4 steps to win a contest using social media

By Jenny Fukumoto

Like most millennials, I tend to do 50,000 things at once.

So, when I saw a tweet from @DrinkCraftBeer announcing it was holding a contest to determine the name of the official Fall to Winter Beer Fest beer, I copied the link, sent it to my boyfriend with a quick “help me think of a name” and quickly forgot about it.

Until six hours later when he texted me, “Did you think of a name?”

I hadn’t. But being the marketer I am, I thought of one on the fly.

“Nut Your Average Ginger?” I texted.
Pause.
“No, nevermind, I can do better,” I texted back.

“Actually, that’s pretty good. Funny and witty,” he wrote.

So, I entered the competition. And then I went back to doing the 49,999 other things on my to-do list.

Here’s how I won this contest using social media:

1. Find ambassadors on Facebook.

Anyone can post something on Facebook and ask his or her friends to vote. But in order to win, you need to target the people who are going to rally their own troops to help you take the lead. The best is when you don’t need to blatantly ask for the shares–your ambassadors just make it happen. In the last 24 hours of voting, when the fight became bloody, I turned to these faithful few and they spread their social seeds.

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2. Search for voters on Twitter.

I got smart 48 hours before the end of the contest and searched for the specific term “Nut Your Average Ginger.” That yielded about 10 Twitter users who either tweeted their support for my beer name or retweeted @DrinkCraftBeer’s tweets about the contest. A simple “thanks for voting” tweet turned into new supporters–and followers!

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3. Turn desperation into a movement.

When I found out the other team was spamming votes, I decided to go all out. I wanted to launch a “last ditch” campaign. I wanted to be clever.

For the last 12 hours of the contest, all my tweets were only beer related. Every hour I tweeted fun beer facts (who knew they serve beer in plastic bags in China?!) with a link to vote for Nut Your Average Ginger. The retweets came in steadily. 

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4. Follow up with your new followers.

Because I spread so many seeds during this campaign, I wanted to do a non-traditional “thank you.” When the voting closed and I had the most votes, I photo stitched these goofy pictures, and tweeted/Facebooked them when DCB officially announced my beer name was the winner. 

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So there you have it. I won a beer naming contest all because of social media.

Thanks so much, guys!

The 10 commandments of online etiquette

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By Gini Dietrich

How many of you love to receive spam email?

How do you like it when you meet someone and he automatically adds you to his newsletter list?

How many of you love to get information that talks all about the sender and tells you nothing valuable?

How often do you unsubscribe from email lists and newsletters?

How many of you know organizations that push their messages via social media, but don’t use it to engage, network, or build a community? I’d venture to guess every one of you.

If you are with me—you hate this stuff—I want to know why you do it to others when you get behind your computer at work.

Some examples

I ask these questions when I speak, particularly when I do three- or four-hour workshops. It allows me to dig deep into why people do this at work, but hate it as a consumer or buyer.

A few weeks ago, I did some research on different customer relationship management programs for a client. I spoke to five different companies. Of the five, three added me to their newsletter list without my permission, simply because I called looking for additional information.

And last week, I received an email from a company telling me it added me to an email distribution list and to let someone know if it wasn’t OK. This is not a company I’ve ever communicated with. Someone just decided I was a good target and went ahead and added me.

But I guess it makes it OK if someone tells me he added me?

I’m sure this is a sales technique of some sort. Maybe it’s to see if I check my email and, if I respond (even if it’s to say it’s not OK they added me to their lists), they know it’s a viable email address.

Or maybe it’s a list-building tactic, which means the organization is focused on the wrong things.

I’ve become afraid to answer emails from strangers at all.

Why is it that all of us hate this, but a good majority of us do it when it comes to online marketing?

The 10 commandments of online etiquette

Perhaps there isn’t a one-size-fits-all equation, and maybe you’re simply focused on numbers instead of conversions, but I’d like to think there is some online etiquette we all should consider.

Therefore, I created the 10 commandments of online etiquette:

1. Thou shalt not add anyone to a newsletter list without his or her consent.

2. Thou shalt not send a LinkedIn invite that says, “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”

3. Thou shalt not post news releases as blog posts.

4. Thou shalt not talk about yourself in communications.

5. Thou shalt not use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn accounts as news feeds for an organization.

6. Thou shalt not create newsletters that talk about how great you, your leadership, products, or services are without putting them in the context of the buyer.

7. Thou shalt not build lists, fans, followers, connections or circles just for the sake of numbers.

8. Thou shalt not abuse your online power.

9. Thou shalt not email bloggers, journalists, influencers, or target audiences without doing research, building relationships, and giving them something of value.

10. Thou shalt not engage in black hat email marketing.

What else would you add?

Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. A version of this article originally ran onSpin Sucks.

Millennial reflections on 9/11

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By Tom Wood

I am a millennial, a member of Generation Y, a college student and an avid technology user. More often than not, as I sit on my laptop at home, I put myself in the line of fire of my mother’s campaigns against technology. “You spend hours on that thing! Hours! Why don’t you get off and read a book?”

Both my parents are avid readers. They constantly try and guilt trip me out of hours of social networking with cries like, “do you think great men like Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln would’ve sat on a computer?!”

Perhaps I’ll tweet that quote to my friends, but nonetheless their tirades give me pause. I begin to doubt the uses of social media. I begin to sympathize with their points of view and think that maybe social media is the reason why my generation can’t read the classics or concentrate in class. I begin to think that maybe I should deactivate my Facebook and Twitter accounts and spend all my hours with my dad’s favorite classic –The Iliad.

But on 9/11 of all days, my faith in the goodness of social media is restored. Today, a day which will live in solemnity for all Americans for as long as this country exists reminds me why social media is so important for my generation.

Let me explain why.

I am a Chicagoan. I hail from the suburbs and go to school in the city. This is the only life I have ever known. While I wouldn’t consider myself sheltered in any way, I know I am relatively unconnected from the rest of the world. I use my Facebook and Twitter mainly to keep in touch with local friends and wish people happy birthday, never to stimulate reflection on world events.

I had never really taken the time to reflect on that until today. Today, I logged into Facebook and saw the momentum of a generation whose obsession with social media has compelled them to action. It happens every year, but as I grow older I am even more impressed by the social media movements that focus around the events of our lives, and today specifically, 9/11.

Eleven years later, my newsfeed gleams with red white and blue as many of my hundreds of Facebook friends post about 9/11. I see status’ thanking our armed forces, remembering a lost family member or simply reiterating how great our country is in the face of adversity. How eleven years later we haven’t forgotten the sacrifices of our soldiers, firefighters, policemen, and civilian heroes.

I click on my class Facebook page and see that one girl has posted the simple prompt “Do you guys remember 9/11….? :(“ A couple hours later that post has fifty some comments, each telling an individual story.

There’s a reflection from a Chinese student, who rode to the top of the World Trade Center his first time in America, the summer of 2001.

A girl from Bangladesh tells how in her house “the hours after the attack were spent in trepidation,” fearing for the lives of their relatives in New York.

Most touching was the reflection of a student who was at his dad’s office that day and had a clear view of the event. He recalls how his horrified father whispered to him “we all just witnessed mass murder.”

And finally there are the stories of those who lost loved ones, putting their stories out in public, across all media platforms for support and to tell the world that this wasn’t something to be removed from. This is personal.

Facebook is only the beginning. My Twitter feed yields more. Today I discovered, and chose to follow the 9/11 Memorial Twitter feed. For hours now, I have been receiving updates remembering those who lost their lives or were otherwise affected by the accident. The newsfeed chooses to re-tweet as many stories as possible. In this way, I have heard from complete strangers- from marines and firefighters, to politicians and celebrities, all portraying the same message: we will never forget.

Older generations may judge. They will look at us and say “they are too caught up in their electronics and instant messaging.” But they don’t understand. We are part of something. Generation Y is growing up to be a generation of movers and shakers. Because of our passion for social media, we are connected. My vision of 9/11 has been shaped so much by social media. Facebook gave me the chance to read my classmates’ first hand stories, and Twitter linked me to people I most likely will never meet.

 This is our legacy. We may occasionally waste time on our computers and smartphones but when we want to get our message across, we do it. Whether it is to campaign for our politicians, promote a charity or cry for justice Generation Y will get it done.

And the message we put out there today is one that connects us not only as a nation, but as a generation across the globe. We will never forget. 

The 7 habits of highly effective writers

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By Daphne Gray-Grant

Have you ever wondered why some people write easily and fluently, while others struggle and strain as if trying to squeeze a 185-lb body into a size six pair of jeans? In 30 years at this trade, I’ve noticed that effective writers tend to share seven traits. So, with apologies to Stephen Covey, here is my list.

Effective writers …

1) Separate the writing and the editing processes. When they write, they write, not worrying about the quality of their work. Writer/director Cecil Castellucci says: “”The best flowers are fertilized by crap.”” Remember this and give yourself permission to write a crummy first draft.

Editing is a job for later. That’s when you’ll have plenty of time to rearrange big chunks of text, monkey around with sentence structure, obsess over word choice and fix punctuation.

2) Focus on the interesting. Effective writers (and speakers) always tell lots of stories. If they have to communicate something “”theoretical,”” they illustrate it with real life examples and anecdotes. They know that human beings don’t just crave food—they are also starved for stories.

3) Tap into the power of metaphor. As metaphor expert Anne Miller likes to say, “”metaphors lead to instant understanding.”” There are at least three metaphors in this article (can you find them all?)

4) Do adequate research. There is nothing more painful than trying to write when you have nothing to say. Effective writers understand that good research is all about asking interesting questions—of themselves, of the books, Web sites and reports they read and of anyone they interview. And this needs to be completed before any writing can begin.

5) Learn from the writing of others. Effective writers understand that they are lifelong apprentices. They learn by reading—constantly. Note: this is not just passive, flip- through-a-thriller-while-sitting-on-the-pool- deck kind of reading. This is active sit-up-and-pay-attention-to-technique dissection—similar to what a scientist would do in a lab. You won’t want to read this closely all the time, of course (it’s work—although fun work, to my mind). But effective writers do some of this every week.

6) Write in small bursts. Creative work doesn’t require oodles of time. That first draft you need to write? It’s best done in dribs and drabs, a little bit at a time. Instead of procrastinating, effective writers persuade themselves to write a little each day, no matter how frazzled and frantic they feel. (Editing, on the other hand, usually needs space, time and quiet.)

7) Read their work out loud. Language isn’t just meaning—it’s also music. The most effective writers can often be found sitting by the computer keyboards, madly whispering to the screen, repeating their words back to themselves. Yes, it looks kooky and co-workers may become alarmed. But effective writers don’t care. They do it because it works.

A former daily newspaper editor, Daphne Gray-Grant is a writing and editing coach and the author of 8½ Steps to Writing Faster, Better. She offers a free weekly newsletter on her Web site the Publication Coach. This story first appeared on PR Daily in August 2011. 

The best ways to start and end your workday

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By David Spark

Everyone has a daily routine that makes them comfortable. For those highly productive people, they think about the first hour as the launching pad for the rest of their day. And they think about their last hour as a way to reflect on the day and a time to set up for the next day.

On Quora, I stumbled upon this discussion, “How do the most successful people spend the first hour of the day?” I was fascinated by the advice so I summarized the tips, and added some additional advice I’ve learned. I invite you to provide your input in the comments.

How to spend the first hour of your day

The first hour often can set the tone for the rest of your day. Think consciously about what you’re going to do in this time.

1. Go on a grateful and visualization walk.

According to Daniel Eskin, this walk is one of Tony Robbins’ mental strategy techniques. The purpose is to “become strongly associated initially with very detailed things in your life you are grateful for, and then visualize how you must make your life that day, that week, that year, etc,” said Eskin of Robbins’ advice. While he admitted it sounds new-agey, Eskin said it has incredible effects on associating success with his everyday life.

UI designer, Matt Dronkers, disagreed, “Choose to do positive things that don’t have anything to do with ‘visualizing’ what you want your day or life to be like. If you do that, it seems you will miss the first hour you are awake because you spend it in your head, and not fully aware of your surroundings.”

2. Exercise.

Exercise is one of the most common first hour pieces of advice. Many avoid exercise because they say they don’t have time for it. Those who exercise remark they are more productive and mentally fresh for the hours they do work.

3. Do the thing you dread.

Kate Huyett noted that Henry Paulson, Goldman Sachs’ CEO and United States Secretary of the Treasury, said the first thing he did every morning was the thing he most dreaded that day.

Sarah Lafferty adheres to Paulson’s advice and tries to tackle the toughest thing first.

“This clears my head for the rest of the day and makes me feel on top of things,” Lafferty said.

4. Create a to-do and not-to-do list.

Anuj Agarwal, founder of Feedspot.com, creates two lists:

  1. What I’m not going to do today (distractions)
  2. What I’m going to do today (productivity)

5. Clear out all emails.

There are two types of people. Those who have hundreds of emails in their inbox, and those with less than 10. I’m the latter. I like to keep my inbox clean if not empty, especially at the end of the day. I bring it down to less than five within the first hour of the day. I try to have it empty by the day’s end.

The reason so many people feel inundated by email is because they probably work in an office where they get cc’ed on everything and feel the obligation to read everything. If you’re drowning under office email, you should find a better way to communicate through a non-email based collaboration tool such as Yammer.

6. Make money.

In an interview on MixergyDane Maxwell said he starts every day with a “revenue generating activity,” as quoted by Andy Brudtkuhl.

7. Empower others.

After he gets ready for work, Alwyn Brannewyn van Deventer spends his first hour of his day “psyching up other people.”

8. Read for pleasure, general news, or industry news.

What you read in the morning is your choice. I like to read one or two industry tech blogs. I used to subscribe to a 10-minute daily tech update. It was great to know what was going on in my industry at the start of the day. I don’t like to be left in the dark. Unfortunately, there isn’t a good short daily technology podcast anymore, so I refer to a couple of blogs. One person commented they like to use text-to-speech technology to listen to blogs.

9. Go into the office.

Many of us are fortunate enough to have the option to work out of our home or in the office. While working at home avoids the commute, it is also the center of far too many distractions. If you know you can’t be productive at home, go to the office.

10. Do a combination.

Many of the first-hour activities can be combined. For example, Alex Ikonn has a routine that combines exercise with Robbins’ grateful and visualization walks. Some like to listen to industry podcasts while they exercise.

How to spend the last hour of your day

Do you know when the last hour of your day is? If you do, then you’ll know when you have to get everything done. If you don’t, your hours in between the first and the unknown last hour will not be as productive.

1. Reflect on the day by journaling.

This is rather sound advice that I don’t adhere to. Journaling forces you to think about what you’ve done, and provides some understanding of what you should do in the future.

2. Write a list of the top three things you want to accomplish the next day.

Kenneth Chenault, CEO and Chairman of American Express, creates tomorrow’s “top three” list at the end of the day and then uses it to start his next day, Abbey Reider said.

3. Exercise.

Many like to start their day with exercise, others like to use it as a cool down from a stressful day. Do what works for you.

4. Excuses don’t make you successful.

All of this sounds great, if I had all the time in the world. But … no one became successful with excuses. You’re not supposed to do everything on this list. You’re supposed to find what works for you, and do it.

5. Know what the last hour of your day is

This is probably the most important piece of advice to maintain your work/personal life sanity. While having an active mind about work can be good for you and your business, don’t be a work “grazer.” If you trickle your work day off by answering one more email or one more Facebook update, you’ll constantly feel exhausted and you’ll never get any truly “free time,” which is key for reenergizing.

This article was originally a report published by Spark Media Solutions’ David Spark (@dspark) forIntertainment Media‘s Ingaged Blog, makers and distributors of the KNCTR and Ortsbo.

13 things millennials need to know when starting a job search

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By Jason Syptak

Career hunting is a piece of cake. It’s a gigantic, delicious, dairy- and gluten free piece of cake. Not really. But that’s what I thought as a Texas A&M University student.

Being a full-time job seeker is discouraging.

Venturing to the magical New York City after college graduation was always my plan. With my acceptance into the New York University Summer Publishing Institute that’s just what I did. When the program ended, my career quest officially started. Here’s what I wish I knew at the start of my job search

1.     Begin with a targeted list

You will exercise your marketing muscles by segmenting the job market, targeting the market with the greatest return and then positioning yourself right in front by showcasing core competencies.

Take note of companies, websites, contacts, email addresses, and characteristics that catch your attention because it will help track progress.

2.     Organize your materials

Begin to craft tailored materials for each target. Organize yourself by packaging cover letters, resumes and portfolio compilations into company-separated folders.

3.     Strip your resume

Large companies have online application systems requiring you to upload a document or PDF. Such systems tear resumes to shreds by only extracting words. It gets messy: Bullets are entirely out of line and text is clumped together. Create an entirely unformatted resume to avoid the mess.

4.     Send initial outreach emails

Individuals holding high-rank titles are humans too. Usually they respond if you succinctly prove yourself and are persistent in your outreach.

5.     Score informational interviews

Informational interviews provide tremendous opportunities to build connections. Informational interviewers may not be able to get you a job directly, but they become a part of your larger network.

Keep in touch with and update them along your journey using Twitter or LinkedIn.

6.     Practice patience

This proves to be my biggest challenge. Whereas many respond to emails, many also do not. In my experience it’s completely disheartening and leaves one in an uncertainty abyss. But that’s OK. Learn to play the game so it doesn’t play you!

7.     Revamp your social media presence

If your social mix is sporadic and unorganized, now is the time to outline professional and personal network-specific theme strategies. Always remember to stay fresh and keep it classy.

8.     Attend to relevant news

I constantly open a “Daily Reads” bookmark folder jam-packed with online publications reporting on my interested fields. Not only do I now have Twitter content, but I’m keeping up with the latest happenings.

Continue to educate yourself by reading focused news and absorbing it.

9.     Send follow up No. 1

Remember that initial outreach email you sent two days ago? No response, I bet. It’s the third day and time to send follow up email No. 1. Send a polite email letting the hiring manager know you’re following up.

10.Do something else

Pick up a couple of projects. Guest-write for a blog or start your own. Freelance. My own social media small business consulting is field-relevant and adds a self-revenue stream. Social media marketing for others also involves finalizing one’s self-brand for credibility promotion.

It’s important to stay busy and not lazy.

11.Bookmark job websites

Some situations play out where you have a direct contact into a company, they become one of your fans, but there are no jobs available. Unfortunate, but it’s reality. The way I maneuvered this is by bookmarking job websites. Whenever I discover a job for which I’d be a good fit, I immediately apply for it and let my contact know I did so.

Because they remember me, they’ll be able to put a face to my application.

12.Send follow up No. 2

It’s now the fifth day since you’ve sent your initial outreach email and two more days have passed since your first follow up. Third time must be a charm, and it usually is. Send follow up email No. 2. In my experiences, the person to whom you’re trying to communicate feels bad for not responding and does so right away. You’re finally booked in his or her calendar … or you could be annoying.

Think about including a new work piece so s/he continues to learn about you.

13.Continue with passion, hope and purpose

Rejection makes you stronger, but a lack of response is just confusing and disheartening. We don’t always get what we want.

Most importantly, don’t take rejection or response-lacking emails personally. Keep your essence, vision and what you want do.

Learn more about Jason M. Syptak at http://tx.ag/jasonsyptak or follow him on Twitter @jasonsyptak.

 

5 ways millennials can become better strategic thinkers


Chris Rooney

Entry-level digital professionals have received quite a bit of abuse lately, particularly that we allegedly feel entitled to be “digital strategists” just because we belong to our specific generation.

What can we do to counter those concerns? We can put in the work to become better strategic thinkers.

Here are five ways millennials can become better strategic thinkers in the digital space:

1. Hack your brain to think in terms of opportunities.

recent Forbes study noted that millennials are more “irritated, tired, and anxious” about their careers than other groups. Perhaps that’s partly due to “taking work home” in the sense that mistakes or criticisms you get on the job affect your thoughts more than they would later in your career.

In your 20s, you’re still learning how to handle negative emotions that might come from failures or criticisms. But let’s be realistic—an honest mistake or constructive criticism isn’t the end of the world.

Try “hacking” your brain to approach hurdles opportunistically rather than negatively. So what happens if you made a mistake on a project at work? As long as the mistake was honest, you now have a crucial new piece of data to refine your approach for next time.

2. Control information overload.

If you work in digital public relations, you have your finger on the pulse of all the latest digital trends—from new social media platforms to tech news to the latest tweets from your favorite celebrity.

Millennials spend an average of seven hours and 38 minutes on digital media every day. With mobile as an increasingly important channel for information, we’re constantly absorbing data, forcing our brains to triage large amounts of information all the time. That leaves little room to think proactively and creatively.

Try to get away from the computer once in a while. John Cleese of Monty Python fame describes a solution in a hilarious 1991 speech. Making time for the open mode gives your brain the opportunity to become a producer of innovative ideas rather than simply a consumer, which is an essential part of moving from digital tactician to digital strategist.

3. Learn from your mentors.

A common criticism of our generation is that we act as though we’re entitled to success. The backlash against a recent Cathryn Sloane article is a perfect example. But despite our “native” comfort with social media and digital media, we have to learn the industry and business skills that only come from experience.

Millennials in digital careers can jump their careers forward in a big way by making the effort to build strong relationships with their mentors. Ask smart questions, and use the advice they offer you—the best advice comes from experience.

Most important, give back—the greatest relationships are two-sided. They’re investments in both parties’ futures.

4. Cross-pollinate your interests.

You might think that so much work is on your plate that you barely have time for interests outside work. Maybe you even compartmentalize your life—work and play should stay separate, you might believe. Think about this: Some of the greatest innovations of all time have resulted from people “cross-pollinating” different interests: Physics and engineering combined to start computer science, for example.

Your outside interests are completely valid in a digital career. Read widely about linguistics (my personal interest), blog about classic films, and absorb life outside the workplace. You never know what kind of innovative ideas might come from an unexpected place.

5. Think in stories and narratives.

Think of the best storyteller you can remember. Chances are it was a friend, a colleague or a family member. It was someone you knew who told riveting stories. They didn’t speak in business jargon, “leet” speak, or texting slang. They spoke like real people telling human stories.

Whether you’re copywriting for a multi-platform campaign, pitching an idea to your team, or engaging with a brand’s community, the essential underlying thread is storytelling. Learn to write like a human being—the way your favorite storytelling uncle speaks—and you’ll get your ideas heard.

We millennials have vast resources available to us in the form of information, access to thought leaders, and few barriers for getting more strategic ideas out there. All it requires is that we put in the elbow work in the way we think about our world, and that we discipline our thinking about how we approach opportunities.

How have you worked on becoming a more strategic thinker in your career?

This article first appeared on EdelmanDigital.com.