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Secrets from a Social Media Manager

I’m clearly biased, but would venture to say that social media managers are grossly under-appreciated. Yeah, we spend the majority of the day on the internet, but we do it strategically. We carefully curate and plan messaging that plays a huge role in integrated, sophisticated marketing campaigns. We’re a public relations gatekeeper, moderating thousands of comments a day, responding to questions and ensuring we never deviate from approved key messaging, even when it involves some sneaky politician-level avoidance. Most of all, we’re the forgotten sentient beings on the other side of the screen.

Here are 5 secrets from a full-time social media manager.

1. You bet your bottom dollar we hide your offensive comments

You wanna bring racist, sexist, homophobic, fatphobic, offensive garbage to my comment section? Think again, pal. I will hide your comments and then I’ll monitor the post to make sure you haven’t noticed. I regret nothing.

2. There’s a reason we read your message but respond a day later… or don’t respond at all

As much as we prepare for whatever questions we think we might be asked about a project or campaign, you always inevitably surprise us with something so bizarre, we couldn’t have possibly seen it coming. If we don’t have any approved messaging to go by, we draft responses and get them approved, leaving you hanging until we’re sure we have a solid response. Honestly, it’s safer to risk you getting annoyed with us than to risk saying something that isn’t true or isn’t public knowledge. And sometimes, we just flat out ignore you. If it’s obvious you’re just looking to pick a fight or say something controversial for effect, you’re getting ignored.

3. Sometimes, your words hurt and make us angry

It certainly seems like the general public has forgotten that real human beings have to wade through all of the comments on a brand’s page. Please stop skimming a headline then spreading misinformation in the comment section. Please stop calling other people racist slurs. Please stop calling a brand stupid because you disagree with a marketing approach (that probably happens to be working; it got your attention, didn’t it?). We definitely learn to grow thick skin as social media managers, but even we have limits.

4. We see some nasty things on the internet

I can’t even begin to tell you how many inappropriate things show up in brand inboxes. Being a woman on the internet is far worse, but managing a brand inbox is no joke. Child abuse? Seen it. Animal abuse? Seen it. Car accidents? Seen it. Lots of blood coming from everywhere? Seen it. Racist propaganda? Seen it. Stop sending brands unrelated and/or violent videos! At the very least, warn the poor person who has to open that message.

5. We definitely do get tired of being on social media

Yeah, we usually know all of the trending topics, and we’ve definitely seen that meme you just discovered like 4 weeks ago, but despite how it looks, we do take lots of breaks from social media. We get paid to moderate communities and develop content, but we also spend a lot of time creating strategies for said content, analyzing data to inform our strategies, and honestly just reenergizing from all of the offensive comments we read in a day. Sometimes that even means we disappear from our personal accounts for weeks at a time. It’s for our health.

Have any of these secrets surprised you? Angered you? If you’re a social media manager, what would you add?

You will never beat the algorithm. Here’s why.

desktop with notebook, pen, keyboard, cactus, candle

Was that title too harsh? I know you might not like to hear that, but I would never lead you astray so I’m coming at you with some hard social media knowledge this week as your partner in marketing your business.

How many times have you overheard marketers say, “we need to beat the algorithm to get our content out there!”? I’m going to set the benchmark here at 100 times. And that’s conservative.

At first listen, it *sounds* like a great plan. You want people to see your content. Social media algorithms prioritize certain content, much of which remains a mystery, so surely the best way to reach new audiences is by getting around the algorithm, right?

Ok, no. And let me tell you why.

For one thing, if the algorithm controls the content people see, how can you get around it? I don’t think you can just call up Mark Zuckerberg and tell him you’d like to opt out, thank you very much. (Unless you can because you’re his friend or business partner, in which case, please email me so we can be friends too.)

So you need a new plan. A better plan. And here it is:

Work. With. The. Algorithm.

You heard me. This is one area of marketing where you don’t want to be swimming upstream. Leave that for your creative ad strategies.

So now you’re probably wondering: how do I work with the algorithm when I’ve spent so much time trying to get around it?

The good news is that even if you’ve been trying to get around the algorithm, you haven’t. So all of your post data will guide you through this strategy shift.

Take a look at the likes, comments, shares, and other engagements on your organic (unpaid) social media posts from the last 6 months. Look for your best performing posts and plot out the common themes. What were the topics? How long was the post? What type of image or link did you use?

Once you gather and analyze all of that data, you’ll be better equipped to understand how the algorithm has been sharing your content. The next step is pretty basic: do more of what’s working.

Seriously. That’s it. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel every week. Do more of what’s working and reevaluate every 2 weeks or every month to see if your patterns still hold true. Make adjustments as needed.

Need some help sorting through your data and coming up with an approach? Reach out to me! I’m happy to help get you started.

Crucial editor’s note: organic social media, no matter how well you are sticking to what works, can only get your business so far. And it’s not very far. Working with the algorithm is a smart strategy but it’s not a miracle cure. Facebook and Instagram absolutely prioritize paid content so you should make it a marketing goal, if you haven’t already, to set aside $50-$300 each month to promote your content. Do that on top of your new organic social media strategy and you’ll get a lot farther ahead each month. 

Good luck!

The Questions You NEED To Ask At Your Next Job Interview

Desk with laptop

With a lack of jobs in the market, it’s easy to feel like you have to take the first job offered to you. And, if you’re a new graduate, the paycheques and experience can be worth taking that job.

After all, that’s exactly what I did. I lucked out and really enjoyed my first career job and had a lot of support to develop professionally. Regardless, there will come a time when you want a new challenge, a new experience, a new title (and probably more money, let’s be honest).

When you’re making a career move, the most important advice I can give you is this:

You are interviewing organizations just as they are interviewing you.

Why am I qualified to tell you that? Well, in just three weeks, I went to five job interviews, all from cold applications. I declined another interview. I eventually declined three job offers. And then I accepted the offer not with the highest salary or best title, but the one with interviewers who had the most thoughtful, sincere, professional answers to all my questions. And before that? I took a job offer that was so entirely wrong for me, misrepresented, and the best learning opportunity I never wanted.

When you apply to a job, generally you’re doing so with little information: a job posting, a website. If you’re lucky, the website might give you some extra insight into their past work. If you’re extra lucky, they might be featured in some news articles.

Unfortunately, what you’ll never truly have is information about the organization’s internal culture. And that’s arguably the most important information you’ll need.

So when you get called for an interview, you badass boss, that’s your chance. Yes, you want to show off how amazing and skilled you are— but you also want to leave feeling like you’ve gathered the information you need, too.

Lianna Pisani

Here are the questions you NEED to ask at your next job interview:

1. What are the opportunities for professional development?

If they say none, or beat around the bush, tell them you left your curling iron on at home and get outta there. If an organization isn’t willing to invest in you, you are not and never will be valuable to them. Bye.

2. How does this role interact and work with the other team members?

The trick to this question is knowing enough about your own work and communication styles to have a sense of how you work best with others. If you’re a creative and they have a million folders, tabs, and processes, it might not be the best environment for you.

3. Describe a typical day for this role.

This is a great time to see if what they say is aligned with the job description. I’ve been in a position where the role I was hired to do ended up being about 30% of my daily responsibilities. I lasted three months.

4. What is your favorite thing about working here?

And then you count the seconds. There is a certain amount of time it can take to formulate a thoughtful, sincere response. And then there’s having to think up a lie that sounds realistic in front of your boss in the room, and a stranger. Know the difference.

5. What is the biggest challenge about working here?

Again, time is crucial here. If someone answers too quickly, you know they’ve had something on their mind for quite some time. If they say “nothing!” you know they’re a big fat liar.

6. How would you describe the employee culture?

This is a big one. It’s not an easy question to answer in most organizations; there is often a disconnect between staff and management. However, there are some small clues that can help you find the information you need. First, feel out how comfortable or uncomfortable folks in the room feel about the question. Then pay attention to the key words used. Positive words might be “supportive,” and “collaborative.” Not so positive phrases might be “strong leadership” (controlling and micromanaging), or “busy but we always get things done” (overworked and stressed).

7. Do you offer flexible hours? How do you handle sick days, doctor’s appointments and emergencies?

This is a good one to follow the culture question. Personally, I want to work where I know if the subway stops in the middle of the tunnel and I’m 10 minutes late, no one is going to be standing at my desk tapping a watch until I get in.

 

Don’t forget to consider raises, sick time, vacation time, health benefits, work from home opportunities, and the dress code.

If you’re worried you’ll ask too many questions, consider how miserable you could be if you don’t.

 

Young Professional’s Guide To: Visiting Greece

Oia-Santorini caldera landscape

Welcome to the “Young Professional’s Guide To…” blog series! This series covers travel, marketing, and career topics specifically for young professionals (just like me!). That means keeping in mind budget, career goals, age, etc. in the hopes that you can actually get something useful out of this. Have a topic you want covered? Send me an email.

So you’re going to Greece! Lucky you! Greece has been, by far, one of my absolute favourite places in the world and I would go back tomorrow if someone gave me the plane ticket and time off work. I’ll be honest with you– I’ve only been to Greece once, earlier this year. But there are a lot of things I wish someone had told me, so I’m sharing them with you.

Where To Visit

You know how everyone says that Greece is huge? Yeah, they’re not lying. In our 10-day trip, we visited Athens, Mykonos, and Oia/Santorini, and that was mildly more ambitious than I’d recommend. It was also the most touristy trip we could take, but as first-timers it was perfect. Keep reading for details about each place, but know that if you want time to relax and drink wine (do not skip the red wine!), you should not visit more than three areas in a 10-day trip.

Athens - Acropolis at Night

Athens

Athens is a massive city, with around 12 million people, and a variety of interesting neighbourhoods. The good news is that it’s also a super walkable city, so if you are able to walk for long stretches, you’ll be able to see a good amount of the city in 3-4 days. If you like cafes, do not skip out on six d.o.g.s cafe in the city centre. You can drink your coffee on a swing! On a swing! Be sure to grab some spanakopita from one of the many cafes in the area (avoid English menus) for a cheap, mouth-wateringly delicious lunch, or afternoon snack, or evening snack, or breakfast (no judgement). I also fell in love with the National Gardens; it’s such an oasis in the city, and you stumble upon ancient ruins as you go. I don’t think I need to tell you this, but go see the Acropolis. Get up early and go. It is entirely, 1000% worth it. If I ever leave Toronto, I’m moving to Athens.

Mykonos

I did not love Mykonos. I wanted to, but I didn’t. Granted, we visited just before the season began so everything was extra quiet, but I don’t think a bunch of partiers would have made me like it any more. It was really cool to get lost in Mykonos town, which is purposely maze-like to confuse pirates, and there are great beaches. But that’s kind of where it ended for me. All of the restaurants are tailored toward tourists, which logistically makes so much sense, but tainted the experience for me a little, and cost more than I wanted to spend on dinners. If you like to party, don’t skip this island. If you’re a 20-something old lady like me, you’ll probably appreciate other islands more.

Oia/Santorini

Oh, Oia. I am seriously planning to live out my retirement on this island. We stayed along the caldera, which is the most breathtaking view to wake up to and gives the northern Italian alps a run for their money (if alps had money… just go with it). Because we went just outside of major tourist season, we didn’t experience when 80,000 people crowd the island in one day from all the cruise ships stopping by. Santorini is perfect for sipping wine pool-side, or on a balcony looking out at the sea and the caldera. If you enjoy hiking, there is a 4-hour hike between Oia and Fira along the edge of the island that I highly recommend. You know all those photos of Greece with the little blue dome roofs and windmills? That is Oia and it is perfect.

Where To Stay

Airbnb, my friend! Greece is absolutely still feeling their recent economic crash, so hotels aren’t as pricy as other big cities in Europe. But there are lots of apartments listed on Airbnb for a third or half the cost, which also allows you to save money on food by cooking at home. Unlike many of the private condos rented on Airbnb in Toronto, there are entire apartment buildings and hotels operating through Airbnb in Greece. Our Airbnb in Athens arranged for taxi rides to and from the airport at a slight discount to the usual flat rate; our Airbnb in Oia allowed us to wake up to the caldera for a fraction of the cost of a luxury hotel nearby, and it had front desk hotel staff ready to help. Get $45 toward an Airbnb stay using my discount code.

We did stay in a hotel in Mykonos, at the top of Mykonos town (Prepare your quads for stairs. So many stairs.) and used a TD Expedia points credit card to get our stay nearly for free! It’s totally worth looking into points credit cards if you love to travel.

Mykonos town

Getting Around

Even though Greece is huge, transportation is way easier than it is here in Canada. First of all, Athens has a subway system. We ended up walking everywhere, which was super reasonably doable, and allowed us to see more along the way. To visit other islands, there are a number of ferry options that cost a similar amount to a Greyhound bus ticket here in Canada. If you are prepared to splurge a little, you also have the option of Ryanair flights, which is how we got from Athens to Mykonos and from Santorini to Athens. It actually didn’t cost much more than the fast ferry we took from Mykonos to Santorini, and it helped us make the most of our 10 days. On the islands themselves, unless you plan on just staying in one area, you will need a car or ATV.

Using Your Phone

This was one of my top concerns and I am not ashamed. If you don’t feel like getting ripped off by Canadian phone companies charging you $12/day on top of your phone plan to use your phone, your first stop upon arriving in Athens should be swapping your SIM card for a Greek one! It’s super easy to do, given that the employees at Public (essentially a tech store version of Indigo) will do it for you. Just remember to bring your passport, or you won’t be able to make the purchase!

Instagrammable Locations

Ok. Who are we kidding? Literally all of Greece is Instagrammable. All of it. I was going to spend some time listing out locations, but if you love Europe, ancient historic sites, and architecture that cities unlike Toronto actually care to preserve, then Greece is for you. Blue sea. Stunning landscapes. Sunsets that bring tears to your eyes. Take all of the photos and then please share them with me so I can live vicariously until I return.

Oia-Santorini

 

Basic Marketing Tips for the Non-Marketer

Small Business Marketing

You’ve recently started a small business driven by your passions. You love what you’re doing, but now it’s time to get noticed. You have no marketing experience, but you know your business inside-out and backward. Here’s where you start:

Be present on the right social media platforms — not every social media platform

Marketing your brand, like every other aspect of your business, should be strategic. It’s important to recognize two important factors when you consider social media channels. First: not every social media channel will suit your brand. Second: if you can’t maintain a social media channel, consider whether it’s even worth having an account.

Are you a social activist? Take to Twitter. Is your target customer base 50-year-old women? Take to Facebook. Are you looking to reach millennials? Consider Instagram. Do you blog consistently? Go for Pinterest. These are generalizations, but it gives you an idea of how you can start thinking about which platform may be right for you.

Keep in mind that algorithms on these platforms favour those who consistently produce original content that resonates with and engages other users of the platform. That translates to: if you are a makeup artist with no intention of tweeting, your efforts are much better spent on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest that favour visual content. You also won’t be struggling to find random articles to tweet, but can focus on what you do best and showcase that work.

Put your best face forward

When we’re really passionate about our business and our brand, sometimes we hide behind our logos. But humans are looking for human connection, online and offline. Don’t be afraid to show your face! Share photos of yourself on your social media channels, and share your story. Why are you passionate about your business? How did it all get started?

Depending on the type of small business, it may also be beneficial for you to take advantage of face-to-face marketing opportunities like trade shows, night markets, food festivals, etc. Making that personal connection will heighten your chances of landing a client or customer.

You don’t have to do it at all

It takes time to build and implement a marketing strategy! Don’t try to do it all at once, especially if you’re riding solo in your business. Focus on the basics, like actively maintaining just one, maybe two, social media channels. Collect the email addresses of folks you interact with at trade shows; keep a sign-up list on your table.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to build lead generation pages, beautiful landing pages, and master Facebook ads in the first month or six. We can’t compare ourselves to folks who have been at it for years. Take it one step at a time.

Don’t overlook the obvious

With digital marketing and all of its possibilities, we can overlook some more obvious, traditional methods of marketing that are easily at our disposable.

For example, can you list your business online? If you have a brick and mortar shop or office, be sure to list it on Google. If you’re a registered social worker, or counsellor, consider registering yourself online with sites like Psychology Today. If you’re a freelancer, list your services on some of the many sites like Fiverr, or Upwork.

Hosting an event? Invite local newspapers to attend. You may not land a ton of earned media, but you might get a local paper like Snap’d to photograph your event. Free advertising? Yes, please!

Do some research and take advantage of what’s offered to you. 

Numbers aren’t everything

When you’re putting tons of effort into curating visually-pleasing, engaging content, you want to see the reward. I get it. You want more followers, more comments, more profile views. But those numbers aren’t everything. One engaged, supportive follower is better than fifty vanity followers who never interact with you or your business. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use analytics to determine better-performing content— that is absolutely a great next step when it comes to your social media strategy. Just don’t let the numbers get you down. 

When you’re genuine, it shines through in your content. Focus on being you, and talking to your target customer. Engage with their accounts. Reach out. Write the blogs they’d want to read. That’s how you’ll find your people.