example your 500th Twitter follower. You also want to encourage your followers to hashtag, mention or check in at your business entry into a raffle. This will help your search engine optimization, get your business more impressions on social media, and get more people at your location. Social media followers love to get involved, ask them for feedback and offer prizes for innovative ideas and suggestions. This will improve your customer experience and increase social media involvement. Our final suggestion is to offer a photo contest featuring your products. This will allow people to see how your goods can fit into their everyday life and will encourage them to buy.

Tracking interactions on these can be set if they are done through the site, or you can compute the number of entries to see the impact. Then mark your prizes so you know when they are redeemed at your location. Then you can tell if the promotion worked or needs to be updated. Make sure that you review the rules and restrictions for each social media platform before you begin any contest or giveaway.

4. Support Local Events/Non-Profits

Connect with a favorite, local non-profit and show your support for their cause. Connecting with like-minded individuals in your neighborhood through their social media followers, while doing positive things in the town you call home is priceless. When you connect with non-profits at events, through volunteer work, or by donating offline, make sure to connect on social media. Tag the nonprofit in a shout out on your social media outlets. They are more than likely going to appreciate and reciprocate the gesture. Tracking sales or visitors to your location through your connections may be difficult, but your commitment to your community will be noticed.

Social media followers are typically your biggest brand advocates. Keep them engaged, connected and excite them online to engage with your company offline.

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Comments Off on PR Insider: PR is the new SEO

PR Insider: PR is the new SEO

Guest Blog by: Uwe Schmidt, president of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN)

While Google has changed the search algorithms three times between 2011 and 2013, the latest one seems to be causing the most headaches to SEO specialists since it focuses mostly on content. And that’s – alas, dear techies! – first and foremost no technological approach. It’s an opportunity for PR professionals (who develop key message-driven strategies for their clients) to provide deep content and manage both sides of modern PR: the media and the SEO portions.

Here are five tips from a PR professional who’s been following SEO trends very closely over the last few years:

  1. Constantly create new user-oriented content on your website. This will guarantee visitors stay longer and Google will recognize higher relevance for your website.
  2. Create unique content. For instance, pitch bylined articles for placement on reputable websites such as online trade magazines, and get links to that content on your website secured. These links are invaluable for your Google ranking.
  3. Design website content, structure and technique so Google can analyze the content easily. Include keywords within all titles and copy. Eliminate large images and flash animations whenever possible.
  4. Avoid duplicate content. Also, do not book low-value placements on pseudo press portals or directories that were created to distort Google results. Google now ignores such entries and even might punish companies appearing on such “spam sites” by down-ranking their websites.
  5. Choose a smart PR agency as your company’s partner. Doing so will better ensure that each side understands both the content and the technological aspects of state-of-the-art SEO public relations.

This may sound easy, but in reality it’s not. In reality, few companies truly understand the current trends and how they can use them to their benefit, nor do they know how to find the right partner to work with them on the opportunity. At the end of the day, it’s all about including SEO in the content-driven communications strategy of a company and being able to shift a part of the marketing budget to one of the most effective tools that exists today: SEO-PR.

Uwe Schmidt is CEO of the German PR & communications agency Industry-Contact (IC AG) and the current president of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN). Follow Uwe: @IC_AG.


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Comments Off on No Longer Your Typical Graphic Artist/Designer

No Longer Your Typical Graphic Artist/Designer

A ComputerIt’s safe to say that since the advent of desktop computing, business has been changing at a rapid pace. Many jobs have molded and changed to adapt to the latest and greatest technologies available, or they have vanished altogether. Graphic Artists that have been in the industry for the past 20 years know this all too well.

A typical Graphic Artist, Graphic Designer or Art Director must now have the ability to perform many additional tasks that were once additional positions held within several small companies. Such tasks may include being an Interactive/Web Designer, Illustrator, Photographer, Videographer, Video Editor, Computer Technician or even a basic Web Programmer. Modern computers, cameras and software have helped to make this a reality.

This may sound a little overwhelming for people just getting their start in advertising, public relations, design and multimedia productions. Believe me–it is! If you’re looking to get into this field of work, be sure you have vast knowledge and a great skill-set because you’re going to utilize it on a daily basis. In a small business atmosphere you need to be able to wear many hats, not just the one printed on your business cards. This holds true for just about any job at a professional small business today.


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Comments Off on Vine: The Six-Second Video Challenge

Vine: The Six-Second Video Challenge

Vine Logo

Vine is a mobile application owned by Twitter that allows its users to create and post short videos that are a maximum of six-seconds long. Vine is not even a year old and, according to theverge.com, it already has more than 40 million registered users.

Vine seems like it’s going to be the next big thing when it comes to social networks. Vine videos can be simple to create, but they can also be complex. Those making Vine videos as a means for advertising can take a whole day to create a six-second clip. All it takes is a few taps with your finger to create a Vine. When you are ready to record a video, you hold your finger on the screen for as long as you want to record a specific object or action. Then, lift your finger and move around or move objects to get ready for the next segment. In the end, you will have video that could be one object starting as a whole and turning into nothing, or a quick video showing a little of everything.

Creating six-second videos is becoming all the rage across the world! People are getting really creative with it, too. You will find people singing songs, taking videos of events, stop-motion, Claymation, art, wild collaborations and much more.

A blog was posted by Vine offering six tips on how to create the best videos with the app. These tips include using a tripod, using the ghost feature for stop motion, knowing that you don’t need to finish a Vine in one sitting, training your tap, using earphones with a mic, and reviewing your posts. To read the Vine blog, go here.

And, in case you didn’t know, Vine has some new competition. Now that the mobile app Instagram, owned by Twitter’s competitor Facebook, has launched its video creation feature, users are wondering when they should use Vine and when they should use Instagram.

For more great information about Vine and Instagram, read these articles:

–          Digiday: 15 Stats You Need to Know About Vine and Instagram Video

–          Mashable: 10 Ways Startups Can Grow With Vine and Instagram Video

–          TechCrunch: Instagram Video Vs. Vine: What’s The Difference?

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Comments Off on Facebook Ads: A Tool to Get More Likes

Facebook Ads: A Tool to Get More Likes

The Promote Page Window on Facebook

One thing some of our SSC team members learned during a social media seminar at the Erie Club was this:

“The likes don’t come in as fast without Facebook Ads!”

Facebook Ads are a great way to get out the rut your page has reached with its number of likes. These ads will help your page reach more Facebook users. Facebook ads have several other benefits as well:

– Fast and easy to set up

– Inexpensive: To start, $50-$100 is sufficient

– Guaranteed Results

– Increase in Reach, Page Likes, Shares, Post Likes and Website Traffic

According to an article on venturebeat.com, “Performance marketing company Nanigans released a study today (Oct. 16) showcasing that Facebook advertising is alive and well, with retailers seeing a 375 percent explosion in click-through rates from Q3 2012 to Q3 2013 — and healthy 152 percent return on investment.”

One of the great features about Facebook ads is that Facebook now allows you to essentially create six ads for the price of one. You can upload six different pictures to go with your ad description. You can even change the description text that goes along with each photo. This way, you can go back and see which ad did the best and make tweaks to gain a larger reach and more clicks.

Businesses don’t have much to lose since Facebook ads are inexpensive. Test an ad or boost a post only using $15. View the results and decide if you want try it again with an increased budget.

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Comments Off on Five Quick Tips for Managing an Agency Blog

Five Quick Tips for Managing an Agency Blog

Editorial Calendar for August 2013

Are you the manager of your agency’s blog? Are you the one responsible for making sure all of the entries come in on time, are edited properly and posted in a timely fashion? We know your job may be tougher than it seems! Here are some tips to help make the process a little smoother for you.

1. Create an Editorial Calendar: Creating a schedule you can distribute to the staff is crucial. This will keep everyone aware of the deadlines for the blog entries, topics, authors, and posting dates. Here is an example of the editorial calendar we create for our team.


2. Choose Broad Topics: If the topics you assign to your team are too narrow, some on your staff may find it difficult to get their blog completed by the deadline due to heavy amounts of research and detail needed. Here is where you can allow some flexibility. In the editorial calendar above, we don’t pinpoint the five tips to offer to the audience. That is up to the author. And, if the topic doesn’t work for the author that month, let him/her know it’s OK to come to you to discuss alternative topics.

3. Never Steal Photos from Google: This is something you should never do. Saving photos from a Google images search can lead to your agency receiving a cease and desist letter from the company that owns the photo. And, that letter can come with a hefty bill. When searching for photos for your blog, first see if there is anything you can snap a picture of quickly in your office. If that doesn’t work, try visiting www.all-free-download.com to see if you can find a suitable, royalty-free photo there. But, BE CAREFUL! Not all of the resources are allowed for commercial use. If in doubt, contact the photo author for details.

4. Send Reminder Emails to Your Staff: You’re busy. Your team is busy. This is understandable. However, that doesn’t mean your agency’s blog should be put on the back burner. Blogging is a great way to spread the word about your agency’s services and products while showcasing your knowledgeable staff. Believe it or not, well-written blogs can lead to potential clients, equaling potential revenues. If a deadline for a blog entry is approaching or has passed, do not hesitate to send the author an email or have a quick conversation about the due date. You should be able to work something out so the schedule doesn’t go awry.

5. Don’t Bombard Yourself: An agency blog should be a team effort. Do not allow yourself to write a month’s worth of blogs with no help if your team has agreed to participate. As long as you keep up with your editorial calendars and reminders, everything else should fall into place.

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Comments Off on Using Social Media for Business: Five Best Practices

Using Social Media for Business: Five Best Practices

SSC on Twitter

Though we are well interspersed in the “information overload age,” there is still a large population of individuals who do not understand the benefits social media can bring to a business. As PR professionals, marketing specialists and social media strategists, we need to be able to convey how having a presence on social channels can have great effects on brand awareness and showcase the knowledge of your business’ staff. Here are five ways you can show your clients you know exactly how to make their social media campaigns work for them.

1. Choose the Right Social Networks for Each Client

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and usually YouTube are the obvious choices to mention when a client asks, “What social media networks should I be using to boost my business?” However, there are several other social networks to consider for your clients that are specific to the industry they serve. For example, a furniture company should consider having a Pinterest account to showcase all of the pieces available. A Pinterest account may not work well for an insurance company that doesn’t produce much visual content, though Pinterest can be used to post white papers leading back to other websites with full text.

2. Show Results

The only way to demonstrate to your client that social media is helping their business is by providing analytics reports on a monthly/quarterly/yearly basis to show the return on investment (ROI).  This will also help you tweak campaigns along the way to improve results. Analytics programs are available through Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. Companies using Twitter Ads can also access a program that will offer support when compiling reports. There are also several third-party applications that can help with generating analytics reports for Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks. Once you have the report,  create a full assessment  of what is working and what  is not.

3. Be Prepared to React to Negative Comments

When dealing with negative comments, deleting a Facebook page or Twitter account will only cause more chaos. “Why was the page taken down? Can they not handle constructive criticism?” You don’t want people saying that, even if the criticism was not constructive. If someone posts something negative, hide the comment. DO NOT DELETE THE POSTS/COMMENTS. If you find individuals who don’t want to follow the rules for commenting on Facebook, ban the user from the page.

Negative comments are going to happen no matter what you do. Sometimes negative posts should stay un-hidden for transparency reasons, but you have to use your own judgment. Deleting posts and pages is almost never the answer, but hiding is a good alternative. In extenuating circumstances, such as cases where a page has become a location for hate/discrimination or if there is another Facebook page with more likes/engagement that is basically a duplicate, deleting the page may be the right move.

4. Social Media Advertising Works

If your client is looking to get results fast, consider allocating a small amount of dollars to social media advertising. For as little as $15, you can boost one of your Facebook posts. Boosting Facebook posts can triple the average reach you receive on posts, increase the level of engagement on your page and help your page gain more likes. And, of course, the more you spend, the better the results. With options to customize demographic targeting and performance optimization, many social networks make it possible for you to reach the right audience with your advertising. Try it once and you will see the benefits.

5. Remember: It Can Be Time Consuming; Get Organized

You don’t want to find yourself overwhelmed with too many accounts, having to remember too many passwords and not being able to keep up with all the engagement. Before this happens, invest in a scheduling service that can help you manage your social media accounts all in one location. There are a variety of these services available, some free and some paid. Hootsuite, TweetDeck and Buffer are just three reputable services you can choose from to manage your social media accounts. Do some research and find out what will work best for your company and clients.

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Comments Off on The State of Crisis Communications

The State of Crisis Communications

A Rope Fraying in the Middle

In a world where the economy continues to sputter, the opportunity for crisis communications has increased five-fold.  Today, the advent of social media has made the crisis you face smack you right between the eyes.  The words you see are personal, laced with inaccuracies and seem incessant.  You want to lash out and attack.

Labor issues are dotting the landscape.  Employees are finding that changes in healthcare, wages and bonuses reconstruct their world.  It is not the same as it was.  It will never be the same.  Yet, many see this as the last chance to get the salary and benefits packages that previous generations enjoyed.

There needs to be an increased vigilance for safety, security and health.  How many food recalls have you seen?  They appear to be rampant.  Is your company doing all that it can to avoid problems before they threaten your reputation or even shut you down?

When was the last time you conducted a crisis audit?  When did you last test your crisis plan?  Are your spokespersons ready to carry the message?

There is truth in Murphy’s law. “If something bad is going to happen, it will happen at the worst possible time.”  Today is a good day to start preparing for those worst case scenarios, which may be just around the corner.

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