Brand Ambassadors

I received an offer recently to become a “brand ambassador” for a product line. The company is owned by someone who is an acquaintance and knew I had a background in social media marketing. Boosting brand awareness by using celebrities, customers and employees is becoming more and more common.

Though customers and employees may not have the audience and followers of a celebrity, they may have more believability as a spokesperson, especially if they are not being paid to endorse (which is what celebrities have been doing for a lot longer than there has been social media).

When you officially make some a brand ambassador, you should not just let them go on their own.

Most brands will create clear guidelines as to what they can post. A bad post can do a lot of damage.

You would need to create and curate relevant content for them. Images, logos, and text can be provided with guidelines how how much personalization and variation can be done.

I did this kind of campaign with a large national professional organization. The official but “unpaid” ambassadors who completed a series of campaign tasks around a national conference could get all or a portion of their conference stay covered. It was a good motivator.

Employers will often use a platform like Hootsuite or Smarp to facilitate employee engagement and advocacy by providing an internal content management system. Employees can access shareable content and schedule posts.

Customers – who are generally unpaid and unofficial ambassadors – can also be effective. As in my own experiences, when someone retweets or shares your official post they are endorsing (unless they make a negative comment along with that share!). That kind of 1:1 or 1:many word of mouth promotion is very powerful.

You’ll see offers made in this vein. For example, retweet this to your followers with a special hashtag and the company will select 10 retweets to win a product package.

When That App Recognizes Your Face

When The Washington Post ran a headline saying that a Google app that matches your face to artwork is wildly popular – and that it is also raising privacy concerns – that’s not a good thing for branding.

The Google Art & Culture app is supposed to match selfies against celebrated portraits pulled from more than 1,200 museums in more than 70 countries.

The app appeared last December and got a lot of shares on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over the holidays.

The suspicions grew out of concern about turning over your facial recognition data to Google. Of course, there were also those said  that Google and others already have hat data via the photos of you tagged online.

Google says that the selfies are not being used to train machine learning programs. They are not going into a database of faces.

But our current climate of privacy concerns has a lot of people questioning those kinds of promises – though for hose who used the app, perhaps a bit too late.

It’s not just Google. Also in December, Facebook began flagging users that appeared on the social network without being tagged in order to “enhance users’ privacy and control.” Apple’s Face ID, introduced last fall in the iPhone X was controversial for using a person’s face to unlock the device and enable applications, including mobile payments.

Maybe You Don’t Need a New Website

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I recently told two potential clients that I didn’t think they needed a new website. Sounds like I am not a very good businessman.

But they didn’t need a new site. Their existing site worked for them, even though it was a few years old. They had been adding minor updates but nothing else changed. Both sites were built using a WYSIWYG site designs (Squarespace and GoDaddy) which make it pretty easy to update, but neither owner was comfortable in doing anything more involved with the sites other than minor updates without some help. One had forgotten how to access the editing tools.

Web designers and website owners learn pretty quickly that site maintenance ultimately will involve more time and work (and cost) than site creation.

What I ended up doing for them consisted of some smaller but important updates and maintenance. Here are 6 possibilities for you to consider:

  1. Make content changes. People don’t return to your site if it never changes. That’s what makes blogs or news updates on a site bring people back.
  2. A site audit of security, performance and usability can reveal some changes to be made.
  3. How does your site work on phones and tablets?
  4. Does the site have the latest versions of the software, such as plugins? There may be new themes that can give your site a fresh and significantly different look for little time or cost.
  5. Is it worth moving the site to a new hosting account that offers better pricing or more flexibility? can that be done with minimal work by me?
  6. Search engine optimization (SEO) is important but an area that has a lot of scam offers to get your site “to the top of search results.” Simple use of keywords and other page code can help, along with some advice about how to move up the results.
  7. Related to SEO is getting the word out via newsletters, mailing lists and social media. Are you using those things?

 

So, You Want to Be a Social Media Manager

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You see ads for the position of Social Media Manager. You use social media every day.  Maybe you’re no designer or marketing expert, but could you be an SM Manager?

What are the job responsibilities? Of course, that varies based on the employer, but here’s a quick list of some common parts of the job.

  • Work with content creators, possibly a content manager, public relations and marketing teams. If this is a small organization, you might be a one or two-person “department” and some knowledge of photography, videography, image editing skills is a real plus.
  • Develop a social media strategy
  • Manage all social media tactics to leverage content, drive community engagement and ultimately increase key KPIs.
  • Probably you will manage the social media budget
  • You will capture quantitative metrics and provide analysis and insights using SM management and analytical tools (Salesforce, Hootsuite etc.) for listening, scheduling, engaging, and reporting.
  • Manage the social media content calendar
  • For that job interview and when in the position you will need to stay up to date
    on your industry, especially the social media trends of competitors.

Do you need a college degree? Depends on the employer. Some may accept previous SM experience in a company – not personal social media experiences, though that certainly will help you. There are very few people in social media with degrees in social media because there are very few social media degrees though there are related fields such as marketing.

You certainly need experience managing social media or relevant, digital marketing experience across social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

When Clients Don’t Provide Content

photo of a woman handshaking with a man

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I saw a topic on the Squarespace Circle Forum titled “How do you work with clients who are lacking content?” Squarespace is a popular website creation website and I use them with several clients. (Note: the forum is open to registered users) Though the posts are focused on web design clients, the question applies to other design situations.

I design courses online and faculty are my “clients” in that instructional design role. An ID designs a course but the content is almost totally provided by faculty.

I’m currently working with faculty at a community college and the biggest problem encountered is getting faculty to provide their course content in a timely fashion.

I also design social media strategies. In that role, I often am the content creator to a degree. I often write posts, add images and repost/retweet relevant content. But that can only be done from the raw content (text and images) from the client.

In all three situations, we design based on the content. It doesn’t work very well the other way around.

So what do users on the forum suggest? Most of their suggestions are aligned with my own practices. Here are some suggestions for working with clients that don’t provide content – or even better, for trying to avoid the no-content situation.

  1. Talk to the client about content and imagery before beginning. Be clear about what is ready to use, what needs to be created and who will create it. I have for some projects created copy, images and media.
  2. Have a timeline with milestones that need to be met by the client (I like weekly ones) in order to trigger your own design work.
  3. Many designers use a questionnaire of some kind. For example, in designing courses, we ask faculty to fill in a worksheet with course goals and objectives (they are not the same thing!) and a syllabus.
  4. You may need to create video how-to’s for the client on how to create content for their site.
  5. Stay in touch. You need to contact them when they are behind on delivering their content. Their prep work determines your ability as a designer  – some hand holding/teaching how to write copy for websites, etc. Email is the least effective way to stay in touch. Phone conversations are better. Web conferencing and screen sharing is better. Face to face meetings are still the best way.
  6. I like having a place for sharing files and collaborative space. Google Drive works, but I prefer Dropbox which has features for collaboration. Both are free for basic cloud space and can be expanded for multiple projects.
  7. You might use temporary filler text and images on a website so that you can continue designing.
  8. The “client” may actually be many individuals such as writers, photographers, graphic designers, media creators, librarians etc.

In some unfortunate cases, a client not providing content will not only delay a project but could end your relationship with the client.

Is Social Media Hurting My Web Design Business?

That headline caught my attention (which is the purpose of a headline) because my business is both web design and social media.

“Social media is an interesting thing. As web design professionals, it can be a great opportunity to share your work and get in front of prospects who might otherwise never find you online. But for as much good as social media can do to propel your marketing efforts, it has the potential to be just as harmful to your business.”

But it turns out that the author is referring to how my social media presence could hurt my chances of getting a new job or client.

70% of hiring organizations research candidates using social media, and 57% of hiring managers have chosen not to pursue a candidate because of what they found on social media. So, I guess I need to watch what I say on social media. maybe I should avoid social media altogether. No[e, that’s not a good idea because 47% of organizations won’t contact a candidate if they have no online presence.

So, it’s a mixed message. Use social media the wrong way, and prospective clients will rule you out, but don’t use social media at all and they will also rule you out.