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SOCIAL-MEDIA-MARKETING-TIPS-2016-ST LOUIS SOCIAL MEDIA CONSULTANT

A Quick Tip for Deeper Social Media Connections

Social Media Marketing Tips 2016If you follow me on Twitter (@STLDanni), you’ll see me tweet out every random question that pops into my head. I love the collective knowledge available when you tap into this social network. Twitter, above all others, has a very active, motivated, intelligent group of people. You just have to get to know them.

Asking quick questions and getting recommendations or help will deepen your connections on Twitter, and can open you or your business up to new business and new partnerships.

I also do this because I love to learn from others and firmly believe that you get what you ask for. It almost never hurts to ask questions. It’s not likely to damage your reputation by showing that you don’t know it all – and it can certainly show others that you’re willing to learn, and want to know the latest and the best.
The same is true for your brand. Your brand has a personality – and it likely has needs – whether it’s event parters, sponsors, volunteers, a referral, or help troubleshooting a problem for a customer or client.
The results have always been phenomenal when I’ve reached out to the Twitterverse on behalf of a brand. When planning Garbage Bag Gala for The Salvation Army, I tweeted out from Salvation Army seeking recommendations on potential partners for the upcoming event and the result was THOUSANDS of dollars of in-kind partnerships and donations.

Engaging in a back and forth – real conversation – on behalf of your brand is an absolute must. Try it this week.

-Danni

The view from here: Building a career on Twitter

social media consultant st louis

This week, I reached a milestone in the Twitterverse, achieving 10,000 followers. Had you asked me just a handful of years ago if I would’ve anticipated reaching that particular milestone, the answer would’ve been a flat “no.” As a reluctant but gifted writer (by genetic predisposition), written expression has never been a challenge for me, but the idea of self-promotion always has.

Even as a leader and early adopter on the forefront of social media and marketing, I waited as long as I could to focus on my own social reach. I was working to build the reach of brands long before I gave in to the idea of building my own.

It seems like every time that I lead a social media class for entrepreneurs, someone inevitably says something along the lines of “No one cares what I had for breakfast.” I felt the same way.

However, if there was one piece of advice that I could give to new marketers coming out of school, and which I intend to fully ingrain in my students at UMSL, it would be that you should build your own network first, whenever possible – and that it’s never too late to start. Having an engaged audience – and BEING an engaged audience member yourself – will always make you a better marketer.

When social media doesn’t work for a brand or an individual, I see a lot of frustration and, sometimes even hostility from business owners, who put the onus of their failures on changing technology. When I see this, I always ask them the same thing, “Will anyone else ever care more about your business than you?”

The answer, of course, is a resounding “no.”

My follow-up question is “How will you make anyone care at all, if they don’t know how much you care?”

To that end, I would say the same to marketers. Ideally, you should be passionate about the projects you’re taking on, and those that you’re lending your talents to. If you are passionate about those projects, and they align with your personal values, then the occasional share on your social network, would be a boon to your efforts. That being said, I would never recommend becoming a human billboard for any brand willing to pay. You have to exercise prudence, and use sparingly.

Of course, social media is not the only way you can share your passion for your business, but it certainly is becoming the most common way outside of face-to-face communication.

So, as I look back on my personal journey on social media, I see that the more engaged I became, the more my impressions and reach grew – the stronger my personal brand became, and the more things I was able to do for myself and for those I wanted to help. Not too unexpected, right? I preach that to my clients often about their brands, but I wanted to share a snapshot so that you can see the reach that is possible if you grow a targeted base of followers.

Twitter Analytics

st-louis-social-media-consultant-danni-eickenhorstThe people I’ve connected with through Twitter in particular are like no others. They’re intelligent, motivated, engaged and they want to make a difference. You can’t go wrong by connecting with these folks. They’ve had an incredible impact on my life both personally and professionally.

I would say to marketers and managers and business owners alike that you should lead by example. Don’t make noise just to make noise. Share information when it is worth sharing, give of yourself and your knowledge, and be willing to stand behind the products, projects and brands that you are helping to grow.

You don’t have to live your life as loudly as I do, but if you speak up, I promise, great things will happen. Just find your own voice.

Below are a few of my favorite events and projects that are a direct result of my involvement with social media. My love and thanks to everyone that has shaped my professional and personal experience through these and so many others.

danni-eickenhorst-salvation-army

As the Public Information Officer (PIO) for The Salvation Army following the tornado in Joplin, I was able to help the nonprofit learn how to utilize social media to coordinate national media, to stimulate donations and support, and to coordinate on-the-ground relief to individuals in need at a time when many other communications channels were overloaded or failing.

At #TweetTheMostGood, we packed the rooftop of the Moonrise Hotel in support of the Salvation Army, and provided busy professionals with ways to give back. In addition to money and food donations achieved, the Salvation Army's name and mission trended on Twitter reaching more than 230,000 people through the social activity generated by the 125 or so attending this event.

At #TweetTheMostGood, we packed the rooftop of the Moonrise Hotel in support of the Salvation Army, and provided busy professionals with ways to give back. In addition to money and food donations achieved, the Salvation Army’s name and mission trended on Twitter reaching more than 230,000 people through the social activity generated by the 125 or so attending this event.

At #TweetTheMostGood, we packed the rooftop of the Moonrise Hotel in support of the Salvation Army, and provided busy professionals with ways to give back. In addition to money and food donations achieved, the Salvation Army's name and mission trended on Twitter reaching more than 230,000 people through the social activity generated by the 125 or so attending this event.

At #TweetTheMostGood, we packed the rooftop of the Moonrise Hotel in support of the Salvation Army, and provided busy professionals with ways to give back. In addition to money and food donations achieved, the Salvation Army’s name and mission trended on Twitter reaching more than 230,000 people through the social activity generated by the 125 or so attending this event.

In November 2014, 20 hours of my time were donated to help I Love Ferguson, a volunteer-led organization working to help the battered community recover. Through social and traditional media efforts, we were able to achieve national media coverage, to raise more than $40,000.00 in one week and to donate more than $100,000.00 to recovering businesses in the community. It was truly an honor to work with this great group of engaged citizens.

In November 2014, 20 hours of my time were donated to help I Love Ferguson, a volunteer-led organization working to help the battered community recover. Through social and traditional media efforts, we were able to achieve national media coverage, to raise more than $40,000.00 in one week and to donate more than $100,000.00 to recovering businesses in the community. It was truly an honor to work with this great group of engaged citizens.

In January 2014, I received an award from Governor Nixon for my contributions to the social media strategy for 100 Missouri Miles - an online initiative to get Missourians to get explore the great outdoors in their own state. More than 1,000,000 miles were logged through #100MoMiles and the online platform to support it in 2013.

In January 2014, I received an award from Governor Nixon for my contributions to the social media strategy for 100 Missouri Miles – an online initiative to get Missourians to get explore the great outdoors in their own state. More than 1,000,000 miles were logged through #100MoMiles and the online platform to support it in 2013.

stlsocialgood

Social Media Club’s #STLSocialGood Conference provided marketing professionals – particularly those interested in bolstering causes for nonprofits or other organizations – to get hands-on training in how to use social media for their benefit. The half-day conference included a number of presenters and panels, and boasted more than 200 attendees at the Danforth Center.

Through partnerships with local community leaders and businesses such as Strange Donuts, we were able to crowdfund $15,000.00 to help Steve Ewing expand his restaurant chain Steve's Hot Dogs to a second location in Tower Grove.

Through partnerships with local community leaders and businesses such as Strange Donuts, we were able to crowdfund $15,000.00 to help Steve Ewing expand his restaurant chain Steve’s Hot Dogs to a second location in Tower Grove.

Live broadcasting of CityArchRiver groundbreaking event, which trended on Twitter, allowing the public to be a part of the historic event, regardless of whether they could attend. Many of the participants and vendors were sourced through social media interactions as well.

Live broadcasting of CityArchRiver groundbreaking event, which trended on Twitter, allowing the public to be a part of the historic event, regardless of whether they could attend. Many of the participants and vendors were sourced through social media interactions as well.

In 2013, we launched the #CarFreeSTL challenge where blogger (and friend) Jess Leitch ditched her car for 30 days and shared her experience in order to highlight the connectivity available in the St. Louis region through trails, bike paths and Metro.

In 2013, we launched the #CarFreeSTL challenge where blogger (and friend) Jess Leitch ditched her car for 30 days and shared her experience in order to highlight the connectivity available in the St. Louis region through trails, bike paths and Metro.

In the summer of 2014, I helped Centerco Office Suites launch a coworking and community space, which has helped the Creve Coeur office build a strong community of entrepreneurs - which, at times, boasts a waiting list to join!

In the summer of 2014, I helped Centerco Office Suites launch a coworking and community space, which has helped the Creve Coeur office build a strong community of entrepreneurs – which, at times, boasts a waiting list to join!

Following the death of Robin Williams, a small group of us pulled together a social media-promoted movie marathon and awareness-raising event that helped shed light on mental illness. We raised funds for Mental Health St. Louis, and were supported by the always-incredible folks at Luna Lounge, who graciously hosted our group for the event.

Following the death of Robin Williams, a small group of us pulled together a social media-promoted movie marathon and awareness-raising event that helped shed light on mental illness. We raised funds for Mental Health St. Louis, and were supported by the always-incredible folks at Luna Lounge, who graciously hosted our group for the event.

 

 

Free Restaurant Advertising: Social Media Engagement

Photo of Ed Aller Design by Monica Mileur.

Photo of Ed Aller Design by Monica Mileur.

Restaurants can’t afford to miss out on the value of customer social media engagement. Having a strong social media presence can expand your reach beyond your neighborhood, while keeping your customers in mind when developing your social media strategy will build customer loyalty. Utilizing the following practices across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will increase awareness of your business, generate social media engagement, and attract customers.

Increase Visibility

Use a combination of trending and niche hashtags to increase the visibility of your online content and, ultimately, awareness of your restaurant. For example, if local business Strange Donuts is hosting #strangedonutday to celebrate #nationaldonutday, include both hashtags in your post to increase the visibility of your content like food enthusiast, Chowchief. If your expertise is #craftbeer and your region also uses #stlcraftbeer, always use both hashtags like Urban Chestnut Brewing Company. Pizzeoli incorporates hashtags for the style of pizza they offer in order to increase visibility beyond St. Louis, in addition to event-specific hashtags such as #stlcraftbeerweek to promote a beer and pizza pairing at their restaurant as a part of the week’s festivities.

Hashtags

Increase Social Media Engagement

Social media interactions help to sustain the relationships customers build with your restaurant. Executing a presence creatively can increase the impact of your content and even attract first-time customers.

Start conversations with your content. Using captions that encourage discussion and responding attentively to comments will promote traffic as well as loyalty. Additionally, regramming customer photos helps to promote your restaurant. It’s flattering for the customer and it communicates what that customer enjoys about your restaurant through his or her own unique Riseperspective. Conducting contests can boost event attendance or promote your business. For example, Rise Coffeehouse encouraged customers to post photos of their coffee using #rise2000 for a chance to win a $10 gift certificate.

Show Your Good Side

Behind-the-scenes photos and employee images rank well on social media platforms because they allow customers to get to know a company, which ultimately builds loyalty. Presenting a balanced gallery of product- and people-focused images provides a clearer and more engaging sense of the welcoming energy behind all of the parts and pieces that combine to create your business.While dynamic branded content generates more followers, informal content makes new and existing customers feel more invested.

For example, posting employee bios will allow your customers to get to know the faces that represent your business while menu spotlights will showcase new food and drink items. Captivating images paired with detailed explanations will make the menu more accessible for all levels of familiarity with your restaurant. Both options also serve as a great opportunity to display the atmosphere of your restaurant, depending on how you stage the shot.

Ultimately, social media followers should be able to gain a sense of what a restaurant is like from their social media presence. How a restaurant presents itself on social media should be in sync with the experience customers have when visiting in person.

St. Charles Marketing Resources

 

Although Blank Page Consulting is located in Creve Coeur, the company has put together a list of marketing resources for businesses in St. Charles, MO to extend their reach and ultimately generate more publicity and leads. Not all of these marketing mediums are created equal, but depending on your business, it could be the right choice for you.

Networking Opportunities

Greater St. Charles County Chamber of Commerce launched a Chamber Social Network to document and deliver more leads to members, in addition to facilitating communication between members. Chamber members also receive free advertising incentives to send leads or post their own needs within the network.

Social Media Club was founded in 2006 and the St. Charles Chapter (SMCTC) welcomes individuals and organizations interested in collaborating in order to promote media literacy. Journalists, educators, and media users from all backgrounds come together to discuss the direction of modern media and how each industry may benefit from its growth. Find SMCTC on Facebook or Twitter for information on upcoming events, including happy hours and panel discussions.

Hyper Local Media

Patch.com benefits local business in under served media markets. The hyper local online paper provides bloggers and businesses with a free medium for showcasing stories, job openings, press releases and events. Low-cost on-site advertising options are also available.

Local Print and Mail Media

Newsmagazine Network consists of two local publications serving West St. Louis and St. Charles with a direct-mail circulation of more than 131,000 households. Advertisements have the most prominent position on every page, which ensures that content reaches readers. Additional content is available on westnewsmagazine.com, Facebook and Twitter.

Money Mailer is a low-cost direct mail option well suited for local shops, retail and restaurants. Coupons are also available online and via a Money Mailer Coupons app. Contact Money Mailer for pricing and recommendations to use in your next campaign.

MarketVolt is a global leader in email marketing that aims to help businesses streamline operations and increase revenue. Learn more about how email marketing strategies and other interactive technologies can help your business here.

Promotional Products

HALO Branded Solutions caters to your needs, big or small. Experienced branding advice combined with a wide variety of product options will guarantee that your unique message reaches your audience effectively and yields results. Call 314-272-0246 to discuss your promotional options or browse the products available on their website. Products are even categorized by type as well as specific features such as Eco-Friendly or Made in the USA in order to ensure that products are in line with your company’s mission.

Instant Imprints offers a wide variety of products to complete your outreach efforts, including apparel, embroidery, print materials, signage and promotional items. This locally owned and operated company has an extensive showroom in St. Charles that displays its products so you can fully grasp the look and feel of the final product.

instant-imprints-stl

Twitter profiles now rank #1 in mobile search for active Twitter users and influencers.

Google & Twitter: Reunited & Affecting Your SEO

By Taylor Bartley

Twitter profiles now rank #1 in mobile search for active Twitter users and influencers.Twitter and Google are working together again! Google has started indexing tweets in real time, meaning that your latest tweet will show live in any searches – currently on mobile, ultimately everywhere – as soon as it’s tweeted.

You may have heard the news a few months back that Twitter and Google decided to work together once again after their “breakup” in 2011. To give you the short story, back in 2009, Twitter gave Google full access to their to their tweets (which many call the “firehose”). In 2011, this agreement ended after Twitter’s COO stated that he wanted the company to have more control over their content. Now, after four years, Twitter has put the offer back on the table for many reasons, a main factor being that they realize how much the search engine can enhance the Twitter experience for users who are logged out.

What this means for businesses

When two colossal companies begin to work with one another, it takes time to iron out the details. This deal was made a few months back, and everyone knew that it would take time for everything to fall into place. Now, more than ever, you should be preparing your business’ Twitter account because it can affect your SEO in great ways. Once Google gets its algorithm in place for real time tweet searching, the amount of your tweets Google indexes will undoubtedly increase… as long as you know what Google is looking for.

Tips to increase your SEO via Twitter

Experts speculate that the more tweets indexed by Google, the more traffic will result – especially for active Twitter users and influencers. Those who spend time building their Twitter presence will be rewarded with higher search visibility. The larger a Twitterer’s audience and influence, the more likely you are to have a higher index rate for your tweets.

A few areas to focus on in order to build your Twitter influence are:

  • Twitter ads: Consider promoting posts and profile to build followers and interest for your brand.
  • Influencers: Twitter is an amazing place to connect with influencers and industry professionals, who can help push your content and profile.
  • Hashtags: Harness the power of hashtags to get your content seen by more interested people.
  • Quality Content: Create content intended on engagement with your audience – relevant, interesting, timely – the kind of content that invites shares, comments and retweets.

We suggest taking a look at your own clout or “klout” by going to klout.com. This site allows your to connect all of your social media channels to see how influential you are in your field. This is also a great tool to search and identify influencers. Your klout score is certainly something you do not have to live by, but it is good to check in from time to time in order to see how you are doing. Did we mention you also get perks from other businesses that see you as an influencer in their industry?

Now you need to know what other specific things Google is looking for when indexing a tweet. Not all of your tweets need to follow these rules, but make sure that important tweets have these attributes.

  • Strong images – be sure that your image fits the preview box Twitter gives, so people are more likely to click on it and engage. Images are known to be engaging, so take advantage of this. Using sites such as canva allow you to create a powerful image with the dimensions already laid out for you!
  • Hashtags – including popular industry hashtags will not only increase engagement, but will help in getting noticed by Google as well.
  • Strong links – if you are linking to something in your tweet, make sure the link is a source that has a large following and viewership. The weaker the links you refer to in your tweets, the less likely Google will index.
  • Length: Some studies claim that 100 characters is your ideal length for a tweet, while others say that longer tweets result in more engagement. Experiment with your content format to see what works for YOUR audience, and then implement your own best practices.

For more specifics on this deal, check out this helpful FAQ. If you need to ramp up your Twitter presence and need assistance, give us a call at 314-300-6675 for a free consultation.

twitter-for-business-simplified-social-media-strategy

Twitter for Business, Simplified

By Danni Eickenhorst, President & Marketing Consultant

Several times a month, I run into business owners who have heard that Twitter is a powerful tool for them to harness, but who have chosen not to try it out for a variety of reasons. The most common? They’re intimidated. It’s confusing.

While I remember feeling that way the first time I tried to use Twitter, it truly couldn’t be farther from the truth – if you look at it just a little bit differently.

Below, we’ve provided some hints and steps that you can take to begin to find a comfort level with this powerful platform. This is a very cursory level introduction, and at the end, we provide our Easy Twitter Start Checklist. For more detailed, higher-level strategy, schedule a one-on-one consultation with our team, follow this blog or attend an upcoming social school class.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is simplicity. It is a continuous conversation in a global room full of people in short bursts. Done correctly, it may be the most powerful tool in your arsenal.

It is a social network where people share “microblogs” or status updates of 140 characters or less. People who follow you or who search for a particular keyword you may have tweeted about, will see your status updates. Anyone who views your profile may see your status updates. Twitter differs from Facebook both in the length of your updates and in that the community available to you through Twitter is very motivated, outspoken and powerful. They are willing to share value when it’s provided, so consider that as you begin crafting your updates. This group is more likely to show up, share, advocate, purchase and engage with your brand than most others, and therefore, provides a unique opportunity for many businesses and individuals.

At first glance, it may seem that Twitter is moving at a breakneck pace, full of spam and self-promotion. All of these are accurate assessments, but while content seems to have a 2 second shelf-life, and it seems that with the large amounts of content coming at you, this platform may need to be continuously monitored, there are some things you can do to make Twitter more manageable:

Keep Twitter in Perspective

Twitter is simply a community. Just like any community, there are ups and downs, and just like every community out there, you will find lurkers, haters and supporters, all there for one reason or another. Just as you work to build community in your neighborhood or place of worship, you cannot get to know your community if you’re isolated and uninvolved. Twitter will only help you find success if you are social, and choose to engage.

Use & Search Hashtags

What is a Hashtag?Just as the graphic at right says, hashtags are merely a form of organization for the content that you share. They allow others who may not be familiar with you or your brand to search for content on a topic and to become connected with what you’re sharing. A few tips for using hashtags:

  1. Don’t overuse hashtags. Try to limit your tweets to 1-3 hashtagged words or phrases.
  2. Don’t string too many words together with a single hashtag, if you want it searchable. Many folks do this for comic effect, which of course, is fine – but, they don’t expect much return in search if they do. The best hashtags are short, to the point and reflect the way others typically search for something.
  3. DO use hashtags for events. A simple hashtag that is shared with event attendees may expand the reach of your local event to a global audience. A few years back, we added the hashtag #TweetTheMostGood to a Salvation Army event, and while there were only 150 attendees at the party we held (max capacity), more than 230,000 people were exposed to the brand and the conversation that night by asking attendees to use the hashtag on all of their tweets, check-ins and photos.

Make Twitter work with your schedule.

Social media can be extremely time-consuming – research, conversations, crafting content. For that reasons, we recommend setting aside time each day to update your channels, and to create a blend of updates that are both live AND prescheduled. One tool we absolutely love is Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a free tool that allows you to monitor the vast amount of information coming through Twitter, and to preschedule content so your account never goes “quiet.” It allows you to monitor any mentions of you or your brand, to search for sentiments or new business and, perhaps most importantly, it allows you to schedule content to post while you’re busy doing other things. Check it out at Hootsuite.com.

Find your tribe + Engage.

TWITTER 101As you’re first building your audience on Twitter, it helps to consider what you wish to achieve or what your brand (personal or professional) is looking to connect with. Find others in your space who are utilizing Twitter, and are doing is well and take note of:

  • LISTS: Visit their profile and look at their lists. (Next to Followers, Following, you should see “Lists.” Click on this.) These are curated lists of other people you should probably also be connected. Follow those folks and engage with their content. Reply to their tweets, retweet their best stuff and become a part of their community.
  • CONTENT STYLING: If you’ve found someone worth watching as a mentor in your industry or interest area, watch what works best with their content – from style and language to best time of day, and begin by applying some of their styling to your own content.

What do I tweet?

“No one cares what I had for breakfast,” is the #1 complaint I hear from folks looking to harness Twitter for the first time. I tell them to “fake it until you make it.” Think out loud. Share until it becomes more natural.

Here are some possible ways for your to engage on Twitter:

  • Live Updates: Attending a conference or knee-deep into a new project? Share that. Many events have hashtags that you can watch, use and share with.
  • Questions: My tribe of followers on Twitter have incredible amounts of experience and collective knowledge in areas that I will never have. I frequently throw out questions to take their temperature on issues, or when I’m stumped and need help. You’ll find that folks on Twitter are quick to help, and motivated to connect and make things happen.
  • @Replies & Retweets: The best way to connect with people is to take that first step. Reply to an interesting tweet, or better yet – make a friend & retweet their content.
  • Blog Posts & Articles: Whether you’re sourcing them from your site or someone else’s (known as “Content Curation”), one way to provide quick updates while showcasing that you’re engaged in an industry or interest is to share an interesting, up-to-date blog post or article on the subject.

and finally…. if you’re looking to use Twitter to bolster your business, then share what you do. Twitter should never be used for OVER-promotion, but if you shoot for 80% non-promotional, 20% promotional to start, you aren’t likely to alienate your hard-won audience.

More Resources to Continue your Twitter Mastery

  • Twitter Growth Domination 2.0: Kim Garst, one of our favorite Twitter marketers, has launched an online course that boils down Twitter to its simplest parts. She has developed an online learning course, which is available online for a short period of time, but which is definitely worth your time. In her mini-course ($9), she shares a smart growth plan that helps you to target your audience on Twitter, and to engage them in just 15 minutes a day.
  • Easy Twitter Start Checklist: We developed a super-simple checklist to assist small businesses in getting comfortable with Twitter. Enter your information below and we’ll email it to you in just a few minutes. Try it out for two weeks and let us know what you think!

Request our Easy Twitter Start Checklist

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Treehouse Networkshop finds success with unique blend of social media + live promotions

meeting of the minds

By Danni Eickenhorst

I first met Wesley Hoffman in the flesh at the 2014 Donut Day celebration with Kuva Coffee and Strange Donuts. He recognized me from Twitter and greeted me with a big hug. Something about that introduction was disarming in the best way and we were fast friends.

At the time I met Hoffman at the event, I knew very little about Treehouse Networkshop. I knew it was a relatively recent phenomenon – and that it was clearly more than a networking group and more of a movement. The general tone and heart behind the social content coming out of Treehouse demonstrated an enthusiasm for life that I find myself seeking out on a daily basis.

Treehouse Networkshop started out as a monthly networking event series with the philosophy that we should make connections as people first, and then determine how we can help each other. At the very least, new connections mean new friends. Treehouse promotes making connections with people via the world wide web, but truly believes in the power of meeting in person. Treehouse provides motivational content via video, audio (#StrangeHousePodcast), and social media. In addition to monthly meetups, we also hold a quarterly panel series called “Meeting of the Minds.”

As an entrepreneur determined to find long-term success, and whose success has been squarely tied to collaboration, idea-sharing and positivity, I knew upon connecting with Wes that I surely needed to become more involved with Treehouse and the people tied to it.

wesleymoderateMonthly meetups are held at different venues and neighborhoods around St. Louis. The meetups are open to anyone looking to make professional or personal connections in a positive environment. People from all industries and walks of life meet together as people to find ways to help each other succeed. Meetups are held during the 3rd full week of every month on a Wednesday or Thursday.

October 22nd is the next Meeting of the Minds event, and I am honored to be one of the panelists for this event. Only 100 spots are available. Click here to reserve your ticket now.

Treehouse began with Wes grabbing coffee with anyone who would take the time after he was laid off, and quickly set Wes apart as a connector of people in the St. Louis region. He found himself able to help others find opportunities and to take advantage of opportunities coming his way as well.

Wes has blended real life and social media promotion to find incredibly impressive success very quickly – even leaving the world of full time employment earlier this year in order to focus his energy on Treehouse Networkshop. Read on to learn how he got started in social media, how he’s utilizing it for Treehouse and what’s next.

When did you first get into social media personally? What was your first platform? What made it stick for you?

I first got into social media in the late 90s. There was a website in St. Louis called STLPunk.com. It was for local bands, venues, and their fans. At first, only your band could have a page, and you could comment, but you were not able to have a profile. You could also post anonymously (which caused some trouble). I loved the fact you could connect with people you didn’t know then meet them in person at shows. In the early 2000’s I also took to Xanga, a blogging site. I loved how you could get to know people you had never met, but also share your thoughts.

tumblr_inline_n9h7hgdLO01s3u7o0When did you get into social media professionally? What were your experiences and platforms used for marketing?

Professionally, I started using LinkedIn in 2008. But really started using it in 2013 when I was self employed. I started using twitter and Facebook to stay connected and in the know with people I wanted to work with. I ended up using twitter to get a job as well as promote my personal brand.

Tell me about the events that led to Treehouse Networkshop and what inspired the name.

Treehouse events came from my passion for in-person and digital networking. I love bringing people together, and then seeing them collaborate. I was going to a lot of networking events myself, but after others had approached me, asking how to network, I decided to throw together my own events. The events are based on the philosophy that we should meet each other as people first and professionally second. I loved the name Treehouse because that was always the place you went to when you were a kid to make plans about how you were going to build something, or take over the world!

How did social media fold into what you were doing? What channels did you find the greatest success on initially? Are they still true?

Social media plays a huge part in Treehouse. We use twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to promote the events. We use hashtags on twitter, so people can find others who were at the event. Or, people who aren’t at the events can find people who went, and get a feel for what the events are like. We use Instagram to take pictures while the events are happening.
I’ve used tumblr to blog, then push the content from there to other social media channels (mainly Twitter, and Facebook).

What do you think is the single most important thing you’re doing on social to fuel your success? What would you do differently?

The single most important thing doesn’t have to necessarily do with social media, but more how it ties into meeting people in real life. I make sure to respond to every tweet, but also connect with those people in person. I do my best to bridge the gap between digital and in-real-life connections.

What are you trying to accomplish on social? What is your most important accomplishment so far with Treehouse in general?

I’m mainly trying to start conversations on social that lead to in-person interactions at Treehouse events or beyond. My most important accomplishment with Treehouse is growing it, and helping people. If people are able to further their careers or social lives through Treehouse, we’ve reached our goal.

If you’re trying to change something/create something – what problem are you working to solve and how do you hope that social media plays into that?

One thing I’m trying to change is how networking is view traditionally. How can we use social media to start conversations, or get to know something about a person to make in-person conversations happen more organically?

If you were to start over today, what would you do differently?

There’s only one thing I’d do differently – I would’ve started sooner. I would’ve kept up with twitter earlier, and started my business sooner than I did.

What’s next for Treehouse? What are your future plans/hopes for social and how it plays into that?

Treehouse will continue to find ways to use it’s platform to help to help other people. We’re looking forward to creating a new way to bridge the gap between physical and in-person interactions. Treehouse will find new ways for conversations and interactions to start through digital mediums. Those interactions will then strongly encourage people to take the next step to planning an in-person meeting.

SOCIAL SCHOOL: 3 things Taco Bell can teach us about social media marketing

By Erik Schwenke

Does the plate of food above look familiar? Thanks to social media marketing efforts by the fast food giant,  there’s a good chance that one or more of your friends has been talking about Taco Bell’s new breakfast items, and an even better chance that curiosity has piqued your interest enough to try one of them! It certainly worked on me (and I can vouch that they all taste pretty good, albeit quite greasy).

But, why is this fast food so popular all of a sudden? Plenty of other restaurants have launched campaigns recently to attract customers to their new breakfast trends, but none have been as wildly as successful as Taco Bell’s latest campaign. The secret to the waffle taco doesn’t lie in the syrup, but rather, the marketing. Specifically, how Taco Bell has established its brand voice and willingness to interact with fans. What can your business learn from them?

1.  Photos are everything in social media marketing.

It gets said time and again, but your best avenue for telling a great story and building customer engagement is by being creative with your camera or smart-phone. Taco Bell knows this, and is constantly finding unique ways to present their food to you, the consumer. Search through their Facebook and Twitter, and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything  stock-looking or seemingly “plain” about their posts. Nearly one third of their tweets are pictures, ones that evoke emotion, such as the sunrise imagery above.

Whether your business offers a product or service, there’s always an opportunity to showcase what you do in a way that will resonate with your audience as well. The key takeaway here is to be spontaneous—have an interesting interaction with a customer? Is there something going on in your area that your audience can relate to, such as the weather? Take a photo and tell a story!

2. Your best content comes from your fans.

Social media users are just like businesses—they love having their content shared and retweeted. In fact, they are often willing to create content just for your business, for the sole purpose of being recognized and responded to. If you view Taco Bell’s Twitter, you’ll notice they constantly retweet other users, and they aren’t picky when it comes to sharing someone with a large following versus someone with a not so large one.

Would you rather promote yourself, or have someone else do the talking for you? Keep this in mind when developing your content strategy, and don’t be afraid to ask your fans for photos and feedback that you can share.

3. Supporting your community will help build your community.

Over the years, Taco Bell has been no stranger to taking action in charitable events and giving back to their community. Their dedication has helped them to grow to the 10.4 million likes that they currently have today on their Facebook page!  One such campaign they’ve taken part in is their “Graduate Mas” program, which provides scholarships and partnerships for teens. Last summer, they encouraged users to upload photos of themselves on Instagram, and made a pledge to donate $100 to their charity program for each photo uploaded. Those who uploaded a photo also had a chance to see their photography displayed in Times Square.

You can employ a similar approach as well. In fact, many businesses already have programs in place to support charities, but rarely mention their efforts on social media! Take the time to develop a campaign, and showcase what you’re doing to help your community. Even if your budget is small or non-existent, you can find ways to make a difference. For example, poll your fans and make a pledge to volunteer for a day at a charity of their choice if you reach a certain social milestone. You’ll not only increase the amount of fans you have, but also their trust in the long run.

Want more ideas to jump start your small business on social media? Give us a call and set up a professional strategy session to help find your brand’s voice. Click here to schedule a time that’s convenient for you.

 

Some images courtesy of the Huffington Post.

 

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2-Session Workshop for Small Business Social Strategies kicks off Aug 7

By Danni Eickenhorst

Our quarterly 2-session lunch-n-learn workshop series for small business brands kicks off on August 7. This limited-attendance series offers a few small businesses the opportunity to sit one-on-one for two session for discussion, brainstorming and social media strategy training.

We will discuss how brands can develop their marketing efforts, review case studies and give attendees actionable campaign steps that to implement from one session to the next, in addition to tools that will help with simplification and management of digital marketing efforts.

Each session is held over the lunch hour to work conveniently into schedules. Attendees may join online or in-person. Local attendees are afforded the added benefit of informal Q&A participation. Attendees are invited to bring a brown bag lunch and beverage, a notebook and to be ready to learn.

Click here to register for this 2-session workshop, held on August 7 and 21st, while spots remain.

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marketing consultants saint louis 3 KEY FACTORS FOR BRAND ADVOCATE SUCCESS supporters marketing employee volunteer marketing

Empowering advocates to help in your marketing

By Danni Eickenhorst

Neighborhood supporters for a restaurant that would revitalize their neighborhood left some love on the sidewalk.

Neighborhood supporters for a restaurant that would revitalize their neighborhood left some love on the sidewalk.

In my work with local non-profits and small businesses, brand advocate partners have been the “secret sauce” in my marketing success. Tapping into their passion and giving them an outlet to create meaningful impact in an area that they’re passionate about serves both my clients and the advocates involved. When supporters share a message on behalf of a brand on their personal channels, they are seen as being more authentic and trustworthy than the brands themselves. This lends tremendous support to any effort. The benefits my clients have seen have ranged from sponsorships and in-kind donations to major media coverage and larger brand awareness. The advocates I’ve brought in to serveIn my years of creating this collaborative energy to move projects forward, I’ve learned some truly valuable lessons that I believe most brands could benefit from.

Seek the Passionate.

Oftentimes when you launch a campaign, your champions will arise and become evident in the process – from the woman who retweets all of your campaign asks to the man who comes out to all of your events and brings a friend – these people are excited about your caused and have taken it upon themselves to help you be successful. For some projects, these grassroots supporters with small networks may be all you need to find success, but in most efforts, we’ve found that proactively seeking ambassadors with a sizable audience and a shared interest positions you to share your message in a wider-reaching way. Before you ask anyone to advocate on behalf of your brand or cause, ensure that you are asking them to take action in an area that they feel passionate about. This serves two purposes. First, if you are asking someone to help you spread the word on a fundraising for an animal rescue shelter and you are able to confidently say, “I thought of you for this project, because I’ve read your blogs for years and I know that you’re just as passionate about animals as I am,” then you’re also in effect letting them know that you find value in their work and are not just attempting to take advantage of their social audience. Secondly, if you’ve identified a potentially willing social influencer to advocate on behalf of a project they’re already passionate about, the content they push will be more heartfelt and effective, and they’ll likely be willing to do more to help your project be successful.

Share your great expectations.

I’ve learned the hard way that even when you’re successful at gathering a group of passionate like-minded individuals to push your project forward, you still may not see the success you’re hoping for. If your advocates are all C-Level executives serving on multiple boards, or thinly-spread sleep-deprived entrepreneurs, you can’t reasonably expect them to take an active role in moving your project forward. In my work with a St. Louis-area government agency, I developed an incredible group of advocates to serve on our marketing advisory board with the hope that they would help us spread the word for events, or perhaps that they might take an active role in planning or promoting an event. My expectations and their ability to deliver were not well matched and our regular meetings ended up becoming incredibly inspiring brainstorming sessions, but in the end, the one-person marketing team (me) was left to carry out all of the great ideas with limited time and resources. I’ve learned that any group of brand advocates should be a mix of high-level social superstars and young up-and-comers, and since that experience, I’ve worked to be very specific in my asks of volunteer ambassadors so that their level of commitment can be well-matched with the level of need for a campaign to move forward successfully.

promotional kit media kit brand advocate kit marketing

An online advocate kit was created for this campaign that provided flyers, pre-written social media posts, graphics and timeline covers for brand advocates to use.

Empower your champions.

Whether your brand advocates are friends and family or captains of industry, if you make advocacy simple, they’ll be more likely to share you message. A few ways you can do this:

  • Create a landing page for your team where they can download Facebook timeline covers, flyers, poster-style social media graphics and pre-written tweets.
  • If you’re asking your advocates to blog about your cause, provide a variety of writing prompts so that each piece has value and meaning and so that each blog serves a strategic purpose to achieve your campaign goals.
  • Regularly email your group with fresh tweets, prompts, graphics and asks to keep them engaged.
  • If there is an event as part of your campaign, offer your advocates first access and behind-the-scenes information. This will allow them “scoop” content for their blog and personal gratification that they were offered an exclusive opportunity in return for their efforts.

Always be grateful.

Finally, our last bit of advice is simply this – say THANKS. This should be a part of every campaign, but is of special importance in those where people leverage their personal networks to help you succeed. From a simple tagged tweet or email to a free t-shirt or celebratory happy hour, make sure you truly appreciate their efforts and leave them with the feeling that they’ve been an important part of your team.

 

If you’re looking to work with a team of marketing consultants that can help build your brand and empower your advocates, you’re hard-pressed to find a better group in Saint Louis than Blank Page Consulting. #HumbleBrag Let’s talk!