Top 5 Favorite Tools as a Social Media Marketer

You’ve probably been asked the following question at some point in your life:

“If you were going to be stuck on a desert island for a year and could only bring five things with you, what would they be?”

Well, I’m not planning on being stuck on a desert island any time soon but I have been asked, “What are five things you could not live without to do your job?”

That’s a much more simple answer.

Social media marketers might answer this one a few different ways. Whether they mean literally tools like a laptop, cell phone, camera, etc., social media engagement or analytics platforms or favorite social channel.

I decided to go with a hybrid. This is my list.

  1. Laptop with internet, email and Photoshop. This is a pretty obvious one. I like to be prepared and often have my laptop on me. I rarely leave it at my desk at work because working an industry that moves 200mph (not that much of an exaggeration), you have to be prepared for breaking news at any time so it’s good to keep it handy. Also, I love being able to check in what fans and followers are saying at all times on accounts I manage for work. We have set a precedent with fans where they expect us to respond ASAP and engage with them in a fun and creative way. This is easily my favorite part of my job and I am happy to always be ready with a quick, quirky tweet or response to a comment that makes a social media user smile and feel more connected to the brand.
  2. Access to Mashable. I can’t truly express myself for Mashable enough. They are not my only source for social media news but they are my favorite.
  3. Music. Some people like to work in total silence. Some people like to chat with others while working. Some people, like myself, enjoy listening to music while they work. Just like one of Snow White’s Seven Dwarves, I feel like music helps me work better (even though I don’t whistle while I work). Sometimes it’s just a great distraction from office noise. Then there are other times where I lean on music to help me be more creative. For me, listening to a lot of Broadway show tunes when I find myself in a rut with writer’s block seems to do the trick. Country and pop tend to be my go-to otherwise.
  4. Tea. I find myself taking more of a liking to yoga in the past six months or so. I love how it’s all about focusing on your own mind and body to gain a better perspective in life. A key tool for many yogis is tea. Drinking tea is not only great for you but for me, it allows me to have a few moments of zen and relax even when there’s a lot going on at one time.
  5. Evernote. I love being able to jot down my ideas quickly and easily with Evernote whenever I’m on the go. Although I am guilty of sending myself reminders via one-off emails to my work account, I feel I can better organize my thoughts with Evernote and am really getting into the habit of doing so.

So fellow social media marketers, what’s on your list? Respond with your comments below.

Career Day

When I was sixteen years old, I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life.

I dreamed of being the next Tina Fey (my hero at the time) since I was a lifelong “Saturday Night Live” fan and had done a few student written shows. I loved comedy and really enjoyed writing so it almost made sense to me.

But then I realized how that’s a million in one shot of actually happening. I needed a new life plan.

One day, my dad (a motorsports journalist) asked me if I wanted to accompany he and my mom to the NASCAR awards banquet in New York and work backstage. As a sixteen year old kid who was obsessed with all things theatre, this seemed like a golden opportunity.

I knew little about NASCAR by then. I mean, I went to my first race in July of that same year and could name a few drivers but other than that, I was still very much learning.

About a month later, I found myself helping out the NASCAR public relations staff by assisting on the red carpet backstage at the Waldorf=Astoria. I helped escort drivers down camera row to do interviews, was a runner for microphones and other supplies and pretty much just did whatever was asked of me. I was ready, willing to learn and wanted to soak up all that I could.

In a nutshell, that day changed my life. I went from wanting to be a comedy writer to a public relations professional in motorsports overnight. At least one of those dreams came true.

Just a year after graduating high school, I found myself working in my first internship (which later helped me eventually do five more). That ultimately led to the career I have now but that would have never happened had I had that first experience while still in high school.

So for the past three years, I have been a speaker at my high school’s Career Day discussing careers in sports and social media marketing. Having had the opportunity that changed my life while still in high school, I hope to inspire kids to figure out their path by letting them know I was able to do so at their age and that they can do anything they put their minds to.

Over the past three years, I have learned a lot just by presenting.

During the first year I spoke, I learned that all of my research that says high school students don’t really use Facebook is quite true.

I began the presentation by simply asking students by show of hands who used various social media platforms. First was Twitter. About half the room raised their hands. Then I asked about Instagram. Almost the whole room raised their hands. Then I made the mistake of asking about Facebook.

No hands were raised. Instead, one girl deadpans, looks right at me and says, “Um, no one uses Facebook. It’s for old people.”

And with that, I discovered it’s absolutely true that high school students are anti-Facebook.

The second year, I decided to change up my presentation slightly. I changed jobs from the previous year and realized most students not only were not race fans but knew very little about motorsports. Who was the one driver they all seemed to be familiar with?

Ricky Bobby.

So as an ice breaker, I included a quick scene from “Talladega Nights” in which Ricky Bobby tells a reporter he doesn’t know what to do with his hands. That was a hit and from there, I had their attention at least for a bit.

The third year (just a few days ago), I brought some swag which was a handful of items from a program from the year before. I asked students to answer questions at the end of the presentation for a chance to win. Suddenly, I had their attention more than ever.

With each year, I learn a little bit more about how high school has changed since I was a student there. I also learn how much I have changed in the nearly ten years that has passed since I roamed the halls daily.

Ten years ago, I was just getting over being painfully shy. I had an all-star team of theater directors, choir leaders, vocal coaches and so on who helped me go from a quiet kid to a slightly less quiet lifelong theater kid. I may have graduated years ago but I will never forget all of the great memories I have had on the stages there.Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 11.57.51 PM

It was great that I was even able to stop by and say hello to some of those teachers this last time by and thank them for everything they have done for me. I would have never imagined that being involved with theater would have helped so much but I can see in the long-run that it did.

So while my life might be going more than hundred miles an hour sometimes nowadays, I’ll never forget that the road that put me here began when I was in high school.

** Featured image from my most recent experience as a Career Day speaker

The Necessary Evil of Keeping Up with the Kardashians as a Social Media Marketer

Kardashian. One word that can invoke polar opposite reactions from anyone who has ever heard of at least one of the members of this famous family.

* Photo from Page Six

* Photo from Page Six

Kim, Kylie, Kendall, Khloe, Kourtney and Kris are just some of the members of the Kardashian “klub” (because it’s all k’s with these folks).

I love celebrity gossip. I’ll admit it. I have always been an avid consumer of film and television and it’s just one of those things I like to keep up on.

The Kardashians, not so much.

Not long after the show premiered, I was fan. I enjoyed it for about a year or so before each of their careers really took off. Since then, I find myself not as interested.

So why do I feel this overwhelming urge to still keep up with the Kardashians? Simple. I’m a social media marketer.

Whether you love them or hate them, these ladies know (or least their people know) how to use social media not just effectively but well. Really well.

Let’s take a look at just the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram following of Kim Kardashian-West, Kourtney Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner.

 Name Facebook Twitter Instagram  Total Network
Kim Kardashian-West 26,533, 280 36,600,000 50,200,000 86,800,000
Kylie Jenner 8,707,150 12,000,000 40,500,000 61,207,150
Kendall Jenner 9,691,071 13,100,000 39,600,000 62,391,071
Khloe Kardashian 14,737,309 16,700,000 34,600,000 66,037,309
Kourtney Kardashian 12,555,676 16,400,000 27,500,000 56,455,676
 * As of 10/26/15 Total 332,891,206

In other words, these ladies can reach a lot of people separately but even more combined – and on a global scale. It’s no wonder that so many brands want to work with them.

From fashion lines to nail polish to mobile apps, they have their names adorning so many different categories of products, it’s enough to make your head spin – and that’s just their products. Additionally, major brands spend millions on for just a few social media posts of them enjoying a given product.

They’re usually some of the first celebrities to be given access to beta features for Twitter and Instagram because their following could provide a given social platform a great test to see whether or not their new feature would be great for the general consumer or at least celebrities and brands depending on the feature.

Their strategy folks are some of the best in the business because it seems they are always intriguing to their adoring fans and they have taken their personas from their various television shows to 24-hour, year-round access to these women.

So to keep up with the biggest emerging social media features and trends, the ladies Kardashian can be some of the best folks to follow.

** Featured image from Page Six

I Got 99 Problems and an (Idea) Pitch Ain’t One

At some point in the career of a marketing professional, we find ourselves finding that confidence to suggest the impossible – sometimes even if it seems a bit crazy.

pitch

What’s important is to educate yourself as much as you can in your field and learn all of the variables as to why and why not something might work. As one of the employees with the least amount of experience at my current marketing agency due to my age, I try and to prepare any idea pitch for a social media program or marketing idea with all of the parts and pieces of the puzzle in mind.

Honestly, it has taken me awhile to get here. I completed six internships in college, worked at a midsize agency and major corporation prior to this position. It has take quite a bit of research and understanding to really get ahold of what can and can’t work. These are just some of those things that come naturally with experience but sometimes thinking outside of the box and believing in your wacky idea can get you there faster.

Once, I had what I thought was an insane idea for a theatrical motorsports press conference. It involved drivers dressing up as good and bad cowboys. We’d even have the track owner as the Sheriff and have the reporters sit on bales of hay. As it turned out, the track owner LOVED the idea and was a big fan of western films. It turned into a full ad campaign with print ads, billboards,commercials (I even was an extra in one), and more all about one of the track’s biggest races of the year. This campaign has now been used for two years.  And I thought my idea was crazy…

So, for all of my fellow recent college grads out there, and current college students looking for ways to stand out in their internship, I give you my tips as listed below.

Tips to Getting Your Pitch Heard:

  1. Be fearless. If you’ve ever been a part of a brainstorm, 9 times out of 10 someone at some point will say, “No idea is too crazy so share anything you have.” Don’t limit yourself to this view on ideas just in a brainstorm setting. Sometimes the craziest ideas change our world for forever.
  2. RESEARCH! While you’re busy “dancing in a storm in your best dress, fearless” like Taylor Swift, remember not to present anything without having some knowledge to back it up. If you’re new to a company, see if they’ve tried a similar idea, campaign, etc. before so you’re not wasting anyone’s time – and don’t wind up discouraged. Know your industry and read case studies. You’ll thank me later.
  3. Creativity is key. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel for there’s obvious reasons for that expression. Come with an idea no one has thought of before and you won’t just shine, young padawan – you’ll impress.
  4. Take a deep breath, and let the idea flow. It may sound silly now but if this is the first big idea you’ve pitched, take a deep breath before speaking. It will help you calm your mind, ease your thoughts and communicate in the best way possible.
  5. Don’t forget – you’re awesome. Why are you in your internship or job? Because you’ve already proved you’re a valuable asset to the team. They saw a spark in you based on your experience, knowledge, attitude and drive. So give them what they paid for. Be confident and realize second guessing yourself is unnecessary because you know what you’re doing.

Same Stage, Different Platform

I have a confession. In junior high and high school, I was a HUGE theater nerd. I was one of those kids from “Glee” before it was cool. It was not uncommon for my friends and I to sing Broadway tunes down the halls on the way to class, or opt to improvise a scene about a subject in class rather than pulling together a poster board. In a nutshell, I was consumed by theater.

From a curtain call dress rehearsal of “42nd Street” from my junior year of high school. I’m on the left.

I performed in plays, musicals, and improv troupes. I also was dedicated to choir and even won a few medals from ensemble competitions.

So here I am now as a social media marketer. A month or so ago, I found myself looking for inspiration while working on a client’s posts for the next month. I kept thinking about the customers who typically would go to the restaurant. I thought about what they sounded like, what they looked like, and how the spoke. I thought further and thought what would they expect a person who manages the Facebook/Twitter/Foursquare of the location to sound like. Then it hit me.

I needed to change the way I was writing by creating a “character” for the restaurant.

When I was cast in a play in the past, a common exercise would be to develop the character’s story from inside and out. Everything from how old the character was, to where they were from, and even down to what food they liked. This would all help build the character for the performer. So I did the same for the restaurant’s character.

And it worked! It helped the words flow with a quirky edge that this restaurant fits. Since writing in this way, the page’s interaction has gone up on Facebook in particular, and more customers are commenting.

I guess it goes to show you, you can take the girl out of the theater, but you can’t take the theater out of the girl.

Spotify = Love

I have to admit. I was a little late to board the Spotify train but now I can’t live without it.

For those who are unfamiliar, Spotify is a music sharing service. What’s especially interesting is you can link it to your Facebook page to see what your friends are listening to.

As a creative professional in the social media marketing industry, I strive to be inspired to come up with the most interesting copy to engage my clients’ customers. For me, I get a lot of inspiration from listening to music. If I tailor a playlist to music that my target demo. would probably listen to, the words just seem to come to me.

I’m a huge fan of just about every genre of music. It’s not odd for me to go from listening to a song by Barbra Streisand to Usher and then to Carly Rae Jepsen. I’m a little all over the place.

So as a fan of so many genres, Spotify allows me to create as many playlists as I choose, and even subscribe to playlists created by other users. For example, I subscribed to a playlist of songs about Chicago, my hometown.

Basically, if you’re a professional who finds work easier when you’re listening to the right tunes, or a person who loves being able to listen to all the music they love for free via their computer – Spotify is absolutely for you.

#NASCAR

I began my public relations career working primarily with a variety of internships. In a number of these positions, I worked with NASCAR brands and racetracks.

Having worked around motorsports for about four years, it was interesting to watch the sport change as the popularity of social media grew. I can remember in 2008 when Twitter really started to take off with many brands, journalists and drivers trying to utilize this new way of engaging race fans.

Now, four years later, NASCAR has become dominated by social media, especially Twitter. One of the best examples of this was when Brad Keselowski garnered over 100,000 new followers on Twitter while the Daytona 500 was under red flag conditions.

With that single event, NASCAR was forever changed showing other sports that NASCAR was not stuffy and behind-the-times. NASCAR was on the brink of something big.

Last weekend was the racing world was forever changed with the Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR. This was the first time in the history of sports in which a major sporting event incorporated their title with a hashtag into an event. Furthermore, they set up a special Twitter page which aggregates all #NASCAR related posts.

This is tremendous for a sport that has battled the “good ‘ole boys” perception for several years as they try to stay current and on-trend in terms of marketing and social media.

As someone who worked in racing for a period of time, I’m proud to see how the sport has been one of the first sports to relate to fans in this new way, and allow them to be as updated as possible with all of the happenings, as well as reach out to their favorite brands, drivers, journalists and other personalities in this new way.

It will be interesting to watch as more sports take from this concept and further social media within the industry.

What A Beautiful World With Instagram

Launched in October 2010, it’s interesting how Instagram has changed the way people look at their daily life. Instagram users seem to share a desire to spread the beauty of the world that comes into their daily lives. Be it the flowers they pass on their way to work, their new favorite shoes, or some of their best friends, Instagram seems to be helping the average person look at their world in a new way.

I personally love Instagram for that reason. After moving to Charlotte from Chicago, my entire outlook of how I perceive home has changed. I never really realized how beautiful Chicago was until I moved away from it. I even found myself loving being at an “L” stop in the middle of the winter with the cold wind freezing my body.

As I continue to visit home, I’ve found myself shooting photo after photo on my iPhone for new backgrounds for my phone. I have since posted many of these on my Instagram account: sarahbonk (check it out!). Such as the photo featured in this post.

For marketers, I think this use of Instagram in which users seem to find beauty in their everyday life critical. For brands, users may just snap pictures of their favorite products all on their own. Marketers can find clever uses for their Instagram accounts.

I’ve noticed various sports teams tapping into their fans love of the game to take photos. For example, some baseball teams are taking photos of their ballparks at different angles showing how marvelous a field can be. Some teams are also taking photos of their key players doing everything from interviews, to autograph signings and in-game play. I think this gives fans an artsy, fun way to get a new insider’s perspective of what it’s like to be on a baseball team.

The possibilities are endless. Fashion brands can find clever ways to shoot their new items. Food brands can shoot their newest products to draw more attention to their launch. In short, I am a fan of Instagram and plan on looking for ways to use the application in future positions as it grows.

Instagram makes me think of one of my favorite songs which I think is a pretty good way to sum up this post:

“I see trees of green. Red roses, too. I see them blue for me and you. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.” – Louis Armstrong

Holy Pinterest!

While visiting a friend who had a work engagement pop up, I found myself in northern Illinois with nothing to do. I was five minutes from the Wisconsin border and two hours away from most people I know. In a word, I was trapped. 

Then, I decided to finally see what Pinterest was all about.

Why did I wait almost a year since I first heard of the site to check it out?

Pinterest, is a website full of images. It reminds me of a digital locker – or in my case, it reminds me of the back of my closet door. Growing up, I was a big fan of magazines. I’d pull quotes, photos, stories, images and more and tape them to the back of my closet door. Images of Tina Fey, Marilyn Monroe, Britney Spears, The Spice Girls, and the Backstreet Boys still hang there today. Mostly due to the fact it would be sad to see so many years of work go to waste.

The website appears to be much more female friendly than anything. With Pinterest, a woman could like images and post them to her own board (a way to sort your favorite images). Topics of images range from food recipes, to hairstyle ideas, to outfit ideas, and just plain, old, adorable pictures of animals.

It’s a great place to share images with friends and give each other ideas.

Personally, one of the things I love the most about the website are the images of positive quotes. These uplifting images of quotes by celebrities, philosophers, musicians, personalities, or the unknown. After reading and collecting a variety of quotes for my own board, I felt uplifted and better even at a time when I feel as if I’m waiting for my life to start again with a new job.

As a woman, I feel this website could be used for so much but especially sharing ideas with other women and provide each other with support. It’s as if the Spice Girls’ mantra of “Girl Power!” became a website. Their image on my closet door would be so proud.

Then, I started to think as a marketer. Marketing, PR and advertising professionals commonly have what some call their idea box. The Idea Box contains a variety of items which can help inspire creative ideas to help them get their next great event, press release, etc.

I believe Pinterest could be a digital version of the Idea Box but kicked up a notch. Imagine a world where PR pros could share their boxes digitally with the co-workers and trusted friends to inspire each other?

I guess for me, I feel the greatest unintended use for Pinterest is to inspire. So many of the images on the website are art. In this way, art can breathe life into our creative abilities in new ways.

In short, I’ve already liked Pinterest on Facebook.

Check out my Pinterest page by clicking here.