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6 Reasons Why You (and Your Company) Should Participate in National Healthcare IT Week

On this blog we often talk about how to use PR and marketing to help build the brand and drive sales for healthcare and healthcare IT (HIT) products. Most of the time the activities we discuss require some significant effort. But there’s an online event coming up next week that can actually pay big dividends with considerably less of an investment on your part: National Healthcare IT Week. Here’s the skinny…

Who: Thought leaders, Health IT companies and future Healthcare IT entrepreneurs

What: National Healthcare IT Week #NHITweek

When: October 8th – October 12th

Where: Online and locally

Why: It’s easy, relevant, it’s a great cause and great for building trust as a brand

Founded by HIMSS and the Institute for e-Policy, U.S. National Health IT Week (NHIT Week) is a nationwide awareness week focused on catalyzing actionable change within the U.S. health system through the application of information and technology. The week-long event is celebrated through partner-driven, national and local events along with online conversations through social media. It’s easy to get involved, so what’s the holdup?

Social media is often misunderstood as an unnecessary evil, especially in healthcare, but it is an amazing tool that allows you to reach your audience in a way that was never possible before. While developing and maintaining an online community does take time and resources, events like this allow users to reap some of the benefits quickly.

Even if you don’t have an internal social media coordinator or an amazing agency managing your online presence, you can still participate in National Healthcare IT Week and other similar events. Here are six reasons to jump on board if you haven’t already.

  1. Engage with like-minded people and companies. These types of events create a community around the cause. By finding like-minded people you may be able to make beneficial connections that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
  2. Gain a better understanding of the conversation. Conversations during these events come from a variety of perspectives. It’s common to get stuck viewing the world with tunnel vision by reviewing the same new sites, having favorite writers and viewpoints.
  3. Find new influencers. Participating in events like this including tweet chats are a great way to quickly find people with similar ideals with your company. You might find people experiencing problems you can solve.
  4. Gain trust with your target market. Trust is one of the most important aspects of the customer experience. These events offer a condensed time-frame that allows you to be a part of the conversation. It’s a great opportunity to show other users that your company actually wants to help.  Humanize your brand and spread awareness for the cause.
  5. Stay top of mind. Your competitors are likely participating in these events. Stay top of mind with your prospects and target market. Bonus: you will be top of mind with good sentiment.
  6. Take advantage of scalability. These events allow your organization to really adjust your involvement based on your resources. Participate in every aspect or do what you can with the time you and your team have available.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Become a partner
  • Share on social media
  • Share your story
  • Create or participate in an event locally

Be sure to let us know how you participate in the comments below too!

Embrace the Paywall Future – Because it’s Coming

For several years now we all have lived in luxury, enjoying free content on the Internet that’s paid for through ads and data mining, with no paywall to contend with. But, as many prominent media outlets have noted, things are beginning to change.

Back in the early days of the Internet (and in the print media era of old), we as consumers paid for the content we wanted to read and watch. With the advent of Adblock Plus – not to mention a reduction in advertising budgets – many news websites and online magazines are going back to subscription business models, unable to maintain profits with optional “premium” services and banner ads alone.

What does this mean for those of us in media relations? It means we’re going to have to set expectations for our clients, educating them on the state of the media. Because like it or not, it does seem more paywalls are popping up, which means public relations and marketing plans have no choice but to adapt.

On its face, things may appear dire – it’s hard to share content on social media and on a personal blog when a link appears behind a paywall. But, there are some positive takeaways to the coming “subscription era” of Internet journalism that could mean more meaningful placements, better quality leads, and superior content than what we’re getting now in the “free and open” era of Internet publication.

Subscribers Read – and Readers are Your Target Audience

I’m a bit of a hipster. So, I still subscribe to a few print magazines. Since I don’t like my money to go to waste, I actually read those magazines, sometimes even cover-to-cover. I also subscribe to a couple newspapers online, and I check them every day, reading the content that’s relevant to me and subscribing directly to the RSS feeds of columns and writers I like the most.

The takeaway here is this: Those who pay for content are more likely to actually read it. Studies have shown most people don’t read the content on their social media feed, often sharing links without even clicking on them. I’ll argue that this is a product of the free content era, wherein the overabundance of choice has rendered us all lost in a sea of noise. While it may be nice to get a social media share or a link click, ultimately what does that really mean in terms of educating the public on your business, thought leaders, and relevant news?

If you ask me, the answer might be “not much.” Too often our metrics for success are superficial, measured in total number of social media shares, clicks, and engagements, even if those engagements are largely the result of bots and humans users who act like bots. But, if someone subscribes to a publication, they are more likely to actually do some reading, because they have a financial stake in supporting that content. That means more meaningful social media shares and readers who actually do – you guessed it – some reading. This translates to real discussion and genuine interest, not just some generic comment and a quick share that’s aimed at strictly producing numbers.

If someone subscribes to an online (or print) magazine, that means they are genuinely interested in the topic. Ideally, when it comes to a media interview or byline that you want read, your target audience is interested. The subscription era means more quality readers, even if the quantity of superficial shares and clicks is reduced.

Building Meaningful Relationships

It’s an unspoken truth of media relations – backs need to be scratched, and sometimes your thoughtful expert source means less than the source from a company who bought an ad. It’s not fair and, quite frankly, it reduces the quality of the content journalists produce, but that’s the reality of for-profit media. Ads are how publications stay in business, at least for now.

As advertising budgets begin to dry up across the board, the “pay-for-play” approach to journalism is harder to navigate for companies looking to get coverage, particularly for smaller startups who are still working to expand and turn a profit.

A positive outcome to a subscription business model means ads will no longer determine who gets an interview, since the primary source of revenue would ideally be subscriptions. Further, “sponsored content” will no longer be a path to regular byline publication. Like in the days of old, sources will be judged based more on merits, and journalists will begin, once again, to seek the stories that are most interesting to them and their readers.

Much as how the subscription model means an increase in quality readers, the same holds true for the content journalists produce. For those in media relations, that means we can build meaningful relationships with journalists for the mutual benefit of providing sources, who in turn get their name and message into stories that are far more genuine than those produced under the guise of advertising.

While free content will likely persist long into the future, the trend seems to be that the best publications are going to put themselves behind a paywall before too long. This will bring challenges, particularly when it comes to sharing content on company blogs and in social media feeds. In time, content producers and social media users will undoubtedly adapt to these changes and find workarounds, since sharing is the key to more exposure. I think this problem will ultimately solve itself, though admittedly things won’t be as straightforward as they are presently.

Sure, it may seem strange now to imagine an Internet where all content isn’t free, but it’s coming. And there are positive aspects to this transformation that could benefit everyone involved in the media placement chain, from thought leaders to journalists and those of us in between.  One thing is for certain, it’s best to embrace this future instead of combatting it – because those who are prepared will be best equipped to navigate the changing landscape and find success. One thing is for certain: Subscription models do not signal the end of journalism, which means media relations will continue to play an important role in earning placements.

Hashtag Misuse

Only You Can Prevent Hashtag Misuse

Do your research. Or end up with #EGG on your face.

hash·tag: A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it.

Communication has and will continue to evolve. It is a powerful tool when used correctly, and social media has taken communication to new heights. Now, we can reach beyond our own networks to communicate, discover and assemble instantly.  However, a tool is only as powerful as its operator.

Though each social network has its own way of displaying posts under a certain hashtag, and their own algorithms for specifying trending content, these rules tend to hold true in general across each social channel. Follow them and you too can prevent hashtag misuse.

Only you can prevent hashtag misuse

Amendola Communications Honored as a Top Healthcare Agency in Ragan and PR Daily’s Ace Awards

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., May 22, 2018Amendola Communications, a nationally recognized, award-winning healthcare and healthcare IT (HIT) public relations and marketing agency, announced today that it has added another accolade from the PR industry. The agency was recently recognized in the overall Healthcare Agency category in Ragan and PR Daily’s Ace Awards 2017.

The Honorable Mention award is just the latest national recognition for the agency, which provides a full range of PR and marketing services, including media and analyst relations, messaging, media training, content development and management, social media, digital and online marketing, collateral development, website design and content creation, crisis management, strategic counsel and other services.

“We have received many awards focused on specific campaigns, but we’re especially proud of this award from Ragan and PR Daily because it recognizes the agency as a whole – our work, how we operate, our development of a high-performance team and culture, and the results we generate for clients,” said Jodi Amendola, CEO of Amendola Communications. “We’ve lived and breathed healthcare technology for nearly two decades and, as a result, have developed a team of healthcare veterans with the experience, connections and creativity to drive meaningful business results for businesses of all sizes, whether they’re early-stage startups or established public companies.”

The Ace Awards honor individuals, in-house teams and agencies in communications and marketing. Entrants represent the most talented and innovative thinkers across a variety of industries.

Media Contact:
Marcia Rhodes
Amendola Communications
480.664.8412 ext. 15
mrhodes@acmarketingpr.com

When a social media crisis strikes, what do you do?

Imagine this: after weeks of planning then pouring time and resources into your social media efforts you are starting to see results. You are gaining new followers and engaging with potential customers. Your efforts are clearly working and just when everything seems like sunshine and rainbows, there it is, loud and proud hate mail plastered on your front page and quickly gaining likes, shares and similarly-frustrated commenters. What do you do?

Take a deep breath.

Let’s face it, no one is lining up for their chance to deal with negative comments on social media. But, with the right plan of action in hand, dealing with these problems doesn’t have to be scary. It can be a great opportunity to learn more about your customers and engage with them at a critical point in the buyer’s journey.

When something negative about your company starts gaining traction you need to determine if it is a crisis that needs attention from more people or if it is a small problem that can be solved. If there is something negative about your company that is well-known and commonly addressed, it’s probably not a crisis. There is likely already a protocol for how to deal with this type of regular negativity within your PR or sales department. However, if there is something new about your product or company stirring up serious attention on social media it might be time to dive in and handle the crisis!

Phone a friend

If you are managing the social account or if you are personally invested in the subject of the negativity it’s a good idea to ask a colleague or your agency for some advice. Being removed from the situation helps when looking for the right approach to take.

Not everyone has the same sense of humor. It’s good to run your response by someone else to make sure your response won’t be taken the wrong way. While sometimes taking the low road may work in your favor, such as the social media sass-master at Wendy’s, it’s usually best to take the high road and be polite.

Avoid sounding defensive

Whenever something negative happens on social media it is easy to take it personally. Your first reaction will be to react in a defensive manner. Let’s say someone commented on your company site saying that you never provide xyz, when in fact you do. Well, of course you want tell the commenter they are wrong! However, that’s not going to get you many brownie points from your audience. What goes online stays online and can spiral quickly.

It’s like sending a snarky email to a coworker and then seeing they forwarded the email to a large group. *Insert big gulp* Remember that whatever you put out there can be interpreted and then shared in a way you didn’t originally intend.

Never reply to online reviews defensively and two years later like the screenshots above. As cringe-worthy as these comments are, it’s easy to go into defensive mode without a plan in place.

Let’s say one customer leaves a nasty review about your company or product. Then customer 2 comes along and reads the review. If you respond to customer 1 with compassion and show a willingness to listen to their feedback or fix the problem, you can turn that review into something positive for customer 2 to see. Instead of winding up on a blog post about what not to do when responding to negative reviews. 

Take swift action

Negative comments and mentions on social media need to be handled in a timely manner and with care, just like a positive comment. Whenever possible, get ahead of the problem and address it before there is a chance for the comment to gain momentum.

When possible be proactive in avoiding potentially offensive or misinterpreted posts. When a national crisis or traumatic event happens hit pause on your social queue. Review posts before unfortunate timing can make your company seem obtuse.

Fix the problem

Do your best to fix the problem at hand when you have the opportunity. Don’t make any promises unless you know you can follow through. Show everyone that you are a company that listens to customers’ needs. After all they are the ones using your product or service. Most angry comments and reviews online stem from a need to be heard.

Fix the problem without escalating the frustration of the user when possible. Asking for more information and show a willingness to work through the problem if necessary. Offer to take the conversation to private message or offline. 

Admit when you’re wrong

Mistakes will happen. Own up to them and diffuse the situation quickly. It’s better to admit you are wrong compared to letting someone else point out your flaws. Addressing the problem immediately shows your company is actively searching for a solution and aware when things go wrong. You may even be rewarded for your honesty.

 

Has a social media crisis ever happened to you? Comment with your story or questions!

 

 

 

iN2L Returns to Amendola Communications and Expands Public Relations and Content Program

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Aug. 29, 2017 – Amendola Communications, an award-winning healthcare marketing and public relations agency, announced today that It’s Never 2 Late (iN2L), the leader in providing person-centered engagement, content and technology solutions for seniors, has selected Amendola Communications as its agency of record. Amendola will provide a range of public relations and content services that promote iN2L as a pioneer and innovator whose mission is to make life worth living for older adults by enabling them to connect, engage and enjoy life leveraging technology.

Previously, iN2L engaged Amendola to elevate its social media presence. The firm successfully executed a program that generated the following results for iN2L in the first six months: 28% new page likes on Facebook; 17% new Twitter followers and 30% new LinkedIn connections.

“I have always been impressed with the Amendola team’s in-depth knowledge of the healthcare IT, long-term care and resident/patient engagement space, as well as their strong commitment to results-oriented client service,” said Tom Bang, chief executive officer of iN2L. “They proactively hit the ground running with several earned article placements in tier one press, multiple media interviews, and strategic guidance from a team of six senior level executives. We’re delighted to be working with them again.”

iN2L works with over 2,000 senior living communities – including independent living, assisted living, nursing homes and adult day programs – in all 50 states and three countries. iN2L integrates the hardware, software and media with personalized educational and therapeutic content necessary to allow virtually any person with any interest in using a computer, regardless of background, physical or intellectual abilities, to do so pleasurably, engagingly and without frustration.

“A repeat client is a testament to the value we bring to our partnerships,” said Jodi Amendola, CEO of Amendola Communications. “We look forward to advancing iN2L’s mission in the marketplace and to working once again with industry leaders, Tom Bang and Jack York.”

Amendola Communications will provide public relations and marketing communications services, including social media programming, strategic counsel and media relations. The agency will also be responsible for delivering a range of content demonstrating the thought leadership and expertise of iN2L’s subject matter experts, including bylined articles, blog posts, press releases and other communication materials.

About It’s Never 2 Late
It’s Never 2 Late® (iN2L) develops digital engagement technology for senior living community residents, with over 2,500 installations in the United States and Canada. The company’s picture-based, touchscreen interface provides easy connectivity to the Internet, regardless of users’ physical and cognitive abilities. iN2L’s media library offers 4,000 social, educational, spiritual and gaming content options. For more information, visit www.in2l.com.

About Amendola Communications

Amendola Communications is an award-winning national public relations, marketing communications, social media and content marketing firm. Named one of the best information technology (IT) PR firms in the nation by PRSourceCode for four years running, Amendola represents some of the best-known brands and groundbreaking startups in the healthcare and healthcare IT industries. Amendola’s seasoned team of PR and marketing pros delivers strategic guidance and effective solutions to help organizations boost their reputation and drive market share. For more information about the PR industry’s “A Team”, visit www.acmarketingpr.com, and follow Amendola on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Media Contact:

Marcia Rhodes, Amendola Communications, 480.664.8412 ext. 15 / mrhodes@acmarketingpr.com

Your Brand: What Healthcare Can Learn from Disney and Keen Shoes

It takes years to build brand equity, and just an instant to tarnish it. The best brands know the brand must drive every interaction with stakeholders, including investors, the media and the public. Failing to “lead with the brand” may result in lost opportunities to create loyal ambassadors.

One crucial make-or-break moment for many brands is how they respond to customer complaints.

For retail companies, this should be Brand 101. Healthcare companies, meanwhile, are only now starting to consider patients as consumers, due in part to the greater share of the cost of care being borne by patients through higher deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance.

As patient/consumers have more “skin in the game”, demand is rising for a consumer experience that is more like what the best retail companies offer. Healthcare companies would do well to pay attention to best practices—and pitfalls–across the retail industry. So here is a “Tale of Two Brands”.

Recently, my friend Eric and I had wildly different experiences with two popular consumer brands.

First, my experience: I bought a set of pajamas from disneystore.com featuring the character Maui from the Moana film. When my toddler saw the pajamas, he squealed “You’re Welcome!” (Maui’s signature phrase) with delight. But the shorts and the top were two different sizes, and the bottom was too small. Here’s what happened next:

Great example of putting the brand first

Within an hour, Brandon had turned a customer with a complaint into a brand ambassador, offering to send another pair of pajamas, no questions asked. I did share my positive experience with friends and “Mom” networks. Also, Brandon suggested that I donate the mismatched pair of pajamas to “spread the Disney magic”, and since I have such a great feeling abut the company, I’m happy to do so. In fact, my opinion of the company is considerably higher than before I ever had this complaint.

Contrast this with my friend Eric’s experience with a popular shoe brand that was initially less than “keen” about replacing a pair of sandals that had ripped apart after a couple of months. This pair was a replacement for a first pair of sandals that broke after just a few weeks. The company has a one-year warranty in place, but they initially refused to honor it, saying it doesn’t cover replacement items. Here’s Keen’s initial response to Eric’s warranty claim:

Hello Eric,
Your warranty claim #WKUS0181563ES has been denied.

KEEN’s warranty program covers manufacturing and materials flaws for one year on original items purchased from KEEN authorized retailers. This warranty does not extend to items that were purchased from www.keenfootwear.com with promo codes awarded to satisfy previous warranty claims. 

We have included a discount code for www.keenfootwear.com below as an accommodation. Promo Code: WR-HP53-MZDP-L4Discount: 20%

Brad KEEN Warranty Specialist

Brad, Thank you for your response. I’m disappointed, frankly. What I’m seeing in your policy is that your company wants the benefit of SAYING you offer a warranty, without actually standing behind your products. Would it really cost you THAT much to make this right for someone (me) that really wants to be your customer?? I believe that your company can do better. Who can I talk to that has the power to make this right for me? Regards, Eric

Eric, You are certainly welcome to contact the KEEN Fan Services supervisor or manager at 866.676.5336 to plead your case. We stand by our inspector’s verdict on this claim and cannot offer any additional accommodation for this pair. Our warranty terms and conditions state quite clearly that items obtained with warranty promo codes from previous claims are not eligible for replacement consideration. The warranty department at KEEN considers this matter closed and we apologize for any inconvenience that this causes you. Best regards, Brad KEEN Warranty Specialist 

Eric then started posting on his own Facebook page about his experience, with photos of the broken shoes. Then he reached out to the Keen Facebook page. Finally, four days later, the head of customer service reached out to Eric, asking him to order a new pair of his choosing to replace the ripped sandals.

Assuming this next pair is good quality, Eric says he’ll remain a Keen customer. But his opinion of the company is damaged by the experience. It’s a tremendous missed opportunity because—though Keen doesn’t know it—Eric is an outdoor educator who interfaces with hundreds of kids (and their parents) each year.

He runs a Pioneer camp in Florida which couldn’t be more “on brand” for Keen, as both emphasize the joys of “unplugging” and enjoying nature. Moreover, Keen has a enlisted a number of brand ambassadors who each “represents a convergence of KEEN’s values and interests”. Eric would be a great addition to that group. But, initially, Keen’s customer service operation failed to lead with the brand, and didn’t take the time to understand its customer and his concerns. Instead, it stuck to a blanket rule, and referenced Eric as a warranty claim number, not as the brand fan he was before the incident.

So, what can healthcare companies learn from this Tale of Two Brands?

1. Speed matters

Resolving a problem quickly is a key to maintaining brand loyalty. Disney is known for their lightning quick responses to customer problems, and my experience was no exception. Brandon responded to my query within an hour, while Eric had to wait four days before getting a satisfactory response from Keen. Now, to be fair, Disney is a much, much larger company, with many more employees, so it’s understandable that Keen’s response would take longer. Unfortunately, Eric did receive an initial response quickly, but the response did not seek to understand or resolve his problem.

2. Personalize the response

Disney was able to mail me a new set of pajamas with nothing more than my Facebook name and town. They knew exactly who they were talking to, when I had bought the pajamas, what size, and my address. This kind of sophisticated contact center is rare. But smaller organizations can ask questions to get the personal information and understand the particular needs of the customer, rather than refer to a warranty claim number, which was off-putting in Eric’s case.

3. Empower employees

Disney’s approach to gaining and maintaining brand equity is to give employees the power to solve problems, not to just enforce the rules and say no. Once someone higher up the chain at Keen understood that Eric was not trying to game the warranty system, but in fact had TWO pairs of shoes fail in the space of weeks or months, the company agreed to replace the shoes. But if Brad—Eric’s first contact at the company–was empowered to ask the details of the story, and then respond based on the specific situation, it could have been resolved more quickly and positively

4. Ask your critics to be your fans

Since my Disney issue was resolved so quickly, I immediately offered to share my experience. But Brandon asked me to go one step further and share the replaced pajamas – which were good quality, but simply mismatched sizes. This may give the company the opportunity to earn another fan who becomes a customer in the future. It’s clear, at Disney, that the public relations and brand teams drive all interactions with the public. This creates a unified, top-to-bottom messaging experience, applied to anyone who interfaces with the company. Keen still has the opportunity to turn Eric into a brand ambassador. A great PR operation might seize this chance to engage Eric and his campers, since the camp and company missions are aligned. They could, for instance, give sandals to a small group of kids, then take photos of the campers for the Keen website or other marketing collateral.

The takeaway for healthcare

Healthcare organizations can become more like the best consumer brands by taking a proactive approach to patient complaints and concerns. By responding quickly to patient concerns, seeing patients as individuals, empowering staff to solve problems and asking newly-satisfied patients to refer their family and friends, healthcare organizations can help to create and retain brand equity. This, in turn, can help drive up patient satisfaction scores, which can have a positive impact on the bottom line, in new value-based care arrangements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting Up Your Website for Social Success

In the good old days of the Internet (we’re talking the 1990s here), clients grappled with the decision to jump on the newest marketing scheme – the website. Advertising and PR agencies, as well as marketing directors, had widely divergent opinions about several components that are now taken for granted.

The conversation has gone from, “Do we really need a website?” to “How can we make our website better?”

I was on a marketing team that received a MAME Award for Best Website. (The Major Achievements in Merchandising Excellence golden trophy is to the homebuilding industry what the Oscar is to Hollywood.)  My employer strolled into my office and said, “Did I mention you’re going to be the guest speaker on websites at today’s Homebuilder’s Association meeting?  We leave in 20 minutes.” After the shock wore off, I must have delivered an intelligent lecture because many of the builders asked me to evaluate their websites.

What surprises me today is that many of the same problems I saw with sites in 2003 still exist. Sure, with WordPress and new design trends, the hot features of today are hero images, video and animation. But in the race to beef up data capture and content marketing, simple, everyday details can easily be overlooked.  Vendors and publishers alike can up their game and make it easier for their audience to engage, sign up, download, interact and purchase.

Here are 6 key areas you should evaluate on your website to ensure maximum engagement:

Contact Information

You would think contact information would be a no-brainer. But when I’m wearing my research hat, nothing makes me yell “REALLY?!” faster than wasting time hunting down basic information. Your address and phone number should be easy to find. Your “Contact Us” link should be at the top or bottom of every page. If people can’t reach you when they have questions about your event or product, they will likely move on to the next vendor on their list.  Don’t be coy. Give ‘em your 411!

Company Directories

In this digital world, time zones abound and chances are someone out there is looking at your website when you are not open for business. There are pros and cons to both popular methods of people reaching you after hours: “Contact Us” forms and Company Directories.

A contact us form (which is what we have on our own company website) can be programmed one time and simply lives on your website. Visitors can, however, be frustrated if you create a pre-populated and mandatory dropdown-list. What if the reason for contacting you isn’t on that list?

My personal favorite is Company Directories such as the one at HIMSS. It’s easy to find their staff and there’s no question who does what. But, you must keep on top of it and update it often.

Monitoring

So, you’ve got an “info@” email address posted on your website. It’s better than nothing. But who reads your incoming message? More than one person? Do you respond to every inquiry?

Whether it’s someone asking a question or providing feedback, a simple follow-up lets your audience know you’re on the ball.

And please watch the automated replies. It’s great to receive a quick email referencing my trouble ticket number. But it doesn’t make a very good impression to acknowledge you received my email and will respond shortly, and then never get back to me.

Follow up. Every. Single. Time.

Tell me thank you, let me know you’ll consider my suggestion, or forward me to the person who can really help me. Don’t leave me in the dark.

Oh, and remember to redirect the routing of your website mail if you have a change in staff.

Testing

The team members monitoring your web mail – inquiries and data capture alike – will know the average number of contacts you receive per month. Any sudden drop in those numbers should be a red flag.

Minor updates in website programming, firewalls and email proxy servers can all wreak havoc on your incoming messages. Test your site from time to time. Send yourself an email from the website or fill out any forms to ensure everything is still running as it should.

Social Media Platforms

Are links to your social platforms elusive? Are they current?

I’ve taken over social media duties for many clients and I am dismayed when I discover they have a LinkedIn account but no way to reach it through their website.

If you have multiple channels, make sure website visitors can reach them. By the same token, if you haven’t tweeted since 2013, it might be best to remove the little blue bird until your account is more current.

Yes, websites can be expensive to program. But a laundry list of social media platforms adds an unnecessary degree of difficulty that makes it so much harder for visitors to engage. Our eyes are now trained to look for social graphics and a text list of Twitter and Facebook will be overlooked.

A much better example is to use the icons with which everyone is familiar. No questions here on how I can engage!

 

 

But let’s not get carried away. Mashable, gotta love you, but honestly, which Twitter handle do I use when I’m trying to share an article you published?

Social Media Sharing

Publications count on social media to increase readership of their articles. Even vendor websites add sharing buttons to the side of their blogs to encourage readers to engage. What surprises me is how often a pre-programmed post opens in my Twitter profile without basic information such as a Twitter handle.

When you set up your Share buttons, be sure the website plug-in of choice includes your Twitter handle. It’s a common mistake and simple to fix. Also, Twitter doesn’t include links in the character count, but it’s still nice to provide a bit.ly (or whatever service you use) so visitors can RT and comment.

Which is, after all, what engagement is all about. To wit, here are some great examples of engagement done right:

Forbes – This site could really improve by adding their Twitter handle and a shortened link, but they get kudos for adding several options of “Tweet This” above the article. Readers will be quick to click that button and get the message out.

Becker’s Hospital Review – Share any of their articles on Twitter and the post starts with “Reading @beckershr” followed by the article title and the link.

Health IT Outcomes – Push the Tweet Share button and the post is auto-populated with the title of the article, a shortened link, and “via @HITOutcomes.”

Politico’s Morning eHealth – Not only does the Share button have all the necessary bits, but the journalists’ Twitter handles are displayed for even further engagement.

Sometimes it’s the little things that matter. Not only are these suggestions relatively low-cost fixes, the attention to detail will elevate your website to social success.

What suggestions do you have for making websites more social? Please share them below.

5 Things Social Media Managers Never Do

Grab your Instagram-worthy coffee and make sure you are not guilty of these social media crimes.

Social media marketing is fast paced. Not only does your well thought-out and carefully sliced up 140-character tweet have a short shelf life, but each platform changes almost daily.  However, there are some nuances that remain the same. These are my top 5 mistakes to avoid in the ever-evolving social media game.

1. Use old, wrong or low-quality logos

Twitter’s logo is a bird, not a plane and not a weird version of tumblers “t”. The official logo became the bird with no text in 2012. No, I’m not paid by Twitter’s branding manager, but I am fired up about getting everyone on the same page about the logo misuse!

Whenever you need a social media platform’s logo, it is best to visit their branding guidelines or resources. Usually, you can download a free kit that has the logo in many colors and every type of file format.

Another important logo faux pas to watch out for is the dreaded, low-quality profile picture or thumbnail. Nothing screams “We don’t care about this” more than a bad photo as your profile picture. It’s the first impression your potential customers see and you want it to be a good one! Don’t forget to look at your entire digital presence to make sure you have at least one high-quality photo listed with your brand. Google search is a commonly missed opportunity. Don’t worry, it’s an easy fix! Google uses their very own social network information first to populate the search results side bar. Make sure you gave a great photo or high-quality logo and accurate information listed on your Google+ account.

 

2. Spam following attacks

Managers that do this are like the sign spinners of social media marketing.

I understand how this strategy developed as you can get short-term results from using this tactic. But these followers are hardly worth your efforts and are most likely either spam-bots or accounts that are not linked to your decision makers.

You should still keep your ratios clean (follow fewer accounts than you have followers) and follow industry leaders and influencers. The key is to focus your efforts when it makes sense for your strategy, not sporadically and aggressively. Twitter will actually step in when it becomes too much of a problem, but please, never get to that point.

3. Miss an engagement or sales opportunity

Uh, hello? It’s called SOCIAL media. Be social! Especially if you are a B2B organization, this type of engagement just isn’t as common as the B2C counterparts on social media. Capitalize on the opportunity as it arises! There is no shortage of free software available to help manage your engagement. Find brand champions that aren’t tagging your account, yet still praising your name, fix customer problems or complaints and develop new sales leads.

Make sure your engagement is timely and relevant. Search all hashtags used or links shared before posting or replying. Also, make sure the account you are engaging with is a real person not just a bot or an irrelevant twitter user.

4. Forget to sign out of the company account

Yikes! This is an ugly one. People get fired over this and it is not a great situation to be in. Personally, as a practicing social media manager, I steer clear of posting politics on my personal social accounts and I keep it PG. This choice decreases my risk of posting something truly terrible on a company account. Newton’s law of gravity doesn’t apply to the internet. What goes up, stays up on the internet.

There are too many examples like the twitter accident that happened to Chrysler.

Social media managers need to be sure they're not posting personal thoughts on company accounts

5. Assume you have learned everything

The beauty and challenge of social media marketing is that it’s always changing. It’s hard to be the ultimate expert in something that is always changing and moving! Stay in touch with reality and assume there is always something new to learn and observe. I find it to be the best way to approach social media.

Hashtag conversations and meanings can change hourly, platforms have repositioned based on users habits and algorithms change all the time! The Internet is a place where traditional marketing practices and new forms of communication can be used in collaboration to create meaningful engagements with your audience.

Here are a few methods I use to stay up-to-date on my social media marketing skills:
• Use social media platforms for personal use
• Read and subscribe to social media marketing blogs and news outlets
• Listen to podcasts on the digital strategy
• Attend webinars on social media marketing
• Look at competitors or other industries and figure out what is working for them

Make sure not to commit any of these social media mistakes and comment below with other social media rules that stand the test of time.