Avoiding Social Media Marketing Mishaps

Too often the headline, “Company makes social media blunder, offends large group of people,” goes by on social media. And these headlines aren’t exclusive to social media, but can happen with any advertising, public relations or marketing tactic. There are a few simple ways to avoid this becoming your reality.

Use Common Sense


If your are recognizing a day of remembrance of a tragedy, you can pretty much guarantee slipping a product reference or sale price in to your social media or other content or advertising is probably going to be received poorly. People are passionate about these events, and if they think you are trying to make a profit off of a national tragedy, they will call you on it. If you are going to recognize this day, separate your promotional materials. Have to push a sale or marketing piece, then don’t recognize the day of remembrance, or what ever the tragedy or event might be, at the same time. Make separate posts, and space them out a bit.

Plan Ahead

I know I’m the biggest poster child for planning ahead, but this is even more important in this type of situation. Think out what you are going to say well before hand. One word slightly out of place could be enough to upset your audience. I find myself double checking the meanings of words that I know the meanings of, just to be sure it can’t be taken in a way I didn’t intend.


We all know that tone is lost in written digital communications, so make sure your tone can not be misconstrued. If you take the time to do this all ahead of the posting time, then you can be confident your post won’t land you in hot social media water.

Wear Other’s Shoes

Take some time to research the event or day that you will be making a post for. Do you consider Memorial Day as the first day of summer? You should probably take some time to read up on what Memorial Day is for others. An easy way to get an overall understanding is reading up on the topic on Wikipedia. I find that Wikipedia typically shows a well-rounded view on big topics like these. This especially applies when talking to an international audience.

Now that you know these easy ways to avoid these marketing blunders, go forth and avoid them!

Retweet After Me: Week of Sept. 3, 2013

Here’s another round up of good-to-know information for you!

Google Plus for Business – The Google Plus Features You Should Know by Evan LePage

Only a few months ago, Google Plus underwent a serious redesign. The major changes, coupled with the fact that many people are only now starting to get themselves and their businesses on the network, mean a lot of users probably don’t know all the features the fast-growing social network brings to the table. [Read More]

Be More Personable on Social Media: 3 Tips by Jeff Haden

Almost every business engages its customers through social media. Some do it well… and many could do it better. If you fall into the latter category, here are tips from Andrew Caravella, VP of marketing at Sprout Social, a leading social media management and engagement platform. [Read More]

Higher Education Searches Rise on Google, Reveal Marketing Opportunity [Study] by Jessica Lee

Attention marketers: demand is high on mobile devices for higher education info, and online programs from traditional universities are highly sought after, according to new Google research that was revealed during the first Hangout on Air for Google’s education team. [Read More]

Top 10 Social Media Research Articles for the First Half of 2013 for Public Relations Professionals

With the explosive growth of social media, the editors of the Institute for Public Relations’ Social Science for Social Media Research Center have identified what we think are the top nine social media research reports in the first half of 2013 that are beneficial for public relations professionals. We determined this based on the rigor of the report’s methodology, sample size, findings, and accessibility. [Read More]

Content on Tumblr has a Longer Shelf Life than on any Other Social Network by Sarah Evans

Networks, like Tumblr, reddit and even Pinterest have changed the way we not only share, but re-share information. The very act of “re-pinning” and “reblogging” are the way information travels and are essential tactics for the most popular players on each site. New research from social analytics company, simplymeasured looks at how the reblog keeps content alive. [Read More]

Social Media Managers Rejoice: Facebook Promotions Changes


Facebook has changed their Pages Terms to allow for promotions on the page timeline. This is huge news. In the past, promotions could only be administered through a third-party app.

So what do these changes mean to you? Big things! Here’s a list:

  • Pages can collect entries through posts on pages, comments on posts, or liking a post
  • Pages can collect entries by having users message the page
  • Pages can ask for users to vote for an entry through likes

Want more information? Read Facebook’s full Promotion Guidelines.

What is your favorite part of these changes?

#SocialFresh Key Takeaways in 140 Characters

#SocialFresh is a perfect description of how I’m feeling right now. I just returned from sunny San Diego and the Social Fresh West conference. Every speaker was fantastic, and was obviously passionate about what they’re topic. I definitely left this morning feeling re-energized to hit the road running. If you’re looking for a conference in the future, this would be an excellent option to explore.

Here are some of my key takeaways, in tweet form. Not all of them were a perfect fit for a higher education scenario, but the idea is still there, and still applicable in some way or another.

There was a huge emphasis on images and visuals in the conference, but I think @PRSarahEvans said it best. Don’t ignore the image, it’s powerful, and not just on Facebook any more.

So in higher education we don’t necessarily have a C-suite in the traditional sense, but we do have administrators who should be interested in what is being done in communications, which includes social media. Every aspect of communications and marketing you do counts. Make sure others know that, too.

We have to treat students like people, because that’s what they are. As community managers and social media managers we have a large opportunity to make our universities real to our students. We get to tell them we care. Feel empowered to do just that. This is actually one of my favorite parts of my job, helping students when there are issues, encouraging them when needed, and celebrating with them throughout the process of earning a degree and starting a career.

When I think mobile, I always think of smartphones and then responsive and mobile websites. Both technologies. Those days are gone. Think about how your user interacts with your content in a mobile-environment, and you’ll start on the right path.

Again: visual, visual, visual. Audiences interact with images, and it’s the first thing that will draw a reader in, so don’t skimp, and use pretty images to tell the story.

A tale as old as time. You will never be successful if you’re always behind the eight ball. Set yourself up for success, whether it be committing to a social content calendar, using your editorial calendar more, or just organizing your thoughts. There’s no silver bullet, do what works for you.

A personal montra of mine, so I was happy to hear it said. Social media in some ways is your brand’s window to the world. Why would you just throw whatever content up you could find without thinking of how it represents your brand?

I think we all know this. But sometimes it’s just nice to hear that you’re not the only one whose marketing campaign gets stomped on every now and again.

I’ll admit, sometimes I’m the first person to jump to saying no to a request for social media. But I’m getting better at quickly reevaluating that initial thought, and finding a better solution: I don’t think that piece of content is appropriate for that social media channel, but it would be a great fit on this one. Work with the many different areas of the university to make the content and the communications work for you.

Lead your own conversations, don’t follow. The conversation is happening all around you, so make sure you steer it where you want it.

Another huge theme of #socialfresh was repurpose, and I love how Jason Miller from LinkedIn said this. Evergreen content isn’t old since it’s been posted for a bit, just pre-loved. So why don’t we repurpose that content and give it another round of love.

Retweet After Me: Week of Feb. 21, 2013

Here’s this week’s roundup of need to know social media news, and some new ideas for improving your social media presences. Enjoy!

Getting the Most Out of Graduations with Social Media by Cameron Pegg

In many ways, graduations are the ultimate social event. Thousands of people gather on your campus simultaneously to celebrate the achievements of their friends and family members, happily producing and sharing photos, video and other content. [ Read More ]

Neiman Marcus: Making Fashion Social Through Strategy and Execution by Lin Humphrey

When considering the social media approach for an upscale retailer, it is hard not to draw comparisons with couture design. Appealing to a design-conscious fashionable consumer requires a well-constructed, custom approach where content, not short-term promotions, rules. As with clothing, timeless style trumps fleeting fads in a flawless social media execution. [ Read More ]

MTV and BET’s fake Twitter hack PR stunt wasn’t funny and raises serious questions by Taylor Soper

MTV and BET just fooled us all, and I’m not sure if it was funny, stupid or scary. Yesterday, Burger King’s Twitter account was hacked and the same hackers did it to Jeep today. Then, just an hour ago, it appeared the @MTV and @BET accounts — both are owned by Viacom — were also victim to the same intrusion. [ Read More ]

Police Informed Mother About Son’s Death Over Facebook by Kevin Morris

Anna Lamb-Creasey’s son had disappeared without a trace. She called hospitals and jails. She waited for days and then weeks and then a month, desperate for a sign of life. She posted to his Facebook page: “Rickie where are you? Love mom.” [ Read More ]

Twitter Launches Ads API, So Marketers Can Run Campaigns Through Adobe, Salesforce, Others by Anthony Ha

Twitter just announced via blog post that it has launched an advertising API, which will allow brands to run ad campaigns through the company’s API partners, rather than having to buy them through Twitter itself. [ Read More ]

Floating at Sea: Carnival Triumph and Crisis Communications

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you know that the Carnival Triumph is currently floating about 150 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula after an engine fire left them without propulsion and running on emergency power.

Ok, now that you are up to speed, let’s look at their crisis communications at work.

This situation is easily one that Carnival could have attempted to sweep under the rug, it wouldn’t have worked, but they could have tried. Instead, they are not only being transparent about the situation, but they are actively talking about it. Color me impressed!

carnival web site
Carnival Triumph button and question and answer page

A ship floating at sea is a big problem when you’re a cruise line, but by actively talking about the situation, and the steps they are going through to ensure their guests and crews’ safety, they are sending a clear message to past and present customers. “You matter, and while the situation isn’t the vacation you planned, we’re not forgetting about you and we’ll fix this to the best of our ability.” What more can you ask for from a company?


Right on the homepage is a yellow button with the words, “Carnival Triumph,” which links to official information on the original incident, an update to the incident, and an information on upcoming voyages that are now canceled and compensation. Again, they’re not hiding this. It’s right at the top of the page. Since writing this, the page has been updated with a statement from their CEO.

Social Media

carnival facebook
Carnival statement on Facebook

I actually found out about the Carnival Triumph from social media, and it wasn’t someone saying, “Go look at how they’re messing up their social response.” I found out from the source, from Carnival on Facebook. I read the whole post, which is quite long, but it put out the facts and needed information. In fact, I didn’t feel the need to read about the situation from another news source. If you know me, you know this never happens. I always want to know more, and I love to Google. Carnival, however, told me enough information that I felt I knew the facts. They’ve continued to post on both Facebook and Twitter, and have only posted information about the Carnival Triumph since the situation started. In fact, they just updated further with new information about taking the ship to Mobile, Ala., instead of Progreso, Mexico, and why they are doing so.


Carnival Twitter feed
Carnival Twitter feed

There are some lessons for crisis communicators and social media managers to learn here. First, be as open and honest as you can. There are situations when all the facts just can’t be told, but being proactive and releasing information when it’s appropriate is definitely the way to go.

Second, social media can be your enemy or your friend. We’ve all seen tons of examples of what not to do in a crisis situation on social media. While Carnival is definitely getting its fair share of negative comments, there are also plenty of positive ones in there, too. By talking to their audiences, they aren’t being attacked for not saying anything, or for saying it all wrong.

Third, continue to update. One and done is not the way here. As the situation evolves, Carnival continues to let people know on all channels what the current status is.

Their only faux pas? It seems they’ve started copying and pasting their latest statement to some commenters on their Facebook wall. If they showed a little compassion here, and just let people know they understand, and are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of the guests and crew members onboard, it would probably be better received. That is, as long as they don’t start copying and pasting that, too.

What do you think of Carnival’s response to their floating at sea cruise ship? Good or bad? Is there something you think they could be doing better?


Cross-Platform Posting: Is It Worth It?

It’s obvious that this post isn’t meant for Facebook.

When there’s not enough time in the work day to get all the tasks done, which let’s be honest, who hasn’t been here, it seems like common sense to autopost your social media posts across all your platforms. But the time you save with your autoposting, could be hurting your social media presences.

The Problem

Social media is about having authentic relationships. In higher ed, this means creating relationships with a wide range of different audiences, including students. By posting the same exact message to multiple channels your audiences will recognize that you’re posting the same thing across the board. Nothing about that says authentic. Have conversations with your audiences, rather than at them. Start by being real, posting to each channel separately and tailoring your messages.

How will your audiences be able to tell? Each social media platform has certain features that are specific just to it. On Facebook, you can like and comment on posts; on Twitter, users use hashtags, @ replies and RTs. Write a great post for Twitter and cross post it to Facebook, and then all of a sudden you have hashtags on Facebook, which serve absolutely no purpose there. Nothing says “We want to build a relationship with you, but not by putting in the work it requires,” quite like obvious autoposts.


There are some easy ways to help alleviate these problems. Taking time before you post can make getting everything done much more of a possibility.

Planning is key to beginning to move your social strategy in the right direction. Start off with a content plan. Not only will you never wonder, “What am I going to post today?” but you’ll also be able to write different posts for each of your social channels in one central place. This will help make sure you diversify content, and avoid those dreaded hashtags on Facebook. It’s also a great way to proofread posts before they go out, and make sure they’re timely and relevant.

Schedule your posts to release on to their respective channels. I know what you’re thinking, “Doesn’t this go against the authenticity of social media relationships?” And the answer is it can if you don’t do it correctly. By scheduling, you can ensure your posts are spread out throughout the day, and are on the correct channel without having to stop everything you’re doing at intervals throughout the day to post. This doesn’t mean to completely ignore the interactions coming in from these posts. You still will need to monitor and respond when necessary. You can set up alerts on programs like Tweetdeck to show you when someone has responded. This way your entire day isn’t taken up with social media, but you are still reacting and creating those relationships.

Practicing Responsible SXSW

Note: I originally wrote this post for Mikinzie Stewart’s blog PR Geek Speak, and luckily for me, I was able to recover it from there, even though I lost all my content. To all of you heading to SXSW or who are already there, have a fantastic time, learn tons and make lots of contacts!

As a SXSW virgin last year (I have the Foursquare badge to prove it!), I went to Austin thinking I was uber prepared, probably even too prepared. After about 10 minutes, I realized how grossly mistaken I was.

SXSW is an awesome, crazy and exhausting experience, and there are a few things that I picked up during my trip that will make your experience all the better next year:

  • Bring a map! With 10 different campuses, there’s a lot of walking. There’s no reason to walk circles around the convention center because you don’t know where Congress Street is.
  • Realize that there’s no way in hell you’ll be able to attend every panel. Most panels will be great but inevitably you’ll end up in one that isn’t what you expected or is a little too basic for you. Don’t be afraid to get up and leave! If you have multiple panels scheduled, you’ll be covered.
  • When planning your schedule, try to stay with the different tracks. This will help minimize the amount of walking too.
  • Want to connect with some Twitter friends that you’ve always wanted to meet? Decide on all the specifics of when you’ll meet up before you leave for Austin. Once all the craziness of SXSW begins, it becomes nearly impossible to get together. Whether it is meet-ups, panels or lunch, make plans ahead of time.
  • And the biggest tip of all: HAVE FUN! Take it all in, enjoy everything Austin has to offer, attend as many panels as possible and hit up all the parties.

Where Have I Been?

You might be wondering where I’ve been! I’ve had a blank website for quite a few months. I’ve missed you. I hope you’ve missed me. And this is why hacking is bad.

My site was hacked, and I mean really hacked. Me and my site are victims of the timthumb security vulnerability. I was angry with my theme provider, I was ticked off that I was having to start over and I was mainly annoyed with the fact that I realized I didn’t know how to use my backups to restore my site.

After thinking about it, I decided it wasn’t the end of the world. I would move on. I would create more content, better than what I’d done before.

So I hope you’re ready for the new blog! Listen. Engage. Build Relationships. That’s what it’s all about.