This post is being dedicated as a Welcome Back for myself. I am welcoming myself back into what I love the most about social media.. MY accounts. Since the end of Spring semester (whoa I have been M.I.A.), I found myself wrapped up in learning and working as much as I could to become a social media guru and impress the companies I was interning with. While the experiences have been amazing for me, it took far too long to realize that I had lost sight of a huge part of my strategy and work as an aspiring social media manager. Sure I still tweet, check in on Foursquare, and do the occasional Facebook post and Instagram picture, but I have not felt that anything being put out there on my personal accounts has been relevant to the role I want to play in the social media industry.
The company I interned with over the Summer, PoshTots, appreciated the work I did with their numerous social media accounts so much that they attempted to bring me on to work part time. After just a week of tweeting for my Fall internship with The Black Sheep VCU, I was praised by the Campus Manager. Yet, it never seemed as though I was becoming successful because my personal brand was being neglected. Community managers for advertising agencies have to juggle multiple brands at once, so it is time to learn to give 100% to the companies I am working for and to my personal brand at the same time. Keep an eye out (online of course) because Maya Nalli is back.
Just a few weeks after starting my personal branding campaign, there have already been substantial improvements in my search engine optimization. To see where I started, check out my previous post. I have been using Google and Bing Webmaster tools in order to index my social media profiles into the popular search engines and making sure to link all of my social media profiles together whenever possible. This allowed me to optimize “Maya Nalli” search results at a faster pace. Yahoo Search actually merged Site Explorer into Bing Webmaster tools, so indexing with Bing essentially had the same effect on Yahoo results. Even though I indexed all of the same URLs into both tools, improvements with SEO were not as drastic with Bing and Yahoo as they were with Google.
Before, only the first three results of Bing and the first two results of Yahoo were real matches to my name. Now, six of the nine results on the first page are matches. I still don’t feel that these results are as relevant as they should be in order to showcase my online image, so I will continue to find ways to optimize results on Bing and Yahoo. You can see in the screen shots below that the search results are now identical because of the merger.
My Google search results have definitely shown great improvements in a short amount of time. At the beginning, there were five real matches to my name on the first page and three of those were links to my Twitter account. After using the Google Webmaster Tools, the first eight results are very relevant matches and they even continue on to the second page. I have noticed that Google results seem to change fairly regularly, so I make sure to monitor them.
Overall, I am pleased with the improvements that I have made with search engine optimization and plan to keep looking for new tools. There were definitely some setbacks in using all of the SEO tools that are available since I was doing this for personal usage and do not own any domains. This has definitely been a learning experience and will continue to be one as I continue down the road to becoming a social media guru.
While there are plenty of ways to “engage” or “connect” throughout different social media platforms, I have found that responsive engagement is done best amongst Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. These are the platforms that allow for the most authentic interaction. Many people use Twitter as an emotional outlet, so I like to respond to people who are down about something and give them a little laugh and motivation. Typically, he or she replies with laughter and appreciation. Another way I have been engaging with my Twitter followers is by tweeting about a feeling or motivation that I have and asking for their own personal take on it. For example, one day I tweeted:
The number of responses tends to vary, but I am definitely getting more than before. One of the most common hashtags I use is #motivation because anyone who is looking for a little motivation or likes to give motivation can connect through it. On a few occasions, I have retweeted something that I found through the #motivation hashtag. Like with expression, the way I engage on Twitter tends to be a mix of personal and professional.
Engaging on Facebook and Pinterest typically ends up being on a more personal level, but still maintains my personal brand promise of laughter and motivation. I like to take the time to comment on friends’ Facebook statuses and photos to make a joke, help with an issue, or simply tell them how great they look. These are things that I commonly do in person because it is amazing to see how easily someone’s day can be brightened. Even though I cannot see real reactions online, I have a feeling it is just as effective. I also use Facebook in a more professional way to stay updated with companies and organizations that are important to my career.
Since I began using Pinterest, I have started to engage with people who I haven’t even talked to in years. While it isn’t usually a verbal connection, pinning allows me to see whom I still share common interests with. I also follow a few social media and advertising companies in order to see which ones may be a great fit for me. My motivation board currently has 86 followers, which is double the amount of people that follow all of my boards. This tells me that the pins I share are a successful implementation of my brand promise that draw in a community.
The three main platforms that I have been using to express myself through social media are this WordPress blog, Pinterest, and Twitter. Out of these, I feel that my Pinterest page has undergone the most transformation and been the easiest form of expression. Most of my attention was focused on my motivation board and different kinds of aspects of humor, including on social media. It allowed me to gather different ideas that motivated me or made me laugh in any way and hopefully gave lifted the moods of those who follow me.
My collection of boards expresses who I am by focusing on the topics of motivation, social media, fitness, dance, advertisements, and the little things that describe the humor in my life. After 11 days, there are 40 people following me. My goal for Pinterest is to use it to find common ground with people in order to make substantial connections and to give a little motivation to anyone that may need it.
This blog is the main source of my professional expression. I think it is important to document my process of growing as a social media professional. This is a way to motivate myself, for curious people to learn, and for professionals or potential employers to see what I’m capable of. So far, my WordPress has received over 175 views from the United States, Canada, and Germany. While my blog posts focus on professional material, my writing still embodies my voice so that readers can get a feel for my personality. For those of you reading my blog, what do you think it says about me? You can be honest.
Twitter seems to be a little mix of everything within my campaign because I use it for expression, exposure, engagement, and empowerment. Even as a form of expression, I would say that it is a mix of my personal and professional identity. One tweet may be about something funny that happened and the next may be a link to an article on search engine optimization. Since it is a good balance of personal and professional expression, I think that Twitter is the best representation of my brand. For my personal account or an organization’s account, it is important to find a balance of Twitter content. This way you keep followers engaged because it isn’t all work or all play. Many of my tweets focus on being motivated enough to overcome the stresses of life. I have gained 30 new followers since beginning my social media campaign. Over half of them are somehow involved in the social media/SEO industry and a few are motivational accounts.
During this last year of my college career, I plan to gain more experience by doing some pro bono social media work for local nonprofit organizations in the Richmond area. This is the reason that I have taken a closer look into the social media campaign strategy of a nonprofit to see what it is doing right and wrong and how the strategy could be stronger. The nonprofit organization I chose to look at is the National Vaccine Information Center. I volunteered at NVIC in elementary school, and it is located in my hometown of Vienna, Virginia. While it has embraced that it is important to use social media, NVIC does not seem to know exactly how to use it.
The website is excellent because it is the main focus for information, but still incorporates its brand message and has links to other social media pages. However, NVIC seems to be lacking an overall strategy for its social media. The message, “Your Health. Your Family. Your Choice,” is nowhere to be found amongst any of its social media profiles. The closest thing NVIC has to a blog is the once a month posting under current news on their website. It is surprising that this organization has not started a real blog that is updated more frequently considering that they seem to have so much to say and so many people that want to respond.
Under the Twitter name @NVICLoeDown, the National Vaccine Information Center’s president, Barbara Loe Fisher, is constantly spitting out stories and new information for the 424 followers and she is not using Twitter to connect with the community in any way. She never engages in conversations with followers and is only following four other accounts. If NVIC wants to truly build up an empowered community, then Twitter needs to start being used for responsive engagement. The frequency of the tweets are pretty good, but the content should be more than just links and cut off information that does not fit. Barbara needs to start using apropriate hashtags in order to reach an interested audience and should really listen to vaccine concerns and questions that are being tweeted so she can respond.
While NVIC’s Facebook page has an impressive 33,600 likes, it is not being used in an impressive way. The lack of responsive engagement through Facebook is just as bad as with Twitter. It is simply used to post stories nonstop throughout the day and there is no acknowledgement of comments, questions, or posts by others. Within the past 24 hours, NVIC has posted 14 stories to its Facebook page, which is way too high of a frequency. While all of this information is important, it is an overload for Facebook. Each day should focus on one topic in order to create meaningful conversations within NVIC’s community. It seems that this organization has a community, but the actual people interested in vaccine information built it, not their use of social media.
NVIC’s YouTube channel, NVICstandup, has 1,658 subscribers and is the nonprofit’s best use of social media. Barbara Loe Fisher has done a video about every month since May 2008 on important issues regarding vaccines. Most videos have received thousands of views and many comments that allow for conversation as well as controversy. It is important that NVIC allows negative comments to remain posted because it is dealing with such controversial topics. However, it should respond to some of their viewers’ comments when clarification is needed. The newest video is posted on NVIC’s homepage, but I could not find them on the Facebook page. This YouTube channel definitely adds value and seems to have created a community, but should have more exposure through other social media.
Another social media tool that could benefit NVIC is Pinterest. By creating boards that each deal with a different type of vaccine or illness, it would be able to organize and share all of its valuable information in a creative and engaging way. Overall, the National Vaccine Information Center has a decently strong community, but it has absolutely no engagement with the members of that community. While it is an important part of the organization to provide new information, it is basically abusing the different social media platforms by spitting out story after story. NVIC needs to establish its own voice and identity in the social media world in order to make connections in the right places.
Overall, I want my branding strategy to have a social web impact, involving expression, exposure, engagement, and empowerment. My first area of focus is expression. Once people understand who I am, what I do, and what I’m about, they will be able to generate an interest (hopefully). The social media platforms that are going to broadcast the majority of my expression are this WordPress blog, Pinterest, and Twitter. I love to express myself through humor and helping people. Those are two ways that I have always found it easy to connect with people.
A blog is the backbone to a social media strategy. This one shows my professional interests, while still allowing my personality to be expressed clearly. Pinterest is used as an expression of my interests and focuses on things that motivate me, so that hopefully I can motivate others. Twitter is a tool that I have been using for self-expression for a little over a year now. One subject I love to tweet about is when I am feeling motivated, whether something inspired me or I simply want to get something done.
In order to increase exposure of my expression, I would use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and my About.me page. It would be simplest to reach out to my current networks and attract new followers by posting my latest blog, pin, or idea to these platforms. Every tool I use must have a purpose in how it will help my campaign, even if it is just a means of exposure.
Facebook would be used for exposure by sharing my latest expression and connecting with people and pages that have similar interests. By tweeting with links to the other platforms and using relevant hashtags, I could potentially reach a lot of people who are interested and searching for the subjects I am speaking about. Since LinkedIn is more of a professional networking site, I would already be sharing with people that are in the same professional field. While my About.me page is not very interactive, it gives others an easy way to find the social media platforms that I am on. This gives a view of my entire campaign on one site.
The social media platforms that are best used for engagement are a combination of those that are being used for expression and exposure because I want to be engaging on every level possible. Twitter is the main conversation starter because it is used for both expression and exposure and hashtags make it easy for people with common interests to connect. One way I plan to engage through Twitter is by asking followers about what motivates them and connecting through humor.
Pinterest is a great way to engage, not necessarily in a verbal way, but by seeing who shares similar interests, which can be a conversation starter. Most engagement on Facebook happens when I share an idea or link and see something shared that interests me. The most important part of engaging for me is being responsive and remaining authentic in order to let people get a feel for my voice/energy.
Personally, I find engagement and empowerment to go hand in hand with each other. By engaging with people I can build relationships and a community, but I think the level of empowerment depends on the contributions I make to that community. Search engine optimization and reputation management is important in developing my online image, but a big part of that is becoming part of a network that I fit in to.