April 12, 2019

A to Z of Social Media Marketing: C is for Content Calendar

Filed under: Social Media — lidia @ 11:03 pm

A to Z of Social Media Marketing: C is for Content Calendar

Every social media marketing strategy should be paired with a content calendar. The content calendar makes it easier to keep posts fresh, organized, on-schedule, and spaced out appropriately. It’s also a good place to store and track links for curated posts.

A content calendar can be simple or more detailed, based on your needs and strategy.

Here is a content calendar template (Google Sheets) to download and customize for your organization.

Content calendar template

TIP: Here’s a detailed post on creating a social media content calendar from Hootsuite.

 

 

April 8, 2019

A to Z of Social Media Marketing: B is for Branding

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: , — lidia @ 8:03 pm

A to Z of Social Media Marketing: B is for Branding

Branding is just as important in social media as it is in your print and online presence. Without consistent branding, your posts can appear scattered and not relay your intended brand messaging.

As I do with my other branding projects, I recommend creating a Social Media Brand Guide (or Social Media Style Guide) for your organization. It can be simple like the sample shown below, outlining brand fonts, colors and types of themes and posts.

Social media brand guide sample

Or you can go into more depth with specific guidelines for writing, grammar and voice, including sample posts. Here’s a social media style guide example that includes writing style from Buffer.

TIP: Creating a social media style guide is especially worth the time and effort if you hire subcontractors to write, design or manage your social media marketing, as it assures they will create content and graphics that are on-brand.

A to Z of Social Media Marketing: A is for Algorithm

Filed under: Social Media — lidia @ 5:03 pm

A to Z SM Mktg_Algorithm

In social media, an algorithm is a set of formulas that determines what you see in your feed. Where feeds were once chronological, now they vary based on “relevance”—which is affected by the user’s usage, interests, interactions, and connections. With the frequent algorithm changes, making authentic connections and encouraging interaction on your pages is more important than ever.

TIP: Here’s some useful and actionable info on navigating Facebook algorithms from Brandwatch (updated January 2019).

February 6, 2019

Why (and How) to Set Healthy Social Media Limits        

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

In my post about why I didn’t check email on vacation, I talked about the reasons why you should avoid email on vacation (spoiler alert:  you will be more relaxed).

But for many of my colleagues and friends, the thought of taking a “digital detox”: is downright frightening. I totally get it: FOMO has been a part of my life since I was a teenager not wanting to miss a Friday night party. And since much of my social media usage is business-related, there’s the fear of missing out on a business opportunity.

Arianna Huffington—author of the book Thrive, which examines our addiction to productivity—describes our digital addictions perfectly: “We fear that if we don’t cram as much as possible into our day, we might miss out on something fabulous, important, special, or career advancing.”

Set digital limits—and stick to them

So how do we get ourselves out of this downward spiral of feeling like we always have to be connected? We’re not going to leave behind our smartphones anytime soon. The answer is: creating a healthy relationship with technology.

Like myself, journalist and former editor-in-chief of Glamour and Self, Cindi Leive decided to keep the spirit of her “digital detox” going when she came back from vacation. She says: “I’m vowing to stay off email for most of my evenings, to keep my phone in my bag, not my hand, more often this year. Anyone with me?” Sign me up!

Once I became more aware of how often I check my phone—and how most of the time it’s out of habit and not necessity—I knew I needed to set ground rules for my social media usage:

  1. No checking email on weekends.
  2. No phone usage while driving.
  3. No walking and texting.
  4. Minimal phone usage when kids are around.
  5. Minimal social media usage before bed.
  6. Bring magazines or books to appointments.

In general, I’ve gotten myself of the habit of using the phone as “something to do.” As a parent, I know sometimes you desperately need a break, but I try to grab a magazine or book instead. And if I am browsing my phone with the kids around, I will include them in the experience by showing them a picture or telling them about an interesting article I read.

Get a little help from your (app) friends

If the thought of going cold turkey on digital scares you, there are apps that track your digital device usage, such as Moment and QualityTime, which can bring you more awareness of how much time you’re spending on digital devices. (Also useful for iPad-addicted kids!)

If you’re ready to go hardcore, there are apps like Flipd that temporarily lock your phone for a period of time—and restarting doesn’t affect it so you can’t cheat.

And tech companies are jumping on board too: Google and Apple recently announced system-level tools designed to help users monitor their screen time and restrict their use of apps. And Facebook and Instagram debuted similar features that will be integrated within their applications. As this WIRED post says, “The implication of these companies’ actions is clear, if softly stated: People want help unplugging from our products, and they are in a position to help.” (Honestly, I’m a bit skeptical, but I will hope that is their intention.)

Remove—but make a healthy replacement

Instead of just stopping your digital habits cold turkey, it can help to replace it with something healthier. As Huffington suggests in Thrive, “Our primary goal shouldn’t be merely breaking bad habits as much as replacing them with new, healthier habits that help us thrive.”

Along those lines, it’s worthwhile to examine how you feel when you use digital devices. For example, if you feel tired and drained after reading your Facebook feed, perhaps your time would be better served doing something that makes you feel uplifted and inspired.

Personally, my solution during my vacation digital detox was to replace the time I usually spent in the evenings on social media with another activity—in my case, reading books or a magazine. And I found that it actually helps me sleep better, since I don’t have myriad thoughts running through my head before bed (which inevitably happens after browsing social media).

Be more intentional

My word for this year is “essential” so I decided to apply that advice by doing a clean install on my new phone and only adding apps that are essential—which meant no social media apps.

Now, if I want to post on social media, I have to do it from another device which makes it more intentional (and, I will admit, sometimes frustrating—old habits die hard!) Also, since I can only check social media at certain times of the day, it helps avoid the mindless browsing throughout the day.

And since the habit of checking my phone upon awakening is hard to break, at least now I’m seeing an empty screen—instead of a long list of notifications that puts my brain into “MUST—RESPOND—NOW” mode. This makes for a more peaceful morning and less chaotic start to the workday.

Disconnect to reconnect

This leads me to this last piece of advice from Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive: “Disconnecting from the digital world will help you reconnect to your wisdom, intuition, and creativity. When you wake up in the morning, don’t start your day by looking at your smartphone. Take one minute—trust me, you do have one minute—to breathe deeply, or be grateful, or set your intention for the day.”

My 7-year-old has a great habit of saying “Get off your phone and play with me!” which is a great approach to take—whether you have kids or not.

Everyone’s ideal situation is different, but if you bring more awareness to your digital usage, you will be amazed by how much better you feel.

January 30, 2019

7 Blogs to Follow to Improve Your Social Media Marketing

Filed under: Social Media — lidia @ 10:00 am

Social media can seem daunting when you’re working solo, or at a nonprofit organization or small business. Here are the social media blogs that I find most useful for staying up-to-date in the changing world of social media.

Many of these blogs also offer weekly email tips and/or how-to or beginner’s guides to social media topics, so if you are just diving in keep an eye out for those.

7 Useful Social Media Marketing Blogs to Follow

Buffer Blog

Buffer makes my favorite social media scheduler and shares the latest trends in social media marketing, as well as useful case studies from companies that are doing it well.

Digital Marketer

Digital Marketer shares tips, roundups, and lots of  “best-ofs” (i.e. best articles for organic traffic, etc.) as well as many free social media-related worksheets and resources.

HubSpot Blog

HubSpot is one of my favorite overall marketing resources—especially for a small business like myself. They are champions for inbound marketing and share social media advice that is clear and easy to adapt. They also have a free Social Media Certification course through their HubSpot Academy.

Moz Social Media Blog

Moz is an SEO tool, so they approach social media from an SEO perspective (you can’t have one without the other, right?) Check out their Beginner’s Guide to Social Media.

Orbit Media Social Media Blog

Orbit Media is a Chicago-based web design and development agency and they are my go-to for content marketing advice in general because they make it so easy to understand and implement (and it’s like they KNOW what I’m thinking…)

Social Media Examiner

SME was one of my first social media marketing resources, but it continues to be one of of my go-tos. You can pretty much find anything related to social media here, and they also host a yearly conference called Social Media Marketing World. 

Social Media Today

SMT offers a great overview of all social media channels, as well as content marketing. Their home page includes a library of free ebooks and calendar of upcoming events.

Sprout Social Blog

Sprout Social is another great social media scheduling tool and they share quick tips, geared to small businesses. Check out their complete guide to social media for small business. 

 

Did I miss any of your faves?

January 28, 2019

RECAP: IAPD/IPRA Agency Showcase Competition

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 10:00 am

Last week was my fourth time judging the Agency Showcase Competition at the Illinois Park and Recreation Association/IAPD Soaring to New Heights Conference.

The competition features communications and marketing work from local park districts and parks/recreation agencies. Entries are judged on creativity, design, content and organization.

The category I judged was Print Communications (Informational and Promotional). Being the print lover that I am, I enjoyed browsing the brochures, reports, posters, sponsorship booklets and other print collateral. I look forward to hearing if any of my “faves” are winners!

January 18, 2019

RECAP: Alumni Coffee Connection at Columbia College Chicago

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Networking — lidia @ 10:00 am

This week, I attended Alumni Coffee Connection, a Columbia College Chicago Alumni networking event that I helped to plan. It featured Columbia College Chicago alumna from the ’90s, ’00s and ’10s.

The inspiring panel, Michele Anderson of Lookingglass Theatre Company, Maggie O’Keefe for 40th Ward Alderman and Meka Hemmon of SpiderMeka Photography, discussed how they used the skills and connections developed at Columbia, successes and challenges in their career, how all of their experiences led them to their current career path, and mentorship and why it’s important to have a mentor (or be a mentor for someone else).

Michele pointed out, you can “learn from good bosses and bad bosses.” And I loved what she said about her mother, and how she believed there were no limits for her daughter’s generation.

Maggie said “It’s OK to change careers—don’t apologize for wanting to change your path.” And Meka added “no decision is permanent (with the exception of children!)”

Coffee was provided by Back of the Yards Coffeehouse and Roastery, a roastery and cafe on the southwest side of Chicago (woot!) that is minority- and woman-owned.

Thank you to Shannon Langan of Columbia College and my fellow members of the alumni host committee, Alexandra Eidenberg of The Insurance People, Kate Nicolai of Wine Shop at Home, Rebecca Resman of Chicago Family Biking, Dafna Nussbaum, and Kate Alpert of Women Belong. And, thanks to the attendee who reminded me that I’m part of the Columbia College Chicago 20-year club! (BA in Graphic Design ’94)

January 9, 2019

2019 word for the year: essential

Filed under: Small Business,Time Management — lidia @ 9:00 am

2019 word for the year: essential

For the last 5 years, I’ve chosen a word for the year to set the tone and stay focused. Last year’s word was STREAMLINE. I wanted to streamline and simplify my life, so that I could be more productive and feel less rushed.

So, how did I do? I successfully streamlined my digital and social media marketing by focusing on the outlets that make the most impact for me (email, LinkedIn and Facebook) and using Buffer to schedule my posts. I also streamlined my time tracking and invoicing by using the Harvest app.

My word for 2019 is ESSENTIAL. After reading the book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, I was inspired to examine my business processes and habits so that I can focus on what is most essential to reaching my goals. My creative brain likes to jump from task to task, so my hope is that this will help me stay focused and be more productive in my somewhat limited time.

I’ve kicked off this year putting essentialism into practice by doing a manual setup on my new phone, adding apps as I need them, rather than copying over all the clutter from my old phone.

As McKeown advises in his book, “Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.” Hear, hear.

January 4, 2019

Kick off the year with a quick social media audit (free worksheet)

Filed under: Social Media — lidia @ 9:00 am

yearly social media audit worksheet

For last few years, I have started the new year with a social media audit to assess the previous year’s results. It’s a quick and easy process and provides useful insight for your social media strategy.

How to perform a fast and easy social media audit

Before you start, you have to know your social media goals. What are you hoping to accomplish through your social media efforts? For example, it could be brand awareness, increase in sales, increase in followers, or email list growth. Keep your goals SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

Next, review your social media numbers. Review analytics for the past year in all of your social media accounts—including your blog and email marketing—and jot down key data, such as follower growth and top-performing posts. Compare the results to past years’ data, as well as your current goals.

Lastly, revise your social media plan for the new year. Review your results and use the data to refine your social media strategy for the upcoming year. For example, did a particular type of Facebook post or email newsletter subject perform well? Make sure it’s incorporated into this year’s content calendar.

How to find social media data

Not all outlets allow you to download a year’s worth of analytics, so you may have to do some digging. In addition to each outlets’ built-in analytics, here are few other handy resources for reviewing social media analytics:

Doing this short exercise will allow you to see what worked last year, helping to refine your social media goals and strategic plan for the new year.

Make it easy by using a worksheet

I usually track my yearly social media data in Evernote (you can also use a Google or Excel sheet) but this year, I created a handy worksheet where you can input your social media data and see your progress at-a-glance.

Download my Yearly Social Media Audit Worksheet (PDF). If you find it useful or have suggestions, please let me know!

Yearly Social Media Audit worksheet

December 3, 2018

Cooper Black—and other Chicago hometown typefaces

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 1:49 pm

This weekend, I attended a wonderful lecture at the Newberry Library called Chicago Style: Typography and the City. The last time I was at the Newberry, it was the mid-90s and I was writing a paper about Sumerian cuneiform writing for my Art History class at Columbia College of Chicago. Needless to say, I was thrilled to be back, as well as to experience this short (but thorough) history of Chicago typography design.

Presenters Paul F. Gehl (Curator Emeritus at the Newberry Library) and Tanner Woodford (Executive Director at the Chicago Design Museum) shared highlights from Chicago’s history of typography design, including these examples from the Newberry Library collection:

Cooper Black type specimens

Oswald (Oz) Cooper is the designer of Cooper Black, the most popular and largest-selling advertising typeface of the 1920s and 1930s (and still often used today). He drew and redrew the letterforms hundreds of times, showing just how much work goes into creating a really good typeface. Cooper Black started a trend of black type, which is a heavier weight than bold.

Will Ransom designed the typeface Parsons in 1918 when he was freelancing for Chicago-based department store Carson Pirie Scott & Co. (known by locals as Carson’s). This typeface was created exclusively for Carson Pirie Scott, and was released for public use in 1923.

Tempo typeface specimens

Radiant typeface specimens

Scotland-born but Chicago-based designer Robert Hunter Middleton created the typeface Tempo in 1930. At the time, printers viewed it as an American face—however it was actually modeled on the German-originated Futura. Middleton designed many other popular fonts, including Radiant.

During the discussion, Paul reviewed these historical typesetting terms which are often confused:

  • Typeface: the design of the letters
  • Type: the physical object (i.e. a piece of lead type)
  • Font: the collection of physical objects

Many of the Chicago-designed fonts are still in rotation in the design world, proving the longevity of good design.

Want to learn more about Chicago typography and design? Head over to the Newberry Library and Chicago Design Museum.

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