Social Media: Future Implications

5-Top-Trends-in-Social-Media-2016.pngSocial media is changing constantly.  How can brands keep up? And what future implications does an ever-changing environment have on an existing marketing strategies?

Best Practices for Brands to Stay Current in Social Media:

  • Follow reputable social media blogs such as Mashable, Hubspot, and Social Media Examiner.
  • The best way to consistently be successful in social media is to measure everything you do. What works for your company may not work for another.  By measuring your social media campaigns, you can analyze your return on investment and adjust for future strategy.
  • Use the platforms that match your target market. If you are trying to reach Millennials- Instagram may be a better social media platform than Facebook.
  • Don’t get to hung up on the “shiny new object” phenomenon. There are hundreds of social media platforms, monitoring and measurement tools.  Don’t feel like you need to try all of them.  Focus on a few that are best for your target market and business objectives.  Master and Measure.
  • Your social media strategy should align with your overall brand/marketing strategy. The stronger your brand strategy is, the bigger impact social media will have on your business.

What is driving social media changes? Behavior, technology or a combination of both?

Younger generations such as the Millennials are driving change in social media in terms of how they want their content, what kind of content they respond to and what platforms they are using.  Now that Millennials are in the workforce, this is making a big impact the social media strategies they create for their brand/company.  According to Magisto Research, Millennials spend more than 58% of their marketing budget on social media, 41% of mobile media and 88% on video digital advertising.  In fact, for the first time, 2016 is the first year in history that digital advertising surpassed TV spending.  Wow!


The Millennial Generation, both as consumers and developers, are defining what the future of social media technology and marketing will hold.  Social media is no longer an extension of marketing but the driver of overall marketing strategy.

Follow my blog for more marketing tips and find me on Twitter at @Sara_Given


Viral Marketing Initiatives

Want to make a marketing campaign go viral?

Start with emotions.  Campaigns that go viral really resonate with people, whether it makes people laugh, cry or inspire, they all tug on your emotions.  From the ALS “Bucket Challenge” to Misty Copelands “I Will What I Want” for Under Armor, these campaigns touched us.  Keep the message simple, sincere and relatable.

customer-profile-cut.jpgUnderstand your target audience. Do your research and challenge any assumptions you may have about who your audience is.  What interests them? What content engages them? How are your competitors reaching them?  Once you answer these questions and define who they are, creating content that engages them will be much easier.  Don’t try to appeal to everyone; really focus on who your brand wants to reach.  (image)

Make your campaign shareable and allow UGC (user generated content).  In order for campaigns to go viral, they need to be easily shareable.  It may seem obvious but many well-thought out marketing campaigns are missing this or only have a share function on one platform, such as Facebook and miss out on YouTube, Instagram, etc.  People want to engage and feel like they are part of a story.  A great example of this in 2016 was Disney’s #ShareYourEars campaign.  Disney partnered with the Make-A-Wish foundation to raise awareness for terminally ill children.  The campaign asked people to post photos of themselves in Mickey Mouse ears.  Disney donated $5 for every photo posted.  This campaign was fun, heartfelt, and all based around UGC.  The campaign went viral and raised over $2 million to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Be Daring. Even if for a company whose business objective is to increase sales, thinking outside the box is good thing.  Dove is for profit company and one of the largest health and beauty companies in the US. For many years, they ran run of the mill marketing campaigns and their sales plateaued.  They hired an outside ad agency who rebranded Dove to be the beauty company for all women.  They have had numerous viral marketing campaigns over recent years.  All of them are creative, touch on emotions, have a daring message and little promotional material.  Their biggest successes include, “Real Beauty campaign”, “Choose Beautiful”, “Real Beauty Sketches” and “Love Your Curls”.  The “Love Your Curls” campaign is a personal favorite and one that I shared with my curly hair daughter.  These campaigns stood out from their competitors by challenging ourselves and society to redefine beauty.

Finding ShelterDon’t Be Too Promotional.  Of course, your company’s objective in creating a marketing campaign is to increase sales, brand awareness, and donations.  If a marketing campaign is successful, sales will follow and you can determine your ROI (return on investment).  But the focus should be on the message you want to leave your audience with.  A current author I work with is a photographer who started a Kickstarter campaign to photograph and interview volunteers at rescue animal shelters.  This turned into a book called Finding Shelter that profiles how the volunteers were able to mend their own emotional hurts with the love the shelter animals gave back to them.  The combination of these heartfelt stories and beautiful photography are powerful.  Together we created the idea to use social media shareables from the book with the hashtag #WeAllNeedShelter. These shareables are touching, thought provoking and don’t have any promotional material in the content, with only a link to buy the book in the comments.

Go Viral! Have fun! Follow my blog for more marketing tips and find me on Twitter at @Sara_Given

Differentiation: How two non-profits compare in their social media strategy

Two of the largest non-profits in the pet industry are The Petfinder Foundation and the ASPCA.  The ASPCA is not for profit association whose mission is to prevent cruelty to animals in the U.S.  The Petfinder Foundation is also a not for profit with a mission to help animal shelters and rescues in North American save animals lives. Both organizations have a strong social media presence and use various platforms to help spread their message, outreach, and organization initiatives.

14463136_10153966176241452_1169597109201196744_nThe Petfinder Foundation is active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  They are most active and successful on Facebook with over 76,000 followers. On Twitter, they have over 3,000 followers and on YouTube 1,700 subscribers, their most popular video has 2,000 views.  On social media, The Petfinder Foundation posts mostly about donations it gives to rescue organizations and heartwarming success stories of rescued pets.  Their posts tag many other shelters and rescues and use many photos of animals to engage their followers.   They also include information about events and how people can help but that is not the focus of their social media strategy.  They have an engaged audience by sharing positive stories, photos and expand their reach by tagging other organizations they help.

ASPCA is active on the same social media channels as The Petfinder Foundation with the inclusion of Instagram.  Although they are both active, their strategy, posts and engagement with their community is different.  ASPCA uses Facebook (1.6 million followers) similarly to Petfinder, with much of its posts positive photos and stories about its impact in the animal community.  Much of ASPCA’s posts on YouTube however vividly show animal cruelty in powerful videos.  While the videos may be hard for some to watch, their strategy works, with their most popular video viewed more than 2 million times. On Twitter, the ASPCA shares stories but also includes many Tweets about policy and politics involving animal welfare.  The ASPCA shares information on farm animals and how food in the U.S. is made, as seen in this video on their YouTube channel.

The ASPCA’s mission is to not only inform consumers about animal cruelty but to put pressure on the government for better policies and regulations.

While both organizations use social media to engage with their community, they differ greatly in their objectives for each platform.  Both mainly use Facebook to engage with their followers by sharing success stories.  ASPCA uses YouTube and Twitter to inform the public using a journalistic approach about animal cruelty and public policy. ASPCA’s social media strategy has been very effective in doing so.  Likewise, The Petfinder Foundation has raised over 20 million, using social media to promote shelter/rescue awareness for pet adoption.

Social Media and Entertainment: Friend or Foe?



According to GlobalWebIndex, 6 out of 10 people are using social media for entertainment purposes.  Whether it’s to follow their favorite actors/actresses, share info about a show, or discover new music, the correlation between entertainment and social media is undeniable. For the entertainment industry, discoverability is key, and social media is the #1 way consumers discover. Not only do consumers discover their new favorite show organically (from friends, etc.) but studios are using highly targeted social media advertising to reach their fan base. Entertainment companies can target their market, build hype and entertain fans with engaging content.  Entertainment consumers are more likely to engage with social media in real time than any other consumer.  In fact, according to an article from Brian Solis

  • 79% of television viewers visit Facebook while watching TV
  • 83% surf the web while viewing TV
  • 41% tweet about the show they’re watching
  • An average of 23% have posted about what they’re watching in theaters on Facebook and Twitter

That’s a whole lot of engagement!


piracystickmanThere is no doubt that the internet and social media have negatively impacted the entertainment industry in regards to piracy, copyright infringement, and illegal content sharing.  While some consumers may enjoy “free” content, there is a domino effect in doing so.  Less consumers are going to movie theaters and buying music. Networks, movie studios, musicians and artists lose revenue, and in doing so they may need to make changes.  Such changes could be producing less content, making cutbacks in staff, pay decreases.  While you may think, “well all of those people make so much money anyway”, but this isn’t always the case.  There are many people in the entertainment industry who make average salaries…and cutbacks filter down to everyone.  According to an article by The Guardian, “Free riding is considered an economic problem for a reason. Over the long-term, media companies starved of revenue won’t be able to invest as much in artists”. Subscription services are helping alleviate the fallout from piracy which includes such companies as Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes.

Entertainment companies and artists will need to continue to adapt to find ways to make consumers happy and generate revenue in order to continue to create the content that we all crave.

Follow my blog and Twitter at @Sara_Given for more info on Social Media Marketing.

Social Media for Authors, Part Two

social-media-authorsSocial Media for Authors, Part Two

So after reading Social Media for Authors, Part One, you got started.  You know who your readers are and have figured out what social media channels are the best to reach them.  Hopefully you are becoming more familiar with the platforms, building your audience and following those influencers in your area of expertise.  Hooray- you have taken the hardest step towards building your brand.  One of the most crucial steps of creating long-term book sales is generating online reviews.  The two largest websites for book reviews are Amazon and Goodreads.

In 2013, Amazon bought Goodreads in order to connect more readers with the books they want to buy.  You can read more about this acquisition here.  Goodreads has more or less stayed the same book-loving, sharing community it has always been.  But make no mistake, Goodreads is a powerful community of over 16 million readers from across the world.  Essentially, it is the Facebook of the book community.  If you are an author, you need to have a presence on this site.  I recommend you start by building up your Goodreads author profile– add your interests, videos, photos, books you are reading, upcoming book signings— and start engaging with your audience.  You can even create a book giveaway while really helps connect to power readers of your genre and build those much-needed reviews.

When it comes to book retailers- Amazon is king.  Amazon owns more than 65% of all books sold, including print and eBook, according to The Atlantic. The first thing an author should do is sign up with Amazon Author Central.  Amazon provides a place where authors can share information with their readers, track their book sales, upload videos, Q&A’s, events, and list your blog and social media info.  While Amazon’s algorithm is complex, there is no doubt that book reviews and verified purchases greatly impact a books’ ranking.  It cannot be stressed enough how impactful it is to try to get as many verified reviews for your book on Amazon as you can.  Much of this can be achieved by asking your fan base via social media to write a review, sending out free copies to power readers/influencers, etc.  Amazon also has many promotional paid services such as: sending out galleys (advanced copies) to Vine consumers, Kindle promotions and advertising options.

Blog Tours
You are an expert in your field and you have something to say.  You have identified other like-minded bloggers and influencers by following them on social media.  Great! The next step is to write out several different content ideas and reach out to these sites to see if they would be interested in having you guest post.  By guest blogging, you are reaching more possible book buyers and expanding your reach.  When you guest post, you can add a byline such as “Sam Smith, author of How to Start a Home-Based Business” with a link to your book or website.  Many bloggers are happy to have valuable, evergreen content to share to their followers and conversly you will build your fan base, drive book sales, reviews, and increase SEO from link-building.  You should also pay close attention to comments on these posts—you can learn a lot by listening to your audience and you never know- a new book idea may even come from it.

I will cover paid social media marketing and more promotional tools in the next blog post—Stay Tuned!

Follow my blog and Twitter at @Sara_Given for more info on Social Media Marketing.

Social Media for Authors

Education concept. Bookshelf with books as like symbol. 3d

Social Media for Authors

Part One

Social Media is a must for authors.  Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, are self-published or have a publisher, authors across all categories, need social media to let people know about their book.  With fewer book retailers, the discoverability of a book depends more and more from influencers online.  I am the Marketing Manager of a medium-sized publisher and I see every day how much building a social media buzz around a book can directly impact sales.  In fact, according to Digital Book World, more than 35% of all books are discovered from social media, and more than 40% from word of mouth (which much of that most likely originated online)

Top Benefits for Authors to Use Social Media

  • Build buzz about your book
  • Follow influencers
  • Establish your brand and personal reputationproxy
  • Pitch your book in a more human, interactive way
  • Listen to customer feedback
  • Showcase your talents and establish yourself as an expert
  • Know your competition
  • Build your business contacts with those in the industry
  • Build reviews of your book- i.e.- Amazon and Goodreads

How to Get Started

It may seem daunting at first, especially for a new author.  The first question to ask yourself is—who is your audience? Using that information, you can do some research to figure out which social media channels they use frequently.

Twitter profile: for everyone, and a great way to follow other authors, influencers, and those in the book world

Blog: if you are really committed to building your brand, especially in non-fiction, blogging regularly can help you build a fan base

Instagram: with an engaged audience of 400 million— if you have visual aspects to your book, you cannot get better than this platform.

Pinterest: If you publish in an enthusiast category, this platform can help you reach those who are passionate about a specific interest.  Pinterest also has many book specific boards such as Book Riot, Goodreads, Book Community Board, and many more!

Facebook– You can create a Facebook page that not only can help you promote your book, but build your brand and in turn be a central place for future books, articles, publicity, etc.  Facebook also has great targeted advertising tools which I will give details about in Social Media for Authors: Part Two.

YouTube: This is an amazing platform for authors that are writing about a visual experience or a how-to. Not only do videos make a lasting impression but YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine- Hello SEO (more on this later)!

There is much more to the why to and how to of social media for authors.  In the next blog post, I will discuss in more detail:

  • Book specific social websites like Goodreads
  • How to utilize Amazon
  • Blog Tours
  • Paid social media marketing
  • Promotional tools for authors

Follow my blog and Twitter at @Sara_Given for more info on Social Media Marketing.

Social Media and Non-Profits- A Perfect Match


Social media for non-profits

Non-profits need financial donation to survive.  Before the web, non-profits would mainly raise money by holding fundraising events, telemarketing possible donors and marketing through snail mail.  Social media has changed that.  The use of social media has created high impact and relatively low-cost opportunities for non-profits.  Many non-profit companies have embraced social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and even Snapchat.

How Social Media Can Help

  1. Engage communities
  2. Increase awareness about their mission
  3. Obtain new donors
  4. Positively impact society


140819-ice-bucket-challenge-1949_899e03e1c58b45b56812f96bc79680a6In 2014, The ALS Association started a social media campaign called the “Ice Bucket Challenge”. The social media campaign went viral world-wide on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  More than 28 million people participated in the “Ice Bucket Challenge” on Facebook (comments and likes), including over 17 million videos. 4.4 million tweets included the hashtag #Icebucketchallenge. YouTube had more than a billion views from Ice Bucket challenges. According to CBS This Morning, the social media campaign raised over $114 million for the ALS Association in two months.

How To Get Started

Social media is a very powerful platform and I believe all non-profits should be using these highly engaged marketing tools.  It’s fairly easy to get started by creating a Facebook page or Instagram account.  First companies should understand their target market and choose the social media platform (s) that make the most sense.  Like any other company, it’s important to integrate social media with your overall marketing strategy.  There are various online learning seminars and even conferences that can help non-profits understand how to build, execute and analyze how social media can work for them.  One in particular, Social Media for Non Profits, is a great organization that offers online learning, conferences, consulting and a community.

Follow my blog and Twitter at @Sara_Given for more info on Social Media Marketing.

Must Have Tools in Social Media Marketing: Hootsuite vs Sprout Social

hootsuiteThe first must have tool if you use social media marketing is Hootsuite.  By far and away, Hootsuite is the most useful platform to keep all of your social media accounts organized, to schedule posts, and to monitor those who interact with you.  According to, over 10 million people use Hootsuite including some of the biggest brands in the world such as IBM, Gap, Tiffany&Co, and Ebay.

Hootsuite allows you to organize all of our social media platforms including:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Instagram
  • WordPress blog and more

In this single platform, you can:

  • Write and schedule your posts
  • Publish your posts to your accounts- any or all of them
  • Monitor what people are saying about you
  • Reply directly to your followers
  • Have multiple logins under one account
  • Easy access from a desktop or mobile app
  • Access analytics that give you weekly likes, mentions, clicks and most popular posts

Here is a snapshot of what my Hootsuite dashboard looks like.  It may look a little daunting but trust me, after a little practice, it will soon become your social media go-to and organizational calendar.

2016-09-01 20_46_42-Program Manager

Hootsuite has a number of different pricing packages that work for both individuals and businesses.  There are plans that are free, and Pro starting at $9.99 and go up in price depending on how many users needed to access one account.  People can sign up for the free account and link up to three accounts.  For all the organization lovers (like me) out there- Hootsuite is for you!

Sprout Social integrates all the social media platforms Hootsuite does and has many of the same features including:

  • organizational abilities
  • monitoring
  • publishing and scheduling
  • multiple accounts

Sprout Social has great usability and a really easy interface to use.  For social media newbie’s- this a superior platform to use.  The downside is their price point is higher than Hootsuite, at $99.00 a month.  For agencies looking to manage clients’ social media, Sprout Social is the way to go.  They offer a scalable platform that allows an agency to manage hundreds of accounts.  Sprout Social also offers an account management team that can assist with training and support 24/7.  This platform also has a robust analytics capability that allows a user to track engagement, hashtags, influencers, keywords and integrates Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Twitter Reports, and Instagram Analytics.  You can also create custom reports in analytics to share with people in your organization or clients.

Here is what the dashboard in Sprout Social analytics looks like:


Choosing to use Hootsuite or Sprout Social really depends on the user’s needs.  Some users may even use both.  I use Hootsuite for both my personal use and for the company I work for but- I don’t have that many accounts to manage and have limited budget.  If I had more accounts and a bigger budget, I would most likely try out Sprout Social- the custom analytics tool looks amazing! Follow my blog and Twitter at @Sara_Given for more info on Social Media Marketing.