Just because they’re on Snapchat, doesn’t mean they should automatically represent your online brand
Technology seems to be the province of the young. How many times have grandparents relied on grandchildren to fix the computer or show them how to use the remote? When it comes to the latest and greatest, we often look to younger folks for help. And while it may seem true that toddlers are born with an intuitive understanding of the latest in cell phone technology, youth is not an automatic sign of online business competence.
Everyone over the age of 13 seems to have a social media presence these days, but that doesn’t mean they know how to use social media for business. It’s easy to think that someone who receives a hundred “likes” on every post is a social media guru. However, personal use of social media can be very different from business use.
Here are 9 tips for choosing your firm’s social media and online brand evangelist.
1. Comprehends the “Big Picture” of the business
Behind any marketing avenue, there’s always a WHY. Why am I doing this? What are we trying to accomplish. You know that your business needs its Facebook page, but you don’t necessarily know what will it be used for. And if you don’t know, your 22-year-old intern is not going to be able to tell you. Social media is just another way to get brand awareness, solve customer support issues and sell products. It is a bit less formal and more carefree than traditional marketing outlets, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a business vision behind it.
2. Understands the voice and persona of the company
When it comes to running a social media account for a business, knowledge and experience in marketing or branding is crucial. Social media is all about giving your business a personality and encouraging other users to engage with you. This is not as simple as it sounds. Simply posting a picture with a mundane caption will not get you noticed. Marketing is about knowing what makes your customers tick. What do your customers like, want, and need? The messaging should be clear, with a clear goal behind it. I want people to share this post. I want to inform/educate. I want to promote the product. I want to evoke emotion.
3. Knows who your customers are
I once took charge of a firm’s social media account that had previously been handled by a few post-college students. These kids were personable, bright and intuitive, but they were used to using social media with people their own age. They didn’t understand that when they did social media posts for the company, they needed to cater to older generations. They shied away from doing posts they felt were too “clickbaity,” and they firmly believed that asking people to share posts, or to like them, or to tag people was “lame.” But the majority of the clients for this business didn’t share that belief. The majority of clients were 10, 20 and 30 years older, and though they were on social media, they weren’t being reached or engaged by this firm at all.
4. Has the right personality
The voice and human-like traits of your messaging matters. You can’t change who a person is. More often than not, if someone is shy, or hates parties and people, they won’t be the social media guru you’re seeking. Successful social media posts are often a lot of fun, and you want a person who has passion and energy that will come through in what he/she writes. Most importantly, you want someone who is creative and willing to take measured chances, with quirky or goofy or fun-loving posts. And no, a marketing degree is not necessary.
5. Employs solid problem solving skills and common sense
Social media isn’t just for fun. Your social media pages are also places for your customers to find you to share concerns and sometimes to post negative reviews or complaints. Fear not, this is actually good. Don’t race to hide or block them, because negative reviews and posts can give your company the opportunity to show that you are paying attention to your customers, and are willing to fix problems. It gives you the chance to let them know that you hear what they’re saying, you care about their experience, and you’d like to help. Never respond with anger or defensiveness. Instead, show thanks for the review and your commitment to ensuring the customer has a positive experience. It’s surprising how often this will result in a satisfied reply from the reviewer, and a positive response from readers. It shows that you’re a company that cares about its customers.
6. Understands the difference between professional and personal posts
It’s easy to simply trust spell check or autocorrect when typing online posts. But what if the typo is spelled correctly? Think there vs their vs. they’re, or the horrendous apostrophe malfunction. Everyone makes spelling and grammar mistakes, and a seasoned writer knows the importance of proofreading every single post before it goes live. Someone who only has experience with their personal social media platforms may not be used to the diligence required to ensure that your business maintains a professional reputation online.
7. Gets which social media channels to use, and when
All social media is not created equal. Some platforms cater to the young, while others find boomers to be the highest demographic. Some are designed for customer support and news, others for business networking, while others could be for personal sharing. It’s important to evaluate which platforms to devote your time to and why. For example, if I were promoting an aging-related product designed for the 65+ population, I’d probably spend more time on Facebook and forget channels such as Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest. If I were a manufacturing company with a B2B sales focus, I might do more educational blogging, directed splash emails, and networking/sharing on LinkedIn. Find your customers and go to where they are.
8. Can identify goals and reasonable ROI, especially for sponsored posts
The advertising side of social media is something that many people have never even considered when their experience is limited to personal posting. There is a whole world of tracking analytics, engagement measurement, and learning the value of boosting or sponsoring posts. A newbie to the world of corporate social media for business could have a hard time tracking metrics and deciding what is working. It would be a crap shoot to invest money into sponsored posts without a realistic expectation of desired results.
9. Makes thoughtful judgement calls before clicking “post”
Some things are innate and others come with experience. Using good judgement on behalf of a professional organization takes a little bit of both. There are times when an organization will want to take sides on a controversial issue. But these occasions are few–and must always come with management approval. In most cases, the last thing you want to do as a business is alienate a portion of your market by posting something in support of one side of a controversial topic. I still remember a college intern who had prepared a wonderful post, wonderful except that in the photo was a person wearing a T-shirt favoring one of the candidates in a recent highly charged political election. (You might remember the one.) The content of the post wasn’t political in any other way, but with one careless post, the firm could have ended up making a political statement it hadn’t intended, and alienating a large percentage of its clients. Even when it comes to sharing something humorous but in questionable taste, it often takes real-world experience to know what is and isn’t okay to post. Don’t let a rookie learn that lesson from experience while in control of your business’s social media account.
So next time you look to that young intern to decipher your digital online strategy, make sure he/she fits the overall bill to represent your brand correctly and effectively.
You may have heard that something called “Net Neutrality” was recently repealed by the Federal Communications Commission. What does that even mean? Why does it matter? Will it really affect me? Let’s break it down.
The internet is like a series of tubes, according to the late senator Ted Stevens (R–Alaska). And, supposing that these tubes carry water like pipes, net neutrality is the idea that my water is as important as your water and nobody’s water gets to have priority over anyone else’s water. Got it?
Okay, forget tubes, but stay with me on pipes.
Think about your internet service provider (ISP). Whether it’s a phone carrier such as Verizon or AT&T, or a cable company, such as Comcast or Charter, you pay them to be connected to the wider internet. You might pay them a little or a lot, based in part on the size of the pipe they’re connecting you with. A wide pipe can carry more data than a narrow one. But here’s the thing: Your ISP doesn’t care what data is going through your pipe. Whether it’s Netflix or HBO GO, email or Pinterest or YouTube, it’s just data in the pipe like any other data. That’s Net Neutrality.
Net neutrality: all data is created equal.
Think of our antitrust laws. They were created to prevent monopolies from dominating industries, price-gouging consumers, and preventing small players from entering the market. Net Neutrality is just like antitrust protection, except for your access to the world wide web.
Internet service providers have been pushing to repeal Net Neutrality for years. Now Congress has repealed it. So now, what’s likely to happen next as a result?
Let’s say you get your Internet through Comcast. Like any other company, Comcast wants to make money. They reach out to HBO and say something like, “That’s a nice streaming video service you got there. It would be a shame if anything happened to it.” Next thing you know, HBO is paying Comcast in something akin to a protection racket. As long as they pay, their video services gets prioritized–delivered extra quick–as opposed to other data in your pipe. When you try to watch Netflix, the video is choppy, lots of buffering, virtually unwatchable. But HBO Go is smooth as silk. So which do you watch? Obviously HBO, and you ditch Netflix, stop paying for it. With Net Neutrality revoked, corporations can buy their fast lane access and, even if their service isn’t better, they can choke off competitors. And it is now totally legal.
But it gets even worse when you think of free enterprise and new market players. Imagine that I created a new startup video streaming service in competition with Netflix and HBO Go. Let’s say mine is way better and faster, a really innovative approach. But, I’m dead in the water before I even can start. I don’t have the deep pockets to pay to prioritize my data. Remember, in the free market, the basis of the American economy, competition is good. It means my technology will spur these big organizations to keep up. Maybe they’d become better on their own, or maybe they’d license or acquire my technology. However, with Net Neutrality revoked, now I can’t even pay to get in the game, so they don’t have to worry about competition, and have no reason to improve. Talk about stifling innovation.
And it doesn’t just affect tech companies. Without Net Neutrality, small businesses may start having a harder time reaching their clients, because their websites will be hard for consumers to find or load. Small startups won’t be able to pay what it takes to be “searchable”. In the past 15 years, early stage companies with small budgets have been able to use social media and digital marketing to compete. This no longer is a guaranteed option with the repeal of Net Neutrality.
Now imagine that your ISP blocks certain content entirely. Without Net Neutrality, they can, and they don’t have to have a reason. A political ISP could block certain news sites from even showing up altogether if it doesn’t agree with their politics, whatever side they favor. Whether you’re finding a job, getting news or connecting with friends, using the internet is simply is a way of life. So, that’s fine – if your ISP blocks sites you care you about, you can just choose a different ISP. Hmm… the problem is that many Americans don’t have much choice. ISPs have a near monopoly in any given market. Thirty-seven percent of us have only two broadband ISPs to choose from. And 28% of us have only one choice. The internet has become a mandatory utility like water and electricity, except the repeal of Net Neutrality pretends it’s not.
And if you think ISPs won’t engage in these kinds of practices, think again. Why have they lobbied so hard to repeal Net Neutrality if they have no intention of violating these rules now they’re gone? In fact, history shows they’ve tried doing it in the past, but were stopped by Net Neutrality protections. Just this year, AT&T was caught limiting access to FaceTime, making it available only to users who’d paid for special shared data plans. Verizon began practices which it called “network testing” that noticeably slowed access to Netflix and YouTube. It has since begun plans to throttle access to all streaming video unless users upgrade to a more expensive plan.
Well, it’s done. Net Neutrality has been repealed, but there are many lawsuits ahead, including those coming from consumer groups and several state attorneys general. Meanwhile, it looks like we’re going to see what giant telecom and cable companies do when left to their own devices.
We’ve been spending time crafting the perfect holiday messages from you to your customers over the last couple of weeks. But there’s one message that’s especially dear to our hearts: Our holiday greetings from us to you, our customers, our clients, our friends.
It’s especially true this year. We’ve never had a more talented, inspiring and diverse set of partners than we do today. We learn a lot about your various industries and your roles in them. But we learn more than that–we learn about you and what kind of people you are.
We’ve been both awed by your talent and uplifted by your passion. And your sense of humor is an endless source of laughter in the LMC office.
It is for these reasons that we earnestly wish you a very happy, safe, and joyous holiday. However you’re celebrating this year, we’re celebrating you.
Your LMC Team
When Margee Mauney first came into LMC for an interview, we knew we had to have her join the LMC team. Immediately. We hired her on the spot. She is a recent graduate from Marquette University’s College of Communication with a degree in Public Relations and fresh from an internship at an award-winning college media agency. We know she will be a strong creative asset. She also minored in French, which gives her a certain “je ne sais quoi.” Her educational background is in graphic design, marketing, social media and writing, but she has a craving for anything creative.
At LMC you’ll find her writing social media posts, creating shareable photo and video memes, designing marketing collateral, copywriting and managing websites. And snacking. She is an avid snacker. And she doesn’t even share. (We’re working on that).
Outside of the marketing realm, Margee is passionate about health and wellness and teaches yoga to children and adults. You can also find her baking healthy (and not-so-healthy) treats, singing and dancing with her talented musical family, and binge watching shows on Netflix (Grey’s Anatomy and Friends are always winners).
So now that know a little more bit about Margee, have you met the rest of the LMC team?
The LMC InnovAGERS is a blog series which highlights companies and individuals who are innovating in the aging, healthcare and caregiving industry.
For over a decade, we have been warned of the impending aging tsunami, along with a notable rising cost in healthcare. We simply do not have the brick and mortar, nor do we have the physical caregivers, to manually take care of this rising demographic. As with any disruptive demographic, we know enabling technologies will assist in cost-savings, patient empowerment and allowing professionals and family to better care for the recipients.
We wanted to take a moment and spotlight the changes that have happened over the past decade, to what’s happening now in order to make our lives better, more comfortable and healthier, as we age. What are the barriers we have overcome? What challenges are we still facing? How will technology play a role? Buckle up as we chat with healthcare and aging experts, and the game-changing innovators as we explore the fascinating intersection of technology and aging.
How to Become an InnovAGER
If you are making a difference in the aging, health care or caregiving industry, we want to feature your organization. Apply to become an InnovAGER now by filling out our survey: Apply to be an InnovAGER. If you are selected, we will interview you and feature you in an upcoming InnovAGERS blog. At the end of the blog series, our readers will select one winner to receive a free hour of LMC consulting. Application deadline is December 23, 2017.
Laura Mitchell Consulting is a full-service shop, with expertise in healthcare, aging, technology, and business development. We help entrepreneurs in every stage, from business plan creation, to go-to-market planning to capital raise strategies. Our in-depth knowledge of the connected aging and healthcare space helps us to consult with you on company strategy, marketing directions, strategic partnerships and your competitive landscape.
We can build, write and design your website, develop a social media plan and build a branding presence. Our LMC team even has a lead software developer on staff to help you with integrations or to build out your platform.
For more information about LMC, visit our website at www.lmcllc.us.
Laura Mitchell Consulting founder Laura Mitchell gave a talk for nursing students at Moraine Park Technical College. The subject of her presentation was “Disruptive Technologies in Aging and Healthcare.” Both LMC and Moraine Park are located in West Bend, a city of 30,000 people in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Laura discussed the disruptive demographic of the “aging tsunami,” caused by baby boomers reaching retirement age, exacerbated by the rising cost of health care. That’s where monitoring technologies can help. Laura is the co-founder and VP of Busienss Development for GrandCare Systems, which produces a product that can help seniors continue living in their homes, by facilitating remote patient monitoring, providing secure video chat and medication management.
It was the last day of the nursing students’ first semester of study at Moraine Park Tech. “It’s encouraging how receptive and inspired these future clinical providers were with the presence of telehealth and telemedicine technologies,” Laura said. “Especially considering that technology will play a large role in the delivery of personalized, predictive and proactive care.”
These young, engaged students are a new generation of clinical caregivers. They aren’t afraid of technology. They expect it. Their older counterparts can often seem more cautious and less accepting of advanced technologies. When shown GrandCare, the Moraine Park Tech students immediately began to get excited and brainstorm implementation strategies.
Laura, who speaks all over the country on connected health, digital caregiving and aging, doesn’t usually get the luxury of working with organizations in her own back yard. “I love that we’re engaging local people and local organizations,” she said. “Innovation doesn’t need to happen only in Silicon Valley. We can obviously benefit greatly from technology interventions, especially here in the Midwest.”
Laura Mitchell speaks with Karen Jagoda on ‘Empowered Patient Radio’
In an interview with Karen Jagoda of Empowered Patient Radio, Laura Mitchell, founder of digital health and aging expert group, LMC, spoke about the increased demand for aging and health care enabling technologies, the evolution of the tech-enabling aging market, and activity/health monitoring. Every day these technologies become more user-friendly, less expensive and more wholly integrated in people’s day-to-day lives.
While traditional hands-on care is not going anywhere, it is increasingly being paired with virtual care, telehealth, remote care coordination and activity of daily living remote monitoring technologies.
During the interview, Laura announced her new blog series, InnovAGERS. We’ll be highlighting companies and individuals who are making a difference in the aging, health care or caregiving industry. What makes them so successful? Are you one of them? Those interested in being featured in an upcoming InnovAGERS blog can apply by clicking here. Readers will select one winner to receive one free hour of LMC consulting.
We could assign Amanda many different titles. Creative Content Creator. Systematic Storyteller. Education Enthusiast. Organizer of Disorder. Connoisseur of Internet Culture.
And, apparently, Advocate for Alliteration, according to Amanda….
But here at LMC, we call her our Digital Communications Coordinator.
With a background in graphic design, journalism, video editing, web design, blogging, social media, public relations, event planning, and brand management, she’s an invaluable creative asset to LMC and to our clients. Plus, she tolerates our endless, ‘punny’’ (sometimes unfunny) humor. In our defense, she did come up with her own ‘Harry Potter’ rap from Lupin’s point of view. We’re just saying…
Besides her marketing superpowers, Amanda enjoys acting in community theatre productions, photographing nature and architecture, drawing with ink or charcoal and, of course, watching British movies such as Bend it Like Beckham or lesser-known comedies such as Irish Jam. (Yeah, you’re gonna want to google that).
What will her day-to-day look like at LMC? Well, a little bit of anything and everything. From writing, to logo design, to page layout, she’ll be doing whatever our clients need. But we also absolutely love her for her methodical organizational skills. She’ll be handling much of the internal task lists and helping to ensure client satisfaction by routinely touching base with our wonderful partners.
So now that know a little more bit about Amanda, have you met the rest of the LMC team?
Today we’re talking with the brilliant mind behind the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit. Mary Furlong is a serial entrepreneur, and a leading expert in entrepreneurship and the aging and technology market. She is the owner of Mary Furlong and Associates, a consulting company that advises firms in the longevity market, and that puts on this important annual conference.
Q: Hi Mary. Thanks for talking with us today. Can you tell us a little about the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit?
A: This summit was the first of its kind, and it’s the nation’s leading event for companies, experts, and thought leaders in the aging market. It brings together groups from every part of the industry to network and learn. We’ll have market overviews, industry analysts talking about trends in technology, in senior housing, in caregiving, in financing. We’ll have a pitch competition. It’s like getting a mini MBA in the longevity market.
Q: Who is it for? Who would benefit from attending?
A: It’s an intentional mix of entrepreneurs, investors, business development people for major organizations, top executives from non-profits, regulators, thought leaders, and industry analysts. We bring together people from tiny startups and from Fortune 100 companies, all the players who are successfully targeting the largest and most lucrative consumer demographic in the world. And we also examine the perspectives of the millennials and their role in shaping boomer priorities.
Q: This conference is now in its 14th year. How did it come about originally?
A: Before I started my consulting company I’d already been in this business for 17 years. So I had a lot of relationships. The longevity market is growing. It’s sized at over $260 billion in the next four years, so just look at the enormous opportunity. I’d written a book on how to make a profit in this industry (Turning Silver Into Gold). I could see that people needed a guide for how to bring products and services to market, and to accelerate their traction. I could bring groups together, to help facilitate the conversation, and to get more innovation in the marketplace.
Q: How has it changed over the years?
A: In the first year, we did print marketing, a brochure. We don’t do that anymore. Now we launched a video. Our email list has grown to 15,000. I keep saying that the longevity market today is where the Internet was in 1994. So if you’re getting out of school now, you’re coming into a market that is solely a growth market. It’s not like other markets that have hiccups, like Venezuelan oil, for instance. It’s immutable that there’s a large and growing group of older people for the foreseeable future.
There’s a phrase, “riches in the niches.” We point to people who find their niches to make money. Think of Lori Bitter, who is a marketing and development consultant, or Laurie Orlov, an industry analyst. Where are the places to make money serving this market? You can be a large technology firm, a non-profit, or a new entrepreneur, but it makes sense to pivot into the market and to really understand your customer. David Inns, the CEO of GreatCall, who is leading a panel on the future of Senior Care, is someone who really knows his customer. So if you can have a conversation between experts like that, they all are drawing a detailed portrait of the consumer. It helps people understand who the customer is, how to reach them, and what are the riches in the niches. We’ve had people who used to be volunteers at the summit, who have gone on to launch businesses and have come back to the conference as attendees or speakers.
Q: This summit is such an important force in the industry. Why is it still the event to go to?
We work really hard to curate content, to select the leaders. We also have great facilitators. The conference is embedded with reporters who are covering the age beat and know the issues. We have analysts to point you in the direction of the issues.
We have met so many people through the years, and they recommend new talent. So talent gets crowdsourced by people in the What’s Next community. We have a private client practice, and those clients point us to the more innovative things. We take each slot seriously in the program. Plus, there’s a legacy to this conference. People know to look for us if they want to meet an expert in an area, or find a technology they can take home with them.
We leverage by location, so this year, we’re holding the summit in Chicago, where we have many deep relationships. I’m out in Silicon Valley, where we look at aging as an opportunity, instead of looking at aging as a liability. I like rephrasing the question, asking how we will improve the role of older people, helping them be creative, engaged, and contributing in our culture, enhanced by technology, as opposed to seeing them as people who are draining the system.
Q: Is there a benefit for a newbie to the market?
A: For a new entrepreneur, we have sessions about creating a business plan, figuring out what is your niche, what you can uniquely do in market that will serve a need, and what is your go-to-market strategy. We help them refine their business model so it scales, help them find the right support and financing, and to identify useful partnerships. We’ve helped companies raise money and get pilots done.
I’m a natural entrepreneur, but I’ve recently started calling myself a cartographer. We help people understand the landscape, and provide a roadmap for going to market. They need to know what doesn’t work as well as what does. We help them sharpen the business model around what they want to do.
For those of you who can’t make it to this year’s summit, Laura Mitchell will be there, doing her social media magic and bringing highlights to you live during the conference. If you’re going to be there, ping Laura Mitchell to set up a live interview, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s Next Boomer Business Summit
March 23, 2017
Chicago Hyatt Regency
Find out more, and register, at www.boomersummit.com.
Use discount code wn17LMC20 for a 20% discount on your registration.
Laura Mitchell Consulting is a strike team of marketing and growth strategy experts in the aging and technology industry. To find out more, contact us at email@example.com.
Today LMC welcomes guest blogger Jessica Kane, who shares her thoughts on – you guessed it – blogging. Thanks Jessica!
Blogs are critical for establishing your firm as thought leaders. Zipping out your first 8, 10 or even 20 blogs can be a breeze when you are bursting with ideas and enthusiasm for your new project. Somewhere along the line, however, the ideas can start to dry up and your content can start to feel stale – like you are just rewriting the same thing over and over. Sometimes, it’s not even a matter of getting out those first 8, 10 or 20 blogs; you don’t even know where to start in the first place. Whether you’re just starting out or are running out of ideas, here are 5 tips for creating great blog content.
1) Steal concepts, but not content
Whatever kind of blog you write, it’s a good bet that someone else writes a similar blog. Don’t be afraid to keep tabs on what other people are writing about and write on the same topic, but from your own perspective. Think of the media: there’s only so many newsworthy stories to cover and most channels are essentially reporting much of the same news, but with a slightly different take and different spin. You can do the same with blogging.
2) Use guest writers
Providing a wide variety of fresh content is key for any great blog. Sometimes, however, we can feel stuck in a rut or like we just keep beating on the same drum over and over. Asking another blogger to write content for your blog is a great way to inject new life into your content.
3) Contract fresh material
Having a guest blogger write content for you is one way to spruce up your blog with fresh, new material, but another way to do it is to contract someone to write content for you. With content services like Fiverr, you can actually contract a number of different people to create fresh, new material for you.
4) Use a mix of content, like video and infographics
Videos are rising in popularity and infographics have been proven to add significant “weight” to almost any article involving statistics, numbers or figures. You can hire someone to shoot a professional, high quality video if you have the budget for that, but you can also shoot your own “selfie” blog video. You do want it to be as professional as possible, however, so do some research on how to create a great video and maybe invest in a “selfie light” such as this one.
5) Design your content with your demographic in mind
Studies have shown that most people do not read blog content, but merely scan it instead. Conversely, however, that still leaves a specific demographic that actually prefers long, juicy, meaty content to sparse, easily scannable content with key points highlighted. What constitutes great blog content differs by audience, and this is why it’s important to know your audience. If your target audience is readers who are “book-smart,” they are far more likely to read long, meaty content that gives them a lot to think about. If you write a business blog, however, you’re more likely to attract followers if you offer concise, easily digested information, including pictures, diagrams and infographics.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Faxage a leading company that provides Internet fax service for individuals and businesses.