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Take a Walk on the Wireside: Interop, News, Awards, Trends, Travel, Football!

Newsletter0913We’re excited to announce the inaugural edition of Wireside Communications’ newsletter, including highlights from 2013. The newsletter will be sent quarterly and will contain news about the agency, our clients and industry trends.

Read our full newsletter here.  To stay informed of what’s happening at Wireside Communications, please make sure to sign up to receive our next installment via email.

Keeping Organized with Hootsuite

hootsuite

In my last post on Fireside, I talked about the series I write about the great social media resources available to businesses and ones we use here at Wireside.  In writing the post, I realized that the one tool I use day in and day out had not yet been highlighted in that series on tools we endorse.  It’s the common case of not recognizing what’s right under your nose.  But I’m rectifying that omission today.

Today, I’m writing about the tool I rely on every day to organize our social media output – Hootsuite.  Hootsuite was originally developed as a way to organize tweets.  It has since evolved into a service that helps users manage a number of social media platforms.  The free membership allows a user to set up to 9 streams that display different feeds for each social platform.  Here at Wireside, we monitor Twitter feeds about our clients, trending topics, and any mentions about our own brand.  It’s all in one place, easy to monitor, and keep track of the topics of greatest importance to our company.  We also have our Wireside Facebook and LinkedIn pages integrated with Hootsuite and monitor our wall posts and company updates.

The best feature I’ve found with Hootsuite is the ability to schedule tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts in advance.   It’s a great feature to make sure that relevant content is going out throughout the day and not all at once.

The free version also allows users to generate basic analytic reports that help to determine what is resonating best with their audience.  My favorite analytic report is the Ow.ly Click Summary which shows which links were clicked on most frequently.  It’s quick to generate and easy to understand when distributed throughout the company.

But even for all the wonderful things that Hootsuite does for me, it isn’t without a few quirks.  As it was originally created for use with Twitter, it still works best with that platform.  I still find the need to log in to Facebook directly sometimes because a wall post doesn’t display properly.  I’ve also found the search feature, to search for a person to follow or a hashtag, to be a bit limited and have found myself logging into Twitter directly on occasion when I can’t seem to pull the necessary information.

Yet, these are very minor inconveniences when compared to the amount of time saved with Hootsuite.  If you’re looking to get organized, I highly recommend setting up your Hootsuite account today.

A Brave New, Overshared World

SocialMediaI write a series on Fireside about social media resources we use here at Wireside that we endorse.  There seem to be so many great (mostly) free tools and resources for businesses to track and analyze social media output.  I’ve written on this blog about resources like Klout which allows individuals and businesses to gauge their influence on social media; RebelMouse which compiles a user’s social media output into a dynamic, colorful, easy-to-read format; and Bottlenose which allows users to analyze their social media influence and trends in real-time. And I don’t know what I’d do without Hootsuite, which allows me to schedule tweets and Facebook posts in advance, see a number of designated streams at once, and provides basic analytic tools – all for free.  It seems that every day a new start-up pops up to make my life as a manager of our social properties easier.  And I love that businesses use social media; it allows for a two-way dialogue with clients and customers rather than the one-way dialogue of the past.  As a marketer I love engaging with, not just talking to, customers.

But lately, I’ve read news account after news account about adolescents who are being bullied on social media, who are having their lives destroyed by one unflattering picture being posted online and remaining there forever.  In a recent article, in a series focusing on what they term “Generation Overshare,” an HLN.com reporter points out the difference between adolescents growing up today and those of past generations.  He notes that all of us encountered embarrassing experiences in our teen years (oh yes, I can attest to that!), but what’s changed is that now those embarrassing moments are turning up on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram to exist in perpetuity and be shared and shared until kids in the neighboring town and around the world have seen it.   Sometimes those images come back to haunt them into adulthood when they go to get their first job and the hiring manager does a quick Internet search.

It’s definitely a brave new world and it has gotten me to thinking about what resources are out there to help adolescents analyze and protect their social media output.  Sure, they could sign up for Bottlenose and track the trends around their handle and their personal brand, but such services are marketed towards people like me – the digital marketing managers – not adolescents.  Where are the start-ups in Silicon Valley dedicated to sniffing out digital bullies and erasing derogatory, bullying posts and tweets?  Are there engineers working to build programs that can erase those awful, embarrassing images once teens graduate to adulthood and realize that hiring managers know how to use Google as well?  It seems there is quite a market for such services judging by the news coverage.  If you know of great tools out there to manage social media output for teens and anyone interested in protecting their personal brand, please leave a comment below.  After all, teen years will always be filled with embarrassing moments and kids will be kids, but should teens be judged forever on one embarrassing, overshared moment?

How Much Klout do you Have?

You’ve set up your company Twitter account and are tweeting with your followers, your company Facebook page is up and running and the number of likes are increasing.  Now what?  How do you measure how well your social properties are performing?  Enter, Klout.  Klout is a free service that measures influence across a number of social media platforms.  Originally just for individual users, the company recently released Klout for Business (currently in beta) to help businesses better gauge their influence on social media.

Klout defines influence as the response received from what a user shares on social media.  The more you engage with your audience and they engage with you in return, the higher the Klout score.  With the individual accout, Klout tracks more than 400 distinct points across a variety of social media channels to create a Klout score, including Wikipedia pages.  Having a number of properties linked will only help the Klout score increase.  Data is updated every 24 hours and scores fluctuate based on how much engagement there is.  Stop tweeting for a week and your score could go down sharply.  Klout The site also includes insights into what topics influencers care about the most and recommendations on how to better engage with your audience.

One limitation with a business account, probably due to it still being in beta, is that not all social media properties are available for businesses as for individual account holders (for instance, LinkedIn can only be connected to an individual account, not to a company LinkedIn page, and there is no way to link a company’s Wikipedia page).  Even with its shortcomings, however, having a Klout for Business account is still a good tool in your arsenal to track how your social media program is performing.  It should not be seen as the authority – each company has unique goals and expectations for their social media program which should be measured individually – but adding Klout for Business into the equation allows one more metric for measurement.  And today, when everyone seems to want to know ROI and have hard metrics behind their communications strategy, having another metric – and a concrete score – is a helpful tool in any communicator’s toolkit.

A Wealth of History, Right Outside Our Front Door

Richmond neighborhoods Shockoe Bottom and Shockoe Slip are home to a number of creative agencies and businesses, including Wireside Communications.  From our offices in the Old Dominion we support endless possibilities in the new world of communications.

Being a recent transplant from the City by the Bay, I knew very little about Richmond beyond its role in the Civil War as the former capital of the Confederacy.  I certainly didn’t know the part our neighborhood, Shockoe Bottom, played in the history of this nation. So, being a fan of history, I took a walking tour of the square blocks around the Superior Exchange Building where Wireside calls home to educate myself about the neighborhood.

Craig houseShockoe Bottom is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Richmond and grew due to its close proximity to the docks on the James River that were used to transport goods and people to the city. Within two blocks of Wireside’s offices sits one of the oldest structures in Richmond, the Adam Craig House, built in 1784 by Adam Craig, a prominent court clerk in Richmond.  Legend holds that his daughter, Jane Stith Craig Stanard, is the inspiration behind Edgar Allen Poe’s tribute, “To Helen.” In 1935, faced with the possibility of destruction, it was bought by Preservation Virginia and used as an arts center. Recently it was for sale.  For a million dollars you could own a piece of American history complete with an awesome outdoor shower to cool off in the hot Richmond summers!

MasonLess than one block from Wireside’s offices sits the oldest Masonic Lodge in continuous operation in the United States.  It was completed in 1787 and has been witness to many momentous occasions in U.S. history.  It was here that the residents of Virginia met to instruct their delegates before going to the Constitutional Convention and the building served as a hospital during the War of 1812.  During the Civil War, as much of Richmond was burning, a Union general (himself a mason) posted a guard at the door to protect the building from destruction.  Through it all it has stood, but currently is in need of repairs.  A recent article in Richmond Magazine noted that the building looks so derelict that a guide giving an historic tour noted that it was abandoned, even though members meet there up to four times per month.  Let’s hope that the current occupants can restore the building so it can continue to bear witness to Richmond’s, and this nation’s, history.

Pace HouseRichmond, like many cities, has had its share of triumphs and defeats.  Two blocks from Wireside’s headquarters stands a building that is both testament to its glory and its darker days.  It is referred to as the Pace-King house and sits at 19th Street and Grace Streets.  It was here that Charles B. Hill built his Italianate mansion.  According to official records, Charles Hill was an “auctioneer and local politician.” However, a person identified as an auctioneer in the 1800s in Richmond meant something different than it does today and generally meant that the person traded in slaves in addition to the items we commonly associate with the profession today.  In 1860, when the mansion was built, Richmond’s trade in slaves was second only to New Orleans’ and in 1856 just one auction house – that of Dickinson, Hill & Co. – raked in an astronomical sum of sales of $2.5 million, which translates to more than $50 million today!  Charles Hill, however, was able to enjoy the house financed by his dubious trade for only two years before he passed away.  The house was then sold to the namesakes of the house: James B. Pace in the 1860s and 1870s, owner of a tobacco factory, and Jane King in the 1880s and 1890s who is notable as one of the few women to run her own business – a large ice business in the age before refrigeration.  The house then changed hands a number of times until the 1970′s when, like much of the neighborhood, it was in disrepair and employed as a tenement for Richmond’s poor.

Luckily for us at Wireside, and our neighbors that call Shockoe Bottom home, the neighborhood has seen a resurgence.  Today, there are new owners of the Pace-King house who are renovating the property.  The neighborhood is alive with new restaurants, coffee shops, creative agencies and more.  In subsequent posts we’ll introduce you to some of the folks who work here and are leading the Shockoe renaissance.

Happy Golden Anniversary to AMA Richmond

50thparty1On Wednesday, June 26th the Richmond chapter of the American Marketing Association celebrated a huge milestone – its 50th Anniversary – with a party at Hardywood Brewery in Richmond and Wireside was happy to join in on the festivities.

Hardywood is one of the many craft breweries that have popped up all over Richmond and is a great venue to grab a cold beverage on a hot summer day, while listening to music and visiting with friends.  They also host a weekly food truck round-up on Thursday nights that has a rotating cadre of 12-15 different food trucks and a weekly farmer’s market on Wednesday evenings.  It seems that you could go to Hardywood every day of the week for a different event!

At the AMA Richmond event, there was an outdoor tent set up for people brave enough to weather the afternoon thunderstorm, as well as a private bar set up inside where people could sample some of Hardywood’s brews.  They also had food catered from two local food trucks – Grate Gourmet Fusion Pizza and Boka Tako Truck.  The food was delicious – I highly recommend checking out where their food trucks are parked in Richmond, or heading to Hardywood on a Thursday evening – to try them out.

It was great to get to network with marketing and communications industry people and celebrate such a great organization.  For anyone looking to meet fellow marketers and work on career development, the AMA is offering a promotion waiving the $30 registration fee for new professional memberships.  Hurry up and sign up as the offer is only for a limited time.

PR & SEO – A New Partnership for the 21st Century

SEO_meets_PR-cropped

There has been a good deal of press lately about the relationship between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and public relations (see Huffington Post article from last week).  Right on time, PRSA Richmond chapter held a morning panel on PR and SEO entitled, “PR + SEO: Let’s Get it On.”

Brian Forrester of Dynamic Web Solutions spoke first.  He said that measurable marketing is king – people expect results from their spend – and search marketing is in its Golden Age.  As more and more content is moving online, it is more important than ever that people be able to filter the authoritative content from the junk.  SEO promises to do this.  By ranking sites based on their number of backlinks (i.e., quality links from external sites) search engines filter results based on most important (or popular) content.   In other words,  in order to rank high on Google’s search engine, public relations and marketing professionals must get others to link back to their company/client sites.  But how do you get backlinks?  You can’t make someone link to your site.  The link between PR and SEO becomes more clear as SEO success is reliant on public relations professionals’ ability to promote content to a wider audience that can generate these backlinks.

And according to the next speaker, Shannon Lehey of Unboxed Technology, the trick is to create content that is of interest to others that they will naturally want to link to.  Remember, it isn’t enough to just put out content, you need to create content that is authoritative and will appeal to others.  In order to create good content, first work to create a clear content strategy with a cohesive brand voice.  A solid content strategy is like glue,  it ties everything in together.   And, by taking the time to know your brand and your audience, you can create content that others want to share, generate backlinks and increase SEO.

The third speaker was Ken Shafer, the SEO guru at Snagajob.  He offered some practical tips on how PR professionals can best measure SEO success.  He recommended two sites to measure new links – moz.com and ahrefs.com.  (Ken prefers ahrefs.com because it is updated in real-time.)  He suggested creating a spreadsheet with a column for PR that would pull in search engine traffic driven specifically through public relations-related activities (e.g., press releases, blog posts, etc.).  This way public relations is no longer seen as “fluff.”  Instead, public relations professionals will be armed with concrete, measurable data of how well  a campaign performed.

So, there you have it.  In the 21st century, SEO and public relations will be inextricably linked.  SEO will need public relations to push out and promote content for its success and PR will rely more on SEO to provide concrete ROI measurements for campaign success.

Powerful Presentations with Prezi

PowerPoint is so last century.  Presentations today need more than just a couple graphs on a page and basic animation.  They need movement, they need to come alive.  A presentation needs to be able to captivate an audience that is constantly bombarded with other attention grabbers – email, phone calls, another cute kitten video on YouTube.

Luckily, there is a company out there that can help.  Prezi is a start-up that allows users to create interactive presentations on the web.  Users can even upload old PowerPoints into one of their templates, make a couple of updates, and in a flash have a visually appealing, 3-dimensional, interactive, exciting presentation that will blow colleagues away.

Prezi

Like with many new technology start-ups, Prezi currently offers a free membership option.  The free option allows a user access to the online database of templates and much of the functionality of the paid versions, but all presentations are housed online and publicly available to anyone who visits the site.  An upgraded “Enjoy” membership, which costs only $59 per year, allows for presentations to be stored online privately so users can choose with whom they’d like to share it.

It’s about time to shake up the boardroom – why not try out Prezi today?

Social Media Sonar Graphs with Bottlenose

So you have the Twitter account up and running and you’re posting daily, interacting with others, and following the conversations but how do you really know what the key trends are so you can contribute in a more effective way?  How can you take all those conversations and put them into a visually appealing graph so others can quickly digest the conversations?  Or, how can you synthesize the conversation occurring around one, key term?  The answer, my friends, is Bottlenose.

Bottlenose is currently in beta with a pro, paid version on the way, but for now you can use their service to analyze trends in real-time in your twitter and other social media feeds, generate sonar charts based on your choice of keywords, and more.  It aims to make sense of what is happening now so you can react and interact as conversations are happening.  And the best part?  It’s free!  It takes a couple minutes to set up with your Twitter account and then you’re up and analyzing the trends and conversations happening between you and your followers.
Wireside_Bottlenose

The feature I like best is the Bottlenose sonar graph.  It is a graphical depiction of the conversation around a chosen key word.  It’s great to use if you’re running a campaign and want to see in real-time what people are saying around a key term.  You will probably discover some trends you didn’t even know were occurring that will lead to richer engagement in the future.

Bottlenose Pro promises to have more robust analytic capabilities, but for those just starting to measure their social media reach and engagement, the free version is a good way to start.  So, what are you waiting for?  Jump on in – the water’s fine!