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My future in Social Media Marketing

Hello all!  This is my last blog post as part of my Social Media Marketing class at St. Edward’s.  23daysI graduate with my MBA in 23 days!  CAN. NOT. WAIT.

Throughout the course, we have had several professionals that work in social media visit our class and share their experiences working in such a dynamic field.  Each presented a unique perspective and listening to all of their presentations gave us  a tiny glimpse of what we could expect if we chose to work in social media after graduation or beyond.  They also provided a few ‘tips and tricks’ that many of us could use in our current endeavors, whether that was in a social media capacity, general marketing, or could even be applied into other aspects of work and life.  I detail a few of those helpful takeaways below.

  • Takeaway 1: You don’t have to have an educational background in social media to succeed.  Yes, having background and experience in a field is a critical part of becoming an ‘expert’ in any subject, but other relate-able experience may work just as well.  Many, if not all, of our guest speakers had background and technical training in other fields than social media.  PR, marketing, digital media, etc. are just a few examples.  While these are similar in nature, the stories we heard involved the folks being exposed to social media, and then they fell in love with it enough to stick with it.  Also, social media is still relatively new and will continue to evolve as time passes.  Being able to pivot when needed is an attractive characteristic to have and understanding social media, at least on a high-level, is critical to success.  I plan to apply my skills gained through this course, no matter if I am in a social media specific field, general marketing role, or any job that requires relationship building.
  • Takeaway 2: Find something you’re passionate about and pursue it!  Building on Takeaway 1, this piece of advice is really applicable to many different situations, not just social media.  However, relating specifically to the top at hand, many of our speakers detailed their individual stories about their backgrounds and several involved them uncovering a passion and pursuing it to where they are currently.  For example, the Social Media Manager for Hops & Grain brewery had an interest in beer and saw the need for her to apply her skills and passions to help the company.  She simply emailed the owner and explained how she could help the business.  One thing lead to another, and she’s in an awesome role loving what she does.
  • Takeaway 3: There is a method behind the madness of social media.  If you are anything like me, sometimes it feels (especially several years ago when social media was still being developed) that companies and organizations gain success (or failure in some circumstances) by doing very little.  A video ‘happens’ to go viral and everything booms into popularity at an accelerated rate.  While this may be true, most companies and effective social media campaigns have a lot of thought and data that the plan is based upon.  Several of our speakers, especially the ladies from McGarrah Jessee, spoke about all the different parts of a successful and cohesive plan.  This is something I believe strongly in and thus was something I enjoyed hearing about.  I think it is very important to understand how different divisions, campaigns, techniques, etc. have to work together in order to drive the same goals and have effective results.

While my future in social media is uncertain, I do know I will use several of the skills learned through this course in my current endeavors (as Social Media Manager for the Texas Czech Genealogical Society) and hope to continue working with these platforms throughout my career.  I also feel more confident in my consulting capabilities and would love to become a social-media-platformsSocial Media Consultant of sorts for small businesses or whomever needed my services.  In addition, I also am excited about some of the aspects I learned that can be applied to my personal brand and social media profiles.  This will help build credibility in the marketplace and hopefully will lead to additional career opportunities in the future.

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Who gives a ‘hoot’ about Hootsuite? I do!

Hello everyone!  Sorry for the delay in posting.  This semester has gotten super busy with everything going on at school and work.  I see the light at the end of the tunnel though… I graduate in 30 days!  CAN. NOT. WAIT.

This installment of my blog focuses on Hootsuite – a social media management platform that helps aggregate and simplify all things related to social media.  hootsuite-branding

I have actually used Hootsuite for over a year now, as it was a convenient way for me to manage the TCGS Facebook page in the past.  I particularly enjoyed the ability to combine multiple streams into one view (or tab), with each stream focusing on an applicable facet relating to TCGS’s social media plan.

Hootsuite Certification was the next logical step for me, so that I can include that qualification on my resume.  Going into the materials and preparation for the test, I assumed I could breeze by the curriculum since I had experience working with the platform.  At this point, I thought I just basically ‘going through the motions’ to be officially certified.

While I knew I would learn a few things, I was pleasantly surprised when my expectations on the coursework and certification as a whole were blown out of the water!  I had NO IDEA that Hootsuite had this much functionality!  I learned new things that I could immediately implement on the TCGS Facebook page and social media plan, such as – the ability to track keywords and search topics related to the industry or competitors, the plethora of ways to solicit content from reputable sources – both online and on social media, and the ease of sharing through advanced scheduling options and the Hootlet plug in.   The Hootlet plug in was especially of interest, since it allows for easy sharing from websites, blogs, etc. – which houses a lot of relevant data to many TCGS followers.

Another fact that particular piqued my interest was the ability to add so many different social media sites to manage under one dashboard. Hootsuite-blog-image Currently, TCGS only has Facebook, but I have plans to expand to more sites in the near future.  The availability to have all under one ‘roof’ is extremely beneficial and makes social media marketing more efficient and in turn, more effective.

 

Now that I have my Hootsuite Certified Professional certificate – what’s next?  I plan to continue my learning through Hootsuite and complete other learning modules to stay abreast of the latest and greatest trends on social media.  Also, as time passes and social media platforms become more mature, Hootsuite may add additional features.  In the future, new social media platforms are constantly being developed and introduced to the masses, which will require new skills and knowledge to ensure I remain relevant in the social media marketing arena.

Hootsuite simplifies the complexities of social media.  Its management platform helps provide a holistic view of social media marketing across multiple platforms, campaigns, competitors, and trends, and I look forward to utilizing more functionalities of the site in the future.

LeslieNelson_certification

Should Instagram be changed to ‘Videogram’?

Hello all!  Today’s post is all about Instagram.  I have been on the platform for several years (@ATXLeslie) and have witnessed the rise in the site – from users sharing fun posts to more and more businesses using Instagram to market its products/services.  IG1Also, they were one of the apps that integrated video a little later after its initial launch (July -August 2013).  To be honest, I don’t normally create/upload many videos on any of my social media platforms.  I do share videos on Facebook, but that is merely for the convenience of the option and the need to want to share funny and relevant material with my network.

Instagram is another story.  Its video restrictions limit you to only 15 second videos, so ones like my “elevator pitch” below would not work or would have to be severely edited down. Because of such limitations, I find it hard to believe that Instagram is the best platform for this feature. However, videos that are content rich and short (under 15 seconds), they may be a better option, especially if video sharing is a main priority of your brand.

Leslie Gerik Nelson – elevator pitch on Facebook – HERE

I used graphic design elements and my own audio to produce, since I did not want to be on camera.  I am of the opinion that videos should be relevant and appropriate for the message/theme you are presenting.  Also, videos don’t always have feature a human!  Informational videos and info-graphs can often have a same effect, depending on the company and theme.

In order to evaluate what other social media professionalsIG9 are doing in the Instagram space, I decided to follow a few key players in the industry and Instagram, to help provide a guide of how others (competitors, allies, potential collaborators) use the platform.

1) Social Engineering – Reason: has almost 79k followers and informative bio with contact info for other platforms; Concerns: only has 158 posts

2) Social Media College – Reason: my friend (who is;  a Social Media Manager) also follows this account and materials shared here may be useful in future endeavors; Concerns: only 121 points

3) Social Media Consultant – Reason: had a range in content types (images/videos) and seemed relevant; Concerns: not enough followers (1155) but only 22 posts

I will need to do some further research to determine the best type of content works best.  Using quick videos (under 15 seconds) would be an effective tactic, as long as they are relevant to your post and can help further the brand. Also, Canva is a perfect tool that can help with high quality graphics and images as well which will help on the image side.

More and more people are posting videos on Instagram these days, which begs the question – will the ‘future’ use of Instagram be dominated by videos?  If so, will it changes its name to ‘Videogram’?

 

“Czech”-ing out Facebook

While working with the Texas Czech Genealogical Society (TCGS) over the last year, I have come to know several different resources and groups on Facebook.  As the organization’s Social Media Manager, I have successfully created a Facebook presence and connected with many different groups that share common interests with our members.  Also, one of my main goals is to help evangelize our organization to individuals all over the world that would benefit from being a part of TCGS.  page

Many of our members are new to Facebook and online.  In the beginning, I created “how to” guides to explain how individuals could connect with our pages.  I slowly started integrating relevant and interesting content in order to help boost participation and encourage more people to join TCGS.  We now offer many daily interesting tidbits that our members really enjoy including #MusicMonday, #TipTuesday, #ThrowbackThursday (#TBT), #FoodFriday, #SocialSaturday, and #StopySundays.  In addition to posting that coincides with the daily theme, I also will share relevant information from other key groups  that our members would enjoy or be interested in learning more about.

There are many different groups that share in a passion for Czech Heritage.  When I joined the organization, I made sure to join as many groups as possible to help spread the word about the TCGS page.  I tried to post weekly in the groups directing them to our site and increasing our “Like” count.  Also, we are able to use the Facebook page to help communicate with our members in real time.  We are able to answer questions, offer suggestions, and share info regarding upcoming events.

Here are several of the main groups I use to promote the TCGS page:

 

cz genealogy3

I chose these groups because their focus aligns with that of the TCGS page – either in the area of Czech genealogy/ancestry or Texas Czechs.  Also, these groups (and others) share a ton of relevant information that I pass along to our followers as well.  I have learned of many different resources that may be available and also have been able to connect personally with some of my relatives that I have lost contact with.  I also am made aware of different events that are happening around our great state that I help promote through the TCGS Facebook page.  In addition, I try to share relevant information and share TCGS events with the groups that I belong to.  Our connection is a two way street in which information flows both ways.  I am also happy to see when others share the TCGS posts with their networks!

pagelikesThe “Insights” tab and information has been a very valuable resource since I have created the page in June 2015.  I am able to check the effectiveness of my efforts to gain “likes” and evaluate what posts generate more traffic (see below). It is very interesting to see what and how our members and followers interact with our page.  This area also helps me and the officers of TCGS understand our reach, which may influence future events or services we offer.  It also helps me understand when our followers are online, so that I can share content in the most effective ways and times of the day (see below).

pagelikes2I wish I had more time to dedicate to evaluating other key groups and pages that would help further the TCGS brand.  In the meantime, I will continue to monitor these groups (and others) in order to find new content to share, as well as be a valuable contributor to their own pages.

Be sure to “Czech” out the Texas Czech Genealogical Society’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TXCZGS.

*WARNING: pictures of kolaches (and other delicious Czech food) may make you hungry!

postinsights

postinsights2

Snapchat – can 30 year olds use it?

I decided to jump on the Snapchat bandwagon (@ATXLeslie – if you want to find me).  snapchat-logoI know, I know… I’m late to the game, being that Snapchat was created in 2011, but better late than never, right?

There are several motivations that fueled my interest in this app.

1) Popularity

It has become very popular over the last few years.   Many of my friends and colleagues have used it in the past, but I have been hesitant to try it out due to the fact that I am older and don’t feel I fit into the company’s intended user base.  Also, the purpose of Snapchat is to send “Snaps” to friends/other users in which they can view for only a few seconds before being erased from the company’s server.  I prefer a more ‘semi-permanent’ photo, as my schedule doesn’t allow for me to view all messages/photos instantaneously.  I also prefer to ‘save’ photos (especially funny or flattering ones!) so that I can relive the memory at a later point in time.  In my opinion, this almost contradicts what Snapchat is all about.

2) Understanding

This theme somewhat relates to popularity but concentrates more on trying to identify the ‘why’ behind the boom in membership and their journey to mainstream status.  By evaluating the forces that drive the popularity, we can understand much more about demographics as a whole, in addition to try to accurately predict future trends.  This is very important, especially in the realm of marketing.  Being that Snapchat is very popular among the younger millennial crowd, we can use the data, facts, and information to better understand 13 to 23 year old consumer behavior.

3) Reach

The number of users of Snapchat has grown exponentially, and currently exceeds 60 million total installs.  Over half are active monthly users.  In relation to marketing, especially if your target market falls into the 13 to 23 year old range, it is essential to stay up-to-date with current trends and use various ways to interact with one’s customers.  I have recently seen many businesses advertise their Snapchat accounts and encourage their customers to share “Snaps” with them.  In addition to the US markets, Snapchat is gaining ground in countries around the world.  This statistic shows that Ireland was the top country for Snapchat users in Q1 2015.  The data has probably changed over the last year, but the global reach of this new app is definitely present and is an important aspect to consider.

How long will it last?  Trying to understand if an app is just a fad, or if it’s in it for the long haul, is hard to determine, especially in the ever-changing world we live in today. Technology has accelerated the ‘latest-and-greatest’ trends out there.  Snapchat has seen success, particularly in the younger crowd, but I don’t think it will attract the masses as its social media sisters- Facebook or Twitter.  However, I wouldn’t consider it a ‘short term trend’ either.  They began in early 2011 and have seen tremendous growth since then. They have a niche, and will continue to grow its user base, but the question is if they can gain traction in other target markets, especially within the older demographic.  I would bet that they do not, unfortunately.

IMG_8507I believe the first step in trying to attract more users is to improve the usability of the app.  I consider myself to be fairly technologically competent, but the app seemed a little ‘wonky’ when I first downloaded and tried to use.   I did enjoy the ease of adding contacts that I already had in my phone, but I did not want to include everyone.  I am not sure if those I did add received a notification or had to approve my connection.

I am still playing with the settings and checking out what features are available.  One area I came across in my initial download, was an ‘Discover’ section.  This is handy because there are many different organizations and IMG_8510brands in which one can share already created “Snaps” with their friends and connections.  This is also helpful from a marketing perspective since I would assume those companies and brands would have access to statistics such as how many shares a “Snap” receives, what content is more popular than others, and how many views each piece has.  I am curious to understand how often companies change different “Snaps” and if they can actually share with their fan base directly.

There are many different aspects of Snapchat that I am interested in learning more about.  I wonder what the process is for these companies to be included in this ‘Discover’ list.  Also, what are options for other (perhaps smaller companies/organizations) to utilize the Snapchat service to gain customers?  Over the next week, I will be evaluating different techniques other companies have explored through the Snapchat platform and hope to gain and understanding of what works and what doesn’t.  I also will dive deeper into each of the companies listed (in ‘Discover’) to see if I can pinpoint any specific trends and maybe a few areas in which the platform or current vendors are lacking.

It will be an interesting experiment to try a new social media platform and explore the marketing aspects and potential.  Overall, I feel I may be a little ‘too old’ to truly fit into the Snapchat crowd, but I don’t see the harm in trying.  And besides, their logo and the little ghost guy is super cute!

Be sure to add me as a friend on Snapchat by searching for @ATXLeslie!

Snapchat

 

 

The Power of LinkedIn

I am a huge fan of LinkedIn and have been using it for years.  In fact, I can thank LinkedIn for helping facilitate my job at VMware.  In December 2011, I was contacted by a recruiter at the software company asking if I would be interested in a new role they were creating in Inside Sales.  I jumped on the opportunity and had an interview and offer a few days later.  Even though that experience is the exception (not the norm), I will always consider LinkedIn as a valuable resource to help further my professional goals.

linkedin 2.4.16

Many things have changed since 2011, and I need to update my profile and details of my experiences to better reflect my true value.  linkedinIn addition, the platform has improved over the years – in both functionality, popularity, and stock price!

One way to improve my profile is to ensure I stay connected with colleagues, classmates, and mentors.  While at VMware, I have built solid relationships with many Sales leaders throughout the company.  I have connected with many Client Executives, Regional Directors, and District Managers throughout the organization, but only have a handful of members of the c-suite among my connections.  To rectify this, I added a few of VMware’s top influences and hope they accept my invitation to connect.  We share many of the same connections, so I believe that will help.

One of the executives I reached out to connect with is Robin Matlock, VMware’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).  I am inspired by her leadership and have seen first hand what she has done to turn around and improve VMware’s marketing presence.  robin matlockHer passion and drive is present in all presentations she makes.  While looking at her background, I was surprised to see she went to Rice University (just down the road in Houston) but didn’t major in Marketing, but rather Economics and Music.  Her experiences over the last 20 years enabled her to land the top marketing job at VMware.

Recently, I was the Project Manager for our team’s virtual booth at Worldwide Sales Kickoff.  Though this project, I was able to connect with several individuals all over the world and facilitate many virtual conversations.  I also was able to connect with a fellow booth owner, who happens to handle a lot of the Social Media activities for VMware.  Even though we do not work in the same office (he is in Palo Alto), I hope to connect with him soon to discuss his thoughts and views on the impact of Social Media Marketing on the company and our customers.

In addition to updating my profile and connections, groups are another great way to further one’s reach through LinkedIn.  You get to interact with different individuals (sometimes all over the world) that may share a common interest.  I am not active on groups as much as much as I should, but I hope that will change soon.  Below are a few groups I decided to join to help expand my knowledge in key areas of my career.

groups2

I am still awaiting approval, but hope to stay active in the 3 groups above.  All 3 are large groups with many different conversations occurring, so I am confident I can find some way to participate and share my perspective.  Also, in regards to Social Media, things are constantly changing, so being part of groups that talk about these changes can help find ways to innovate and adapt to what is happening around us.

LinkedIn is a great professional resources that has changed the dynamic between individuals and their employers.  It also has been instrumental in helping organizations market effectively in the B2B space and allows for another avenue for relationship building.  Are you among my connections?  If not, reach out HERE, and I would love to connect.  Have a wonderful day!

Using this ‘Twitter’ thing…

Hello all!

Social Media keeps changing by the minute.  One area I am not as strong as I’d like to be is in the Twitter space.

twitter-icon I have been on for several years (@ATXLeslie) but don’t use the platform as often as others do- individuals and companies alike.

To help encourage myself to use Twitter more often, I decided to follow 5 individuals/companies that I want to learn from and have included the list below:

  1. Simon Sinek (@simonsinek) – I have been a fan of Simon for several years.  I have read 2 of his books and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.  From the look of it, he doesn’t Tweet that often, but when he does, his messages do get several hundred favorites and retweets.  I have always been drawn to his work and will now add his Twitter site as one I frequent.  It will be interesting to compare his posts from different platforms and see if they correlate or if he has a different strategy for each. His work actually inspired my next choice as well.
  2. TED Talks (@TEDtalks) – One of the first TED Talks I fell in love with was the one that introduced me to Simon.  Since then, I have watched others, but definitely want to add more to my repertoire.  It seems their Social Media Marketing (SMM) strategy is a little different than Simon’s and is more in line with the big brands out there.  They try to post every hour and use a variety of promotions- links, photos, videos, etc.. One thing that I noticed is that they have 7M+ followers, but each post seems to only get a few HUNDRED favorites/retweets.  That makes me think that most of their fan base doesn’t interact with the company through Twitter.  It will be interesting to evaluate how the company uses Social Media in the future.
  3. Forbes (@Forbes) – This account is similar to @TEDtalks in that they post frequently and several times a day, they have a large number of followers (8.21M), and fan interaction is very minimal, since there are a small number (less than 100) favorites/retweets are visible for each post.  I wonder if people aren’t resonating with the content that is being published or if fans are just not connecting with the brand as a whole.  I wonder if Twitter interaction correlates to any other key metrics @Forbes may use such as online subscription rates, number of issues sold, or sponsor dollars spent.
  4. Entrepreneur (@Entrepreneur) – I have always enjoyed the content that Entrepreneur shares on its Facebook page, so I thought I would also follow them on Twitter.  It will be interested to see how the company integrates the 2 different platforms and how much is similar between the 2 sites.  Also, another thing to watch with this account (and the others that I have mentioned) includes what types of posts do THEY retweet on their page.  Are they linked to other companies that they share?  How often do they retweet others’ content, rather than their own?
  5. VMware (@VMware) – I know, I know.. I *have* to follow them because I work there, but there are a few different aspects to @VMware that I am interested in analyzing.  Technically, I have followed them for several years.  Actually, they are the reason I created Twitter in August 2013.  I was attending our company conference – @VMworld – and they encouraged us all to create a screen name to interact with the company, attendees, sponsors, and more.  I occasionally will check out what the company posts or retweet an important post, but my involvement is very minimal.  It seems like @VMware (like many brands/companies/etc.) has many different sub-accounts – @VMworld, @VMwareEvents, @vCloud, @VMwareCareers, @VMwareNews, and more! I understand the need for separate accounts, in some regard, because different segments/events/business units/etc. have different audiences and different content to be shared.  To ensure it hits the right people, I suspect they don’t mind the cannibalization that might occur, but how much is too much?  Is there a strategy established to link different accounts or posts?  How much cross referencing occurs?  When is the decision made to create a new, sub-account?

Do you Tweet?  If so, follow me at @ATXLeslie and share your thoughts about Twitter, send me recommended individuals/companies I should check out, or just to stop by and say hello!  Have a wonderful day!

Twitter-tweet

Who is Leslie Gerik Nelson?…

Hello everyone!  Thanks for stopping by!

For my first blog post, I wanted to share the results of a quick experiment.  Have you googled your name before?  Let’s be honest… everyone has at one time or another.  There is a plethora of information on the interwebs- but how much is actually true or relates to yourself?  I took my questions to Google to see what I could find…

I first tried checking out what came up with my married name – “Leslie Nelson” and the search resulted in almost 37 million results! This combination and name is fairly common, so links on the 1st page weren’t mine!  Also, the actor Leslie Nielsen, dominated the results (as you can see below).  This isn’t too surprising since people call me “Leslie Nielsen” fairly often by mistake.

Leslie Nelson_edited google 1.21.16

Next up – searching “Leslie Gerik Nelson” (my full name).  I was feeling more confident in this search, since my maiden name is pretty unique, and I don’t think there are any other Leslie Gerik’s in the world.

My, my, my… What do we have here?  All the results (on the front page at least) were mine.  I didn’t have the time (or patience) to go through all 10,700 results to 100% verify – but it’s hard to imagine there are that many dealing with little ‘ole me.  To further validate the results, I decided to search with ” ” around my name (so that it would search the phrase as a whole, rather than the terms individually), and the total results equaled about 1,510 – a more believable number.

Even my new website (the one hosting this blog) made it on the list.  SCORE!  I would imagine that it will improve its rank once I start using the site more often (goal #1).  I was a little surprised to see an ancestry.com post on my front page of results.  Another goal I have would be to include my LinkedIn profile on the front page of results (goal #2). I hope to improve the results (as a whole) and have my main social media profiles and efforts rank higher on the list (goal #3).

Leslie Gerik Nelson edited google 1.21.16

An interesting experiment indeed!  I encourage everyone to do the same and see what you will find… the results may end up shocking you!  Have a wonderful day! ~Leslie