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Social Media Community Manager University
begins January 20th

I hope the New Year is treating you well! We here at red balloon are excited about lots of new offerings for 2015, like our recently launched training calendar, which includes our new certification program, Social Media Community Manager University, and this month we are beginning a new 4 month session!

If you are you responsible for your company’s social media campaigns, or if you would like to learn the secrets to successfully managing social media for other companies, this this program is for you. Get more details and register here.

You will learn:

+ our proprietary workflow from developing social media content to managing the comments you’ll receive from your audience

+ how to develop a document to direct future content creation

+ how to utilize an editorial calendar to successfully manage all deadlines and details for each social media platform

+ time-saving automation techniques

You will have access to four live educational webinars (one per month starting mid-January), four “office hour” days (one per month starting at the end of January – take the webinar and then call, email or Skype a red balloon trainer during office hours for one-on-one help), our 35 page full color .pdf guide, ‘executive’s guide to social media’, all templates we teach from during the class, and a certificate of completion.

Create a huge return on your investment for 2015 by meeting your social media goals! Register now, seating is limited for quality assurance.

red balloon vision party

As December winds down I have been spending more time reflecting on the past year – I recently released my latest publication, the executive’s guide to social media, we launched our new certification program Social Media Community Manager University (the next program starts in January), significantly grew red balloon, introduced a new calendar of classes, and added a manager of Client Experience and staff trainer to our team.

How did we do it? Good question – I had the support of some amazing people, for which I am extremely appreciative. And of course, we had to have vision! Last January we had a terrific group of people get together to create their vision boards. The evening was full of support, creativity, goal setting… and wine.

Vision Boards are a tried-and-true technique for visualizing your goals – seeing them everyday reinforces the focus it takes to be successful in making your goals reality. I am a living testament to the power of vision boards- about 90% of my board created last January has come to fruition (hey, there are still a few days left to 2014, you never know!). So, we’re doing it again and I hope you’ll join us! Please register soon, this event does sell out.

Vision Board party
Ventura Grill private bar, 9261 E Via De Ventura in Scottsdale
January 29, 2015, 6:00pm-8:00pm

Registration includes instruction, materials, mingling, food, soft drinks, and your first adult beverage (cash bar available for additional drinks). Just bring photographs or personal mementos you might want to use.

Register here, $20 in advance, or $25 at the door.  Seating is limited, register today. Contact dani@redballooninc.com with questions.

I hope to see you at our vision board event in 2015!

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In this post, I continue a series based on my latest publication, ‘the executive’s guide to social media’ – you can download a complimentary copy here.

What are some realistic expectations for our social media goals and outcomes? This is a common question from prospects and clients. One of the greatest challenges our clients face is understanding what kind of ROI to expect. Everyone hears about the anomaly of a guy that had overnight success on Twitter and then they think that’s the norm. I usually see one of two scenarios – the clients that are fuzzy on what social media can do when well executed, or, the clients that have very aggressive goals tied solely to financial gain.

Social media’s primary power is in developing relationships and long-term loyalty. Retention and referral rates, repeat business, overall value, and lifespan are consistently higher for customers actively participating in a company’s online community. Start off conservatively when setting initial goals and work your way to becoming more aggressive as you gain experience with your audience. If you’re just starting out, you are simply looking for slow burn, incremental growth – a net positive in followers and engagement month over month. As you get to know your audience and become more familiar with them, you will learn how you can alter your direction based on spending habits, trends, and personal behavior, as well as the content that they engage with most, and investing in ads to extend your reach.

Tip: When building your social media plan, start with one main objective. I often see clients try to achieve too many goals with their social media at one time. This will lead to a diluted message with mixed results. An example is optimizing all your social media to get traffic to your website if you have an ecommerce site. You can expect a better outcome and more growth if all the platforms you use are working in concert with quality content toward that one goal.

I know, you’re looking for hard numbers right? Every brand interacts with their audience differently, and it depends on if you have other strong platforms we can utilize for social media growth, like a strong email database for instance. It also make a difference if you’ve been relying on ads or slashing prices to attract your audience to this point. If you’re curious how much growth you should see in your particular scenario, email me and set up a complimentary 15 minute phone call at jennifer at red balloon inc dot com

Most aggressive social media plans create artificial “success” or growth, but those audiences don’t really care about your brand, they won’t engage with you and you won’t see many of the benefits of long-term loyalty come to fruition. Invest in a long-term social media plan and develop relationships. Start with a well-defined objective and build your plan around it. If you’d like more information on developing a strong social media strategy, email me or download my latest coplimentary publication ‘the executive’s guide to social media’.

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I recently released my latest publication, the executive’s guide to social media! The executive’s guide is full of some pretty surprising statistics, and the kinds of information execs and entrepreneurs need to know about social media from the leadership perspective.

There is a section on the “burning questions” that I frequently get from executives; one of them is what objectives can be met with social media (see the illustration above for objectives that our clients successfully meet with a well planned campaign). According to the Harvard Business Review, 77% of Fortune 500 companies now have dedicated internal social media teams. Surprisingly, very few of them have a plan. Many companies are still struggling with articulating their objectives, which means they can’t plan a strategy around those goals. We recommend that clients start with one of three very important and common objectives: creating community, customer service or brand management.

Creating Community: There is a mistaken belief in social media that more is better – “quantity over quality”. Adding more numbers to your social media platforms does not necessarily mean success though. We have some clients who come to us with well-established Facebook pages for example, with tens of thousands of followers. But they were all gained through ads, these followers have never used the company’s products or services, and they never engage. On the other hand, we have clients with a few hundred followers, but they are past, current and prospective clients, supporters, vendors, friends and family who care about the company’s products and services and engage regularly. Regular engagement from people with a sense of community creates branding and sales opportunities. Focus on a “slow burn” growth plan – provide insight and value for your audience. Don’t focus just on what you have to sell, but think about what information would be helpful to them in terms of their lifestyle, their needs, their values, their challenges. What solutions can you provide? How can you make them smile? The platform will grow and followers will talk to you, and each other, and that’s how you create community.

Customer Service: Several of our clients use social media to address customer service concerns. With today’s technology it is becoming easier for consumers to (very publicly) voice concerns and complaints through social media. In the periodical’s first issue, Social@Scale Journal shares that only one of five brands respond to customer complaints on social media, although a majority of consumers expect to receive a response within a few hours. 60% of these customers say they will take additional actions to express their dissatisfaction with followers on social media. Addressing complaints appropriately and promptly will set a company apart from its competition and gain customer loyalty. When you use social media as a customer service channel, contact is immediate, anger is diffused and customers are given a more personal brand experience that they will remember and share.

Brand Management: A strong online presence is a solid way to create awareness of your brand, and to stay “top of mind” with consumers. Creating opportunities for consistent use of your logo, colors, tagline, values and mission, strengthens your connection with your audience and makes you immediately recognizable and memorable. Simply “listening” (finding opportunities to observe what consumers are saying about your company and what they are saying about your competitors without engaging) will give you amazing insight in to how your constituents view your brand.

Creating community, providing customer service, and brand management are achievable goals with a well-planned social media campaign. If your organization is struggling with defining objectives, or the strategy necessary to reach those objectives, feel free to call or email me any time, 480-270-5395, or Jennifer@redballooninc.com. Or, learn about our upcoming training class, and download my complimentary publication, ‘the executive’s guide to social media’ here.

allisonwithdavinci1At red balloon, we get to work with some really terrific people, and our friends at Davis General Surgery are no exception. Based in Nevada, Dr. Davis and her Director of Operations, Charmin, work with us regularly to develop content that gets engagement and compliments from colleagues.

In this client spotlight we take a closer look at the collaborative relationship that has developed over the past six months. red balloon understands branding and “voice”, and what works to engage clients. What we don’t know is… general surgery. That’s where a great collaboration comes into play. We asked Charmin what she had to share about getting the best out of our collective creative relationship:

What is your position / title?
My official title is Director of Operations at Davis General Surgery. I am helping Allison K. Davis, M.D. establish and run a private general surgery practice in Las Vegas, Nevada. My functional roles include business development, financial management and personnel management.

What made you seek social media consulting?
Physicians, especially specialists like general surgeons, get new patients via referrals from other doctors, hospital staff, and others in the field of medicine. In addition, more and more patients are becoming savvy consumers, and seeking out their doctors of choice. I strongly feel that having an online presence which includes active social media allows Dr. Davis to reach both communities. She maintains a professional network through Twitter and Facebook, but also reaches out to patients directly via her blog and email newsletters. The links between these applications, organized by red balloon, allow for cross-pollination.

What do you find most helpful about working with red balloon?
My expectation is that red balloon will deliver two things. 1- a consistent schedule. We work with red balloon to create all content a month at a time, then red balloon makes sure it is posted according to schedule. I hate to admit it, but this would be difficult to do on my own with all my other priorities. 2 – technical management. Do I need to know the size of the Facebook banner? Do I need to know required formatting for the blog? No. And I don’t want to.

You provide a lot of ideas for content – where do those ideas come from?
• My own work. I feel like I have a little elf sitting on my shoulder that says, “Hey, that thing you did? That should go on the blog!” I make it a priority to generate content ideas.
• Collaboration with Dr. Davis. We spend a lot of time talking about patient care and talking about the business. I used to always say, “You should write a book!” I still think that, but these days, I’m more likely to say “Let’s get that on Facebook!”

One of the blog posts I’m most proud of is about why your doctor may not take your insurance. This came directly from an issue we dealt with at the office. We have turned down patients who want to see Dr. Davis because she is not a provider for a particular insurance. She wants to be a provider, but this particular company has found a way to save money by only having a few general surgeons on their provider list. In this case, the insurance company is the only winner. Dealing with this issue in the office inspired the article, which I think is very educational. Plus, we were able to get a small positive outcome from a frustrating situation.

We often wish we had more client feedback, but many clients feel too busy to provide in-depth feedback and content ideas – what makes it important for you to be as involved as you are?
I have a clear vision of the audiences we are trying to reach. When I come across something that triggers the light bulb, “our audience should know this”, I email Dani at red balloon and say, “Let’s develop this into something.”

I have a clear vision of the message we are trying to send. Dr. Davis has a compelling story. She’s a blend of old-fashioned patient care evangelist, mixed with an early adopter technologist with advanced skills in robotic and laparoscopic surgeries. I can see that message sticks with our audiences because I’m there in person. I communicate that with Dani so she can carry that through in our social media.

To me, social media is one part of the “business development” umbrella. I’ve done the work to define our target audiences, the message we want to send, and the results we want to achieve. It’s my responsibility to make sure red balloon understands that and delivers on-target. It’s not productive to say “build me a house” without any sort of direction as to where, what size, how many bedrooms, etc.

What do you enjoy about a collaborative relationship?
Dani and the red balloon staff are on-board. We have a great collaboration. It would be an impossible task for me to expect Dani to read my mind and create content without my input. Likewise, Dani is my eyes and ears on current articles and trends that might perfectly correspond with our message. We hit the tennis ball back and forth over the net a few times and the end result is better than each of us playing on our own.

From Dani, I’ve learned the content that sticks can be as simple as a candid photo and to always be on the look-out for content. For example, Dr. Davis gave a community presentation this week on abdominal pain. I have the slides and photos ready to send to Dani — I promise!