Blog Archives

Fletcher Prince Facebook Services

Do you know why people like brands on Facebook? Learn why in this short video that also highlights Fletcher Prince Facebook services.

For more information about using Facebook for your business or nonprofit, visit Fletcher Prince http://www.FletcherPrince.com or contact Mary@FletcherPrince.com

Fletcher Prince can launch or makeover your company blog

Blogs are the best way to showcase your subject matter expertise, obtain the trust of potential clients and customers, build value for current customers and clients, and increase SEO for your website.

The effort involved in creating and maintaining a corporate blog is not insubstantial, but the payoff can be great.

Your friends at Fletcher Prince can help.  We can design your branded blog, integrate social networks and video, and coach you on the most effective blogging techniques.

  • Blog coaching
  • Content creation
  • Design your branded blog
  • Enable social media and sharing features
  • Configure email subscriptions
  • Set up categories, widgets, and pages

 

Fletcher Prince’s YouTube and video production capabilities

Is your company on YouTube?  We produce videos and design branded YouTube Channels that are fully optimized for online search.  We also makeover Channels and video settings to enhance SEO and branding.

  • Pre-video consultation
  • Video production
  • Branded YouTube Channel development
  • Facebook video uploads
  • Video marketing
  • Video podcasts
  • YouTube logos and custom backgrounds
  • Integration with social networks

Facebook marketing for your business or nonprofit

Your friends at Fletcher Prince  can help you launch an effective and engaging Facebook Page.

Discover how to promote your company or nonprofit on Facebook with interactive posts, video, contests, and photos.

  • Training
  • Editorial calendars
  • Branded profile and cover images
  • Image and video management
  • Advertising
  • Integration with websites and social media

Need to Know Updates to LinkedIn Company Pages

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

If you’re going to build a presence on social media, it really helps to have a savvy graphic designer and a YouTube video producer on board, because these branding elements are becoming increasingly prominent on the major channels.

Earlier this year, Facebook created the “Cover Image” requirement.

Not too long ago, Twitter introduced a similar “cover image” option.

Now LinkedIn presents one, too!

Of course, all these images are different sizes and appear in different contexts, so they all require different graphic design approaches.

As you know, we help clients build and update their LinkedIn Company profiles.   At Fletcher Prince, we believe it’s vital for every company, association and nonprofit to build a robust presence on LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional online network.  LinkedIn has more than 175 million members in over 200 countries.  In 2012, LinkedIn users will conduct more than 5 billion professional searches.

LinkedIn has made some changes to the look of LinkedIn Company profiles, so I wanted to let you know about these changes.

1. Cover images.  One important feature is that Company Pages now offer a “cover-image” style rectangular image to show off your brand. That’s especially  nice on this platform because the two logo images you are required to provide for a Company Page are quite small, and it is a design challenge to make them appear legible, for some brands.

Here’s how a LinkedIn Company Page looks without a cover image.  Like a department store window with nothing in it — a missed opportunity!

And here’s how a LinkedIn Company Page looks tricked out with a new image — much better!

2. Company Status Updates.  Just as you can update your Twitter profile or Facebook profile, LinkedIn Company Pages now allow you to update your Page with a short message, which can include a link.  The posts can be up to 500 characters (including spaces).

Up to 20 status updates will be active at a time.  LinkedIn users and followers can “like” your status update when they see it on the stream on their home pages or when they visit your Company Page.

Yes, you now have another task to add to your social media “to-do” list!  Aim to update your Company Page with status updates several times a week, at the beginning and end of the work day during the work week, when people tend to check in to LinkedIn.

As elsewhere, the updates should be short, relevant, timely, and useful.  And don’t post every hour.  If you  post an excessive amount of status updates, your Page may be deleted.

You can use status updates to post news about your company, job openings, industry news, press releases, blog posts, etc.  Build power in the update by including a link and call to action. Stand out on LinkedIn by posting YouTube video links and drive more traffic to your company videos.

Now this is where you are really going to need to update your LinkedIn Company Page “profile” images to something quite legible — which for most of you is going to mean a logo design service.  That’s because these Company Status Updates will appear in the stream and your logo will appear right alongside it.  So these logos are more prominent than ever on the “new” LinkedIn.  Don’t try to make an existing logo fit in each of these custom dimensions.  It just won’t work.

3.  Prominent advertising on Company Pages.  Another new change is that you will see a LOT more advertising on LinkedIn Company Pages, including every product and service page, right margin.  The best way to cope with this is to add YouTube video for each section.  The YouTube video will take priority location on the Page location.  Without it, the advertisement appears “above the fold.”  So, it looks like this:

But when you complete the Products section, and add video, then your video appears in that space, and the advertisement is bumped down “below the fold.”  So, it looks better, like this!

This is the perfect location for product-service videos, brief customer testimonial videos, and case-study style videos, all of which you should have on your YouTube Channel, anyway.  In fact, to take full advantage of LinkedIn Company Pages, your company is going to need a fully-operational YouTube Channel, so talk to us about making that happen for you, if you haven’t started yet.

Many companies do not take advantage of these opportunities, and they should.  It’s free to set up a LinkedIn Company Page, just as it is free to set up a company profile on most social media platforms.  To take full advantage of LinkedIn Company Pages

  1. Fully complete each available section with text and links.
  2. Engage a graphic designer to design LinkedIn-specific elements.  You will need logo images in two sizes, a cover image, three hyper-linked banner images, and thumbnail images for each product and service.
  3. Include (or ask us to produce) a YouTube video for each available section.  Let visitors see your brand first, not someone else’s advertisement.
  4. Encourage your employees to follow your LinkedIn Company Page by marketing it internally (ask us how).
  5. Add a LinkedIn Company Page “Follow” button to your company website.

With my writing skills and social media experience, and David’s graphic design and photography skills, and our combined video production capabilities, we can make your LinkedIn Company Page a stand-out online marketing channel — worthy of your company’s or nonprofit’s reputation — for an affordable, fixed fee.  David and I have 28 LinkedIn recommendations for our work.  Please contact Mary@FletcherPrince.com or call (571) 269-7559 to schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you build and update your LinkedIn Company Page.

Three Virginia brands that are rocking Pinterest

Are you on Pinterest yet?  Pinterest is a free-to-use content sharing site that allows members to collect and showcase images and videos, with links, on virtual bulletin boards.

Merchants are excited about Pinterest because it drives more referral traffic than other social networks.  About 25% of users report that they bought an item as a result of seeing it in on Pinterest (Comscore, July 2012).  So, lots of brands are trying out Pinterest. Here are three Virginia brands that are making the most of Pinterest, in creative ways.

(P.S. Don’t forget to follow my boards on Fletcher Prince!)

1. White House Foods.  The Winchester, VA manufacturer makes apple sauce, apple butter, apple cider vinegar, well, you get it. They make a lot of things with apples.  So Pinterest is a great fit for White House foods because people share lots of recipes on Pinterest.

But White House didn’t stop at just sharing recipes.  Along with an apple recipe board, they also have

  • Vinegar tips
  • Kid-friendly (crafts and recipes)
  • and Reusing jars and cups in crafts

Pretty clever marketing, White House!  Let’s see even some more pins!

2. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  You know what’s impressive about this Richmond, VA nonprofit organization?  Other than their lovely gardens?  They have more than 770,000 followers on Pinterest.

I asked the account manager, Jonah Holland,  how the nonprofit managed to attract so many followers, and the answer was tapping into an enthusiastic pinning population: brides.

Originally, the goal of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Pinterest account was to reach brides planning their wedding who looking for inspiration. This year Lewis Ginter was voted “Best Place for a Wedding Reception” in Virginia Living magazine, so we knew that was an audience we could connect with.

But what we found was so much more than that.  There is a vibrant gardening community on Pinterest, and our goal is to connect with them and to share our love of gardens (ours and others) with an audience who appreciates beauty and gardening….to share valuable information with our followers. This could be eco-friendly tips, gardening advice, or just simply sharing a beautiful photo we took of a bloom at Lewis Ginter, or elsewhere.

Way to market the mission, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden!

3. Powers Business Machines.  One of the fun things about Pinterest is discovering companies when they follow you.  Powers Business Machines in Newport News, VA is a small business that sells office equipment, furniture and supplies.  You’d think that would make for some pretty dry Pinterest material but they have taken a creative approach.  Some of their boards include

  • Fun with copiers
  • Copier art
  • Typewriters (typewriter images are super-hot on Pinterest; they get repinned a lot)
  • Home office ideas
  • Organization tips
  • Healthy lunches

and a whole lot more.  I like what they’ve done!  They embrace the fun and visual aspects of Pinterest, not to mention some of the more popular categories, such as food, which is the leading category on Pinterest.  And they manage to connect all that content back to their brand.

Keep up the good work, Powers Business Machines!

August Network and Lunch Report

What interesting conversations we had at today’s Network and Lunch get-together.  As you know, every month I organize a Network and Lunch event at a different location in the Washington, DC area.  Today, we met at the Silver Diner in Falls Church, Virginia.

In addition to me and David (and my son William), we also had return attendee and fellow communicator Leah Ibrahim with us, who consults on social media strategy for Pew Charitable Trusts.  We were joined by new friends Divina Rutherford, senior account executive with Sage Payment Solutions, and James Perkins, co-owner of MotoHaven, a business that teaches people how to ride motorcycles safely.

Everyone had something interesting to share today.  Divina works with local businesses and nonprofits on technological solutions for processing payments and accounting.  She set the Girl Scouts of Northern Virginia up with a smart phone compatible system (see photo), so they can take credit card payments as they sell door-to-door.  Her company also manages e-commerce solutions for business websites.

James answered our many curious questions about what it was like teaching people how to ride motorcycles.  His business is doing very well with customers coming from all over the DC area to his Fredericksburg, Virginia location.  One of the ways he reaches customers is through his company’s Facebook Page.

Speaking of Facebook, Leah shared some really helpful tips about Facebook.  She has good experience with using sponsored stories on Facebook with her clients.  This pay advertising option significantly raises the visibility of a selected Page update in newsfeeds, and you can target who sees them by location, age, interests, and many other attributes.  She also mentioned that you can raise awareness on Facebook by creating Facebook ads on birthdays.  Read her blog post for more details on that tactic.

Of course, the food was great.  I enjoyed the lunch a lot and I really appreciate people making time in their day to join us.

Come to the Network and Lunch Event in September!

Our next Network and Lunch event will be at Whitlow’s on Wilson (Arlington, Virginia) on Monday, September 17 .  Register today and join us for conversation and delicious food.  It’s free — just pay for your own lunch and help out with the tip.  See you then!

Social Media in the Workplace: Setting Contact Limits for Schools to Protect Students

Seal of Missouri.

Image via Wikipedia

As discussed last week in this blog, social media presents risks, as well as opportunities, particularly in the workplace.  Yet another example has surfaced that I think deserves attention and consideration as we all try to work out what is appropriate and advisable in the use or restriction of social media in the workplace.

The state of Missouri passed the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act last week, which is intended to ease the prosecution of sexual predators in the schools, and reduce risks associated with sexual predation.  The law goes into effect at the end of this month, in time for the new school year.  One teachers’ organization is protesting a section of the law that relates to social networking, claiming it is unconstitutional.

The Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minor Students in Schools

The intent of this law, of course, is worthy, and Ms. Hestir’s testimony that supported it is heart-breaking and unfortunately relates a situation not uncommon.   Studies vary on the rate of prevalence of sexual abuse of underage students, but estimates range from 13% to 34% for female students and 7% to 16% for male students, according to a 2004 U.S. Department of Education report.  Clearly, more does need to be done to protect students in schools.

Do Sexual Abusers Exploit Children on Social Networks?
You may wonder if social networks have been misused by child predators.  The answer is yes.  The law was prompted in Missouri after 87 teachers lost their licenses for sexual misconduct, much of it allegedly involving online interactions.   A 2008 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 4% of study respondents said they had received an unwanted solicitation specifically via a social networking site (such as MySpace or Facebook).  And this was a limited sample in terms of age, and measured in early 2008, so we can probably assume that the problem is quite a bit more extensive.  There are other well documented cases of predators using Facebook and other social networking sites to “groom” their victims, such as the incident of a U.K. predator who pretended to be a teenager online on Facebook and other social networks to contact and eventually molest children.

Does The Missouri Legislation Violate the Rights of Teachers?

The controversy that has arisen this week, however, relates to a section of new Missouri law that could be applied to the use of social media:

SECTION 162.069 – By January 1, 2012, every school district must develop a written policy concerning teacher-student communication and employee-student communications. Each policy must include appropriate oral and nonverbal personal communication, which may be combined with sexual harassment policies, and appropriate use of electronic media as described in the act, including social networking sites. Teachers cannot establish, maintain, or use a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and the child’s legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian. Teachers also cannot have a nonwork-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student. Former student is defined as any person who was at one time a student at the school at which the teacher is employed and who is eighteen years of age or less and who has not graduated.

At first glance, the section seems to be instituting common-sense protections. The requirement that each school district have a social media policy that conforms with state and federal laws is a sound move, although I would hope there would be state-wide resources dedicated to the school districts for developing and enforcing these social media policies.

However the Missouri State Teachers Association has questioned the constitutionality of this section of the new law, once again bringing up the social media in the workplace/free speech issue.  The teachers’ association “opposes one provision that would inhibit educators’ ability to communicate with students via text messaging and social media….infringes on educators’ first amendment rights of free speech, association and religion.”

The lawsuit identifies several ways the plaintiffs believe the new legislation would impact the rights of teachers, (read the petition here), including interfering with teachers abilities to communicate with students about church activities and communicating with their own children who happen to be students.

A.P.’s Alan Zagler reported in his story on this controversy  “State Sen. Jane Cunningham, who sponsored the proposal, said many educators who have spoken against the new rules misunderstand them. The legislation had backing from education lobbyists and organized teacher groups and enjoyed unanimous support from lawmakers.”  Initially, it also had support from the same teachers’ association that is now suing the State of Missouri.

As I read about this controversy, I was torn between what I feel is a legitimate protective measure and the points raised by the teachers’ association.

Limitations on the workplace usage of social media are advisable, and guidelines that clearly specify the boundaries of appropriate teacher-student contact are clearly needed, not only as relates to possible sexual misconduct, but all communication between teachers and students.  I believe the legislation is the right step in the right direction.  Could it be clearer?  Yes.  Is it unconstitutional?  I don’t think so.  According to the teacher association’s blog,

For Facebook and Twitter users, the bill would require that any communications that are made between a district employee and a student must be accessible to the administrators and parents. This would seem to imply that the communication must be publically posted on the Facebook wall and that no personal communications can be made via direct messaging or chats on Facebook. For Twitter, this means you cannot have an account with protected tweets or send direct messages.

Even the teachers’ association is admitting that this does not prevent them from interacting on Facebook or Twitter. It merely prevents teachers from interacting PRIVATELY on Facebook or Twitter, using texting, etc. in a way that cannot be monitored by the school and parents.

My Take on the Situation

I think the teachers association is going overboard, and that their case would have been strengthened had they presented their own recommended remedies.  The legislation does not interfere with their ability to teach, or use social networks in an appropriate fashion as relates to their employment by the school district.

One of the claims of the petition, for example, states that the legislation would interfere with their ability to provide assistance to their students (for example, in detecting bullying).

Plaintiffs have used and are using non-work-related social networking sites as an important avenue for contact with students, both during emergencies and for everyday educational issues, such as when a student has difficulty with a classroom assignment or identifying bullying.

I fail to see how this could not be accomplished in other and more appropriate ways than by confidential interactions on social networks.   Help with classroom assignments can and should be provided at school, or through school-approved online networks, such as Blackboard.  Teachers should not be confidentially contacting students about emergencies via non-work online social networks — that is not their job or role.  And schools have procedures in place for identifying and rectifying bullying that do not involve the confidential use of social networks.  I feel the type of communication cited in the petition could be inappropriately applied or abused, and in many cases over-steps the boundaries of the teacher-student relationship.  After all, these forms of contact cannot be monitored by the schools, and it is workplace-related.  For example, imagine if a teacher asked to friend a high school student on Facebook. Would the student be in a position to decline?  Just as employers should not ask their employees to be Facebook friends, teachers should not ask their students to be Facebook friends.  The students are not in a position to say no, and the teacher, who is a paid employee of the school district, cannot be effectively monitored.  This not only puts the child at risk, it also puts the school system at legal risk.

As a parent, I would not want my minor child’s teacher to communicate with him during non-school hours and in non-school settings, without my and the school’s consent and awareness.  Protections are needed because less than 5% of abuse cases are reported.  As in the case of Amy Hestir, underage student victims of sexual abuse are usually coerced, threatened or shamed into secrecy.  They cannot be relied on to defend themselves without help.  I believe it is far more important that the Missouri schools — and all schools — take steps to institute actionable social media policies and training among their employees, as well as their students, and proceed with legal protections that will keep our students safe at school, and mitigate the risk of litigation against school systems.

Review: Why I’m “meh” about Google+

I was reading Nancy McCord’s blog article this week about Google Plus (Google+),  and she made some very good points about the application’s competitive viability in the online social networking marketplace.  Nancy’s a Google expert, so you want to check it out.

I’d like to add to her points by saying Google+ is not only NOT going to give Facebook — or Twitter or LinkedIn, for that matter — a run for their advertising dollars or subscribers anytime soon, it has essentially failed to deliver on what a social network is supposed to be.  It has failed to meet a social need for people.

Where Google+ Missed the Boat

For one thing, Google+ just feels generic, as an experience. Other social networks definitely have a purpose and personality, and a tone.  They are meeting different needs for different people.

To use social metaphors, I think of Facebook as neighborhood potluck dinner, all positive and upbeat, where you’re having extended conversations with people you care about on things that matter to you.  And Twitter’s a loud cocktail party in the most fashionable lounge in town, where you show up in Mac makeup and stilettos and catch just snippets of what is topmost and trendy.  LinkedIn is a high-profile social networking event full of suits and business cards — more measured and deliberate, with polished elevator speeches and sensible pumps that say “hire me: I’m reliable.”

See what I mean?  Personality.  But what kind of personality has Google+ got?  Not one I can discern. If you’ve got an idea, post it in the comments.  To me, it has all the effervescence of tap water.

Social Networks Must Fulfill Human Needs

Social networks meet the various ways people want to communicate.  Twitter fills a need for people to vent, or show off a little. It’s snappy, fast, and even snarky and negative, at times, which is one reason why a lot of people hate Twitter (and others love it).

People go there for quick news updates, links, hot tips (e.g., about where to eat lunch), celebrity news. There might be a little back and forth, but to me, it’s more like a community bulletin board, rather than a conversational vehicle.

And we all know that the heaviest Twitter users are media, tech, PR/marketing people. Twitter may draw people in but it has a hard time keeping them logging in.  There isn’t a true cross-section of the American public on Twitter, but maybe there isn’t meant to be.

Facebook fills a need for people to connect in a very personal way, and it’s here where Google+ misses the boat.  In contrast to Twitter, Facebook’s warm and fuzzy, and more extended in relationship feeling. Real conversations take place, but there isn’t a lot of whining (more commiserating).  People don’t post their baby pictures on Twitter (as much) but they do on Facebook. Facebook has become a leisure past-time, so no wonder advertisers are flocking to it.

Where does that leave Google+ ? It may “work” technically but what social need does it fill for people who will find irresistible?

I mean, what’s it for?

It doesn’t meet a clear need so people don’t know what to do with it, other than join it.  If they want to post work-related posts and links, there is always the established LinkedIn.  It doesn’t have the fun snappiness of Twitter or the deep, relational qualities of Facebook.  It doesn’t fulfill those niche needs met by Yelp and TripAdvisor and iVillage (to name a few).

So, who needs it?

If You Want People to Use it, You Have to Make it Easy to Use

Google+ is also not that easy to use.  Which didn’t surprise me, because a lot of Google stuff  to me seems unecessarily complicated (don’t get me started on Google Docs).

Google has acquired companies and applications, like the blogging platform that became Blogger, and Picasa, and Feedburner, YouTube, among others. I can remember using these “pre-Google.”  And they always proceed to “Google-fy” them — making them more proprietary, and frankly, more complicated to use.  They don’t want you going off-campus, so they make you jump through Google-hoops, and I feel Google+ is similar in this regard.  For example, there is very little integration with other apps.  You cannot, for example, feed your WordPress blog to Google+ the way you can with Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.  What was particularly surprising to me is that Google+ did not fully integrate its own Google applications.   So there is a video feature, but no YouTube integration.  Who double-uploads anymore? You embed video.  So, that omission is just inexplicable to me.

Google+ just doesn’t appear to play nicely with others.

Add Me To Your Circles!

I’m a huge Facebook and Twitter fan, but Google+ fails to move me, not like Twitter or Facebook does, which I check everyday, even on vacation.

Still, it’s my business to know about these things, so I’m on Google+ —  check out my branded profile and add me to your circles.  But if you really want to benefit from my “intellectual capital” (I love that phrase, makes me sound smart, doesn’t it?), join my Facebook Page.

Need Help With Google+?

If you’re not on Google+ and want to try it, let me know, and I will get you on.  And please contact me if I can help you better understand and brand your Google+ profile.

SEO value: commenting on blog posts vs. sharing on social networks

Mary Fletcher Jones wants you to BOTH comment on AND tweet those blog articles!

Yesterday, I gave you five good reasons why it’s worthwhile to post comments on blog posts.

Today, I’m going to talk about why I believe posting blog comments is infinitely more useful than posting links to blog posts on social networks.  You should do both — but never to the exclusion of posting comments.

Why Sharing Links on Twitter is Not Enough

Are social networks making us lazy communicators?  Perhaps.

Of course, it’s a piece of cake to share blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  It’s so easy to share links to blog posts and online articles.  So easy, that’s the only kind of Twitter update many people post: links and retweets to links.

But easier is not always better.  Sharing on social profiles is a good thing to do, but in moderation.  Sharing links does not increase your website’s SEO.  Sharing links does not enhance your online reputation significantly.  Sharing links is not a substitute for commenting, or for creating your own, reputation-building, original content.

Posting blog comments, as I discussed yesterday, creates backlinks to your blog or website but posting links to articles other people write on Twitter or Facebook don’t.  You’re just not doing yourself any favors by ONLY posting the link on social networks.  By the way, if you’re linking to your website or blog in your blog comment through your commenting profile — and why wouldn’t you? — make sure there is some good content and a call to action on that landing page for people who go to the trouble of clicking through.

Commenting is good media relations

What about media relations?  Well, if you’re trying to build relationships with journalists and influencers, tweeting links to articles they wrote is negligible in relationship-building value compared to commenting on those articles.

Think about it: the blog author or journalist  may not notice you if you tweet his or her article — but if you comment on it, you do stand out. Do both, to be on the safe side.   Generally, authors appreciate and value the contribution of meaningful comments.  They notice commenters.  So does Google.

Which, as I mentioned yesterday, makes you a somebody instead of a nobody.  Which could greatly improve the likelihood of a successful pitch, should you choose to make that pitch in the future.

Create a fully-fledged blog profile — and use your real name!

Oh, and a word about the identity under which you comment?  Blogs are now making it easier to register with Facebook or with Twitter, and post a comment with that social networking identity.  A little too easy. It’s good for them, maybe not so good for you.

If you can avoid it and post with an identity and profile you have carefully crafted with WordPress or OpenID, I would recommend doing that, instead.  In this way,  your comment contains a backlink to your website or blog, which is more valuable to you than backlinks to your Facebook profile (which may or may not be visible to others, depending on your privacy settings) or your Twitter profile (which does not carry the same marketing value as a website or blog).

You don’t need more backlinks to your Facebook profile or Twitter profile, unless you work for Facebook or Twitter!  Direct backlinks where they count: to your website or blog (which will have Facebook and Twitter links, anyway).

The BEST strategy: comment first, then link

If you had to make a choice between sharing a link to a blog article on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn…and commenting on that blog article…I hope you are convinced by now that you should compose the comment.  But it’s not an either/or situation, really.  Do both. Compose and post the comment first — then share the link.

What has been your experienced with commenting?

Please share your blog commenting experiences.  What do you learn when you comment on blogs?  Has commenting on blogs earned you backlinks — or do you know?  Has it enhanced your online reputation or helped you make valuable connections?

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