Recipe for Social Media Marketing Success – My Guest Post from The Lotus Position

Chef headerA few years back (originally posted in September 2014), I had the great pleasure of being the very first guest blogger on The Lotus Position! Below is my post from their blog on the Recipe for Social Media Marketing Success. I’m dusting it off and breaking back out after a few years as it has some great points that can be followed even today. Be sure to check out The Lotus Position for more great posts on follow @lotus823 on Twitter!

Cooking up quality social media and content marketing campaigns can be a daunting task. Like cooking a homemade meal for your entire family, sometimes finding the right recipe and getting started can be the most overwhelming step. While this will serve as a general guide for crafting your own stew of social media success, finding a great marketing agency, skilled social media chef, or online marketing resource can help guide you so you’re not writing your recipe from scratch. There’s no need to reinvent the meal. Now let’s get cooking!

Ingredients

Every great recipe starts with great ingredients. Figuring out which ingredients you’ll need, how they’ll be used, and getting them together can be half the effort. Take your time and remember that no matter how complex or clever a recipe is, success can’t happen without all the essential components.

Serving Size

One of the first things you’ll need to consider is the scope of your social media and content marketing campaigns. Is your business (or your client) a mom-and-pop catering to a local audience, a large brand with national reach, or somewhere in between? Be pragmatic and don’t stretch yourself or your resources too thin.

Staff & Budget

Once you’ve figured out the general size and depth of your social media endeavors, you’ll need to allocate your resources accordingly. Are you a one-chef show, or do you have a whole kitchen of cooks at your disposal? Taking inventory of whom and what you have to work with along with your estimated serving size should be among the first steps in planning your social media and content marketing strategy. Also keep in mind the next steps you’d need to take to expand in case your campaign grows quickly.

Cooking Utensils

Having the right tools to cook with is a must for any chef; you can’t cut veggies without a knife, and you can’t boil water without pots. Consider what hardware (such as cameras for photography) and software (such as Final Cut for video production) you’ll need when it comes to cooking up your content.

Preheating and Prep Work

Before you fire up the stove, there are carrots to be chopped and garlic to be peeled. Get to know the audience you’re trying to reach: research which social media sites they are using the most, identify influential niche blogs and communities, and create user personas. Having an understanding of who your campaigns are for and where they spend their time online will help you to cater to their taste. Once you understand what makes your target audience tick, brainstorm some ideas for content. Organize and outline strategies, write preliminary copy (such as a mission statement) and create social media pages if you haven’t already. Remember, it’s better to be active and engaging on only a few social media sites than inactive on many.

Cooking

Once you have everything you need prepared and your oven warmed up, it’s time to get your hands dirty!

Cooking Times

When cooking, timing is critical. Ingredients that take longer to cook need to be done first so everything comes together in harmony. Things like SEO need to be simmered over longer periods of time, and assets like videos must be planned, shot and produced. Make sure you give yourself enough lead time with larger projects and make a content calendar to keep everything running on schedule.

Measure Everything Carefully

Mixing up a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of salt can ruin even the most carefully planned dishes. Just as you must carefully measure each ingredient as it’s added into a recipe, it’s important to measure the progress of your efforts on every front. Use Google Analytics (or similar tracking services) to monitor traffic to your website, and the various insights/analytics components of your social media pages to see what content is successful and what isn’t. Understanding who is visiting your sites and why will also give you indications on how to tweak your SEO efforts.

Taste While You Cook

While an actual dish is prepared completely and then served, social media and online content are constantly being created, served and consumed. Throughout the process of creating and executing your online campaigns, it’s important to dip your finger in to taste your recipe (e.g. feedback and engagement from your audience, staying on-point with your brand messaging) to see what is working best and build upon it. While this goes hand-in-hand with keeping an eye on your online metrics as mentioned in the previous step, making sure you’re achieving the flavor and overall tone you want is a bit more subjective.

Spice Things Up

Even the most delicious traditional recipes can benefit from adding a little kick! Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous and add a little spice to your online marketing. One incredible example of some impromptu zing being thrown into the mix was Oreo’s epic tweet during the Super Bowl XLVII blackout. This ended up being one of the standout moments of the Super Bowl, and it was all done in the heat of the moment.

Have a Balanced Meal

Just like you wouldn’t have an entire meal of just rice, make sure your campaigns are a healthy balance of content, social media, SEO, PR and traditional marketing elements. All of these components working in harmony can create delicious, result-driving success.

Plating and Service

No matter how delicious a dish is, it might as well be dog food if nobody gets to taste it! Getting the final product to your hungry audience and having it look appetizing is just as important as the ingredients that went into your recipe.

Plating

If you’re not familiar with the term, plating is “the practice of arranging food in an attractive and appealing manner on a serving plate” (thanks to WiseGeek for the well-worded definition). Presenting your online content in the right way and making it easily accessible can make all the difference. Using hashtags, shortlinks, posting during peak usage times, optimizing for search and posting to the appropriate social platforms are just a few ways to ensure the online campaigns you worked hard to cook up reach your audience piping hot and looking great. Also be sure to include a healthy amount of cross-linking between your social platforms and content pieces so users get a taste of everything you’ve got!

social media cupcakes

Service

In addition to the presentation of your efforts, getting feedback and raising a glass for the occasional toast can make everything taste that much better. Respond, converse, and encourage people to try everything on the plate. Personable engagement with your audience will keep them coming back for second helpings!

Thanks for reading my recipe for social media success. For more digital marketing deliciousness, follow me on Twitter at @HelloPresto. Bon Appetite and be sure to tip your waiter.

 

Review: Be More Chill at Two River Theater

#BeMoreChillMusical

I’d like to think I know great content when I see it, both online and off. Somewhere between talent, tact, knowledge and creativity, there’s a certain something that separates good content from great content. It could be a piece of art. It could be a video or a song. It could be a musical. When I saw the outstanding digital marketing (more on that below) and the talk surrounding Two River Theater’s Be More Chill, I knew that it would be great. Spoiler: it is.

(Full disclosure: Two River Theater graciously provided tickets for me to attend. Thanks guys!)

Jeremy meets his Squip. Photo courtesy of Two River Theater

Jeremy meets his Squip. Photo courtesy of Two River Theater

Without giving too much away, the plot to Be More Chill is about a young, painfully normal and unremarkable high schooler named Jereme Heere. Jeremy discovers a new experimental microprocessor called a “Squip” that comes in the shape of a gray oblong pill that, once swallowed, will activate an artificial intelligence inside his head, instructing him on how to be more chill. Not cool. Chill.

The play is hip, energetic, vibrant and young. From the myriad of stylishly dressed characters, to the use of bright colors across backgrounds and lighting, Be More Chill is as much of a delight to see as it is to hear. The man behind the music is Mr. Joe Iconis, and every song is smartly written and incredibly catchy. Even as I write this, I find myself singing the opening theme or “I Love Play Rehearsal”, as if I myself have had a Squip implanted in my brain that only sings songs from the show. Every single member of the cast (only ten performers) is incredibly talented, and all get the singing spotlight at some point. One of the more memorable songs of the show for me was “Michael in the Bathroom” not only because it’s catchy (like all the songs), but because actor George Salazar did a knockout job with the entire scene. Here’s a taste.

The colorful set design was also impressive and utilized well with quick scene changes that never missed a beat, all under a catwalk occupied by the Squip, symbolizing his existence only in the main characters mind. Behind the set sits the live band, performing every song and adding sound to every scene.

Be More Chill set

 

Be More Chill is everything you could want in a fresh, fun performance to kick off the summer. But before I knew how incredible the show was, I was drawn in by the stellar marketing campaign surrounding it.

Marketing

I admittedly don’t see a lot of shows, but this one caught my eye. To be more specific, it wasn’t any of my friends recommending the show, but the marketing that got me interested. And to be even more specific, the digital marketing on social media was what really drew me in. Two River Theater has an outstanding digital marketing team and some very smart folks running their social media. They understand their audience on social, and how to story-tell on every platform. From the Be More Chill sunglasses, to the fantastic content across Instagram and Facebook, I had a very good idea of what Be More Chill would be like before I even stepped into the theater, and I was excited. Be More Chill has all the youthful energy that resonates perfectly with more artsy, 30-and-under users on Instagram, where Two River Theater pumped out lots of great content. And to top it all off, they offer $20 tickets for anyone under the age of 30.

Be More Chill has been extended through June 28th! There’s only one thing left to do…

C-c-c-c’mon, C-c-c-c’mon, Go Go!

extended

Social Media Day Comes to Red Bank June 27-30

Red Bank Social Media DayMashable’s fifth annual Social Media Day is coming to Red Bank, NJ June 27-30! Thanks to Defined Logic, my home turf of Red Bank will be host to the RB Photo Crawl, a social media fueled photo frenzy. 15 spots around town will have props and prompts for photos, and uploading them using the #RBphotocrawl hashtag will enter you in to win some pretty swanky prizes.

Visit rbphotocrawl.com for all the details and photo locations, and give me a shout on Twitter if you plan on venturing out in Red Bank for the event!

Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of Content Marketing

This is a bit of a #ThrowbackThursday post, but my presentation on content marketing for NJ Connect somehow never made it on the blog! Last October (which now seems like years ago) I had the pleasure of being the feature presenter at NJ Connect’s Fall Meetup! My friend and fellow social media master Allison Pryor reached out with the opportunity and the topic of content marketing for the presentation. I decided to approach it by asking who, what, when, where, why and how content marketing works today. Below you can take a look at my presentation via Prezi (be gentle, it was my first time using this service!) and feel free to give me feedback on Twitter!

Top 5 Ways to Scare Yourself Silly on the Internet

This year Halloween got the short end of the stick, at least on the East Coast. Hurricane Sandy came barreling through knocking out power, destroying homes and shorelines, and disrupting my favorite damn holiday. This post was originally meant to be done before Halloween, but circumstances dictated otherwise. I feel a certain lack of closure for October, so pretend it’s Halloween and scare the living daylights out of yourself with some better-late-than-never guide to the scariest places on the internet. And remember: lights off, sound on.

After asking “what is the scariest/creepiest thing you’ve seen online,” and dredging through some of the less-than-pleasant depths of the internet (thanks for all your horrifying suggestions), I put together the list of the top 5 ways to scare yourself silly on the internet.

And please note, none of the shock/gore/not-safe-for-life suggestions made this list. I wanted it to be more scary/creepy, and somewhat safe for all ages (but for real, don’t show this stuff to your kids).

5. /r/nosleepbecause you weren't planning on sleeping anyway

Let’s start off with some good old fashion scary stories. Only instead of telling them around a campfire with friends, we’ll be reading them on the internet with complete strangers. Reddit’s /r/nosleep community’s slogan is “because you weren’t planning on sleeping anyway,” and ain’t it the truth. Over 100,000 users subscribe and contribute to the community which is entirely dedicated to scaring the crap out of each other with original scary stories. No photos, no video, just text posts recounting terrifying encounters and first person accounts. To keep this from quickly devolving into a “hey that can’t be true” debate on every thread, r/nosleep is pleasingly specific on how to post and discuss stories, saying “Your story should be believable within reason… Remember, everything is true on NoSleep.” Read alone with all the lights off; there is no other way.

Double the Creepy
Although NoSleep is king, /r/creepy and /r/creepypasta are good if you like a scare and can deal with the truly scary site design of Reddit. (I kid, I kid!)

4. Screamers

Screamers are the horror junkfood of the internet. They’re good for a quick, panic inducing scare, but that’s about it. “Screamers” are defined by UrbanDictionary as “A YouTube video or a Flash game used as a practical joke to try and scare the viewer or the player abruptly.” These aren’t so much for you to view as much as “sharing” them with unsuspecting friends. Below are two classic screamers that might give you a mini heart attack, even if you’ve seen them before. And remember to put your sound up!

Play the Maze Game


 

3. Bongcheon-Dong Ghost

This one is a manga-style depiction of an urban legend in South Korea. The story goes that the ghost of a distraught mother who committed suicide wanders around a district of Seoul (the Bongcheon district, not the Gangnam district) looking for her dead child. A teenager walking home encounters her and well… I’ll let you read the story and see for yourself. Click and scroll down to read.

Bongcheon-Dong Ghost2. Ben Drowned/Majora’s Mask

In September 2010, a user made a long series of posts on 4chan’s /x/ paranormal forums, claiming he had acquired a haunted version of Majora’s Mask for Nintendo 64. He posts videos and testimony of the haunting as it happens, telling of a “Ben” that previously owned the game who drowned. This first hand account is straight up scary, especially since it’s backed up by video of everything happening, and especially if you’ve played Majora’s Mask. It’s long, but completely worth it. The link below goes to a creeppasta site, and not to the original 4chan post (because the original post is gone, and because I don’t want to send any innocent souls to 4chan). Also is the first video in to get your heart pumping.

Ben Drowned on Creepy + Pasta

 

1. Marble Hornets

This is what I consider one of the scariest web series on YouTube, and certainly the best depiction of the Slenderman urban legend. The myth of the Slenderman dates back to 2009, where a series of photos were posted to a paranormal picture thread on SomethingAwful.com. The legend took off and immediately inspired Slenderman art, creepypastas, and eventually the Marble Hornets vidoes. You can read more about the history and other instances of Slenderman here

The creator of Marble Hornets claims that “The following clips are raw footage excerpts from Alex Kralie. A college friend of mine.” The creator then goes on to say that Alex was making a film called Marble Hornets, but that something halted to production of the film, and began haunting Alex. When Alex said he was going to burn the footage, the creator persuaded him not to, offering to take it from him. Years passed, Alex moved away and was never heard from again, and the footage eventually made it’s way to YouTube. You can watch the introduction below with an explanation of the series. And don’t worry, there’s no scary things in this video, just the back story. The series starts of slow, but picks up in creepiness quickly, and new videos are still being posted about once every month.

*Bonus: Drink Yourself Silly Too

I hope you enjoyed my little list. If you need a stiff drink after seeing the horrors of the internet, I have just the thing: How to Make Skittle Vodka. Here’s the how-to video I posted from last year. Enjoy and don’t forget to share this post on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons up at the top!

Social Media Done Right: GetBusyMedia Interviews the Social Media Chef

I recently had the distinct pleasure of being interviewed by Brian Morris at GetBusyMedia about my work as the Social Media Chef. Brian is a fellow Red Bank local and frequent visitor to Basil T’s, one of the restaurants I do social media marketing for. He noticed the expansive amount of content being put into the marketing campaign for Basil’s (Facebook, video recipes, Twitter, the works) but honed in on a specific point he thought I excelled at: engagement.

We exchanged a few emails and a few days later I answered Brian’s questions to feature on GetBusyMedia. You can read the full interview below, or over at GetBusyMedia.com.

For me, it was a great opportunity to respond to some targeted, well thought out questions. My favorite was the last question:

Q. What is the best piece of advice you could give a small business regarding social media and getting more engagement with their customers?

A. Keep the “social” aspect alive in your social media. Don’t think of Twitter and Facebook as radio stations where you broadcast messages to your customers. Find which content is relevant to them by engaging in conversations and always continue to release new content on a regular basis.

The interview was also featured on SmallBizTrends.com as a case study on How To Do Social Media Right!

-The Interview-

Did your foray into social media begin as a side project and build over time or did you fully immerse Basil T’s from the beginning?

Our social media marketing campaign began around June in 2009 when I was hired on to work on Basil T’s web presence. The work was part-time at first, but by the end of the summer, we’d already had tremendous success on YouTube, Facebook, and with our email newsletter list. In the Fall, I was hired on full time to do all the online content management, and was fully immersed in blogging, producing videos and engaging customers online for Basil T’s and Undici.

Which aspect is your personal favorite?

I have a background in writing, so researching and writing content for our blogs is always a highlight for me; I really enjoyed learning and writing about Pizza Napoletana and posting on www.PizzaNJ.net. But my overall favorite has to be hearing back from customers that enjoy our online and offline content. Sometimes we’ll get emails or a YouTube comment about a customer that ate the bolognese sauce at the restaurant, and then made it at home after watching our video recipe on it. I also thoroughly enjoy having the title of Social Media Chef.

What tools do you use to track and analyze your efforts?

We use pretty much everything at our disposal to track and analyze. We monitor our reviews across several different sites daily, our web traffic using Google Analytics and Pages insight, Facebook insight, YouTube insight and several dozen Google Alerts. We try to track which content is the most effective, and learn by what gets the most attention. If our video recipes are getting more attention than our photo galleries and blog posts, we’ll shoot and edit more videos. But it all starts with keeping an eye on what you have out there.

Can you provide any key examples or statistics about how successful your efforts have been?

Our Facebook page for Basil’s quickly grew to one of the most “Liked” pages in the area; we’re nearing 1,500 Likes consisting of mostly local customers who come to our restaurant and are interested in our content. I often post links to our YouTube channel, which is nearing 11,000 upload views and post the videos to our Facebook page. And in the video descriptions on YouTube, there’s a link to our Facebook page; by cross promoting and linking everything, when one of our platforms grows, they all grow.

How much time each week or day is spent on your social media campaign?

I work a 40-50 hour week, and most of my time is spent doing something related to social media for the two restaurants. It sounds like a lot, but between filming videos, editing them, tagging/posting them, writing blog posts, responding to posts and emails from customers, and putting together our monthly newsletters, you can see where the time goes. The email newsletters aren’t exactly what you would consider “social media,” but all the content that is made for it is distributed through our social networks too.

How well do you think the restaurant business and emerging media tie together?

When someone wants to find a place to eat, they will look online. It’s important that we have a good presence online, and are active in the places people look online, whether this be Yelp, Twitter or Facebook. After someone has been to your restaurant and they want to come back or make a comment on their experience, new media is the best tool to engage them, keep the conversation going and get them to share their best experiences with the public.


Do you see a definite ROI on your campaign and how long into the process could you see it?

Absolutely. We could really see how effective our campaigns were after the first few months during the summer, and then again after I was hired on full time and more resources we re-allocated from traditional marketing (print ads, radio, etc.) into new media.

Do you use things such as your Facebook fan page and twitter account to interact with customers and receive feedback?

Yes. We regularly post specials and events to inform our customers of what’s going on. The main way we communicate with customers is through email marketing, but posting and starting conversations through Facebook and Twitter allows for a greater level of communication. If someone had a great meal and posts about it on our Facebook wall, I can respond and include follow-up content such as a special or video relevant to that customer. And while this can also happen through email, Facebook and Twitter are more casual, so people are more likely to start conversations on these platforms. Plus, the conversations that we do engage in on these sites are public for everyone else to see as well.

How have you seen diving into this campaign head on affect other aspects of the business, if it all?

It really helps open communication with our customers. We’re able to promote events more effectively, get the word out about specials quicker, and change things we receive customer feedback on.

What is the best piece of advice you could give a small business regarding social media and getting more engagement with their customers?

Keep the “social” aspect alive in your social media. Don’t think of Twitter and Facebook as radio stations where you broadcast messages to your customers. Find which content is relevant to them by engaging in conversations and always continue to release new content on a regular basis.

When it comes to social media, engagement is the name of the game and Preston Porter and Basil T’s are way ahead of the curve compared to other small businesses just getting started.

Busy Bee

It’s been a busy, busy Spring. I’ve been wearing more hats than ever as the Social Media Chef and loving it!

I’ve been taking a lot of pictures.

Most of them from Undici’s wine lecture dinners. I even get to taste the wines (sometimes). Check out the rest of the pictures on Undici’s Facebook page and drop me a comment!

I’ve been working on some new projects for work.

One of the most recent being the new and improved VictorRallo.com. Made in WordPress, with plenty of interesting videos and articles. I’ve also been going to some really exciting events like Bellissimo Brunello, a brunello tasting event in NYC hosted by James Suckling. James was kind enough to send us some VIP invites. You can read our post on the event here.

I’ve been blogging, writing, and giving Post It Poetry some TLC.

SocialMediaChef.net has been getting the short end of the stick lately. I’ve been posting a bit more over at PrestoWrites!, so keep an eye for more writing to be posted there soon. Post It Poetry has new submissions, so be sure to swing by there and check them out. You might even work up the courage to write and submit one yourself! I’ve been thinking a lot about this project, and have some significant changes coming up the pipe soon…

I’ve been at Starbucks…

Which is where I wrote this post. While I was writing, a white stretch limousine pulled up. Sadly, nobody famous stepped out.

And Now, a Presentation on Using Social Media, Using Only Social Media.

I will be a panelist at the NJ Connect meetup on Wednesday, February 9th! I’m very excited to be presenting, and this post is actually the start of the presentation itself. So enjoy the show and follow the links to continue the presentation across a few of the platforms I use the most! This post is the first slide in my presentation; you can view my entire presentation by clicking the link at the bottom, and then by following the links after that…

Click here to jump to the next part of the presentation!