Hootsuite: Innovation in Social Media Management

Hootsuite Dashboard
Screen Shot of HootSuite's Social Media Dashboard

A few weeks ago I got into an interesting conversation about Harry Potter with some of my fellow classmates and our professor. Apparently we are all pretty addicted to the series. This interaction didn’t happen face-to-face though. We were sharing links to articles, taking a personality profile test linking our personal traits to characters in the book (i.e. Dumbledore or Luna Lovegood), and discussing which book was our personal favorite. For me, this was all done using the Hootsuite dashboard, which made keeping up with everyone’s comments so much easier!

Hootsuite is a social media management platform that helps your business (as well as personal networks, if you’re extra social media savvy) manage and analyze all of your social networks from one streamlined page.  Creating specific hashtag streams, scheduling and sending posts to multiple social media platforms at once, and tracking/analyzing your brand are just a few of the resources at your disposal with the Hootsuite dashboard. This may sound a little bit complicated, but never fear, Hootsuite University is here to guide you.

Hootsuite University is a certification program that first and foremost walks the student through a step by step process of setting up the Hootsuite dashboard. This is where you will learn to monitor your social networks without having to log in and out of multiple sites. Courses are centered around video installments that highlight best tips for using specific platforms integral to your business such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. The videos are broken down into short, easy to watch lessons, that conclude with a quiz to make sure you were paying attention. There is also a plethora of videos to enhance your learning experience in Hootsuite University’s lecture series. There are titles ranging from How to Tell Stories Using Tumblr to How the Real Estate Industry is Leading the Way in Social Media.

I am currently completing this certification process in my social media class at the University of Louisville. I’m very excited because becoming a Hootsuite Certified Professional is a great resume builder! I also believe that learning how to use the Hootsuite Dashboard extensively now will help me in my future career endeavors.

Here is a related article by my social media professor, Dr. Karen Freberg, explaining a little bit more about our class’ social media campaigns and our involvement with Hootsuite.

If you need to take your business to the next level, consider giving Hootsuite a chance. Hootsuite already has over 7 million users around the world, so if that doesn’t strike your fancy, I personally give the platform two thumbs up!

Best Wishes,

Amanda

Learning to “Work It” with Hashtags

I have been thinking about hashtags a lot recently. Being of a generation that graduated high school even before MySpace launched, let alone, the smart phone, plugged into Facebook and Twitter around the clock generation, I never really caught on to the whole hashtag thing. I will admit that almost every time I saw an Instagram post with #tbt, #selfie, #YOLO, #besties, #superlonghashtagwithnouppercaseletters, or any other string of overly descriptive words, I cringed and wanted to hit the unfollow button immediately. (I’m sorry! I mean no disrespect. I think I’m just old!)

What has changed in the last month is my understanding that hashtags are a means of organization, conversation, and interaction, that can be part of an integral learning experience both inside and outside of the classroom. #Freberg13 is the hashtag we use to share informative links, give/receive feedback, ask questions, and generally engage with peers in our social media class at the University of Louisville.  We can also correspond with our professor, Dr. Karen Freberg, and other students/professionals all across the country that are following our class’ progress.

I have found it very rewarding to have access to a wealth of information that I most certainly would not have been able to find all on my own. Blog posts, articles, infographics, and videos on social media and PR, are just a few of the tools I’ve found to be right at the tip of my fingers since participating with our class hashtag. All of these links are easily able to be saved as a favorite also, meaning I can refer back to them at any point.

Without further ado, I give you a video that demonstrates perfectly why I was initially turned off to the hashtag phenomenon. I’m sure many of you have already seen it, but it’s definitely worth another look. If you haven’t watched it yet, please take a moment out of your day to do so. You wont be disappointed.

Although Jimmy and Justin are completely over the top here (not to mention hilarious), what better way to describe my previous, initial revulsion to hashtags? That being said, I’m very appreciative of my new found understanding that everything, even hashtags, can be a good thing in moderation.

Sincerely,

Amanda

Robert Young: Not Just Another VP

What to do if you want to invite the University of Louisville Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams to be the Grand Marshalls of the Kentucky Derby Festival‘s Pegasus Parade? Ask your Facebook followers to ‘share’ your request with their followers! This is what Robert Young and his Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF) team did to show our U of L athletes that they had our respect, and we wanted to support them in person!

Just a few days after their post, almost 125 thousand people had viewed their invitation. The U of L teams responded with a big…

L Yes!

Young and his KDF Communications Team won a Gold Pinnacle Award from the International Festival and Event Association (IFEA) this year for the Grand Marshall social media campaign. The award was aptly named the Most Creative/Effective News Stunt. Not too shabby considering this award sits alongside 18 other Pinnacle Awards this year alone, including IFEA’s highest honor, the Grand Gold Pinnacle.

This was one of the many examples Young gave to our social media class this morning regarding the potential impact social media can have on our future careers. One of the things he shared was his view on why social media is so important to our society as a whole. Here is his take:

  • Enhanced Communication
  • Enormous Audience (Sharing Capabilities)
  • Cheap CPM (Cost Per Thousand)

This means consumers have direct access to two-way communication when participating on social media platforms. Using these platforms for real-time updates, for example during the KDF’s Thunder Over Louisville, has been a real asset to the festival. This two-way communication allows followers to be “in the loop” and keep up with events as they are happening. Cheap CPM means you can promote posts on social media for around $50, while reaching thousands of people. You can be the journalist and promote your brand immediately. You don’t have to wait until the newspaper article comes out the next day.

Young left us with a summary simply stating: engage with your customers. In public relations that’s the bottom line, and to be honest, social media has made communicating with customers as simple as the click of a button.

Thanks,

Amanda

Blogging: All Pros, No Cons

I have always loved to write. There is something quite cathartic about it. I know most of us probably switched majors many times throughout our college experience, and I’m not the exception. Eight years ago when I was still thinking about getting a degree in English, I thought I might be able to write a novel someday. I’m not throwing the idea completely out of the window yet, but creating a story complex enough to fill a few hundred pages is no cup of tea.

I had my stent with poetry. I also thought I wanted to be a journalist for many years. I do enjoy that style of writing, especially feature stories, but I don’t think I was ever cut out for hard hitting reporting. Take the HBO show The Newsroom for example. Love it! Though, probably not the best choice for me. This brings me to my personal introduction to blogging.

I tried my hand at having a LiveJournal my first go around at college. Remember LiveJournal? At the time, I don’t think I knew what a blog was, and I had one! In 2002, blogging was just beginning to become mainstream. I am about to push the delete button on my old, trusty account that I haven’t even glanced at in five years. Wouldn’t want any potential employers finding out how emo I used to be at 18. 😉  If you still don’t understand this phenomenon, let me try to help.

thought it was all about the music.

Definitions...

When in all actuality, being emo is more like being Eeyore.

Seriously though, I hate that I had to be lightly coerced to blog for a class to remember how much I enjoy writing on a regular basis. I’ve found that my subconscious has started to look at the world differently. I get ideas I’d like to delve into when I’m riding the bus or when I’m at work, and I have to make a note so I don’t forget. That’s super exciting!

Blogging is so versatile. You’re allowed to have your own voice and share personal points of view, while also linking to other content that you find interesting and want to share with your followers. For instance, I read a blog by Kirk Hazlett today called, It May Be ‘Great PR’…But Is it Ethical? I really enjoyed Mr. Hazlett’s writing style– conversational but also professional.

I’m blown away by the random hits my posts have gotten from tags plus the connections I’ve been able to make with other professionals by sharing my posts on microblogging sites such as Twitter. Twitter has gone right under my radar for years. I never completely understood what a useful tool it could be until I started participating in discussions with #Freberg13, our social media class’ hashtag. We can give/get help from each other and our professor so easily, while sharing pertinent articles and thoughts with the entire class.

It’s becoming more evident everyday that having an online personal presence, as well as a professional one, will be the biggest pro for my future career.

Sincerely,

Amanda

From Meatloaf to Sushi Bowls

Homemade Sushi Bowl

Amanda’s Homemade Sushi Bowl

I grew up in southern Indiana. My hometown consisted of a stoplight, the proverbial ice cream parlor, and a gas station. My journey into discovering cuisine from around the world didn’t start until I moved to Louisville at the age of 20. What is this stuff called curry? People really eat raw fish? I found myself wondering these types of things.

There is nothing wrong with sticking to what you know. I know a lot of people who do. For example, we ate a lot of spaghetti, orange roughy, meatloaf, stuffed green peppers, stir-fry (with those crunchy noodle-things on top), and breakfast for dinner when I was growing up. Quite the amalgamation? I wouldn’t be surprised if most of our dinner tables looked something like this as we had family dinner. Of course! America: we are the great melting pot and none of these dishes originated here!

I knew my familial heritage was a fusion of Irish, English, Scottish, and German– and the list probably goes on. Unlike some of my other family members, my immediate family didn’t have a direct connection to our cultural roots. One of my Aunts married into a Greek Orthodox family. Talk about amazing baklava! I always wished my immediate family had recipes handed down from Great-Grandma Gracie, or Uncle Hershel, etc.

This may be one of the reasons that I have always really enjoyed cooking. My future, and having my own family, was something I thought about a lot when I was a kid. Maybe I could be the one to create the recipes to be handed down for generations? I definitely went through the phase of, “When I grow up I want to be a chef.” Once I got out on my own in the “big” city, I really had a fervent desire to learn more about different cultures, specifically their cuisines!

Now I’m making up for lost foodie time. Orange roughy was one of the few fish that I tried before the age of 18, but now sushi is my favorite food. When I have the extra cash, I’m willing to try anything, even if being adventurous doesn’t always turn out so well. For instance, I tried Uni for the first time recently. Think cream cheese that tastes like you just got tossed under by a wave while wading at the beach and you came up spitting sand and seawater. Yuck, in my opinion, but some people love it!

Uni!

Uni (Sea Urchin)

Here is my cheap solution to cure that sushi fix when you’re a poor college student like me:

Homemade Sushi Bowls

  • Rice
  • Crab Select (the fake stuff)
  • Veggies: carrots, edamame, cucumber, green onion, etc.
  • Siracha (or other asian inspired hot sauce)
  • Mayo (any kind)
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Soy Sauce & Wasabi
  • Extras (if your budget allows) : seaweed snacks, cream cheese, rice wine vinegar, shrimp, etc.

The possibilities are endless! 

Directions: Boil the rice. While it cools down, chop veggies. Mix mayo and hot sauce with chopped up crab. Pile veggies/protein/extras on the rice. Drizzle on some soy sauce and maybe a few pieces of wasabi. Eat with chopsticks for extra authenticity. Voila!

Here are a few other takes on sushi bowls!

Citrus Sushi Bowl

Citrus Sushi Bowl

Deconstructed Sushi Bowl

Deconstructed Sushi Bowl

Salmon Sushi Bowl

Salmon Sushi Bowl

Thanks for Reading,

Amanda

The Basics of Strategic Planning with Social Media

Because social media and new collaborative technologies are constantly changing the way we communicate, we’re all students learning together, whether you’re just beginning in PR or you’ve been practicing for many years.Deirdre BreakenridgeCEO of Pure Performance Communications

Strategic planning is the backbone of social media for businesses. As a student who is obviously still learning, I find Ms. Breakenridge’s statement to be a comfort. When beginning the process of deciding what the strategic social media plan should be for a company, I always feel a little overwhelmed. Where should I begin? It’s not as daunting as it seems.

Vancouver Pinterest Consultant

I included the infographic, 9 step plan for a Simple & Successful Pinterest Social Media Strategy, because it is an uncomplicated breakdown of where your team should begin the brainstorming process. Obviously this infographic is specifically dealing with Pinterest, but you can follow similar guidelines with any social media platform. Many companies get stuck in the trial phase of social media when they launch headfirst into this world without help. They may know it’s important to create a presence in today’s digital world, but not be quite savvy enough to execute their ideas alone. Without campaigns implemented by a professional, many social media accounts are left to languish and eventually die a digital death.

So let’s talk about specifics, beginning with a SWOT analysis where the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the business are directly in the spotlight. Identifying these internal and external sectors of the organization will help you find some positives about the company you are working with, along with information regarding their competition. For example, an internal weakness of your client may be that their budget is already tied up in traditional media outlets. On the other hand, an external opportunity may be that the company’s customer base is broadening to a younger generation that is more accustomed to social media.

Here are a few more steps to completing your strategic planning session that I will briefly go over:

  • Set objectives and budgets for your plan.
  • Find your target audience or audiences and find out how they participate in social media communities.
  • Decide on your social media mix or your platforms.
  • Select a creative message strategy.
  • Create a timeline for your campaign.
  • Follow through with your plan and analyze the outcomes.

Don’t forget the importance of creating a social media policy for your client’s employees. This will explain the company’s polices regarding social media for employees at home and in the office, so to speak.

I hope this overview will help you stay on task when starting a social media campaign without getting overwhelmed.

Thanks for Reading,

Amanda

Football and a Fear of Heights

IMG_20130904_134450

I’ve always been pretty afraid of heights. I’m not sure if having this fear can be genetic, but I always felt like my Dad passed it on to me somehow. Every summer we would drive countless hours to reach some far off destination he’d chosen, but not once did we ever set foot on an airplane. Needless to say by the time I flew for the first time at the age of 20, I was completely terrified of flying.

I was excited to go to U of L’s season opener last week, as it was my first U of L football game. I’ve been parking right beside Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for a few years but never seen it from the inside. I have to confess that I wasn’t exactly sure what I personally was in for. As ridiculous as this sounds, while I was walking up the ramp to the expansion of the stadium, I started to feel a little bit queasy. As we began climbing the steps to row RR, it became apparent that we were headed towards the top row, and therefore the highest spot in the stadium. It wasn’t until I turned around and looked at the field that I realized I was about to have a panic attack. Really? I had no idea I was that much of a scaredy cat.

Luckily after focusing my eyes directly on the field for about 20 minutes, I was able to begin feeling a little more comfortable. There is something I can’t pinpoint that’s really disorienting when you’re up that high; a wide open expanse stretching out before you for what seems like miles. (Oh wait, it was stretching out for miles. I could see Indiana!) Without a barrier, even if I know I wont fall off, it just feels like I might. Thanks Dad! Just kidding.

The sun was out and the Cards dominated. The humongous order of generic ballpark nachos I devoured (those just happen to be one of my favorite foods ever) were just the icing on the cake to a great day. Just a heads up to anyone who takes after me in the fear of heights department– you may want to make sure you buy your tickets in the lower section. 😉

Best Wishes,

Amanda