Social media is real life

Encouraging connections and community

Customizing your posted links on Facebook

When managing your brand’s Facebook page, you can have the occasional slow news day when you don’t have something original to post. Or it could be that the link you pull from your website doesn’t provide you with a usable thumbnail. No worries! Here are four really simple ways to add a little more polish to a shared link on Facebook.

    Facebook post customization

  1. Delete the URL in your post before you click ‘post’ and the thumbnail will still appear.  It’s a nice way to tidy up your posts. Note: this works on personal Facebook pages, too!
  2. Write a great headline. In this example, if you click the words “Garry Kasparov” you can delete that text and write something more enticing.
  3. Include a summary that leaves them wanting more. Just like in number 2, if you click on the summary, you can edit that text. One thing I like to do is copy and paste a brief quote from the aritcle.
  4. This is my favorite and a more recent change for posting links. You can add a custom thumbnail! Imagery is such an important part of social media . The thumbnails that are pulled from your typical websites are often unsuitable. If you’re lucky, it’s a portion of the logo, but usually it’s some image that serves as a hyperlink to another section of the website. By following the “Upload Now” link beneath the thumbnail, you can select an image to use.  The dimensions given for thumbnails on Facebook are 155px x 114px, but I’ve found that for the most part, an image will be sized to fit. If the image is large, I’ll usually size it to about 2.5” wide just for ease of upload.

So there you have it: Four easy ways to post like a pro. Happy customizing!

The importance of being social

As I began helping a client, a children’s hospital, manage their Facebook page, I noticed that their page was not set up such that they could interact throughout Facebook as their page. This meant that they could not visit, like or comment on other pages and therefore were undoubtedly missing out on news and valuable connections. With their blessing, I fixed the situation and began interacting with community pages on their behalf.

One day while acting as the page I came across a charity local to them whose mission it is to provide special outings to kids with disabilities. “Perfect.” I thought, and I liked the page. The next day I received a private message from them to my client’s page reading “Thank you for liking our page…” The note went on to ask if there was a wish list of items that they could use to go shopping for the children.  They showed up the following week with games and necessities.

Don’t underestimate the importance of being present and engaging with your online communities. I can’t tell you the number of times my posting schedule has been rearranged because of something I saw in my page’s Newsfeed. There are a lot of good, noteworthy things happening in your community; share the love and it will likely come back to you.


Tools and reminders for using social media in an emergency

While going through some files this past weekend, I came across an emergency communications tool that I created some time ago for a client and thought “Hey, with summer’s  sometimes volatile weather soon upon us this would be a good tool to share for my Tuesday blog post.” Like almost everyone else, I had no idea what Monday would hold. So, I share this hoping you’ll complete the form and never need to use it.

The power and importance of social media cannot be overstated, especially in times of emergency. A well thought out emergency communication plan will be vital. A record of login information can help you save critical time in the unfortunate event that an emergency arises.

There are a couple things to keep in mind when you prepare your actual communication:

  1. In the event of a natural or manmade disaster, people may be without power but still able to use their smart phone for communicating and gathering information. Remember that battery power may be precious. Keep your communications succinct and avoid too many images or videos that can use up battery life.
  2. Text messages use less power and bandwidth and travel more easily than phone calls through crowded cell circuits. Consider using text messages if needed for internal team communication and be certain to have your team members’ cell numbers saved in your phone.
  3. Communicate. Keep the information freely flowing so that interested parties feel informed. Remember that people from outside your area will likely visit your sites for information if family and friends are affected by the emergency you’re reporting. During an emergency, the use of tools that allow you to post on multiple platforms at once could be useful. Remember to search for Google Person Finder and see if they’ve created a search/find for your event. If so, you’ll want to share that with your community
  4. Assign a lead and a backup. You want to be certain that a succinct, accurate message is being delivered.
  5. Keep a log of what you post. Your exact post will remain in cyberspace and can be collected at a later time if needed, but do keep track of when you posted and to what platform(s).

If your organization has used social media during a crisis, we’d love to hear what worked and didn’t work for you. If you’d like to have a copy of the fillable login form, just email me at and I’ll send it to you.


Facebook contests: are you following the rules?

facebook-like-iconRecently, I’ve had a number of clients ask for advice about running a contest on their brand’s Facebook page. Maybe they had extra promotional items left over from Heart Month or were just looking for a quick boost to their numbers and wanted to post something like: “The next ten people to like this post will receive…” Seems harmless enough, doesn’t it? Not if you’re Facebook. Continue reading

Some Patients Say “HIPAA Schmipaa”

Once again my time at the Mayo Ragan Social Media Summit was well spent. It can be tempting to let a full schedule keep one away from such events, but this is one conference I can wholeheartedly recommend. Sessions include everything from how to’s to presentations from patients and physicians about how social media helps them. You find yourself in meetings full of kindred social media spirits and that’s a great way to get reinvigorated with new ideas.

There was a lot to take in over the three days, but one message seemed to come through time and again:

The patient’s desire for medical information and support is inversely proportional to their desire for privacy.

Time and again, I heard presenters talk about using social media to try to get information about an illness, to find support groups, and to try to help others.

  • Inspire, EmpowHER, and CaringBridge where user-generated content drives the bulk of the activity as people seek information on medical conditions and/or look for support. CaringBridge has even started a new site called Support Planner where “…family and friends coordinate care and organize helpful tasks.” (Very cool, I think!)
  • Mom Melissa Hogan (@MelissaJHogan) felt an “obligation” to use social media as a way to give back to her community by sharing the story of her son’s journey with Huntington’s Disease. Find her blog about her son, Case, here.
  • Dan Hinmon (@HiveDan) talked about his wife’s diabetes and how she turned to the internet for education about treating her diabetes through diet and exercise and to find a support group, which is now 4,000 people strong.
  • Lindsey Miller (@LiverLindsey) found it too depressing the tell people about her pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer. She forged ahead with treatments and eventually decided that social media was the most comfortable way to talk about her battle with cancer, saying “Social media helped me tell people I had cancer. It feels great!” Find her blog i am a liver here.

So while many organizations wring their hands over HIPAA, patients and their family members are taking matters into their own hands. My own cousin started a blog as he underwent chemo and a stem cell transplant for mantle cell lymphoma. I checked for his posts every morning before getting out of bed, and even on his bad days, it helped to hear from him or his wife if he wasn’t up to posting. He’s doing great now, by the way.

As Dr. Natasha Burgert (@DoctorNatasha) so skillfully showed us in the final keynote of the conference, there are ways for social media and healthcare to meet the needs of patients AND physicians. More on that later, but you can find her blog here.

Social Media Content Planning – Six Ideas to Prime the Pump

How’s your social media content plan coming along? I know that the ebb and flow of content and ideas can be frustrating at times, especially if your social media tasks are just a fraction of your overall job responsibilities.

Following are some ideas that might help “prime the pump” when it comes to content planning:

    Call your HR director. As I mentioned in my last post, there are usually some great opportunities here.
    Reach out to the volunteer services coordinator. Maybe there’s a specific area where she/he needs extra help. Remember that schools sometimes require students to provide volunteer service in the community. Social media is a great way to spread the word about opportunities. This could be good information for your intranet as well.
    Dial 911. Don’t really, but do ask your emergency department if there is something trending. This could lead you to create a timely blog post or video about prevention and treatment.
    Find out what month it is. These days everything has a designated month, week or day. This can be useful for both serious and fun observances. (Even National Watermelon Day can lead to posts about hydration and diet.) I use the listing from the National Health Information Center. I also like Holiday Insights because it outlines some of the more obscure and fun observances.
    Take a walk with your camera. Hospitals and physician offices often decorate for the seasons and holidays. Maybe you’ll get a photo of the first smiling face people will see when they enter your building. (Of course you’ll be mindful to avoid having visitors and patients in your photos unless you have their permission.)
    Explore the Twitterverse. Go to your favorite search engine and type “*topic* Twitter”. This can lead not only to interesting content but some great accounts to follow.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. No doubt you have ideas, too, and I’d love to hear them.

Missing the HR Boat of Social Media Content

When I was about 22, I earned an Employee of the Month award. As I recall, I received a certificate, a lapel pin, and a photo op with the president of the company. I mailed the photo to my parents who lived a couple hundred miles away. It was a Polaroid photo, not a tintype.

Fast-forward X years. I walk through hallways of client sites and I see really nicely engraved plaques and framed photos of employees who have achieved various awards for tenure or ‘service above and beyond’ and I wonder: “Why is there no album on their Facebook page filled with these smiling faces?”

What about that group of new hires in orientation? Right after you train them about your social media policy (hint, hint), how about a cheerful group photo for your Facebook page? This is a great way to welcome them to your organization and introduce them to your online community. You know what else this does? It helps make your organization human out there in the digital world.

I understand that some people don’t like to be photographed. I also understand that some people don’t like Facebook (eek!). So don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying participation should be compulsory. But have you had a conversation with your HR director about sharing some of the accomplishments of your greatest asset…your people? Might this be an easy way to invite employees to be engaged and interested?

Research has shown us that consumers are out there using social media as part of their decision making process for services and purchases. In fact, half of consumers combine search and social media for this purpose.  Give them a look at the friendly, helpful people who might be assisting them the next time they walk through your doors.

Not a skilled photographer? Here are some useful tips from Ragan. My favorite is the “execution at dawn.”

Look Before You Post!

Those of us who manage social media sites know all too well that it’s not quite as easy as it may look. There’s the constant quest for content, great photos, fact checking and, oh yeah, being social. So it’s no wonder that people are ready to jump at time-saving tools like post scheduling.

My clients ask me about post scheduling pretty often and I always advise caution. Actually, even real time postings need to be carried out thoughtfully. My advice: Look first! Check the news headlines and make sure what you’re about to post is appropriate. If you know you have a post or tweet scheduled for later in the day, be sure to scan the news first thing. The last thing you want is to end up in a position like the National Rifleman, the journal of the NRA. The morning following the senseless tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, they tweeted:

When I first saw this reported, I figured it was a scheduled tweet that had been in the queue for a while. According to the report in the Huffington Post, the tweeter was unaware of the events of the previous night. Hard to imagine, really, but this is exactly why it’s so important to look first.

If you’re posting on Facebook, be sure to use Facebook as your page and have a look around the platform before you post, especially if you don’t live in the area that your page represents. On the positive side, by doing this I have occasionally found terrific items to share on my page that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.

Note: Remember that if you want to use Facebook as your page, you need to go through either the dropdown menu at the top right, or the Edit Page drop down menu. The Voice tab only indicates how you are posting on the page, not the platform.

When you think about it, the whole purpose of using social media is to be social, not just to push out information. I’m not saying you should never schedule a post or a tweet, just that I like to make it the exception rather than the rule. So take the time to be there, be informed, and engage your community; it’s worth it in a lot of ways.

Where are your (marketing) keys?

RecentlKeys in the freezery I lost my car keys. I was absolutely positive they were in my house somewhere, else how could I have pulled my car into the garage? A week later I walked, as usual, to my neighborhood gym. I was in the middle of my fourth interval sprint wondering if this was indeed the day I would die on the elliptical machine when I thought “What day was it that I accidentally brought my car keys with me to the gym?” In plain view, right behind the sign-in counter sat my keys. So not only could I not imagine that they could be anywhere but inside my house (yes, I looked in the freezer), but I could not even see them in front of my face, even though I’d “seen” them at the gym probably five times since I’d lost them.

Have you ever had a similar situation at work? Have you ever faced a challenge and a preconceived notion kept you from finding an answer? Maybe you thought you didn’t have the budget, the staff or the time to do whatever was necessary. Maybe you couldn’t even think of solutions, never mind being able to fund it or staff it. You. Were. Stuck. Maybe you are now.

Perhaps what you need is a fresh perspective, not a new staff or a broader budget. When the going gets tough, it’s so easy to pull out the old tricks and try to make them solve new challenges (billboard, anyone?). It can be easy to forget that low cost, wide ranging marketing tools are right at your fingertips.  Think about how pervasive social platforms are in the human experience today.  Consider that

  • 46 million Americans use social media several times per day;
  •  1 in 4 social media users follow brands. For those who use these sites and services several times per day, this figure increases to 43% (80% of them use Facebook); and,
  • 97% of brand followers stated that an online experience determined whether they purchased a product or service.

I’m not saying to throw away your newsletters…yet. But do you have your e-version for those on-the-go, Birkenstocks-wearing tree huggers that would rather read your news on their phone than find it in their mailbox? Have you figured out how to get that newspaper ad to reach only the 18 to 35 year old women who might be thinking about having a baby, and pay only for the ones who read it? Do you remember that there are more than 2 million company pages on LinkedIn and more than 1 million topic-oriented groups?

Find your fresh perspective. If you’re not the elliptical type, maybe you need to have lunch with someone outside your department, attend some other team’s staff meeting, or email that really cool marketing buddy you worked with a few years ago. Trust me: your keys are not in the freezer.

4 easy ways to be ready for Timeline

I have some clients wringing their hands over Timeline for fan pages. If you’re really feeling the crunch of the March 30th Timeline switch, don’t worry, there are some simple things you can do to make your fan page look like you’ve planned for this change all along.

  1. Select a high-quality cover photo.  The new dimensions are 851 x 315 pixels. This covers a lot of space so make it a good photo. Remember that it cannot include a promotion or call to action. (Idea: Plan your future cover photos to align with your content plan.)
  2. Optimize your profile picture. It’s going to be square after the change (180 pixels), so make sure your image works.
  3. Customize your tabs images (111 x 74). This is so easy and really adds a polished look to the page. Just hover at the top right of the current tab image and click “Edit Settings.” You’ll need to use the dropdown arrow to reveal all of your tabs first.
  4. Edit and update your history. You must at least add the date your organization was established. Glance through your old posts and see if they need editing, or perhaps there’s a photo you could add for interest. Your Timeline history can be as robust as you like. This is the perfect way to tell your story, but if you’re short on time right now you can save this for later.

Note: Even if you’re uploading photos for your timeline in “secret” they will still appear in the banner of your old page. To keep this from happening, go through your existing photos and tag five of your favorites. Those will stay “glued” to your banner and you can continue to work in private until the BIG day.

I would love to see your new Timeline; shoot me a link!