Final Project – I learned a LOT!

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For my final project of the semester, I decided to create a promotion, for my own start up business. I knew it would be a lot of work, but really the amount that goes into planning is so much more than I had anticipated! I have consulted and helped people with their social media planning and branding before, but starting from scratch was very difficult. It all started with my company name, Social Solutions For You. I had to build a website, www.socialsolutionsforyou.com, but I also needed a logo for branding. In order to get a logo, I did a lot of research and saw that VistaPrint offered design services. I had heard great things about VistaPrint before, so I decided to look into it. This is a really cool program called Design Crowd that reaches out to designers and they send you designs after reading a brief that you had written. I was on a deadline, so I made the design due in 3 days. I was stunned by the amount of submissions, I had chosen the lowest pay scale, so I knew I wouldn’t get a ton of designs, but in that short time frame I got 25 submissions. Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 8.04.10 PMSome were great and some really weren’t, above are two designs that didn’t make it. What was great was how I could ask designers to change colors, fonts, really everything! It was a long process though, and since people were submitting from around the world it was very time consuming and there was a lot of back and forth. The winning design took about 2 weeks to formulate, so if you hate it, don’t tell me..Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 11.01.29 PM

Once I finally had a logo, it was time to get a website going!!! In order to do that, and do it well, I took a look at various website options that I could work on myself. I looked at Wix, and did some research on their blogs, some of which really look fabulous! I started working on one, until I realized that it didn’t work well with WordPress, and since I already use WordPress for school, I really wanted to use a site that worked well. So, back to the drawing board. I finally decided to a site through my BlueHost domain hosting. There were a lot of choices, and it came down to the right theme. I want to add that I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to websites, so this was an adventure in itself. There are a lot of various things that can go wrong when building a website, so of course I experienced a lot of them. From accidentally deleting pages or posts and realizing that different side bar options are just not working.

A downside I learned while I was working on my website, was that unlike WordPress that actually sends people your blog post if they have shown an interest in something similar, I am on my own. I will need to make all of the interaction and engagement happen and will need to know how I track the information as well.

Due to that, one of the main things I wanted to have happen with my website was Google Analytics. I have learned this semester how much I can learn from Google Analytics, and because of that I knew I needed to have it on my website. It was not easy to get it on there though, it should be easy, but clearly I was doing something wrong, about 70 times. Luckily, my husband was able to figure it out in under 10 minutes after I finally asked him for help.

Once I had that working it really became time to formalize a plan and decide what I was going to do on social media sites, as well as with a campaign. To start I back dated posts on Facebook from September on, since I had really not been posting lately and began to invite friends to “like” my page, as well as try to grow my circles on Google+. I  also updated Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn to make sure all of the pictures matched for continuity. At this point I realized is that I need pictures of myself. I mean, I have selfies or other random pictures, but I mean a professional headshot. I definitely think it takes a profile to the next level when there are more professional pictures, so at some point in the future I will look into getting some taken. This way I can update my information and have some more up-to-date pictures. Since this company is mine and all about branding myself, I think it is important to have a good selection of my own pictures.

The next step was to figure out how I wanted to attract people to my pages. I turned to Woobox. When I first signed up, I noticed that there was a quick and easy way to add my Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as static tabs to my Facebook page which I think is really great. I think it is important to always give people an opportunity to follow you in other places easily. The key is making it simple so that they don’t have to search to find your information, but by making it simple they can do so if they choose.

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To find out some more great techniques, I did some research on what is a great way to get more followers. While there are a lot of different ways to do that, most people agree on the idea that you need to be interesting, you need to respect your followers and connect with them and you need to be consistent. Simple ideas, but hard to follow through with sometimes. Social media is a constantly changing environment and to stay on top of it, we need to be constantly involved by posting and interacting.

While those are ways to keep followers interacting with you, at this point I need to play a numbers game and just begin to get followers. I know that it may not be the best way over time, since people may decide to unlike my pages or unfollow me, but in the beginning I think it is a great way to build a following. I had a lot of choices of what kind of promotion I wanted to run.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 10.22.46 PMI have decided that when I make a promotion, I will most likely be using the sweepstakes option. I don’t know yet what my prize will be, but I can make a lot of different rules for my contest. I think this is a great feature since it means that I will be able to guide the settings to make sure that people sign up through Facebook, or email. How many times they can sign up and how many bonus entries they get if they have a friend sign up as well.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 11.06.30 PM

Another great feature that Woobox offers, is being able to see which post I can use to pick a winner, as seen below.Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 10.47.22 PMRight now, as you can see these posts have no likes, or comments. That is what I think running a promotion will change. This is something that has worked for many companies in the past, and I do not think that it will be any different for my company. I do think that I will have more luck if I grow my company more in the meantime, before I run a promotion, but a promotion will help me have fast growth at some point in the future. I think that until I am ready to post a promotion, slowly gaining followers who are actually interested in what I am posting is my best bet. I have learned to post in groups or communities, depending on which social platform I am using. This helps with growth and followers on those sites, and by beginning to direct them back to my Facebook page, it will really create cross interaction.

While considering what kind of promotion I want to use, I think I will create an image about the promotion instead of just a post, since it is proven that pictures not only create more of a reaction with followers, but it also is promoted more in news feeds because of that.

Since I would be buying something to give away I want to look at all of the different reasons that promotions and posts succeed. This article talks about different ways to make sure that Facebook engagement occurs and continues. One of the best suggestions I read was about how instead of just thinking of posting something, think of it as planting something since you have to stick around on the page and increase communication with anyone who comments. That to me makes a lot of sense since it is a great way to increase engagement, which is my goal at the end of the day. Engagement in social media is what thrills me about this field. Being able to get notifications when someone is engaging with something I have shared or written still brings a smile to my face. I hope I never lose that feeling since it really is what makes me want to stay in this complex but rewarding field.

Another great concept I learned about are, “caption this” posts. Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 11.37.19 PMThe above picture was taken from the page Dlisted, and they use this caption idea almost every day! There are always winners, and a lot of people put in comments. On this picture alone there were 80 comments. This shows me how great the idea really is and how much I do need to implement it into my campaigns.

I have learned a lot in the past 6 months about social media that has led to me starting my own pages and campaigns. One of my favorite images that has stuck with me is this one.

36-rules-social-mediaI think that while this doesn’t include everything, there are a lot of great tips here. Two that I think relate to running this promotion specifically are numbers 25 & 30. The only way to scale word of mouth is through paid advertising and contests and sweepstakes are fine, if you want to encourage short relationships. I see a promotion as a type of paid advertising, but yes, it will create a short relationship if it is not built correctly. I do think that by slowly building an audience and directing them back to my page it will help enhance my promotion when I do actually run it. People will be more likely to share the post and try to win if it is a product they want and a company they already interact with and look at the pages of.

I am eager to get going on not only creating a business, but branding myself I really think I will be well on my way to becoming an influence in this field. I am very excited to continue to learn how to grow and build an audience and connect with people about social media.

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